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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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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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.

Answer: Agropelters favor large branches rather than the grapeshot of bark, twigs, and acorns (see Have You Seen). What you experienced was a snark attack.

Snarks are a species of extremely tiny Imaginary creatures (the adults are less than 5 mm long) that live by the tens of thousands in old oak trees. A very simple organism with a short life span, they live and work together in colonies much like ants. Snarks are utterly devoted to their tree, and will sacrifice their lives to protect it from harm. They do this by flinging themselves from the tree upon the perceived threat, gripping in their pincers a fragment of the tree in which they dwell. The resulting rain of tree fragments is intended to drive the interloper away from the tree. As you discovered for yourself, while a snark attack is usually not fatal, it can certainly make one very uncomfortable.

The three main subspecies of snark are barkles (bark-dwellers), twiggets (twig-dwellers), and nugs (acorn-dwellers). When viewed through a magnifying glass, the barkles have the appearance of a rough-coated beetle; the twiggets are thin and fine like a tiny mantis; and the nugs are flat and glossy. Without magnification, it is almost impossible to distinguish them from the bark, twigs and/or acorns where they make their homes.

The attack you suffered appears to have engaged all three subspecies. The axe you carried must have appeared very dangerous indeed. Were you swinging it as you walked? This is considered highly threatening behavior by forest creatures, and is unsafe for you as well. If you must carry an axe, please keep it sheathed and tucked into your belt for safety until you need it.


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