SAN DIEGO, CALIF. — Last week, researchers at the University of California, San Diego found that drowning accounts for the vast majority of African lion (Panthera leo) deaths in the Pacific Ocean.
While the data obtained from transplantation experiments has been promising, primary investigator Richard Sewall notes that the data is “merely correlational” until a proximate explanation can be found. This has not stopped speculation in the scientific community; Dr. Eve Goldstein, a morphologist at the University of Rochester, believes that the bubbles observed as the lions sunk may belie a flotation system. “It could be a pneumatic system,” explains Goldstein. “The observed drowning may be due to their lack of pulling on the straps to inflate upon entering the water.”
Admittedly, Sewall notes, the sample size of the study was one—an African lion that fell overboard on a ship.
Other industries are benefitting from this discovery. Elon Musk of Tesla Motors has already revealed a prototype submersible vehicle inspired by the incredible subaquatic capabilities of the lions.
At press time, Sewall revealed a new series of experiments aimed at elucidating the age-old mystery of whether or not snakes make good ladders.