Norwegian Walrus

This is another of the curious creatures included in Olaus Magnus’ Historia de Gentibus Septentrionalibus (History of the Northern Peoples), from 1555. In it, he depicted six different versions of the walrus. This one he called Rosmarus seu Morsus Norvegicus.

Magnus’ Norwegian walrus appears to be something of an amphibian or reptile. He is shown climbing out of the water up onto land. He has four legs with clawed feet. His tail looks quite thick and strong, yet oddly ends as if the tip has been broken off. He has a longish snout with two boar-like tusks descending downward out of his mouth. Down along his back are a series of thorny protrusions much like the scales of a dragon or the barbs of a porcupine.

Other than the name and the description drawn from the illustration itself, which appeared in the History of North American Pinnipeds; I’ve not found an English translation for how Magnus described this sea monster. His work was about Scandinavian and Swedish folklore. One could assume from the name of this beast that this creature was part of his coverage of Norway.

Norwegian walrus

This illustration was scanned from History of North American pinnipeds : a monograph of the walruses, sea-lions, sea-bears and seals of North America which was published in 1880 and written by Allen, J. A. (Joel Asaph), 1838-1921. However, the original design dates back to 1555.

This image is copyright free and in the public domain anywhere that extends copyrights 70 years after death or at least 120 years after publication when the original illustrator is unknown.