Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Two-Headed or "Queen" Porcupine

The Two-Headed Porcupine is a native of the Russian province of Siberia. Also called the "Queen" Porcupine because of its distinctive ears, this strange rodent is notable for its two (yes, two!) mouths and its rich blue coat of spikes along its back. This unusual coat ends in a flat tail with a spiral pattern unique to each animal - much like a fingerprint. The Porcupine uses this tail to a pound newly caught fish against a flat rock until it is the width of a flour tortilla - it then rolls the fish up and eats it.

The Two-Headed Queen Porcupine is also notable for its power of mesmerization. It has the ability to send fish, birds, other rodents and even small children into a zombie like trance using only the power of its own mind and a series of rhythmic eye movements. Even unwary adults are susceptible.

The most famous case of this kind of adult mesmerization occurred when twelve prisoners at the Norillag gulag became zombie-like for days after catching the mesmerizing gaze of a Two-Headed Porcupine while on work detail. When they snapped out of it, they told of dreams tinged in blue, of conversations with a god shaped like a rodent, and of meeting men from outer space who offered them cheese blintzes and a gulash made from vodka. They also described to their captors the experience of "falling" into the eyes of the Two-Headed Porcupine. The Russians were sceptical, and eventually shot them all. Scientists later theorized that the men, weakened due to exhaustion and malnutrition, were in a vulnerable state. Maxim Gorky described the incident in his play The Lower Depths.

The Two-Headed or "Queen" Porcupine figures in prominently in Russian literature. Nicolai Gogol's unfinished story The Quill describes a man who gains the power of mesmerization when his fingers turn into Porcupine quills one night. Dostoevsky's short story The Gambler features a memorable moment when Alexei sees a Queen Porcupine perched on the railing of a bridge late at night, staring at him. More recently, in the James Bond movie The World is Not Enough, Bond kills a middle eastern terrorist by sticking a Queen Porcupine quill into his eye socket while being attacked at a Russian caviar factory.

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