Celebrating the Brief, Wondrous Life of Cartozoology

The weird sport of hunting for animals in maps

Cartozoology, the discipline dedicated to the discovery and study of animals outlined paradigmatically by street layouts as they appear on maps, took almost three decades to mature from idea to reality. It was conceived in 1974 on a plane between Oslo and Reykjavik; but the Norwegian Cartozoological Society was founded only in 2003. It seems to have produced only a handful of specimens and now appears to be dormant.


But what beauty, grace and humour those few specimens exhibit!

Patient zero of cartozoology was the Ur-Fish, a sea-dweller whose rudimentary shape was summarily extracted from Oslo’s grid of city streets. Later examples show more elegance and sophistication. A personal favourite is the West Side Riesenterrier (Canis diplomaticus), discovered between Oslo’s Slotsparken and Frognerparken in January 2003 by Roger Pihl, Secretary-General of the NCS.

Another nice one is the Ring-Nosed Dala Horse (Equus vallis circumnasata), discovered in March of 2003 by Eilert Sundt, another NCS Secretary-General.

Members of the public are invited to submit found animals, and some have indeed discovered amazing specimens:

This Tiergarten Kulturhund was spotted by Kari-Anne Stenberg and Inge Haugane on a trip to Berlin:

Odd Helge Løyning discovered an elephant in Olso:

Or what about this wonderful Venetian Elk, discovered on a map of the floating city by Marianne Sandbu:

The most recent cartozoological discovery listed on the website dates from June 2011 - the Poodle of the Fyn Alps (there aren't any mountains on the Danish island of Fyn; the highest point is the Lerbjerg, 126 meter above sea level).

 

Maybe it’s time to wake the NCS from its slumber, and expand the scope of cartozoology beyond its main hunting grounds in Scandinavia. Here is the original NGS website in Norwegian (English version here). Strange Maps also welcomes new examples of cartozoology, and will showcase the best examples if and when enough fitting specimens are sent in.

Cartozoology was brought to our attention by musubana, a reader reacting to the entry on the Afro-Latinosaurus Rex (#420).

Strange Maps #422

Got a strange map? Let me know at strangemaps@gmail.com.

 

Related Articles

Scientists discover what caused the worst mass extinction ever

How a cataclysm worse than what killed the dinosaurs destroyed 90 percent of all life on Earth.

Credit: Ron Miller
Surprising Science

While the demise of the dinosaurs gets more attention as far as mass extinctions go, an even more disastrous event called "the Great Dying” or the “End-Permian Extinction” happened on Earth prior to that. Now scientists discovered how this cataclysm, which took place about 250 million years ago, managed to kill off more than 90 percent of all life on the planet.

Keep reading Show less

Why we're so self-critical of ourselves after meeting someone new

A new study discovers the “liking gap” — the difference between how we view others we’re meeting for the first time, and the way we think they’re seeing us.

New acquaintances probably like you more than you think. (Photo by Simone Joyner/Getty Images)
Surprising Science

We tend to be defensive socially. When we meet new people, we’re often concerned with how we’re coming off. Our anxiety causes us to be so concerned with the impression we’re creating that we fail to notice that the same is true of the other person as well. A new study led by Erica J. Boothby, published on September 5 in Psychological Science, reveals how people tend to like us more in first encounters than we’d ever suspect.

Keep reading Show less

NASA launches ICESat-2 into orbit to track ice changes in Antarctica and Greenland

Using advanced laser technology, scientists at NASA will track global changes in ice with greater accuracy.

Firing three pairs of laser beams 10,000 times per second, the ICESat-2 satellite will measure how long it takes for faint reflections to bounce back from ground and sea ice, allowing scientists to measure the thickness, elevation and extent of global ice
popular

Leaving from Vandenberg Air Force base in California this coming Saturday, at 8:46 a.m. ET, the Ice, Cloud, and Land Elevation Satellite-2 — or, the "ICESat-2" — is perched atop a United Launch Alliance Delta II rocket, and when it assumes its orbit, it will study ice layers at Earth's poles, using its only payload, the Advance Topographic Laser Altimeter System (ATLAS).

Keep reading Show less