Walking Rocks?

Query: When I was in Death Valley earlier this year, I saw some enormous 750-pound rocks that appear to travel across the desert on their own. I remembered your article about rock tortoises, and wondered if that’s what these rocks could be?

Corn of Plenty (Part 4 of 4): A Field Guide by Dr. Midas Welby

Corns of the Air: Air-corns utilize their horns for jousting, playing tic-tac-toe, and spearing food in mid-flight. Air-corns often lurk undetected in trees, wood piles, and rain gutters. When bored, they use their horns to ring the doorbells of unsuspecting humans. When the door begins to open, the air-corn flies away.


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Xax's blog

Going On Hiatus

December 6, 2014: I am loving college, but I have to admit, I’m overwhelmed.

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Pine Cone Feeders

A Present For Imaginaries: When winter comes, I get concerned about providing extra shelter from the elements for Imaginaries. Recently, I read about people who build wildlife brush shelters out of branches and plants in their yards, and thought this was a great idea.

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Have You Seen...

Billdad, also known as Saltipiscator falcorostratus.

Range: Once populous throughout the northeastern United States, the billdad was heavily hunted for its pelt and meat in the 19th century. Today, the only naturally-occurring colony of billdads is found in Franklin County, Maine. However, a single disabled billdad, no longer able to hunt for himself, was recovered many years ago from a pond in northwestern Maine. That billdad, now quite old, still lives at the Double Helix Preserve.

Cyclops yellow warbler, NEW IMAGINARY!

Range: southern Colorado, northern New Mexico.

Hairyfish, also known as Mirapinna Esau, Lodsilungur, fur-bearing trout.

Range: Small, widely-scattered populations in ocean, lake, and river waters in Iceland, Ontario, Montana, Maine, and the Azores.

Please begin a new article here.

Roperite, also known as Rhyncoropus flagelliformus.

Range: Originally from the Sierra Mountains of California, one or possibly two may be loose in Colorado or Wyoming at this time.

Hodag, also known as Nasobatilus hystrivoratus.

Range: Wisconsin, Minnesota, Manitoba.

Central American Whintosser, also known as Cephalovertens semper- ambulatus.

Range: Originally confined to Central America, packs of whintossers have more recently begun to migrate northward into California and the American Southwest, taking up residence primarily in burned-out forests, where they are well-concealed.

Axehandle hound, also known as Canis consumens.

Range: Originally believed to be found only in Minnesota and Wisconsin, substantial evidence exists that the range of the axehandle hound may extend from Maine to Oregon, and into northern Canada.

Twenty-four-legged rock tortoise, also known as Testudinidae lapidus icosikartetrapedus.

Range: Desert environments in Southwestern United States and Mexico.

Phoenix, also known as Feniex, Fenis, Fenix, Phenix. PLEASE NOTE: While this article appears under the heading “Have You Seen,” we urge you to refrain from attempting to seek out a phoenix, due to their extreme fragility as a species.

Range: Unknown. Various Bestiaries place the habitat of the phoenix variously in India, Arabia, or Egypt. While it is commonly believed that there is only one phoenix alive at any given time, there are several living in far-flung locations on the globe.

World-dragon, also known as Jormungandr, Sesha, Midgardsorm, and a variety of other names. Possibly related to world-turtle and world-elephant.

Range: Juveniles are found in remote, wild places; adults encircle the globe.

Billdog, also known as lorricat, jackhare, or chuckrabbit.

Range: Along roadsides across America.

Gyascutus, also known as sidehill-gouger, -dodger, -ousel, or -winder; also wowser, wampus, gudaphro, hunkus, gwinter, or wampa- hoofus (US); related to the Alpine dahu (see Sightings). The former taxonomic name for the gyascutus of Membriinequales declivitous is incorrect, as gyascutosity appears in more than one species.

Range: Once found all over America, its current range is confined to isolated hilly or mountainous areas in the American West.

Unicorn, also known by at least thirty other names worldwide.

Range: Originally found throughout Europe, Asia, and Africa, a few unicorns may also be found in the Americas and in Australia. Most surviving populations today are small and highly endangered, or possibly extinct.

Agropelter (Anthrocephalus craniofractens).

Range: Forested areas in northern United States and Canada.

Ouzelum bird, also known as oozlem, ooozle-finch, or pinnacle grouse.

Range: Various subspecies of the ouzelum bird are found in isolated pockets throughout the United States, South America, Australia and the British Isles.

Gumbaroo, also known as Megalogaster repercussus.

Range: Northwest U.S. and Canadian Pacific Coastal woodlands.

Philamaloo Bird, also known as Fulica stultusregrediens, phillyloo bird, filla-ma-loo, flu-fly bird, goofus bird.

Range: Found in isolated pockets throughout the United States, it favors open range country and drylands, as it is prone to rheumatism.

Wapaloosie, also known as Geometrigradus cilioretractus.

Range: The forests of Washington, Oregon and Idaho.

Wyvern, also known as Kongamato.

Range: Originally found throughout Europe and Africa, wyverns are now believed to be confined to small colonies living in swamplands in sub-Saharan Africa.

Hugag, also known as Rythmopes inarticulatus.

Range: Sightings have been primarily in Minnesota, around the Great Lakes, and ranging into Canada.

Slide-Rock Bolter, also known as Macrostoma saxiperrumptus

Range: Restricted to the mountains of Colorado, living only in the steepest terrains.

Treesqueak, also known as Arborexusta stridens.

Range: Treesqueaks are found wherever dense stands of young trees can be found (see photo). Although more common in the North Woods, treesqueaks have been reported as far south as the Everglades.

The 52-hertz Whale

Range: The 52-hertz whale lives in the Pacific Ocean off the western coast of Canada, and sings in a manner not unlike other baleen whales.

Silkie, also known as selkie or selchie.

Range: Northern Atlantic, from Scandinavia and the North Sea to the Stellwagen Banks and Cape Cod, Massachusetts.

Splinter Cat, also known as Felynx arbordiffisus.

Range: Eastern US, although new evidence indicates that the creature has expanded its range into the Rocky Mountains (see photo of a tree damaged by a splinter cat). It chooses habitats in which bees and raccoons abound.

Squonk, also known as Lagrima dissolvens.

