Myth & Geology





D. B. Vitaliano



Masse; Barber; Piccardi

Exploring the nature of myth and its ro^le in science


Ludwin & Smits

.. Earthquakes : Native American oral tradition from Cascadia


S. E. Hough

Writing on the walls : ... American spiritual beliefs


Nunn & Pastorizo

Geological histories ... of the Pacific Islands illuminated by myths


E. Shanklin

Exploding lakes in myth ... : African



Using myths to identify cosmic impacts and massive Plinian explosions in ... South America


A. Mayor

Place-names describing fossils


K. J. McNamara

Shepherds’ crowns, fairy loaves and thunderstones


S. Fox-Hudson

Obsidian : sacred glass from the California sky



pp. 1-7 Dorothy B. Vitaliano : "Geomythology".

p. 1a instances of geomyths

book by authoress :- Vitaliano 1973

Devil’s Tower in the state of Wyoming : "Two Indian tribes living in the vicinity have ... stories accounting for its unique shape (Mattison 1967), ... a group of people being pursued by a giant bear, appealing to their deity for help, and having the ground on which they stood uplifted beyond the reach of the animal ... . The fluting of the columns ... is explained as the claw marks made by the bear as it tried to reach them."

Vitaliano 1973 = Dorothy B. Vitaliano : Legends of the Earth. IN U Pr, Bloomington.

Mattison 1967 = R. H. Mattison : Devil’s Tower National Monument.

p. 1b origins of islands

Manaia, one of the Cook i.s (Marshall 1927) : "the god of the sea and the god of rain had a contest ... . The inhabitants of the island ... appealed to their supreme god, who ordered ... to stop the contest."

"The Pacific islands have inspired many other landform myths, including a number of ‘fishing-up’ myths which explain the presence of certain islands (Nunn ... 2003)."

Marshall 1927 = P. Marshall : Geology of Mangaia. Bernice Pauahi Bishop Museum, Honolulu.

Nunn 2003 = P. D. Nunn : "Fished up or thrown down : the geography of Pacific Island origin myths". ANNALS OF THE ASSOCIATION OF AMERICAN GEOGRAPHERS 93:350-64.

p. 2b catfish deity

"In Japan it was believed that a giant catfish ... was responsible for earthquakes (Ouwehand 1964). This catfish was usually pinned down by the Kashima deity ..., but when this god had to pay attention to other matters, ... a quake resulted. ... Unusual activity in catfish was long believed to portent a quake."

Ouwehand 1964 = C. Ouwehand : Namazu-e and Their Themes. Brill, Leiden.

pp. 2b-3a volcano myths

p. 2b

[Hawai>i] "Pele came to the islands fleeing ... her older sister ... . First she came to the northwesternmost island, ... but her sister chased her to the next island, and the next, and so on down through the chain until she took up residence in Halemaumau, the firepit on Kilauea volcano".

p. 3a

[Klamat in Oregon] "Llao, the chief of the Below World, standing on Mt Mazama, was battling Skell, the chief of the Above World, who stood on Mt Shasta in California ... (Clark 1953). The fight ended when Mt Mazama collapsed under Llao and hurled his ... into his underworld domain. The large hole that was created filled up to form Crater Lake."

Clark 1953 = E. E. Clark : Indian Legends of the Pacific Northwest. U of CA Pr.


pp. 9-28 W. Bruce Masse; Elizabeth Wayland-Barber; Luigi Piccardi : "Exploring the nature of myth and its ro^le in science".

pp. 11b, 14 historical events enshrined in Hellenic myths

p. 11b

Palaiphatos (possibly contemporary with Aristoteles) "provided rationalization for a number of stories about early heroes and monstrous creatures (Stern 1996)." Palaiphatos used "confusion of human and animal names; puns and double meanings; misunderstood metaphorical expressions".

{Deliberate puns and metaphorical expressions are commonest in jokes. Could this imply that the myths involved originated in jokes?}

p. 14a

"Kirk (1974), following an interpretation first proposed by Palaephatus, maintains that myth ... likely records ancient political events. In a manner similar to the killing of the Minotaur in the Palace of Knossos, the killing of the

{If these myths described politics, then might not political jokes (satire) have been their origination?}

p. 14b

Hydra at Lerna, as well as ... the killing of the Nemean lion ..., seems to contain memories of ancient political events".

Stern 1996 = J. Stern : Palaephatus on Unbelievable Tales. Bolchazy-Carducci Publ, Wauconda (IL).

Kirk 1974 = G. S. Kirk : The Nature of Greek Myths. London.

p. 24a owls of Kapo>i

"Kapo>i (ka-po-[>]i, the great darkness), on Oahu Island, ... discovered some owl eggs. ... The grateful owl told Kapo>i to build a small temple to honour the owl ... . Kapo>i builds the temple. ... The next morning, ... several huge bands of supernatural owls flew out of the mountains and began to ... cover the rising Sun so that its light was extinguished."


pp. 67-94 Ruth S. Ludwin & Gregory J. Smits : "... Earthquakes : Native American oral tradition from Cascadia".

p. 70a Thunderbirds & Whale

[Vancouver i. (Carmichael 1922)] "all creation rests on the back of a ... whale and ... when Thunderbird drove his talons deep into ... Whale’s back, ... Whale dived and dragged ... Thunderbird to the bottom of the ocean ... . In this story, three of the four original thunderbirds were drowned in this manner, and one remains alive."

