Encyclopaedia of Cryptozoology

Illustration of a horned jackal by Stephen Player.

Other names: Churail
Country reported: India, Nepal, Sri Lanka

A horned jackal is an individual golden jackal (Canis aureus naria) which is said to have a half-inch-long horn, which is called a narri-comboo or narric-comboo in Sri Lanka.[1][2] They are mainly reported from Sri Lanka, where every pack leader is believed to have a horn, but there are also reports from India and Nepal.[2]

The horned jackal was first described by Sir James Emerson Tennent, who reported the widely-held belief in Ceylon that every leader of a golden jackal pack has a half-inc-long horn, hidden from view by a tuft of fur, projecting from either its brow or the back of its skull.[2][3] Tennent was given a horny sheath from a narri-comboo by the district judge of Kandy, and also wrote that an entire skull of a horned jackal was once present in the Museum of the College of Surgeons.[3]

Karl Shuker writes that these specimens prove the existence of horned jackals, and suggests that the "horns" may develop after severe skull trauma, explaining why they are reported from different parts of the head.[2] Another possibility, considered less likely by Shuker, is that a genetic defect could cause a horny growth.[4]

The "narri-comboo" of a horned jackal is greatly prized as a lucky charm in Sri Lanka: it is said to prevent jewellery from being stolen and make its owner invincible in lawsuits.[2] Tennent recorded a story of a narri-comboo being produced in court:[3]

"A gentlemen connected with the Supreme Court of Colombo has repeated to me a circumstance, within his own knowledge, of a plaintiff who, after numerous defeats, eventually succeeded against his opponent by the timely acquisition of this invaluable charm. Before the final hearing of the cause, the mysterious horn was duly exhibited to his friends; and the consequence was, that the adverse witnesses, appalled by the belief that no one could possibly give judgement against a person so endowed, suddenly modified their previous evidence, and secured an unforeseen victory for the happy owner of the narric-comboo!"

Notes and references[]

  1. Eberhart, George (2002) Mysterious Creatures: A Guide to Cryptozoology
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 Tennent, James Emerson (1861) Sketches of the Natural History of Ceylon
  4. Shuker, Karl (1997) From Flying Toads to Snakes with Wings