Friday, April 29, 2016

WOOLLY MAMMOTH: Warmth and Hospitality

Best known of the Ice Age Mammals, Woolly Mammoth (Mammuthus primigenius) received her name from her outer layer of long hair. Underneath that layer, She had another dense inner layer of fur. To cope with the icy temperatures, Woolly Mammoth had a compact body, a high domed head and small ears.

Woolly Mammoth had a shorter but more flexible trunk than other Mammoths. At the end of her trunk was a finger-like appendage as well as another protuberance. She used these to gather grasses and other plants for eating.

The smallest of Mammoths, Woolly Mammoth had extra long tusks. These ornate twisting tusks had many uses. For example, She could dig up plants and clear snow with them. Also, Woolly Mammoth could fight off predators with her tusks by bashing the attacking animal with them. Her tusks were like tree rings, telling her age and life experience.

Meanwhile, Paleo-peoples used the tusks of Woolly Mammoth to construct their homes. Many of their houses were built from her large bones and woolly hides. In one homestead found in Ukraine, the skulls of Woolly Mammoths, placed in a semi-circle, formed the base walls. Then the jaws were used to erect the upper parts of the walls. For the entrance, they used the leg bones of Woolly Mammoth. She provided shelter for them on the flat, treeless plains.

The last known Mammoth lived about 4,000 years ago on a small island near Siberia during the Stone Age. Many people believe that Woolly Mammoth went extinct through overhunting. However others think that as the world’s climate became warm; She could not survive adequately on the new plants. Whatever the reason, Woolly Mammoth became the icon for extinction from overhunting during the Ice Age.

Woolly Mammoth exudes warmth and hospitality. Meeting others during migrations, She greets Them with touching and trumpeting with her trunk. Furthermore, Woolly Mammoth would wait for laggards as well, welcoming Them back into the herd.

Learn from Woolly Mammoth about proper hospitality and warmth. She teaches us how to care for and welcome others into our hearth and home. However do not so be taken advantage of that you end up giving up everything you have. You can be flexible but also wary.

(Note: update of post from 2010.)

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Mastodon Family: Look Closer and Think.

Often confused with Mammoths, Mastodons (Mammutidae) are in their own family, since They split off from Elephants and Mammoths earlier. Therefore, there are many differences between the two Animals. Mastodons have larger and flatter brows than Mammoths. Moreover, They have paired low conical cusps for teeth, and upper jaw tusks. In addition, Mastodons are shorter and more muscular than Mammoths. Scientists have liken Them to a bus, whereas Mammoths are more like construction cranes.

Living side by side with Mammoths, Mastodons colonized Eurasia and North America about fifteen million years ago. As browsers, They preferred to live in spruce forests and open woodlands. During the winter, Mastodons had a double coat of fur to prevent Them from freezing in the icy cold. However, they preferred warmer climates to live in.

Fossil Mastodons have been found with full stomachs, indicating that They consumed about 500 pounds (1,000 kilos) of food each day. Since their enormous appetites drove Them to seek more and more food, Mastodons roamed the countryside endlessly searching for food. Mastodons tramped through forests to feast on moss and twigs of cedar, larch, pine, and spruce trees. Their hunger drove Them deeper into bogs and swamps in search of food, where They died.

Mastodons teach to look closer and think. Do not mistake Them for their cousins, the Mammoths. Examine the differences before making a judgment. If you do not ponder what you see, you may mindlessly end up stuck in a bog. Take care in what you do.

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Update from a previous 2010 posting

Friday, April 01, 2016

Prehistoric Elephant Family: Partnership

(Deinotheres, Elephants, Mammoths, and Mastodons)

Of the myriad Trunked Mammals who once roamed the earth, only African and Asian Elephants still remain today.  At one time, Proboscids (Trunked Mammals) lived everywhere except Antarctica and Australia.  Spreading from Africa where They originated, these Mammals flourished during the Miocene Period (from 20 million years ago (mya) to 5 mya).  Since many Proboscids were not immune to the cold, only a few survived the Ice Age.

