Remembering the Bush Years . . .
. . . with cheer and Bronze-Winged Mannikins!
When Guy Womack, defense attorney for military personnel during the Abu Ghraib prison abuse scandal uttered “Don’t cheerleaders all over America make pyramids every day? It’s not torture,” he could have been talking about Bronze-winged Mannikins just as well.
This image is quasi-orphaned
(possibly by a member of the All About Finches Yahoo! Group).
While I do not know the details of hierarchy at Iraqi prisons, I suspect that for cheerleaders, the dominant (or rather prominent?) member of the team is often at the crest of the pyramid. However, for captive Bronze-winged Mannikins (Lonchura cucullata) studied by Calf et al., this is not the case. Researchers reported that the dominant flock members occupied the central locations, of the “Bronze-wing Huddle” more often than other members of the flock. The occupants of central locations in the linear huddle and central base locations in the pyramid likely enjoy thermoregulatory benefits during nocturnal roosting. The most subordinate members (deemed so by their eagerness to leave the feeder when any other, and therefore more dominant, member alighted) of the flock tended to occupy the termini in linear aggregations. Researchers also mentioned that in four of six flocks studied, the most massive individuals were the most dominant. If my suspicion about cheerleader hierarchy is true, then such a correlation between social dominance and mass as that observed for Bronze-winged Mannikins would be unfortunate for the subordinate cheerleaders.