This video — of an eagle trying to snatch a child in Montreal — echoes the once-famous case of “the Taung Child”. The historic case was discussed in the study “The Load of the Taung Child,” Lee R. Berger and Ronald J. Clarke, Nature, vol. 379, no. 29, 1996, p. 778. We held a limerick contest in 2003, inviting people to summarize the article. Those limericks are reprinted below.
Here are the limericks about “The Load of the Taung Child”:
INVESTIGATOR BEN MATTHEWS: An African species of raptor To the Taung child said, "I'll be your captor In small pieces you'd best Come away to my nest." And that's how the raptor kidnapped her. INVESTIGATOR GRAHAM LESTER: Quipped the eagle, "What fun it is when you Notice that this poor child's change of venue Marked the first human flight -- And to doubly delight: It's our first night with man in the menu" INVESTIGATOR LESLIE ROSENBLOOD: The question is whether it's legal For a raptor (perhaps a crowned eagle?) To collect as a toll A child who is whole Or in pieces the size of a sea gull. INVESTIGATOR WILLIAM SMITH: Hedenstrom's on the right track In giving this theory a whack. No -- no single, large eagle, (No matter how regal) Could carry out such an attack. INVESTIGATOR MEL DICKSON: Hedenstrom says we are wrong: A crowned eagle is not all that strong. We suggest that a mate helped distribute the weight To carry off poor kiddy Taung.
(Thanks to investigator Bill Taylor for bringing the video to our attention.)
BONUS: “Further evidence for eagle predation of, and feeding damage on, the Taung child,” L.R. Berger and W.S. McGraw, South African Journal of Science, 103, November/December 2007.
BONUS (unrelated): The Eagle and Child pub in Oxford, England.