Roperite - (latin: Rhynchoropus flagelliformis) - [Fearsome Critter 1910]
• About this Critter:
Once Native to the Nevada Sierra deserts foothills, a small creature nearly the size of a young pony, with a tough leathery body, built for speed, (typically something like a raptor, oversized road runner or an emu. Stockier four legged variants exist as far west as Minnesota as well!) either way, The Roperite has a prehensile, flexible proboscis which it can use make into a whip-like snare for lassoing. it chases pray in herds, swiftly over & around the sand dunes, bounding with its flipper-like feet, no man or beast can outrun them and it’s target will inevitably be dragged through the thorny underbrush. it has a rattlesnake-like tail which it whirls for further intimidation while on the hunt. - Primarily, its diet consists of rabbits and other small desert creatures, but it is also known to sometimes hog-tie a tender-footed trails-men or lumberjack with blood-curling results. - the desert variant is said to be long extinct.
• History & early appearances:
The Roperite seems to originate as a critter from William T Cox's Fearsome Critters, published in 1910 like the others it was likely based on earlier oral accounts, tall tales & legends - According to Cox & later Tyron; "No one knows its life-history, and many discussions had been based upon the question as to whether the beast is born, hatched from eggs, or if it came into existence spontaneously from some mountain cavern." - They went on to say that it was featured in Local Indigenous legends, apparently natives told blood-curdling tales about it and said that these where "the reincarnated ghosts of early Spanish ranchers." – (Curiously making this the only of Cox's critters with a possible paranormal origin/afterlife connection.) - Unfortunately, Cox only referred to the natives in question as "Digger Indians" (a somewhat derogatory & general term which was applied to several tribes or groups of Native Americans who lived in the Great Basin, California area.) - He was not specific and thus did not give any mention of which tribe told these legends, or where the story might have risen from: so its quite difficult to research, thus its hard to say for certain if this is something he simply made up or not!!! 🤷♀️ (since he likely heard about it second hand, perhaps it was just as mysterious to him, or maybe he was just appropriating. It’s hard to say with certainty.) - Future bestiary's which mention the Roperite also tend to avoid further discussion about this part of the lore. [ Note to self/other folklorists: this might be worth further investigation, especially if you can get in touch with native folklorists from Navada or the area in question!]
[img source: Junior scholastic 1950]
• Popculture: the roperite also appears in a 1977 pacos bill childrens book where in he tries to capture the “hidebehind”, bill gives up the roperite to the zoo in the end in place of the hidebehind, because it was too shy!
Art by @samkalensky (yo, that’s me) part of my fearsome critters collection of stickers! Please check my shop and consider supporting me on patreon if you liked this post!
Please note: final sticker does not come with have the loop cut out,(for display only) you can cut it out yourself if you bend the sticker slightly.