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March 06, 2005


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Bernard Guerrero

Chicken and egg? Why do you assume that the stories led to experimentation rather than the other way around?


Because the myths seem to be part of a larger group of myths dealing with the rainbow. The multicolored pot of flowers, or the watersnake, which is rainbow-colored. In another myth, the corpse of the killed beast -- a cannibal ogre were-snake who started off as a widow's son collecting multicolored stones -- explicitly becomes the rainbow, and the birds aren't even dyed.

So to reverse the implied direction, you'd have to somehow go from the specific practice of dyeing birds with blood to a general set of myths dealing with rainbows, many with no bird content at all. Seems unlikely.

Doug Muir

Two thoughts.

One, consider the hallucinogenic properties of bufotoxins. My own (very brief) experience with them led to several minutes of (1) intense nausea and headaches, and (2) colored halos and color trails after moving objects. If this is a common reaction, then perhaps we have another piece of the puzzle. In addition to "animal secretions could change a bird's plumage", we would have "frog secretions, in particular are associated with vivid colors". Not inconsistent, but provides an additional stepping stone.

Two, you do realize that you've written a good first draft of a short but entirely presentable scholarly article? Add a conclusion and some footnotes and you're /there/. Hell, give me your source material and I'll do it.

Come on. You should be publishing this.

Doug M.


Scholarly? You've got to be kidding. No confirmed mechanism, no examples (though some skins apparently do exist in musuems), extreme reliance on secondary sources.

It could be worked into a popular article, I suppose.

Bernard Guerrero

"No confirmed mechanism, no examples (though some skins apparently do exist in musuems"

All you need is a bird, a frog and a dream.


All you need is a bird, a frog and a dream.

Jesus!, I didn't laugh this good in a long time. Thanks.

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