Trunked Mammals have a long complex evolutionary history.  Beginning as small herbivores sixty mya, these Mammals resembled modern Pigmy Hippos.  For example, Moeritherium did look like a small Hippo but possessed a flexible upper lip and snout like an Elephant.  Then a cousin, Deinotherium appeared alongside the Gomphotheres (Early Elephants) about fifteen mya. Many of the Gomphotheres had flat tusks to shovel plants out of soft swampy ground. In addition, They used their trunks to uproot trees.

Mastodons split off from the Elephant Family (which also includes Mammoths). Unlike Mammoths, Mastodons had cheek teeth with low-rounded crowns. Meanwhile, Mammoths had the most highly evolved of elephantine teeth. Because of the grinding surfaces of their teeth, Mammoths could eat grasses whilst Mastodons searched the trees for tender leaves. Mastodons preferred warm climates to the Mammoths’ cold ones.

The Family of Trunked Mammals has been a part of human history from the very beginning.  Both Humans and Proboscids evolved together in Africa.  Later both spread out of Africa to populate the world.  When Paleo-humans needed food and shelter, they hunted Trunked Mammals.  They also built their homes from the bones and hides of various Proboscids. To honor Them, Paleo-peoples painted the likenesses of Mammoths and Mastodons on cave walls.

The infant science of paleontology became advanced through the study of Proboscids’ teeth and bones.  Since Trunked Mammals were widely distributed around the world, early scientists could trace their evolution.  Because Proboscid fossils were plentiful and readily available, early naturalists could learn their craft from these fossils.

Throughout the ages, humans entered into a partnership with various Trunked Mammals.  As each developed, They learned from each other.  Proboscids provided for humans and taught them basic life skills.  In return, Humans honored Them. The lesson of Trunked Mammals is that a partnership is one of equals.  We need to be good partners as They have taught us and protect their living representatives.  Today all that remain are endangered.

Science Note: Manatees, dugongs, and hyraxes are the closest living relatives of elephants. They are descended from Moeritherium.

(Updated from earlier 2010 blog.)

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Shadow Animals:The Trickster and the Bringer of Death

"The Raven" from E.A. Poe's poem

My blog at Witches and Pagans is up featuring shadow animals: the trickster and the bringer of death.

From the Blog:

Two difficult types of Shadow Animals are the Trickster and the Bringer of Death. Most Pagans are familiar with Tricksters since they know about Coyote and Loki, who transgress societal norms. The Bringer of Death is an animal who causes a near-death experience. People who undergo a Near-Death Experience (NDE) often gain more spiritual power by dying and then being reborn.

Read the rest at : Witches and Pagans: Animal Wisdom

Friday, March 04, 2016

YOWIE (Australia's Bigfoot): Tenacity

Copyright: "Yowie Statue at Kilcoy, Queensland," by Seo75 (wikimedia).
When the Europeans first arrived in Australia, they encountered “the hairy man,” of Aboriginal myth. According to the Aboriginal Australians, humans share this continent with apemen. These Yowies (“hairy men”), as they were called, had inhabited Australia before the coming of any humans.

 Amongst the Aboriginal Australians, the “hairy men” were called many names and possessed different attributes. “Yowie,” the name They are called today comes from “Yuwi” as referred to by the Yuwaalaraay People of New South Wales. To them, Yowie is a spirit from Dreamtime. Meanwhile, the “Yaroma” of the Blue Mountains was a cannibal. According to the Gundungurra People, the Yaroma sharpened their long fangs on rocks. A human could escape from this cannibal by jumping into a waterhole, since the Yaroma could not get their feet wet. Other myths describe Yowies to be gigantic “hairy men,” with muscular bodies and powerful arms.

 According to cryptozoologists who study apemen, there are at least two different kinds of Yowies. The “hairy men,” known as “Jimbra” of Western Australia, “Turramulli” of Cape York, and "Lo-an” of Victoria are probably “True Giants.” (These are large hairy hominoids who leave long, four-toed foot prints.) They are classified as True Giants since they are tall and have flat faces. “Tjangara, the “Great Hairy of Man” of South Australia is also a True Giant. This apeman carries a club to kill and eat humans. Meanwhile, the Yowies of New South Wales are an unknown species of ape. They have long canine teeth over wide mouths. Also, these Yowies also possess very apelike feet, with a large second toe, and a big toe jutting out at an angle.

