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Re: [mythsoc] on the trail of the Succarath

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  • 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 1 of 5 , Mar 31, 2000
      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 2 of 5 , Mar 31, 2000
        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 3 of 5 , Mar 31, 2000
          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 4 of 5 , Apr 1, 2000
            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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            Editor, Mythprint
            P.O. Box 320486
            San Francisco, CA 94132-0486
            E-mail: emfarrell@...

            Mythprint: Mythopoeic Society newsletter
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