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Dobrynya Krasilnikov
Dobrynya Krasilnikov

The Snouters: An Illustrated Guide to the Form and Life of the Rhinogrades


The Snouters: Form and Life of the Rhinogrades - A Review




Have you ever heard of the snouters? They are a group of imaginary animals that have evolved their noses into various shapes and sizes to perform different functions. They are also known as rhinogrades, which means "nose-walkers" in Greek. The snouters were created by Harald Stümpke, a German zoologist who published a book about them in 1957 under the pseudonym Gerolf Steiner. The book, titled The Snouters: Form and Life of the Rhinogrades, is a parody of scientific literature that describes in detail the discovery, classification, anatomy, physiology, ecology, behavior, evolution, and extinction of these fascinating creatures.




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In this article, I will review The Snouters book and discuss its main features, themes, and impacts. I will also provide some background information on the author and his motivation for writing this book. I hope that by reading this article, you will gain a better understanding and appreciation of this unique and humorous work of fiction that blends science, art, and imagination.


Introduction




What are the snouters and why are they interesting? The snouters are a group of mammals that belong to a separate order called Rhinogradentia. They are characterized by having their noses modified into various forms that serve as their main organs for locomotion, feeding, defense, communication, reproduction, and more. For example, some snouters have noses that can act as wings, wheels, drills, hooks, paddles, horns, trumpets, or even brains. The snouters are endemic to a fictional archipelago called Hy-yi-yi (or Hi-iay) in the Pacific Ocean, where they have diversified into hundreds of species that occupy different habitats and niches.


What is the book about and who is the author? The book is a scientific monograph that presents the results of a fictional expedition to Hy-yi-yi in 1941, led by Professor Einar Stromberg, a Swedish zoologist. The expedition was sponsored by the Royal Academy of Sciences in Stockholm and consisted of several scientists, assistants, and crew members. Among them was Harald Stümpke, a young German zoologist who was in charge of studying and documenting the snouters. Stümpke was the only survivor of the expedition, as the rest of the team and their specimens were lost in a volcanic eruption that destroyed the islands in 1944. Stümpke managed to save his notes and drawings, which he later published as The Snouters book in 1957 under the pseudonym Gerolf Steiner.


What is the main thesis and purpose of the book? The book aims to provide a comprehensive and systematic account of the snouters, their form and life, and their evolutionary history. The book also intends to demonstrate the richness and diversity of nature and the power and limitations of science. The book is written in a serious and scholarly tone, but it is also full of humor, irony, and satire. The book mocks and criticizes various aspects of scientific research, such as methods, terminology, theories, controversies, and biases. The book also challenges and questions some fundamental concepts and assumptions of biology, such as adaptation, classification, homology, convergence, orthogenesis, and progress.


The Discovery and Classification of the Snouters




How were the snouters discovered and by whom? The snouters were first discovered by accident in 1928 by a French aviator named Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, who crashed his plane on one of the Hy-yi-yi islands. He observed some strange animals that resembled rats with wings or propellers on their noses. He managed to capture one of them and brought it back to France, where he showed it to a zoologist named Jean Leclercq. Leclercq recognized that the animal was a new and remarkable form of life and named it Rhinogradentia, meaning "nose-walkers". He also named the species Propellerus volitans, meaning "flying propeller". He published a short paper on his discovery in 1930, which sparked the interest of other scientists and prompted further exploration of Hy-yi-yi.


How did the author study and document the snouters? The author joined the Swedish expedition to Hy-yi-yi in 1941 as a zoologist and illustrator. He spent three years on the islands, observing, collecting, dissecting, measuring, drawing, and photographing the snouters. He also conducted experiments and tests on their behavior, physiology, and genetics. He recorded his findings and impressions in his notebooks, which he later used as the basis for his book. He also made several models and sculptures of the snouters from clay, wax, and plaster.


How did the author classify the snouters into different groups and families? The author divided the snouters into two suborders: Archirhina (primitive snouters) and Metarhina (advanced snouters). He then subdivided them into 14 families, based on their nose morphology and function. For example, he placed the winged snouters in the family Pterorhina, the wheeled snouters in the family Rotorhina, the drilling snouters in the family Terebrorhina, and so on. He also gave each family a common name, such as flyers, rollers, borers, etc. He then described each family in detail, providing information on their distribution, anatomy, physiology, ecology, behavior, reproduction, development, and evolution. He also named and illustrated several species within each family, highlighting their diversity and uniqueness.


The Anatomy and Physiology of the Snouters




What are the main features and adaptations of the snouters? The snouters are small to medium-sized mammals that have a body plan similar to rodents or insectivores. They have fur-covered bodies with four limbs that end in claws or hooves. They have small eyes, ears, and mouths that are located under or behind their noses. They have no teeth or tongue but have horny plates or ridges on their jaws that serve as cutting or grinding tools. They have simple digestive systems that can process various kinds of food. They have well-developed nervous systems that enable them to sense their environment and coordinate their movements.


