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Like a Medicine

Like a Medicine
Photo Information
Copyright: Loot Eksteen (loot) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 5524 W: 722 N: 4163] (11276)
Genre: Animals
Medium: Color
Date Taken: 2008-03-29
Categories: Mammals
Camera: Canon EOS 350D, Sigma 170-500mm f/5-6.3 AF APO Ultra DG, Digital ISO 100, UV 86mm Kenko
Exposure: f/5.0, 1/640 seconds
More Photo Info: [view]
Photo Version: Original Version
Theme(s): AnYtHiNg ExTrEmElY hUmOrOuS, Funny Faces, Wildlife of Africa, Mammals of Africa, !Loodzwaar, Mammals of Southern Africa II, Hluhluwe-iMfolozi Park 1, A study in Mammalogy (mammals) 1, 90-99 Puntos (chapter 1), So Funny, I had to laugh., Laughing Zebras, Animals' Behavior, part two [view contributor(s)]
Date Submitted: 2008-08-25 19:08
Viewed: 12929
Favorites: 2 [view]
Points: 102
[Note Guidelines] Photographer's Note
Plains Zebra - Equus burchellii

Sometimes life gives you a side-swiped clout you did not expect or did not deserve, but hey, life goes on and the sun comes up again and there will always be time to laugh again and forget the pain and disappointments...

This zebra was captured at "The Waterhole" near the Masinda camp (±1km north of this spot) in the Hluhluwe-iMfolozi Game Reserve. Since the animal was pretty close (or too close) to me and I had the 170-500mm Sigma on my camera I could zoom out (at 170mm) only to fit the head of the animal into the frame. While it was looking straight at me it was no problem as I had sufficient space for a nice close-up vertical shot with enough in camera cropping space, but the moment he turned his head sideways and pulled this grin there was no time to change lenses, so I had to make do with this shot. It would have been great if I could manage to capture the zebra's full head though, but sometimes beggars can't be choosers and we have to take and be thankful for what we get.

Flehmen response

The flehmen response also called the flehmen position, flehmen reaction, flehming, or flehmening (from German flehmen, meaning to curl the upper lip), is a particular type of curling of the upper lip in ungulates, felids, and many other mammals, which facilitates the transfer of pheromones and other scents into the vomeronasal organ, also called the Jacobson's Organ.

In the flehmen response, animals draw back their lips in a manner that makes them appear to be "grimacing". The action, which is adopted when examining scents left by other animals either of the same species or of prey, helps expose the vomeronasal organ and draws scent molecules back toward it. This behaviour allows animals to detect scents, for example from urine, of other members of their species or clues to the presence of prey. Flehming allows the animals to determine several factors, including the presence or absence of estrus, the physiological state of the animal, and how long ago the animal passed by. This particular response is recognisable, for example, in stallions when smelling the urine of a mare in heat.

The vomeronasal organ, also called Jacobson's organ, is a chemoreceptor organ thought to have to do with the perception of certain scents and pheromones. It is named for its closeness to the vomer and nasal bones, and is particularly developed in animals such as cats and horses. The organ is located on the roof of the mouth. In addition to domestic cats and horses, animals who exhibit the flehmen reaction include buffalo, zebra, tigers, tapirs, lions, giraffes, goats, and llamas.

Similar responses
A grimace similar to the flehmen response may also be seen in association with pain. In horses it is often associated with low grade abdominal pain. Source

Additional information on the Vomeronasal organ
The vomeronasal organ (VNO) , or Jacobson's organ, is an auxiliary olfactory sense organ that is found in many animals. It was discovered by Ludvig Jacobson in 1813.

It develops from the nasal (olfactory) placode, at the anterior edge of the neural plate (cranial nerve zero). It is a chemoreceptor organ which is completely separated from the nasal cavity the majority of the time, being enclosed in a separate bony or cartilaginous capsule which opens into the base of the nasal cavity. It is a tubular crescent shape and split into two pairs, separated by the nasal septum. It is the first processing stage of the accessory olfactory system, after which chemical stimuli go to the accessory olfactory bulb, then to targets in the amygdala and hypothalamus. The VNO has two separate types of neuronal receptors, V1R and V2R, which are seven-transmembrane receptors that are coupled to guanosine triphosphate-binding proteins. The receptors are distinct from each other and from the large family of receptors in the main olfactory system. Evidence shows that the VNO responds to nonvolatile cues which stimulate the receptor neurons. Its presence in many animals has been widely studied and the importance of the vomeronasal system to the role of reproduction and social networking in animals has been shown in many studies. Its presence and functionality in humans is widely controversial, though most studies agree the organ regresses during fetal development.

