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Iguana Featurette

Frank Leslie’s New York Journal of Romance, General Literature, Science and Art, New Series, Vol. 1, Pt. 2, selection from p. 112, Feb. 1855, published by Frank Leslie: New York, USA

This reptile, among all the animals of the menagerie of the Zoological Society at London, was selected for a feature because of its odd appearance and its importance to the “ancient fauna of England.”[1] It seems that even natural historians, whose attention theoretically tends towards standard models of the animal kingdom, are not immune to favoritism of oddities and politics. Along with the customs of natural history texts, the article describes the iguana’s country of residence, its favorite food in England (ripe pears), and its defense against humans.

 

 

Prairie Dogs and a Python

Penny Illustrated-Paper and Illustrated Times, Vol. XXI, No. 523, p. 221, Oct. 7 1871, published by Thomas Fox: London, UK

The image of prairie dogs at the Zoological Gardens of London is given context by an article detailing their habitat, which contributes to their phenotypic differences to squirrels; their bark-like chirps, which led to their nomenclature; diet; and of course their difficulty in capture, resulting from their speed and vigilance.

The article makes the python relatable and entertaining with an anecdote from the zoo, in which one of the largest snakes had swallowed whole a smaller snake. Certainly, behavior plays a key element in the study of animals, but how accurately does the latter depiction represent reptiles in the wild, outside the confines of forced cohabitation in a man-made box?

 

 

Captured Elephant Seals

Frank Leslie’s New York Journal of Romance, General Literature, Science and Art, New Series, Vol. 1, Pt. 5, selection from p. 280, May 1855, published by Frank Leslie: New York, USA

Purportedly caught from the Island of Desolation at four to five weeks old, these creatures did not eat during their journey to their new environment in England. In explanation of their name, the article compares the size of these seals to the vastness of land-bound elephants. The short article also comments on their great weight, slow gait, and docility, making the elephant seals easy to tame, despite their muscular jaws. Indeed, not only does the ‘scientific’ text put the animals in context of human manipulation, the illustrator cannot refrain from adding a human element through the ship drawn in the background of the seal’s Antarctic environment.

 

References

[1] Frank Leslie’s New York Journal of Romance, General Literature, Science and Art, New Series, Vol. 1, Pt. 2, p. 112, Feb. 1855, published by Frank Leslie: New York, USA