This video of turkeys circling a dead cat went viral yesterday…
These turkeys trying to give this cat its 10th life pic.twitter.com/VBM7t4MZYr
— J… (@TheReal_JDavis) March 2, 2017
… and here's the explainer, from The Verge's Alessandra Potenza and Rachel Becker. They're a) warily inspecting a potential predator they don't realize is dead while b) getting stuck in a natural follow-the-leader pattern.
"predator inspection," says Alan Krakauer, a biologist at the University of California, Davis, who studies the behavioral ecology of birds, in an email to The Verge. Sometimes, animals lower down in the food chain approach predators — a behavior that can be seen as risky, but can actually help the prey. Making the predator aware that the prey know it's there can sometimes scare the predator away. … What could be happening is that the turkeys are stuck in some kind of never-ending circle, with each bird following the tail in front of it. "It's not unusual for them to get into those dances where they chase each other around," Scott Gardner, a turkey expert with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, tells The Verge.