Excerpt from the book Animals Evolution Avoided. This book describes 40 animals that ought to exist but don’t, because I made them up.

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The More-Spotted Sooty Owl lives in South Wales and is pitch black with a prevalence of white spots covering the feathers. The winter plumage contains more spots than the summer plumage. The owl is chiefly found in the western part of the Brecon Beacons National Park in the area from Crai towards Myddfai and Llandeilo. This area comprises farmland with woods, ideal for the owl and its unusual hunting methods.

The owl hunts on foot at night in the woods. The plumage provides camouflage because as moonlight bathes the woods, shadows are cast on the ground, and the owl’s feathers look like dappled moonlight against the darkness. The owl will often stand completely still and watch the mice and rats without being seen by them.

The owl uses its claws to walk up the trunks of trees, so as not to cause any noise by flapping its wings. This cunning creature will also keep its presence unknown by walking up the trunk on the side of the tree furthest away from potential prey, thus maintaining the element of surprise. It will then edge around the trunk and fall on the prey from a height of ten feet or so.

Once the sun begins to rise, the owl will return to its nest high in the trees and sleep. Before sleeping, the More-Spotted Sooty Owl will fly around its habitat for 30 minutes. Ornithologists originally thought the owl did this to find new hunting areas, but it now seems the owl is simply exercising its wings. The 30-minute flight keeps the wings healthy and the muscles toned. If the owl didn’t fly, the muscles would atrophy and the bird would not be able to fly properly within two years.