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Re: [mythsoc] on the trail of the Succarath

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  • Stolzi@aol.com
    In a message dated 3/31/00 6:11:04 AM Central Standard Time, ... keep ... Manatees live in warm waters, don t they? Patagonia is extremely frigid. Mary S
    Message 1 of 5 , Mar 31, 2000
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      In a message dated 3/31/00 6:11:04 AM Central Standard Time,
      ERATRIANO@... writes:

      > The
      > Patagonian animal which is the "manatee" in this tale is what seems to
      keep
      > coming up on the web.
      >

      Manatees live in warm waters, don't they? Patagonia is extremely frigid.

      Mary S
    • Stolzi@aol.com
      I ve looked up the long page in Spanish, and though I haven t had time to read it through, it was originally published around 1899 and seems to be about the
      Message 2 of 5 , Mar 31, 2000
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        I've looked up the long page in Spanish, and though I haven't had time to
        read it through, it was originally published around 1899 and seems to be
        about the possible existence of a NON-extinct Megatherium in the wilds of
        Patagonia. This is then linked to the earlier Jesuit report of the Su or
        Succarath.

        http://www.argiropolis.com.ar/ameghino/obras/ameghino/neom.htm

        More later on this breaking story :)

        Mary S
      • Stolzi@aol.com
        Here s some of the Succarath/Megatherium story, a translation or paraphrase of the highlights. Be very aware that the whole story dates back to 1898; still,
        Message 3 of 5 , Mar 31, 2000
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          Here's some of the Succarath/Megatherium story, a translation or paraphrase
          of the highlights. Be very aware that the whole story dates back to 1898;
          still, it is fascinating. I have a few comments of my own in [ ]

          Mary S
          ========================================================
          The megatheriums are huge. Toothless, with a special conformation, somewhat
          like sloths and somewhat like anteaters, they resemble the first in their
          heads and the second in their legs and tail.

          Who has not heard of the megatherium, or if living in a city, has not seem
          their skeletons? It's the strongest, thickest, heaviest mammal which has
          ever trodden the earth's surface.

          The bones look like a house under construction. The owner of this
          substructure could in life be longer than seven meters and 2 1/2 meters tall
          and of an extraordinary weight.

          The remains of the megatherium are frequently found in the clay of the
          pampas, mixed with others of the same family but not as huge, such as
          Lestodon, Scelidotherium and Mylodon. The Mylodons reached the size of
          rhinoceroses and have a lot of tiny seed-like bones found in association with
          their skeletons, apparently part of a sort of flexible armor.

          In 1789 the first megatherium skeleton was found and was sent by the Spanish
          Viceroy to Spain; King Carlos III sent word that the government should send
          him a living specimen, even if it were a small one, and if not a living one,
          the freshest one available, packed in straw! This is generally quoted as
          an example of howling ignorance, but is really reasonable considering the
          amount of unexplored territory at the time, and the excellent condition of
          the fossil skeleton which reached Spain.

          The few travelers who have gone through Patagonia and been the guests of the
          Tehuelche Indians, have heard them speak of a mysterious large quadruped,
          horrible to look at and invulnerable, which, they say, cannot be wounded by
          arrows, spears or firearms. They call it the Iemisch or "water tiger," and
          are afraid even of the name: when asked for details, they become quiet and
          subdued, silent, or evasive in their answers.

          Recently, my brother Carlos Ameghino, who has been going through Patagonia
          for the last twelve years making scientific collections and geological
          studies, has pulled back a tiny corner of the dense veil which has covered
          the existence of this mysterious being. In the middle of last year, from
          Santa Cruz, he sent me a few specimens with the following message: ....

          "in the possession of an Indian I have seen a piece of Iemisch hide in which
          are wrapped the tiny bones which I send you, similar to those which are found
          with Mylodon fossil skeletons. Hompen, another Tehuelche Indian, has told me
          how going from Senguer to Santa Cruz, he met on the road a Iemisch which
          would not let him pass, but which he succeeded in killing with "bolazos" [a
          bola? Good heavens! or it might mean he threw rocks at it.] According to
          them, it is amphibious and walks and swims with equal ease.

          "It is nocturnal and strong enough (they say) to take horses with its claws
          and drag them underwater.

          "They say it has a short head, with large tusks, and ears without flaps, or
          very small ones; short, flat feet, with three toes on the front feet and four
          on the back, membraned for swimming and armed with formidable claws. The
          tail is large, low-hanging and prehensile. The body is covered with short,
          firm, stiff hair, of a uniform bay color. They say it is taller than a puma,
          but with shorter legs and a much thicker body.

          (1) F. Ameghino, Premiére notice sur le Neomylodon Listai un
          représentant
          vivant des anciens Edentés Gravigrades fossiless de l’Argentine.
          La Plata,
          Août, 1898, id. An existing Ground-Sloth in Patagonia, in "Natural
          Science", vol XIII, p. 324-326, London 1898. Supplementary data which I
          sent to the naturalist Mr. Oldfield Thomas of the British Museum were
          communicated by him to the London Zoological Society, 19 November 1898.
          _______________

          Various scientists sent expeditions from several countries, some said they
          had seen it, or shot at it with no success, or barely escaped from it.