According to the Aboriginal Australians, Yowies have lived in Australia long before the coming of people. Bigger and faster than humans, Yowies waged war against the newcomers. Since the humans had better weapons, they pushed the Yowies into more remote areas of Australia. In Cape York, the Yalanji People banded together and killed all of the Turramulli.

As early as 1795, settlers on a hunting trip at Yowie Bay spotted a “hairy man” running away from them. In fact, Yowie Bay is reported to be named for the numerous sightings of Yowies. During 1994, Tim the Yowie Man saw his first Yowie in the Brindabella Mountains. He had reported encountering a hairy ape-like animal whilst on a field trip. Meanwhile, the people of Kilcoy in Queensland say that Yowies still live in the surrounding mountains.

Most Yowie researchers agree that Yowies are not close relatives of humans. The “Father of Yowie Research” and founder of the Australian Yowie Research Centre (AYR), Rex Gilroy thinks that one kind of Yowie is possibly an Australopithecine, a large robust relative of early humans, Homo habilis and ergaster. Others at the AYR posit that Gigantopithecus could be the True Giant Yowie. This strong, enormous and human-like ape lived in Asia alongside Homo erectus. Both could still be living in Australia.

The Aboriginal stories of Yowies speak of an inhabited land before humans. Like any other group of indwellers, the Yowies wanted the newcomers gone. Although, They lost the war, the tenacious Yowies still continue to live in their homelands. Even today, people still see Them in settled places such as Sydney. The Yowies never left, and instead learnt to avoid direct contact with humans.

Yowies teach people about tenacity. Because of their perseverance, Yowies survived. Defeated by the humans, They moved to the inaccessible parts of their homelands, and stayed. If you want help to remain in your home, look to the Yowie. But try to learn to co-exist with others.

Saturday, February 20, 2016

YETI (ABOMINABLE SNOWMAN): Reflections on the Sacred

Mention “Abominable Snowman,” and people will conjure up a picture of a huge apeman with a cone-shaped head and snow white hair. This particular man-like creature has captured the public imagination with stories, toys, and TV shows. Now, people entertain notions of unknown humans and their hidden lives in the inaccessible places of the Himalayas.

Stories of Yeti (“Abominable Snowman”) reach far back in history. Pliny the Elder, of Rome, wrote about Yeti in the First Century C.E. In his writings on the natural world, Pliny described a man-like creature, who walked on two legs, living in the mountains of India. Meanwhile ancient writings of Tibetans told of a man-beast who roamed the high passes. Also the peoples of the Himalayas regarded Yeti to be the God of Hunting.

Modern reports of Yeti began in 1921, with a newspaper article in a Calcutta newspaper, Lieutenant Colonel C.K. Howard-Bury had sighted a mountain “man” with long hair on his head and shoulders. Then in his epic climb up Mt. Everest in 1953, Sir Edmund Hillary reported seeing giant footprints, thereby setting off the Yeti craze. By 1959, Disneyland in California featured audio-animatronic Yeti in its rides.

The Sherpas of Nepal have many ways to denote the different kinds of Yeti. “Yet-teh,” which became “Yeti” in English, means “that there thing.” The Sherpas with Howard-Bury said they saw “met-teh kang-mi,” which translates into “foul-smelling snow creature.” “Teh-lma” means “that there little thing,” which refers to a small Yeti. “Dzu-teh,” meaning “big thing,” is a huge hulking animal, that stands on two legs.

Cryptozoologists, who study unknown primates, have determined that there are three species of Ape-like Yeti. (Dzu-teh is probably an unknown species of bear.) Big Yeti (“Gin-sung” in Chinese) is eight feet tall (nearly two meters), and walks on two legs. Possessing a square-like head, Big Yeti also has rusty brown hair. Little Yeti (Teh-lma), under five feet tall (a meter and a half), has a pointed head and thick-reddish grey hair. Teh-lma lives in the more tropical valleys of Nepal, and has been seen hunting frogs. Little and Big Yeti are considered relatives of humans. Meanwhile, Classic Yeti of the cone-head and greyish-white hair is believed to be a rock climbing ape.