How do the snouters use their noses for various functions? The snouters use their noses for various functions that are usually performed by other organs or appendages in other animals. For example, some snouters use their noses for locomotion, such as flying, rolling, jumping, swimming, or digging. Some snouters use their noses for feeding, such as catching, cutting, grinding, or sucking food. Some snouters use their noses for defense, such as stabbing, spraying, or exploding. Some snouters use their noses for communication, such as making sounds, emitting smells, or displaying colors. Some snouters use their noses for reproduction, such as attracting mates, transferring sperm, or incubating eggs. Some snouters even use their noses for thinking, as they have their brains located inside their nasal cavities.


How do the snouters reproduce and develop? The snouters reproduce sexually and have two sexes: male and female. The males have a modified nose that serves as a penis and the females have a modified nose that serves as a vagina. The males transfer sperm to the females through their noses during copulation. The females then store the sperm in a special chamber in their noses until they are ready to fertilize their eggs. The fertilization can be internal or external depending on the species. The eggs can be laid in nests, burrows, water, or even inside the female's nose. The eggs can be hard-shelled or soft-shelled depending on the species. The eggs hatch into larvae that look very different from the adults. The larvae undergo metamorphosis and grow into adults through several stages of development.


The Ecology and Behavior of the Snouters




What are the habitats and niches of the snouters? The snouters inhabit a wide range of habitats on the Hy-yi-yi islands, such as forests, grasslands, deserts, mountains, lakes, rivers, swamps, and coasts. They have adapted to different environmental conditions and resources through their nose evolution. They occupy different niches and roles in the ecosystem, such as herbivores, carnivores, omnivores, scavengers, predators, prey, parasites, symbionts, and decomposers.


How do the snouters interact with each other and other animals? The snouters have complex social and ecological interactions with each other and other animals on the islands. Some snouters live in solitary or territorial lifestyles while others live in groups or colonies. Some snouters cooperate or compete with each other for food, mates, or space while others ignore or avoid each other. Some snouters form mutualistic or commensal relationships with other animals while others exploit or harm them. Some snouters mimic or camouflage themselves to escape or deceive predators while others display or warn them to deter or intimidate them.


What are some examples of remarkable snouter species and their lifestyles? The book describes many examples of remarkable snouter species and their lifestyles that illustrate their diversity and uniqueness. Here are some of them:


  • Flapogaster cornutus: A horned flyer that uses its nose as a wing to glide from tree to tree in search of fruits and insects.



  • Rotatorius cyclopicus: A cyclopean roller that uses its nose as a wheel to roll across the desert at high speed in search of seeds and roots.



  • Terebra nasuta: A long-nosed borer that uses its nose as a drill to bore holes in wood and extract sap and larvae.



  • Harpax tubulatus: A tube-nosed harpoonist that uses its nose as a harpoon to catch fish and crustaceans in the water.



  • Solenodon paradoxus: A paradoxical solenodon that uses its nose as a brain to store and process information.



The Evolution and Extinction of the Snouters




How did the snouters originate and diversify over time? The book proposes that the snouters originated from a single ancestor that reached the Hy-yi-yi islands by chance about 50 million years ago. This ancestor was a small rodent-like mammal that had a flexible nose that could be used for various purposes. Over time, the ancestor diversified into different lineages that adapted to different habitats and niches on the islands. The book suggests that the snouters evolved through a combination of natural selection, genetic drift, and orthogenesis. Orthogenesis is a controversial concept that implies that evolution follows a predetermined direction or goal.


What are the evolutionary relationships among the snouter groups and families? The book provides a phylogenetic tree that shows the evolutionary relationships among the snouter groups and families. The tree is based on the morphology and function of their noses, as well as some molecular and fossil evidence. The tree shows that the snouters are divided into two main branches: Archirhina and Metarhina. Archirhina includes the most primitive snouters that have simple noses that are used for locomotion or feeding. Metarhina includes the most advanced snouters that have complex noses that are used for defense, communication, reproduction, or thinking. The tree also shows that some snouter families are more closely related to each other than others, such as Pterorhina and Rotorhina, or Terebrorhina and Harpaxorhina.


How did the snouters become extinct and why? The book claims that the snouters became extinct in 1944, when the Hy-yi-yi islands were destroyed by a volcanic eruption that was triggered by an atomic bomb test nearby. The eruption wiped out all the snouters and their habitats, as well as all the scientists and specimens that were studying them. The only survivor was Harald Stümpke, who managed to escape with his notes and drawings. He later published his book as a tribute and a testament to the snouters and their form and life.


