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Darwin's Dinners

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63284.  Sat Apr 01, 2006 11:31 am Reply with quote


Charles Darwin described numerous species. Why did he find it impossible to describe Brown Owl?


Any suggestions welcomed.


Because it was indescribably disgusting.


As a young man, Darwin showed little promise that he would become one of the greatest scientists in human history. His father, Robert Darwin, wrote to him: "You care for nothing but shooting, dogs, and rat-catching and you will be a disgrace to yourself and your family". While Darwin was at Cambridge University, half-heartedly reading Divinity, his main daytime pleasures were not attending lectures but collecting beetles and shooting birds.

In the evenings, he was a member of the ‘Glutton’ or ‘Gourmet Club’ which met once a week and actively sought to eat animals not normally found on menus. Other members of the Club included: Whitley who went on to be an Honorary Canon of Durham Cathedral; Heaviside who became Canon of Norwich; Lovett Cameron, later vicar of Shoreham; and Watkins, the future Archdeacon of York.

Darwin’s son, Francis, commenting on his father’s letters, notes that the Gourmet Club enjoyed, amongst other things, hawk and bittern, but gagged at a dish of old brown owl, finding it ‘indescribable’.

Over the years, Darwin sharpened up considerably in the academic arena but never lost his taste for the allure of an interesting menu.

During the voyage of the Beagle, he ate armadillos which he said ‘taste & look like duck’ and an unnamed chocolate-coloured rodent which he claimed was ‘the best meat I ever tasted’. It was probably agouti.

In Patagonia, he tucked into a plate of puma (otherwise known as the mountain lion Felis concolor) and thought it tasted rather like veal. In fact, he originally thought it was veal.

Later, after exhaustively searching Patagonia for the lesser Rhea, Darwin realised he had eaten one, a few days after Christmas, thinking it was an ordinary greater Rhea, which had been shot by Conrad Martens, the ship’s artist. He sent back the bits of the bird he hadn’t eaten and Rhea Darwinii is named after him.

In the Galapagos, Darwin chowed down on Galapagos Land Iguana (Conolophus subcristatus).

On James Island in the Galapagos, Darwin wolfed down a few helpings of giant tortoise. Not realizing the importance of giant tortoises for his later evolutionary theory, 48 specimens were loaded aboard the Beagle which Darwin and his shipmates proceeded to eat, after which they threw the shells overboard.

A Phylum Feast is a shared meal containing as many different species as possible, eaten by biologists on February 12th to celebrate Darwin’s birthday.

Charles Darwin was born on 12th February 1809, exactly the same day as Abraham Lincoln.

Amongst Darwin's many achievements is the fact that he was the first person to remark that blue-eyed white cats are usually deaf.


BROWN OWL (either kind)



<<Dampier 2
(Darwin was a big fan of Dampier)

>>Deaf Americans, Deaf Hand Clapping


s: EBR
s: OCF
s: LLD
s: FFF
s: pin
s: amh
s: scm
s: smn

63519.  Mon Apr 03, 2006 6:03 am Reply with quote

Links to post 51734

64260.  Fri Apr 07, 2006 9:17 am Reply with quote

Q: Why did Darwin find Brown Owl indescribable?

F: Because he didn't like to talk about his time in the Girl Guides / Brownies.

64263.  Fri Apr 07, 2006 9:37 am Reply with quote

The Brown Owl is the same thing as the Tawny Owl (Strix aluco), contrary to what is asserted in Harry Potter. The Tawny is the owl that goes 'tu-whit tu-whoo', although it is now known that this sound is actually made by two birds, not one: the male calls 'hoo-hoo-hoo' and the female replies 'kew-wick'.

Brown Owl is the leader of a group of Brownies. It's claimed that one-third of all 8-year-old girls in the UK are Brownies (can't be true, surely?); their motto is 'Lend a Hand'. ("We're the Brownies, here's our aim / Lend a hand and play the game").

Frederick The Monk
64277.  Fri Apr 07, 2006 11:37 am Reply with quote

Link to dibbing and dobbing


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