I grew up on a farm, and it was not uncommon for male horses, male goats and even male deer to let out a snort whenever anxiety surfaced in them — whether it be from a predator in the area, the removal of food from their eating area or the wandering off of a female that the male had his eyes on. Maybe the topi antelope in “Deceptive cads of the savanna” (SN: 6/19/10, p. 14) is the same. Maybe he is not trying to trick the female into thinking a lion is near, but simply expressing the anxiety that surfaces when a potential imminent loss is sensed — in this case copulation. I could be wrong, but that’s how I always read it.
John M.R. Kuhn, Weston, Wis.
Lying requires a brain complex enough for abstract thinking. Very few species demonstrate this ability, and I find it hard to believe a grazing herd animal like the topi would.