Chihuaardvark documentary! (by MashupMenagerie)
A primathropod found in the jungles of Africa, the Gorillipede’s most striking feature is its large number of legs. Gorillipedes have segmented bodies, with eleven or more segments. Each segment houses a pair of short, thick, powerful legs, while the front section provides two even more powerful arms, which the gorillipede uses to ‘knuckle-walk’ despite obviously being able to balance on its many hind legs.
Like human fingerprints, each gorillipede’s nose print is unique, a fact discovered by early explorers who found countless imprints left on trees, rocks and valley walls by inertia-bound gorillipedes who failed to stop walking before reaching an obstruction, presumably having lost count of their legs.
The combination of knuckle-walking with their large number of limbs makes for slow and awkward locomotion, but it does allow for excellent digging and burrowing abilities. Due to their size (dominant males standing up to 5.6ft) gorillipede warrens can be found easily: simply wait for the trees to fall through the ground.
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Thanks to its ability to carry large amounts over long distances and at high altitudes, the Llamadillo was domesticated thousands of years ago, and has enabled countless tribes to traverse inhospitable terrains. However, it makes an awkward beast of burden, due to its tendency, when threatened, to curl itself into a six-foot armour plated ball. It’s all well and good travelling many hundreds of miles so your tribe can go and live up a mountain if, halfway up, all your worldly goods are suddenly sliding downwards while the animal that was previously carrying them zooms past like a giant bowling ball, toppling your fellow travellers like panicking skittles.
Illustration by Michael Levett
As well as unreliable transport, the llamadillo also provides milk (if it doesn’t curl up into a ball at the sight of a hand approaching its unprotected udders) and wool (if you don’t mind risking your fingers plucking its wool out from between the hinges of its armour plates).
Few people know what llamadillo milk tastes like, as, generally, if there’s water enough to support the local llamadillo population, there’s water enough for you, too. And thanks to the scarcity of its wool, the most popular garment to make from it seem to be gloves. Thick , protective gloves designed to protect the wearer’s fingers while gathering llamadillo wool.
Undomesticated llamadillos burrow underground using their long front claws, creating daytime hideaways for themselves and furnishing them with grass, sleeping during the day and emerging at night to feed on small vertebrates like lobcats and three-toed mloths.
Illustration by Kevin Gorton
They will often burrow to escape predators. Indeed, a panicking example of the species will often try to roll up into a ball while digging coming to rest in the hole like a snooker ball settling into a pocket. It’s at this point that the unfortunate animal is either caught by a the local llamadillo-scout and trained to become a pack animal, or, if it’s the mating season, introduced rather suddenly to its new partner. An inevitable risk of sitting facedown in a hole with your arse in the air.
As any seasoned traveller will tell you, there is no sight as peculiarly stunning as that of a flock of flamingoats at rest. As many as a thousand shocking pink flamingoats will congregate in a salty lake or lagoon, each of them standing on a single leg and dipping its bearded beak beneath the surface of the water, filtering tiny animals through comb-like lamellae within its beak. Though why it bothers filtering anything is a mystery – everyone knows flamingoats will eat anything. Plastic bags, drinks cans, crisp packets – want rid of it? Put it in front of a flamingoat.
Illustration by Kevin Gorton
The female flamingoat lays a single egg each year, resisting the temptation to enjoy an egg-and-crisp packet sandwich, and feeds her young on the milk that, in its cheese form, has become a favourite with middle class health food nuts everywhere. Domesticated in Southwestern Asia 9,000 years ago, these days flamingoats are farmed purely for their dairy produce – modern farmers with their market-friendly sensibilities are well aware that no-one wants thin, stringy, salty meat that tastes of litter and comes with the occasional bright pink feather still embedded in it.
The mountain flamingoat can occasionally be spotted by the patient observer. Simply wait near an Asian mountain range and wait for one of the mountains to turn the same colour as Barbie’s bathroom. That’s a flock of thousands of mountain flamingoats descending upon it. And when it suddenly turns pink with grey spots, that’s the flamingoats, in perfect synchronisation, standing on one leg.
With its distinctive markings, eight glassy eyes and eight furred legs, the Spiger is one of Asia’s most recognisable hunters. Which is a shame, because those wiggly black stripes are meant to hide it. The spiger lives in forest caves, where it spins huge webs across the cave entrance and between trees. Then it has a nice long rest while it waits for a passing gazelk, pelicantelope or llamadillo to get itself stuck fast, before it rather needlessly begins stalking it. Once it’s pounced on the unfortunate struggling prey, the spiger’s massive jaws clamp down with a vice-like grip while the spiger, ever thorough, cocoons its victim in silk before injecting it full of venom just for good measure.
Illustration by Kevin Gorton
The spiger’s four pairs of eyes work together to help it judge distances and stalk smaller creatures with unerring accuracy. In the past scientists believed that each eye somehow corresponded to a leg. This is now known to be incorrect – in fact, like everything else about the spiger, the only reason it has so many eyes is for sheer bloody-minded overkill. The spiger never does anything by halves. Its eyesight is six times more powerful than that of a human, and its slit pupils, which expand to let in the optimum amount of light, provide excellent vision for hunting at night. Presumably just to make sure that nothing else in the jungle stands a ghost of a chance.
