By Russell Miller
In the skull of a saltwater catfish called a sail-cat, there is a bone that, when dried, resembles a crucifix. On one side can be seen a figure on a cross, capped by a “crown of thorns” made of short ribs. On the reverse side, a slab of bone resembles a majestic robe being held up by a figure with arms raised. This fish, common to the waters off the coast of Florida has been dubbed the “Crucifix Fish.” This unique bone itself comes from the roof of the animal’s mouth.
ODDLY ENOUGH … When the dried object is shaken, it rattles. The noise is caused by the otoliths, or tiny “ear stones” contained in two bony bladders which aid in swimming balance and locomotion. The rattling is likened to the dice cast by the Roman soldiers as they gambled for the seamless robe of Christ at the crucifixion, as the story goes.
The Coturnix or Pharaoh Quail, indigenous to Egypt and North Africa, is the only quail that truly migrates. When it migrates, it moves in huge numbers, and generally walks. They seldom perch in trees. The speckled eggs hatch in a remarkably short 17 days with chicks fully capable of foraging for themselves. When alarmed, the quail often from-up in circles and fluff out their feathers which resemble quills in appearance, like a hedgehog. The Japanese eat more of these quail eggs than they do chicken eggs because they lay so prolifically in captivity and take up such little space.
ODDLY ENOUGH … These birds are most likely the same quail referred to in the book of Exodus in the Bible. To this day they are hunted with sticks because when traveling in such large numbers they fly only a few feet off the ground.
Russell Miller is an illustrator, cartoonist, writer, bagpiper, motorcycle enthusiast, and reference librarian. Currently, he illustrates books for Cody Lundin and Bart King.