Darwin's Very Bad Day: 'Oops, We Just Ate It!'

This is a lesser rhea, a South American version of the ostrich.

Darwin's rhea standing on salt flat i i
Theo Allofs
Darwin's rhea standing on salt flat
Theo Allofs

These are rhea chops. The neck bones, leg bones, breast bones, feet, gizzards and feathers have been removed.

A chart showing rhea meat cuts.
rhealife.com

This is Charles Darwin around the time he ate his first lesser rhea.

The young Charles Darwin.

This is what Charles Darwin said to his mates in the middle of that meal, around coastal Argentina, on Jan. 3, 1834:

Darwin jumped up and cried for everyone to stop eating the soup.

And if you would like to know why Darwin leapt up; ran round the campfire removing bones from every plate; dashed to the rubbish heap to gather every bone, foot, gizzard and feather that he could find; then packed them up and sent them from Argentina to a clever taxidermist in London, all you have to do is press the listen button at the top of the page.

Rhea: It's What's For Dinner

  • Check out this Argentine recipes for making rhea steaks.
  • Tips from the USDA on buying and preparing rhea meat.

Darwin's reconstituted and stuffed lesser rhea has disappeared, according to London's Natural History Museum. But maybe you know where his rhea is? Perhaps in your grandmother's attic? Happens all the time. If you have any idea, drop us a line below in the comments. We'll be checking.

This story comes from two Darwin biographers, Lyanda Lynn Haupt, author of Pilgrim on the Great Bird Continent: The Importance of Everything and Other Lessons from Darwin's Lost Notebooks (Little Brown), and Eric Simons, who wrote Darwin Slept Here: Discovery, Adventure, and Swimming Iguanas in Charles Darwin's South America (Overlook).

Comments

 

Please keep your community civil. All comments must follow the NPR.org Community rules and terms of use, and will be moderated prior to posting. NPR reserves the right to use the comments we receive, in whole or in part, and to use the commenter's name and location, in any medium. See also the Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Community FAQ.

Support comes from: