This puzzle was intended as a bit of fun for the start of Act IV. We're presented with a bunch of "hybridised" animals, each of whose two components should be immediately recognisable. Writing down each pair we have:
Note in each case we have written the animal contributing its head first. This is a natural ordering to make, and is well-defined in all cases. (The booby also contributed its blue feet, and the liyrebird its distinctive tail, so that they were more recognisable.)
The next step is to deduce what to do with each of these pairs. Much like certain actual hybrids have had their names made from portmanteaux (such as the liger and tigon), we want to squish each pair of animals' names together. The grasshopper/mouse pair implying GROUSE is particularly noticeable at this point. However it's clear this won't quite always work - e.g. there is no other well-known animate being beginning with CHAM- from "chameleon". Unlike a usual portmanteau in which the combined letters are unchanged, what we want here is to treat each combination phonetically. So chameleon/squirrel when squished together might look like cham-el, but sounds like CAMEL.
Allowing for slightly variant pronunciations, we get:
The fox/ostrich = FISH example is particularly egregious, but weirdly enough no other animal ending in SH could be found ("silverfish" and similar were considered but ultimately discarded).
The next thing to notice is that each row now gives a pair of living things that have been combined/"hybridised" themselves in fiction. The particular ones that stand out here are probably eagle/lion, bird/woman, and fish/horse. Each pair implies a particular well-known mythological or folkloric creature, namely:
Indexing in by the numbers provided with each row, we get the letters CHIMERA, another famous mythological hybrid which is also a term used to describe hybridised objects in biology in various contexts, and mashed-together designs in general.
|The answer is: chimera|