Darwin: murdering a fox, not helping a frog

Screen Shot 2016-02-20 at 01.36.50“A fox (Canis fulvipes (Lycalopex fulvipes)), of a kind said to be peculiar to the island, and very rare in it, and which is a new species, was sitting on the rocks. He was so intently absorbed in watching the work of the officers, that I was able, by quietly walking up behind, to knock him on the head with my geological hammer. This fox, more curious or more scientific, but less wise, than the generality of his brethren, is now mounted in the museum of the Zoological Society.”

… and so Darwin helped to bring the aptly named Darwin’s fox a little closer to extinction.

“Amongst the Batrachian reptiles, I found only one little toad, which was most singular from its colour. If we imagine, first, that it had been steeped in the blackest ink, and then when dry, allowed to crawl over a board, freshly painted with the brightest vermilion, so as to colour the soles of its feet and parts of its stomach, a good idea of its appearance will be gained. If it is an unnamed species, surely it ought to e called diabolicus, for it is a fit toad to preach in the ear of Eve.

Instead of being nocturnal in its habits, as other toads are, and living in damp obscure recesses, it crawls during the heat of the day about the dry sand-hillocks and plains, where not a singel drop of water can be found. It must necessarily depend on the dew for its moisture; and this probably is absorbed by the skin, for it is known, that these reptiles possess great powers of cutaneous absorption. At Maldonado, I found one in a situation nearly as dry as at Bahia Blancha, and thinking to give it a great treat, carried it to a pool of water; not only was the little animal unable to swim, but, I think, without help would soon have drowned.”

…the great scientist not helping toads at all. From The Voyage of the Beagle. Go read it, it is brilliant and good fun:

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