Variations: Bonasus, Bonasos, Monassos, Monops; Bison, Maned Bison, European Bison, Aurochs, Urus, Urus Bonasus
The Bonnacon’s range extends from Scythia in the east to Bulgaria, Macedonia, and Germany in the West. It would be a fine prize for hunters were it not for its remarkable flatulent defenses.
A bonnacon looks like a bull, but is squatter, with reddish fur shading to black, a short tail, and the shaggy mane of a horse. Its horns curl inwardly towards the head, making them of no use in self-defense.
When attacked, the bonnacon voids the contents of its intestines over an area of 3 acres (Aristotle gives a more conservative estimate of 4 fathoms). The noxious, acrid dung ignites and burns anything it touches, leaving a trail of flame in its wake.
The European bison (Bison bonasus) is generally believed to be the basis of the bonnacon.
Aelian, trans. Scholfield, A. F. (1959) On the Characteristics of Animals, vol. II. Harvard University Press, Cambridge, Massachusetts.
Cuba, J. (1539) Le iardin de santé. Philippe le Noir, Paris.
Pliny; Holland, P. trans. (1847) Pliny’s Natural History. George Barclay, Castle Street, Leicester Square.
Sainéan, L. (1921) L’histoire naturelle et les branches connexes dans l’oeuvre de Rabelais. E. Champion, Paris.
Unknown. (1538) Ortus Sanitatis. Joannes de Cereto de Tridino.
White, T. H. (1984) The Book of Beasts. Dover Publications, New York.