Posted by: Rob Viens | September 14, 2013

Peter, Sid and Snook

On the morning of September 10th, after sleeping off a long day’s climb (and the maté and cigars), Darwin set up to follow the chain of Postas back to Buenos Aires. He wrote:

“In the morning we fairly scudded before the gale, & arrived by the middle of the day at the Sauce Posta. — On the road we saw very great numbers of deer & near the mountain a Guanaco. — I should think this latter animal was not to be found any further North on this side of S. America. — The plain which abuts against the Sierra is traversed by curious ravines, they are not above 20 feet wide & at least 30 deep; there are very few places where they are passable. — I staid the evening at the Posta, the conversation, as is universally the case, being about the Indians. The Sierra de la Ventana, was formerly, a great place of resort for the Indians; three or four years ago there was much fighting there; my guide was present when many men were killed; the women escaped to the saddle back & fought most desperately with big stones; many of them thus saved themselves.” (Sept 10)

Over the next couple of weeks Darwin would encounter (and eat) several of the animals that he had described in earlier diary entries – including guanacos, deer, rhea, armadillo, and puma. It’s funny – he spent five years of his life and put himself at grave danger to be able to observe and catalog these “new” animals that very few people outside of South America had ever seen before.  Yet today, any 3-yr old can turn on a TV and find many of these species dancing across the screen – now immortalized as icons of a global pop culture.  Here are a few examples:

Peter Puma – who scraped with Bugs Bunny in a classic Warner Brothers Cartoon:

Peter Puma

Contrary Condor – who messed with fellow bird Donald Duck (Darwin has yet to encounter condors, but he will soon):

Contrary condor

Although Bugs and Donald got the upper hand in the former two examples, I suspect a real-life encounter with pumas and condors would not have ended as well for them.

Darwin obsessed over “discovering a new type of rhea but today kids can see them in Saturday morning reruns – like in this image of a rhea rescued by Dora’s cousin Diego:

Rhea on Diego

And who says ground sloths are dead?  Here are a couple that live on:

Sid, the ground sloth who made it big in the “Ice Age” series of films:

Sid the sloth

And lastly, Snook – the laid-back sloth who got his own kids TV show on PBS (Big, Big, World):

Snook the sloth

I think Snook is supposed to be a tree sloth, but he certainly looks like a ground sloth to me…

Makes you wonder what will be commonplace to a 3-year old in the year 2200 that we have not even discovered yet! (RJV)

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