Guide to Patagonia's Monsters & Mysterious beings

I have written a book on this intriguing subject which has just been published.
In this blog I will post excerpts and other interesting texts on this fascinating subject.

Austin Whittall

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Ohi - a Rhea?


ancient Tierra del Fuego map

Jan Janssonius 1658 Map of Tierra del Fuego. From [1]

I found this old map of Tierra del Fuego, it was published in 1658 by Dutch engraver Jan Janssonius as "Tabula Magellanica qua Tierrae del Fuego...".

It shows some cherubic looking Fuegian natives lassoing a ñandú Lesser Rhea (Rhea pennata) or South American Ostrich in Tierra del Fuego. They are placing a noose around its neck and shooting arrows at it.

The bow and arrows part is correct, as the local Selk'nam natives hunted with bow and arrow (unlike the other Patagonian natives of the mainland who used boleadoras).

Boleadoras. The name boleadora derives from the Spanish word “bola” (ball); they were stones balls sheathed with leather and attached to strong tendon straps that were whirled above the head to gain momentum and then thrown so as to entangle around the hunted animal’s legs.

The noose was not reported by any chroniclers so it is a novelty!.

But the most surprising part is the "ostrich" because nowadays there are no rheas on Tierra del Fuego Island, and they have not lived on it at least for several thousand years.

The evidence of them having been on the Island is tenuous and and based on a "First phalanx" bone dated 9.960 ± 50 years Before Present.[2] Which is the only phisical proof of their presence on the island.

But if they did... then they could have been the origin of the Ohi myth.


[1] Jan Janssonius as "Tabula Magellanica qua Tierrae del Fuego...". From: Gerard Valk & Petrus Schenk, Composite world atlas, 1715.
[2] Martin, Fabiana M et al. Presencia de Rheidae en Tierra del Fuego durante la Trancisión Pleistoceno-Holoceno: Implicancias Biogeográficas y Paleoecológicas. Magallania, Punta Arenas, v.37, n.1, jul.2009. doi:10.4067/S0718-22442009000100014.

Copyright 2009 by Austin Whittall ©

Patagonian Monsters

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