OUTLANDER Links, Part VI: Wildlife
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.2) Wild boar
"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.)
"Pig, Daddy," he whispered. "Big pig."And here is a short audio clip of what a wild boar sounds like.
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.)
"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."4) Friesian horse
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.)
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.5) Wolf-dog hybrid
(From The Fiery Cross by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 39 ("In Cupid's Grove"). Copyright© 2001 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
"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."I also found this, from the Wikipedia article on wolf-dog crossbreeds:
"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.)
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."Here's a site with several different silkie legends. And some more seal photos here and here.
"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.)
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?