Range: Western Pennsylvania, has been seen also in Michigan, lives deep in hemlock pine forests. Until recently, believed to be extinct.

Hoop Snake, also known as stinger snake, ourobus, tsuchinoko, bachi hebi.

Range: Several different species of hoop snakes are found in isolated populations all over the world. Known American populations are located in Minnesota, North Carolina, and Utah.

Hidebehind, also known as Cryptopsthenis nondescripts

Range: Found primarily in Minnesota northward to Manitoba and the Northwest Territories of Canada, but may be thinly scattered throughout North American forests. (See photo of a recent near-encounter with a hidebehind – note the shadows.)

Jackalope, also known as Lepus cornutus; wolperdinger (Germany); skvader (Sweden).

Range: Originally found in open range throughout the western United States from Canada to Mexico, but now highly endangered. A European cousin to the jackalope, now considered extinct, has been pictured in artwork since the 1500s.

Black Dog, also known as Perro Negro

Range: Although various breeds of black dogs - ce siths, saidhthes, youdic dogs, etc. - are found the world over, the American black dog of which we speak, although very rare throughout its range, is found as far south as Guatemala and as far north as Colorado.

Field Notes

Update On Released Dragon

He’s Safe Now: We reported in an earlier post that recently, a number of Imaginaries were released into the wild by an unscrupulous collector of exotic and endangered animals just prior to his arrest. We recovered most of the Imaginaries within a month of their release, but one continued to elude us until very recently. That one, an impressively large and very destructive male juvenile dragon made his way swiftly northward ahead of our agents, leaving a multitude of broken trees in his wake (see photo).

Polycephalic Pigeon?

Or Trick of the Light? This recent photo of a polycephalic (many-headed) dove (not pigeon) reflects an issue that is at the center of a storm of controversy between the world of Iranigami and its detractors.

Real vs. Pretend

The Intersection of Science and Imaginary: At the crossroads of science and folklore, the identification of Imaginaries is clouded by conflicting and sometimes intentionally false reports from all sides. The controversy around the fur-bearing fish (see Have You Seen) highlights one of the challenges we face here at Iranigami.

Imprisoned Imaginaries

Abandoned and Alone: Can you imagine confining an animal as free-ranging and magnificent as a dragon to a cage much like the one in this photo? That’s exactly what a thoughtless collector of imaginary animals did. Recently, a private zoo in northern Colorado was raided by federal and Iranigami agents, working in cooperation.


Arrival of the Hatchlings: We, the members of the Tripodero Defense League of California, are pleased to announce that a nest of tripodero eggs hatched out recently, and the hatchlings are thriving.

Tracking Imaginaries

Tricky Tracks: Reading the story told in the tracks of an Imaginary, animal, or person is not always as easy as it sounds. Many creatures don’t want to be tracked, and find ways to disguise their progress.

More About Black Dogs

Sorting Them Out: There are black dogs, and then there are black dogs. There are many different breeds of black dog, and you can’t really lump them all in together. So let’s get this sorted out a bit, shall we?

Cellphones and Imaginaries

Wapaloosies Are Smarter Than We Think: I have to disagree with Dr. Welby’s assessment of unicorns (see Annals). Mirage, the unicorn at the Double Helix Ranch, is quite intelligent and active, and has never shown even the slightest interest in my cell phone.

A Great Event

The Death and Birth Of A Phoenix: The phoenix that my family has attended for many generations has most recently, most gloriously and yet expectedly, burst into flames, reaching the end of his long life on the very day of the winter solstice. I had the most magnificent blessing and good fortune to witness and attend on this event.

Sleeping Dragon!

Unusual American Sighting: We thought you would like to see an example of an American sleeping dragon (see photo). It looks just like a rocky outcropping, don’t you think? But that’s what makes this adaptation so effective. People can walk right by it and never know they’re in the presence of a slumbering dragon.

Update on Squonk Preserve

A New Level of Protection: Maybe some of you remember the squonk we found last year (see Archives). We went back this year to see how she’s doing, and the news is good.

Hidden Preserve

Refuge for the Manman Birds: I’ve been trekking in the Himalayans for the past seven months, out of touch with the rest of the world, and just returned to a city with an internet café. Some people say that the one-winged manman bird of China – also known as the jian - is extinct. I’m here to tell you that this is not so. The manman bird still survives.

Unicorns On Preserves

Mirage: Mirage, our licorn here on the Iranigami preserve at the Double Helix Ranch, is growing older. This summer, I found the tip of her horn lying on the ground in an area where she likes to graze. As unicorns age, their horns grow more brittle, and it looked to me that the tip snapped off when she tangled it in a low-hanging branch, or perhaps bumped it against a rock on the ground. She would not have felt any pain from this, as the horns have no nerve endings. Nor will she be hampered in her ability to survive, as her life on the preserve is a tranquil one and I don’t expect that she will ever need to defend herself in battle again.

Preserving Imaginaries

A New Partnership for Con- servation: A partnership between a government, a private funding source, landowners, a conservancy organization, and Iranigami has yielded good results for a few Imaginaries, including a sighting of an Imaginary long considered extinct.

Bird Hoaxes

Seen Any Square Eggs Lately? This month, Have You Seen features a rare Imaginary bird. Sorting fiction out from fact around Imaginary birds is an ongoing project of those of us who serve as Iranigami’s ornithologists.

Update On The Wapaloosies

A Successful Conclusion: Thank you for all the help you gave us in developing climbing claws for Snappy, the wapaloosie (see Archives/Have You Seen/ Wapaloosie and Archives/Field Notes/More About Wapaloosies). “Million,” using Velcro on the inside of the cuff holding the garden-rake claws in place was a brilliant idea. “Purple,” your sourcing out for us better, more durable miniature garden rakes from that Zen garden website has given Snappy a much better grip on the bark of the branches in the cattery. And “Fish,” the idea of running a modified fish-hook to his tail has given him a whole new lease on life! Now I can put Snappy into the cattery and leave him there all day, and he almost never falls anymore. I have to bring him in at night to check that his prosthetic claws are working, because the cuffs still tend to slip and shift, and his “claws” need sharpening, but he’s much more independent now.

