Wired's Matt Stone collects the monsters imagined by 19th-century lumberjacks in the wilds of North America. My favorite is the deranged splinter cat, reputed to headbutt trees, thereby causing shards of wood to fly everywhere.
The Splinter Cat
Scientific name: Nasusossificatus arbordemolieus
Responsible for: shattered trees
This husky feline is an indiscriminate destroyer of hollow trees, which it mines for bees and raccoons. Climbing a tree, it propels itself off with powerful legs right into another, blasting the trunk with its wedge-shaped snout and reinforced noggin. The experienced frontiersman knows well “the moronic activities of the Splinter Cat,” writes Henry H. Tryon, who published his own Fearsome Critters in 1939, three decades after Cox’s encyclopedia. “If the Cat finds food in the ruptured trunk, he is temporarily appeased. If not, he goes immediately for another tree. And right there is the big trouble. The Cat doesn’t use any judgment in selecting trees, he just smashes one after another until he gets a meal.”
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