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More Dead Things

January 4-5, 2013

Bird Eats Cat

"It's Nature's Way." - Steve Irwin

Posting dead things to ring in the new year; possible sign of trouble? I stumbled across this black vulture (Coragyps atratus) eating some road kill opossum while visiting Houston for the Mayan Apocalypse. Well, I was visiting Houston, presumably the vulture lives there all the time. I originally misidentified the dead animal as a cat based on the head shots I took from the other side, where the tail was hidden. I never saw the characteristic white face, and I thought the body had a striped pattern, but that tail is pretty conclusive evidence. Thanks to the source, who I assume would like to remain anonymous, for the proper ID.

In doing research for this post, I learned a lot actually. Possum and Opossum are both orders of marsupials, an infraclass of mammals. I'm surprised they aren't more closely related. Possum inhabit the Eastern continents, mostly Australia and New Zealand, but apparently China has some too; Opossum inhabit the Western continents, North and South America. The word "opossum" was hybridized, I believe, from the possum of the East and the Algonquin word for this critter, which means white dog/beast. I think this is a Virginia Opossum (Didelphis virginiana) because apparently that's all we get in North America, but there are over 100 more species as you head south.