Tuesday, March 2

Midlife Crisis: Part II

The day was unusual from the outset. The main troop slept very near to one of the miniature troops, and when both troops rose at dawn, they nearly merged together, moving towards the feeding grounds as a single elongated, messy unit. Twas interesting to watch for the novelty, but when you're looking for data, usually you'd prefer the boring, stuff you've seen many times prior.

This miniature troop truly deserves such a description, consisting of few more than twenty individuals. The old male who once dominated the troop is called Tim Curry, and the entire group takes its name after him. They are an almost constant hazard these days, as seasonality alters the ranging behavior of the troops. Still, we know much less about them since no one has bothered to focus on them.

Tim Curry is a distinctive old guy, as the old males tend to be. Despite having only seen him a dozen or so times, I could easily recognize him. The younger males ID's are less clear. So while following Aaron, I saw a narrowly built male stroll past, and grunt once in the vague direction of Aaron and Lottie.

Ugh, I thought, that must be one of those Curry males. Waltzing right through the middle of the troop, freaking everyone out. He's got quite a bit of nerve. And he's very lean, but not small. Reminds me a great deal of how Mortimer walks. This guy is probably his son, just at the age of dispersal.

Half an hour later, I saw the same male. This time I saw his face, an old face. A few stunned moments later, I blurted, "Wait, you are Mortimer!"

A quick call to a colleague in the other troop gave a bit of confirmation. That was unnecessary, I felt this was Mortimer with the certainty of recognizing a close friend. I knew this guy.

It is little surprise that of all the possible explanations, my brain missed the obvious one. Mortimer had been giving signs of leaving his troop all the while, but his existence just isn't a part of my main troop image. And frankly, old males switching troops is really weird because we don't know anything about such behavior.

But that's just what Mortimer did. All of my theoretical questions posed in the first part of Mortimer's escapades now come fully into play. Are the reproductive opportunities in troop 2 that poor? Are the food sources blatantly sub-par? Will he return to troop 2? If so, when? Common opinion is that males stick to their troop for life after dispersal, but now Mortimer has come to play with a new group, so bets are off.

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