In mammals, the sensory neurons of the vomeronasal organ detect specific chemical compounds contained within scents that are often, but not always, large non-volatile molecules. Notably by way of the vomeronasal organ, some scents act as chemical-communication signals (pheromones) from other individuals of the same species. Unlike the main olfactory bulb that sends neuronal signals to the olfactory cortex, the VNO sends neuronal signals to the accessory olfactory bulb and then to the amygdala and hypothalamus, which may explain how scents influence aggressive and mating behaviour. However, it is key to note that the vomeronasal organ detects other compounds in addition to pheromones and that some pheromones are detected by the main olfactory system.

In animals
The functional vomeronasal system is found in many animals, including many snakes, and mammals such as mice, rats, elephants, cattle, dogs, goats, and pigs.
- Salamanders perform a nose tapping behaviour to supposedly activate their VNO.
- Snakes use this organ to sense prey, sticking their tongue out to gather scents and touching it to the opening of the organ when the tongue is retracted.
- The organ is also well developed in some primates such as Nycticebus tardigradus or Cebus capucinus.
- Elephants transfer chemosensory stimuli to the vomeronasal opening in the roof of their mouths using the prehensile structure, sometimes called a "finger", at the tips of their trunks.

In some other mammals, the entire organ contracts or pumps in order to draw in the scents.

Some mammals, particularly felids and ungulates, use a distinctive facial movement called the flehmen response to direct inhaled compounds to this organ. The animal will lift its head after finding the odorant, wrinkle its nose while lifting its lips, and cease to breathe momentarily. Flehmen behaviour is associated with "anatomical specialisation", and animals that present flehmen behaviour have incisive papilla and ducts, which connect the oral cavity to the VNO, that are found behind their teeth.

- House cats often may be seen making this grimace when examining a scent that interests them. Source

Post Processing was done with Adobe Photoshop CS2.

elizabeth, gannu, jusninasirun, Alex99, Juyona, Argus, Amadeo, Janice, robindb, boreocypriensis, anel, Miss_Piggy, albert, mala-zaba, bobcat08, wuta, saguzar, smitha, haraprasan, manyee, Dyker, Jamesp, ellis49, soccer, Aaltjie, Rehanna, reina, marhowie, betsie, thor68, jmp, nazirbadar has marked this note useful
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ThreadThread Starter Messages Updated
Zebra's portraitIngrid1 1 09-14 07:39
action photoswinterpalace 1 12-01 07:27
To manyee: Quick learnerloot 1 09-02 23:06
To Dyker: Positive wordsloot 1 09-02 22:44
To smitha: Thanksloot 1 09-02 22:25
To FunkyMunky: Full shotloot 1 09-02 22:14
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Critiques [Translate]

Great headshot of this Zebra. The expression really makes the photo! Excellent composition and nicely sharp. Awesome!

  • Great 
  • eev Gold Star Critiquer/Silver Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 64 W: 33 N: 66] (756)
  • [2008-08-25 20:17]

I don't know Loot, I think this has stars written all over it. I love the expression you've captured here. It is quite well framed, with a good sharp image and bright colors. Plus the note was both fun to read and informative. Well done.

  • Great 
  • gannu Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 988 W: 4 N: 3277] (14761)
  • [2008-08-25 20:56]

Hello Loot, this is an amazing shot. Long notes and the POV is beautiful. I am not sure it is smiling or laughing. In both the cases this is superb. Ganesh

Hello Loot. This super lens from Sigma has amazing quality at such a distance. Brilliant clarity and details and the shallow depth is really pleasing. How do you make the zebra act this way is another story. The capture is so timely and the framing and tight crop work really well with this shot. Thanks for sharing and best regards. Jusni

  • Great 
  • Alex99 Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 4072 W: 133 N: 7096] (23735)
  • [2008-08-25 23:30]

Hi Loot.
I strongly recommend to your patient to use Colgate Toothpaste. With advanced whitening.

