Our dark side is ever present as Halloween approaches. Many myths and beliefs have a sordid past and have been around for decades. Here are a few that many still believe to be true!
A Black Bear’s gall bladder has aphrodisiac properties. Unfortunately many still believe this to be true and in the summer of 2018, a trafficking ring was stopped right here in Quebec that was responsible for poaching and sending various bear parts to the Asian black market.
Toads can give us warts. This one is also false. Toads are covered in venom glands which secrete toxins that keep predators at bay. This of course has no harmful effect on humans.
Did you know that some salamanders can voluntarily lose their tail to escape predation? This one is true! The ability to lose and regenerate a limb is known as autotomy and is present in lizards as well.
Crows and ravens have quite the macabre past. Many think that these large black birds bring bad luck or may even harm humans. These beliefs started way back during a time when wars were fought in trenches. Many soldiers would lose their lives and lie waiting for days in their ditch, till recovered for proper burial. Unfortunately, the opportunistic crows and ravens would often make a quick meal of the cadavers, much to other soldier’s dismay. To this day, many believe corvids to bring misfortune.
Eagles are dangerous for young children and small pets. This story resurfaced recently with the dawning of a new video showing a Golden Eagle attempting to take off with a toddler on Mount Royal. It is important to note that eagles rarely, if ever, approach humans as they see us as threatening predators. Quebec eagles weigh on average between 4-5kg and can only carry about a third of their own weight, making this myth highly unrealistic.
The Banded Woolybear caterpillar, commonly spotted larvae to an indigenous moth, is thought to indicate the severity of the upcoming winter. Legend would have it that a higher ratio of black to brown on this fuzzy caterpillar would indicate a colder, longer, snowier winter. The jury’s still out on this one…