Carmichael 1922 = A. Carmichael : Indian Legends of Vancouver Island. Musson Bk Co, Toronto, 1922.

pp. 72, 73b-74, 88b horned serpent-deity; double-headed eagle-god

p. 72a

[at Seattle] "A>yahos is a shape-shifter, often appearing as an enormous serpent, sometimes double headed with blazing eyes and horns, or as a composite monster having the fore-quarters and head of a deer and the tail of a snake (Mohling 1957). A>yahos is a ‘Doctor’ spirit power; reserved for shamans. It is one of the most powerful personal spirit powers ... . ...‘At the

p. 72b

spot where a>yahos came to a person the very earth was torn, landslides occurred and the trees became twisted and warped. ...’ (Smith 1940)"

p. 74a

"A>yahos was one of the most powerful of these personal spirit powers ... . A>yahos ‘Doctor’ spirit power was one of the only two powers (a>yahos and sta`dukw>a) reserved exclusively for shaman[s], and ... both these shamanic powers shaking or landsliding ... (Waterman 2001). ...

p. 74b

Shaking also appeared ... in Puget Sound Salish ceremony, when ritual objects filled with spirit power and became self-animated (... Elmendorf 1993, p. 192-198 ...)."

p. 88b

"Legends from Sumatra attribute earthquakes to a horned water serpent that struggles to shake off the land above him (Dixon 1916 ...)."

p. 73b

[Suquamish (quoted from Jefferson 2001)] "the Double Headed Eagle exploded out of the water and up into the sky with the body of the Great Serpent in its claws." {The double-headed eagle is emblem of Byzantine and czarist Russian governments.}

Mohling 1957 = V. G. Mohling : Twana Spirit Power Songs. MA thesis, U of WA.

Smith 1940 = M. W. Smith : The Puyallup-Nisqually. Columbia U Pr, NY.

Waterman 2001 = T. T. Waterman (ed. by Hilbert; Miller; & Zahir) : Puget Sound Geography. Lushootseed Pr.

Elmendorf 1993 = W. W. Elmendorf : Twana Narratives. U of WA Pr.

Dixon 1916 = R. B. Dixon : Oceanic, in :- MYTHOLOGY OF ALL NATIONS. Cooper Sq Publ, NY.

Jefferson 2001 = W. Jefferson : The World of Chief Seattle. Summerton (TN).

pp. 75b-76a, 89b Stone-Body god & his elder brother god; fighting stones

p. 75b

[Kwakiutl (Boas & Hunt 1905)] "In Head-Winter-Dancer, Thunderbird and his wife descend from the sky at a mountain called Split-in-Two. ... When their youngest son is born, they hear a sound like rocks rolling down and find a double-headed serpent in their salmon-trap ... They wash the new baby in the blood of the double-headed serpent {Iesous Khristos, in whose blood souls are washed, is associated with the Son of Man, who is as "the serpent in the wilderness".} and he is transformed into Stone-Body, a name similar to Stone-Ribs – an earthquake-related being in Haida stories ... (Swanton 1905, pp. 190-210). Stone-Body cries out in the voice of the Dzonoqwa [cf. p. 74b : DZaKW (‘earthquake’ in Puget Lowland)] (a supernatural being linked to earthquakes and to the Sxwayxwey (Levi-Strauss 1979) and it is divulged that Dzonoqwa had come ... and Stone-Body is his son. {Those baptized (by being "washed in the blood") become adopted sons (and thus joint-heirs with Khristos, who was "lifted up" amid the earthquake) of God, the "Rock of Ages".} Stone-Body grows up rapidly and travels in a self-propelled death-bringing, double-headed serpent canoe, acquiring crests ... . He obtains the earthquake-related Sxwayxwey mask from the Salish to the sound of thunder. Stone-Body gives his older brother

p. 76a

Cannibal {an appropriate name for a eucharist-devouring Christian} the additional names Rolling-Down, Great-Mountain, Rock-Slide and Coming Down." "The two-headed Sis[i]utl of the Kwakwaka>wakw is similar in form to the two-headed supernatural serpent a>yahos of Puget Sound".

p. 89b

(Adamson 1934) "Thunder" is "a hostile father-in-law who sets dangerous challenges for his human son-in-law, including bringing two fighting stones, called White Agate and Blue Rock, into the house."

{Susano-wo set dangerous tests for his son-in-law O-kuni-nus^i. “Ōkuninushi’s most famous shrine is ... the one in Kiyomizudera Temple in Kyoto where the two love-stones are” (“UP”). These 2 “love stones” are pictured at “KT”. The shrine there dedicated to O-kuni-nus^i is Jis^u-jinja ("K-D").}

Boas & Hunt 1905 = F. Boas & G. Hunt : Kwakiutl Texts. JESUP NORTH PACIFIC EXPEDITION, III. American Museum of Natural History.

Swanton 1905 = J. R. Swanton : Haida Texts and Myths, Skidegate Dialect. SMITHSONIAN INSTITUTION BULLETIN 29.

Levi-Strauss 1979 = C. Le’vi-Strauss : The Way of the Masks. U of WA Pr.

Adamson 1934 = T. Adamson : Folk-Tales of the Coast Salish. American Folk-Lore Society.

"UP" =

"KT" = "Kiyomizudera Temple"

"K-D" = "Kiyomizu-dera"


pp. 107-15 Susan E. Hough : "Writing on the walls : ... American spiritual beliefs".

p. 112 earthquake myths in southern California

p. 112a

[Northern Dieguen~o, Kumeyaay (Knaak 1988)] "the world was formed by two brothers, Tuchaipa and Kokomat, who sought to create man out of yellow clay. Unable to create figures as successfully as his brother, Kokomat returned to the earth beneath the sea, where he was said to create earthquakes as he moved about".

{[Kic^e (PV 1:1)] TePeu [= Tuc^aiPa] and Gucu (/Q>uKu/, PV fn. 6:3)-MATz -= KoKo—MAT] "planned ... the creation of man."}


[Cahuilla (Smith 1950)] Tahquitz, the deity abiding in "Tahquitz Canyon, at the foot of Mount Tahquitz just south of Mount San Jacinto," is the cause of "an explosive rumble" just praeceding each earthquake.

p. 112b

The component "granitic rocks of the San Jacinto mountains are a known ‘high-Q’ environment ... : ... audible high frequency [sound] energy generated by earthquakes ... will travel efficiently in this environment, consistent with reports of audible rumblings and ‘moanings’."

