First, I need to qualify that this article is a mish-mash of good content. Probably no editor would ever pick it up because there are too many creatures emphasized. I tried to narrow it down. I know exactly who or what should be cut, but I don’t want to do it because there’s some cool information here. So, please accept my apology for what may feel like a conglomeration of content and creatures. I promise, if you stay with me, this article does boil down to one central point.
In Greek mythology, Echidna is known as the mother of all monsters and the mate of Typhon, the fiercest of all the monsters. Story goes that they attacked the Olympians in an attempt to overthrow Zeus to rule the gods. Didn’t work. You apparently need thunderbolts to beat a serpentine giant. While Zeus spared Echidna so she and her formidable offspring could offer a challenge to the heroes, he buried Typhon under Mt. Etna in Italy. Here is a picture of Typhon. (I thought of having Echidna illustrated, but this was an opportunity to have Typhon–the fiersest, scariest, most formidable of all monsters. I might never have another reason–okay, semi-reason, to have him drawn).
Echidna was half woman and half snake (a suitable mate for Typon, right?) She lived alone in a cave. Click here if you’d like to see a picture of her. This might be why our fascinating creation for this month was given the same name.
The real Echnida, found living only in Australia and zoos across the world, is often referred to as an oddity in nature, uniquely bizarre, but it’s also one of the most docile, kind-hearted animals alive. She is the perfect belied outcast–an incredible creature, fulfilling her purpose as was intended in a world where man interprets what is acceptable or different.
At least this little creature is no threat to society when she’s attacked. She won’t eat humans, destroy buildings, or turn you to stone with an evil glare. After studying the Echnida, one has to wonder if this little creature is a brilliant creation or was the last animal created with leftover parts. Since there are no mistakes in nature, this little cutie was fashioned with “oddities” that allow her to fulfill her purpose.
Here are some examples:
- She has the quills of a porcupine but they do not release. They are not venomous, but they are intimidating.
- She has the beak of a bird, but only the tip opens to allow her sticky tongue to gather up insects, like an anteater.
- In and around her snout, she has the electroreceptors of a shark to help her easily locate food, but she has no teeth.
- She has the feet of a mole and can dig a hole as fast a human can dig with a shovel.
- When she rolls into a little ball, she looks like a sea urchin.
- Her body temperature is the lowest of any mammal–around 89 degrees Fahrenheit–and can fluctuate by as much as 8 degrees. This enables her to fall into a hibernation-type state called torpor and survive extreme conditions, like a frigid winter or even a forest fire. That’s superhero quality right there.
- She is only one of two mammals that lay eggs.
She’ll only carry one egg inside her body for a couple months, then lay the leathery egg inside her pouch where it will hatch about ten days later. Inside her pouch are milk pads where the baby laps up the milk. Check out this video. It’s incredible.
Here’s another video if you want to see the Echidna up close and personal.
It’s no wonder there is no shortage of ideas from which to create stories. Remember the video game Sonic the Hedgehog? Knuckles was an echidna, and the Niffler in Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them looks an awful lot like an echidna. Only he has a bottomless pouch and a keen eye for shiny objects! Check him out.
Using some of the Echidna’s remarkable qualities, and drawing on the half reptile, half mammal is a cryptid called the Tatzelwurm. You can see Mel’s interpretation of the tatzelwurm here. She lays eggs and lives alone in a cave, peacefully minding her own business. However, she will attack if threatened. Men have met with a horrible death when they’ve tried to steal her eggs, which turn to ivory once they leave the nest. You can read about it in this flash fiction re-imagining of the Jack and Jill fairy tale entitled Jack, Jill, and the Ivory Egg.
After discussing Greek Mythology, from which the real echidna received her name, and the cryptozoological monster called the Tazelwurm, here is my point: Animals are an amazing gift to mankind because. They add quality to our lives by fueling our well-being and enhancing our imaginations. We don’t have to look far to witness creation at it’s best.
What creature comes to mind when you see the echidna?
Have you seen them anywhere else in the media?
Sculpture picture by Gabriele Delhey.
Echidna reference Wikipediea:
<a href=”https://www.greekmythology.com/Myths/Creatures/Echidna/echidna.html”>Echidna: GreekMythology.com</a> – Jun 28, 2018.
Echidna Outback Oddity by Heather Brinson Bruce. Answers Magazine (February 19, 2017). See the full article here.
Typhon Illustration by Mike Ayers. You can view more of his artwork here.