Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 44.djvu/830

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(1562). He attributed to it most disgusting habits and applied the supposed appropriate name of gulo—a "glutton." Judging the animal by its external appearances, it was classed with the Ursidæ, or bear family; and its gluttony made it at once conspicuous in comparison with its less voracious relatives. That the "glutton" is grossly carnivorous is a fact, but the stories of its insatiable appetite, and its reputed habits of gorging till distended like a balloon, and the consequent method of obtaining relief, are purely fabulous.

With the discovery of America a magnificent field was opened to adventurers, and "travelers' tales" found extraordinary inspiration. In 1663 Pierre Bouchet, the Governor of Three Rivers, in New France, described an animal "smaller than a fox, that climbs up trees; it is called 'child of the devil,' "and rapidly following this account came the most astounding stories. Not so repulsive but quite as improbable accomplishments were freely

PSM V44 D830 Territorial limits of the beaver and beaver eaters.jpg

The shaded portion shows the distribution of the beaver eater while the lines _._._ mark the northern and southern limits of the beaver.

recounted. The animal, it was said, killed the moose and caribou, and was more than a match for bear or wolf; but as for the timid beaver, the appellation "beaver eater" significantly suggests the fate of this defenseless rodent. It is important to remember that during almost the entire period in which these fables were so current the object of the chase was beaver pelts. Giant monopolies