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Habits of the Hedgehog

Abstract

THE Memoirs and Proceedings of the Manchester Literary and Philosophical Society for 1918-19 contain a paper by Mr. Miller Christy on “The Ancient Legend as to the Hedgehog Carrying Fruits upon, its Spines.” In the introduction to his paper Mr. Christy pointed out that the legend is very old, and that it is important to remember that since the hedgehog is almost wholly a nocturnal animal it is difficult to verify statements regarding its habits by actual observation. The earliest recorded statement that hedgehogs carry fruit on their spines was made by Pliny the Elder; Claudius Ælianus, who wrote about A.D. 250, relates a similar tale. No further evidence is recorded until the twelfth century, while during the Middle Ages a number of writers and poets of many countries related stories of hedgehogs carrying various fruits in this way. Mr. Christy takes the view that most of these people copied blindly the statements of their predecessors. Of the more modern naturalists Buffon discredited the legend, though other naturalists of his time stated definitely that they had witnessed the transportation of fruit by these means. Among present-day writers on natural history little credence is given to the tale, though two cases are reported in which the evidence in support is regarded as trust worthy. We reprint below the substance of the sum mary of the evidence and the conclusions based thereon with which Mr. Christy concluded his paper.

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Habits of the Hedgehog. Nature 107, 375–376 (1921). https://doi.org/10.1038/107375b0

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