When did the last wild crocodiles in Russia die?
About Russia - the homeland of elephants is not even funny. But what about the crocodile's homeland is not so simple. Quite reliable written sources suggest that almost until the end of the XIX century, crocodiles were found in the west of our country. Not to say that everywhere, but still, as they say, have been noticed.
We read the famous notes of the Englishman Jerome Gorsey, dating from the end of the XVI century. In 1589, he once again goes to Russia. It should be borne in mind that 100% of foreigners visiting Russia, and Russia later, were not only merchants or ambassadors on documents, but also foreign agents. Spies, to put it simply. Either the papal throne, or any European monarch. And their notes are peculiar reports to the center. So this is what Gorsey writes. (I quote from: Jerome Horsey. Notes on Russia. XVI - the beginning of the XVII century. M .: Moscow State University Press, 1990.)
There are still a lot of idolaters who feed at home like penates, some snakes with four short legs like lizards with a black and fat body ... Reptiles were tearing spears
“I left Warsaw in the evening, moved across the river, where a poisonous dead crocodile lay on the shore, a crocodileserpent, to which my people broke their belly with spears. At the same time, such a stench spread that I was poisoned by him and the patient lay in a nearby village, where he met such sympathy and Christian help for me, a foreigner, that he miraculously recovered. ”
That is, in the area of modern Belarus, in western Russia, this experienced agent, a high-ranking employee of an English trading company, who has traveled to Russia more than once and knew the area well, discovers an unknown animal.
Next, take the notes of an even more authoritative person in historical science, also a professional spy, Sigismund von Herberstein, an Austrian and papal envoy. He was in Russia twice. Before Gorseya. In 1517 and 1526, respectively. His analytical review of the “Notes on Moscovite Affairs” is considered by many scholars to be quite reliable. This is what he writes there, again about the region of western Russia. (I quote from: Herbershtein Sigismund. "Notes on Moscovite Affairs." SPb, 1908 .:
“This area is replete with groves and forests in which terrible phenomena can be observed.There are still a lot of idolaters who feed at home like penates, some snakes with four short legs like lizards with a black and fat body, no more than three spans long and called Givuoites. In the days that were laid, people cleanse their home and with some fear with the whole family worship them reverently, crawling out to the food supplied. Misfortunes are attributed to the fact that the serpent deity was poorly fed. ”
Three spans is about 60–70 centimeters. The “penates” mentioned by Herberstein are the deities, the patrons of the hearth of the ancient Romans, it was clear to every educated person brought up in Greek-Roman mythology.
What do we have after reading these reports of two foreign agents about traveling to Russia? In the 16th century, strange creatures similar to modern crocodiles or huge monitor lizards lived in the west of the country. Fantasy? Hardly.
“There are a lot of people”
And what did we write in those years about these unknown animals?
If you open the “Complete Collection of Russian Chronicles”, there in the Pskov Chronicles section under 1582 you can find an amazing entry: “In the summer of 7090 (1582), you can find animals from the river and lock the path, you will have a lot of people,and terrified the people and the prayer of God throughout the whole earth; and paki hiding, and others izbisha. In the same year, prince Ivan Ivanovich, in Sloboda, cease to exist, on November 14th. ”
That is, again, western Russia, again unknown "korkodily", only they are no longer tame, "domestic deities", but the evil predators who attacked people!
The authoritative Russian scientist, academician of the USSR Academy of Sciences, and later the Russian Academy of Sciences, historian Boris Rybakov was firmly convinced that crocodiles existed in antiquity on the territory of Russia. He gives another chronicle example. Also from the same places.
In the Mazurinsky chronicler there is an amazing story of the transformation of Volkha (Volkhva, Volkhov), the son of Prince Sloven, the founder of the city of Slovenia, now Veliky Novgorod. Thus, the prince calls one river flowing into Lake Ilmen, after his wife Sheloni, and the other flowing from the lake and later flowing back, Volkhov, in honor of his son. Which becomes a werewolf.
“The greatest son of Prince Sloven Volokhov is a pleasing and enchanted lyute in people then, and creating devilish dreams and dreams and transforming into the image of the lycodile beast of the cormoderer,the new spewing the flood; Therefore, for the sake of the people, then it is not a word, by the existing god of the damned Naritsah and his Thunder, or Perun, dialect. "
After the death of Magus, he “with much weeping from neveglas that was buried byst the damned with a great nagging threesome, and the grave was dumped over him velmy high, supposedly is filthy. And on three days of the damned trick of the treasure, the earth and the fire of the vile body of korkodelovo were sown, and his grave woke over him in the bottom of hell, and even now, as they say, the sign of the pit is not full. ”
Again "Korkodel"! And on the Volkhov River. The same area. It is clear that this is a colorful legend and metaphor. But ... the concept itself ... You read this staggering information, you start thinking, or maybe the then Russian people confused something ?! Where, in general, is the incomprehensible word “korkodil”, crocodile ?! What did they mean by it?
