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The Cockatrice

Throughout the ages few animals have been as misunderstood and mystified as the Cockatrice. It was believed that a Cockatrice was the result of an egg laid by a cock and incubated by a snake, resulting in a terrifying monster capable of killing a man with only its gaze. The truth is that the Cockatrice is actually a snake, but not just any snake. It is the only snake known to be a brood parasite which most likely is the reason behind most of its myths. The Cockatrice lay up to 2 eggs on the nest of an unsuspecting hen leaving them to be incubate by her. Cockatrice's eggs are fairly similar to a chicken egg though a little bit rounder. Differently from most snakes, these eggs have a hard shell instead of the usual soft shell, which scientists believe is a evolution to better fool the surrogate mother to incubate them. These hard shell eggs are difficult to break through for a normal snake hatchling, but the Cockatrice have an elegant solution to this problem. A series of modified scales on the tip of its head fuse and form a beak like protrusion that the baby Cockatrice use to break out of its egg and to break in the shell of its adopted siblings feeding on them before they even hatch. With the domestication of chickens and the constant spreading of civilization the interaction between Cockatrices and humans risen and these peculiar and deadly snakes were consider a pest and almost hunt to extinction, existing now in only small pockets of wilderness and a few sanctuaries dedicated to its preservation. Their low numbers and peculiar breeding method unfortunately paint a bleak perspective for the future of this amazing snake and, maybe someday, they will actually only exist in myths and legends.