Not proven to have been caused by lightning, but a reasonable assumption; the effects are a bit more dramatic (and less beautiful) than Lichtenberg figures (cow photo credit Cairns Post)
I did some more searching and found this (link now dead) -
When lightning hits the ground, current flows through the earth in a wide area around the point of impact. This is how a lightning strike can kill a field full of cows - the long wheelbase of the average cow means that a nearby strike induces a significant potential difference across the ground spanned by the cow's front and back legs; current flows through cow, cow dies.
There is extensive discussion of mammal deaths by lightning at Tetrapod Zoology, including photos of large groups or entire herds of animals being killed at one time; in such cases ground conduction, not direct strikes, has to be responsible.
That's why it's recommended that humans caught in the open should not only crouch low, but keep their feet close together - if you're not struck directly, you don't want your feet far enough apart to create a potential difference for voltage moving through the ground.
Addendum: via Laughing Squid, Squid, this infographic illustrating the points above.
When I started blogging in 1997, it was a social practice. It was something that my friend Andrew and I started doing connected to an independent study that we were taking at Brown. As a result, we read each other’s work and talked about it, online and off. My practice evolved over the years as I switched to LiveJournal and then forked my blogging into public and private practices. When blogging was “cool” in the mid-2000s, I was immersed in a blogging community where we were all reading and thinking about each other’s writing. As more and more people caught onto blogging, the practice became professionalized and my blog professionalized alongside that transformation. I still get angry and frustrated (“someone is wrong on the internet!!”) which prompts me to blog rants and essays, but blogging hasn’t really felt social in a long time. And I’ve been sad at how little I’ve written in recent years, especially as I reflect on all sorts of things happening around me.
A few weeks ago, the good folks at Medium came to me with an interesting proposal. They asked if I’d be willing to be a regular contributor to a collection they were putting together. Rather than simply offering me a platform with a large audience, they offered me something else: a small community to blog with. To my delight, that community included all sorts of old friends as well as folks who I don’t know but respect. Members of the group who are much funnier than I am concluded that the collection should be labeled: “The Message: A Pandaemonium Revolver Collection.”
This is an experiment. We’re trying to figure out what it means to incentivize each other in our writing, to spark ideas for each other, and to give feedback to each other as we blog about all sorts of things. For me, this is an opportunity to step back and think about blogging whatever’s on my mind – not just research-driven essays or angry rants, but reflections and commentary and all sorts of other good stuff. Per my agreement with Medium, I will not be reposting here what I blog there until 30 days after the post originally goes up on Medium. But hopefully this arrangement will allow me to start really engaging with the practice of blogging again.