All tagged modern bestiary

There is a commonly circulated urban legend concerning earwigs that their name is a reference to a particularly horrifying type of parasitism: that they propagate by burrowing into the human cranium through the ear canal, then tunnel their way into the brain’s gray matter where they lay their eggs.

In modernity, most discover this myth by encountering a statement of its negation. Nearly every text concerning earwigs includes, somewhere in the first few sentences, language similar to this: “Despite their nomenclature, earwigs do not actually propagate by burrowing into the human cranium through the ear canal to lay their eggs, though this is a commonly circulated urban legend.”

The antlion is unique among modern animalia in that its evolution resulted not from a mutation within its genetic code, but rather, within the spelling of its name. Sometime during the legendary translation of the Septuagint from Hebrew into Greek for Ptolemy II, an old Hebrew variant of 'lion' used in the Book of Job was warped into the bizarre word 'myrmecoleon,' a portmanteau of the terms for 'ant' and 'lion.'

Shortly after the arrival of the twentieth century, natural selection replaced the homing pigeon with the radio wave. This evolutionary leap resulted in the emergence of electrobiology as an academic field. Other members of the animal kingdom underwent a similar metamorphosis, though there is little agreement about what became of the barber’s hummingbird.

In his bestiary’s entry regarding tigers, Leonardo da Vinci describes a bizarre interaction between humans and these mighty beasts:

 "This is a native of Hyrcania; it bears some resemblance to the panther from the various spots on its skin; and it is an animal of terrifying speed. When the hunter finds its cubs he carries them off instantly, after placing mirrors at the spot from which he has taken them, and immediately takes to flight upon a swift horse."

In the year 1968, there were four separate cases of submarines disappearing under mysterious circumstances: the American Scorpion, the Israeli Dakar, the French Minerve, and the Soviet K-129. The last of these events came under scrutiny when, six years later, a United States black project disguised as a manganese mining operation attempted to locate and salvage what was left of the Soviet submarine. This program was known as “Project Azorian,” and was primarily carried out by a single vessel known as The Glomar Explorer.

Among believers, vaultgulls are said to possess golden feathers, as well as eyes of black crystal; then again, they are also said to have never before been seen, so such descriptions ought to be met with skepticism.

For these clever birds, all that is unseen is the sky; their wings slide cleanly through metal and stone as easily the wind. The only solid surface they know is the periphery of human vision, the greatest obstacle to their shimmering wings. The subtlest twitch of a single eye is enough to thrust them aside like a hurricane's gales.

Wild trumpets must be dried out before they can be safely played by a human mouth. The local tribes of Hyperborea's easternmost islands have mastered this process: they hang the bulbous creatures over a pyre of burning inkwood, whose smoke drains their bells of any lingering venom and stains their skins an obsidian shade. The instrument that results has a limited range, yet this is counterbalanced by its powerful timbre.

When confronted with the possibility of being devoured, the common gecko is capable of making a somewhat brutal compromise [...] the lizard can shed the entirety of its own tail as an offering to potential predators. During such a transaction, the predator receives a much smaller meal, but the gecko’s life is spared, and its tail eventually grows back.

Eighteenth century explorer José de Almagro claimed to have discovered a much more curious specimen in the mountains of what is today Chile: a gecko which, when threatened, could shed its entire body at once.