In rest aspects shot is simply great. Amazing smile, stunning medical details of the head and its all parts, blameless framing and composition of the image and fantastic BG. Bravo. Superb, extraordinary work. My congratulations.

  • Great 
  • PeterZ Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 5137 W: 166 N: 13121] (49139)
  • [2008-08-25 23:49]

Hello Loot,
From the last weeks I had a lot of photos to work off. This one I enjoy very well. What a great expression and what a beautiful portret in an excellent exposure. Very good quality!
Kind regards,

Fantasties hoe jy selfs die velkke op die tande tot vasvang Loot. Lyk of hierdie ou op ten minste 60 Gunston per dag is!

Hola Loot, excelente retrato de la Cebra, con muy buen detalle, color natural y excelente luz.
Por cierto, tiene cita para el dentista?.
Un saludo

  • Great 
  • Argus Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 5038 W: 260 N: 15594] (50626)
  • [2008-08-26 0:28]

Hello Loot,
A fine close-up of a Zebra showing the Flehmen response and I thank you for your informative note on the subject.
The image itself is excellent, showing superb details of the muzzle and mouth that would make any veterinary surgeon happy.
Thank you for sharing this one,

  • Great 
  • Juyona Gold Star Critiquer/Silver Workshop Editor [C: 2232 W: 10 N: 2971] (16891)
  • [2008-08-26 0:37]

Hola amigo,
stupendous portrait,
nice details and pov...
frame and magnificent bg,
I believe, this zebra should visit a dentist :))
saludos Loot

  • Great 
  • Janice Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 3277 W: 148 N: 6163] (18832)
  • [2008-08-26 0:47]

So, that's what he thinks of you Loot?
Or did he hear the latest rugby score???
I can hear him from here - he looks a bit like a donkey as it brays!!
Well done - excellent focus and sharp details.

Hi Loot,

Absoluut uitstekend. Ek het al die gesien in leeus ook.
Dankie vir die info en voorbeeld. So leer mens.


Hi my beloved friend Loot!
Nice to see you and your excellent shots again. A great and very nice timely capture of a Zebra! with superbly prepared notes as usual.
Many thanks for sharing this beauty.


  • Great 
  • anel Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 3053 W: 3 N: 8715] (40574)
  • [2008-08-26 1:52]

Hello Loot,
Absolutely amazing portrait, very expressive, stunning. Great! The impact of the picture, just with the haed is surely bigger as if you would have taken the whole animal.
Thanks also for the very instructive note (a little bit long).
Have a nice day

Hi dear Loot ,
Great shot at intersting miment.
Details is excellent and it has nice BG.

Kind regards

Wonderful shot! The tight crop along with excellent composition looks amazing.

  • Great 
  • Loro Silver Note Writer [C: 8 W: 0 N: 42] (557)
  • [2008-08-26 2:49]

Simply spectacular!

  • Great 
  • jesst Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 368 W: 0 N: 172] (2441)
  • [2008-08-26 2:56]

Interesting shot, tfs.

Baie mooi skoot Loot, super skerp, mooi agtergrond, baie mooi nota. Sover ek weet het die mens ook die orgaan van Jacobson.


Hi Loot,
Excellent picture. The face of the zebra make a very dynamic photo. Well done,

Hello Loot,
I love this shot of hilarious Zebra, excellent composition with fine focus
I had fun for some moment, thanks for sharing
Best regards

Hello Loot,

A great shot of this Zebra's head. Your lucky one (-: Excellent shot, technically almost perfect (in my opinion)
Long notes makes this photo again a very interesting object. Thanks for that Loot.

Regards and TFS BOB

Hallo Loot
I gladly add 2 points to this wonderful portrait. Humour is definitely the best medicine, and this is one of those images that "speak" to the heart. It certainly made me smile! I do not like it, I LOVE it. It is captures like these that I describe as dynamic and lively and that one would not mind to see more often. A fantastic shot, with good quality and a terrific moment caught. The humorous expression is priceless. The colours of the zebra are displayed well and the whole image is a feast to the eye. What else could I say? A favourite of course! Thanks for sharing. As always your notes was a pleasure to read.