Knaak 1988 = M. Knaak : The Forgotten Artist. Anza-Borrego Desert Natural History Assn.

PV = Popol Vuh


pp. 143-63 Patrick D. Nunn & Ma. Ronna Pastorizo : "Geological histories ... of the Pacific Islands illuminated by myths".

p. 150 origin-myths for Niue i.

p. 150a

(Nunn 2004) "two people named Huanaki and Fao arriving on Niue from Tonga and, finding the island awash at high tide, stamping on it causing it to rise and form dry land."

p. 150b

(Cowan 1923) "on Niue, ... attributes a great famine to the gods Futimotu (‘lift up and island’) and Futifonua (‘lift-up-the-land’)".

Nunn 2004 = P. D. Nunn : "Myths and the formation of Niue Island". J OF PACIFIC HISTORY 39:99-108.

Cowan 1923 = J. Cowan : "The story of Niue". J OF THE POLYNESIAN SOC 32:238-43.


pp. 165-76 Eugenia Shanklin : "Exploding lakes in myth ... : African".

pp. 166b-169a Kamerun legends

p. 166b

"Mawes, the lake-spirit, ... awarded the lake to ... the Oku people ... . ... When he died, his [a stranger’s] spirit-double went into the lake ...; the lake engulfed the Kijem people (Chilver 1991, p. 18)."

"The bottoms of Lake Nyos, Lake Oku and certain pools in the Kimbi River were said to provide glimpses of villages of the dead. ... the crater lake at Wum (Aghem) was the final residence of two sisters, ancestresses of Funggom area matriclans, who signalled their presence by bubble in the lake ... (Chilver 1991, p. 17)."

p. 167a

[Ba-mbui] " ‘... we still moved as a single group but found two lakes that were side by side and here we separate. Bambili took one lake and we the other. When we moved ... to here, our lake moved to its present position’ (Chilver 1991, p. 19)."


[Ba’ni, also known as C^amba (Kaberry 1952)] "Ga Wolbe predicted his death ... to his queen-sister and told her how to proceed. A lake then formed over his body and eventually his spirit-double, an elephant, blazed a trail for the Ba’ni migration."

p. 167b

[Ba-fut (Chilver & Kaberry 1968)] "as the people were crossing, they made a rope bridge across a big water and sent people across. {cf. rope bridges in Peru`} But some had to return to fetch a powerful calabash containing water; a queen and others crossed the bridge with the calabash but the bridge broke behind them and they lost touch with the other people. As they neared Bambuluwe, the exhausted queen dropped the calabash on a stone and then ... Lake Bambuluwe was formed."

p. 168a

[Ba-fut (Ritzenthaler 1962, p ... . 125)] "The actual dwelling places ... of the dead are believed to be within the four sacred pools.


[Ba-fut (Ritzenthaler 1962, p. 129)] At "Menchem Waterfall ... there was an altar ... where the dead Fon [‘chief’] lived".

p. 168b

[Kom] "the Kom Fon ... called his sister to him and told her that he would soon hang himself, ...

{The Yoruba god S^ano is likewise said to have committed suicide by hanging himself.}


that a lake would form where his body fluids dripped down, and soon the people of Bamessi would go into the lake".

{The mother of Dio-nusos was trapped alive under the lake at Lerne.}

p. 169a

[Kom] "all living entities have dual natures, good and bad, or beneficent and maleficent ‘sides’ that can cause strange events. {the same (2 mutually opposed natures in each person) is told by the Zulu, Iroquois, et al.} Duality occurs, too in non-living entities in pairs ... . A ‘good’ lake, such as Nyos, also had a ‘bad’ counterpart, Lake Njupi, which ... is full of leeches and has also transferred from one place to another, according to newspaper accounts from the 1970s."

Chilver 1991 = E. M. Chilver : "Does Oral tradition Deal with Earlier Lake Disasters in the North West Province?" EDUCATION REVIEW 2/2:16-22.

Kaberry 1952 = P. M. Kaberry : Women of the Grasslands. COLONIAL RESEARCH PUBLICATION, No. 14. London.

Chilver & Kaberry 1968 = E. M. Chilver & P. M. Kaybery : Traditional Bamenda. Government Printer, Buea (Cameroon).


pp. 165, 169b volcanic gas emission at explosion of lake Nyos

p. 165 "In the night of 21 August, 1986, Lake Nyos, a crater lake in the Cameroon Grassfields ... ‘exploded’ and sent out a cloud of carbon dioxide that killed more than 1800 people."

"Individuals who inhaled more than 15 percent CO2 stopped breathing in minutes and died." ("INyD") {This is the mode of operation of poisoning by carbon monoxide; however, likewise ("TCD") "at levels above 5%, concentration CO2 is directly toxic." Other gases, than odorless carbon dioxide, were also evidently released in the event at lake Nyos, for survivors there "smelled something terrible" ("LNy – A21E"). "Volcanoes also release ... other gases, including hydrogen sulfide (H2S), ... carbon monoxide (CO)" ("VG&ThE"). "The most common gases associated with active volcanoes are ... carbon dioxide, sulfur dioxide, hydrogen sulfide, ... carbon monoxide" ("VG&E")".}

p. 169b "folk belief in a female demon who inhabits pools and other bodies of water and, when she emerges, is always destructive."

"Local villagers attributed the catastrophe to the wrath of a spirit woman of local folklore who inhabits the lakes and rivers." ("LNy – O")

p. 169b "predictions were based on a particular wild plant that grows in the area and was said to turn red to signal a lake implosion."

