I have asked a good colleague to scan an aging, somewhat scratchy, slide for me, and here it goes (attached). The occasion was a Latin American Congress in Zoology in Mérida, Venezuela, that I attended back in 1980. I was an undergraduate and that was my very first scientific meeting, including my first presentation at a meeting.  I was determined to give that presentation and made it to Venezuela after buying a ticket with borrowed money.  The picture reminds me that I had also borrowed a coat to be able to go along on the field trip.

The photo shows Anita and Paynie, of course, yours truly next to them (yep, I WAS younger then at 24), and I am pretty sure the fourth character is Pablo Penchaszadeh.  Pablo had been mentored by Paynie during his memorable tenure as an Ecology instructor, and was living and already working as a respected marine ecologist in Venezuela at the time.  He eventually returned to Argentina (and to the Universidad de Buenos Aires), where he continues to play a positive scholarly role.  The picture was taken during a field trip to the highlands.

A couple of more details about the meetings and my infamous presentation.  Paynie and Anita had obviously checked out the program and (don't ask me how they did it) managed to locate me in the middle of the crowd of 800 or so as we entered an auditorium to attend the opening ceremony.  They showed interest in my work and plans, got me a few reprints, gave me numerous tips for future work and the possibility of graduate studies in the US, and so on.  I now know Paynie and Anita have played supportive and ecouraging roles to so many others aspiring scientists in our region (they stuck to the job in my case for the following two decades).

As for the presentation, what follows is mostly a scientific curiosity, namely the first moves and scientific babblings of a local boy with an interest in science, and the pivotal role of a chance encounter of that boy with world class scientists (In other words, you can stop reading right here):

Wishing to break away from the tradition of undergraduate papers in Montevideo (usually consisting of drawing a specimen with India ink and writing a description using the right anatomical names) I had decided to do "something quantitative,"  A cursory look at our meager collections left me with two possible choices: guinea pigs or tuco-tucos.  My undergraduate mentor, Alfredo Langguth, indicated that tuco-tucos were interesting taxonomically and that there were good reports of chromosomal variation, including a recent paper on Uruguayan forms (Kiblisky et al. 1977).  I went ahead with the idea, measured all available skulls of tuco-tucos in Uruguay, and concluded that what was known as Ctenomys torquatus actually consisted of two distinct species.  With limited comparative material at hand, I was able to show that the northern type was actually closer in proportions to a species from a neighboring part of Argentina, known as Ctenomys perrensi (I had managed to get a hold of a photograph of the type specimen).  The southern thing was different.  At the time, a southern locality (Maldonado) was often reported as a likely type locality for Ctenomys torquatus.  The chromosomes showed a break between north and south, luckily in line with the skull measurements.  All this goes to say that in Mérida I told Paynie, Osvaldo Reig, and a handful of other people in a small room that I thought we had failed to recognize the presence of two distinct species within what was known as torquatus, that morphology and chromosomes were consistent, and that, pending broader comparisons, I thought Ctenomys perrensi might include our northern tuco-tucos.  Both Paynie and Reig were patient and supportive in their distinct ways.  By the way, both encouraged me to consider studies in the US, especially with a certain Jim Patton.

Things took a few turns in the work that followed.  I learned that Maldonado was not the type locality of C. torquatus.  That was a widesread misunderstanding resulting from the fact that Darwin had observed tuco-tucos in Maldonado.  Maldonado rightly is the type locality of numerous species, including several sigmodontine mice, but Darwin did not contribute the type specimen of torquatus.  Rather, a broad area including northern, but not southern Uruguay is the source of the type specimen.  With that information at hand, Langguth and I eventually proposed to restrict the use of the name torquatus to our northern form (the species extends into southern Brazil and also exists in neighboring parts of Argentina).  We described a new species for the southern form... and named it Ctenomys pearsoni!

Best wishes,

Enrique