#maybe she's born with it #maybe it's bear blood
June 3, 2015 10:16 AM   Subscribe

Historie of Beafts combs through Medieval bestiaries to bring you the finest in olde-tyme animal facts.

Check the Master List to find your favorite beaft or to search by manuscript, or just browse around.

A sampling of fun facts to get you started:

Weasels breed through their ears and give birth through their mouths.
•The left eye of a hedgehog fried in oil produces a liquid which will cause sleep if it is dripped into a person’s ear.
Giraffes are the result of breeding between camels and leopards, and are incredibly vain.
•If you throw lion grease in a fountain wolves will never drink out of it.
Elephants have one tusk they use for digging and uprooting food, and one tusk they sharpen and save for revenge.
•And as for the ocean, well, it's best not to ask too many questions.
posted by showbiz_liz (32 comments total) 39 users marked this as a favorite
 
I can't believe they have neglected to include the bonnacon! Who doesn't love a large beast that defends itself by spraying caustic poo at its pursuers?
posted by Heretic at 10:26 AM on June 3, 2015 [1 favorite]


[this is good]
posted by graymouser at 10:31 AM on June 3, 2015 [1 favorite]


•Elephants have one tusk they use for digging and uprooting food, and one tusk they sharpen and save for revenge.

Damn I always knew elephants were badass but
posted by rifflesby at 10:32 AM on June 3, 2015 [3 favorites]


Bathing in weasel blood cures leprosy.

Certainly, none of the ferret owners I have known had leprosy, so there may be something in this theory. No doubt the blood is transmitted by frequent ferret bites, something all ferret owners seem ok with.
posted by GenjiandProust at 10:34 AM on June 3, 2015 [2 favorites]


ok well if you ever see a user named "fully sharpened vengeance tusk" show up on MetaFilter, you will know that I have had my BND
posted by prize bull octorok at 10:35 AM on June 3, 2015 [8 favorites]


Elephant blood mixed with the ashes of a weasel cures leprosy.

hey, wait a minute....
posted by GenjiandProust at 10:36 AM on June 3, 2015


Elephants have the coldest blood in the world, and in the heart of summer dragons overheat so badly that nothing but elephant’s blood can cool them down.

This works better if you picture an elephant being stabbed and liquid nitrogen gushing out of it.
posted by graymouser at 10:39 AM on June 3, 2015 [5 favorites]


Rats have kings that grow to such a large size they can no longer move, and have to be brought food by other rats.

I see how you've gotten confused, but, in fact, it's not one large rat but an enormous mound of rats who have accidentally gotten their tales tied together.
posted by maxsparber at 10:41 AM on June 3, 2015 [2 favorites]


Medieval beafts are the best beafts.

(This thread is missing the "beafts" tag.)
posted by Faint of Butt at 10:50 AM on June 3, 2015 [1 favorite]


This is sad. You can almost feel poor Marco's disappointment. "Shit, them unicorns weren't nothing like we thought they'd be. What the fuck are the mermaids gonna be like?"
posted by yhbc at 10:52 AM on June 3, 2015 [6 favorites]


holy fucking shit this is a goode blogge
posted by Greg Nog at 10:57 AM on June 3, 2015 [5 favorites]


Beafts by Drfe
posted by Rock Steady at 10:59 AM on June 3, 2015 [6 favorites]


Oh my word the most successful drawing of a crocodile is basically just an upside-down fish with leggies and I like it very much!
posted by Mrs. Pterodactyl at 11:02 AM on June 3, 2015 [2 favorites]


"What offe the hog-of-hedges right eye? What are its potencies when fried in oil, good master"

(apothecary shakes head emphatically)
posted by boo_radley at 11:03 AM on June 3, 2015 [1 favorite]


I personally love the Sidney Sussex College Porcupine, rendered off of semi-accurate second-hand descriptions and assumed to be about the size of a small bear.
posted by Navelgazer at 11:05 AM on June 3, 2015


"What offe the hog-of-hedges right eye? What are its potencies when fried in oil, good master"

It seems that "the right eye of a hedgehog fried with linseed oil and left to sit in a vessel of red brass produces a salve that will allow a person to see perfectly in the dark."
posted by showbiz_liz at 11:13 AM on June 3, 2015 [1 favorite]


Metafilter: a large beast that defends itself by spraying caustic poo at its pursuers.
posted by Chrysostom at 11:21 AM on June 3, 2015 [1 favorite]


Nice to see a post at the Beafts tumblr collecting images of the sea monk: I’d seen a couple of them before but several others were new to me.

