'The Challenge' Field Study, Entry 1: We Find Ourselves In Thailand...

In addition to the cameras, this season of "The Challenge" was documented in print. Check out the latest behavioral analysis, straight from our anthropologist-at-large's Thailand field notes!


By Carey O'Donnell 

Week 1

Phase 1 of cast member species integration is complete. After a treacherous migration across the Pacific, the herd nestled themselves in a remote part of the Thai jungle. As per usual, this specific type of cast prefers to settle in areas of the world where there is little relief from the humidity. Because of this preference for extreme heat, territorial animosity between the nesting species can rise as fast as the temperature; however, a peculiar thing to note is that this particular cluster, despite being Alpha in both the male and female contingents, have paired off with their personal "Rivals" within their own gender. For whatever reason, they have each decided to work with their enemies to help one another gain territory over the nest through displays of strength and agility.

Individual members of the herd, ones that have been documented before in this semi-annual migration, have already begun to make their presence known, almost as if they know they're being studied...


CT, who decided to pair off with old rival Wes, is carrying out his typical display of authority and libido. He's already initiated fights with fellow male members of the herd, specifically rival-duo Johnny and Frank, who are unafraid of CT's territorial chest beating. It's mating season in the Jungle, and CT has already begun wooing his former mate, Diem. Diem's rival-partner, Aneesa, doesn't trust CT, and appears concerned that this reunion could render Diem emotionally weakened and lessen their chances of gaining territory within the herd. Case in point: CT has also set his sights on one of the newest female members -- a naive, doe-eyed young thing named Anastasia. Perhaps CT plans to use his unusually high levels of pheromones to manipulate the opposite sex, who were awarded control of the Jungle selection process for male herd members by their spiritual leader, TJ, when he is not engaged in tests of physical strength?


Other members of the herd are facing issues of their own. Naomi had to head back to her home nest to tend to a sick family member, leaving rival-partner, Cooke, on her own. However, Cooke, who is one of the strongest females, got some luck after being informed that a former member of the herd is migrating over the ocean to join her in the competition, bettering her (very good) chances to win.


Speaking of competition! The herd wasted no time in competing for dominance over the nest. Their first challenge was to have one member of each team hang from a wire, high above the water, while their partner leaped from the dock into their arms. Dunbar and Tyrie on the male side immediately lost, while Diem and Aneesa, some of the oldest members of the herd, also failed. (CT could already be succeeding in his strategy!) Later, the female side of the herd decided that male pair Derek and Robb would compete with the male losers of the first competition (Dunbar and Tyrie) in The Jungle.


As evident in the past, physical strength is not everything. While Derek and Robb are both smaller than Dunbar and Tyrie, their speed and resourcefulness secured them another week with the herd, exiling a very frustrated Dunbar and Tyrie from the nest.

It will be a struggle to maintain secrecy while studying this species, and their immediate displays of physical dominance and social manipulation have me afraid of what they'd do if I am ever discovered. Until next time...

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