Five Times Two—Elephants & Meerkats Share This Billing

I’m happy to welcome author Missye K. Clarke to the Power of 10 series. Today, Missye shares interesting facts about elephants and meerkaats and her novel, Jersey Dogs.

Here’s Missye!

The McGuinness cousins, Casper and Logan, have Andrea Pedregon and Katherine “Rocket Dog” Jones in their hearts they’d lay their loves down for. Part of a solid supporting cast in the Casebook series, you’ll learn how Andrea adores elephants and Katherine, mother to twin daughters, discovered she shares a nickname with a lead meerkat family a documentary series followed for four years. Read on . . . and you may grow to love elephants and meerkats as I do.

5. This Ain’t Your Granny’s Trunk! The elephant’s trunk, when full grown, alone weighs 400-500 pounds, contains around 100,000 different muscles to move, and has finger-like appendages at its tip, making it possible, if need, to hold a single blade of grass.

4. Two Knees Good, Four Knees Better. The elephant is the only mammal on the planet with four working and forward-bending knees. Unlike us, however, if one’s blown out, we can get it replaced, but they can’t, and will die, since the other three cannot support the animal’s weight to move properly with their herds and constantly seeking a fresh water source.

3. Go, Southpaws! Like you prefer using one hand over the other—Casper McGuinness and I write and play acoustic left-handed, but I digress :)—elephants are “righties,” “lefties” or “ambies” (ambidextrous) with their tusks. Whether fighting other elephants, picking things up, or bark-stripping of trees, like you prefer doing tasks with one tusk over the other. This is why, in seeing photos of these grand animals, one tusk is shorter than its twin over time.

2. Hair Today, Gone Tomorrow. Baby elephants, called calves, have hair fuzzies covering their bodies when they’re first born, but diminishes as they age. The hair acts like a cooling aid to their forms, which is suitable for the severe hot climates of Africa and Asia, even when sparse in an elder elephant’s years.

1. Move Over, Puss-Puss and Fluffy! In addition to the trumpeting sounds we’ve all familiar with in elephants, they purr much like big and domestic cats do.

In Memorandum. When an elephant crosses the great rainbow bridge, the living mammal pay homage to the bones of their dead by touching the skulls and tusks with their trunks and feet. If an elephant is walking by a dead elephant, it’ll stop in its tracks especially if a loved one had died. This silent respect for their own goes on for several minutes to as long as an hour.

Many thanks for Andrea Pedregon giving me these incredible elephant facts. And mark your calendars for every August 12th—that’s known as World Elephant Day. I don’t usually offer a pitch for anything else but shamelessly plugging JERSEY DOGS, but if you could find a worthy elephant conservation charity to donate your time and funds to, that would make my day, restore severely endangered African and Asian elephant numbers, and Andrea’s heart soar. We both thank you so much.

Onto the meerkats!

5. “Hey . . . I Thought I Heard You Calling Me!” Know how you’d recognize your friend’s and loved ones voices in a minute? Like emperor penguins and elephants, meerkats can recognize their friends’, siblings, and children’s cries, calls, and shouts, too. But unlike meerkats, who can hear these sounds upwards to a mile out, or emperor penguins, which can pick out a specific call from over 100,000 birds strong, I’ll bet you can only know your friend’s and loved ones voices from a much shorter distance and in a far smaller crowd.

4. Strength In Numbers. Sometimes referred to as “mobs” or “gangs,” meerkat clans hunt in a collaborative effect. Several spy for the prey as another section of the mob act as lookout for natural predators to meerkats: vultures, owls, another enemy clan—or some within their own with a grudge to settle. When danger’s been spotted, the lookouts either release a bark or a whistle.

3. Meet Donna “Rocket Dog.” Slightly larger than their counterpart males, meerkat clans are matriarchal, and alpha females don’t co-lead their spots, even in direct lines (mother-daughter, sister-sister, aunt-niece). Generally the mob’s built around the couple, but it’s the alpha female to whom that mob’s meerkats, male and female, answer to. If another female within the clan becomes or is pregnant, she’s either exiled or plays wet nurse to the alpha female to get back into her good graces—ifshe or her pups aren’t killed first.

2. “It’s a Bird . . . It’s a Plane . . . Take Cover!” Meerkat pups are so frightened of birds, if they even see a plane or a bat, they’ll run for the safety of their burrows.

1. More Murderous Than Humans? Depends on Motive. According to a 2005 study in Live Science, meerkats are the most “murderous” mammal known to science. Considering they kill prey in mob fashion in clans some 30-60 strong, that’s not out of bounds.

