For years I traveled everywhere in London using the London Underground. This meant that I ended up with a very disconnected mental map of the city. It was a bit like a video game world, where the parts you visit are mapped out in 3D, but the individual mapped areas are connected by doors that take you through empty unmapped space.
Each time I accidentally ended up walking from one station to another I would connect two previously unconnected regions of knowledge, and the effect would be revelatory.
Last week I was watching a documentary that gave me a similar feeling when it revealed to me that horses nurse their young. Suddenly I realized the bizarre truth: horses have tits.
Obviously, somewhere in my mind I knew that horses were mammals. Big weird shaped mammals, yes, but still clearly mammals.
Equally obviously, elsewhere in my mind I knew that a defining characteristic of mammals is that they feed their young by secreting milk from mammary glands.
But still: horse tits.
I’ve seen squirrel nipples. I’ve seen dogs’ dugs. I’ve seen cats drinking milk from other cats. I know that like Batman, actual bats have aerial areolae.
Yet none of these things had made me consider the possibility of horse tits. I simply wasn’t ready for it. It’s going to take me a while to assimilate this knowledge, to come to terms with horses breastfeeding. It’s been a few days so far, and I still find myself occasionally thinking: horse tits?