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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Hodag, also known as Nasobatilus hystrivoratus.

Range: Wisconsin, Minnesota, Manitoba.

Physical Description: The hodag is roughly the size and shape of a rhinoceros, but instead of a horn on its nose, it has a large spade-shaped bony protuberance that grows that grows straight up in front of the hodag’s eyes. The movements of the hodag are slow and deliberate, possibly because of its limited range of vision. The tough, leathery hide of its hairless body is mottled with a striking pattern of checks and stripes, not unlike that of a zebra or leopard. Seen from a distance, these patterns have sometimes been mistaken for fierce-looking spines, and led to a now-discredited assumption that the hodag was a vicious and dangerous creature.

Characteristics: Passably intelligent and fairly reclusive, the hodag feeds almost exclusively on porcupine, which it hunts by scent. Once it locates its prey in a tree, the hodag uses its spade-like snout to dig out around the roots of the tree and topple it to the ground. It then eats the porcupine in a single gulp, swallowing it head-first so that the porcupine’s spines slide down the hodag’s gullet easily. Every autumn, the hodag covers itself in pitch from spruce trees and rolls in fallen leaves until it is completely blanketed. Thus protected, it spends the winter hibernating under the snow.

Co-endangered species: Grizzly bear.

Recent sightings: The last direct hodag sighting was in the 1950s in Manitoba, although trees dug up by a hodag are reported every few years.

What to do: Hodags are not particularly aggressive, but neither are they likely to retire from a confrontation. They are easy to outrun, so if you see a hodag, get well out of its way, as otherwise it could trample you unawares.


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.