The Legacy and Impact of the Snouters




How did the book influence the scientific community and public opinion? The book was published in 1957 in German under the title Bau und Leben der Rhinogradentia. It was translated into English in 1967 as The Snouters: Form and Life of the Rhinogrades. The book received mixed reactions from the scientific community and public opinion. Some people believed that the book was a genuine scientific work and praised it for its originality and rigor. Some people realized that the book was a hoax and appreciated it for its humor and satire. Some people were confused or deceived by the book and questioned its validity and credibility. Some people were offended or angered by the book and criticized it for its mockery and falsity.


How did the book inspire other works of fiction and art? The book inspired other works of fiction and art that explored the theme of imaginary animals or worlds. Some examples are:


  • The Codex Seraphinianus: A book by Italian artist Luigi Serafini that depicts a surreal world with bizarre creatures, plants, objects, and languages.



  • The World of Kong: A book by Weta Workshop that illustrates the fauna and flora of Skull Island, the fictional home of King Kong.



  • The Future is Wild: A documentary series by Discovery Channel that imagines how life on Earth might evolve in the future.



  • Speculative Evolution: A genre of fiction that speculates how life might evolve in different scenarios or environments.



What are some lessons and implications from the book for biology and philosophy? The book offers some lessons and implications from the book for biology and philosophy, such as:


  • The richness and diversity of nature: The book shows how nature can produce a wide range of forms and functions through evolution and adaptation.



  • The power and limitations of science: The book shows how science can discover and explain many aspects of nature but also how science can be flawed or biased by human factors.



  • The role and responsibility of humans: The book shows how humans can affect and destroy nature through their actions but also how humans can appreciate and protect nature through their knowledge.



  • The nature and value of fiction: The book shows how fiction can create and communicate alternative realities but also how fiction can challenge and question existing realities.



Conclusion




In conclusion, The Snouters: Form and Life of the Rhinogrades is a remarkable book that combines science, art, and imagination to create a fictional world of imaginary animals. The book is a parody of scientific literature that describes the discovery, classification, anatomy, physiology, ecology, behavior, evolution, and extinction of the snouters, a group of mammals that have evolved their noses into various shapes and sizes to perform different functions. The book is written in a serious and scholarly tone, but it is also full of humor, irony, and satire. The book mocks and criticizes various aspects of scientific research, such as methods, terminology, theories, controversies, and biases. The book also challenges and questions some fundamental concepts and assumptions of biology, such as adaptation, classification, homology, convergence, orthogenesis, and progress. The book is a tribute and a testament to the snouters and their form and life, as well as a reflection and a critique of the human condition and its relationship with nature.


The book is a masterpiece of fiction that blends science, art, and imagination to create a unique and humorous work that entertains and educates the reader. The book is also a valuable source of inspiration and insight for anyone who is interested in biology, philosophy, or literature. The book is highly recommended for anyone who wants to explore a different and fascinating world of imaginary animals that have evolved their noses into various forms and functions.


FAQs




Here are some common questions about the book or the snouters:


  • Are the snouters real? No, the snouters are not real. They are fictional animals that were invented by Gerolf Steiner, a German zoologist who published a book about them in 1957 under the pseudonym Harald Stümpke. The book is a parody of scientific literature that describes the snouters as if they were real.



  • Where did the snouters live? The snouters lived on a fictional archipelago called Hy-yi-yi (or Hi-iay) in the Pacific Ocean. The islands were isolated from the rest of the world and had a diverse and unique flora and fauna. The islands were destroyed by a volcanic eruption in 1944, which also killed all the snouters and their researchers.



  • How did the snouters evolve? The snouters evolved from a single ancestor that reached the Hy-yi-yi islands by chance about 50 million years ago. The ancestor was a small rodent-like mammal that had a flexible nose that could be used for various purposes. Over time, the ancestor diversified into different lineages that adapted to different habitats and niches on the islands. The snouters evolved their noses into various shapes and sizes to perform different functions.



  • What are some examples of snouter species? There are hundreds of snouter species that belong to 14 different families. Some examples are: Flapogaster cornutus (a horned flyer), Rotatorius cyclopicus (a cyclopean roller), Terebra nasuta (a long-nosed borer), Harpax tubulatus (a tube-nosed harpoonist), and Solenodon paradoxus (a paradoxical solenodon).



  • Why did the author write this book? The author wrote this book as a parody of scientific literature that mocks and criticizes various aspects of scientific research, such as methods, terminology, theories, controversies, and biases. The author also wrote this book as a tribute and a testament to the snouters and their form and life, as well as a reflection and a critique of the human condition and its relationship with nature.



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