Elyse Friedman

Is Chance The Real Mother Of Invention?

This 59-second video of wild foxes stumbling onto someone’s backyard trampoline says a lot to me about how humans likely developed and progressed.

Samron, “Foxes Jumping On My Trampoline” (2008)

Two animals, in what appears to be a pre-mating play-fight, have jumped onto a trampoline. This bit of happenstance leads to an unforeseen result: intense springiness.

Notice how one of the foxes, I’ll call it Fox 2, is immediately intrigued and distracted by this new and unexpected feeling. “What the hell,” Fox 2 seems to be thinking, as he separates from Fox 1 in order to explore the bouncy surface. He jumps up and down repeatedly, testing it out, feeling it. Fox 1 (who clearly has no imagination) doesn’t give a damn, and tries to resume the mating ritual, but Fox 2 is no longer into it. They separate.

Fox 1 goes to one side of the trampoline and sits—facing in, waiting patiently for Fox 2 to come around. Fox 2 wanders to the opposite side of the trampoline, facing out—he gazes into the distance, appears contemplative. I venture that this new experience has left him a changed fox. The wiring has been altered. A previously dormant part of the brain is twitching and lighting up. He turns, glances momentarily at Fox 1, then looks away and resumes examining his new discovery.

– Elyse Friedman

Ryeberg Curator Bio

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Elyse Friedman is the author of “Long Story Short, a Novella & Stories," and three novels, “Then Again," “Waking Beauty,” and “The Answer to Everything.” She's also written a poetry collection, “Know Your Monkey." More Elyse Friedman here.