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1627 A Beast Called Su, colour.

1627 A Beast Called Su, colour.

C011/0858

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Credit

PAUL D STEWART / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY PAUL D STEWART / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Caption

Woodblock engraving in the text. From Sebastian Munster's account of the New World from the Cosmographia. German edition of 1627 dealing with the navigation of Magellan to Tierra del Fuego. The Su turns up in bestiaries since Gessner and Topsell 1607. It is said to come from Patagonia, a land of giants (there were greatly exaggerated reports of the size of the Tehuelche tribe in Patagonia right up to Darwin's day). All authors report that the Su is "cruel, untameable, impatient, violent, ravening and bloudy (sic)" (Topsell). They also state that it devours its own young rather than let them be taken by Hunters. What this animal might be based on is unclear. Some authors have claimed an extinct ground sloth, but there seems no clear likeness in this account.

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