Saturday, October 9, 2010

The Rock Pecker

The rock pecker (hornithopterus amphibius) is a presumed extinct relative of the pterydactl. Its common name derives from the way it uses its beak to chip small rock particles from the rock walls. Though there have been no documented confirmed sightings within recent recorded history, there is ample evidence of the creature's existence from its cup-shaped creations in the rock walls of the canyons bordering the Colorado River. Scientists believe the depressions are used by the rock pecker for shelter and nesting. The rock pecker derives most of its diet from the rock fragments it produces. An important benefit from eating the rock chips comes from the concentration of arsenic in the rock pecker's tissues. Though benign to the rock pecker, the concentrations of arsenic are highly poisonous to would-be predators. The rock pecker's beak extends up between its eyes and over the brows providing protection for the head and eyes from a misplaced blow.

"The Rock Pecker Legend" - Looking a little like the offspring of a bird and a bat, the rock pecker emerged from primeval waters during the age of the dinosaurs. It retained the ability to live submerged in water or out in the open air. The wings developed from aquautic fins, growing larger, stronger and better adapted to flight as the rock pecker spent more of its life out of the water. The wings were used mostly for fanning rock dust from the burrows it pecked in the rocky canyon walls. Those that tried to fly tumbled helplessly to the ground. One day while pecking at the face of a cliff, a rock pecker was struck on its lizard-like tail by a boulder falling from above. The flattened disfigurement made others of its kind shun the misfortunate creature leaving it to mate only with others who had suffered a similar fate. Somehow the physical malformity became genetically encoded and passed to subsequent generations. The flat tail made it possible for the rock peckers to develop stable flight. The legend explains that rock peckers do not die of old age. As they grow very old, an irresistable drive like the pigeon's homing instinct forces them to fly into the sun, never to return. This explains why fossils and skeletal remains of the rock pecker have never been discovered. Researchers are at a loss to explain why the rock pecker is no longer found. The legend is silent on their disappearance, leaving us to speculate. Perhaps like the lemming racing into the sea, all the rock peckers flew in a mass exodus into the sun. Are there any remaining descendants of the mysterious rock pecker? If you have seen one or even discovered its cup shaped hollows in remote canyon walls, please leave a comment explaining what you saw and where. Who knows, we may be able to ferret out a remaining specimen and preserve the species for future generations.

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