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Do Not Attack the Bonnacon, A Medieval Beast with a Toxic Defense

Sunday, March 11, 2018 15:33
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Depiction of a bonnacon in a medieval bestiary.

The bonnacon is a strange beast believed to have existed in the ancient world. The first attestation to the existence of the bizarre creature is traced to the Roman natural historian, Pliny the Elder. Belief in its existence continued well into the Middle Ages and it was a prominent figure in many medieval bestiaries – perhaps due to the crude and unusual way it defended itself.

The Beast’s Protection

The earliest known reference to the bonnacon (variations include ‘bonachus’, ‘bonacon’, ‘bonaconn’, and ‘bonasus’) is said to be found in Pliny the Elder’s Natural History. According to Pliny, it can be found in the region of Paeonia, which roughly corresponds to what is today the northern part of Greece, the FYROM, and western Bulgaria. Pliny states the creature “has the mane of the horse, but is, in other respects, like the bull, with horns, however, so much bent inwards upon each other, as to be of no use for the purposes of combat.”

The mythical beast cannot use its horns for combat.

The mythical beast cannot use its horns for combat. (CC BY SA) – Reconstructing the story of humanity’s past


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