Bull in a China Shop

posted: 04/11/12
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As seen in "MythBusters: Red Rag to a Bull."

Finding: BUSTED

Explanation: This myth has been on record since the early 1800s — it was even captured in a dance-hall song. If someone says you're like a bull in a china shop, odds are you have a reputation for being clumsy when you should be careful. That's why pitting an 1,800-pound animal against Grandma's gravy boat makes this myth seem like a no-brainer. Surely, setting a bull loose in a china shop would lead to dish damage of catastrophic proportions.

But when the MythBusters put it to the test, what they discovered was more bull ballet than dish destruction. The bulls nimbly avoided aisles of shelves stacked with fragile china. Introducing multiple bulls didn't even cause the carnage MythBusters expected — the animals daintily trotted amidst the breakables.

So what gives?

Bulls, horses and other animals with hooves can pivot 360 degrees. By lifting three legs and leaving just one hind hoof on the ground, a bull can turn sharply in one quick motion — much like the pirouette of a classically trained dancer. This ability, especially as the bull takes a corner, delivers some china-preserving results, making the myth itself the most fragile thing in the room.

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