"INyD" = "Investigating the Nyos Disaster"

"TCD" = "Toxicity of Carbon Dioxide"

"LNy – A21E" = "Lake Nyos (1986) -- August 21 Expulsion"

"VG&ThE" = "Volcanic Gases and Their Effects"

"VG&E" = "Volcanic Gases and Emissions"

"LNy – O" = Lake Nyos (1986) – Overview"


pp. 177-202 W. Bruce Masse & Michael J. Masse : "Using myths to identify cosmic impacts and massive Plinian explosions in ... South America".

p. 179a South American myths of earthquakes & volcanos

"Bandelier (1905, 1906) attempted to determine ... myths along the western coast of South America relating to earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, and ... meteorites."

Bandelier 1905 = A F. Bandelier : "Traditions of Precolumbian landings on the western coast of South America". AMERICAN ANTHROPOLOGIST 7:250-70.

Bandelier 1906 = A F. Bandelier : "Traditions of Precolumbian earthquakes and volcanic eruptions on the western coast of South America". AMERICAN ANTHROPOLOGIST 8:47-81.

p. 184b the sacred meteorite at Campo del Cielo (‘Field of the Sky’) on the Gran Chaco of northern Argentina

[quoted from Cassidy & Renard 1996 :] "The indigenous tribes of the district [of Tucuma`n] gathered here in ... veneration to the God of the Sun, personifying their god in this mysterious mass of iron ... . And there ... was ... a beautiful ... legend of the transfiguration of the meteorite on a certain day of the year into a marvelous tree, flaming up at the first rays of the sun with radiant lights and noises like one hundred bells, filling the air, the fields, and the woods with metallic sounds and resonant melodies".

Cassidy & Renard 1996 = W. A. Cassidy & M. L. Renard : "Discovering research value in Campo del Cielo, Argentina". METEORITICS 31:433-8.

pp. 188, 192 South American myths of fall of the sky

p. 188a Nivakle` of northern Argentina

p. 192a Yanomami of southern Venezuela

p. 192a-b Cuiva of western Venezuela

Chase-Sardi 1987, pp. 101-2

Lizot 1990, p. 44

Arcand 1991; Ortiz 1991


p. 192a (Arcand, p. 29) "there was only daytime, for the sun did not move but remained stationary at the center of the sky. ... .

"the sky began to descend".

"the sky broke above".

... the sky fell".

"everyone to take refuge under a molle [Brazilian peppertree, Schinus mole] tree".

"to seek refuge under the canopy of the great cacao tree".


p. 192b (Ortiz, pp. 31-2) "The locusts pecked out the eyes of all the people".


"The sky ... emitted unbearable heat, and .

(Arcand, p. 29) "The ... ants were eating ... especially women’s vaginas."

"They tried to cut through the sky with their knives and axes, but in vain".

the people ... using their axes they opened a passage through the sky."


"some tuco-tuco teeth [incisors of the burrowing rodent Ctenomys] ... started cutting the sky".


"When the sky was cut it suddenly ... rose upward."


"the pygmy kingfisher ... and the dragonfly ... reassembled the sky by carrying back into place all the fallen pieces of the sky."


"Afterward they became underworld creatures, amahiri".

"There were ... ribs without skin or flesh".

Chase-Sardi 1987 = Folk Literature of the Nivakle` Indians. UCLA Latin American Center.

Lizot 1990 = Folk Literature of the Yanomami Indians. UCLA Latin American Center.

Arcand & Ortiz 1991 = Folk Literature of the Cuiva Indians. UCLA Latin American Center.

{comparative remarks}



"the sun did not move but remained stationary at the center of the sky."

{cf. Kic^e` "Heart of Heaven" (in the Popol Vuh) = Taoist Heart-of-Heaven = Bodish Great-Central Sun}


{cf. Navaho divine locusts in emergence-myth}


{cf. Australian aboriginal divine emmets which revived goddesses deluged by rainbow}


{cf. Aztec swinging ribs of god Yoalli Ehecatl}

pp. 193, 195 myths of meteor; fall of sun; fall of fragments of the moon

p. 193a

[Ge` (Nimuendaju` 1984, p. 45)] Akra` (‘meteors’) assume, on earth, the guise of pink-feathered birds (like spoonbills).

p. 193b

[Toba (Gime`nez-Beni`tez et al. 2000. p. 337)] "one day the Sun had fallen from the Sky, setting on fire the forests and ... the tribes that survived becoming caimans [alligators]".

p. 195a

[Mokovi` (Guevara 1988, p. 100)] "the sun once fell from the sky ... . ... The sun fell a second time, ... because the knots were not tight enough ... . Waves of fire spread everywhere, the flames consuming trees, plants, animals and men".

p. 195b

[Toba (Me’traux 1982, p. 68)] "Fragments of the moon fell down upon the earth and started a big fire. ... Men and women ran to the lagoons covered with bulrushes. The water was boiling, but not where the bulrushes grew." {cf. salvation his own people by Mos^eh (who had been found amid the bulrushes) whilst the folk of Mis.rayim perished in the Sea of Reeds (Red Sea)}


[Toba (Me’traux 1946, p. 19)] "Moon ... is a pot-bellied man whose bluish intestines can be seen through his skin. His enemy is ... the celestial Jaguar. ... Moon defends himself with a spear tipped with a head carved {cf. the (LB, p. 354) "graven" (carven) rod flourished by Mos^eh over the Sea of Reeds} of the soft wood of the bottletree ... which breaks apart at the first impact. ... The Jaguar tears at his body, pieces of which fall on the earth." {"a flying bird ... falls into pieces" (LB, p. 361) over the wilderness of S^ur, until this is hindered by Mos^eh}

Nimuendaju` 1984 = Folk Literature of the Ge` Indians. UCLA Latin American Center.

Gime`nez-Beni`tez et al. 2000 = Gime`nez-Beni`tez; Lo`pez; & Mammana : "Meteorites of Campo del Cielo". In :- C. Esteban & J. A. Belmonte (edd.) : Oxford VI and SEAC 99. Tenerife (Canary i.s). pp. 335-41.

