Dr KARL SHUKER

Zoologist, media consultant, and science writer, Dr Karl Shuker is also one of the best known cryptozoologists in the world. Author of such seminal works as Mystery Cats of the World (1989), The Lost Ark: New and Rediscovered Animals of the 20th Century (1993; greatly expanded in 2012 as The Encyclopaedia of New and Rediscovered Animals), In Search of Prehistoric Survivors (1995), and more recently Extraordinary Animals Revisited (2007), Dr Shuker's Casebook (2008), Karl Shuker's Alien Zoo: From the Pages of Fortean Times (2010), Cats of Magic, Mythology, and Mystery (2012), and Mirabilis: A Carnival of Cryptozoology and Unnatural History (2013), his many fans have been badgering him to join the blogosphere for years. The CFZ Blog Network is proud to have finally persuaded him to do so.

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Wednesday, 28 May 2014

JUST ITCHING TO MEET YOU – THE MUHNOCHWA OR INDIAN SCRATCH MONSTER

Line drawing of the Indian scratch monster - Schizodactylus monstrosus

Monsters can come in all shapes, sizes - and scratching capabilities!

In 2002, many strange stories emerged from Lucknow, the capital of Uttar Pradesh State in India, concerning a small but macabre mystery beast known locally as the muhnochwa or scratch monster, due to lurid claims that it inflicted vicious scratches and other lacerations upon the body of anyone unfortunate enough to come into contact with it. Equipped with six legs, it was also said to emit light when it flew through the air.

Not surprisingly, zoologists discounted such tales as imaginative fiction or, at best, superstitious folklore – until, during August of that same year, a brave local captured a scratch monster alive, in the district of Lakhimpur Kheri, close to India's border with Nepal, and took it for identification purposes to Lucknow University. Here the mysterious mini-beast, measuring approximately 3 in long, was examined by Prof. K.C. Pandey, head of the university's zoology department, who was able to identify it as the aptly-named Schizodactylus monstrosus – a large and very distinctive species of cannibalistic cricket, mostly found on the banks of rivers.

Its legs all bear a series of pointed, nail-like structures, which can leave faint marks upon the skin of someone handling this curious-looking insect, but they certainly cannot yield the painful, bleeding scratches claimed during the outbreak of 'scratch monster' panic that had preceded this bizarre case's somewhat anti-climactic denouement. Nor can this species emit light.

Clearly, therefore, just like so many other mystery creatures reported before and since, the dreaded muhnochwa owed its existence (not to mention its glowing talent!) far more to media hype and local exaggeration than to anything created by evolution or Mother Nature!

Pinned specimen of Schizodactylus monstrosus (© Andrew Butko/Wikipedia)






2 comments:

  1. I think I've seen a show on TV about this before, Mystery Hunters, if I remember correctly.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Sort of similar to the new zealand weta, but with wings...

    ReplyDelete