  • Great 
  • wuta Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 855 W: 2 N: 617] (2142)
  • [2008-08-27 11:02]

Hello Loot , Another great portret with great details and perfect expose and great point of vieuw , thanks ,Greetings teunie .

Excellent shot, technically perfect!

Hi Loot,
Despite the extreme close up because zebra distance you´ve done a marvelous portrait, in the right moment during flehming. Details and zebra expresion are the best in your pic
Best regards

Dear Loot,

What an awesome write up! You've provided us with another excellent shot and a very informative note. I can honestly say that I just learned something :) Thanks!
Your shot is excellent - don't worry about not being able to change the lens. You've managed the situation very well I'd say. DOF, detail and overall composition is excellent. Thanks for both the picture and the awesome note. Say hi to Anna.

Best Regards,


Dear Loot,
I think he was showing his pleasure at being photographed by you. :)He has definitely given you a good pose. I too agree with you that the picture would have been priceless if it had been shot with a wide angle lens. But still it is a remarkable shot. Excellent POV, sharpness, exposure and lighting.Beautiful background too. Thanks for the share,
How are you and Anna?
I am on my toes nowadays.
Looking forward to Oct 30th when I can go back to my photography.:)
Miss you all a lot....:(

Hi Loot,
A nice captured portrait of this zebra making faces. I have also seen this phenomena with some domestic animals such as cows and dogs. Very well composed with sharp details. Thanks a lot for sharing.

  • Great 
  • manyee Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 3089 W: 230 N: 6774] (23770)
  • [2008-08-30 16:07]
  • [+]

Hi Loot,
I rather like it that you did not catch the whole head.
I think this frame is very effective, especially in exposing the "Flehman response".
(Sorry, I just had to show off and let you know that I learned a new biological term.) The details are quite astounding, plaque on the teeth and all.
I have to ask... What is that "thread" coming out of his mouth?
A fantastic close-up.
TFS. : )

  • Great 
  • Dyker Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 136 W: 0 N: 57] (170)
  • [2008-08-30 23:38]
  • [+]

Hello Loot
You are right, lauging is like a medicine. Take it often and take it unconditionaly. That I have learned in my circumstances. I have learned something new from your interesting and useful notes. I have seen domestic cats perform this action and never knew what or why they were doing it. The close cropping is not a problem as it actually allowed very good focus with sharp details on the zebra's face. Thanks for showing.

  • Great 
  • Jamesp Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 1369 W: 9 N: 6334] (18906)
  • [2008-08-30 23:51]

Hi Loot

Lovely action shot of this zebra - expert timing and great detail. Well seen and captured.


I have been trying to capture a hippo with open mouth without success for many years. I have to say that this is even better! I would love to see the whole photo to see why you cropped it like this. Well done, a winner!


Very nice, tight composure. the detail and sharpness of the subject is excellent again. The POV, DOF, BG and clarity are all excellent.


  • Great 
  • demeve Gold Star Critiquer/Silver Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 586 W: 12 N: 1682] (6165)
  • [2008-09-03 20:33]

Hello Loot,
Fantastic capture with great timing. You composed very well
and image is sharp and clean, it looks like some individuals that I have seem in the rural areas.. haha.. Well done!
Ps.. Nice to see your photos again after being gone for a


Hello my friend Loot
This is great stuff, I really mean great stuff. And if medicine is like this, I don't mind taking it daily. Bowling over, excellent presentation as always. You have captured this striped "donkey" with great skill and neatness. Really a pleasure to look at, and being away so long from the site it was a pleasant surprise that opened in front of my eyes. Both Hettie and I had a good laugh and enjoyed it tremendously. The contents of your notes is top of the pops.
Thanks for sharing.
Warmest regards.
Aaltjie and Hettie

  • Great 
  • PaulH Gold Star Critiquer/Silver Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 1137 W: 26 N: 3879] (13882)
  • [2008-09-04 6:12]

Hi Loot, strange, i was sure i commented on this one! No matter. Althought the timing is great in this shot, the detail and tone in the skin really helps this to be a much more visually powerful image. Your focus and DOF are both excellent too, but you have cuaght the elusive quality that is very hard to put into a wildlife shot...character. Very well done, superb shot!

