Monday, July 29, 2013

Mythic Animals: Semi-human: Tengu (Japan)

 The Tengu (“Heaven Dog”) was introduced in Japan as a part of the cultural borrowing from China, beginning in the 6th Century. A part of Chinese mythology, Tengu was adopted into Japanese lore as well. These bird-like goblins became a part of Japanese Buddhism and Shintoism. Karasu Tengu (Crow Tengu), the original import, disliked humans, and often abducted them. Then, Yamabushi Tengu (Monk Tengu) emerged in the 13th Century to help ordinary people and punish vain monks.
Works Used:

Chamberlain, Basil, “Japanese Things,” Charles Tuttle, Tokyo 1905 (reprint 1971).

 Schumacher, Mark, “Tengu: The Slayer of Vanity,” Japanese Buddhist Corner,, 2010,
Zell-Ravenheart, Oberon and Ash DeKirk, “A Wizard’s Bestiary,” New Page Press, Franklin Lakes, NJ, 2007.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

GIANT ! BRAZILIAN OTTER: Having A Good Family Life

The largest of Otters, Giant Otter is at the top of the Brazilian Rainforest food chain. She swims in tight circles to create a whirlpool that sucks up Fish from the Amazon Riverbed. Giant Otter prefers Catfish which hide on bottoms of streams and lakes. When She is tired of eating Fish, Giant Otter hunts Snakes and Crocodiles. For a hearty meal, She kills either a Cayman or an Anaconda.

Besides Giant Otter’s great size (longer than a tall person), She is also distinguished by her boldly blotched throat and flattened tail. Because of Giant Otter’s distinctive characteristics that seem un-Otter-like, such as her size and tail, some people question whether Giant Otter is an Otter. However, Giant Otter has several distinctive Otter characteristics. For example, She likes to play and swim.

Giant Otter leads a small family of Otters called a holt. In her holt, She plays with her Husband and Pups. They socialize together, talking with each other by barks, twitters, chuckles, and other sounds. When Mother and Father Giant Otter go hunting, Older Brother and Sister Giant Otter baby-sit the Little Ones. Later, the whole Family rests together and groom each other.

Giant Otter demonstrates having a good family life. Like all good families, her family enjoys each other’s company. Study Giant Otter’s example to have a family life that you would want to come home to.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

SEA OTTER: Second Chances

When people think “otter”, they imagine Sea Otter with her cute face, floating on her back, holding a clam. The most aquatic of Otters, Sea Otter spends most of her life at sea. Since She likes to be in the water near the shore, Sea Otter prefers living along coasts instead of the open ocean. During rough weather, Sea Otter will seek shelter in a rocky cove.

Unlike other Otters, Sea Otter catches Fish in her clawed forefeet. Other times, She dives to the sea bottom, snatches a tasty Clam, and returns to the surface. Swimming on her back, Sea Otter uses a rock and bangs open the Clam on her chest.

From time to time, Mother Sea Otter will gather with other Mothers and their Pups. While her Pup is playing with the other Pups, Mother Sea Otter grooms Herself to keep her fur clean. As her Pup has fun with his Playmates, Mother Sea Otter rests with her Friends.

Sea Otter’s history with people is a sad one. Russians and Americans hunted Her to near extinction for her fur. What saved Sea Otter were other, more thoughtful people. When the hunters thought that there were no more Sea Otters, other people knew where Sea Otters were hiding and kept the place secret. After laws were enacted to save Sea otter, her numbers slowly recovered.

Sea Otter once trusted people before they hunted Her. After about a hundred years, Sea Otter is willing to trust again. As people are working to give Sea Otter a second chance to thrive, so She is giving people a second chance.
Sea Otter on land

Wednesday, July 17, 2013


Mother River Otter builds her den (holt) along the shore of a wooded stream. In her holt, She gives birth and watches her Pups for about six months, alone. Then Father Otter rejoins Her and helps with their Pups.

