Monday, September 19, 2005

Animal of the Week September 19, 2005

Ah-ha me hearties.
OK, that's as far as I go with Talk Like a Pirate day. I can't believe that people humour such ridiculous frivolity... here's Animal of the Week. This week's animal of the week is the Ara tricolor (Cuban macaw)—or should I say was, because like a few other AOTWs before (Haast's eagle, Gigantopithecus, Megalodon, Homo floresiensis off the top of my head), this multicoloured parrot is an ex-species. Last recorded in 1874, Cuban parrots were, I like to think, one species adopted by pirates (there's no evidence that pirates kept parrots but they very likely did trade them when returning to Europe so may well have kept them as pets themselves). The golden age of piracy was between the 1670s and 1730s when presumably these birds were still relatively—to extinct—common, as were a few other of the seven macaw species, the five of eight parakeet species, and the three of twelve parrot species of the Caribbean that are now extinct. So who knows what species were favoured by Blackbeard, Emanuel Wynne, Jack Rackham, et al; but maybe Cap'n Flint should be imagined as one of these. Cuban macaws were much smaller than the large Amazonian Red and Green or Blue and Gold macaws used in parrot displays at zoos today; unfortunately, their ability to ride penny farthings along tightropes is not documented.


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