Horned Hare

Legendary Rabbit of West Asia, Europe, and the United States.

Scientific name: Lepus cornutus.

horned hare 237

Variant names: Jackalope (in the United States, "jackrabbit" + "antelope"), Raurackl (Old German), Wolpertinger (in Bavaria).

Physical description: Rabbit with antlers or horns.

Distribution: Western and midwestern United States; southern Germany; West Asia.

Significant sightings: The horned Raurackl was generally known to Bavarian hunters of the sixteenth century and appeared in a contemporary print by Joris Hoefnagel.

German naturalist Peter Simon Pallas allegedly shot a Horned hare in Azerbaijan in the late eighteenth century.

Douglas, Wyoming, claims the dubious distinction of the first Jackalope taxidermist hoax, involving a model created in 1934 by Douglas Herrick.

Present status: Often the subject of obviously faked photographs and postcards, the Horned hare has a venerable history going back to third-century Persia. It was considered rare but real in the eighteenth century. Possible explanations:

(1) Photographic hoaxes or taxidermist hoaxes in which deer antlers are attached to the head of a stuffed rabbit.

(2) Cranial tumors in the shape of horns or antlers, which is a disease of Cottontails (Sylvilagus spp.) and other rabbits. Called papillomatosis, the condition is caused by the Shope papillomavirus and is probably transmitted by the Rabbit tick (Haemaphysalis leporis-palustris) or mosquitos. The tumors are irregular in shape and can appear on the face, neck, and rump, as well as the top of the head. Sources: Gaspar Schott, Physica curiosa

(Wurzburg, Germany: Johannis Andreae Endteri, 1667), frontispiece and p. 900; Walker D. Wyman, Wisconsin Folklore (River Falls: University of Wisconsin—Extension, Department of Arts Development, 1979), pp. 13-18; J. W. Kreider and G. L. Bartlett, "The Shope Papilloma-Carcinoma Complex of Rabbits," Advances in Cancer Research 35 (1981): 81-110; Daniel S. Simberloff, "A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Taxidermist: An Evolutionary Ecologist

Ponders the Origins of America's 'Jackalope,'" Natural History 96 (August 1987): 50-54; Fritz Koreny, Albrecht Durer and the Animal and Plant Studies of the Renaissance (Boston: Little, Brown, 1988), p. 138; "Folklore and Cryptozoology Subject of Joint Conference," ISC Newsletter 9, no. 3 (Autumn 1990): 4.

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