Etymology 2Possibly from
- OED 2nd edition 1989
EtymologyOrigin uncertain, see English etymology.
Stotting (also pronking or pronging) is a gait of quadrupeds, particularly gazelles (e.g. Thomson's Gazelles), involving jumping high into the air. This may occur during pursuit by a predator. It might also occur during play. This reduces the lead distance and speed of the pursued animal, and thus makes it easier for the predator to catch. This apparently maladaptive behavior may signal to the predator or potential mates its comparative fitness as a form of boasting or taunting, and so therefore may be an evolutionarily selected behavior or antipredator adaptation. Evidence supports the hypothesis of advertising unprofitability - for example cheetahs abandon more hunts when the gazelle stots, and in the event they do give chase, they are far less likely to make a kill. This is offered by adherents of the handicap principle as a prime example.
EtymologyStot is a common word in Scots, meaning to bounce (or to walk with a bounce). Uses in this case include stotting a ball off a wall or rain stotting off a pavement. Pronking comes from the Afrikaans word "pronk", to show off, strut or prance.
In felinesThis behavior is also exhibited by felines, from the large cats to the domestic variety, who can suddenly spring high into to air —even from a standstill and often in a backward direction— when startled by something in close proximity. This is obviously a defense mechanism, a classic example being a sudden confrontation with a threatening serpent underfoot. Kittens seem to learn about prospective threats by approaching any unfamiliar object with extreme caution and in constant preparation to stot if the object exhibits any sudden movement.
In horsesWhen startled, horses can stot in the manner of cats. However, horses also stot in apparent pleasure or as a way to release excess energy. This is seen often in polo ponies as they leave the playing field, in trained rodeo horses before and after timed speed events, as well as in horses who are loose in a field, particularly young horses.
- FitzGibbon, C. D., and Fanshawe, J. H., (1988), Stotting in Thomson's gazelles: an honest signal of condition. Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology, Volume 23, Number 2 / August, pages 69–74.