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The Teeth of the Moon Wolf

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July 20, 1969 marks the landing of “the Eagle” on the moon – and despite the crew didn´t encounter any moon-monsters, there is in fact some Silly Science between the moon and fossil beasts.

According to an ancient Norse myth Mánagarmr, or Hati (translated into “the enemy“), was a terrifying wolf, born from the unholy union of the giantess Angrboda with the demonic Fenris. Like his father, Mánagarmr hates all living things and feasting on the flesh of the death, every night tries to swallow the moon – to bring eternal darkness and winter above the human world. But until this day he never succeeded to swallow the entire moon, but only pieces – losing at every bite some teeth, falling from the sky the teeth can be found on the ground of earth.

Austrian paleontologist Othenio Abel (1875 – 1946) retold this story in his collection of myths dealing with fossils and adds this image, arguing that the supposed teeth of the moon wolf are in fact fossil shark teeth.

Fig.1. “In earlier times the many sculptures on the columns in Romanesque churches of Germany have been considered nothing more than products of imagination. Today we know that these sculptures possess a deeper meaning and express mythological ideas of our ancestors. This column (according to E. Jung, 1922) in the church of Berchtesgaden depicts the moon wolf Mánagarmr. The triangular shape of the teeth of this abomination is strikingly reminiscent of the triangular shape of Carcharodon – teeth, to nothing other animal, known by our ancestors, can it be compared.” (from ABEL 1939, 208, image in public domain).


ABEL O. (1939): Vorzeitliche Tierreste im Deutschen Mythus, Brauchtum und Volksglauben. Gustav Fischer Verlag, Jena: 304
ABEL, O. (1923): Die vorweltlichen Tiere in Märchen, Sage und Aberglauben. Braun Verlag, Karlsruhe: 66

David Bressan About the Author: Freelance geologist dealing with quaternary outcrops interested in the history and the development of geological concepts through time. Follow on Twitter @David_Bressan.

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.

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  1. 1. bucketofsquid 4:22 pm 07/29/2013

    I always figured they represented the devil since they were on churches and were eating people. Triangular teeth are the easiest to draw.

    Link to this

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