To some cultures they were gods, keepers of wisdom, to others they were living monsters and the bringer of storms, and to a certain little wooden boy out at sea looking for his dad, one was simply known as ‘Monstro’!
Yes, take a deep breath because we’re diving down into the world of Wales, I mean Whales - although some of those Welsh rugby players are pretty monstrous!
One of these majestic water mammals, the blue whale, is said to be the biggest creature to have ever lived on earth. ‘But what about the dinosaurs’ you say? Yes, even bigger than the biggest of biggest dinosaurs, which is currently known to be Argentinosaurus, who weighed in at around 180,000 pounds - that’s only slightly more than half the size of a blue whale.
I mean come on, there’s no competition, a blue whale’s heart weighs as much as a car: their tongues alone can weigh the same as an elephant, and their new born babies are 25ft long!; oh, and these little nippers actually weigh more than an elephant. But whales don’t just break records for size in the animal kingdom, they are also the loudest of animals too - which isn’t surprising considering that they have to give birth to Jumbo sized babies… I mean literally Jumbo sized!
As you can expect, these animals have an appetite to match their bulk, as one African king once found out.
The king I talk of is King Sulemani, an East Africa ruler who had a knack for growing enormous crops of corn. These crops would feed all the people and animals in his land, and one day, after every man and beast was fed, Sulemani had a thought: what if he could feed the entire world?
Being quite a tall order, King Sulemani asked God for his assistance. God was not happy with the king's request, and sent forth a gigantic beast from the sea who devoured King Sulemani’s entire crop. Although this was not enough, and the whale said to the king, “I’m still hungry, feed me.” The King asked, “are there more of you?”, to which the whale replied, “70,000”!
Realising now that it was not his duty to feed the whole world - not forgetting it was completely beyond his means - the King repented and thanked God for this valuable lesson in humility.
Someone should read this story to that clown, Ronald McDonald… imagine a blue whale pulling into a McDonalds drive through! “You call that a “big” mac?”
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There’s a lot of ancient mythical beasts which seem pretty isolated, unique to a country’s culture, or even to a specific region. Others, like mermaids, dragons, and giants, are intercultural, being known by many. The Phoenix is one of these mythical superstars, and was known by the Greeks, the Romans, the Egyptians, and even by the Chinese.
In the year 1500 BC, the Israelites who had settled in Egypt had significantly grown in numbers. So much so that the Pharaoh at the time grew fearful of them: paranoid that they would eventually take over. Forgetting that it was actually an Israelite by the name of Joseph - yes, the guy with the groovy coat - who had guided the Egyptian people away from famine a few hundred years earlier, the Pharaoh made all the Israelites slaves. Things then took a most heinous turn when the Pharaoh ordered the midwives to drown all male Hebrew babies at birth.
How do you defeat those pesky Romans: with a broadsword, a throwing spear, a battle horse? All of those sound like they could be very useful, but what you really need in your arsenal is a Hare. Just ask Queen Boudica - and if anyone should know it would be this red hared heroine, who impressively managed to defeat the all conquering Romans in three separate battles.