Monday, October 19, 2009

Mustachioed Clopper Dingo

Strangely enough, the Mustachioed Clopper Dingo is not related to any species of animal from Australia. In fact, the "Dingo" is actually a small Himalayan Llama native to the high mountains of Nepal. The creature was given its name by Joseph Dalton Hooker a 19th Century naturalist and explorer who was weathering out a blizzard on the slopes of Mount Ama Dablam.

Near death and suffering from a series of snow-blindness related hallucinations, he saw a creature that reminded him, in his madness, of the Australian canine, which he'd seen on on a recent expedition to Australia. Unfortunately, (and unbelievably given the drawing to the left), that wasn't even the strangest hallucination he had. Hooker also came to believe that his sherpa guide was Charles Darwin, a friend, colleague, and mentor. He later described a series of rousing, hilarious dialogues in the tent while they waited for the weather to break, as well as an earlier night when Darwin and he broke out the medicinal alcohol and ended the evening with Darwin singing old sea chanteys in his underwear. Not surprisingly, Darwin and the guide remembered none of it. Hooker continued to believe it, though, and in fact went on to dedicate his Himalayan Journals to Darwin as if Darwin had actually been there. By the end of Darwin's life, they were no longer talking.

The Mustachioed Clopper Dingo has a series of "fur scales" that help it to stay warm in one of the world's least hospitable climates, as well as exceptionally large ears that serve to give it an amazing early warning system with respect to both avalanches and predators.

Over shadowed by the more romantic Snow Leopard, the Llama is virtually unheard of outside the high mountains of Nepal. It's safe to say that no computer operating system will be named after the Mustachioed Clopper Dingo.

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