Ciao Loot, fantastic portrait with great expression, wonderful details and splendid sharpness, very well done, ciao Silvio

Hello Loot
Medisyne sę jy, dit lyk eerder of hy op baie sterker mirsyne was, ietsie soos Klipdrift of Captain Morgan. Vol grappe die kęrel. Die fokus is wraggies so skerp. Kyk net na all daardie baard waarmee die ou spog. Die agtergrond maak die kopskoot pragtig uitstaan. Uitstekende notas, Rehanna

  • Great 
  • reina Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 257 W: 1 N: 330] (2032)
  • [2008-09-06 12:56]

Hi Loot, funny and full of action. Very interesting note aside. Good to see the both of you take so much out of photography. Keep up the good work.
TFS Reina

  • Great 
  • badar Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 106 W: 0 N: 160] (785)
  • [2008-09-07 2:19]

HI Loot,
Expressive, the drama is heightened by the darker background.The framing is just perfect.


Hi Loot,
They say timing is everything..and in photography that's in the strictly literal sense.
Your timing here is perfect, and the animals expression priceless.
I went to a place here in Texas last weekend where there R African animals running around on 400 acres..You can't leave your car, so you're somewhat limited. The zebra there came right up to my window at times. I got one simliar to this..but blew it out.
Forgot to turn off the flash :)
Well done!

  • Great 
  • EOSF1 Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 1393 W: 119 N: 5267] (23955)
  • [2008-09-12 11:01]

Hello Loot! Very funny shot with great technical qualities, fantastic image!


Hello Loot

This reminds me of a human response to a great joke.
The expression captured is priceless.
Excellent POV and DOF.
The clarity and focus is spot on.


I swear I saw this "fella" at the last Stampede in Calgary,
except for all that war-paint he is wearing in this shot!

I also saw an imitator sucking on a straw and looking like a wanna-be Alberta cowboy...

Thanx for bringing those memories back to live with this hilarious shot!

Yes, indeed pa'dner , laughter is THE best medicine! Too often folks forget THAT truth! ...

Meanwhile: I surely like the haircut on this chappy! Very sharp and totally in focus! My dentist will be disappointed though! Doesn't look like cousin Z... has flossed for a while!

Great shot, it made ME laugh! Flamin' thanx, from the city of the Flames!


what a nice set of teeth! *g* excellent "close"-up of the zebra´s dental zone and head. the details are amazing - the yellow teeth,
the hair on the chin, the pink tongue...never seen it in a way like this. excellent capture, even at 170mm *g*,
and best wishes from cologne,thor.

  • Great 
  • Adam73 Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 208 W: 5 N: 522] (2253)
  • [2008-10-29 16:16]

this shot is Hilarious!!!!! LOL what a face. the exposure is great, love the DOF and details are very nice. All you need is a creative caption.

  • Great 
  • jmp Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 1659 W: 95 N: 2273] (8415)
  • [2008-11-07 16:04]

Hi Loot,
As usual, a technically perfect portrait where every single parameter is pushed to the limit!
Eye-catching image, brain-feeding note and... a bit bittersweet evocation.
Best regards mf,
José Miguel

  • Great 
  • Callie Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 1101 W: 95 N: 2610] (7555)
  • [2009-08-23 22:11]

Uitstekend! Wat 'n gevreet! Laat my dink aan Japie se Party Animal! Wil nog altyd so 'n foto kry, maar kon nog nooit!

Hi Loot

This poor guy's face looks really battered, starting with the scar above the eye...

and then YOU shooting him...

The notes are very interesting!



Dear Loot,
At last I come again onto a photo from you during my search of images for my themes. I trawl the gallery to avoid being accused again of nepotism (chuckle, my friend:-))

Your Zebra (who needs a bit of tooth paste) displays definitely behaviour I have seen before in other species (including humans), and I add your excellent Zebra portrait to my theme "Animals' Behaviour, part two"

The Flehmen reflex is very interesting, and you truly researched this to the bottom! How did you find out about this phenomena to start with?

Concerning the image itself I am amazed to see this poor Zebra having an "old woman's" beard. Ought to get tweezers.

Thanks for sharing your work , the photo and the notes
Warm regards
And big hug from the Tzaneen Dam

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