Nature Blog Network Future Earth: Voyage of the Beagles

Sunday, 11 November 2007

Voyage of the Beagles

I always wondered about Darwin’s Beagle. Who chose the name for the exploration ship and why? As a Beagle owner, and watching beagle puppies start to explore their environment, they were spot on. Beagles are particularly adventurous, escape artists who will always push out the boundaries. Loyal to the hand that feeds, trustworthy, calm and reliable – but show me a Beagle owner who has never lost their friend in the great outdoors for several hours, and I’ll be willing to bet they have never let their dog off the leash. Scent hounds, bred to hunt hares, they have selective hearing that can filter out cries for their return, until they are good and ready. Knowing this, those modern Darwins – the Mars mission scientists – might have been better served calling their planetary explorer “Golden Retriever 2”.



Peter Mc said...

The Royal Navy named HMS Beagle, and as one of the people trying to build a replica:

I can tell you they are very precious about their ships' names: we can't call our replica HMS Beagle. Although they do not currently have a Beagle in the fleet, they reserve the right to keep the name should they commission a new HMS Beagle. The Royal Navy has a long tradition, and often hands ship names down through the generations: the most recent HMS Beagle (also a survey ship) was decommissioned in 2001.

Not being a Beagle owner, I'm not sure of the breed's character (except the one who sits on the top of his doghouse and has a freind called Woodstock), but Darwin's Beagle belonged to the class known as 'coffin brigs', named for their reputation for sinking. Ill-deserved, in the opinion of Captain Fitzroy, who sailed her though some pretty horrendous storms.

Arjay said...

Dammit I have another reason not to start my work e-mails each morning.

Already hooked on the beagle project and will contact Karen about possible links as the research programme unfolds. Loving greyhounds as you clearly do, are the researchers likely to find dried beagle biltong in the galley instead.....?