One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
A large dark European hawkmoth which has a skull-like marking on the thorax.
Acherontia atropos, family Sphingidae
- ‘The death's head hawkmoth is believed to have gained its place in folklore because the coloration pattern on the thorax bears an uncanny resemblance to a human skull.’
- ‘I did not know then that it was a death's head hawkmoth and that it could emit a peculiar squeak when handled!’
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