Here at Microkhan world headquarters, there are few things we admire more than passionate attention to detail, especially when it’s in the service of chronicling the arcane. And so you can imagine our joy upon encountering this awesomely comprehensive list of bygone mountain lion attacks, which does an excellent job of illustrating North America’s century-long transformation from rugged expanse to giant exurb. The list also contains an intriguing pivot about halfway through, one that goes to show how pop culture can subtly influence all aspects of public discourse:
News coverage of Peter Taylor’s death in 1949 demonstrates that this may be the era when people first began to adopt our modern attitudes toward impressive, cute, and/or amusing animals, including predators. Regarding the savage killing of Peter Taylor, a newspaper opined that the cougar was merely “defending what was his own.” This is the first evidence I have found of this now common attitude beginning to emerge. Perhaps laying the groundwork in our psyches from childhood to adulthood, Walt Disney’s influential Bambi in this same era (1942) pioneered and dramatized the concept of man as the most sinister and heartless threat to all wildlife. A few years later Disney’s “true life,” anthropomorphic, animal adventures series began portraying animals with human-like personalities.
Our threat did not diminish as a result of this newfound sympathy, of course—it just became more insidious, as habitat destruction in the name of development replaced outright hunting as the mountain lion’s great affliction. You can see why the great cats might want to seek their revenge on the occasional wayward hiker.
(Image via Hilobrow)