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Potto

POTTO, The Yellow Maucauco of Pennant, according to whom the last-named animal is Viverra caudivo/va of Schreber, was called a Potto by its keepers. It had a prehensile tail, as also has the Kinkajou of Buffon, which Pennant describes as distinct from the Yellow Maucauco, though by form and manners a proper concomitaut of it. Pennant thus describes the Kinkajou after Buffon:— Weesel with a short dusky nose: tongue of a vast length: small eyes, encircled with dusky: ears short and rounded, and placed very distant: the hairs short; on the head, upper part of the body, and the tail, the colours are yellow, grey, and black intermixed: the sides of the throat, and under side of the inside of the legs, of a lively yellow: the belly of a dirty white tinged with yellow: the toes separated: the claws crooked, white, guttered beneath. The length from head to tail two feet five (French); of the tail, one foot three: the tail is taper, covered with hairs, except beneath near the end, which is naked, and of a fine flesh-colour. It is extremely like the former (Yellow Maucauco); but larger in all its parts. L;ke the Yellow Maucauco it has a prehensile tail, and is naturally very good-natured: goes to sleep at approach of day; wakes towards night, and becomes very lively: makes use of its feet to catch at anything: has many of the actions of the monkey: eats like a squirrel, holding the food in its hands: has a variety of cries during night; one like the low barking of a dog; its plaintive note is oooing; its menacing, hissing; its angry, confused. Is very fond of sugar, and all sweet things: eats fruits and all kinds of vegetables: will fly at poultry, catch them under the wing, suck the blood, and leave them without tearing them: prefers a duck to a pullet; yet hates the water. The Kinkajous which we have seen (and though two species have been described,* we believe that thero is but one at present known) have not any part of the tail naked, and therefore, if Pennant's description be correct, his Kinkajou must be a different animal from that generally known under this name. They belong to the genus Cercoleptes, 111., a South American form. Pennant names his Kinkajou, the Mexican Weesel. Mr. Swainson treats the Potto and Cercoleptes caudivolvus, the name labelled on the three specimens of Kinkajou in the museum of the Zoological Society, as identical; and so do the French and Fischer. 'We have now,' says Mr. Swainson, 'only to consider the other animal above alluded to, namely, the Potto (Cercoleptes caudivolvus). This singular quadruped is a native of tropical America; and not only in its asptct, but in its general structure, has so much the appearance of a Lemur, that nearly all modern zoologists have placed it within or adjoining the confines of that family. Like them it has a very long hairy tail, which is moreover prehensile; it is a nocturnal animal with large eyes, and seems naturally to feed upon vegetables. It climbs like a Lemur, with agility; and Humboldt affirms it to be a great destroyer of wild bees'-nests, which it opens for the sake of feeding on the honey. On comparing the teeth of this animal with those of the Lemur, it will be perceived that thero is a much greater resemblance between the two than there is bet ween those of the Lemur and the Aye-Aye; although in the former comparison sufficient difference exists to exclude the Potto from the circle of the Lemuridep. Baron Cuvier places the genus Cercoleptes close to the Badgers.t yet implying doubts as to this being its true situation; but his brother Frederick, with more judgment, looks on it as a passage from the Lemurs to the Fertc, although he thinks that its essential characters are different from either. In this opinion we perfectly coincide, because it is not only supported by facts of structure, but by other important considerations which bear upon the question. From Cercoleptes there is no difficulty in our passage to the Opossums through Paradoxurus and Dasyurus; so that the affinities between the orders of Quadrumana and Ferce are uninterrupted by anything known, and are found to be in union with that law of nature which invariably unites the typical and subtj pical group.'

Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)

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