Leucrocotta

The Leucrocotta, also called the leucrotta, is a large hyena-like predator. Although stories of it come from Europe, it is reputed to live in India and northern Africa.

According to Pliny the Elder, in book 8 of his Natural History, the leucrocotta is the offspring of an Ethiopian lioness with another monster, the crocotta. Despite neither parent bearing resemblance to hoofed animals, the leucrocotta is said to have the haunches of a stag, as well as the chest, neck, and tail of a lion and the head of a badger, standing about the height of an ass. There is no mention of the forelegs. It is incredibly fast, sometimes called the fasted creature alive. According to some reports, it’s neck is so stiff that is must turn its body in order to move its head, while others report eyes that are thousands of colors, ever-changing, or somehow some kind of gemstone, although all of these attributes are found only in later documentation.

The two most distinctive features of this monster are its mouth and it’s voice. The mouth extends all the way back to the ears, and instead of individual teeth it sports a single shearing ridge of bone along each jaw, indicating it probably swallows what it eats without chewing. It is also able to create a wide variety of sounds, including mimicking human speech. The leucrocotta is known to listen for the name of a victim, then call that person into the night. It retreats into cover, usually the forest, until there is no chance that the victim will be able to call for help or run away, and only then kills its prey.

The leucrocotta bears strong resemblance to the hyena. The laughing call of the hyena may be the inspiration for the leucrocotta‘s ability to mimic speech. It also has some strong similarity with the prehistoric Mesonychids, an extinct order of carnivorous hoofed mammals, including Andrewsarchus, made famous in the BBC production Walking with Beasts. Mesonychids were possibly land-dwelling relatives of whales and dolphins, but are also related to modern sheep and goats.

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