17 November 2004

Old Hokey's Field Guide (part 2)

Here are some more oddities of the natural world. I've tried to include a few of the nastier creatures in this part, although I'll save THE nastiest, foulest, most ugliest creature for next time.

1. Dragonsheep

This is one animal to stay clear of. Despite Dragonsheep being the proud owners of flame-repellent wool, which makes for excellent oven gloves, they can wreak utter havoc. They are capable of breathing fire up to distances of thirty feet, and a herd can decimate a forest in no time at all. Very exciting creatures, but potentially lethal

2. The Giant's Handkerchief Tree

Much recognised and oft mis-represented, the Giant's Handkerchief Tree grows exceptionally large leaves. It has been supposed throughout history that its leaves were used by giants to blow their noses – hence the tree's close relationship with snot puffballs. The likelihood of this is actually very slim, although the leaves are very useful and make excellent kites.

3. The Duck-faced Booby

A most odd seabird, the Duck-faced Booby has the body of a small seagull and the face of a common duck. They live in colonies on small rocky islands, and make the peculiar noise of 'quackeeeee'. They are very susceptible to predators, as they aren't the cleverest of birds. Very cute though.

4. Flickering Firebugs

These interesting creatures lead a very brief life. As soon as they crawl from the pupa, they react with the air and burst into flames. Be careful not to hang out your washing early in Summer, as you'll likely find it covered in small burn holes when you bring it back in again. They do look lovely, however, as they flicker away in the twilight.

5. Tortoise Andronicus

These warrior tortoises are best left to their own devices. If you catch them herding on mountain tops, you can be sure that a battle is about to start. I know little else about them, I'm afraid, but just beware their over-enlarged front claws that give a nasty scratch.