Guevara 1988 = Folk Literature of the Mocovi` Indians. UCLA Latin American Center.

Me’traux 1982 = Folk Literature of the Toba Indians. UCLA Latin American Center.

Me’traux 1946 = A. Me’traux : Myths of the Toba and Pilaga` Indians of the Gran Chaco. American Folklore Soc, Philadelphia.

LB = Louis Ginzberg :Legends of the Bible. Konecky & Konecky.


pp. 245-61 Adrienne Mayor : "Place-names describing fossils".

pp. 245b-246a Hellenic mainland (Mayor 2000, pp. 73, 98-9, 128-9)


antient discoveries & myth concerning site

modern discovery of fossils at that site


"ancient Greek writers reported ... smoking earth around the city of Megalopolis (ancient Greek for ‘Giant City’) in the Peloponnesus where colossal bones of unfamiliar creatures emerged ... . The god Zeus was said to have destroyed the giant Titans here with lightning in the mythic era before present-day humans."

"In 1902, Greek palaeontologists discovered that the smouldering lignite soil around the ruins of ancient Megalopolis contains plentiful fossils of large Pleistocene animals, including ancestral rhinoceros".


"According to the ancient writers Strabo ... and Solinus ..., the ‘Headquarters of the Giants’ was at Pallene, on the Kassandra Peninsula in NE Greece."

"in 1994, ... Greek palaeontologists discovered rich Pleistocene fossil beds at Pallene."


"In the Roman era, the discovery of steppe mammoth fossils in a river bed in ... Syria of ... Orontes .., ... the mythical giant whose bones where supposed to have been buried there".


Mayor 2000 = A. Mayor : The First Fossil Hunters : Palaeontology in Greek and Roman Times. Princeton Pr.

p. 246a Hellenic isles (Solounias & Mayor 2005, pp. 288-93)

"According to the historian Plutarch ..., a conspicuous bone bed on the Aegean island of Samos was called Panaima (‘Bloodbath’ ...). The name designated a large flat area of red soil where immense skeletons continually weather out. According to myth, a violent battle between the god Dionysus’s war elephants and an army of Amazons took place here".

"The fossil beds of Panaima ... were first excavated by scientists in about 1870. The most impressive bones are those of Miocene mastodons from about 8 million years ago."

Solounias & Mayor 2005 = N. Solounias & A. Mayor : "Ancient references to the fossils from the land of Pythagoras". EARTH SCIENCES HISTORY 23, no. 2, pp. 283-96.

p. 246 Asia


antient discoveries & myth concerning site

modern discovery of fossils at that site


The "mythic battle" Kuru-ks.etra, recounted in the Maha-bharata, "was said to have taken place the site named "Asthipura, ‘Town of Bones’," in the Siwalik Hills.

"rich Pliocene fossil bone beds of the Siwalik Hills."


"Near Zhoukoudian, LongGuShan (‘Dragon Bone Hill or Mountain’) was a place where ancient miners ... often unearthed large petrified bones of prehistoric animals.

In 1929, LongGuShan was the site of the discovery of Peking man, Homo erectus pekinensis (Boaz & Ciochon 2004, pp. 3-7)."


"In southern Guizhou Province, ... a low hill was long known as ‘Lurking Dragon Hill’. ... Generations of rice farmers used to search for young dragons here, which they considered good luck" (Morell 2005, pp. 82-3).

"The hill contains the abundant remains of exquisitely preserved, 30-36 cm long Cretaceous marine reptiles with long necks, Keichousaurus hui."

Boaz & Ciochon 2004 = N. T. Boaz & R. L. Ciochon : Dragon Bone Hill. Oxford U Pr.

Morell 2005 = V. Morell : "When monsters ruled the deep". NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC 208:58-87.

p. 247a western Europe

name or lore concerning site

fossils at that site

"The plain in the Lower Dauphine, France, a few kilometres from St Romans ... . Since at least the 1600s, it was called Champs des Ge’ants (‘Field of Giants’)."

"rich deposits of Pleistocene mastodon fossils."

In mediaeval Austria and Switzerland, there were caves "fabled to be the dens of dragons (Abel 1914)."

"fossils of huge Ice Age cave bears".

"In England, a well in Wiltshire was ... known as Holy Well or Star Well, as a spring where ‘five-pointed stones ... bubble up’ (Aubrey [1847], p. 45). According to folklore, the stars were thought to be petrified elderflowers that had fallen into the spring." (Jordan 1998)

"The fossils are individual segments of the stems of crinoids, ... commonly known as sea lilies".

Abel 1914 = O. Abel : Die Tiere der Vorwelt. Teubner, Berlin.

Aubrey 1847 = J. Aubrey : Natural History of Wiltshire.

Jordan 1998 = K. M. Jordan : "Seven Wiltshire wells and their folklore". THE HOLY WELLS JOURNAL 6.

p. 248 California mythic footprints

p. 248a

[Ac^umawi] "Ja-mul dok-im-choi, ‘Coyote-man’s Track’, left in stone when the earth was young. ... just east of Hot Springs, California, ... a large boulder ... has a noticeable depression, ... shaped

p. 248b

like a man’s footprint (Woiche 1992, pp. 85-160). ... Coyote-man’s Track ... could have been carved".


"two other California tribes, the Southern Nissenan people, and the Chumash, have myths that tell of Sky Coyote leaving pawprints and Sky Lizard leaving five-digit impressions in a large white rock in primeval times before humans".

C^umas^ Creation Story





The "white rock" thus impressed by Lizard with his "hand print" may have been intended as a divine signature of a name :

"give him a white stone, and in the stone a new name written" (Apokalupsis of Ioannes 2: 17) at (2:12) Pergamos – at Pergamos is carven, in whitish stone, a depiction of the Gigantomachy which had occurred at Pallene (vide supra, p. 246a).


