The Zoologist Guild, studying the fauna of Middle earth

The varied peoples of Middle-earth at times found unity in their pursuits, and all too often experienced deep rifts. Engage in lively conversations as we banter about the differences between the Alliances, and recruit for our People as well. Remember, keep it friendly.

Postby Ulugz » Mon Aug 25, 2003 7:28 pm

Not exactly D.H. I think the comfort issue was more due to the towering height of a standard horse. I don't know about the donkey thing, what do you feel is the tie-in with hobbit ponies and burros?<BR><img src="http://www.tolkienonline.com/mb/i/expressions/face-icon-small-happy.gif"border=0> need...more...da-ta...<img src="http://www.tolkienonline.com/mb/i/expressions/face-icon-small-happy.gif"border=0>
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Postby Dad-human » Mon Aug 25, 2003 8:39 pm

I'm not any kind of expert but I understand that donkeys are smarter than horses and have more endurance. Doesn't this seem like the hobbits' ponies?<BR><BR>And in Rohan both horses and ponies were kept. If they were the same species wouldn't it be a problem to keep them from interbreeding? And Theoden so easily brings out a pony for Merry which makes me think that they were common in Rohan. Would small horses be all that useful that the small, fairly primative society of Rohan would keep them as a seperate breed?<BR><BR>This is just my feeling. Of course I know that nothing will ever be proved.
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Postby Ranarwen » Fri Aug 29, 2003 5:33 am

Firstly Anya,<BR>Interspecies is possible but with animals of the same family. Eg a horse donkey cross that gives a mule, I also heard of a tiger-lion cross. THe problem is that later these hybrids cant reproduce. (even this rule isn't 100% because sometimes a female mule can mate with a horse and produce offspring. It is a very rare thing though)<BR>Your arguments are very true though, and scientifically speaking some things in Lotr would be impossible.<BR><BR>Dad-human, I think they just must have been separate breeds. Even in small communities different types of horses were kept. THe Polish tribes had developed both ponies and larger horses for their use. The Shire horses were probably something like the shetland pony, isolated from the population of normal horses and with small size as the stronger in the heridatery material. So even when mixed wiht a large horse they young would have probably been of small size and tall height would have been a resecive trait.<BR>After all, incredible things can be done wiht genetics even without the slightest scientific knowlege. I mean look at all these dog breeds. Many of them are ancient. And they are so varied. Size, coat lenght, legs. Their breeding was done for use only, and for many breeds so long ago, the people gave no thought what they were doing. If they wanted a small dog they "just" picked the small puppies from the litters and bred them together right?
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Postby Aiwe » Sat Aug 30, 2003 4:05 pm

Dad-human, I think that Ranarwen's right. A varied selection of horse breeds would be a useful thing to have in a large-ish community like Rohan. I'm no horse expert, but I would think that certain breeds would be suited to cart-pulling (being docile and able to work in groups), some for war-training and bearing armored soldiers (warhorses, which must be aggressive able to work independently), some for light riding and hunting (where the sheer muscle mass of a warhorse might be impractical), and perhaps small ponies for teaching children to ride. Riding is such a deep part of Rohan culture that children were probably tought to ride early--and for that sort of thing you would want something short, steady, and sturdy. The sort of thing a hobbit would feel comfortable riding. <BR><BR>--Aiwe
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Postby Ulugz » Tue Sep 02, 2003 11:44 am

Well we're finally back on line! Gave me some time to do some reading, i finally gave up hunting through boxes and bought a new copy of the Silmarillion. You know... nowhere in any of the Middle Earth stories does Tolkien mention donkies, (burros, asses, whatever you want to call them) or hybreds like mules. Even where mules or burros would make sense, like as pack animals, he uses horses or ponies. I wonder if they even exist in Middle Earth? Or if they do, are they are exotic animals from far off Harad or the mysterious East like leopards, lions and mumakul?
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Postby One_ElfEar » Wed Sep 03, 2003 6:08 am

