The Squonk is a mythical creature reputed to live in the Hemlock forests of northern Pennsylvania in the United States. Legends of squonks probably originated in the late nineteenth century, at the height of Pennsylvania’s importance in the potential timber industry.
The legend holds that the creature’s skin is ill-fitting, being covered with warts and other blemishes and that because it is ashamed of its appearance, it hides from plain sight and spends much of its time weeping. Hunters who have attempted to catch squonks have found that the creature is capable of evading capture by dissolving completely into a pool of tears and bubbles when cornered. A certain J.P. Wentling is supposed to have coaxed one into a bag, which, while he was carrying it home suddenly lightened. On inspection, he found that the bag contained only the liquid remains of the sad animal.
The earliest known written account of squonks comes from a book by William T. Cox called Fearsome Creatures of the Lumberwoods, With a Few Desert and Mountain Beasts (1910). Cox’s account is reprinted in Jorge Luis Borges’ Book of Imaginary Beings (1969).
The “scientific name” of the squonk, Lacrimacorpus dissolvens, comes from Latin words meaning “tear”, “body”, and “dissolve”.