It was partly through pioneer study of the Siouan Indians that the popular fallacy concerning the aboriginal Great Spirit gained currency; and it was partly through the work of Dorsey among the cegiha and Dakota tribes, first as a missiona... Read more of The Siouan Mythology at Siouan.caInformational Site Network Informational
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Mythical Creatures -

Amazons
The race of Amazons or fighting women, is not yet extinct, ...

Pygmies
The antitheses of men--Dwarfs, and Giants--must not be over...

Giants
This last sentence seems almost a compendium of The History...

Early Men
On the antiquity of man it is impossible to speculate, beca...

Wild Men
Sometimes a specimen of humanity has got astray in infancy,...

Hairy Men
If, as we may conjecture from the above, the ancient Briton...

The Ouran Outan
Transition from hirsute humanity to the apes, is easy, and ...

Satyrs
He also mentions and delineates a curious Ape which closely...

The Sphynx
"The SPHYNGA or Sphinx, is of the kind of Apes, but his bre...

Apes
Sluper, who could soar to the height of delineating a Cyclo...

Animal Lore
We are indebted to Pliny for much strange animal lore--whic...

The Manticora
Of curious animals, other than Apes, depicted as having som...

The Lamia
The Lamiae are mythological--and were monsters of Africa, w...

The Centaur
This extraordinary combination of man and animal is very an...

The Gorgon
In the title-page of one edition of "The Historie of Foure-...

The Unicorn
What a curious belief was that of the Unicorn! Yet what myt...

The Rhinoceros
The true Unicorn is, of course, the Rhinoceros, and this pi...

The Gulo
Olaus Magnus thus describes the Gulo or Gulon:--"Amongst...

The Bear
As Pliny not only uses all Aristotle's matter anent Bears, ...

The Fox
By Englishmen, the Fox has been raised to the height of at ...

The Wolf
The Wolf, as a beast of prey, is invested with a terror pec...

Were-wolves
But of all extraordinary stories connected with the Wolf, i...

The Antelope
When not taken from living specimens, or skins, the arti...

The Horse
Aldrovandus gives us a curious specimen of a horse, which t...

The Mimick Dog
"The Mimicke or Getulian Dogge," is, I take it, meant fo...

The Cat
Aldrovandus gives us a picture of a curly-legged Cat, but, ...

The Lion
Of the great Cat, the Lion, the ancients give many wonderfu...

The Leontophonus The Pegasus The Crocotta
The Lion has a dreadful enemy, according to Pliny, who says...

The Leucrocotta The Eale Cattle Feeding Backwards
"There are oxen, too, like that of India, some with one hor...

Animal Medicine
We have already seen some of the wonderfully curative prope...

The Su
Topsell mentions a fearful beast called the Su. "There is a...

The Lamb-tree
As a change from this awful animal, let us examine the Plan...

The Chimaera
Aldrovandus gives us the accompanying illustration of a ...

The Harpy And Siren
The conjunction of the human form with birds is very eas...

The Barnacle Goose
Of all extraordinary beliefs, that in the Barnacle Goose, w...

Remarkable Egg
No wonder that a credulous age, which could see nothing ...

Moon Woman
One would have imagined that this Egg would be sufficien...

The Griffin
There always has been a tradition of birds being existent, ...

The Phoenix
Pliny says of the Phoenix:--"AEthiopia and India, more espe...

The Swallow
"And is the swallow gone? Who beheld it? Wh...

The Martlet And Footless Birds
Of the Martin, or, as in Heraldry it is written, Martlet, G...

Snow Birds
But we must leave warm climes, and birds of Paradise, and s...

The Swan
The ancient fable so dear, even to modern poets, that Swans...

The Alle Alle
"There is also in this Lake (the White Lake) a kind of b...

The Hoopoe And Lapwing
Whether the following bird is meant for the Hoopoe, or the ...

The Ostrich
Modern observation, and especially Ostrich farming, has ...

The Halcyon
Of this bird, the Kingfisher, Aristotle thus discourses:--"...

The Pelican
The fable of the Pelican "in her piety, vulning herself,...

The Trochilus
This bird, as described by Aristotle, and others, is of a p...

Woolly Hens
Sir John Maundeville saw in "the kingdome named Mancy, whic...

Two-headed Wild Geese
Near the land of the Cynocephali or dog-headed men, there w...

Four-footed Duck
Gesner describes a four-footed duck, which he says is li...

Fish
Terrestrial and Aerial animals were far more familiar to th...

The Sea-mouse
"The Sea-Mouse makes a hole in the Earth, and lays her Eggs...

The Sea-hare
"The Sea-Hare is found to be of divers kinds in the Ocean, ...

The Sea-pig
Again we are indebted to Gesner for the drawing of thi...

The Walrus
Of the Walrus, Rosmarus, or Morse, Gesner draws, and Ola...

The Ziphius
This Voracious Animal, whose size may be imagined by compar...

