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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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.

Physical description: The trait of gyascutosity – or more specifically, laevogyrosity and dextrogyrosity – describes a recessive genetic adaption occurring in several different mammals, rather than a species-specific characteristic (see also Archives/Have You Seen/Unicorns). The gyascutus has longer legs on one side of its body than the other, which makes it particularly adapted to grazing comfortably on sloped hillsides and mountains. The laevogyrous gyascutus has shorter legs on its left side; the dextrogyrous gyascutus has shorter legs on its right. Gyascutosity has been noted primarily in goats and deer, and occasionally surfaces in cows, horses, and donkeys.

Characteristics: The gyascutus can only travel in one direction, keeping its shorter legs to the uphill slope. Some observers believe that the laevrogyrous gyascutus mates only with another laevrogyrous gyascutus; others believe that cross-mating occurs between laevrogyrous and dextrogyrous gyascuti when they meet one another going in opposite directions around the mountain. The earliest reported American gyascutus was the wampahoofus, originally sighted in Vermont several hundred years ago and now believed to be extinct. It is hypothesized that laevrogyrous and dextrogyrous wampahoofi paired up, leaning on one another much as the manman bird of China clutches to its mate (see Field Notes), to migrate west and form the original adaptive populations of the American Rockies, where gyascutosity is still found today.

Co-endangered species: Mountain goat (threatened).

Recent sightings: A flurry of American gyascutus sightings were recorded in the 19th century all over the country, but the number of range of sightings declined sharply in the 20th century. Several populations still survive in the Rockies and in Alaska, the last reliable sighting reported in 2007. European gyascuti, although equally rare, have been sighted as recently as this year (see Sightings).

What to do: Do not disturb any gyascutus you may see. A panicked gyascutus can tumble off its mountain, which results in its almost certain death if it can’t get back up on its feet.


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.