Wednesday, 23 September 2009

browsing or grazing?

Sometimes the origin of a word is so obvious that I wonder why I never thought of it.

I'm still reading (and loving) The Link; Uncovering our Earliest Ancestor, as I mentioned on 17 September. Last night I was struck by the simple word graze when I was reading about the important role grass has played in the history of our planet.
But grass has always been important to us. The evolutionary rise of grass matters to us absolutely, but grass has become such a powerful player in the world's ecology primarily because, almost uniquely among plants, it likes to be eaten - not too much but quite a lot.
Well, that certainly makes me feel better about mowing the lawn. I don't eat the grass, but I do feed it back to the ground, as mulch.

Grazers eat grass. So simple. So elegant. I wonder if in the distant past our ancestors called them grassers.

Browsers are herbivores also, but they feed on the shoots of leaves and bushes.

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