An Unusual Creature of the Leicestershire
The Gopsallius-Smilious, or
"Shackiesaurus" as it is more commonly know is a shy retiring creature. It is
not often seen during the year save for one weekend in September when it "struts it
stuff" as the locals would have you believe. When confronted with the
"Shackiesaurus" it is quite easy to distinguish it from other similar harmful
animals. Its broad smile, gently waving tail, small pink and large green spots (three on
each flank) are all typical characteristics of this curious animal. One should not be
insulted by its constant burping, this is purely a result of its diet and is in no way
meant to be offensive.
Its menu is strictly vegetarian, so no harm can come to the unsuspecting traveller who stumbles upon the beast by accident. During the autumnal season it feasts almost exclusively on the
"Shackerstone Red" a highbred of apple that is ruby red throughout and is unique to the village. In fact its voracious appetite for this fruit is such that very few of the village folk of Shackerstone ever get to see one of the
apples, never mind indulge in the taste of them.
In 1790 Shackisaurus got the taste for the Dumelows Crab, an apple propagated by Richard Dummeller (pronounced
Dumelor), a Shackerstone farmer, which became widely grown in the local area and is still to be found growing there today. The consequences of the vast amount of fruit that the
"Shackiesaurus" devours are such that the creatures’ natural pigment is effected to such an extent that it turns red itself.
The apples are always washed down with
the fabled pure waters of the River Sence and the "Shackiesaurus" can, on
occasion, be found dipping its toes on a hot afternoon. It shuns the duck infested Ashby
Canal because of the large amount of noisy traffic that it carries during the summer
This brings us to one of the
creatures more unusual aspects. It is said to be able to blend into its surrounds in much
the same way as a chameleon. No doubt this is why the "Shackiesaurus" is rarely
seen. Thoughts that it is in some way related to the Loch Ness Monster because of its lack
of prominence are purely speculation.
There are reported sights of the creature throughout
history. Indeed one of the most notorious involved a pitch-fork wielding mob of villagers
who in 1485 mistook a cow and its off spring, a large red coated bull calf, from a
neighbouring hamlet for the "Shackiesaurus". After chasing away its parent it
was cornered near the old castle mound. It is said there was a summary court convened in
the village, and the animal sentenced to hanging at dawn. The following day, after a great
deal of searching for a strong enough rope, the unfortunate bull calf was hung on the tree
where the public house now stands. It is alleged that this is how the "Rising
Sun" gained it name.
Recent sighting have included St. Peters Churchyard, Mr
Baileys sheep field (no livestock were harmed) and unusually on the platform at
Shackerstone Station in broad daylight. Local intrigue suggests that the best chance to
sight this shy and retiring creature this year will be on the first weekend of September.
If you go prepared with a apple you may just be lucky and spot that broad smile peering out
at you from behind a bush.
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