The Saw Fish
"The Saw fish is also a beast of the Sea; the body is huge ...

The Orca
is probably the Thresher whale. Pliny thus describes it:--"...

The Dolphin
Pliny says:--"The Dolphin is an animal not only friendly to...

The Narwhal
generally called the Monoceros or Sea Unicorn, is thus show...

The Swamfisck
The accompanying illustration, though heading the chapte...

The Sahab
"There is also another Sea-Monster, called Sahab, which hat...

The Circhos
"There is also another Monster like to that, called Circhos...

The Remora
Of this fish Pliny writes:--"There is a very small fish tha...

The Dog-fish And Ray
Olaus Magnus writes of "The cruelty of some Fish, and th...

The Sea Dragon
Of the Ray tribe of fishes, the Sea Dragon is the most ...

The Sting Ray
Pliny mentions the Sting Ray, and ascribes to it marvellous...

Senses Of Fishes
He also tells us about the senses of fishes, and first of t...

Zoophytes
Writing on the lower phases of Marine Animal life, he says:...

Sponges
"We find three kinds of sponges mentioned; the first are th...

The Kraken
This enormous monster, peculiar to the Northern Seas, is sc...

Crayfish And Crabs
Pliny tells us that in the Indian Ocean are Crayfish four c...

The Sea-serpent
Of the antiquity of the belief in the Sea-Serpent there can...

Serpents
Of Serpents Topsell has written a "Historie," which, if not...

The Crocodile
The largest of the Saurians which we have left us, is the C...

The Basilisk And Cockatrice
Aldrovandus portrays the Basilisk with eight legs. Topse...

The Salamander
Many writers have essayed this fabled creature, but almost ...

The Toad
Toads were always considered venomous and spiteful, and the...

The Leech
The Leech has, from a very early age, been used as a means ...

The Scorpion
Of the Scorpion, Pliny says:--"This animal is a dangerous s...

The Ant
No one would credit the industrious Ant, whose ways we are ...

The Bee
The Busy Bee, too, according to Olaus Magnus, developed, in...

The Hornet
So also, up North, they seem to have had a special breed...



The Martlet And Footless Birds








Of the Martin, or, as in Heraldry it is written, Martlet, Guillim thus
writes:--"The Martlet, or Martinet, saith Bekenhawh, hath Legs so
exceeding short, that they can by no means go: (walk) And thereupon,
it seemeth, the Grecians do call them Apodes, quasi sine pedibus;
not because they do want Feet, but because they have not such Use of
their Feet, as other Birds have. And if perchance they fall upon the
Ground, they cannot raise themselves upon their Feet, as others do, and
prepare themselves to flight. For this Cause they are accustomed to make
their Nests upon Rocks and other high places, from whence they may
easily take their flight, by Means of the Support of the Air. Hereupon
it came, that this Bird is painted in Arms without Feet: and for this
Cause it is also given for a Difference of younger Brethren, to put them
in mind to trust to their wings of Vertue and Merit, to raise
themselves, and not to their Legs, having little Land to put their foot
on."

The Alerion is a small bird of the eagle tribe, heraldically depicted as
without beak or feet.

Butler in "Hudibras" writes--

"Like a bird of paradise,
Or herald's Martlet, has no legs,
Nor hatches young ones, nor lays eggs."

The Bird of Paradise was unknown to the ancients, and one of the
earliest notices of this bird is given in Magalhaen's voyage in
1521:--"The King of Bachian, one of the Molucca Islands, sent two dead
birds preserved, which were of extraordinary beauty. In size they were
not larger than the thrush: the head was small, with a long bill; the
legs were of the thickness of a common quill, and a span in length; the
tail resembled that of the thrush; they had no wings, but in the place
where wings usually are, they had tufts of long feathers, of different
colours; all the other feathers were dark. The inhabitants of the
Moluccas had a tradition that this bird came from Paradise, and they
call it bolondinata, which signifies the 'bird of God.'"

By-and-by, as trade increased, the skins of this bird were found to have
a high market value, but the natives always brought them, when they came
to trade, with their legs cut off. Thence sprang the absurd rumour that
they had no legs, although in the early account just quoted, their legs
are expressly mentioned. Linnaeus called the emerald birds of Paradise
apoda or legless; whilst Tavernier says that these birds getting drunk
on nutmegs, fall helpless to the ground, and then the ants eat off their
legs.

"But note we now, towards the rich Moluques,
Those passing strange and wondrous (birds) Manueques.
(Wond'rous indeed, if Sea, or Earth, or Sky,
Saw ever wonder swim, or goe, or fly)
None knowes their Nest, none knowes the dam that breeds them;
Foodless they live; for th' Aire alonely feeds them:
Wingless they fly; and yet their flight extends,
Till with their flight, their unknown live's-date ends."





Next: Snow Birds

Previous: The Swallow



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