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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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?

Answer: Yes, it is true that in 2007, a deer with a single horn on its forehead – a unicorn – was born on an animal preserve in Prato, outside of Florence, Italy.

This animal is a genuine unicorn – or more precisely, what the Chinese would call a “Kioh Twan,” or single-horned deer. You will find a discussion at this site under Have You Seen about the nature of unicornism, but basically, any animal with a single horn on its forehead – whether it be a deer, a horse, or a goat – is considered a unicorn.

It is possible that this example of unicornism may be the result of a single mutation. But single-horned deer have been described in the literature about unicorns for many centuries. In the case of the deer you ask about, several historical references to a line of deer-unicorns living in Italy lead us to believe that the Prato deer-unicorn more likely represents the expression of a recessive gene for unicornism, rather than a mutation.

In any event, how can we say that an animal with unusual characteristics as the result of a mutation is less “real” than any other animal? It’s something to think about.


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.