“In the Colonial era, as in every era, natural history information was, in part, passed along in what are known as travelers’ tales. These tales could be quite astonishing.
“In one, John Brickell, an Irish physician living in North Carolina, described how bear cubs were initially lumps of white flesh, ‘void of form,’ and only took on the shape of a bear as the result of their mother licking them, essentially molding a cub from a lump of formless flesh. For good measure… the same description noted that ‘the young cubs are a most delicious dish.’ ”
— From “Mr. Jefferson and the Giant Moose: Natural History in Early America” (2009) by Lee Alan Dugatkin