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20 May 2009, JellyBean @ 3:59 pm

This site not only deals with the unknown, but also the weird and bizarre. Sometimes these things are explained, but they are still definitely on the side of the weird. Such is the case of the fainting goats!

A fainting goat is a breed of domestic goat whose muscles freeze for roughly 10 seconds when the goat is startled. Though painless, this generally results in the animal collapsing on its side. The characteristic is caused by a hereditary genetic disorder called myotonia congenita. When startled, younger goats will stiffen and fall over. Older goats learn to spread their legs or lean against something when startled, and often they continue to run about in an awkward, stiff-legged shuffle.

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Video courtesy: National Geographic Video

Besides the myotonia, another distinguishing feature of the fainting goat is their prominently set eyes. The eyes protrude from the eye sockets, as opposed to recessed eyes seen in other breeds. The profile is straight as opposed to the convex or “roman” profile.

It is theorized that fainting goats were used by their handlers during travel for protecting other livestock (such as sheep) from predators by involuntarily “sacrificing themselves” due to their condition. This allowed the handlers and livestock to escape. However, while there are records of goats being transported with livestock in earlier times, there is no proof that these goats suffered from myotonia nor that they were used for such a purpose.

Every year in October, fainting goats are honored in Marshall County, Tennessee at the “Goats Music and More Festival”. The festival is centered on goats but has activities including music, an arts and crafts show, food vendors, and children’s activities

Source: Wikipedia

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