Not Appearing in ABC: The Ozaena

The Ozaena is one of those creatures that has gained some traction due to the excellent Bestiary by Jonathan Hunt. I won’t reproduce the image in question, but it can probably be found easily enough. Be careful though as “ozaena” is also a medical condition, and the images are unpleasant.

In it, the entry for O describes the Ozaena or “stink-polyp” as a hideous, be-tentacled blue creature with a foul smell. Hunt makes it look more alien, or something like a sea anemone – a polyp, presumably.. It varies in size from tiny to enormous, with one Spanish terror growing to the size of a ninety-gallon cask.

Quite a memorable creature, eh? Shame it doesn’t exist.

To understand what we’re talking about, we need to specify what polyp means. It’s not polyp as we understand it today, but short for polypus or “many-legs”. It is no more or less than the ancient term for the octopus.

Aristotle distinguishes several kinds of octopus. Amongst those are the eledone, the bolitaena, and the ozolis – what would eventually become the Roman ozaena. Those are small in size and variegated, and have only one set of suckers along their tentacles. In other words, our ozaena is none other than the musky octopus Eledone moschata, which smells of musk. One of its synonyms is Ozoena moschata. It is neither huge nor terrifying.

(Image from Wikipedia)

The giant octopus story is in fact a separate account, unrelated to the ozolis, ozaena, or whatever. An enormous octopus came ashore at Dicaerchia in Italy, where it ravaged the cargo of Iberian merchants. The merchants would leave pickled fish in large jars on the shore, and the octopus would haul itself out of the water, break the jars, and eat the fish. This happened multiple times, and the merchants could not understand who the thief could be. A servant was left on guard one moonlit night, and he reported the incredible occurrence to his masters. The next time the octopus appeared it was assaulted with axes and slain.

So there you have it, a Frankensteined account creating an alien creature from our modern unfamiliarity with archaic terms and our tendency to lump accounts together for convenience.

It’s alright. Shake off the heartbreak, there’s plenty more creatures to make up for it. With that I leave you with Thomas de Cantimpré’s imagery of the octopus or polypus, apparently in the process of drowning someone.

Voldemort’s warm embrace.

Here’s a question. With tumblr down (for better or worse), would you like to see more asides, jokes, images, definitions, making-ofs, obscure modern monsters, not-appearing-in-ABCs, essays, shower thoughts, rants, and other miscellanea? Or “just stick with the encyclopedia entries ABC, you’ve done enough damage already 😡”?

I love you folks, I really do. Thank you so much for your support. I feel like I’m constantly destroying and then re-earning the trust we’ve built up, but I hope you’ll be patient with me again… I feel like you also deserve some explanations.

To clear up any misunderstandings: my main problems with tumblr were that

A) I felt my effort was going unrewarded. As in, the creature posts that make up ABC would get far less notes (and of those, much fewer reblogs) than random thoughts that pop into my head on the way home from work. That was demoralizing to some extent, but it’s endemic to how the tumblr (and social media in general) system of likes/reblogs works. Short, snappy things that reinforce your preexisting conceptions are worth far more than anything that requires reading. Again, this is not tumblr in particular but social media in general, and it was foolish of me to assume an encyclopedia-esque endeavor would be a good fit to that format.

B) I just wasn’t cut out to maintaining it beyond the creature posts. Tumblr thrives on originality and force of personality and talent (usually to create fanwork). I am, as I’ve stated earlier, a very boring person. I can’t post Exciting Opinions or Awesome Takes. I also cannot draw sexy fanart (or any kind of art for that matter) to save my own life.

C) To my shame, I created the tumblr originally to advertise the main site. This is something looked upon with scorn by many and it was a mistake, I apologize.

So with these points, and the fact that I was losing control of my life (it’s been a rough week, sorry) I deleted the tumblr in a fit of academic nihilism (as one of the smartest people I know put it). Was it a good idea? Can’t say. Do I regret it? Not yet. I only hope I can make it up to you, the readers, somehow.

If you were following me on tumblr and you’re reading this, I’m sorry for everything, but you’re welcome to like, comment, and discuss on the official site and Facebook.

If you’ve read this far, why are you wasting time? Go do something useful. Like read the rest of this site for example.

ABC will return to normal operations in around a week’s time (June 10), by which time the author will probably have recovered from a severe case of academic nihilism. We thank you for your patience in those trying times.

Wapaloosie

Variations: Geometrigradus cilioretractus (Cox)

Wapaloosie

Wapaloosies are found in Pacific Coast forests, and appear to be the mammalian answer to the inchworm. A wapaloosie is as big as a dachshund, with velvety fur, woodpecker-like feet, and a spike-tipped tail that aids in its caterpillarish climbing. And climb a wapaloosie does, moving effortlessly up the tallest of trees to feed on bracket fungus.

The wapaloosie drive to climb continues long after death. One lumberjack in Washington shot a wapaloosie and made a pair of fur mittens out of it. When he grabbed an axe, the mittens immediately shimmied up the handle to the top. They proceeded to do so with everything the lumberjack tried to hold, so he was forced to discard them. The mittens were last seen clambering over lumber slash.

References

Cox, W. T. (1910) Fearsome Creatures of the Lumberwoods with a Few Desert and Mountain Beasts. Judd and Detweiler, Washington D. C.