More About Wapaloosies

Wapaloosie Rescue Operation: Last month, the description of a wapaloosie was posted here (see Archives - Have You Seen - Wapaloosie). Remember reading about the two wapaloosies who were recovered from a Murk (smuggler) who intended to sell them as pets for spoiled-brat kids? Well, guess who has them now! My sister and I!!

Murks and Smuggling

Looking Out For Imaginary Eggs: There has been an increase in egg-smuggling lately by Murks (smugglers). Eggs are easier to carry than a live animal, and easier to disguise. They are also less likely to die in transit than live animals. Wealthy collectors pay high prices for the egg of a dragon or a philamaloo bird, so it is almost as profitable as smuggling a juvenile or adult Imaginary for the Murks.

More About Dragons At The Preserve

Cheese and Sugar: The Annals this month talks about the two great secrets of dragon management that Iranigami learned from Eastern dragon-keepers in the 13th century. Here at the Iranigami Preserve, we use those two secrets today – the secret about cheese, and the secret about sugar (see photo). These two secrets make it possible for us to care for dragons that have no place left to live because their habitats have been destroyed. Without these secrets, I don’t think I could keep up with the work of caring for dragons – I’m not as young as I used to be!

Dragons in Hibernation

Annual Dragon Survey At The Preserve: The only time of year I can give the dragons at the Iranigami Preserve a good check-up is in mid-winter, when they go into hibernation. Many of the dragons here have their own caves where they retire for the winter (see photo), although a few of the younger ones prefer to spend their winter in the old-car junkheap at the back of the preserve. The preserve dragon-keeper and I go around to all of the caves that we can find, as well as through the junkheap, to see how the dragons are doing.

Snow Wasset Sighting

Reading The Signs: Nobody has seen a snow wasset (Mustelinopsis subitovorax) in over a hundred years, and we thought they might be extinct, but new evidence points to a resurgence in the snow wasset population of northern Canada. Two weeks ago, not far from my home near James Bay, I found evidence of a snow wasset, captured in a dramatic scene played out in the snow (see photo).


About Those Flying Reindeer: Every year at this time, people ask me about the flying reindeer that are said to pull the sled of that most famous of elves, Santa Claus. We don’t keep any reindeer at the Iranigami Preserve, because they don’t like the hot desert summers here, but I once spent a year traveling above the Arctic Circle, where I had the privilege of meeting quite a few reindeer.

What Is A Hertz Anyway?

A Little Science: If you’re like me, you might not know what a hertz is. Now, I know what a jackalope is, and how to raise a dragon, but when it comes to numbers, I admit I didn’t pay much attention in school. I was always too busy looking out the window waiting for recess.

What Silkies Want

How They Return To The Sea: It’s not that difficult for a silkie to shed their pelt. They come to land; they lie on the beach; they dry out; they slide out of their pelt.

Friendly Relations

The Reason For Garden Gnomes: Sometimes people who fill their gardens with a lot of plaster garden gnomes get teased for it (see photo). But at my house in northern Maine, not only do we have garden gnomes, we have a family of plaster ducks, a statue of St. Francis, a water fountain, an iron deer, a model of a gingerbread cottage, and plenty of waist-high shrubs.

Squonk Discovery!

Photographing Imaginaries: I’ve been learning a few things about trying to photograph an Imaginary. Most of what I’ve learned is to figure out what doesn’t work.

Whirling Whimpus!

It Didn’t Look Like A Gorilla To Me: Last month, I was on a bike trip in the Cumberland Mountains in eastern Tennessee. On an isolated back road, I stopped for a water break.

A Plague of Augerinos!

Notes from the Southwest: The western United States is currently under drought conditions, but the extent to which lakes and rivers have been drying up exceeds even that which would have been caused naturally by drought. We therefore suspect that due to these already-dry conditions, augerinos are breeding up in epidemic numbers and attacking the waterways (see photo of waterway attacked by an augerino).

Tiny Dragons at the Double Helix Ranch!

The Ways of Dragons: I just started my apprenticeship here at the Double Helix Ranch, and the first thing I learned is that just about everything I thought I knew about dragons is wrong. Did you know that not all dragons breathe fire, and some dragons are as small as a lizard (see picture), and that Asian dragons can change their size from tiny to huge, depending on what they eat? I didn’t know that either.

Greetings from the Double Helix Ranch, site of the Iranigami Preserve, here in the great Southwest!

Annual Scat Count: I just completed my annual scat count, and things are looking good. I've said it before, and I'll say it again. If you want to identify your Imaginaries, know your scat. Someday I should write a book about scat. Nobody learns about scat any more these days, and it's important stuff.


Walking Rocks?

Query: When I was in Death Valley earlier this year, I saw some enormous 750-pound rocks that appear to travel across the desert on their own. I remembered your article about rock tortoises, and wondered if that’s what these rocks could be?

Being Ready?

Query: I know it’s unlikely that I’m going to see an Imaginary any time soon, but I want to be ready when I do. What can I do while I wait to see one?

Is A Siphonophore an Imaginary?

Query: I saw a news report about a purple deep-sea creature called a siphonophore that is made up of thousands of smaller creatures called zooids. It has a scientific name, but it looked so odd, I had to wonder if it was real or an Imaginary. How can you tell the difference?

Flying Dragon?

Query: I really thought I saw a flying dragon. It wasn’t so large that it covered the sky, but it was larger than any winged creature I’ve ever seen before in my life. It also did not fly very well, almost as if it was staggering through the sky. Is this possible?


Query: I read about the centaur tracks last month in Sightings, and now I wonder about a set of tracks I saw when our family was hiking at a national park. It looked like horse hoof prints and lion paw prints, intermingled. I took photos of the whole series of tracks. Could these tracks belong to a hippogriff?


Query: Last week, someone came by on horseback at night and picked all the orange blossoms from the top of one of the trees in my family’s orchard. I took photos of all the tracks and marks I could find, and have been studying them. I think our visitor could be a centaur. My sister says no, it’s just someone on a horse who wanted to pick some flowers, but then why would the hoof prints come directly to a tree and stop, instead of drawing up alongside? And how could a man on horseback reach 10-12 feet up into the air to pick the blossoms? He left behind a handprint on one of the higher branches. I also found a single hair from a horse’s tail looped carefully over one of the lower branches, almost as if he meant for me to find it. I’m sending you photos of the tracks and handprint, but I’m keeping the horsehair.

