reptiles

Movie Monster Tributes: Q – The Winged Serpent!

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Sometimes just known as “Q”,  this is a 1982 movie starring David Carradine and Michael Moriarty. Shepard (Carradine) is a New York City Cop investigating a series of ritual homicides. Bodies turn up mutilated in ways such as having the hearts cut out. Meanwhile, Jimmy Quinn (Moriarty) is a piano player and petty criminal who gets caught up in a jewelry store heist. When things go awry, he flees with the stolen jewels, abandoning his fellow crooks. He hides the loot in a forgotten attic space at the top of the Chrysler building,  and there he finds an enormous nest near a hole in the roof.
The two plot lines come together when Shepard figures out that an Aztec cult priest has been convincing victims to be semi- willing human sacrifices as he prays the ancient Aztec  serpent god Quetzalcoatl back into existence. Quetzalcoatl nests in the top of the Chrysler building, flying out on occasion to snatch unsuspecting New Yorkers from rooftops. Jimmy lures the other crooks to the nest and cheers as Q devours them. Then, for a promise of immunity and one million dollars, tax free, he informs Shepard where to find the nest.

Engravings: Basilisk.

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This is a Basilisk, drawn from a woodcut by  Ulisse Aldrovandi, Serpentum, et draconum historiae libri duo, 1640. Early accounts of the beast In European bestiaries and legends describe it as the king of serpents, and it was said to have the power to cause death with a single glance. However, this work shows the Basilisk of Medieval Europe, in which description of the creature began taking on features from cockerels, and often has an actual crown.

Fiery Friday: The Naga.

 

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Naga is the Sanskrit and Pali word for a deity or class of entity or being, taking the form of a very great snake—specifically the king cobra, found in Indian religions, namely Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism and Sikhism. A female naga is a nagi or nagini.

Cambodian naga possess numerological symbolism in the number of their heads. Odd-headed naga symbolise the “Energy, Infinity, Timelessness, and Immortality”. This is because, numerologically, all odd numbers come from One (1). Even-headed naga are said to be “Female, representing Physicality, Mortality, Temporality, and the Earth.”

Poison Points: The Gila Monster!

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The Gila (pronounced “HEE-lah”) Monster  is a species of venomous lizard native to the southwestern United States and northwestern Mexican state of Sonora. It was once plentiful in the Gila River Basin of New Mexico and Arizona, hence the name.
It is a chunky,slow-moving lizard, and its sluggish nature means it poses very little threat to humans.The Gila monster’s bite is not fatal to healthy adult humans. However, it is sometimes killed despite being protected by state law in Arizona, due to,as usual, ignorance and superstition.

Among Native American tribes, the Gila monster had a mixed standing. The Apache believed Gila monster breath could kill a man, and the Tohono O’Odham and the Pima said the lizard possessed a sickness-causing spiritual power. In contrast, the Seri and the Yaqui believed the Gila monster’s hide had healing properties.

The Gila monster is the only venomous lizard native to the United States and one of only two known species of venomous lizards in North America, the other being its close relative, the Mexican beaded lizard.

I had the privilege of taking care of one of these fascinating reptiles when I worked at a small zoo, and I can personally vouch for its lack of interest in attacking humans. Although I still handled him with gloves, our Gila monster never got out of joint and cooperated very well when I had to move him to his rear holding enclosure to clean his cage.

Halloween Countdown 2015: Croc Trick or Treater.

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The Croc Trick or Treater was drawn during the movie night a couple of weekends ago. We were watching Back to the Future and I was scribbling like a maniac and still managed to pay attention to the movie. What’re you lookin’ at, Butthead?

Monster Monday: The Akupara!

Akupara, © 2015 Liz Vitale

Akupara, © 2015 Liz Vitale

In the creation myths of several cultures, the turtle or tortoise carries the world upon its back or supports the heavens.

In Hindu mythology the world is thought to rest on the backs of four elephants, who stand on the shell of a turtle. In Hinduism, Akupara is a tortoise who carries the world on his back, upholding the Earth and the sea. One avatar of Vishnu is said to be the giant turtle Kurma.