The squonk is a mythical creature that is reputed to live in the hemlock forests of northern Pennsylvania in the United States.[1]

Illustration from Fearsome Creatures of the Lumberwoods
GroupingFearsome critter
FolkloreAmerican folklore
First attested1910
Other name(s)Lacrimacorpus dissolvens

Johnstown, Pennsylvania celebrates the Squonk at the Squonkapalooza in August.[2]

Origins edit

The first written account of the squonk was from the 1910 book Fearsome Creatures of the Lumberwoods.[3] His provenance was attested in the next written iteration, in the 1939 book Fearsome Critters. This book suggested that the creatures had migrated from deserts to swamps to finally settle in Pennsylvania.[4] As logging camps were continuously moving in the early 20th century, this could explain the purported "creature's" migration to Pennsylvania.[3]

Appearance and behavior edit

Unlike many mythological creatures, the supposed physical characteristics of the squonk remain unchanged from the original written account, which states:

The squonk is of a very retiring disposition, generally traveling about at twilight and dusk. Because of its misfitting skin, which is covered with warts and moles, it is always unhappy...Hunters who are good at tracking are able to follow a squonk by its tear-stained trail, for the animal weeps constantly. When cornered and escape seems impossible, or when surprised and frightened, it may even dissolve itself in tears.

— William T. Cox, "The Squonk", Fearsome Creatures of the Lumberwoods (1910)[1]

Later retellings included that squonks were slowest on moonlit nights as they try to avoid seeing their ugly appearance in any illuminated bodies of water. In addition to warts and moles, the creatures were given webbed toes on their left feet.[4]

The given "species" taxonomy of the creature, Lacrimacorpus dissolvens, is made up of the Latin tear, body, and dissolve. These refer to its supposed ability to dissolve when captured.[3]

In scientific literature edit

Some substances are stable in solution or some other "wild" form but cannot be isolated or captured without actually catalyzing their own polymerization or decomposition ("dissolving in their own tears"). For example, a molecule containing a carboxylic acid moiety and an acid labile moiety might be stable when initially prepared as the salt (e.g., barium prephenate) but unstable as the free acid (prephenic acid). These have been named "chemical squonks".[5]

Usage in popular media edit

"Any Major Dude Will Tell You" is a song written by Donald Fagen and Walter Becker that was first released by Steely Dan on their 1974 album Pretzel Logic and has the line "Have you ever seen a squonk's tears? Well, look at mine".

The progressive rock band Genesis has a song written by bassist Mike Rutherford, about this creature (simply named "Squonk") on their 1976 album A Trick of the Tail.

References edit

  1. ^ a b c Cox, William T. (1910). Fearsome Creatures of the Lumberwoods. Washington DC: Judd & Detweiler, Inc. pp. 30–31.
  2. ^
  3. ^ a b c O'Neil, Gerard (2014). Supernatural Lore of Pennsylvania: Ghosts, Monsters and Miracles. Arcadia Publishing. ISBN 9781625850263.
  4. ^ a b Tryon, Henry (1939). Fearsome Critters. Cornwall, New York: Idlewild Press. pp. 48–49.
  5. ^ Sommer, T. J. (2000). "Chemical squonks". Chemical Innovation. American Chemical Society: 24–28. ISSN 1527-4799.