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Alligators in the Sewers, and Pigs, and Octopus, Oh My

As a writer, I’m happy when I can do the following in a piece:

  1. Reference a favorite book from childhood, which I still have;
  2. Learn a new word, to wit, paradoxography.
  3. Use phrases that delight, such as: erratic alligator, bestial libido. While “bestial libido” should need no definition for my readers, “erratic alligators” are alligators that are found outside their natural habitat.  As Loren Coleman writes in Alligators-in-Sewers: A Journalistic Origin, in a 1979 article in the Journal of Folklore Research:

    “Crocodilians fall from the sky, and materialize inside cotton bins and in washrooms from Texas to France. They slither and slink to the horror of humans from basement drains and sewers anywhere from Kansas to New York City. Unlike some mystery animals, alligators are caught, killed and placed in museums. Although actual alligators seem to appear and persist in northern winters…to the dismay of herpetologists, random, out-of-place finds seem to be the rule…”
    (N.B.: erratics are captured, out-of-place animals, different than “mystery animals,” such as Bigfoot or various lake monsters.)

All of this and more in this Perceptive Travel piece about alligators in the New York City sewer system, and feral pigs in Victorian London’s sewers and, naturally, a giant octopus in Rome’s sewers.

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