Nelson Papavero; Christian Fausto Moraes dos Santos. A estranha história da cobra narrada na "Relaçam prodigioza da navegaçam da nao chamada S. Pedro , e S. Joam da Companhia de Macao" (Fascunh, 1743) - Uma obra portuguesa sobre herpetologia

Nelson Papavero; Christian Fausto Moraes dos Santos. A estranha história da cobra narrada na "Relaçam prodigioza da navegaçam da nao chamada S. Pedro , e S. Joam da Companhia de Macao" (Fascunh, 1743) - Uma obra portuguesa sobre herpetologia.

The Portuguese ship “São Pedro e São Paulo” left Macau, China, bound for Portugal, in January 1743. She arrived at the port of Lisbon on 12 September 1743. While unloading the ship, it was discovered that a snake had embarked in her, which was immediately killed and taken to the church of Nossa Senhora da Penha, together with a miniature of the ship, as a token of gratitude to the Virgin, for saving the crew from several dangers and because the snake had not killed any member of it. A wooden model of the snake was made afterwards, to accompany that of the “lagarto da Penha” already existing in that church. Out of curiosity, the Augustinian Father Francisco da Cunha, tried to identify the snake, publishing in that same year of 1743, under the pseudonym of “Ricardo Fineça Fascunh”, the booklet Relaçam da prodigiosa navegaçam da nao chamada S. Pedro, e S. Joam da Companhia de Macao. In this work, in a certain way a treatise of herpetology, Cunha discussed the creation of reptiles by God in the fifth day of the Creation, the etymologies of several snake names, the generation of these reptiles (both sexual and by spontaneous generation), their sympathies and antipathies in relation to other animals and plants, finally listing some 50 species of snakes, in a frustrated attempt to identify the snake which had come from Macau. His commentaries are abridged paraphrases, with some alterations and translation errors, of the works of Jonstonus (1653), precipuously, and Nieremberg (1635), secondarily; he also seems to have consulted the books of Gesner (1587) and Ray (1693), besides some other works. Through his short and insufficient description of the snake transported by the ship “São Pedro e São Paulo”, we can only conjecture that it was a specimen of Pelamis platura (Linnaeus, 1766) (Elapidae, Hydrophiidae).

Key-Words: Ricardo Fineça Fascunh (Frei Francisco Cunha); 1743; Relaçam da prodigiosa navegaçam da nao chamada S. Pedro e S. Joam da Companhia de Macao; Macau; Pelamis platura (Elapidae, Hydrophiidae); Church of Nossa Senhora da Penha; Lisboa; “lagarto da Penha”; history of zoology.