One of the leading authorities on Yeti was the Russian scientist, Maya Bykova. She theorized that Yeti are genetic companions to modern humans. Bykova explained that the paralyzing fear that people have when they encounter a Yeti is from ancestral memories of similar prehistoric meetings. She based her conclusions on the large amount of data that she had gathered before her death in 1996.
Many Buddhist monasteries have established “sacred lands” for Yeti, whom they consider to be holy. Knowing Yeti to be fiercely territorial, few Nepalese will enter these lands. Furthermore, various monasteries possess scalps and hands of Yeti as sacred relics. Meanwhile, Bhutan has become the only country with a national park for Yeti: Thrumshingla National Park, where He can roam freely and unnoticed.

How we approach Yeti reflects how we relate to the Sacred. For many, the Sacred is cloaked in mystery and beyond comprehension. Philosopher Umberto Eco said, “The unknown is often seen in terms of the known.” Yeti is often compared to modern humans as to what “it” could be. Perhaps Yeti stands for things we were not meant to know. Or maybe Yeti is simply an unknown ape that lives in remote mountains. How do we approach the Yeti? Do we let “it” continue to be unknown or do we insist on pulling back the mystery? The choice is ours to make. Our feelings about Yeti reflects our attitudes towards the Sacred. If we allow Yeti be an enigma, then we allow Him to be numinous, one of the Sacred.

Saturday, February 13, 2016

GIRAFFE: Quiet Strength

From prehistory, Giraffe has commanded people’s attention. Early writers described Giraffe as “magnificent in appearance, bizarre in form, unique in gait, colossal in height and inoffensive in character.” Pictures of Giraffes grace the cave walls in North Africa, drawn over 10,000 years ago. In Ancient Egypt, Queen Hatshepat brought Giraffe from the headwaters of the Nile, down to her zoo. The Kingdom of Malindi, in Africa, in 1414 presented China, Giraffe as a diplomatic gift (the first ever). In Paris, when Giraffe was first seen in 1826, the City went “Giraffe crazy” for a year.

Since the beginning of time, people have tried to explain why Giraffe looks the way He does. In Africa, after the Creator Gods finished with Camel and Leopard, some parts were left over. So They made an animal large like Camel with Leopard spots. Ancient Greeks and Romans called Giraffe “Camel-Leopard”, which now is the scientific name (Camelopardalis) for Giraffe.
 
Tallest of all land mammals, Giraffe is noted for his exceptionally long neck and legs. Giraffe uses his tallness to his advantage. From his elevated view, He can watch for predators, as well as eat leaves from the tops of trees. Because of his great height, Giraffe and His Friends are called a “tower”.

However, Giraffe has many other notable features as well. Like Camel, He can go for days without drinking, and can eat from thorny plants. With his flexible neck, He can eat from the tops of trees. With his horns, Giraffe can swing his head and ably defend himself. A blow from Giraffe’s head can prove deadly to a predator.

This peaceful quiet Animal is one of the most successful vegetarians of the African Savannah. He may seem fragile but Giraffe can ably defend himself. Quiet and unassuming, Giraffe always looks out for his friends. They return the favor when He is the most vulnerable – sprawled at the water hole drinking. Be a friend like Giraffe, and learn quiet strength from Him.

Giraffe’s Teachings Also Include:

“The giraffe represents the capacity to extend beyond the limitations of the physical plane. Its ability to obtain sustenance flourishing on a seemingly unattainable perch symbolizes the necessity to overcome limitations and to allow innovative ideas to flourish.” Copyright: “Animals Divine Companion”, Lisa Hunt.

“The giraffe’s vulnerability when it lowers its head to drink reminds us that if we lose sight of our greater vision and consciousness and sink into a mundane way of life, we risk losing our spiritual connection.” Copyright: Beyond the Rainbow (Constance Barrett Sohodski).


Giraffe head
Giraffe’s Wisdom Includes:
Farsightedness
Seeing From the Heart
Foresight
Flexibility