They mention beaver stones but I didn’t see any reference to the mediæval factoid explaining that ‘the naturalists say of [the beaver] that when it realises that hunters are pursuing it, it bites off its testicles and throws them down in front of the hunters, and thus takes flight and escapes.’

Mary Carruthers changed my view of Bestiaries when I read in her book The Craft of Thought: Meditation, Rhetoric, and the Making of Images, 400-1200, her estimation that:
…in its medieval lifetime [the Bestiary] was not a natural-history book so much as a reading-and-memory book, providing some of the “common-places,” the foundational blocks, of inventional mnemonics. The description of the creature is called pictura. and as one “paints” its picture mentally from the description in the words, maxims are attached to the features of the image. Thus each complete pictura in the Bestiary provides the organization of the moral themes […] So the Bestiary, in addition to being a compendium of moralized content, also teaches a particular cognitive, inventive technique, which […] is one of the commonest ways in the Middle Ages of making a composition.
posted by misteraitch at 12:37 PM on June 3, 2015 [3 favorites]


It isn't "beafts", it's "beaſts". That character is known as a "long s".
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 12:48 PM on June 3, 2015 [1 favorite]


‘the naturalists say of [the beaver] that when it realises that hunters are pursuing it, it bites off its testicles and throws them down in front of the hunters, and thus takes flight and escapes.’

Wait wait wait hold up naturalists

Don't just lay that "and thus" on us like you've explained anything about exactly how this escape tactic works
posted by prize bull octorok at 1:05 PM on June 3, 2015 [1 favorite]


I tried getting a better answer out of naturalists, but they bit off their testicles, threw them on the ground, and ran away.
posted by maxsparber at 1:07 PM on June 3, 2015 [5 favorites]


It isn't "beafts", it's "beaſts". That character is known as a "long s".

A lessons I learned in scrabble long ago when my brother wouldn't let me win with "titmoufe."
posted by Navelgazer at 1:24 PM on June 3, 2015 [3 favorites]


The account of the beaver’s autocastration is just the set-up for the following moral lesson: ‘In like fashion everyone who reforms his life and wants to live chastely in accordance with God’s commandments should cut off all vices and shameless deeds and throw them in the devil’s face. Then the devil will see that man has nothing belonging to him and will leave him, ashamed.’ (this from Richard Barber’s translation of the Bodleian Library Bestiary M.S. Bodley 764).
posted by misteraitch at 1:39 PM on June 3, 2015 [1 favorite]


On cats:
  • led by a straw, and playeth therewith
  • maketh a ruthful noise and ghastful, when one proffereth to fight with another
  • unneth is hurt when he is thrown down off an high place*
  • a right heavy beast in age and full sleepy
Spot on, I dare say.

Also, not gonna lie, "a right heavy beast in age and full sleepy" is pretty much me right now. i had a big lunch
posted by mhum at 2:16 PM on June 3, 2015 [4 favorites]


Bees are the smallest of birds.
posted by painquale at 2:30 PM on June 3, 2015 [4 favorites]


Lionesses frequently commit adultery with leopards. If they become pregnant they hide their offspring in a leopard colony and pretend they are out hunting so they can sneak away to visit.

Well, who wouldn't, have you seen leopards? So hot. Meanwhile, male lions just lie around waiting for you to bring them food.
posted by emjaybee at 2:30 PM on June 3, 2015 [2 favorites]


There is a poison in Weasels that destroys the Cockatrice.

NOW you tell me.
posted by The Bellman at 2:49 PM on June 3, 2015 [2 favorites]


Many of these beafts would make excellent cardes.
posted by turbid dahlia at 2:50 PM on June 3, 2015 [3 favorites]


Well that's an immediate follow.
posted by immlass at 4:41 PM on June 3, 2015


The cat: a right heavy beast in age and full sleepy.

I want to will be a cat when I grow up.
posted by filthy light thief at 9:43 AM on June 4, 2015


Bees are the smallest of birds.

And yet bee beards are some of the largest of beards. The world is a funny place, isn't it?
posted by GenjiandProust at 3:25 PM on June 4, 2015


I can't believe they have neglected to include the bonnacon!

Your prayerſ have been anſered
posted by showbiz_liz at 10:02 AM on June 22, 2015


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