Skip to content
Give readers a window on the world. Click to donate.
from the October 2006 issue

Two Common Misconceptions


Reasons for the Extinction of Basilisks

The most casual observation would seem to suggest, beyond a doubt, that the basilisk species is on its way to extinction. Based on the studies conducted so far, it is clear that this is not the result of their persecution by the natives-driven by their superstitions-but is due rather to the length that these creatures require to carry out their reproductive cycles and the obstacles they encounter in that process.

It is patently untrue that the basilisks can kill with a mere glance. It is their custom instead to project from their eyes jets of blood. This blood produces on the skin of the person affected a type of ulcer or pustule that secretes an organic substance from which emerges a worm known scientifically as Vermis basilisci (Boitus). These worms thrive in the human body parasitically and gradually destroy the nervous system to the point that, in their final stage, they end up emptying the cranial cavity. This process can take from thirty-five to forty years. The victim slowly loses control of his limbs and his senses and may even suffer premature death. The Vermis, however, does not abandon the body until it has completely destroyed the encephalic mass. At this point, now acquiring the form of a kind of small snake-never measuring more than twenty centimeters in length-it leaves the cadaver and begins a slow migration toward the marshy regions. Few do in fact reach their destination, since on their often lengthy trajectory they die of hunger or are devoured by crows or owls, and also by small carnivorous mammals such as the sable, the ferret and the ermine. The small numbers of snakes that manage to survive complete their metamorphosis amidst the heat and humidity of the marshes, from which, after a period that varies from five to six weeks, they then emerge transformed into basilisks. It is, to be sure, untrue that they are capable of killing with merely their glance.


The Diet of Horses

Nor is it true that horses are exclusively herbivorous. Doctor Ludwig Boitus has proven that it was people of primitive societies who accustomed them to that condition: this was motivated by economic and, above all, safety concerns.

The fact is that in every horse exists a latent carnivorous instinct. Moreover, horses are the only animals who were originally carnivorous. The truth is that if they are fed a diet of only raw meat, the habits and appearance of the creatures undergo a transformation: their innocent brown eyes acquire a malignant ocher cast; their front teeth lengthen and curve; their gait becomes sinuous and smooth; their movements tend to turn furtive; their talons, freed from the hooves turn into claws. The horse is now the strongest, the largest, the fastest and most agile of all carnivorous animals.

Those primitive peoples who redirected to useful tasks the only ferocious animal that ravaged their villages came to realize in time that it was also desirable to blend into the world some sort of harmless horror. So, selecting several inoffensive, beautiful and useless animals that were accustomed to devouring their crops, they got them used to the taste of meat: thus it was that what we know today as lions and tigers, panthers and jaguars came into being.

Read more from the October 2006 issue
Like what you read? Help WWB bring you the best new writing from around the world.