Saturday, July 14, 2012


I have been thinking a lot about fruit. First we had Europejara, the frugivorous pterosaur. Then our plum tree started dropping dollops of fruit all over the yard. I found myself working as a dispersal agent for the plums by giving them away to anyone who would take 'em. I guess these events got my subconscious looking at fruit eaters of a slightly weirder bent than your run of the mill monkeys/birds. And the animal that popped into my head was the Dr. Seuss escapee....the Binturong.

Binturong- Arctictis binterong
Sometimes referred to as a "bearcat" it is actually a member of neither family but a member of the civet family. Largely frugivorous this cat sized night plunderer is especially important in spreading the seeds of the Strangler Fig. Native to Southeast Asia the Binturong is the only member of its genus and, besides the Kinkajou, the only member of the carnivoran family to sport a prehensile tail. It also produces a musk reminiscent of "buttered popcorn". And btw the language that the "Binturong" name comes from is extinct so no one knows what its name means.

Strangler Fig- sp. unkn
Now many might be tempted to think of this guy as a "living fossil" based on its ancient lineage of civets. But I myself think of the term "living fossil" as a little overplayed and often times misleading or inaccurate. Instead I tend to think of the Binturong as fairly typical of the type of mammal you might run into in an early Eocene "hothouse" forest. Highly arboreal, eats lots of fruit but also some opportunistic carnivory- you don't know if its gonna steal your ham sandwich or you fruit salad.

And besides the Binturong is such an unusual, widely overlooked critter that any publicity I could create for the critter is worth it.

I mean look at that freak ( I don't mean Conan btw).

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