Funeral Mountain Terrashot - Latin name: Funericorpus displosissimum. [Fearsome Critter 1910.]
• About this Critter: A desert creature not too dissimilar to a very tall tortoise, Native to the pleasant meadows along the tip tops of the Funeral mountain range along the eastern ridge of the extremely hot Californian desert that is known as Death valley.
The creature has been described as having a 6-8ft long casket-shaped shell that runs along the full length of its back. Its four legs are weak and wobbly, causing the Terrashot to move and sway uncertainly from side to side, forward and backwards as it slowly travels along the mountains ridges. It's said that when the population of the creatures gets too big, similarly to lemmings, the creatures attempt to migrate from the mountains to greener pastures: however, they encounter the hot sands in the deserts & their bodies, not used to the extreme heat, rapidly distend, and one after another they spontaneously combust, leaving deep, grave-shaped holes at the foot of the mountain range...
Allegedly, The strange beasts were first reported on by a curious Mormon Pioneer who observed a peculiar procession of these creatures entering the desert from the mountain range, which where thereafter named the 'Funeral Mountains.'
• History: The earliest illustrated appearance of this critter, & earliest written record of the above paraphrased story was published in "Fearsome Creatures of the LumberWoods" [1910.] by William T Cox.
[close up of the creatures exploding]
• Location and etymology: The "Funeral Mountains" are a real place, located along the eastern ridge of Death Valley, Inyo County, California. (Just West of Navada, Las Vegas.) - 'Death Valley' and the areas within, are known for their extremes and are North America's driest and hottest spot, (it has been recorded as reaching up to 134°F.) - The landmark areas within the desert tend to have particularly ominous-sounding names, from "Dantes View" to "Coffin Peak." - The desert is also known to be home to various ghost towns! - Death valley itself is said to have been given its foreboding name by a group of pioneers who got lost in the winter of 1849-1850, only one of them actually died, but they thought that for certain that the area would be their grave, so the name stuck. - According to "California Place Names: The Origin and Etymology of Current Geographic Names by Erwin G. Gudde"  – Allegedly, The Funeral Mountains get their name from debris flows (landslides) that accumulated along the range’s base: the black limestone flows, resembled bands of crêpe which were once worn to signify mourning. - it seems that The Funeral Mountain Terrashot is perhaps a humorous explanation for the name of the area, the fact that they explode could be an explaination to origin of these flows. - As to why Cox decided to pin this critter on the Mormons? your guess is as good as mine.
- [img source: archive.org]
[map of the area: source.]