Home  »  Through the Brazilian Wilderness  »  Page 128

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

Page 128

the nearly or quite monochrome blacks, reds, and dark grays. The bodily condition of the various beasts was equally good, showing that their success in life, that is, their ability to catch their prey, was unaffected by their several color schemes. Except white, there is no color so conspicuously advertising as black; yet the black jaguar had been a fine, well-fed, powerful beast. The spotted patterns in the forests, and perhaps even in the marshes which the jaguars so frequently traversed, are probably a shade less conspicuous than the monochrome red and gray, but the puma and jaguarundi are just as hard to see, and evidently find it just as easy to catch prey, as the jaguar and ocelot. The little fawn which we saw was spotted; the grown deer had lost the spots; if the spots do really help to conceal the wearer, it is evident that the deer has found the original concealing coloration of so little value that it has actually been lost in the course of the development of the species. When these big cats and the deer are considered, together with the dogs, tapirs, peccaries, capybaras, and big ant-eaters which live in the same environment, and when we also consider the difference between the young and the adult deer and tapirs (both of which when adult have substituted a complete or partial monochrome for the ancestral spots and streaks), it is evident that in the present life and in the ancestral development of the big mammals of South America coloration is not and has not been a survival factor; any pattern and any color may accompany the persistence and development of the qualities and attributes which are survival factors. Indeed, it seems hard to believe that in their ordinary environments such