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Desert Diary
Biology/Roadrunner and Wile E. Coyote


We hear "beep, beep" and a cocky blue bird screeches across our TV screens, symbolizing speed. This inhabitant of the Chihuahuan Desert now lives on film along with his nemesis Wile E. Coyote as cultural icons. Their ongoing contest in the many cartoons is one of Roadrunner's speed against Wile E.'s cunning assessment of the situation. This is the story of the daily happenstance and survival of the fittest that plays out in nature's food chain in our arid region.

It was animator Chuck Jones who gave life to Roadrunner and Wile E. Coyote in a cartoon entitled "Fast and Furry-ous" in 1949. Over 60 years, Jones created 300 films, won three Academy Awards and an Oscar, and helped to give life to other animal characters such as Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, and Porky Pig. Like scientists, artists must observe and research before they can share findings or creations that ring true. Jones is credited with saying that, "Animation isn't the illusion of life; it is life." He sure got the speed and stalking right; but a blue roadrunner?
pen and ink


Contributor: Florence E. Schwein, KTEP, University of Texas at El Paso.

Desert Diary is a joint production of the Centennial Museum and KTEP National Public Radio at the University of Texas at El Paso.



Web Resources

Chuck Jones

Chuck Jones Obituary