The Kia ora coo-ee : the magazine for the ANZACS in the Middle East, 1918
The Jolliwogs of the Jordan
(We publish the following communication without comment, except that the illustrations were drawn by the Art Editor, from descriptions contained in the text; presumably, they are accurate in all essential details.—Ed.)
I am not of a pernicketty disposition, nor do I seek notoriety; but I feel it incumbent on me to criticise the author of certain nature articles that have been published in our Official Magazine. I am not aware what status he holds in scientific circles; but I do know, that the articles referred to are calculated to give the folk at Home a most erroneous conception of wild nature in the Holy Land. To proceed to the main point. Why, I ask, is there no mention, in any of these articles, of that tribe of animals which has made the Jordan Valley famous all over the world? I refer, of course, to the Jolli wogs. Have they been purposely omitted, or through sheer ignorance? Everyman in the Valley is familiar with these remarkable creatures; and I have heard many comments on the fact that they never figure in the pages of the "Kia Ora Coo-ee". Overcoming my distaste for publicity, I have decided to give my own observations on the tribe to the world, through the pages of the Magazine.
The Jordan Valley is one of the hottest places on earth, and its torrid heat has evolved a unique tribe of animals, mostly minute, which science has named the Jolliwogoptera. Professor Mala-grinty, Z.Z.S., in his monograph (in 25 volumes) on the Order, states that the Jolli wogs are confined to the Jordan Valley, that the species are very numerous, and that little is known regarding their domestic habits. I have made a careful study of them, and now propose to describe four of the most interesting kinds, namely: the Uni-pedotimus, the Thornige-ricus, the Lepipiscornus, and the Dipteramultbus. Three of these are abundant everywhere in the Valley, but the Thornigericus is found only around Jericho.
The Unipedotimus, as its name implies, has only one foot; also, it possesses but one ear, one eye, and one mouth. Its body is like a camel's hump, while the tail resembles a pair of serrated calipers and is probably used for mincing up its rations—I mean the food it gleans. The head is large and lumpy. The creature is very near-sighted, and is provided with spectacles. The beak is long and slender, and sharp as a lancet; it is used as a weapon chiefly, but also as a balancer. When inactive, the Unipedotimus stands on its foot, with the point of its beak re-ting lightly on a rock. This Jolliwog is a vegetarian, feeding mostly upon poppy petals and prickly-pears, though it sometimes eats M. and V. It is about twice the size of a walnut, and whistles beautifully.
The Thornigericus is so rare that I have been able to capture only two specimens, one of which has been sent to the Sydney Museum; the other I am keeping as a mascot. They are very tiny animals, and I had to search for them with a pocket-lens. The Thornigericus look like a plucked chicken, but it has a tail, and four legs with clawed feet. Its naked body is dotted with spines. The most wonderful feature is the cockatoo-beak, which can crack pretty hard nuts. When alarmed, the creature squeaks like a rubber doll; but it also has a pleasant song; and often in the twilight I have lingered at Jericho, just to hear the golden notes. The Thornigericus would make a charming pet for a lady. (I will sell my mascot for P.T. 75 and a tin of fags).
The Lepipiscornus is a distant relation of the Platypus. It has a scaly, fish-like body and long ears, while two whiskers sprout from its nose. The feet are shaped like issue boots. When the animal pounces on its prey—it feeds only on scarabs—it comes down so heavily as to crush the insect, The term "beetle-crushers" is derived from this Jolliwog, I have whiled away many a weary hour watching them. They live in burrows near the waterside, coming out only after sunset, when fhey gather in small groups, and sing ragtime tunes till midnight.
I have given only a few notes on the Jolliwogoptera; if they are appreciated, I shall forward some on other kinds, including the terrible the Baconobitus, which is a second cousin to the Dragon slain by St. George. I've seen it only once, and I reckon it would put the wind up any bloke, except a nature lover. It looks like a cross between a crocodile and a vulture, and has corns on its feet, which accounts for its uncertain temper.