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The One Ring Forums: Tolkien Topics: Reading Room:
TORn AMATEUR SYMPOSIUM Day Two - Fauna of Middle Earth
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Jul 25 2013, 6:15am

Post #51 of 60 (156 views)
Well, Sam seems to read Bill's thoughts several times. [In reply to] Can't Post

Although this might be just his own conjectures, and completely off-base.

There are also Fatty Lumpkin and his communication with Merry's ponies to be considered; please note that they answered the names Tom Bombadil casually gave them ever after.


Jul 25 2013, 6:23am

Post #52 of 60 (164 views)
These ate excellent! [In reply to] Can't Post

Just one thing - which refers more to Elizabeth than to Rembrethil, as she had broadened the horizon to include Chrysophlax:
How do your theories connect to the sense of sundering from other animals, which Tolkien describes in Of Fairy-Stories?


Jul 25 2013, 7:06am

Post #53 of 60 (161 views)
Sorry, my ignorance. [In reply to] Can't Post

I haven't read OFS. Could you possibly expand on "sundering from other animals"? I don't generally see Tolkien's animals as "sundered" from others at all. More like natural members of a community. The special talent, if there is one, seems to me to be more on the side of the Wizard/Elf/Man/Hobbit dealing with the animals, that they were more open to understanding them and communicating by natural means. In other words, although there were "exceptional" animals such as Shadowfax ("one of the Mearas!"), Huan (who came from Valinor), and a few more, for the most part the Children in these stories were what we now call "whisperers".


Jul 25 2013, 1:51pm

Post #54 of 60 (154 views)
Well, not quite. [In reply to] Can't Post

I might be able to look it up tonight at home.

However, I won't be able to put it better than weaver and NEB did here - see especially the first paragraph, and section 3 of the questions (where NEB quoted the words I had in mind when I posted).


Jul 27 2013, 8:27am

Post #55 of 60 (159 views)
A late contribution from the late Reverend [In reply to] Can't Post

In browsing through "the complete root messages of the late Rev. Brian Smith" (see the In Memoriam thread on Main), this one struck me as being most appropriate for this thread:

(Sat, 10/12/2002 at 22:27 EDT) To share a communication from Dr. Leigh Van Valen:

Brian -

Yep, I'm the culprit. The paper is The beginning of the Age of Mammals, Evolutionary Theory 4: 45-80 (1978) and is Contribution no. 0 (there are now ca. 140) from the Lothlorien Laboratory of Evolutionary Biology. In order of appearance, the Tolkienesque players (italicized) are:
Protungulatum gorgun
Oxyprimus galadrielae
Deltatherium durini
Chriacus calenancus
Thangorodrim thalion
Arctocyonides mumak
Platymastus palantir
Platymastus mellon
Mimotricentes mirielae
Desmatoclaenus mearae
Deuterogonodon noletil
Litaletes ondolinde
Protoselene bombadili
Litomylus? alphamon
Tinuviel eurydice
Fimbrethil amboronae
Mimatuta morgoth
Mimatuta minuial
Earendil undomiel
Anisonchus athelas
Anisonchus eowynae
Mithrandir, new subgenus of Anisonchus
Ancalagon saurognathus
Niphredil radagasti

I hadn't realized before that there were 30 such derivations. All but the last species (an insectivoran) are condylarths, basal ungulates, although Ancalagon was predaceous, in fact the largest mammalian predator of its time. A couple of months before my paper appeared, someone else published the name Ancalagon for a Cambrian worm, so I changed mine to Ankalagon. The paper gives etymologies (not all are after characters) and also figures although, as is usual for the Paleocene, only teeth and some jaws are available. All but three species are known only from parts of the first million years or so after dinosaur extinction.

They're all real, at least the ones I list above. I'd appreciate the nature/source/reference of the contrary hints you mention (I don't bite.) Still, some whimsy beyond the fact of using Tolkien can't be excluded on occasion; I do edit the Journal of Insignificant Research.

I hope someday to finish my treatise on the natural history of Middle-Earth. Tolkien was a surprisingly good naturalist.


Leigh Van Valen leigh@uchicago.edu
Professor of Ecology and Evolution, and the Conceptual Foundations of Science
Dept. Ecology and Evolution
University of Chicago
1101 E. 57 St. [Zoology Bldg., room 403]
Chicago, Ill. 60637, USA
(fax: 773-702-9740)

I am looking for the journal article. More to come.

(This post was edited by Elizabeth on Jul 27 2013, 8:30am)


Jul 27 2013, 3:08pm

Post #56 of 60 (138 views)
What a fun read! [In reply to] Can't Post

Thanks Elizabeth! I found the data base and have been looking up the players...

Paleobiology database

I will spend a while longer looking through the descriptions. What an enduring legacy for JRRT. Fantastic that the Reverend posted it.


The first TORn Amateur Symposium starts this week in the Reading Room! Come and join in!


Jul 30 2013, 11:04pm

Post #57 of 60 (108 views)
and the complexity of prairie dog language! [In reply to] Can't Post

The CBC posted an article on 21 June that researchers have been decoding prairie dog language, which is apparently rather complex! There is some suggestion that human-animal translation is a mere 10 years away...

So the talking fox? Not so fairy-tale after all...

the news article is here


Jul 30 2013, 11:41pm

Post #58 of 60 (114 views)
Interesting article, thanks for the link Telain! [In reply to] Can't Post

Would like to see more corroboration of the results, but I think in any case it emphasizes the point that what we consider to be 'anthropormorphizing' in some ways is a misnomer, as it implies a division of skill sets that might not exist, and instead represent a gradient.

That's why I have always loved the Fox idea as JRRT so lightly sketched it, with his sense of 'normal' and 'not normal' in his universe.

The first TORn Amateur Symposium starts this week in the Reading Room! Come and join in!


Jul 31 2013, 8:52am

Post #59 of 60 (105 views)
Is it "morally" right? [In reply to] Can't Post

(This has nothing to do with TAS).

I'm all for scientific and technological advances - especially if it improves the way we use the environment. Can you imagine if we could start talking to dogs and dolphines though, and they start telling us how much damage we're doing to the environment? That would make me feel even more guilty!


The first TORn Amateur Symposium starts this week in the Reading Room! Come and join in!


Jul 31 2013, 4:24pm

Post #60 of 60 (119 views)
I feel it is one of those things... [In reply to] Can't Post

...that sounds wonderful--even awesome--in the imagination, but dreadful in execution. Not that I like to look for problems, but, I can think of so many problems!

Imagine if we start talking to the animals and they find out we've been damaging the environment?! I predict a Hollywood summer blockbuster starring Mark Wahlberg and many improbable consequences.

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