Tuesday 28 March 2017

Tell me, why do lions have manes?

Prospective Oxford University students have been asked why lions have manes as part of the institution's interview process
Prospective Oxford University students have been asked why lions have manes as part of the institution's interview process

Why do lions have manes? Would it matter if tigers became extinct? And why are both ladybirds and strawberries red?

These are just some of the interview questions faced by students hoping to win a place at Oxford University.

The prestigious institution has released a sample of the conundrums posed by tutors to give an insight into its interview process.

Prospective biological science students have been asked to discuss why it matters if tigers become extinct, while those hoping to read materials science have been asked to calculate how hot the air in a hot air balloon would need to be to lift an elephant.

The questions have been released just two weeks before the closing date for students to apply to Oxford.

Owen Lewis of Brasenose College suggested "why do lions have manes" as a question for biological science students.

"Some of the best interview questions do not have a "right" or a "wrong" answer, and can potentially lead off in all sorts of different directions," he said.

"Applicants might have picked up ideas about the function of a lion's mane from independent reading or from watching natural history documentaries. That's fine - but I'd follow up their response by asking how they would test their theory.

"When I've used this question in interviews I've had all sorts of innovative suggestions, including experiments where lions have their manes shaved to investigate whether this influences their chances with the opposite sex or helps them win fights over territory."

Professor Lewis also suggested: "Ladybirds are red. So are strawberries. Why?" and "would it matter if tigers became extinct?" as other questions.

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