August 2, 2016

Mythical Y

        We’re almost to the end now, and it might seem that we’re scraping the bottom of the mythical barrel.  (Not that one should keep mythical creatures in barrels, with the exception of slimes and extoplasms, of course.)  But Y turns out to host some grade A creatures, many little-known and a couple of classics.

yale - A sort of antelope with horns that can independently swivel 360°, the yale was first described by Pliny the Elder but became particularly well-known in the middle ages through the renaissance.  Its most famous feature is the very long horns which can be turned to face a threat from any direction, or to spare someone, as the yale deems appropriate.  In battle it sometimes holds one horn out of the way to keep in reserve in case the first is broken.  It may even be able to roll the horns up when not in use.  In addition yales have tusks in their lower jaws.  There’s some diversity in body type, from Pliny’s description of a body like a hippopotamus to very slender, goat-like varieties.  Coloration ranges from black to white, but many are spotted.  One of the more common species is white spotted with pure gold, while some have multi-colored spots.  There is also a species of yale with straight horns, although most of them are curved.  (European)

ypotryll - Another creature of heraldry, the ypotryll has the head of a boar complete with tusks, the body of a camel complete with humps, the legs of an ox or goat complete with hooves, and the tail of a serpent.  I have no idea what it’s good for, but it looks absolutely fabulous (in all senses of the word.)  (European)

Yara-ma-yha-who - This looks like a little red man with a big head, big toothless mouth, and suckers on its hands and feet.  It lurks in a fig tree until a human stops to rest in the shade.  Then it drops down on the victim and drains their blood through its suckers.  It then eats the human, but after taking a nap, it spits the person back up.  The human is now a little shorter and redder than before, and if this happens repeatedly to one person, they become a Yara-ma-yha-who themselves.  The best way to protect oneself is to play dead during the day, since the Yara-ma-yha-who hunts only during the day and only living prey.  (Australian Aboriginal)

yacumama - A water-monster some 150 feet long that lives at the mouth of the Amazon.  It is generally thought to be serpentine, can slurp up anything within 100 paces, may have horns, and can squirt a jet of water at prey.  Recently there have been claims that this is a genuine scientific species of giant snake or caecilian, but as always in cryptozoology, the evidence remains inconclusive.  (Brazilian indigenous people)

yowie - Australia’s Bigfoot, the yowie is also sometimes called yahoo (which word I suspect must be related to the yha-who of the other Australian creature above).  It’s a tall, hairy, ape-like biped with long arms and irregular feet and toes.  It can be as tall as 12 feet, and is usually shy but sometimes accused of mauling pets or livestock.  Like many hominoid cryptids, it's often reported as having a strong, foul stench.  (Australian)

yeti - The Himalayan Bigfoot, this cryptid has widely varying descriptions.  It’s generally portrayed with white fur, which makes it look more at home in the mountain snows, but earlier descriptions often give it dark or orangish fur.  Its height seems to have wide variations, too.  Like many hominoid cryptids, it may have backwards-facing feet, to prevent being tracked by its tracks.  Previously mentioned here.  (Himalayan)

yeren - China’s Bigfoot, the yeren is usually reddish but occasionally albino, and lives in Hubei province.  It seems a little more prone than most Bigfoot-kin to eating humans.  (Chinese)
        What’s the mystical connection between the letter Y and giant ape-men?  That’s yet one more mystery to add to all the others.

[Pictures: Beaufort yale, by Torric inn Björn from Heraldic Templates, 1992 (Image from  Hrynkiw and Braidwood);
Extremely happy ypotryll, without artist, date, source, or other helpful info (Image from Heraldic Clipart);
A Description of a wonderful large wild man, or monstrous giant, brought from Botany-Bay, woodcut from a broadside, c 1788 (Image from New South Wales State Library);
Illustration of yowie seen by Charles Harper, 1912 (Image from Unsolved Mysteries In The World);
Yeti in winter, woodcut by Joshua Norton (Image from Etsy shop woodcutposters).]


Unknown said...

I can confirm that the illustration of the Yale you have here is from Torric inn Björn's 1992 self-published art collection "Heraldic Templates."

Anne E.G. Nydam said...

Thanks for the information - I'll update it above!