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Re: New Antarctic bird



Well, I got seven minutes in between sending the message and having it
publicly exposed :-)

On 1/4/05 9:56 am, "Thomas R. Holtz, Jr." <tholtz@geol.umd.edu> wrote:

> It's after midnight there in New Zealand, isn't it... :-)
> 
   Actually, it was mid-morning (9.40).

   And for those who were wondering where I got it from (and a couple who
were slightly off about where I got it from)...

>> Guy, J., & D. Peters. 2005. Tekelili hyperalbum gen. et sp. nov., an
>> interesting new bird from the Antarctic Tsalal Formation. New England
>> Journal of Science 86: 1-34.

>>     "Tekelili hyperalbum gen. et sp. nov. is described from a well-preserved
>> skeleton recovered from the Tsalal Formation of Antarctica. It was a large,
>> possibly pelican-like bird of uncertain affinities. Phylogenetic analysis
>> indicates a position near Sphenisciformes and Pelecaniformes, and it may
>> belong to the stem group of the former. Also included is a list of the fauna
>> recorded to date from the Tsalal Formation."
>> 
>>     Amongst the fauna recorded are two mammalian carnivores, one bear-like
>> and the other more similar to a procyonid, a pig-like herbivore, a number of
>> land-birds (Tinamiformes?), and a large tortoise. A large canid earlier
>> noted in connection with the Tsalal fauna is not mentioned - it appears to
>> have disappeared without a trace from the authors' memories. The fauna
>> appears to indicate a quite warm climate, while the formation was probably
>> marine. Also common was a distinctly triangular trace fossil, maker unknown,
>> which has been widely recorded from Antarctica. Unfortunately, the exact age
>> of the formation is difficult to determine.
> 
    The main source was "The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket" by
Edgar Allen Poe. Arthur Gordon Pym stows away on a ship named the 'Grampus'
which is overcome by mutineers which Pym and his allies fight off, then
wrecked. Pym is rescued from the wreckage, and ends up on board a ship which
conducts an expedition to the Antarctic. The ship is the 'Jane Guy' (Guy is
also the name of its captain), 'Dirk Peters' is the only other survivor of
the Grampus, who accompanies Pym on the Jane Guy.
    The Jane Guy discovers a warm, unfrozen sea within the Antarctic, and
eventually lands on the islands of Tsalal. There they initially befriend the
natives, only to be later betrayed by them. Only Pym and Peters (and a
captive native) escape in a canoe and end up drifting further south. It is
while they are drifting south that the narrative abruptly ends. Apparently,
while Pym and Peters made it back to New England, Pym died before completing
the narrative to be presented by Mr. Poe (the story was originally published
as a factual hoax).
    The Tsalalians have a peculiar horror of the colour white, which is
completely absent from their island (even their teeth are black, though
whether naturally or artificially is unclear). Any sight of white is greeted
by the horrified cry of 'Tekeli-li!' As Pym and Peters drift south, the
colour white becomes steadily more frequent. The native eventually dies of
fright. The last thing Pym sees in the last paragraph is a flock of large
white birds (what I was referring to) flying out of a mist, crying
"Tekeli-li!" as they head north, before a large white figure looms from the
mist.
    Sequels to 'Arthur Gordon Pym' (both actually far superior to the
original) were written by Jules Verne ("Les Sphinx des Glaces") and H. P.
Lovecraft ("At the Mountains of Madness"). Verne's book had the narrator
meet another Captain Guy, the brother of Pym's captain, and join him on an
expedition to try and rescue the crew of the Jane Guy. They do end up
rescuing Guy and a few others. It turns out, also, that only Dirk Peters
actually made it back to America, while Pym was lost in the Antarctic -
Poe's novel was written on the basis of Pym's diary which Peters carried
back with him. So I used Guy and Peters as authors, not Pym (plus I didn't
want to make it _too_ obvious :-P).
    So that's the bird, the authors and the bird's name ('hyperalbum', of
course, because of the whiteness). The fauna listed are animals encountered
at or near Tsalal. The bird is compared to both a penguin and a pelican
because at one point Poe mistakenly calls a penguin a 'pelican'. The 'large
canid' is a reference to Pym's Newfoundland dog Tiger, who is also stowed on
board the Grampus, plays an integral part in defeating the mutineers, and
then just vanishes. No explanation as to what happens to him, he just isn't
mentioned again.
    The triangular trace comes from 'At the Mountains of Madness'. An
expedition to the Antarctic discovers a city millions of years old,
apparently built by the prehuman 'Old Ones'. The triangular traces are their
footprints. The white birds of Pym become giant, blind, subterranean
penguins living beneath the city, their cry of 'Tekeli-li!' actually in
imitation of the Shoggoth, great amorphous slime-beasts originally created
by the Old Ones, who still lurk in the depths of Antarctica.

    Cheers,

        Christopher Taylor