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Lewis & Clark as Naturalists
The Collection: Species Details Lewis and Clark as Naturalists
Mammal    Species Name:
Erethizon dorsatum

Common Name:
North American Porcupine


Poplar River, Montana   May 3, 1805

A familiar mammal?

Porcupines are virtually absent from the forests of the Mid-Atlantic region, and yet Lewis wrote such a brief and casual description of this most unusual North American mammal.  He remarked, "the quills had not yet obtained their usual length."  His familiar manner of describing this mammal may suggest porcupines were once inhabiting the area around Lewis' Virginia homeland.  He did not say.  Porcupine quills have long been used by Indians to decorate clothing and crafts, and according to Lewis, "this anamal is a pleasant and whoalsome food."

For more information about this North American mammal, click here.

Journal Entries:

Capt. Lewis, September 13, 1804--killed a bluewinged teal and a Porcupine; found it in a Cottonwood tree near the river ...  more>>

References Linné, Carl von, Systema Naturae per Regna Tria Naturae, Secundum Classes, Ordines, Genera, Species, Cum Characteribus, Differentiis, Synonymis, Locis, ed. 10, 2 vols, Holmiae: impensis direct. Laurentii Salvii, 1758

see following caption

See following caption
North American porcupine

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