Wolf or Amarok?

Query: When I was in Alaska, I saw some black wolves one night through the window of our lodge. I wanted to go out and get a closer look, but the locals said they were a pack of ravenous amaroks, and I should stay inside. I believe they were regular old black wolves, and not Imaginaries. Who is right?

Moving Rock?

Query: There’s a large boulder behind my house. I think it’s migrating across the yard, but I never actually see it moving. Could it be an Imaginary?

Mysterious Feather

Query: I was at a flea market in (location withheld) and I saw an old woman selling feathers and trinkets from her booth in conversation with a suspicious-looking man in a black hat. He was showing her a multicolored feather, all red and purple and gold and shimmering. When they saw me looking, the suspicious-looking man put the feather back in his coat and walked away. I asked the woman what it was and she told me it was nothing and to mind my own business. I suspect it was a phoenix feather. Can you tell from this description if that is what it was?

Storm Imaginaries?

Query: Sometimes when we get a storm, it seems to me almost as if the storm is alive. I’ve been reading about world-creatures, like the world-dragon and world-turtle and world-elephant. Is it possible that an especially fierce storm has anything to do with these creatures?

Thriving, or Struggling?

Query: Why are some Imaginaries more common, while others are almost never seen? It seems like the Imaginaries I’ve heard the most about, like dragons and unicorns, seem to be shrinking in numbers, whereas some of the Imaginaries you write about that I’ve never heard of before, like augerinos, seem to be doing fine, and even increasing. Why are some Imaginaries thriving while others disappear?

A Lopsided Goat?

Query: I was hiking in the Alps with my parents, and high up on the mountain, I think I saw a goat whose left legs were shorter than his right legs. My parents said it was an optical illusion, but I still say that I saw what I saw. What could this be?

A Deer Unicorn?

Query: I read that a unicorn was born in a preserve a few years ago, but the news release says that it’s a mutant deer and not a real unicorn. What’s the story on that?

Tree Attack!

Query: I was walking through a forest of very old, large oak trees and was suddenly pelted with hundreds of pieces of bark, twigs, and acorns. I’m okay, but it really stung! Was that an agropelter? I was carrying an axe, so maybe it thought I was planning an attack.

Out of nowhere!

Query: I was taking photos of a flight of stairs that leads from my back yard into the neighboring woods. When I looked at my photos on the camera, one of the photos showed something sitting on the steps. It wasn’t there before I took the picture, and it wasn’t there after, and I didn’t even notice it when I was taking the picture. It looks like a bird, and it really freaked me out! Could this be an Imaginary?

Is This Old Bird An Imaginary?

Query: I heard about a 62-year-old bird that had a baby. Is this true? If so, is this bird an Imaginary? I didn’t think birds could live this long.

A Flying Jackalope?

Query: Yesterday, I saw a big, short-bodied bird circling overhead. At first I thought it might be a hawk or an eagle, but when I looked at it through my binoculars, I saw that it had antlers on its head! Is this some kind of flying jackalope?

World Turtle?

Query: My parents and I were flying back from Mumbai to Los Angeles two weeks ago. I sat across the aisle from a businessman in a gray suit. Halfway through the flight, he opened his briefcase. I saw he had a turtle in there, with duct tape over the holes for the head, legs, and tail. I felt really bad for the turtle, so I got my dad and we went to the back of the plane and told the flight attendant.

The Difference Between An Earless Dragon and a Wyvern

Query: I recently learned about a possible sighting of a grassland earless dragon (Tympanocryptis pinguicolla) in Victoria, Australia, where I live. I’ve never seen one myself, but scientists seem convinced that such a dragon exists as an endangered species. What makes scientists decide that a grassland earless dragon is “real” but another dragon, like a wyvern, is Imaginary?

A Snow Wasset In Colorado?

Query: I saw the photo of snow wasset activity you posted in January. I found what I think is a snow wasset hole here in the mountains of Colorado, where I live. It was small, about mole-sized, but it was definitely a tunnel. I thought snow wassets only lived in Canada. Would snow wassets come this far south?

When Will I See An Imaginary?

Query: I’ve heard a treesqueak, and seen some jackalope scat, and my little sister says she could smell reindeer on the roof on Christmas Eve. But I’ve never seen an actual Imaginary. I’m getting impatient. When am I going to see one?

Flying Reindeer?

Query: Is Santa’s sleigh really pulled by flying reindeer? My little brother says it’s true, but I don’t think he’s right. I’ve never seen any hoofprints around my house on Christmas morning.

An Imaginary Whale?

Query: I read something about a whale that can talk. Is this an Imaginary? And is it possible that I could really talk to an animal someday?

Seal Pelts At The Beach?

Query: I was walking the beach and noticed an area around the jetty that looked like it had been dug up. When I moved a few rocks aside, I found a couple of seal pelts buried in the sand, one large and black, one smaller and brown. I put everything back the way I found it, but I keep wondering who the pelts belonged to, and what they were doing there. What do you think?

What Was In My Tree?

Query: Last night I was sitting up in a tree outside my house here in Nova Scotia, watching the planets. When I came back down, I thought I saw a creature peeking between the two sides of the split in the trunk where I’d just been. I looked again, and something moved! It looked like a little bearded man, watching me. Do you know what it could be?

A Whirring Imaginary Insect?

Query: I think I may have seen an Imaginary insect. It whirred up really quickly when I was cutting some roses for my mom, and I didn’t get a good look at it, but it didn’t look anything like the bugs that usually hang around in the flower garden.

Is Big Foot Real?

Query: During a dense sandstorm in Canyonlands National Park, Utah, I saw the shape of a slouching, human-like figure, perhaps a little bigger than a man, in the middle of a swirl of dust. As it wandered slowly through the storm, sometimes the figure leaned forward, and sometimes it was upright, but it never moved far from the spot where I first saw it. Before the sand storm subsided, I lost sight of the figure, and never saw it again.


Query: I really think you should alert people to look out for unusual roadkills. I saw what looked like a very long dead snake covered with black fur lying by the side of the road. It was maybe about six feet long, and definitely much longer than a weasel would be, even one that has been run over a few times. I wanted to stop, but my mom was in a hurry, so I couldn’t get a close look at it. Can you tell me what this could be?

Black Dog Sighted?