Well...I had to print The Silmarillion for a easier reading. Of course i`m not sorry for doing it, even if it would have been lots better to find it in the stores...Anyway, reading it made things clearer, but even more complicated indeed(I'm not even trying to wonder what happened to the Walls of the World, when it was bent...). Because the world was changed so many times and all the stories concearn Middle Earth and Beleriand before it, so there even might be many animals that are not mentioned in the books, because of the different climate of the regions. <BR><BR>Here`s a fragment that might fit here:<BR><i>"For all living things that are or have been in the Kingdom of Arda, save only the fell and evil creatures of Melkor, lived then in the land of Aman; and there also were many other creatures that have not been seen upon Middle Earth, and perhaps never now shall be, since the fashion of the world was changed"</i><BR><BR>And what about Huan? He was said to be a wolf, but still he didn't act like one, coming from the Blessed Realm... <img src="http://www.tolkienonline.com/mb/i/expressions/face-icon-small-happy.gif"border=0><BR><BR>~*~*~*~*~*~*~<BR><i>Dea Electhel</i>, so named by the fair shieldmaiden of Rohan, <i>Lady EowynoftheGoldenHall</i><BR>...<i>Follow the Flame</i> <a target="_blank" href="http://www.tolkienonline.com/thewhitecouncil/messageview.cfm?start=0&catid=37&threadid=68239">here</a>
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Postby Ranarwen » Wed Sep 03, 2003 10:00 am

Well Huan was a dog wasn't he? A wolfhound. Ofcours he might have been a wolf but Tolkien didn't use the word because of its bad connotation. Besides wolf hounds have very distant looks. An Irish wof hound is a very tall animal, quite strongly built, with a somewhat heavy head, a borzoi or russian wolfhound is a dog similar to the greyhound while the saarlos looks almost identical to a true wolf. <BR><BR>I always lie to think of Huan as a wolf like dog or even a wolf though he might as well be a sight hound or even those haveily build, large hounds wiht large heads, loopy ears and a very ken sence of smell.
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Postby Dad-human » Wed Sep 03, 2003 2:18 pm

Thanks for the info on ponies. Of course in Rohan they might have had ponies to teach children to ride! I just never thought of that.<BR><BR>Donkeys originally came from Africa so they might have been off Tolkien's map at the time of the stories.
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Postby Dad-human » Mon Sep 08, 2003 5:34 pm

"You know... nowhere in any of the Middle Earth stories does Tolkien mention donkies, (burros, asses, whatever you want to call them) or hybreds like mules."<BR><BR>A ha! I was just reading "The Houses of Healing" and Pippin calls Merry an "ass". But then again this might be some other word translated. :-)
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Postby Ulugz » Wed Sep 10, 2003 3:04 pm

Hmm, long eared equine, or a refrence to what you sit on??? <BR>That's one for the Virtual Tolkien Study Group...
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Postby Dad-human » Wed Sep 10, 2003 6:47 pm

I don't think JRRT would use that word in the common American sense, unless it was an orc talking.
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Postby Ulugz » Sat Sep 20, 2003 11:36 am

You are probably right on that one, Dad-human. <img src="http://www.tolkienonline.com/mb/i/expressions/face-icon-small-tongue.gif"border=0> <img src="http://www.tolkienonline.com/mb/i/expressions/face-icon-small-smile.gif"border=0> So Hobbits knew donkeys well enough to have the term ass or asinine as common parlance. They just preferred ponies for general use, most likely due to their more tractable nature. So we have donkeys, ponies, riding horses, draft and war horses and Mereas for the known equines. I guess we can assume zebras, or something like them, share space with the oliphant way down south in Far Harad.<BR><BR>What little information we have on the lands south of Mordor (mostly mysterious names on maps), leads me to think that Khand is somewhat like India / Sumatra. Harad and Far Harad I imagine somewhat like the Middle-East and Africa. So you might expect to find tigers (I suspect in Middle Earth they would be called “Tygers”). In Harad, Ibex and Cashmere goats, Aardwolves and Fennec type desert foxes. In Far Harad, Mumakil (Oliphaunts), Lions (Lyonne?), Leopards, Antelope etc. (Actually I think I may have already posted some thoughts along these lines here…)<BR><BR>Do you think crocodiles exist in Middle Earth? The fell beast of the Nazgul seems somewhat pterodactyl-ish, but other than that, Dragons kind of fill up the reptile roster.<BR><BR>
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Postby Ranarwen » Sun Sep 21, 2003 2:47 am

Crocodiles...I don' see whay there shouldn't be any in Middle Earth. I think some more or less exotic animals would probably be streached out around Harad and Rhun. I acctually think that you'd have really a lot of "beasts" in Rhun. It was scarecly populated by people right? I mean all the human tribes moved west wards when they first awoke.Even the Easterlings were pretty much in the west. I think you just had these giant lands "down east" and maybe "up north". The white wolves or what ever came from the north when the river froze didn't they? <BR><BR>What do you think lived in Rohan except wild horses though. I mean, it was mostly empty fields, moors etc. Somewhat like a northern savanna. Do you think there could have been some kind of cheetah like cat for example? Wolves prefer woodlands I think, so there might have been some other canid. Built like the maned wolf, or the lycaon. <BR><BR>About the ass, well, I agree, I think a donkey was in mind, though who knows, it was Pippin who said it afterall! <img src="http://www.tolkienonline.com/mb/i/expressions/face-icon-small-wink.gif"border=0>
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Postby Ranarwen » Sat Oct 18, 2003 9:34 am

