Sunday, September 16, 2007

More on the Rare Appalachian Mountain Field Mouse

Truly, very little is known about this particular species of field mouse. A recent Google search returned no results for such a mouse (excepting the single result generated by the existence of this page). But I am convinced that in these next 7 days I will see this mouse and, very near to the 250th Anniversary (September 20, 2007 - mark your calendars!) of its last siting, will produce an essay with an impact to natural science rarely seen since the Lewis & Clark Expedition.

What we do know about the mouse:

1) It was once spotted, but is not suspected to be any longer
2) It resembles the common field mouse in nearly every way (sans spots, possibly every single way)
3) Even in its supposed "extinction" or "disappearance" the vital role it plays in the predator-prey relationship of the Appalachian region has still been sustained - leading many to theorize about its whereabouts
4) Finally, we have the surviving journal entry of one Georges-Louis Leclerc, the 16th Century French naturalist who traveled to the New World to research its plant and animal life, and in his final days in America in 1757, spotted the field mouse. What follows is a translation of this entry from his work "Histoire Naturelle, Générale et Particulière" (which itself translates interestingly to "Natural History: General and Particular"):

"...such a small creature did I discover in the mounts
of the West, picking through the brush as if looking
for items to build a nest. It was at this moment I re-
-alized the nature of this New World was in no way
comparable to that of the Old World. This, one of
the larger species I have spotted in my travels
through this unforgiving land, confirms my theories
about the questionable attributes of this habitat for
plant, animal, and even human life. Yet, many of
these simple people know not what lies beyond
infertile grounds - lo, if they are to survive in the
West it will be only the plants and berries I have
previously described and on this mountain field mouse..."

It was this final siting that also officially set Leclerc's view that the plant and animal life of the New World was greatly inferior to that of the Old. Since this time, the mouse has been almost entirely forgotten; a small, furry, spotted or unspotted memory passed down in the tales of local lore. It will be these people I must seek out if I am to discover the likely whereabouts of the mouse.

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