Query: My parents took me to the humane society this morning to adopt a pet, and I saw a big black dog there that looked like the picture you posted at the website. I live in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Could the dog I saw at the humane society be Black Dog?

Unusual animal sighted!!

Query: Last week, I saw a dead animal by the side of the road. At first, I thought it was a cat, but I noticed that it had a very long neck, and a long, thick tail. The animal was covered in black fur and had no spots. That’s all I was able to see of it. I saw this animal in southwestern Colorado. Can you tell me anything about it?

Xax's blog

Going On Hiatus

December 6, 2014: I am loving college, but I have to admit, I’m overwhelmed.

Accepting An Imaginary As An Imaginary

October 6, 2014: We are reporting the sighting of a possible new Imaginary species this month. We ask all of you to be alert for any sighting of a Cyclops bird, of any description, as you continue your observation activities on behalf of Iranigami.


August 6, 2014: I mentioned in an earlier blog that I hoped I would be going to Scotland this year. I am pleased to announce that this has come to pass, and I am now enrolled at university here as a full time student.

Inter-Agency Cooperation

June 9, 2014: The news that a collector of exotic, endangered and Imaginary animals has been stopped is a small victory for those of us who work to preserve, protect and defend the Imaginaries of our world.

Rekindling Hope

May 6, 2014: It’s springtime, and the pace of life in the natural world quickens. The days are growing longer here in the northern hemisphere. Trees are sprouting new leaves, hodags are coming out of hibernation, and young tripoderos are hatching.

Sharing The Planet With Centaurs

April 6, 2014: Iranigami devotes itself to the preservation, protection and defense of the Imaginary creatures of the world. We also cooperate with many of the huldufolk – fairies, elves, etc. - in fulfilling our mission, and with other people whose mission it is to preserve, protect and defend the non-Imaginary creatures of our planet. However, there are beings of this world that are beyond our understanding or our reach, and among these beings are the centaurs.

Revisiting the Ce Sith

March 6, 2014: Good news – I may have an opportunity to return to Scotland this year! You may remember that my first encounter with an Imaginary took place there years ago, when I met my first ce sith. That sparked my interest in the Imaginaries and eventually led me to Iranigami.

Room For Many Opinions

February 4, 2014: This month, we have two different postings from two learned individuals who disagree about the nature of the unicorn (see Annals and Field Notes).

Following Our Hearts

January 5, 2014: This month, we have learned of an amazing event, in the death and rebirth of a phoenix, which doesn’t happen in everybody’s lifetime.

Winter Solstice

December 6, 2013: In the northern hemisphere, the winter solstice – the longest night of the year - falls on December 21st this year. With it, my thoughts turn to the Imaginaries, and how they survive the hardships of winter.


November 6, 2013: I’ve been reflecting this month on why some Imaginaries seem to be able to adjust to a changing world and do well without our help, while others are struggling to survive.

Imaginary Classification

October 6, 2013: While most Imaginaries can be classified as a single species, in keeping with the Linnaean scientific method of classifying animals, the gyascutus family and the dahus of Europe express another kind of Imaginari-ness. The characteristic of having two legs shorter on one side than on the other appears in more than one species.


September 6, 2013: The rhinos of Mozambique are now extinct. They were hunted down by poachers, who sell the rhinoceros horns to vendors in China, where powdered rhino horn is supposed to be a cure-all for many different ailments. The powdered rhino horn is so prized, its worth is more than its weight in gold.


August 4, 2013: The contributions this month about the protectors of trees have me thinking about symbiosis, a fancy word for the interrelationship of living things.

More Smuggling

July 6, 2013: We’ve alerted you before to keeping an eye out for Bogs and Murks (poachers and smugglers) carrying suspicious-looking egg-shaped objects that could be Imaginary eggs (see Archives/Field Notes/Murks and Smuggling). Now we are alerting you to another string of smuggling tricks, that of the wapaloosie-smugglers.


June 6, 2013: The past few years have seen drought in the United States. This affects the flowering and seeding of many trees and plants, the availability of water for wildlife, the health of lakes and streams, and how well the grasslands may grow. In turn, all of these factors determine how successful the breeding and nesting seasons may be, and whether this year’s babies are strong enough to survive the next winter.

Tread Softly

May 6, 2013: This is a sensitive time of year for many animals, both Imaginary and non-Imaginary. It’s the time of year when creatures come out of winter torpor and prepare for their busiest season. As snow melts and trees grow new leaves and the birds return from their winter migrations, the Imaginaries are also experiencing the spring - nature’s time for renewal – in their own ways.

Safe Return Of The Silkies

April 6, 2013: You may remember that in our posts of October 2012, we reported that silkie pelts had been found hidden in an undisclosed location along the Atlantic coast, and that two silkies in human form were believed to be among us.

The Formula For Cheesing A Dragon

March 6, 2013: Nonny asked me to share with you the formula to calculate the right amount of cheese to calm a dragon.

Regroup and Retrench

February 6, 2013: Winter is a time for study and reflection. Here at Iranigami, this is the time of year we gather up the information we’ve collected for the year, work through the data, and analyze what we’ve learned.

Stories In The Snow

January 6, 2013: Mid-winter can be a difficult time of year for the Imaginaries of the Northen Hemisphere, and many creatures go into hibernation or hiding to weather out the season, but here at Iranigami, our work continues apace.

On Being Kind To Imaginaries

December 7, 2012: This is the time of year that we think about being kind to one another. Here at Iranigami, we include all the Imaginaries of the world on our list of creatures that deserve our kindness.

Real or Imaginary?

November 6, 2012: Why is it that we at Iranigami say that NOC, the beluga whale who could mimic human speech, is “real,” whereas the 52-hertz whale is an Imaginary?

The Tall Tales of Iranigami

October 21, 2012: Although we have a twelve-hundred year history, Iranigami must always respond to the times we live in. And one of these responses has been a reversal in the 21st century of a long-standing policy.

Help Us Protect The Silkies!

October 6, 2012: Recent silkie sightings have energized Iranigami agents on both sides of the North Atlantic.

No Cause For Alarm

September 19, 2012: I didn’t mean to alarm any of you with my blog about bogs and murks (August 19) or the enemies of Iranigami (July 18). None of you are in immediate danger of being chased by pirates or assassins. The greatest danger that you are likely to encounter as a non-agent would be to disturb a slumbering gumbaroo, or to get in the way of a rock-slide bolter.

