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FOUND: A Very Large Rodent Named for James Bond, Ornithologist

 
James Bond’s hutia (Photo: Jose Nunez-Mino. Courtesy of The Last Survivors/ZSL)

James Bond’s hutia, like the spy, spends its time on frolicking in the sunny Caribbean islands. It is not quite as sexy as 007, though. James Bond’s hutia is a rather large rodent, similar to a guinea pig but about the size of a house cat. 

(For a rodent of unusual size, it is kind of cute, though.) 

Once, there were about 30 species of this type of rodent, but many have gone extinct. James Bond’s hutia was recently identified as a unique subspecies of hutia, living in the southeastern section of Hispaniola, the island that contains both the Dominican Republic and Haiti. It was not named after James Bond, 007, but James Bond, ornithologist—the original namesake for Ian Fleming’s creation.


The original James Bond. (Photo: Jerry Freilich/Wikimedia)

James Bond, ornithologist, wasn’t even British: he was born in Philadelphia, in 1900. Ian Fleming had read Bond’s “Birds of the West Indies” and liked the author’s name—simple, manly, anonymous. So he adopted it for his fictional spy. He and the real Mrs. Bond struck up a correspondence about his theft: Fleming told her that “Perhaps one day your husband will discover a particularly horrible species of bird which he would like to christen in an insulting fashion by calling it Ian Fleming.”

Bonus finds: Lockheed’s pop-art postersa Hindu temple, and an Egyptian temple

Every day, we highlight one newly lost or found object, curiosity or wonder. Discover something unusual or amazing? Tell us about it! Send your finds to sarah.laskow@atlasobscura.com.