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Articles by Brian Jackson

The Fable I Remember

9 September 2010

So there's this bridge to a green pasture that a troll lives under. The youngest of three billy goats tries to cross it, and the troll comes out to eat the goat.

The goat says "please don't eat me - just wait, and my older, bigger brother will try to cross the bridge soon". The troll agrees, knowing that a bigger goat will make a heartier meal, and he lets the first goat cross.

Sure enough, a bigger goat comes by later and the troll comes out again to eat him. The goat says "please don't eat me - my oldest brother is even bigger than I am, and he will try to cross the bridge soon." The troll is even hungrier than before, and so he lets the second goat cross.

Later, an ibex approaches the bridge and the troll comes out to eat him up. This time, the ibex is much bigger than the troll. The troll says "Hey, this is an ibex! The idea that you, a Capra Ibex, is supposed to be the older brother of two Capra Aegagrus Hircus is preposterous!"

To which the ibex replies "I'm an ibex, not a taxonomist," and rams into him with both horns, sending the troll spiraling off the bridge and into the waters below. With that, the ibex coolly crosses the bridge to join with his ambiguously-classified brothers.

The moral of the story is: the Alpine Ibex rarely uses his horns for injuring other animals, even during fierce competition with other males for breeding rights. Still, when faced with mythological adversaries in a purely fictional anecdote, the ibex can be provoked into violent outbursts when his scientific classification is called into question.

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