Hey there! <BR>I wanted to pose a question anout fauna outside of middle Earth! <BR><BR>Ok, so, I just became aware of the existance of the american cheetah (wel, post existance because it's gone now)<BR><BR>Anyway, is anybody informed more about it? I'm very interessted in its closness to the African cheetah.<BR><BR>And concerning Middle Earth. If you remember in the movie there was a scene in Bree where this one dude is holding a ferret. Now ferrets were kept by people for hunting. In LoTR there is not much reference on hunting, do you think ferrets, hawks and dogs were bred often for the hunt? And if so would they have been special breeds (dogs) and (the ferrets) would they have been ild animals of the mink kind, or a special type bred by humans?
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Postby Ulugz » Sun Oct 19, 2003 12:48 pm

There were actually three cheetah like felines in North America. Fossils of <i>Miracinonyx</i>, a genus of Machairodontinae have been found in Nevada, Wyoming, Colorado, and New Mexico. They were once thought to be similar to the Giant Cheetah of europe and Asia (<i>Acinonyx pardinensis</i>) but were reclassified when it was discovered they had fully retractable claws. <BR>During the late Pleistocene epoch of North America, 100,000 years ago, two species of cheetah, <i>Miracinonyx studeri</i> and <i>Miracinonyx trumani</i>, existed. Both shared similar morphological features with living cheetahs, including facial shortening and nasal expansion in order to facilitate the enlargement of respiratory passages to support oxygen uptake and distribution while running. Their presence on the American prairies is considered the primary reason living pronghorn “antelope” are so fast, there being no living predator that can match them in speed. Yet another extinct cheetah, <i>Miracinonyx inexpectatus</i>, from the early Pleistocene of North America (1 to 1.5 millions years BP) is thought to be closely related to the puma. Its body proportions are intermediate between those of a puma and those of living cheetahs, <i>Acinonyx</i>. The lower limbs of this cat were not as elongated and the claws were fully retractable. Based on skeletal features, <i>Miracinonyx inexpectatus</i> is thought to have been faster running than the puma but stronger and better equipped for climbing than <i>Acinonyx</i>. <BR>As hobbits had agriculture and a mill, they had to store grain. If they stored grain, they would have had a problem with rats. As Tolkien describes cats as creatures of Mordor in his 'Letters', felines were probably rare as pets in middle Earth. Ferrets and little terriers would have been used to control vermin I think. Stoats/ferrets have been used against rats and mice in England for ages, so it would make sense they existed in Middle Earth.
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Postby Ranarwen » Tue Oct 21, 2003 11:22 am

Wow! THat was good! THanx Ulugz! Do you have a link to some site or something? Id gladly see some pics, sceletal and drawings. <BR>I read a little bit about the puma-like one. Do you know why they were classified as cheetahs if they were more like a puma adapted to running? And how did they kill? All, of them. THe cheetach way, like first striking with their paws, having the prey fall and then strangling it? Or maybe the normal cat way...<BR><BR>I agree for pest control both terriers and ferrets might have been kept, though I think terriers (or other fast little dogs) were more common. I think ferrets could have been too dangerous in farms, the hens for egsample, would have been helpless if one broke in.
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Postby Ulugz » Mon Jan 31, 2005 3:23 pm

Slowly cleaning ages of accumulated dust off the skeletons and taxidermy specimens is a grueling task. The choking cloud exiting the windows of the zoology department could easily be mistaken for a small fire in the room...
Whew, it’s been a while!
I’d just about forgotten about this old guild of mine when I ran across this;

http://www.boneroom.com/fossils/fossils1.html click on New Fossils and grab a cup of coffee.
(The site takes a while to download, as it is heavy on color photos of fossil skulls being offered for sale. but it is well worth waiting for. I only wish I had the cash to invest in one of these. Ah well, I'll have to be happy with this company's fossil casts, and modern skulls, not cheap, but compared to $14000.00, a real bargin!!!)

A 15 inch long fossil skull of the giant hyena Dinocrocuta gigantea, one of the largest extinct carnivores to still have relatives among us. Peter Jackson's Wargs have a late Miocene precedent!
"Of the more than approximately 30 species of hyenas that roamed Eurasia during the Miocene, this was the largest of all. Dwarfing our modern day spotted hyenas, even surpassing the size of today's African Lions, this beast would have eaten almost anything it wanted."
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