Mother and Father River Otter teach ingenuity to their Children. Mother River Otter punches holes into Beaver's dams and when the water recedes, wades in and feasts on the trapped Fish and Frogs.

Father River Otter teaches the Pups how to launch a submarine attack on a sleeping Duck. The entire River Otter Family spends a lot of time playing, sliding down muddy hills or diving for pebbles. Play helps their Pups to learn to hunt and live an independent life.

River Otter teaches the value of play. Through play, She learns how to swim and hunt. River Otter chases her Friends in the water and dives for rocks with Them. River Otter repeatedly slides down a muddy riverbank to learn how to travel in snow.

Play serves to teach as well as to have fun. Let River Otter teach you how to play well.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Otter Family: Living a Well-Rounded Life

Most people think that Otters live only in the sea or along rivers in Europe or North America. However, Otters live everywhere – in the tropics of South America and Africa, near Siberia, and in Asia. The only place that Otters do not live is Australia.

Wherever Otters live, They are known for their energy. They chase each other underwater, slide down muddy hills, and dive for pebbles. When They are not playing, Otters travel long distances looking for food or for a mate. The only time an Otter is still is when Sea Otter is asleep in the ocean or when River Otter suns Herself.

Otters are well suited for life in the water. With their long bodies and webbed feet, Otters easily paddle with their hind legs. While They are swimming, Otters move their powerful tails. Quite the acrobats, Otters turn somersaults in water.

Strangely enough, Otters are not born knowing how to swim. Mother Otter teachers her Pups how to survive in the water. At first, She plays water games with Them. When the young Pups are ready, She pushes Them into the water. While They try to swim, Mother Otter stands ready to rescue her floundering Pups. After much trial and error, They learn to swim.

Otters are curious about the world around them and like to explore. But what They like best is to play. Sea Otter will use a beer can to entice a small Octopus to come near. River Otter opens a house door and go inside to look around.

Otters live a well-rounded life, playing and working. They have boundless energy to do everything but Otters stop from time to time and sleep in the sun. Learn living well from Otters.

Monday, July 08, 2013


Fondly called “Butt Head” by paleontologists, Pachycephalosaurus became well-known for his domed head. Moreover, his thick skull was ringed with spikes and knobs. Using the skull fossils that they had discovered, paleontologists constructed a Dinosaur resembling a bald, scaly senior citizen. Because the only fossil found of Pachycephalosaurus is his thick skull, scientists can only guess at what his life was like. Some of their ideas about his lifestyle are based on more complete fossils of related Dinosaurs, such as Dracorex and Stygimoloch.
            This thick skull of Pachycephalosaurus (about 10 inches (25 cm)) prompted scientists to think that He rammed everyone with his head. However with further study, they realized that his skull was constructed from spongy materials, not hard bone. Furthermore, paleontologists discovered that Pachycephalosaurus did not have the strong neck muscles needed to absorb a head-on impact. Therefore, instead of attacking a menacing Tyrannosaurus rex, this plant eater would run away on his two legs. Upon further reflection, paleontologists now think that Pachycephalosaurus probably rammed into the side of another Dinosaur. Perhaps, He did this during mating or while defending Himself.
In other research, some Dinosaurs in the Pachycephalosaurus Family such as Dracorex and Stygimoloch are now thought to be younger Pachycephalosaurus, instead of a separate species. Scientists now theorize that young Pachycephalosaurus had a flat skull ringed by knobs. As He grew, his skull reformed into formed a dome.
            What can be learned from Pachycephalosaurus is that sometimes it is not advisable to attack problems head on. This dinosaur from the late Cretaceous continues to teach us problem solving skills. He prompted to scientists to re-examine why He had a domed head. In the process of studying Pachycephalosaurus, They began to understand how other related Dinosaurs fit in his life. Solve problems with a variety of approaches counsels Pachycephalosaurus, who did things sideways and subtly.