The Rhinogradentia (also called Rhinogrades, Snouters, Nasopods, or Nasobames) are a fictitious mammal order documented by the equally fictitious German naturalist Harald Stümpke. The order's most remarkable characteristic was the nasorium, an organ derived from the ancestral species' nose, which had variously evolved to fulfill every conceivable function.
Both the animals and the scientist were ostensibly creations of Gerolf Steiner, a zoology professor at the University of Karlsruhe, who drew his inspiration from a poem by Christian Morgenstern. A mock taxidermy of a snouter can be seen at the Musée zoologique de la ville de Strasbourg.
According to the book, the order's remarkable variety was the natural outcome of evolution acting over millions of years in the remote Hi-yi-yi islands in the Pacific Ocean. All the 14 families and 189 known Snouter species descended from a small shrew-like animal, which gradually evolved and diversified to fill most of the ecological niches in the archipelago — from tiny worm-like beings to large herbivores and predators.
Many Rhinogrades used their nose for locomotion, for example the shrew-like Hopsorrhinus aureus, whose nasorium was used for jumping, and Otopteryx, which flew backwards by flapping its ears and used its nose as a rudder. Other species included the fierce Tyrannonasus imperator and the shaggy Mammontops.
According to Stümpke's account, the snouters were discovered on the main island of Hiddudify in 1941 by the Swedish explorer Einar Pettersson-Skämtkvist when he landed on the island trying to escape spies in WW2. Unfortunately, as a consequence of atomic bomb testing, the islands suddenly sank into the ocean in the late 1950s. Thus perished all traces of the snouters, their unique ecosystem, and all the world's specialists on that intriguing subject—who happened to be holding their congress there at the time.
Although the first widely available report on these creatures was Stümpke's book (1957), an early reference to them is found in Christian Morgenstern's poem Das Nasobem ("The Nasobame", 1905). The Great Morgenstern's Nasobame (Nasobema lyricum), a dog-size animal that walked on four snouts, was named in the poet's honor.
Stümpke describes the following genera of Rhinogrades:
I.M. Kashkina (2004) and her colleague V.V. Bukashkina (2004) describe two additional marine genera: Dendronasus and an as yet unnamed parasitic taxon.
- Harald Stümpke [=Gerolf Steiner] (1981), Bau und Leben der Rhinogradentia. With preface and illustrations by Gerolf Steiner. Gustav-Fischer-Verlag, Stuttgart,. ISBN 3-437-30083-0.
- Harald Stümpke [=Gerolf Steiner] (1967), The Snouters: Form and Life of the Rhinogrades. Translated by Leigh Chadwick. The University of Chicago Press.
- Christian Morgenstern (1905): Galgenlieder.
- From Bavarian dialect Hei der Deifi!, "what the Devil!"
- Harald Stümpke [= Gerolf Steiner] (1962): Anatomie et Biologie des Rhinogrades — Un Nouvel Ordre de Mammifères. Masson, France.
- Karl D.S. Geeste [= Gerolf Steiner] (1988): Stümpke's Rhinogradentia: Versuch einer Analyse. Gustav Fischer Verlag, Stuttgart, Germany. ISBN 3-437-30597-2.
- Hararuto Shutyunpuke [= Gerolf Steiner] (1997): Bikōri: atarashiku-hakken-sareta-honyūrui-no-kōzō-to-seikatsu. Hakuhinsha, Tokyo. ISBN 4-938706-19-9.
- Massimo Pandolfi ed. (1992): I Rinogradi di Harald Stümpke e la zoologia fantastica. Muzzio.
- Les rhinogrades, un canular qui sent la vraie question scientifique à plein nez, article in Le Monde (11/08/2000).
- Webster, Bud, (2003): "The Snouters," Fantasy and Science Fiction, June 2003.
- Kashkina, M.I. [= Ivanova, O.M.] (2004): "Dendronasus sp. A new member of the order nose-walkers (Rhinogradentia)." Russian Journal of Marine Biology, 30(2):148-149.
- Bukashkina, V.V. [? Isaeva, V.V.] (2004): "New parasitic species of colonial Rhinogradentia." Russian Journal of Marine Biology, 30(2):150.
- Isaeva, V.V. (2004): "Olga Mikhailovna Ivanova is 90!" Russian Journal of Marine Biology, 30(2):147.
Fictitious books and articles
- E. Petterson-Skämtkvist (1946): Aventyrer pa Haiaiai-öerna. Nyströms Förlag och Bokhandel, Lilleby.
- J. Bromeante De Burlas Y Tonterias (1948): "A systematica dos Rhinogradentes". Bull. Darwin Inst. Hi. volume 2, page 45.