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Excerpt from the Annals of Natural History, xiv, 1822, “Description of a Flightless Swan of the Southern Indian Ocean” by Robert Frazer, Botanist, Royal Navy

The anatomical descriptions show it in the Anatinae family and closest in skeletal structure of the genus Cygnus, with vestigial limbs three inches in length behind the furcula. Other remarkable features are the extended metatarsus with semi-palmate feet, used for wading and running, and the hard turtle-like beak, with which it cracks open both shell-fish and the seeds of the Boab tree… With its extended neck vertebrae it is best described as a Flightless Swan, though one requiring a new Sub-Genera for Linnean classification: I propose Indiana Cygnus as a descriptive binomial.

Appendix B: excerpts from the Diaries of Robert Frazer 1812-1816, private collection,

On the shores of the Isle’s southern Estuary we made our first Discovery:

flocks of Flamingo-like birds like running through the shallows on tall legs

On Collection it resembled a Swan but with stunted wings! It’s Neck

is equally graceful to the English variety but ends in an Ugly head

and Turtle-beak, Fat and Hooked, which can Reportedly snap a Finger.

The wading flocks of these Oddities closely resembled Flamingoes

but unlike other Flightless Birds of the Antipodes

they were feeding both in water and on land. The meat proved

good at table, similar in Quality to the American turkey.

The Estuary waters contained Marine Life of such Multitude

that a productive Fishery would be quick to Establish;

its stock of fishes, crabs, Sharks, Dolphins and eels

made it sometime Hard to put oars into the Water.    

A mile Upriver the Stream ran Fresh then Wound for many miles

through a rolling Plain verdantly covered in Useful palms and trees:

Boabs and Proteas dominated the high ground

while a jungle of semi-tropical Woods occupied the lowlands

one a Mahogany of peculiar dimensions and Strength.

It would appear that this is a Dominion of Birds;

by day colourful Parrots and Cockatoos occupy the trees

some so active we first mistook them for Monkeys

by Night the forest floor is alive with flightless species

 – a moth-eating Dove was collected, no larger than a man’s hand -

yet we have not seen a single Mammal!

However where we bivouaced that Night, by the River,

I awoke to hear the Roar of a Large animal in the Rushes

and when I Ran out, nothing could be seen.

On Returning to the Northern Shores of the Estuary

we made our next Remarkable Discovery:                          

three Tiny Men - not four foot tall

Naked and unadorned, pursuing Swans.

They appeared not unlike the Pygmies of New Guinea,

with similar Temperament: they Threatened                                

us with Spears, there was a Brief exchange of Shouts,

then the womenfolk ran Quickly with their Babes

into the forest, followed Soon by the Men.

They were Diminutive Negroids: Pygmies

unclothed and Possessing the most basic Tools.

For the rest of the Exploration none other of these Folk

were encountered, tho not far downstream we found rudimentary branch Shelters

and abandoned cooking Fires, all as tiny as a Doll’s house.