A Modern Bestiary

March 2019 Issue

The bestiary was a popular literary format of the middle ages, an illustrated guidebook and vaguely-informed natural history to various creatures one might encounter: ambiguously rendered elephants and hyenas, chimeric manticores and griffins, or even such as the bonnacon, an unverified bull-like animal said to defend itself by firing burning dung at predators. As scientific verification and observation gradually took over from speculation and fabrication, the books fell by the wayside, but its fascination lives on. And in an age of recombinant genetics, interbreeding grizzly and black bears, mermaid shows, and drone-stalking falcons, perhaps surreal inventions have again begun to brush shoulders with the mundane. This issue, in the spirit of the classical bestiary attempts a broad survey of all that may inhabit our world, real, imagined, or created.

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