[lit-ideas] Re: Thereabouts

  • From: John McCreery <john.mccreery@xxxxxxxxx>
  • To: lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Tue, 8 Dec 2015 07:51:43 +0900

While we are on the subject of birds. The Galapagos mockingbird is a perfect
little horror. These birds mob sea lion pups and peck out their eyes, returning
to eat the carrion when the pups die.

And we thought humans are nasty.


Sent from my iPad

On Dec 8, 2015, at 4:13 AM, david ritchie <profdritchie@xxxxxxxxx> wrote:

On Dec 6, 2015, at 10:28 PM, John McCreery <john.mccreery@xxxxxxxxx> wrote:

Have you heard of the Common Potoo? Found in Amazonia, this insectivorous
hawk, has evolved an artful camouflage. Perched on top of a broken palm
trunk it fades into the break. Looks exactly like the broken bit. Devilish
cunning that bird.

Thanks for this. I looked up images on the web. What an extraordinary
beast. “Related to nightjars and frogmouths.” Seems ripe for Lear-ean touch.

A Frenchman named Louis
described de common patooie,
as someting one keeps taxonomically
beside de nightjar,
which is not at all far
from de bird
of de gob
of de frog.

Another favorite from our recent visit to Ecuador was the Hauxin (pronounced
"Watson") and nick-named "stinky turkey." It consumes large leaves and has a
digestive tract so designed that it renders the flesh of the bird disgusting
and inedible to potential predators. "Alimentary, my dear" instantly comes
to mind.

Wiki spells it Hoatzin, from the Greek genus, blah blah, meaning, “wearing
long hair behind.” What you’ve got there, son, is a mullet bird. Or a punk.
“The taxonomic position of this family has been greatly debated, and is
still far from clear.” Quite right too. Can’t have that sort of look in the
nice tidy jungle. No sir. Not no way.

More seriously, "In 2015, genetic research[5] indicated that the hoatzin is
the last surviving member of a bird line that branched off in its own
direction 64 million years ago, shortly after the extinction event that
killed the non-avian dinosaurs.[6] This makes it the oldest living line of
birds, as the last common ancestor of the remaining birds are all younger.[7]”

What a wonder.

David Ritchie,
biologically ignorant in
Portland, Oregon

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