Huldufolk: The Guardians of the Imaginaries

September 6, 2012: While we at Iranigami don’t usually involve ourselves with the doings of the huldufolk – the “hidden people,” such as elves, fairies, and gnomes – their role as Guardians of the Imaginaries is worth mentioning. This month’s website focuses on that topic.

Bogs and Murks

August 19, 2012: One of you wrote in and asked me about the bogs and murks that Gwyneach talks about in her current Annals.

Something To Celebrate

August 6, 2012: It’s exciting times here at Iranigami. One of you, working in partnership with an Iranigami agent, has positively identified a squonk living in western Pennsylvania. The last verified squonk sighting before this was over a hundred years ago, and we feared that they might be extinct. That one is still alive is remarkable, especially given the squonk’s inability to tolerate being looked at.

Let Our Agents Do The Work of Agents

July 18, 2012: Several non-agents have contacted me recently, asking if they can join in the search-and-rescue work performed by the agents of Iranigami. This work includes everything from relocation of Imaginaries from inhospitable environments, to recovering Imaginaries from the hands of poachers and smugglers involved in the illegal trade of rare animals.

Mistaken Identities

July 4, 2012: So often, we only get the quickest glimpse of an Imaginary. With so little to go on, how can we identify one Imaginary from another? And how can we even tell an Imaginary from a more common species?

Who is Xax?

June 18, 2012: One of you asked, “Who is Xax?”

The Unseen and the Unknown

June 4, 2012: We’re all familiar with the more popular Imaginaries, and if you should you ever come across a unicorn or a dragon, you’ll recognize it easily enough. But most Imaginaries are amazingly well-hidden, and almost never encountered directly. Unseen and unknown, identifying these Imaginaries accurately can be extremely difficult.

We, The Agents of Iranigami

May 18, 2012: Someone asked me recently, “Why are so many agents of Iranigami kids? What happened to the grown-ups?”

Staying On the Lookout

May 4, 2012: I’d like to express my gratitude to all of you on the lookout for the well-being of the Imaginaries.

The Imaginaries – Fact or Fiction?

April 19, 2012: Yesterday, I read that less than a quarter of Earth’s estimated 6.8 million species have been identified and catalogued.

What Is Iranigami?

April 4, 2012: Iranigami is an underground society of boys and girls who preserve, protect and defend the so-called imaginary creatures of the world. The Imaginaries are real – I have seen many of them myself - but so rarely encountered that most people have ceased to believe in their existence.

Xax's blog

Corn of Plenty (Part 4 of 4): A Field Guide by Dr. Midas Welby

Corns of the Air: Air-corns utilize their horns for jousting, playing tic-tac-toe, and spearing food in mid-flight. Air-corns often lurk undetected in trees, wood piles, and rain gutters. When bored, they use their horns to ring the doorbells of unsuspecting humans. When the door begins to open, the air-corn flies away.

Corn of Plenty (Part 3 of 4): A Field Guide by Dr. Midas Welby

Corns of the Land: As with water corns, land corns utilize a single spike to fend off predators. The okapicorn, a relative of the giraffe, dwells in remote regions of Central Africa. It browses under tall trees, knowing that any leopard foolish enough to leap from above gets what it deserves.

Corn of Plenty (Part 2 of 4): A Field Guide by Dr. Midas Welby

Corns of the Sea: Modern horned creatures, or ‘corns’ are marvelous beings. As with the prehistoric Cornonexochida, many of these rare species dwell in the remote depths of our seas. The most well-known of the water corns is the clamocorn. This is not the musical instrument that your brother tried to play but got too frustrated. It is a mollusk. Like its cousin the clam, this mollusk is reluctant to be plucked from its watery abode and consumed as chowder. Unlike the clam, this clamocorn is spring-loaded. The shell can fly open, gouging predators with a razor-sharp spire. It not only can – it will. Take my word for it.


The Last Consortium: In modern times, very few people remain who are trained in the proper care, maintenance and handling of dragons.

Folklore and Fact

Paul Bunyan and Pecos Bill: The tall tales of the American West are a mix of fact and fiction. These stories have been told so often, it’s no longer possible to tell one from the other.

Imaginaries in History

The Ways of Centaurs: It has been several thousand years since centaurs first chose to distance themselves from humans. As a result of our limited with them, most depictions of centaurs in our art, literature and popular culture is based largely in myth, and not on reality.

Imaginaries in Literature

Sherlock Homes and the Kludde: When people talk about Imaginary black dogs, they almost always remember The Hound of the Baskervilles by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. The story features Sherlock Holmes in pursuit of a murderous black beast with blue flames about its head, racing through a dense fog across the desolation of Grimpen Mire. The hound in the story is probably intended to portray a ce sith. It’s a terrifying image, even if it does give black dogs a bad name.

Corn of Plenty: A Field Guide by Dr. Midas Welby

The Unicorn and Its Predecessors: We have all heard tales of the unicorn. Elusive. Majestic. Capable of healing and enchantment. What you may not know is that unicorns can be silly and vain, capable of ostracizing those without a perfectly-spiraling horn, or alicorn. Evidence suggests that in the last decade, unicorns have mastered the art of texting, using the tips of their alicorns to type crude messages on discarded smartphones. In forests with no cell reception, they lie about, admiring their reflections in still pools while gorging on pomegranates fed to them by indentured gnomes.

The Phoenix-Keepers

Ex Cineribus Resurge: One of the oldest covert societies of Imaginary-keepers that we know of is Ex Cineribus Resurge, the phoenix-keepers. Working silently and in deep secrecy for thousands of years, those individuals, tasked with protecting the phoenix, have passed down the tradition of their society from generation to generation, tirelessly attending to the needs of their Imaginary.

Legends of Iranigami

“Faith can move mountains:” In the days of the California gold rush, thousands of Chinese laborers migrated to the US. Among them was Xin, a girl of fourteen. In her home province of Guangshi, she had been an apprentice dragon-handler, training to work with the largest dragons of all, the world-dragons (see Have You Seen? And Field Notes). But Xin had to leave her calling behind when her father and three older brothers decided to go to America to seek their fortunes. In this new world, Xin cooked and cleaned and did laundry for her family, learned a few words of English, and became known by the English version of her name – Faith.

