Postcards from the Past: Mosquitos as Big as Bats
There are many stories of mosquitoes in Wyoming, but one of my favorites is a tall tale published in the 1890s entitled “The Rocky Mountain Vampire.”
There has been picked up in the Saratoga Valley, and is now preserved in the Museum of Natural Saratoga Curiosities, a skull, which in its zoological structure and classification points to the local existence – at no comparatively remote period – of a species of gigantic, blood-sucking bats.
The skull is about five inches in length by three inches in breath, has eye sockets of little more than rudimentary character – the nasal cavities, on the other hand, being of abnormal development, thus giving great blood-scenting strength, has a muzzle, or month, indicating enormous suction power with deep teeth sockets – and, singularly enough, is furnished forth with a pair of mature horns, three inches long.
In the golden aboriginal days of long ago, when the Ute Indians possessed the Saratoga Valley as their happiest and most cherished hunting grounds, their traditions tell of a slaughter from year to year of young deer and elk, as mysterious as it was deadly.
All over the country, elk calf and the deer fawn were found dead or dying, the sufficiently apparent cause of death being the draining – from some cause which baffled conjecture – of the blood from their bodies.
With the discovery of the singular skull above noted, comes also, undoubtedly, the solution of the traditional and mysterious slaying of the young elk and deer of the Saratoga section.
This Rocky Mountain Vampire was in the field and had battened and fattened upon the blood of his tender and innocent victims until his kind attained the enormous size indicated by the lately discovered skull – the horns something new in ‘batology,’ being probably an ‘off-shoot’ – legitimate enough, of continuous digestive assimilation of the blood of horned animals.
With the disappearance from the Saratoga country of the big herds of elk and deer, a disappearance inevitable to the advance of settlement and civilization, the Rocky Mountain Vampire, bereft of his natural and noisome sustenance, unable longer to feed alike his blood-sucking propensities and necessities, languished, famished and became extinct.
What Caldwell didn’t know at the time, was what he thought was a “bat” would be reincarnated and come back as the present day “mosquito.”