Thursday, March 26, 2009

OUTLANDER Links, Part VI: Wildlife

Diana Gabaldon's books describe an amazing variety of flora and fauna. Here are some of my favorites from the animal kingdom:
1) Four-eyed fish
"Talking to a fish," I finished. "Yes, well...have they really got four eyes?" I asked, in hopes of changing the subject.

"Yes--or so it seems." He glanced down at the fish, who appeared to be following the conversation with rapt attention. "They seem to employ their oddly shaped optics when submerged, so that the upper pair of eyes observes events above the surface of the water, and the lower pair similarly takes note of happenings below it."

(From Voyager by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 50 ("I Meet a Priest"). Copyright© 1994 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
2) Wild boar
"Pig, Daddy," he whispered. "Big pig."

Roger glanced in the direction of the little boy's gaze and froze.

It was a huge black boar, perhaps eight feet away. The thing stood more than three feet at the shoulder, and must weigh two hundred pounds or more, with curving yellow tushes the length of Jemmy's forearm. It stood with lifted head, piggy snout moistly working as it snuffed the air for food or threat.

(From The Fiery Cross by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 108 ("Tulach Ard"). Copyright© 2001 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
And here is a short audio clip of what a wild boar sounds like.
3) Baboon
"A baboon," I said, enjoying the sight of his muscular back flexing as he scrubbed, "is a sort of very large monkey with a red behind."

He snorted with laughter and choked on the willow twig. "Well," he said, removing it from his mouth, "I canna fault your observations, Sassenach." He grinned at me, showing brilliant white teeth, and tossed the twig aside. "It's been thirty years since anyone took a tawse to me," he added, pressing his hands tenderly over the still-glowing surfaces of his rear. "I'd forgot how much it stings."
(From Voyager by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 33 ("Buried Treasure"). Copyright© 1994 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
4) Friesian horse
These black horses had great floating masses of silky hair--almost like women's hair--that rose and fluttered with their movements, matching the graceful fall of their long, full tails. In addition, each horse had delicate black feathers decorating hoof and fetlock, that lifted like floating milkweed seed with each step. By contrast to the usual rawboned riding horses and rough draft animals used for haulage, these horses seemed almost magical--and from the awed comment they were occasioning among the spectators, might as well have come from Fairyland as from Phillip Wylie's plantation in Edenton.

(From The Fiery Cross by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 39 ("In Cupid's Grove"). Copyright© 2001 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
5) Wolf-dog hybrid
"He's a handsome creature, Ian," he said, scratching the thing familiarly under the chin. The yellow eyes narrowed slightly, either in pleasure at the attention or--more likely, I thought--in anticipation of biting off Jamie's nose. "Bigger than a wolf, though; it's broader through the head and chest, and a deal longer in the leg."
"His mother was an Irish wolfhound," Ian was hunkered down by Jamie, eagerly explaining as he stroked the enormous gray-brown back. "She got out in heat, into the woods, and when she came back in whelp--"
"Oh, aye, I see."
(From Drums of Autumn by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 1 ("A Hanging in Eden"). Copyright© 1997 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
I also found this, from the Wikipedia article on wolf-dog crossbreeds:
The first record of a wolf and dog breeding in Great Britain comes from the year 1766 when what is thought to have been a male wolf mated with a Pomeranian bitch, which resulted in a litter of nine pups.
And just a few months later, in the summer of 1767, Ian acquired Rollo. Coincidence? Maybe, maybe not. <g>
Another interesting bit of trivia: The 18th-century surgeon, Dr. John Hunter, mentioned in the upcoming Lord John story "The Custom of the Army", is a real historical figure who apparently had a fascination for wolf-dog hybrids, and kept one as a pet for many years. (I learned this from a biography of Dr. Hunter called THE KNIFE-MAN by Wendy Moore, recommended to me by Diana on Compuserve last year. Interesting book, if you like the sort of details about 18th-century medicine that Diana includes in her books.)
6) Seals / Silkies
"A silkie is a creature who is a man upon the land, but becomes a seal within the sea. And a seal," he added, cutting off Jemmy, who had been opening his mouth to ask, "is a great sleek beastie that barks like a dog, is as big as an ox, and beautiful as the black of night. They live in the sea, but come out onto the rocks near the shore sometimes."
"Have you seen them, Grandpere?" Germain asked, eager.
"Oh, many a time," Jamie assured him. "There are a great many seals who live on the coasts of Scotland."
(From A Breath of Snow and Ashes by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 49 ("The Venom of the North Wind"). Copyright© 2005 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
Here's a site with several different silkie legends. And some more seal photos here and here.
Hope you enjoyed these, and please let me know if you have any more links to unusual flora or fauna mentioned in the books.

If you find these links interesting, check out my previous "OUTLANDER Links" blog entries:
OUTLANDER Links, Part 14: 18th Century Clothing
OUTLANDER Links, Part 13: Plants and Herbs
OUTLANDER Links, Part 12: Standing Stones
OUTLANDER Links, Part 11: Science and Technology
OUTLANDER Links, Part 10: Weaponry
OUTLANDER Links, Part 9: Historical Events
OUTLANDER Links, Part 8: 18th Century Medicine
OUTLANDER Links, Part VII: Gemstones
OUTLANDER Links, Part V: Castles and Palaces
OUTLANDER Links, Part IV: Native Americans
OUTLANDER Links, Part III: All Things Scottish
OUTLANDER Links, Part II: Colonial North Carolina
OUTLANDER Links, Part I: Culloden
What Do These Things Look Like?

7 comments:

Mitzi said...

Those are wonderful Karen. It's no wonder Jamie was taken aback by the beauty of the Friesian. What a magnificant animal!! And I'm still giggling at the picture of the Baboon's red behind....To Funny.

I just love coming to visit your blog. You do an amazing job!! Thanks so much.

Mitzi

Karen Henry said...

Mitzi:

Thanks! I admit I thought the picture of the baboon's behind was just hilarious. It's not something you're likely ever to forget once you've seen it, either -- especially in combination with that particular quote! <g>

I agree, the Friesian is gorgeous, even if you know nothing at all about horses (and I don't).

Karen

Kristina said...

Karen--
Thank you for your fabulous links--this is sooo much fun!
--Kristina

SlogBite said...

I am just making the rounds to SlogBite member sites and using SlogBite’s new game to make the site choices for me, and this time your site was chosen. If you haven’t tried it you really should give it whirl. http://www.slogbite.com/particpant-features/slog-machine

BTW, I am in the process of making the SlogBite categories even more granular. I want to enable you, and all SB members, to create an accurate profile of your site using the SB categories to show off your best and/or most important posts/articles. Therefore, if you have the time, please let me know what additional categories you would join if I created them. You can, and should get very specific. Take a look at SB's category list and leave a comment as to what else you would like to see. http://www.slogbite.com/joining-slogbite/category-list

Do you think there is enough interest to make Outlander it's own category?

lillian said...

I recently came across your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I don't know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.


Sarah

http://adoptpet.info

Karen Henry said...

Hi Sarah:

Welcome! Glad you're enjoying my blog.

Karen

goldensparks said...

Hi friend.. Interesting post.. Nice blog work.. keep it up..
will drop by your site often.. Do find time to visit my blog and post your comments..
Have a great day.. Cheers!!!