After months dragging around a hugely bloated abdomen, the female spiger gives birth to hundreds of mewling, wriggling cubs, which float away on giant bubbles of air, drifting and soaring over the treetops like an army of very lost zeppelins.
There are many species of spiger, the largest being the Siberian Jumping Spiger, the deadliest being the Australian Funnelweb Spiger and the most worrying being the suburban House Spiger. No one relishes the prospect of creeping barefoot into the bathroom in the middle of the night for a wee only to find an seven-foot long, eight-legged arachnafeline killing machine clambering up the side of the bath. Deforestation aside, the spiger’s only real enemy is the deadly rolled-up newspaper.
While many spigers now live in captivity, or in the shed, in the days of the British Empire they were considered the scourge of the jungle. Hence notorious arachnafelinophobe author Kudyard Ripling’s famous poem:
Spiger, spiger, burning bright
I can’t stand spigers, that’s why I set you alight.
Few sights can be more striking than that of a squiddle after dark. Maybe you’re out for a stroll, or walking the drog in the local woods, enjoying the frowzy evening air as the sun dips behind the trees, when suddenly you see it – small, transuclent and quietly glowing with bioluminesce as it nibbles on an acorn held in its two front tentacles… the squiddle. Possibly the only thing more striking are the acorns it’ll bombard you with once the drog ribbarks and shoots towards it, prompting it to zoom off across the grass and up a tree, blasting away on a jet of air fired from its anus.
Illustration by Michael Levett
Indeed, the squiddle’s unusual method of travel makes it one of the fastest creatures on land or sea, and also provides it with its defensive ability to shoot a cloud of ink at any potential threats, ie anyone who looks as if they might fancy a nut. Squiddles hoard nuts for the winter, when they hibernate. During the summer months they live in holes and crevices in and around trees, sleeping for the day before waking, changing colour and lighting themselves up with their photophores – a strategy that would undoubtedly alert their prey to their approach, were the squiddle not clever enough to prey solely upon inert, defenceless acorns.
In fact the squiddle’s tendancy to nibble its food is the result of a rather unfortunate problem – the squiddle eats only nuts and berries. Which would be fine if it had a nice pair of good solid teeth to break them up with… instead of a beak.
Thankfully, as one of woodland’s cleverest mammalian cephalopods, the squiddle is able to collect large amounts of nuts, berries and acorns in its eight ‘arms’, tentacles which otherwise float behind it in the form of its brush-like ‘tail’. Squiddles have excellent eyesight (helpful for acorn-based target practice) and their tufty little ears provide equally excellent hearing – alerting them to the telltale rustle of a Harvest Chew bar being unwrapped within squirting distance.
Before mating the male squiddle changes colour, making itself as bright as possible, bioluminescently flickering like a strobe light, presumably in the hope of attracting either a female squiddle or a crowd of drug-addled club goers. When squiddles mate, they wrap themselves around each other in a tangle of tentacles – an act which, unlike human mating, results in one partner unintentionally strangling the life out of the other only some of the time, and then over half-an-hour rather than a lifetime.
The male reaches one specially-adapted tentacle into his mantle, the muscular ‘inner shell’ that makes up his back, and produces a lovely sticky gift for the lady squiddle, which he carefully inserts into her mantle, providing he hasn’t strangled her yet. The female lays her eggs on the seabed – another almost insurmountable problem in the life of the land-based squiddle.
Illustration by Alan C. Jones
In the deepest, darkest forests of Canada one of life’s most majestic sights awaits you: the dam-hives of the bumblebeever. So called because whenever a ranger comes across another wall of them blocking an otherwise fastflowing river and depriving the perfectly innocent locals of fresh water and hydro-electric power, he or she will usually exclaim, “Damn hives!”
Illustration by Nathan Magnus Helgason.
Beevers live together in vast colonies, organised around an overfed, overfull queen beever who periodically bursts in a shower of worker drones and solider beevers, while the adult beevers continue to stuff her full of so-called food they’ve managed to drag out of the river. The average beever’s diet consists of soggy leaves, wet twigs and small fish, which, presumably is their excuse for their thin, runny, fishy, disgusting honey. The queen beever’s diet consists of ten times as much of the same.
The bumblebeever hovers unaerodynamically above the flotsam around its dam-hive on two pairs of gossamer-thin wings, beating its wide, flat, spatulate stinging tail for extra momentum in a desperate attempt to keep it aloft. It’s long been proclaimed by armchair philosophers that the beever can’t fly – yet it does. They’re wrong. The beever just can’t fly. Which is probably why it’s coated in sleek, glossy fur, cunningly striped in black and yellow, presumably to tell potential predators not to eat it – as if the flavour wouldn’t put them off enough anyway. For the bumblebeever tastes not just of thick waterlogged pelt but also of thin, runny, fishy honey.