Similar to Sky-Lizard,

"The giants are naked, with human shape, sometimes winged with a lizard like tail" ("PZA&G")


The Wis^toyo "Rainbow Bridge" extending (in the C^umas^ myth) from Limuw (Santa Cruz i.) over the ocean may be compared with


the S^into "rainbow bridge (Ama-no-uki-hashi)." ("I")

Just as people were transformed into sea-mammals (dolphins) by this C^umas^ goddess Hutas^,

so likewise is the sea-mammal (whale) goddess Keto praesent ("GG") in this Pergamos frieze.


{Dolphins alter their coloration while dying – to yellow, to blue, to silver, and finally to "prismatic colors, like those in an opal" (B&P, p. 102).}

Goddess Irid- (‘Rainbow’) is [associated with Skuthian police in a scene ("S-PV", p. 126, fn. 20)] involved with the Gigantomachy.

Izana-mi changed herself after death.

"Hutash was married to the Sky Snake (The Milky Way), who made lightning with his tongue and

Irid- "was grasping ... the tongue." ("S-PV", p. 127) {"the tips of all your fingers spout dim purple fire" ("S&L").} This tongue is depicted as "purple" ("S-PV", p. 127, fn. 22).

{cf. Taoist thunder-magic with fingers}

gave the people their first fire."

"They threw the tongues in the fire" (Odusseia 3:341, cited in "S-PV", p. 126, fn. 21).

Izana-mi gave birth to fire.

"PZA&G" = "The Pergamon Zeus Altar and the Gigantomachy"

"I" = "Izanagi"

"GG" = "Gods Versus Giants: Scenes From Gigantomachy, the Pergamon Altar"

B&P= Charles Samuel Stewart : Brazil and La Plata. NY : G. P. Putnam & Co, 1856. cf. also "The rainbow bridge to the land of the dead ... (Thompson, Motif-Index, F 152.1.1)” (Kyōko Motomochi Nakamura : Miraculous Stories from the Japanese Buddhist Tradition. Harvard U Pr, 1973. p. 113, fn. 31

"S-PV" = Erika Simon : "Satyr-plays on vases in the time of Aeschylus". In :- Donna Kurtz & Brian Sparkes (edd.) : The Eye of Greece: Studies in the Art of Athens. Cambridge U Pr, 1982. pp. 123-48.

"S&L" = "Sparks and Lightning" Strands of purple-lighting plasma extend particularly slowly : one can easily outrun them -- just as goddess Irid- escaped the satyrs although they were "acting with lightning speed" ("S-PV", p. 127).

p. 249 Amerindian mythic buttockprints

p. 249a

(Mayor 2005a, pp. 86-7, citing Sahagu`n lib. 3, pt. iv, p. 35) Quetzalcoatl’s "buttocks, as they touched the rock, sank deeply".


"Aborigines point out a place on the coast near Broome, NW Australia, where the giant Emu-man ... rested. Large feather-like fossil fern impressions in the Cretaceous-era sediments were the spots where Emu-man sat, and large three-toed dinosaur tracks one the beach show where we waded into the sea." {cf. Peruvian god Viracocha’s wading into the sea.}


(Jefferson 1954, p. 43) "In North America, Delaware (Lenape) ... maintained that one could view the impression of the Great Spirit’s seat and footprints on a rock ledge."

p. 249b

(Mayor & Sarjeant 2001; Mayor 2005a, p. 54 & n. 18) "according to the Shawnees, impressions in rock ‘like a man sitting in snow’ were left by giant men who had once hunted the ‘Grandfather of Buffalo’, whose great bones were found in the Ohio Valley."

Mayor 2005a = A. Mayor : Fossil Legends of the First Americans. Princeton U Pr.

Jefferson 1954 = Thomas Jefferson : Notes on the State of Virginia. NC U Pr, Chapel Hill, 1954 [1781].

Mayor & Sarjeant 2001 = A. Mayor & W. A. Sarjeant : "The folklore of footprints in stone". ICHNOS 8:143-63.

pp. 249b-250a Yaki myth of enormous raptor bird at Otom Kawi (/otom/ ‘skeleton’ + /kawi/ ‘mountain’) in Sonora, NW Mexico

p. 249b

"an enormous raptor bird that preyed on the Yaquis’ ancestors." It was a "monstrous bird of prey that lived on the slopes of Otam Kawi. ... A brave youth set out to destroy the bird. He dug a hole in the bone field and hid in ambush. ... he killed the huge bird ... (Savala 1945)."

p. 250a

"Ice Age teratorns, enormous Pleistocene raptors ... coexisted with early humans in the Americas ... . ... observations of petrified or mummified carcasses of immense prehistoric raptors ... contributed to the tale of Skeleton Mountain." "In the 1970s ... below Skeleton Mountain, ... palaeontologists began to study the remains of Pliocene and Pleistocene ... horses and other creatures".

Savala 1945 = R. Savala : "The legend of Skeleton Mountain". THE ARIZONA QUARTERLY 1, no, 1. (reprinted in:- L. Evers (ed.) : The South Corner of Time. U of AZ Pr, Tucson, 1980. pp. 227-9.)

p. 251 Amerindian : mythic Buffalo; mythic Mosquito


name or lore

corresponding fossils


[Lenape (Delaware) & Shawnee] "Grandfather of the Buffalo"

"mastodon fossils"


[Wyandot (Huron)] "Witch [or Spirit] Buffalo"



[Tuscarora] "Great Mosquito Monster"

"Triassic phytosaur"

p. 253a Amerindian-made replicas of fossil animal-tracks

"in the 1840s, the geologist Charles Lyell investigated some bird and mammal tracks in rock in Pennsylvania and found them to be Indian carvings.