The Science of Imaginaries

Extinct, or just extremely rare? Even in the scientific world, identifying animals that have become extinct from the fossil records is a chancy business. Fossil records are hard to find, and when discovered, they’re often incomplete, due to predation upon the original remains, the deterioration of fossils over time, geologic disruptions, and theft. A great deal is left to the imagination of the paleontologist who unearths the bones of some prehistoric beast, as they have only bone fragments from which they try to interpret what the animal may have looked like.


The First Chinese Bestiary: The Europeans weren’t the only ones to write Bestiaries (see Archives/Annals/ Bestiaries). Predating the Physiologus by at least six centuries, the Chinese also provided a written record of the Imaginaries in the Shan Hai Jing (the central part of which is sometimes also referred to as Wuzang Shanjing).


Fact and Fiction: Aside from dragons, perhaps no single Imaginary has attracted as much attention – and as much fallacy around it - as the unicorn. Unicorns have appeared in almost every Bestiary ever written; they were described by travelers and kings, priests and paupers; they were sought after and maligned, loathed and revered, loved and feared; they are described has having a huge variety of forms, colors, characteristics, and powers; they have been reported to live on almost every continent, inhabiting land, sea and air. No wonder we’re so mixed-up about the unicorn today!

Tree Guardians

Are There Imaginary Trees? No study of trees (dendrology) would be complete without considering the role of tree guardians in the history of Imaginaries.

Ornithology and Imaginaries

Bird Books: My brother Garth is an amateur ornithologist. When he was younger, he used to go out for bird-hikes at dawn, with binoculars and a field guide book for birds. When he saw something interesting, he squatted down, bird book open in his lap, and tried to match up what he saw through the binoculars with an illustration in the book.

A Nineteenth-Century Annalist

Addy: In the early nineteenth century, there lived a young girl in Massachusetts we shall call Addy. She was shy and retiring, and her father educated her at home, teaching her from the classics.

History of Iranigami

The European Bestiaries: The task of piecing together the history of Iranigami is not just a matter of trying to decipher the almost-illegible manuscripts, letters, notes and fragments previous Annalists have collected over the centuries. To understand what all the bits and pieces I’m looking at mean, I also study other source materials about Imaginaries written by non-Iranigami authors.

History of Iranigami

The Down Side Of the Silk Road: As trade began to flow more freely along the trans-Asian Silk Road in the 12th century, the Imaginary-keepers of Europe shared much valuable information with the Imaginary-keepers of China and India. But the increased traffic along this important trade route also opened an unfortunate myriad of opportunities to the Bogs and Murks (poachers and smugglers) of the time, who used the Silk Road to smuggle Imaginaries and Imaginary parts from continent to continent.

International Cooperation

Secrets of Dragon-Keeping: In the times of Peregrine, Grip and Edwydda, dragon-keeping was a highly dangerous occupation, resulting in many lost limbs, terrible burns, and sometimes death. Although Edwydda was able to change the way the keepers interacted with selected dragons, not all dragons could be raised from birth by a keeper, and the ferals continued to pose a serious threat.

History of Iranigami

The Dark Ages: Iranigami began during the so-called “Dark Ages,” a time when the European world had turned inward upon itself. Trade was limited, political structures were unstable, people rarely ventured beyond their own communities, and very few people were literate.

The Continuing Story of the Descendants of Horm and Brimbhall

Where Fact Ends and Fiction Begins: You may recall that Gaf, the youngest of Horm and Brimbhall’s children, married Petal, and had three children. Interested in creatures of the lakes, rivers and seas, Gaf was swept out to sea while observing the habits of Orkney silkies.

Flying Dragons and their Riders

A Story From The Early Days of Iranigami: Reindeers aren’t the only Imaginaries that can fly. Many species of dragons are also great fliers. The problem with dragons is they’re among the wildest of the Imaginaries, as well as not very bright, and therefore largely untrainable.

Myths about Imaginaries

Legends of the Sea: The oceans of the world are populated with Imaginaries that live under the sea. Ever since people came up with the idea of boats, humans and Imaginaries have met up on the water, often to the detriment of both.

Myths about Imaginaries

Legends about Silkies: When Iranigami first started, Peregrine and Ethereal agreed to make up as many misleading stories about Imaginaries as they could, in order to distract and confound anybody who might want to locate and exploit an Imaginary. Over time, people came up with more and more fantastical versions of these early stories, and as the tales passed down through the generations, they became ever wilder and sillier and further away from the truth.

Imaginaries In History

Marco Polo and the Imaginaries: I’ve been corresponding lately with Benvenuto, a fellow Iranigami Annalist in Italy, who was thrilled to report the recent discovery of pages written by a scribe who traveled with Marco Polo to China in the 13th century.

Bog and Murk

The Enemies of Iranigami: In an earlier post, I mentioned Bog and Murk, the twin sons of Horm and Brimbhall.

The Origins of Iranigami

Part IV: The daughters of Horm and Brimbhall - Growing up in the home of Horm and Brimbhall must have been noisy and very, very crowded. They lived in a two-room cottage at the edge of the woods on the estate of Ethereal’s brother.

The Origins of Iranigami

Part III: The sons of Horm and Brimbhall - Horm and Brimbhall had fifteen children, eight of whom survived childhood. The three girls and five boys that survived were called Min, Pek, Tip, the twins Bog and Murk, Kat, Gaf and, apparently, Maryelizabethjeanne. Of the ones that died as children, all we know today is that Horm and Brimbhall named all of them Angel.

The Origins of Iranigami

Part II: As you may recall, we left off last month with the collision in the stables of Horm, servant of the noble Norseman Peregrine, and Brimbhall, servant of the noble Scotswoman Ethereal.

The Origins of Iranigami

Part I: In the early 9th century, a Scottish noblewoman, rumored to be a distant relative of Merlin, became known through the country for her ability to heal the injuries of unicorns. Her name may have been Ethelia, or maybe Edwina, or even Eggnebbalia, but she is know to us today only as E. Let's call her Ethereal, to give her a name.

Xax's blog

Pine Cone Feeders

A Present For Imaginaries: When winter comes, I get concerned about providing extra shelter from the elements for Imaginaries. Recently, I read about people who build wildlife brush shelters out of branches and plants in their yards, and thought this was a great idea.

