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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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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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.

One of the great-great-grandsons of Gaf, named Krak, became obsessed with the largest creatures of the oceans, and spent many years investigating the lives of these most elusive of Imaginaries, including the largest of them all, the creature we know today as the kraken, named after Krak. In his own time, Krak was called a “lunatic,” and his discoveries widely discredited. Embittered, he lived out the rest of his life in isolation on a small island in the North Sea.

After Krak’s passing, whether such a creature actually existed continued to be the subject on ongoing debate. In the legends of Iceland, the 13th-century Örvar-Odds saga acknowledged the existence of a sea monster large enough to swallow a ship or a whale, which they called “Hafgufa.” When it lifted its head out of the ocean, the two halves of its jaws took the appearance of rocks rising out of the ocean where there were none before. The Icelandic sagas are today considered to represent a mix of historical fact with fiction, so whether early Icelanders considered the Hafguga real or legendary is unknown.

However, a 13th-century anonymous Norwegian scientific work, “Konungs skuggsjá,” proposed that the Hafgufa was a real fish, of enormous size, of which there were only two in the world.

Questions about the existence of the kraken continued into the 18th century. Naturalist Carolus Linneaus wrote about the kraken in the first edition of his taxonomy of living organisms, “Systema Naturae” (1735), giving it the scientific name of Microcosmus marinus and classifying it as a cephalopod. However, he deleted references to the kraken in his later editions, and by the time he published “Fauna Suecica” in 1746, he cited it only as a unique monster.

Along with confusion about the existence or non-existence of a kraken, descriptions of this creature were largely unreliable. The only thing certain about the kraken is that it was enormously large, but in form, it was variously described as octopus-like, fish-like, crab-like, and whale-like. Indirect sightings included descriptions of bubbling in the water, dangerous currents, and the presence of many smaller fish grouped together, as it was said that fish liked to swim above the mass of the kraken. The kraken was also sometimes confused with the Iceland “Lyngbakr,” a sea-creature who often lay still with his mossy, rocky-looking back out of the water and was mistaken for an island.

In recent years, scientists have discovered that there really are giant squids (of the family Architeuthidae), up to 40-50 feet in length, that live deep under the ocean, and successfully filmed one in 2006. One popular theory is that early sailors saw giant squids and mistook them for kraken. However, a mature blue whale is twice as large as a giant squid, and descriptions of kraken have always been described as larger than whales, so that theory is questionable.

If scientists can’t decide if a creature is real or not, here at Iranigami we consider it an Imaginary. If science eventually decides to adopt a creature into its taxonomy, we are fine with that. Until then, we’ll do what we can to preserve, protect and defend it as one of our own – including the giant sea creatures of the deep. Whether the kraken belongs within a scientific taxonomy or to the world of the Imaginaries, Krak’s “lunatic” obsession with these monsters of the deep is today acknowledged as one of the great finds of its time. - Gwyneach, Iranigami Annalist (U.K.)


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.