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|Released||almost 6 years ago|
The entire hillside is covered with the wide unblinking eyes of these humorously horned animals who graze incessantly, searching out every little piece of green growing around them. The simple herdsman follows behind, lazily taking in the warmth of the sun and sleepily keeping watch over the tame tumult of bodies milling about in front of him. The term herd is generally applied to mammals, and most particularly to the grazing ungulates that classically display this behaviour. Different terms are used for similar groupings in other species; in the case of birds, for example, the word is flocking, but flock may also be used, in certain instances, for mammals, particularly sheep or goats. A group of quail is often referred to as a covey. Large groups of carnivores are usually called packs, and in nature a herd is classically subject to predation from pack hunters. A herd is by definition relatively unstructured. However, there may be one or a few animals which tend to be imitated by the rest of the members of the herd more than others. An animal taking this role is called a "control animal", since its behaviour will predict that of the herd as a whole. It cannot be assumed, however, that the control animal is deliberately taking a leadership role. Control animals are not necessarily, or even usually, those that are socially dominant in conflict situations, though they frequently are.The question of why animals group together is one of the most fundamental in sociobiology and behavioural ecology.