Home  »  Through the Brazilian Wilderness  »  Page 122

Theodore Roosevelt (1858–1919). Through the Brazilian Wilderness. 1914.

Page 122

monkey; these two were found at dawn, having stayed out too late.
  The early morning was always lovely on these rivers, and at that hour many birds and beasts were to be seen. One morning we saw a fine marsh buck, holding his head aloft as he stared at us, his red coat vivid against the green marsh. Another of these marsh-deer swam the river ahead of us; I shot at it as it landed, and ought to have got it, but did not. As always with these marshdeer—and as with so many other deer—I was struck by the revealing or advertising quality of its red coloration; there was nothing in its normal surroundings with which this coloration harmonized; so far as it had any effect whatever it was always a revealing and not a concealing effect. When the animal fled the black of the erect tail was an additional revealing mark, although not of such startlingly advertising quality as the flag of the whitetail. The whitetail, in one of its forms, and with the ordinary whitetail custom of displaying the white flag as it runs, is found in the immediate neighborhood of the swamp-deer. It has the same foes. Evidently it is of no survival consequence whether the running deer displays a white or a black flag. Any competent observer of big game must be struck by the fact that in the great majority of the species the coloration is not concealing, and that in many it has a highly revealing quality. Moreover, if the spotted or striped young represent the ancestral coloration, and if, as seems probable, the spots and stripes have, on the whole, some slight concealing value, it is evident that in the life history of most of these large mammals, both among those that