Hunting Season

Keeping Dahu Safe: I like to take my dog Dahu with me when I go out looking for Imaginaries in the woods. Even though she only has three legs, she can outrun me, and she’s very excellent good at sniffing out hiding places where animals might live.

Storm Water

The water that goes down the drain in your house usually flows into some sort of sewage system. Sewage systems are designed to funnel the water that flows through them into some sort of treatment process to clean up the water.

Protect Your Home From Dragons

Dragon-Proofing Tips: With hungry dragons on the loose in northern Colorado, it’s a good time to review a few safety tips to dragon-proof your home.

Water For Imaginaries

Best Practices: Now that it’s getting warmer, I’m able to set out water for wildlife again. At our house, we set up birdbaths in our yard. Because I don’t want any Imaginaries to have to reveal themselves in order to get a drink or take a bath, I also set up birdbaths in the woods behind my house.

Saying Hello

Salutations: When I heard that the hoof prints of a centaur had been identified (see Sightings), I began to wonder what I would do if I ever met one face to face.

Taking Care of My Pet

Things I’m Learning: My dog Dahu is totally amazing! She finally learned how to bring back a tennis ball when I throw it for her, and now that’s all she wants to do. Next, I’m going to teach her to fetch a bunch of things, like my shoes and my daypack. She gets into mischief sometimes, but Mom says that’s only because she’s so smart. Given the amount of trouble we’ve gotten into together over the past week – I’m grounded until Monday now - I think Dahu must be the smartest dog in the whole world.

Fossil Care

Preserving the Fossil Record: When it comes to many extinct species, both Imaginary and non-Imaginary, the only thing we know about them is the evidence we can collect from their fossilized remains.

Keeping Good Secrets

Protecting the Secrecy of the Phoenix: The death and rebirth of a phoenix that is reported here this month inspires me. How amazing is it that something like this has happened in our time.

The Further Adventures of Dahu

Dog-Bullying: My dog Dahu is a really great dog. She knows Come, Sit, Down, and Stay, mostly, and she goes completely all over silly when I get out the tennis ball for her. She still doesn’t always bring it back, but she’s learning. She’s also learning how to walk on a leash really well, and hardly tugs at all.

Taking Care of Non-Imaginaries In Need

Not All Amazing Animals Are Imaginaries: Guess what! I got a rescue dog for my birthday!! But she’s not just any old dog – she’s a three-legged dog!!!

A Year Round Job

Inside Work: When school starts again each year, I have to cut back on my Iranigami activities. I no longer have the time to go into the woods, or do work on behalf of the animals, both real and Imaginary, the way I can during the summer.

Career Paths in Iranigami

Licorn Keeper: This summer, I visited Nonny at the Iranigami Preserve and met Mirage. Mirage is so amazing! Meeting her made me want to work with licorns when I grow up, the way Nonny does. I asked Nonny how I could prepare to become a licorn-keeper, and this is what she told me:

Forest Fire Follow-Up

The Effects of Forest Fires: We’re coming to the end of another fire season here in the Southwest, with many hundreds of thousands of acres burned.

Dogs, Cats and Imaginaries

Keeping Our Pets Under Control: I like to take my dog out for runs in the woods. He’s pretty good about staying with me, but sometimes he takes off to chase something between the trees. I never thought much about it, because eventually he comes back. But last week, he came back carrying a rabbit he’d caught. As I thought about it, I realized it could have just as easily been a wapaloosie or an ouzelum as a rabbit.

Preventing Forest Fires

Be A Friend To Smokey: We can all help prevent forest fires. Here are some of the things that can cause a fire:

Providing Habitats for Imaginaries

Nesting Materials: Springtime is the time of year that many creatures, including the Imaginaries, build nests and have their young.

Report Animal Harassment

Caring For All Creatures: If an animal of any kind is being abused or hurt, it’s always the right thing to report it to the authorities. That goes for Imaginaries or non-Imaginaries, domesticated or wild, and endangered or common. Any creature being treated cruelly needs our help.

Guessing Weights

How To Weigh A Dragon By Eye: I want to be sure I can work out the right amount of cheese to feed a dragon, in case I happen to meet one, but it’s almost as difficult to approach a dragon with a tape measure as it is to get one on a scale.

Walking In Winter

Tracking Imaginaries: Winter is a great time to get outside and look for signs of Imaginaries. Tracks in the snow are much easier to see than tracks in the earth, and scat stands out really well against all the white!


The Essentials: Two pieces of equipment I take with me wherever I go, but especially when I go out looking for Imaginaries, are my camera and a little sketchpad.

Giving Imaginary-Conscious Gifts

A Better Way To Celebrate The Holidays: Last July, I wrote a list of Seven Easy Steps to helping Imaginaries.

Help An Imaginary Today!

Learn About Imaginaries in Your Area: One of the best things we can do for Imaginaries is to learn about those that live in our own area.

The Great Garbage Patch

Recycle, Re-purpose, and Re-use: The trouble with plastic is that, once manufactured, it never really goes away.

Doing The Right Thing

Make Your Home Imaginary-friendly: It might sound like the last thing you want to do, but the best way to make your home more Imaginary-friendly is to avoid attracting Imaginaries to your house.

Protecting Habitats

The No-Play Zone: This month, I wanted to talk about protecting the habitat of Imaginaries, since it is about the most important thing we all can do to help.

Seven Easy Steps

How To Help Imaginaries: There are many things we can all do to help protect and defend the Imaginaries.

Plaster Casts

Preserving the Tracks of Imaginaries: If you find the track of an Imaginary, taking a plaster cast is a very good way to preserve the track for study. Here’s how to do it.


Finding New Species of Imaginaries : Next to working as a field agent for Iranigami, my favorite thing to do is to look for new insects.

Tips For Exploring Outdoors

Looking for Imaginaries: If you're going to look for Imaginaries, sooner or later you're going to find yourself outside - in the woods, in the desert, in the hill or plains. Here are a few basic safety tips about hunting for Imaginaries.


Copyright © 2012, 2013, 2014 by Penelope Stowell. All rights reserved. This website is a work of fiction and does not depict any actual persons, creatures, places or events.