Saturday, January 24, 2009

Gerolf Steiner - The Snouters: Form and life of the Rhinogrades, By Harald Stumpke.

"Rhinogradentia (also known as snouters or Rhinogrades or Nasobames) is a fictitious mammal order documented by the equally fictitious German naturalist Harald Stümpke. The order's most remarkable characteristic was the Nasorium, an organ derived from the ancestral species's nose, which had variously evolved to fulfill every conceivable function.

Both the animals and the scientist were allegedly creations of Gerolf Steiner, a zoology professor at the University of Karlsruhe. A mock taxidermy of a certain Snouter can be seen at the Musée zoologique in Strasbourg

The order's remarkable variety was the natural outcome of evolution acting over millions of years in the isolated Hi-yi-yi islands in the Pacific Ocean. All the 14 families and 189 known Snouter species descended from a small shrew-like animal, which gradually evolved and diversified to fill most of the ecological niches in the archipelago — from tiny worm-like beings to large herbivores and predators.

Most Rhinogrades used their nose for locomotion, like the shrew-like Hopsorrhinus aureus, whose nasorium was used for jumping.

The snouters were discovered on the main island of Hiddudify in 1941 by the Swedish explorer Einar Pettersson-Skämtkvist. Unfortunately, as a consequence of atomic bomb testing, the islands sank suddenly into the ocean in the late 1950s. Thus perished all traces of the snouters, their unique ecosystem, and all the world's specialists on that intriguing subject — who happened to be holding their congress there at the time.

Although the first scientific report on these creatures came out in 1961, an early reference to them is found in Christian Morgenstern's poem Das Nasobem (The Nasobame, 1905). The Great Morgenstern's Nasobame (Nasobema lyricum), a dog-size animal that walked on four snouts, was named in his honor." - quote source

See more snouters in this flickr collection.

The following two images are taxidermy adaptations of two snouter species located at the Haus der Natur (House of Nature), a natural history collection in Salzburg, Austria, posted by Curious Expeditions. See more interesting photos in their photo collection from the exhibit here.

The book appears to be out of print but used copies can be found on Amazon.

1 comment:

Jase said...

these little beauties are amazing