Below you’ll find an incredible video of a badger woking diligently to bury an entire cow carcass in stretch of Utah’s Great Basin Desert. If that sounds boring to you, take our word for it: The clip is worth watching. But why did the badger go to such great lengths to bury such a bigger creature in the sand? The short version is: The ground works as a sort of fridge for the badger, who will be able to feed itself from the cow for months to come.
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As Gizmodo reports, University of Utah researchers inadvertently recorded the bizarre burial as they studying the behavior of various scavengers during winter months in the Great Basin. Hoping to catch vultures or other birds, in January the scientists had secured seven cow carcasses in the area with cameras placed nearby.
One week later, one of the researchers, a doctoral candidate named Evan Buechley, visited the sites and noticed that an entire cow had vanished. “When I first got there I was bummed because it’s hard to get these carcasses, to haul them out and set them up,” he said in a press release. “I thought ‘Oh, well we’ve lost one after a week.’”
Then he noticed a large mound where the cow had been. . “Right on the spot I downloaded the photos,” he said. “We didn’t go out to study badgers specifically, but the badger declared itself to us.”
The photos revealed that the badger had buried the cow over the course of five days, before returning to its den. But it ventured back to the burial several times over the next few weeks to feast from the cow. The practice continued into early March. Another badger was also spotted trying to bury one of the other cows, which proves this wasn’t just some rogue, cow-loving scavenger.
If you’re so inclined, you can read more of the University of Utah researchers’ findings in Western North American Naturalist.