Monster Monday

Monsters of Europe: Morgawr, the Cornish Sea Serpent!

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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.

Monsters of North America: The Piasa!

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The Piasa (pronounced Pie-a-saw) is sometimes called The Piasa Bird. It is a legendary creature depicted in a mural painted by Native Americans on cliffsides above the Mississippi River. The ancient mural was created prior to the arrival of any European explorers in the region, and possibly before 1200 CE. The picture’s original location was at the end of a chain of limestone bluffs in present-day Alton, Illinois. The original Piasa painting no longer exists, but a new one has been restored in its position.
The Piasa is described as having a man-like face with sharp teeth, antlers, a scaly body,sharp talons,two huge wings, and a tail so long  that it passed around the body, over the head and between the legs. The creature was given its name by the Illini Indians: “Piasa” means “a bird that devours men”. The Legend of the Piasa, involving a brave Native American chief helping to save his tribe from the monster’s craving for human flesh, can be read here.

 

Monster Monday: The Beisht Kione!

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The name means “the beast with the black head”. Feared by the local fishermen and sailors,The Beisht Kione was said to be a sea monster residing in the Irish Sea south of the Isle of Man, and was dreaded by all who sailed the coast.

Monster Monday: The Aspidochelone!

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According to medieval bestiaries, the aspidochelone is a supersize whale ,sea turtle,or sea monster with spines on the ridge of its back. No matter what form it is, it is always  huge, and usually first  mistaken for an island as it carries what appears to be beaches on the upper part of its body.

Believing it to be an island, sailors beach their ship alongside the beast, disembark, and plant stakes to tie up the ships. The men usually start to cook a meal after this work, and make fires on the sand as if on land. But when the monster feels the heat of these fires, it immediately submerges into the water, pulling men and ships into the sea with it.

Monster Monday: The Alce!

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If this looks like a wingless griffin to you, your assumptions are correct. In British heraldry, a male griffin is shown without wings, its body sometimes covered in formidable spikes. In 15th-century and later heraldry this particular beast may be called an alce or a keythong. The female griffin, possessing wings, is more commonly used.

Monster Monday: The Ao Ao!

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One of the cursed children of the evil spirit Tau(click that link, it is worth a read in itself) and  pursued human woman Kerana,the Ao Ao is one of the central mythological creatures among Guarani-speaking cultures.

It was hard to get a good idea of what this monster is said to resemble. I’ve read “a voracious sheep-like creature with a massive set of fangs”, as well as  “a large, carnivorous peccary”. Yet nearly all the illustrations and sculptures I have seen in my research lead to a hoofed thing on its hind legs with long monkey arms. The face, in some, does have a sheep or boar-like quality and the fangs are certainly always there. So, in the end, I went with my own interpretation. The Ao Ao  gets its name from its howling, “Ao ao ao!” when it is pursuing its victims.

Possessing great reproductive powers, it is sometimes known as a Guaraní spirit of fertility.

Ao Ao’s sole source of food is people. Since it is at least half-human by birth, it can possibly be considered a cannibal. It will pursue its intended victim over any distance and over any terrain, not stopping until it has had its meal. If the person tries to escape by climbing a tree, the Ao Ao will keep circling the tree, howling incessantly and digging at the roots until the tree falls. The only way to successfully escape from an Ao Ao is to climb a palm tree. The palm contains an as yet unknown power against the Ao Ao, and if its intended victim did climb one, the Ao Ao will howl and scream in defeat before finally leaving.