Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Oct 14, Part 17 - The Dodo Carousel in the Jardin des Plantes, Paris

Beyond the big round tree shedding its fall leaves, we stumbled onto an apparition in the waning light. It was a carousel. Animals! Yeah, a welcome sight. My eyes were bleary from tiredness and the light was fading to the point where you had to look harder to see anything in detail. I watched the colorful giraffes going round and round for awhile before I realized that they weren't giraffes.

And the bird was not an ostrich. Or an emu.

It was a little confusing at first, because here came the gorilla and the panda, but if you look at the bird beyond the gorilla, you'll see the animal the carousel was named for - a dodo bird. Quite extinct. At the end of this post you'll see the sign. I've left the original very large if you click on it, so you can read about the animals (in French). They're not all extinct, but they're either extinct or threatened. The giant bird above is an aepyornis, or elephant bird, from Madagascar (the animal names are here linked to info so you can read about them). The lion behind it is not a typical African lion, but an Atlas or Barbary lion. The gorilla is a mountain gorilla (severely threatened), and of course the giant panda is still with us but very much endangered also.

Here's the panda again, and behind it is a thylacine, or Tasmanian wolf which, very sadly, became extinct as recently as 1936. Note the stripes on its rear end. This is no ordinary wolf, but a marsupial with a mouth that can stretch like a contortionist.

This African elephant has a child riding on its back.

The animal in front is a horned tortoise (Meiolania platyceps).

And here are the giraffe-looking things again, actually sivatheria (sivatherium = singular). Check this out. They're really interesting-looking creatures. The carousel had slowed down now, too, so you might want to click on the photo, because the animals are finally in focus.

And this guy is a glyptodon, a giant ancient relative of today's armadillo.

We know this one. It's a triceratops. With red eyes. I would really have liked to take the carousel home with me.

Here's Lee checking out the information and trying to read the French. He did a pretty good job, but (as I've said already) it was getting dark and we didn't linger over the reading. I took pictures and we moved on through the gardens. I left this photo very large if you want to click on it.

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