Sunday, April 26, 2015

Birthday: John James Audubon (1785-1851)

John James Audubon's gives me an excuse to post some of the delightful plates from his last work on the mammals - pardon me, "vivarious quadrupeds" - of North America. In truth, these were mostly prepared by his son John Woodhouse Audubon. Audubon himself was in failing health at this time, possibly suffering from Alzheimer's Disease, and the second and final volume of Vivarious Quadrupeds did not appear until after his death.

That is a black-footed ferret above, a species actually first described in the Western scientific literature by Audubon and his colleague the Reverend John Bachman: "It is with great pleasure that we introduce this handsome new species." Of course, this ferret also represents one of the great back-from-the brink stories in the annals of conservation. It was officially declared extinct in 1979, but was fortunately rediscovered, and today there are more than 1,200 animals in the wild, as well as captive breeding populations. The Toronto Zoo has led the way in the recovery of the species.

Arctic fox

Rocky Mountain sheep

Sea otter

North American beaver

Fox squirrel

Audubon's Animals The Quadrupeds of North America

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