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Bestiaries- Real Poop

Hello, and greetings and Salvete all 'round,

I have here before me a copy of _The Book of Beasts_ by T. H. White.  It is a
much better and more informative read than the article I posted earlier
sumarizing it.  At the time of publication (1954), it was the only copy of a
Midieval Bestiary in print in English.  It deals with twelfth century veiws
in England.  Most of the animals are exotic, so all information came from
reports and legends.  T. H. White includes some wonderful and well researched
footnotes that add to his direct trranslation of the Latin Bestiary.  It is a
quality paperback with good pen and ink illustrations, and cost only $7.95.
 I recommend it to anyone interested in the subject.
Since there seemed to be interest in the barnicle goose, I will reprint that
section here for the information of all.  This is not a paraphrase, and are
the author's exact words.  This particular beast did not appear in the Latin
text, but was referred to in White's footnotes, so he further explained it in
an appendix.

     "The Barnacle or Tree Goose deserves a paragraph of its own.  It was
invented to account for the facts that (a) some geese, being migratory, were
not seen to breed in the south and (b) shellfish like mussels do have the
general tulip shape and some of the coloration of wild geese with their wings
folded.  There is also an etymological muddle about wings, for translators
had been liable to render the two shells of an oyster as 'wings'.
     "'There are likewise here many birds called barnacles,' wrote Giraldus
concerning Ireland in 1187, 'which nature produces in a wonderful manner, out
of her ordinary course.  They resemble the marsh-geese, but are smaller.
 Being at first gummy excrescences from pine-beams floating on the waters,
and then enclosed in shells to secure their free growth, they hang by their
beaks, like seaweeds attached to timber.  Being in process of time well
covered with feathers, they either fall into the water or take their flight
in the free air, their nourishment and growth being supplied, while they are
bred in this very unaccountable and curios manner, from the juices of the
wood in the sea-water.  I have often seen with my own eyes more than a
thousand minute embryos of birds of this species on the seashore, hanging
from one peice of timber, covered with shells, and already formed.  No eggs
are laid by these birds after copulation, as is the case with birds in
general;  the hen never sits on eggs in order to hatch them; in no corner of
the world are they seen either to pair or build nests.  Hence, in some parts
of Ireland, bishops and men of religion make no scruple of eating these birds
on fasting days, as not being flesh, because they are not born of flesh.  But
these men are curiously drawn into error.  For, if anyone had eaten part of
the thigh of our first parent, which was really flesh, although not born of
flesh, I should think him not guiltless of having eaten flesh.'
     "Giraldus, like St Jerome, was fond of the theory that the Irish were
cannibals in any case."