Are we dealing with revived fossils?
The Russian people knew very well what they were talking about. It should be understood that quite a significant number of Russian pilgrims visited the holy sites of Israel, Egypt and Syria, and certainly saw real crocodiles. And calling the predatory beasts that appeared near Pskov as “korkodilas”, the ancestors were well aware of what they were talking about.
As the largest researcher of Slavic paganism, academician B.A.Rybakov in his book “The Paganism of Ancient Russia”, as far back as the 4th – 10th centuries, the Novgorod Slavs worshiped the mysterious lizard god in the form of “carcodile”.
“Echoes of the archaic cult of the lizard were preserved in Novgorod, where the sanctuary of Perun, created by Dobrynya in 983, was preceded by the sanctuary of some kind of“ korkodil ”.
The image of the lizard is repeatedly found among the monuments of culture and archeology of the Novgorod and Pskov lands. Full of images of this beast on various household items of the time - metal plates, bowls, weapons. Academician Rybakov believes that the existence of the “Russian crocodile” is beyond doubt, since they left their traces in the toponyms of many rivers and lakes in North-West Russia. The river Lizard, Lake Yashchino, settlements Lizard, Small Lizard, and not far from Klin was even the Savior Crocodile Monastery! Now this village of Savior Crocodilino.
Gradually approaching our time. Here is a completely official document, however, already from central Russia. It is contained in the archives of the city of Arzamas: “On the summer of 1719 June, 4 days in the county there was a great storm, and a whirlwind, and hail, and many cattle and all living creatures died. And the serpent fell from heaven, scorched by God's wrath, and the stinking disgusting.And remembering the Decree of God by the grace of our Russian All-Russian Peter Alekseevich from the summer of 1718 Kunshtkamer and collecting for her curiosities different, monsters and freaks of all kinds, stones of heaven and other wonders, the serpent was thrown into a barrel with strong double wine ... "
The paper was signed by Zemsky Commissioner Vasily Shtykov. According to the description, a fetid monster that fell from the sky had short legs and a huge mouth full of sharp teeth. That is, according to the description, the typical Giviot, seen 200 years earlier by Herberstein, also stinks as dirty as the “corcodile” described by Gorsei!
Now look at this problem through the eyes of modern science. According to the description, current experts do not refer the animal to crocodiles, but rather to ichthyostegs. Ichthyostega is a genus of early tetrapods that lived about 367–362.5 million years ago and was the first intermediate link between fish and amphibians. Ichthyostegs can be considered as transitional forms between brush-like fishes and terrestrial vertebrates. The ichthyosteg had legs, but their limbs may not have been used for walking. Ichthyostegs had a caudal fin and some sense organs that functioned only in water.Their body was covered with small scales.
Indeed, ichthyostegs are very similar to crocodiles. But they became extinct many millions of years ago. So did some individuals even live some 150–300 years ago and terrify our ancestors? Is complete. Recall that another cruciferous creature, which was considered extinct many millions of years ago, the coelacanth, was caught for the first time only in 1938 in the Chalumna River at the confluence of the Indian Ocean. It was a sensation, because it was considered impossible to meet a living peer of a dinosaur, and known only for its fossilized remains.
Surprisingly, the latest information about the "northern crocodiles" dates back to very recent times. In the second half of the XIX century, when inventorying the utensils of one of the churches in Belarus, the following form was found: “As we opened the church cellar, we saw the shkilet, the ancients very much, because there were no longer yellows, but white-white ones. One shkilet as if men, only to huge growth, the other - some bestial, like a crocodile. They lay side by side, and between them a lot of kraleys scattered. "
Minsk local historians believe that the last animal was caught in the area of the Tatar swamps - here is a swamp again, in 1885! And his effigy for a long time adorned the zoological study of the Minsk real school.And it disappeared only in the confusion of the Civil War of the early twentieth century. Now in the area of the Tatar marshes, this is the center of the city, stands the Palace of Sports. And according to the description, these are the same "Givoits". Black, up to a meter and very ferocious.
Could these animals survive now? Most researchers of this issue, cryptozoologists, answer in the affirmative.