Thursday, May 6, 2021

Moriarty among the carnivores

In the mood for a little dark Sherlockian ponderance today? Here you go.

We still aren't sure exactly what killed Professor Moriarty at Reichenbach Falls, as much as Sherlock Holmes feels certain that something did.

The fall? Drowning? Maybe a hungry bear, looking for a fish, who found a mathematics professor just lying there on the bank?

That last possibility sent me down a rabbit hole, as so many Sherlockian details do, into discovering that by the end of the Victorian era, the Swiss and their tourists had pretty much wiped out all major carnivores in Switzerland. Wolves, bear, even the lynx, pretty much gone from their country. Hailing from Illinois, I can understand how that happens. My ancestors pretty much did a bio-purge on this area as well.

So what might have taken out a crippled Moriarty, as he lay, barely breathing, having dragged himself out of the water with the last of his strength?

Well, it probably wasn't a bear. With the last bear in Switzerland to be killed on September 4, 1904, chances are that they weren't too plentiful in 1891. Wolves were long gone. Lynx had become like bigfoot, since cats are always harder to spot, being night predators. The Swiss even seem to have wiped out vultures during the 1800s.

So, once we have eliminated the impossible, what carnivorous beastie remains that might decided to take out a barely-alive math tutor on the banks of the Rychenbach?


After a decade of comparing Benedict Cumberbatch, such a perfect visualization of Sherlock Holmes for reasons we couldn't quite understand, to otters . . . well, the truth becomes apparent. It was an otter that surely finished Moriarty and put that image into our collective consciousness. Sure, they're smaller than bears or wolves, but after that fall, it didn't take much. And there was plenty fishy about Moriarty.

We'd like to forget about Profesor Moriarty after he went over that cliff's edge. Sherlock Holmes sure seemed to -- unless the hiatus was Holmes actually taking the time to make sure. But nature was not about to forget about the criminal mastermind, at least not for a little while . . . .

1 comment:

  1. The deadly, carnivorous Eurasian Otter. Makes me shiver.