Saturday, 29 October 2011

NY Times Solenodon Letter

Trailing the Solenodon.

A. HYATT VERRILL.

New York Times; Jan 4, 1936; researched by Alan Schenker, digitized by Doug Frizzle, October 2011

Letters to the Editor

Trailing the Solenodon.

To The Editor of The New York Times:

In connection with the specimens of solenodons in the Bronx Zoo it may be of interest to note that I was the first person to secure specimens of these strange creatures after they had been completely lost to science for over seventy years.

In 1906 I was commissioned to undertake an expedition to the Dominican Republic in search of the supposedly extinct species of solenodon (Solenodon paradoxus), the only specimen in existence at that time being the fragments of a skeleton in the Museum of St. Petersburg, Russia.

My method in carrying out my mission was unique. I had large numbers of postcards printed showing a picture of the solenodon as he was supposed to appear, with a statement that I would purchase specimens or pay for information as to their whereabouts. At the end of six months' intensive search I secured three living specimens. One of these gave birth to two young a day or two after being captured. The mother devoured these and promptly died herself, the other specimens dying a few days later. The solenodons were, however, preserved in formaldehyde and were eventually mounted and placed on exhibition in the American Museum of Natural History, where they remain.

Once the restricted locality where the surviving solenodons existed had been found, it was not difficult to secure others, and several naturalists obtained specimens, some of which were brought to this country alive, although none survived in captivity more than a few weeks.

A. HYATT VERRILL.

New York. Dec. 29, 1935.

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As an armed forces brat, we lived in Rockcliff (Ottawa), Namao (Edmonton), Southport (Portage La Prairie), Manitoba, and Dad retired to St. Margaret's Bay, NS.
Working with the Federal Govenment for 25 years, Canadian Hydrographic Service, mostly. Now married to Gail Kelly, with two grown children, Luke and Denyse. Retired to my woodlot at Stillwater Lake, NS, on the rainy days I study the life and work of A. Hyatt Verrill 1871-1954.