a crafty trilobite (ansemaru) wrote in wtf_nature,
a crafty trilobite

Demon-duck, I say.

I'm working at a natural history museum in the behind-the-scenes collections. I see bizarre wtf-y things here frequently, but I don't have a camera, so I can't really share things like the alcohol-mummified fish I found in a closet or the mammoth tusks that are just sitting out on a shelf near where my office-thing is. But the other day, I found a fabulous creature in an office I passed. It was a stuffed, dead bird that resembled a New World vulture (Cathartidae), but with very large feet and long legs... and spurs on its wings! Clearly, birds with wing-spurs aren't that unusual, but this creature was by virtue of resembling a vulture. So I did a little digging, and found this:

Turns out, the thing was a Horned Screamer (Anhima cornuta)!

Note the wing spur.

This lovely creature is actuall a member of Anhimidae, along with the Crested Screamer and Black-Necked Screamer. The closest relatives of this small family are the members of Anatidae.... the ducks, geese, and swans! It lives in marshes in Columbia, Venezuela, Bolivia, and Brazil, feeding on water plants. The spurs are a defense mechanism that compensate for claws. So no scavenger or hellish minion of evil... Just a simple gooselike creature whose name comes from its shrieking calls. (Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Horned_Screamer)

Oh, and for the record: one may wonder how I mistook one for a vulture, when it clearly resembles a goose. The simple explanation is bad taxidermy. As I found out from the owner of the stuffed specimen that started my quest, the head had gotten lower and closer to the body as the neck collapsed and sank in, resulting in a vulturish look.
Tags: bird
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