Sunday, 6 September 2009
Rhinogradentia IV: final
Gerolf Steiner, the creator of the Rhinogradentia, died on August 14, at the age of 101. I found out by accident, as I wondered whether there was any news about him. Just a mention of his death, without any obituaries. Perhaps these will follow later, opr perhaps they are not on the internet. If none of this means anything perhaps you should replace 'Rhinogradentia' with 'snouters' and 'Gerolf Steiner' with 'Harald Stümpke'. I wrote about him and his creatures three times: first, second and third blog entries. Gerolf Steiner was one of the first, probably the very first, to publish a book on made-up animals that was well-based in biology. That is in act debatable, as I do not think anyone would really believe it likely that mammals with fully-functional legs would ever start walking on their noses. But his work on the Rhinogradentia is clear not meant to be taken that seriously, and doing so would ruin it - an attitude Steiner himself probably smiled at, given the way he portrays similar overly 'correct' attitudes in his book ''Stümpe's Rhinogradentia - Versuch einer Analyse'. That book, purportedly written by one Karl D.S. Geeste, but in reality by Steiner himself, contains ssome interesting insights in his life and times. In this last blog entry on the Rhinogradentia I decided not to show one of the Rhinogradentia, as they can, I think, all be found on the internet somewhere (the book is however still available and I recommend it). Instead, there are some comments on what we could not call 'speculative evolution', or 'speculative biology', or whatever name you prefer. First, Steiner writes that the habit of designing animals for fun is a much more common childish trait ('Kinderei') as is commonly admitted. He himself started doing so at a very early age. He writes that his first creatures were biologically implausible, and he provides an example of his work done in 1922, when he was about 14. "Later believable forms were produced; resembling fantasy animals in part, these have been published recently -a long time after the first publication of the Rhinogradentia- in England in 1981 (D.Dixon, After Man), creatures evolved from real lifeforms according to the rules of evolution." That is interesting: the writer of the first well-known book on speculative biology knew of the second such work. A pity he does not write more about it: did he see resemblances with his own work? We will probably never know.