          There are various references in print to this animal, but we will only
          mention the History of the Conquest of Paraguay, Rio de la Plata and Tucuman,
          by the Jesuit Father Pedro Lozano, written in 1740-1746, before the famous
          skeleton was sent to Spain.

          In Vol. 1, pp. 185-186 of the Lamas Edition of 1873 of this work, we find
          this paragraph:

          "On the edges of the Rio de la Plata province, towards Patagonia, we find a
          very fierce animal called Su or Succarath, which generally walks toward the
          river banks.

          "It is horrible to look at; at first it appears to have the face of a lion,
          or even a man, since in front the ears the face is bearded, with short hair;
          its body is narrow near the loins, but thick at the rear; the tail is long
          and very thickly bristled, with which it loads up its pups when attacked by
          hunters, covers them and hides them, yet can run away in spite of its load.
          [I'd say there's a load here, all right]

          "It lives by stealing, and because of its hide is pursued by the natives, who
          can use the skin to protect themselves from the weather. They are usually
          hunted by digging a pit, covered with branches.

          "When the incautious animal falls in, with its young, seeing that it cannot
          get out, either through rage or generosity it destroys the young with its
          nails, so that they will not come into the hands of humans, giving at the
          same time horrendous roars to frighten the hunters, coming up to the mouth
          of the hole to shoot the beast with their arrows until it dies, raging."

          From beyond the tomb an anonymous and silent witness gives testimony to the
          truth of Lozano's report, with bones lost in the depths of a cavern, there at
          the southern extremity of Patagonia.

          Three years ago in April of 1896, Dr Otto Nordenskhold of the University of
          Upsala was visiting Southern Argentina. He went into a cave and found parts
          of the hide of an unknown quadruped. These remains were taken to Sweden, and
          remained without identification until our first publication about the
          mysterious mammal of Patagonia permitted them to recognize that it was the
          same animal. These remains were described by Dr. Einar Lonnberg, who proved
          that they belonged to a representative of the Megatherium family, similar to
          the Mylodon.
          _______________
          (2) On some remains of Neomylodon Listai Ameghino, brought home by the
          Swedish expedition to Tierra del Fuego, 1895-1897, by Dr. Einar
          Lönnberg,
          Stockholm, 1899.

          Another piece of skin was taken to London and has been described in detail by
          A. Smith Woodward [wasn't he mixed up with Piltdown Man?]
          _______________

          Dr Lonnberg noted that the skin was accompanied by some shattered guanaco
          bones, stone instruments and a human skeleton: evidently the skeleton of an
          ancient Patagonian who was using the hide as a covering when he took refuge
          in the cave and died there!

          Published in La Piramide, June 15 1899, Vol. 1, pp. 51ff.
        • Steve Schaper
          ... While I initially suggested ground sloths, the behavior with the pups sounds very marsupial. And there -were- large marsupials in South America in the
          Message 4 of 5 , Mar 31, 2000
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            At 1:38 PM -0500 3/31/00, Stolzi@... wrote:
            >In a message dated 3/31/00 6:11:04 AM Central Standard Time,
            >ERATRIANO@... writes:
            >
            >> The
            >> Patagonian animal which is the "manatee" in this tale is what seems to
            >keep
            >> coming up on the web.
            >>
            >
            >Manatees live in warm waters, don't they? Patagonia is extremely frigid.


            While I initially suggested ground sloths, the behavior with the pups
            sounds very marsupial. And there -were- large marsupials in South
            America in the past, as there were in Australia.

            ====================================
            Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?
            sschaper@...
            members.delphi.com/sschaper/web/sschaper.html
            ====================================
          • Eleanor Farrell
            ... (etc.) Then there s the Megatherium Trust, in which Norman Urquhart unwisely invested Philip Boyes money -- leading to the latter s demise and Harriet
            Message 5 of 5 , Apr 1, 2000
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              Mary wrote:

              >Here's some of the Succarath/Megatherium story, a translation or paraphrase
              >of the highlights. Be very aware that the whole story dates back to 1898;
              >still, it is fascinating. I have a few comments of my own in [ ]
              (etc.)

              Then there's the Megatherium Trust, in which Norman Urquhart unwisely
              invested Philip Boyes' money -- leading to the latter's demise and Harriet
              Vane's arrest for his murder [_Strong Poison_ by Dorothy L. Sayers]. The
              rest, of course, is literary history...... and even Inklings-related!!

              Ellie




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              Eleanor M. Farrell
              Editor, Mythprint
              P.O. Box 320486
              San Francisco, CA 94132-0486
              E-mail: emfarrell@...

              Mythprint: Mythopoeic Society newsletter
              Mythopoeic Society web site: http://www.mythsoc.org
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