Opossums, Brazilian folklore, and gnomes seem like three very different topics that should never be in the same sentence…let alone in a gnome newsletter. Right? Wrong! This gnome story takes us into the mysterious lands of the Amazon Rain Forest to make a scientific discovery of gnomish proportions.
A few months ago, a friend forwarded me a National Geographic article, titled “New Redheaded Opossum Named After Magical Gnome.” As a lover of both animals and gnomes, my interest was instantly piqued. A biologist in Brazil discovered a new species of opossum, but what makes this discovery so interesting is that the marsupial is named after a gnome.
The new opossum is called Monodelphis saci, and saci (pronounced sah-SEE) is a word that comes straight out of Brazilian folklore. Before this, I’ll admit that I didn’t know much about Brazilian folklore. But if gnomes were in it, I figured that I’d better broaden my horizons and learn something new!
Hunter-gatherer tribes roamed the lands of Brazil hundreds of years ago, passing folklore and tales down from one generation to the next. By way of colonization, these myths and legends changed shape and were influenced by African, Portuguese, Polish, and German settlers over time.
One such legends is about a Brazilian gnome known as a saci who wears a magical red cap. Saci Pererê is depicted as a gnome-like boy with one leg who is mischievous and even a bit of a con artist. In fact, his red hat helps him disappear and reappear whenever he likes! The legend says that your wish will be granted if you can grab the saci’s hat. But there’s a catch. The saci’s hat has a terrible smell that you may never be able to get off your hands!
All of this goes to show that gnomes don’t’ just exist in American, British, and German cultures…but diverse cultures from all around the world!
But back to that newly discovered opossum…
The Monodelphis saci species has a reddish head that resembles that hat that Saci Pererê wears in those epic Brazilian tales. Fortunately, the gnomish opossums are thriving in the wild and at no risk of extinction. Like all opossum species, they are nocturnal and able to adapt in a wide variety of conditions. Sounds a bit like our beloved gnomes, don’t you think?
I hope this story helps you remember how beautifully gnomes and animals live in harmony in our natural environment. What other animals remind you of gnomes?