Recently, archaeologists discovered a dozen isolated pseudo-fossil footprints, ... carved into granite outcrops (real fossil footprints are impossible in granite) across southern New England".

pp. 253b-254a Pawnee vision-quaests at spirit-animal mounds

p. 253b

"Pawnee medicine men undertook vision quests at nahurac (‘spirit animal’) mounds along riverbanks in Nebraska and Kansas, where they encountered mysterious creatures and received special healing powers. ... . One, Pahua (‘Hill Swimming on Water’), was on the Republican River in western Nebraska, ... where immense petrified bones spilled out. Medicine men tunnelled in Pahua to commune with the spirit animals and giants. ... Nakiskat (‘White Bone Mound’) was named

p. 254a

for [a] fossil that protruded from a high bank near the confluence of the Platte and Missouri rivers in Nebraska. ... Another famed medicine man ... had learned his healing powers inside ‘The Mound Where Spirit Animals Sleep’, the name for a bluff ... on the Platte River in Nebraska. Both mounds are in areas with fossil exposures (Grinnell 1928, pp. 246-247; Parks & Wedel 1985, p. 162 & n. 4.)."

Grinnell 1928 = G. B. Grinnell : The Two Great Scouts and Their Pawnee Battalion. Clark, Cleveland.

Parks & Wedel 1985 = D. R. Parks & W. R. Wedel : "Pawnee geography". GREAT PLAINS QUARTERLY 5 (Summer):143-76.

p. 254 Osage fossil myths (Mayor 2005a, pp. 200-7)

name or lore

corresponding fossils

p. 254a "monstrous animals had invaded from the east ..., and in south-central Missouri, the invading monsters and the native animals assembled for a battle, in which many on both sides were killed. After the battle, according to the myth, the monsters’ carcasses were buried by the Great Spirit in the Big Bone River."

p.254b "The legend was confirmed by historical palaeontological discoveries. ... There were thousands of mastodon bones along the ... (Osage River) and the Big Bone River ... . ... These rivers proved to be a rich source of fossils for early American palaeontology."

pp. 256b-257a Hopi marble-game of souls of the dead

p. 256b

"unique spherical concretions called ‘moqui marbles’ ... weather out in large numbers at the bases of Jurassic ... cliffs in Utah and Arizona ... . ... According to Hopi tradition, the spirits of dead relatives descend to earth at night and play games with the marbles. When they depart at dawn they leave the marbles as a reassuring sign to the living relatives that they are

p. 257a

happy in the afterlife. The Hopi collect the marbles to honour and welcome the spirits of their ancestors."

pp. 257b-258a Sioux fossil-myths


site of fossils

its lore or myth


"In 1892, a University of Nebraska geologist examined the great quantities of fossils that continually eroded out of a high bluff above the Niobrara River at Agate Springs, western Nebraska. The skeletons were identified as a variety of large Tertiary mammals, including rhinoceros-like brontotheres, entelodonts (giant carnivorous pigs), and chalicotheres (huge grazing animals with claws)."

"For the Lakota Sioux, Agate Springs on the Niobrara River was a traditional place for gathering ... fossil bone for making medicine bundles ... . ... It was a sacred place because of the immense bones of mysterious creatures, believed to have been ... destroyed by the lightning bolts hurled by Thunder Birds. When the earth was young, Sioux mythology visualized a cosmic battle between thunder birds (Wakinyan) and their eternal enemies, the Water Monsters (Unktehi). The bones of these primeval creatures had turned to stone and still littered the badlands".


"A curious geological depression also encircles the Black Hills ... just inside a steep ring of Cretaceous hogback ridges. This racecourse-like depression rimmed with prolific fossil beds ...

was also noticed by the Lakota, who called it the ‘Big Racetrack’ (Zimmerman 2003, p. 103). ... In the ‘first sunrise of time’, ... all the immense and strange creatures, including the Unkche Ghila, or dinosaurs, were summoned for a great race." (LaPointe 1976, pp. 16-9, 51)

Zimmerman 2003 = L. J. Zimmerman : American Indians, the First Nations. Duncan Baird, London.

LaPointe 1976 = J. LaPointe : Legends of the Lakota. Indian Historian Pr, San Francisco.

p. 259 myths of Giant-Marmot, & of Giant-Beaver, both in Canada


name or lore

corresponding fossils


(Boswell 2004) "in the 1970s, ... Gitxsan elders ... told ... about the tracks ... of a giant ‘Whistler’, the tribe’s nickname for the hoary marmot (Marmota caligata)."

"In the summer of 2004, ... Early Cretaceous dinosaur footprints were found in Bowser Basin north of Terrace on the Skeena River."


"several Canadian First Nations traditions describe the ‘Giant Beaver’ as the extinct ancestor of the familiar living beaver, and tell of discoveries of its bones or teeth.

This accurate perception is based on observations of fossilized giant beaver species of the Pleistocene, Castoroides and Palaeocastor".

Boswell 2004 = R. Boswell : "Dinosaur tracks ‘find’ is old news to the Gitksan". VANCOUVER SUN, September 25th.


pp. 279-94 K. J. McNamara : "Shepherds’ crowns, fairy loaves and thunderstones".

pp. 279a, 283b, 287a, 288-90a religious significance of fossil echinoids in Britain & in Scandinavia


fossil echinoid



Among the Lower Palaiolithic Acheulian hand-axes "at Swanscombe in Kent" is one which "bears the exposed lower surface of a specimen of the fossil echinoid Conulus".

{Since this type of fossil beareth "the five characteristic ambulacra that typify echinoids", we may liken it to 5-pointed vajra (thunderbolt) of Vajra-yana.}


Grave in "a circular Bronze Age barrow on the downs above Dunstable in Bedfordshire" : "Accompanying the skeletons were a large number of fossil echinoids, both the heart urchin Micraster and Echinocorys".

{A numeric, perhaps 5^3 = 125, may have been considered.}


"By Anglo-Saxon times people were still occasionally being buried with fossil echinoids."



