National Geographic : 1897 Nov
PA TA GONIA (Canis azare and C. magellanicus). The former species is much the smaller, is of a light gray color with a black spot at the base of the tail, and is quite tame and exceedingly common every where on the plains. The second and much larger species is rather shy, and is found only in the mountains. The puma or mountain lion (Felis concolor) is abundant, while a smaller cat, perhaps some species of lynx, is not uncommon. A small skunk (Mephitis patagonica) was formerly abundant, but a few years since they were almost exterminated in one winter over a large area along the southern coast by some disease, apparently con tagious, among them. Their skulls and skeletons are now to be picked up in great numbers, and occasionally a live specimen is still met with. Only one species of armadillo is at all common in the region visited by us, and it does not extend south of Santa Cruz river. Deer are absent on the plains, but one species is fairly abundant in the mountains. It is about the size of our Virginia deer, of a rich dark-gold color, the males armed with a pair of two-pronged horns. I killed about fifteen of these animals and saw several others, but never observed one with more than two points on each horn. We nowhere observed the larger species of deer said to be abundant in the Cordilleras farther northward. Rodents are extremely abundant, especially in the valleys and along the bluffs of the rivers and smaller streams in the vicinity of the mountains, where the entire earth for a depth of nearly two feet is literally undermined over areas of many square miles in extent, with subterranean passages which greatly impede the traveler, whose horse drops in at every step half-way to the knee. In some regions so abundant are these burrowing rodents, espe cially in the sides of the bluffs, that they become real and not inconsiderable agents of erosion. That they have aided consid erably in producing many of the present topographic features I do not in the least doubt, not so much by the actual removal of material as by the production of a condition throughout the sur face of the soil and rock such as to render it more easy of being removed by recurring rains. Among those rodents contributing most to the facility with which the bluffs are here being eroded are various species of mice, and especially two species of Ctenomys, whose ability and propensity for burrowing can scarcely be over estimated. Formerly rodents were very abundant all along the coast, but since the introduction of sheep some ten years ago they have disappeared almost entirely from the coast region, and the larger species are now rarely seen there.