About a week ago, it happened that I received an e-mail and a WhatsApp that both contained the same mistake: confusing main with mane.
So I wrote a visual exercise, as I think people often remember visual lessons better. But if you like written explanations, main means chief in importance or principal, and mane is the long hair growing on the back or around the necks of certain animals; the fur or hair that you thought was decorative before you read the following examples. Main and mane are homophones, which means that they are pronounced exactly alike even though they are spelled differently.
Horses are by far not the only animals that have manes. They have manes mainly to help rainwater run off their necks but also to keep warm.
In truth, the main animal to have a mane is a male lion. They do not cultivate their manes to protect their necks, but instead to attract females. Lionesses prefer lions with dark manes.
Both male and female giraffes have manes. Their manes are mainly used as a defense against insects. No two giraffes have the same patterns, their markings are like human fingerprints.
Zebras have striped manes, although it is not their main characteristic. Their main characteristic is their stripes, which repel some insects and confuse predators when they are in a zeal.
Hyenas have unimpressive manes; their main feature is their teeth and their laugh. Their laugh let other hyenas know their social status.
The endangered Sumatran rhinoceroses (or rhinoceri) have manes, although this type is not the main species in the rhino family. They are Asian and have been on our planet longer than any other living mammal.
There is a wild goat that lives in India called the Himalayan Tahr that has a fantastic mane. Unfortunately, the Tahr’s main purpose in life thus far is to be hunted by humans.
Genus, which are also called Wildebeests, are cousins of the antelope and have manes. Genus don’t hear very well, so they have to make friends with baboons and zebras, who hear better and warn everybody loudly that a predator is in the area. Lions, leopards, cheetahs, crocodiles, pythons, wild dogs and hyenas all make genus their main meals.
Some dogs, like this Russian Caucasian Ovcharka, have magnificent manes. They are known as the most stubborn dogs in the shepherd family, but it could be that they have gained this reputation unfairly because some very stubborn and vain humans have exported them to warm climates. Besides their manes and stubbornness, another one of its main characteristics is that they don’t tolerate other dogs very well.
The Bactrian camel’s main characteristics are the two humps on its back, but it also has a cuddly mane. This type of camel exists mainly in domesticated forms, as the wild ones are mostly extinct. However, they are the only species of wild camel left in the world, and they are also the only mammals that can quench their thirst with salt water.
Male Patagonian sea lions have manes, which is why they are called sea lions. They mainly feed on fish, but they also like squid, octopus, penguins, pelicans and seals when they can catch them. They are mainly, but not exclusively, a harem-territorial species.
Golden Tamarins have magnificent manes and their main habitat is in the tropical rainforests of southeastern Brazil. These little guys are one of the main sources of seed dispersal in the rainforests. They have an interesting characteristic in that they are very good about sharing food with their families and friends.
The maned wolf, known as the lobo-guará in Brazil, is not really a wolf, but it is the largest canid in South America and is the only species left in the genus Chrysocyon, which means “golden dog”. It is not closely related to foxes or wolves, and its main genus died off about 7 million years ago. They always have black manes.
Warthogs are the only pig species that are adapted to savanna habitats. They live in Kenya, Somalia & Eastern Ethiopia and often allow monkeys and mongooses to groom their manes. They have two pairs of tusks and the lower pair, although smaller, is razor-sharp. And they don’t have warts on their faces, those funny bumps are mainly padding for protection during mating season fights.
The lion-tailed macaque also has a silver-white lion-like mane. They are arboreal and native to India and mainly live way up in the canopies of the rainforests, not touching ground except when they need to. They are one of the most threatened species mainly because of human activity, but also because they avoid human proximity at almost any cost.
Gelada baboons have fantastic manes, and are graminivores, which means that their main diet is grass. 90% of their diet, to be exact. They eat grass all day long, just like cattle, but they also spend a lot time grooming each other’s manes. And besides that, they are known for their intelligence, sociability and the “bleeding hearts” they have on their chests. Sometimes they live in groups of up to 1,200 geladas!
Cats that are native to colder climates simply grow manes in the winter in order to adapt. They use their manes like scarfs, and shed the most part of them in warm weather. These cats are so smart that their outer fur is waterproof in the winter. Of course, if you were to communicate with a cat that has a mane, he, she, or it would tell you that they grow it because in their hearts they are lions.
Occasionally, males of the species Homo sapiens grow manes. There is not a lot of consistent evidence as to why they do this, but most studies claim that they do it to look stronger and more aggressive to other males of their species.