The Minoshiro (ミノシロ) is one of the in-world creatures of Shin Sekai Yori. They make an appearance in the novel, manga and anime.
- Related Article: False Minoshiro
- Their length ranges from tens of centimeters to one meter, the smallest are about the size of a hornworm, while the big ones are as long as a millipede. They have a big Y shaped antenna on their head, and two smaller pairs of feelers on the end of them. Their eyes are small and covered by skin, so it is assumed that they can only detect light and darkness. Minoshiro have short legs like a hornworm’s or millipede’s (this feature makes them unlike gastropods such as the sea slug), and can walk at a good speed. The movement of their numerous legs is reminiscent of a military march. There are colored, half-transparent quills on their back that glow at the tips.
- Minoshiro are omnivores and mainly eat moss, lichen, fungus, various insects, and seeds. They are unaffected by poisons, separating it out of their food and storing it in their bodies. Because of this, Minoshiro indirectly cleanse the soil. Their bodies also change colors depending on what they have recently eaten. This can be seen most obviously after a meal of mosses, when they turn bright green. This trait is also seen in sea slugs after eating sea anemones.
- When a Minoshiro is threatened, it will raise and rattle the quills on its back to intimidate predators. If the predator continues to advance, it will get hit with the quills, which are full of deadly venom. Something worth mentioning is that they never threaten humans in this way.
- The Minoshiro species includes giant Minoshiro (a rare type with body length above two meters and covered in silver bristles), red Minoshiro (with half-transparent red bodies), blue Minoshiro (with blue-tipped feelers), rainbow Minoshiro (covered in fine hairs similar to the powdery scales on a butterfly, and reflect light like jewel beetles), and various subspecies.
- Their size and extremely unpleasant taste due to the poison in their bodies mean that Minoshiro have almost no natural enemies. Their only predator is the tiger crab, which lurks under sandy beaches. Most cases of Minoshiro being hunted by tiger crabs seem to occur around the time they make their annual migration to the beach in order to lay eggs. When a Minoshiro can't escape from a tiger crab, it will drop its feelers as bait, hoping that the tiger crab will let go of them to eat the feelers. How many feelers the Minoshiro is willing to drop is a function between its physical fitness and how hungry the tiger crab is. In the case that negotiations turn sour, the Minoshiro will start attacking with its quills. The tiger crab can forcibly overpower the Minoshiro, but if a quill slips between the gaps in its shell in the process, there is a good chance it will die.
- "The Natural History of the New Japan Islands" writes that over the years, a number of historians, biologists, and linguists have puzzled over the etymology of the name "Minoshiro", and came up with a few theories.
- An old accepted explanation was that its name came from the fact that looked like it was wearing a raincoat (The kanji is 蓑代衣, read minoshirogoromo, meaning "a substitute for a straw cape".).
- Another reason came partly from the cape-clad appearance, and partly from its white color, combined with the belief that the souls of the dead lived within it (The kanji is 蓑白 (minoshiro), "straw cape" plus "white", which turned into 霊の代 (minoshiro) "soul's substitute")
- The fact that the Minoshiro is usually terrestrial, but returns to the sea to lay eggs was a plausible origin for its name (The kanji is 海の社 (minoshiro), which means "shrine of the ocean").
- A later explanation was that the red and yellow eggs that it laid in clumps of seaweed or coral resembled ornaments in the palace of the Dragon King.
- Another unofficial reason came from the fact that the when it faced an enemy, the Minoshiro's tail will bristle and stand straight up, like a shachihoko found on the roofs of castles in the ancient past. They named it after the castle in Mino, but later research showed that the it was Nagoya Castle that had shachihoko, which was in the neighboring province of Owari. After that discovery, the explanation lost its appeal.
- There are also numerous stories saying that "shiro" is the name Shirou shortened. Since Shirou was just over a meter tall, he was called Minoshirou ("mino" is three times the length of a standard-width cloth, around 108 centimeters). A different story said that once he met a snake-like creature with numerous tentacles, which also gave him the name Minoshirou (Snake can also be written 巳 (mi), so Minoshirou would mean "Shirou of the snake") The stories are varied.
- Still on the topic of Shirou, one old folktale says that he was cursed by a white snake and turned into a Minoshiro. Since other details of the story were lost, there is no way to prove its authenticity.
- Another mystery surrounding Minoshiro is that it is not mentioned in most ancient texts. Even though many of the texts from over a thousand years ago are off-limits, the word "Minoshiro" is still nowhere to be found in available texts. That means that the Minoshiro were discovered within the past couple hundred years, but an entirely new creature evolving within such a short time-span is unthinkable.
- One hypothesis that seeks to explain this phenomenon says that their evolution was driven by the collective human unconscious, yet is considered extreme. It was eventually determined that Minoshiro descended directly from a species of sea slug called the indica nudibranch that lives around the Boso region. Although it questionable that a 30-centimeter long sea slug could evolve into something as big as a Minoshiro, considering the raincoat-like protruding gills, there is a definite resemblance.
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