Monsters of Europe

Monsters of Europe: Morgawr, the Cornish Sea Serpent!

Morgawr_0002.jpg

First sighted in 1906,Morgawr’s name means “sea giant in Cornish. It is a plesiosaur-like creature reported to inhabit the general area of Falmouth Bay, Cornwall. It has been photographed: in February 1976, ‘Mary F’ sent two photographs, apparently of Morgawr, to the Falmouth Packet, along with an explanatory letter: ” It looked like an elephant waving its trunk, but the trunk was a long neck with a small head at the end, like a snake’s head. It had humps on its back which moved in a funny way… the animal frightened me. I would not like to see it any closer. I do not like the way it moved when swimming.”

Various theories have been proposed for as to the identity of the creature, ranging from hoax  to mistaken identity to the suggestion that the creature is a surviving species of Plesiosaur or that it is a previously undiscovered species of long necked seal.

Sea Monsters: Ketos! (sea monster or ancient giraffe?)

Ketos.jpgOn Dec. 17, 2002,Adrienne Mayor published this in the Oxford Journal of Archaeology:

“This note proposes a new interpretation of a scene on a well-known Corinthian vase illustrating the Homeric legend of Herakles rescuing Hesione from the Monster of Troy. Commentators have assumed that the artist intended to depict the monster as a ketos, an imaginary sea monster, but the features of the beast do not conform to the traditional imagery of sea monsters in Greek art.
I suggest that instead of creating a typical hybrid sea monster by mixing the features of various living creatures, this artist used for his model the large fossil skull of a prehistoric mammal. The vase was painted in the midst of widespread interest in large fossil remains, which the ancient Greeks identified as relics of giants and monsters of the mythological age.
The features of the odd head on the vase match the basic skull anatomy of a large mammal of the Tertiary age, such as the Samotherium, a giant giraffe of the Miocene epoch. Numerous literary accounts describe exposures of these and similar large mammal fossils in antiquity along the Turkish coast, on Aegean islands, and on the Greek mainland. I conclude that this vase painting is the earliest artistic record of such a discovery.”

Monsters of Europe: The Pooka of Ireland!

Pooka

Don’t be fooled by the cute name. The púca ,pooka, phouka, phooka, phooca, puca or púka–however you spell it—is considered to be a bringer both of good and bad fortune. In pookas’ various forms, they can help harvest or ruin an entire crop.
The pooka is a skilled shapeshifter, capable of assuming various pleasant or terrifying forms. A pooka can take a human form, but then will often have animal features, such as ears or a tail. It will most commonly appear as a horse, cat, rabbit, goat, or dog,or something in between, and almost always has a dark coat.
The pooka is a creature associated with the Samhain harvest festival, when the last of the crops are brought in. Often the reapers leave a small share of the crop as “The Pooka’s Share” to placate the beasts.

 

*Housekeeping note: This image was painted in ink, and for some reason refused to scan without being blurry. I had to take a photo of the page so it is a bit blurry for that reason as well, but believe me, it still looks better.
I should probably leave some grain out for the pooka.