In Western Pennsylvania, in the wilds of hemlock forests, there supposedly lurks a creature so ugly that it does not want to be seen by anyone. Its Latin name, Lacrimacorpus dissolvens, roughly translates to “dissolving tear-body” in reference to the fact that not only does it constantly cry, but if it is spotted out and about, it will instantly dissolve into a puddle and be gone.
Sound amazing? That’s because it is. The ugly squint is a cryptid out of legends that go back in Pennsylvania logging history for more than a hundred years.
In 1910, forester and conservationist William T. Cox published a fantastical bestiary and compendium of legendary creatures of North America called Fearsome Creatures of the Lumberwoods, With a Few Desert and Mountain Beasts. The book was written in the style of a true naturalist field guide (of which Cox also wrote several) and has long been a staple ext for American folklorists. In this book, which is the first known written example of the squonk, the animal is described thusly:
“The squonk is of a very retiring disposition, generally traveling about at twilight and dusk. Because of its misfitting skin, which is covered with warts and moles, it is always unhappy...Hunters who are good at tracking are able to follow a squonk by its tear-stained trail, for the animal weeps constantly. When cornered and escape seems impossible, or when surprised and frightened, it may even dissolve itself in tears.”
The book contains a variety of other strange, funny, and sometimes terrifying cryptids, and can easily be found on line or in reprint editions. And the squonk passed into Pennsylvanian legend, and even into scientific vernacular, as the term for a substance that is stable in solution but decomposes or is otherwise unstable when isolated is called a “chemical squonk.”