Bonus: While streaming Netflix over a decade ago—and roughly the lifespan of a meerkat in the wild—I came across Animal Planet’s ratings blockbuster documentary series, Meerkat Manor. One of the top females in the two clans being followed, tracked, and documented, was an alpha female named Flower. Her daughter was Rocket Dog. At the time when I drafting my 2ndCasebook mystery, I knew Logan’s love interest would be a strong supporting cast member, but I had no idea what her name would be. While watching an episode of Manor, if memory serves, “Rocket Dog’s Day,” I knew that nickname was perfect for Katherine Jones. If it’s good enough for another mammal, it’s good enough for a human :).

I hope you liked this “Power of 10” segment. Thank you to Miss Joanne for graciously permitting me to share this post. Please reach out via email to maroonsclue@gmail.com for questions, personal notes, or just to say hey. And please enjoy this chapter of JERSEY DOGS. For your own copy, it’s available at a fine e-retailer near your favorite reading device.

The following contains mature content and is not suitable for younger readers. Discretion is advised.

You can read the full chapter here. An excerpt is provided below:

Excerpt

“You guys know it’s almost nine,” Bobby admonished when we arrived home.

After hugs and assuring us she’d make her calls, Nana Grace loaned her Mazda3 to Jay Vincent. He let the other McGuinness drive to decompress, especially when headlights tailed us five minutes after we’d left Nana Grace’s and losing them within an hour of maneuvering Borough Park’s maze of streets. We said maybe ten words during the ride. The bomb my cousin dropped dampened his driving thrill and our moods, and despite my blooming unease, I somehow catnapped across the backseats.

The following contains mature content and is not suitable for younger readers. Discretion is advised.

“Upstairs for a few, Gramps,” Logan said, his tired tone hinting not to alert the de Franciscis of our discovery.

“Right.”

Bobby inspected his hair in the hall’s oval wall mirror. “Meant to ask you, how’d the first day go? Did you know Idrove the truck home when I couldn’t find you for the keys? You weren’t answering your phone, so Triple A had to rescue me with a spare set. Pops is epic pissed.”

The urge to tell Enzo Senior and Bobby to fuck off waned when I considered the littlest de Franciscis might be in earshot, so I settled on “Not now, runt” while I leaned on the hall closet’s doorjamb to toe off my boots. How did Logan learn our biologic mothers had been murdered? How would westay alive if the text wasn’t a sick threat? Both worries were hamsters on a wheel in my thoughts, and yet I noticed an inconsequential thing like an ogre’s morning breath unable to compete with my reeking, urine-stained socks.

“Pops knows about the fight, too. He was gonna figure it out anyway, given that ink stain on your eye and your shredded clothes.” A broad smirk scrunched Bobby’s eyes half-closed after he locked the front door. “Just sayin’.”

Mitchell called it. The second boot hit the closet’s back wall with a muted thunk. “One guess I know who the stool pigeon is.”

“Aw, that hurts, McGuinness.” Bobby feigned devastation. “I mean, shoot, Mom blew up my phone looking for you two. Especially with news about some loser tits up on campus? Pops and Junior are on a new gig in Jersey City, it’s dirty, they’re tired, and you know how Mom gets when they’re in vicious GWB traffic . . .”

I’d deal with this ass-kissing weasel later. “Ever the conscientious one, aren’t ya, Giovanni?”

Bobby’s cheeks shone bright pink through the stubble. “Take that back!”

“Sucks to be you being named after your moonshine-swillin’ granddude.” I patted his face once before he yanked himself away. “You’re overdue for a Paul Mitchell treatment, soy-boy, your five o’clock’s on the rise.”

“CASPER! LOGAN!”

Bobby smirked fresh at his father’s bellow. He saluted me with a single finger and whistled as he strolled from the entryway.

No chance for a pee break or to change clothes, I walked through the living room-dining room, past the kitchen, a right turn down the short hall, and entered Pops de Francisci’s home office. Logan in my wake, Mom shut the door behind us.

buynow

Bio and Links

An imagination too vast for conventional media and fueled by her father’s cold case homicide, Missye K. Clarke loves mapping her Casebooks and Threesome of Magic Mysteries, drafting haikus, and finding rare, original plots and storylines to craft flash fiction. The transplanted New Yorker, and creator of Maroon The Sleuth Books LLC imprint, resides in central Pennsylvania with her husband and son, a senior-but-still-rumbustious Australian cattle dog, a “Jackson 5” clutch of cats, and an occasional groundhog drop-in. JERSEY DOGS is available on Amazon, BN, iTunes, Kobo, Scribd, and most fine e-retailers near you.

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One response to “Five Times Two—Elephants & Meerkats Share This Billing

  1. When I was in elementary school, a friend’s dad went to Africa and brought her an elephant hair bracelet. The hair was amazingly stiff and strong. Congrats on your book and thanks for sharing your 10.

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