25.7.09

Naming the Sloth Bear

From www.ironammonite.com

A battered wooden crate arrived in London for Mr Shaw, it was marked 'Urgent Attention'. Shaw, a gentleman naturalist, excitedly opened the crate and pulled out a thick black shaggy fur - it was slightly damp and smelling of mould. Spreading it on a large oak table in the centre of his crowded study, he ran his hands through the knotted reflecting on it's similarity to the overgrown coat of a dog. Next he came across the animals long soft tubular snout, immediately seeing the resemblance to another peculiar creature from South America which has recently been named as the anteater. But this animal was much larger and it's skin and dentition much different. Like the anteater however Its eyes were tiny and recessed suggesting an animal with poor vision. Shaw already had his suspicions on where to place this creature in the animal classification system but what convinced him so completely were the huge 4inch curved claws protruding from each of it's short limbs. Sloths were already known from South America and this was obviously some sort of giant form - like other sloths it used these inward pointing claws to hang from trees. The year was 1790 and Shaw proudly announced this new species naming it Bradypus pentadactylus - the 5 fingered sloth.

It later transpired that the crate Shaw had recieved originated in India and not South America at all. A mix up which created the curious beginning of the scientific identification of the Indian Honey Bear - The Sloth Bear.

1 comment:

  1. This is cool too ;-) Soni.

    ReplyDelete