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<   No. 1559   2007-05-04   >

Comic #1559

1 Minnesota Jones: I say, how did the Vatican get hold of that?! {pointing to a large bronze statue of a wild cat}
1 Monty: The snow leopard statue?
2 Minnesota Jones: This came from my dig at Troy! It's a likeness of Priam's favourite pet, one of a dozen snow leopards that Dymas gave as a wedding gift.
3 Minnesota Jones: But when Hector died in the war, the grieving Priam couldn't bear to look at them, and sent them all to a local pen for stray animals.
4 Ginny: But that would mean...
4 Minnesota Jones: Yes. He put twelve Troy ounces into the pound.

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The snow leopard Uncia uncia is a large wild cat native to mountainous regions of central Asia, and is also know as the ounce. Despite its name, it is apparently not very closely related to the leopard Panthera pardus.

Priam was the legendary king of Troy during the Trojan War, and was married to Hecuba, daughter of Dymas. They were the parents of Hector, who died tragically during the War.

Troy weight is a system of weights different to the more common avoirdupois system, but both using units with the names of ounce and pound. The avoirdupois, or common, pound consists of 16 ounces, each ounce being equal to 28.349523125 grams, for a total of 453.59237 grams. Troy pounds, on the other hand, consist of 12 troy ounces, each troy ounce being 31.1034768 grams, for a total of 373.2417216 grams.

As if this isn't confusing enough, troy weights are actually still in use, for weighing things like precious metals and gemstones.

So if anyone ever asks you what weighs more, a pound of gold, or a pound of feathers, the corect answer is a pound of feathers, because feathers are measured in avoirdupois pounds, whereas gold is measured in troy pounds.

This photo of the leopard statue is an image taken from Wikimedia Commons. It is copyright of the photographer, Andreas Steinhoff, who allows its use for any purpose with proper accreditation (which is what I'm doing here). The statue itself is in the Tierpark Berlin.

2017-04-30 Rerun commentary: Monty Jones is clearly well-travelled enough to be able to recognise a snow leopard instantly, even if it's in bronze statue form and doesn't have the correct colouration.

Since writing this original annotation, in 2008 the snow leopard was reclassified based on genetic studies and its scientific name is now Panthera uncia. But still, according to the most recent cladogram of the genus Panthera, snow leopards are more closely related to both jaguars and tigers than to leopards.

Now if only someone would re-assess the data on troy and avoirdupois weights and fix those.

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