Squonk

The Squonk is a legendary creature reputed to live in the Hemlock forests of northern Pennsylvania. Legends of squonks probably originated in the late 19th century, at the height of Pennsylvania's importance in the timber industry.

The earliest known written account of squonks comes from a book by William T Cox called Fearsome Creatures of the Lumberwoods, With a Few Desert and Mountain Beasts (1910). Mr. Cox's account is reprinted in Jorge Luis Borges' Book of Imaginary Beings (1969).

To summarize the legend of the squonk: It is a very ugly creature, and it knows this. Its skin is ill-fitting, and covered with warts and other blemishes, therefore the squonk hides from being seen, and spends much of its time weeping sorrowfully over its own ugliness. Hunters who have attempted to catch squonks have found that the creature is capable of evading capture by dissolving completely into a pool of tears and bubbles when cornered. A certain J.P. Wentling is supposed to have coaxed one into a bag, which while he was carrying it home, suddenly lightened. On inspection, he found that the bag contained only the liquid remains of the sad animal.

The latin name of the squonk, Lacrimacorpus dissolvens, comes from latin words meaning "tear", "body", and "dissolve".

Cultural References

Probably inspired by Borges' book, a couple of rock bands in the 1970s incorporated the legend of the squonk into their lyrics. First, Steely Dan mentioned squonks in the song "Any Major Dude Will Tell You" on their 1974 LP, Pretzel Logic. Two years later, on their 1976 LP, A Trick of the Tail, Genesis included the song "Squonk", written and sung by their frontman Phil Collins.

In more recent years, the name of the squonk has been used in various contexts, including Squonk Opera, a performing arts group in the Pittsburgh area.


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