"In northern Hampshire ... the heart-shaped Micraster is sometimes called a ‘sheep’s heart’ .. . ... In this area only Echinocorys is known as a ‘shepherd’s crown’ ... . ... Fairies also appear ... in Essex, in relation to Echinocorys, as ... ‘fairy head’."

{Loki ate the heart of goddess Angr-boda.} {According to the Popol Vuh, there was a praetended offering of heart of a goddess whose divine husband was a disembodied head.} {cf. the head of Mi`mir}


fossil echinoids as fossilized pixies : "In Dorset ... fossil echinoids were sometimes called ‘colepexies’ heads’. Fossil belemites were called ‘colepexies’ fingers’ (Keightly 1968)."

{Spiny sea urchins resemble spiny barrel-cactus, whereinto descended Itz-papalotl the moth-goddess : in Cornish (FM, p. 298, fn. *), "moths ... are called Pisgies."}


"presence of fossil echinoids in the Romano-British ... Cranborne Chase ..., where some were placed with the dead".

{The Cornish word /PiSGy/ may be cognate with Hellenic /PSuKHe/ ‘moth; soul’ (FM, p. 298, fn. *).}


"in Oxfordshire what we now call fossil echinoids were called thunderstones, as they were thought to have descended from the heavens during a thunderstorm." (according to Adams 1938)

{PESKY gadflies (GM 56.1) pursued the cow Io, who fled over the Crimean and Indian (GM 56.b) Bos-phoroi ‘OX’s FORDs’.}


Viking brooch in Sweden : "Two animals, thought to be goats flank what is generally considered to be a stylized fossil sea urchin ... . ... The two goats are Toothgasher and

{This "fossil sea urchin" (as illustrated on p. 290, Fig. 6) would appear to be a Viking helmet (which could also be designated as a Viking crown) : "lightning flash’d" to indicate the "crown of Thor" (LN, p. 195).}


Gaptooth, who pulled Thor’s chariot across the sky."

Keightly 1968 = T. Keightly : The Fairy Mythology. Haskell House, NY.

FM = Thomas Keightley : The Fairy Mythology. London : George Bell & Sons, 1905.

Adams 1938 = F. D. Adams : The Birth and Development of the Geological Sciences.

GM = Robert Graves : The Greek Myths. 1955.

LN = Mrs. Henry Rolls : Legends of the North. London, MDCCCXXV.


pp. 295-313 Susan Fox-Hudson : "Obsidian : sacred glass from the California sky".

pp. 295b, 297b Yuki theology & shamanism

p. 295b

(Kroeber 1925, pp. 196-7)The Deity Milili "lives in the sky above the visible one, and owns an enormous block of obsidian of which all obsidians in the world are fragments that he has thrown down. He has the shape of an enormous eagle or condor and control deer, mil, to which his name refers."


(Kroeber 1925, p. 197) "The Yuki divide their shamans into ... ‘diagnosing’ and ‘extracting’ physicians. The two classes correspond ... with those who derive their power respectively from the two Great Spirits, the Creator and Milili."

p. 297b

autobiographical description by a Yuki shaman of his original vision-quaest (Kroeber 1925, pp. 197-8) : "The first night of the dance I was sleeping outdoors, between my brother, who has the creator as spirit, and another doctor. Then I, too, dreamt ... I was in the sky, and saw many colors, like a mass of flowers. In the morning I was bleeding from mouth and nose ... . ... When I first saw the creator [On-uhank-namlikiat], he sang a song which I was always to sing. Something like a string stretched from him to my head."

Kroeber 1925 = A. L. Kroeber : Handbook of the Indians of California. SMITHSONIAN INSTITUTION, BUREAU OF AMERICAN ETHNOLOGY, BULL. 78.

pp. 298b-301a, 303a Californian myths about obsidian

Wintu (DuBois & Demetracopoulou 1931, pp. 305-6)

other Californian tribes

p. 298b

"Adder had real obsidian. The others ... did not know about obsidian. ...

p. 302a

[Yurok (Kroeber 1976, pp. 25-6)] Obsidian swam in the guise of a salmon.

p. 299a

Adder always killed most of the deer. ...


p. 299b

They told the fast runners like Humming Bird and Fox to watch Adder and race to the deer before Adder could get there. ... When Adder shot, ... Puimeminbes got there first. He put his


p. 300a

hand in the wound and pulled the obsidian out and ran away. ... When Puimeminbes got to the top of the ridge, Sandhill Crane was there ... . ...

p. 303a

[Yurok (Heizer & Elsasser 1980, pp. 216-7)] "Kingfisher’s boat made of obsidian landed".


Puimeminbes gave Ground Squirrel the pack and told him to run. ... So Squirrel ... went north ... past Mount Shasta. ... That is why Ground Squirrel has a black mark on his back. ...

p. 301a

[Ac^omawi (Dixon 1908, pp. 160-1)] "Ground Squirrel went to Medicine lake, tricked Obsidian-Old-Man, and returned home with Obsidian-Old-Man’s obsidian points".

p. 300b

The rocks at Wakpom are those old-time people."


DuBois & Demetracopoulou 1931 = "Wintu Myths". U OF CALIF PUBL IN AMERICAN ARCHAEOLOGY AND ETHNOLOGY 28:279-403.

Kroeber 1976 = A. L. Kroeber : Yurok Myths. U of CA Pr.

Heizer & Elsasser 1980 = R. F. Heizer & A. Elsasser : The Natural World of the California Indians. U of CA Pr.

Dixon 1908 = R. B. Dixon : "Achomawi and Atsugewi Tales". J OF AMER FOLK-LORE 21:159-63.


GEOLOGICAL SOCIETY SPECIAL PUBLICATION No. 273 = L. Piccardi & W. B. Masse (edd.) : Myth and Geology. London, 2007.