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An entry in Fortnightly Topic Challenge #43: Variety Crossword Grids


Each of the 40 clues listed below (a mix of pop culture and science/nature) yields the name of an animal. Your task is to solve the clues and enter their solutions into the accompanying grid in accordance with the following rules:

  1. Enter the animal names into the unshaded cells of the grid in one long chain, where the last letter of one animal is the first letter of the next. The chain forms a complete loop, i.e. the last letter of animal #40 is the first letter of animal #1. All unshaded cells form part of the chain.

  2. The first letter of each animal should be placed in the numbered cell corresponding to its position in the list of clues. Subsequent letters should be placed in order, one to a cell, with each subsequent cell being horizontally or vertically adjacent to the previous (no diagonal movement).

  3. At numerous points in the grid, the chain will cross itself where the same letter appears in two animal names. Where this happens, both words pass straight through the letter of intersection without turning:

enter image description here

  1. No cell where the chain intersects is adjacent to another. No cell containing a clue number is part of an intersection.

  2. Once complete, you must deduce the name of another (relevant) animal concealed within the puzzle's design.

Note that once all clues are solved, their precise placement can be determined solely through logical deduction. A perfect answer would include: solutions to all clues, an explanation of the logical steps used to place the resulting animals correctly in the grid, and the name of the animal concealed within the grid.

enter image description here

Clues:

  1. Large rodent native to Central and South America (6)
  2. Wading bird sacred to the Ancient Egyptians (4)
  3. Shrek, Shaun or Dolly? (5)
  4. Feathers McGraw, Chilly Willy or Pingu? (7)
  5. Captain Nemo's submarine in Jules Verne's Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Seas (8)
  6. Shakespeare play, The Taming of the _____ (5)
  7. Favourite food of Obelix in the Asterix comic books (4,4)
  8. Sole member of the Icosteidae family, named for the floppiness of its body (7)
  9. Maximus, Boxer or Sleipnir? (5)
  10. Horton, Babar or Dumbo? (8)
  11. Kept as a pet by Buzz McCallister in 1990's Home Alone (9)
  12. Adam ___, real name of singer Stuart Leslie Goddard (3)
  13. Chinese Zodiac sign (5)
  14. Chinese Zodiac sign (3)
  15. Turtle of the Emydidae family, usually found in fresh or brackish water (8)
  16. Small bird of the Sitta genus, often with grey/blue upperparts and a black eye stripe (8)
  17. Captain Archibald _______, regular character in The Adventures of Tintin comic books (7)
  18. Eucalyptus-loving marsupial native to Australia (5)
  19. Cleopatra's means of suicide? (3)
  20. The Pink _______, 1963 Peter Sellers movie (7)
  21. Large, horned mammal - one of Africa's 'Big Five' (10)
  22. The ________ King, 2002 Dwayne Johnson movie (8)
  23. ____ Scamander, protagonist of the 'Fantastic Beasts...' movie series (4)
  24. Bird in the genus Baeolophus - definitely not a rodent! (8)
  25. Pincered insect whose name is used colloquially as a synonym for 'eavesdrop' (6)
  26. Terk, Magilla or Donkey Kong? (7)
  27. Classic folk song lyric: "Home, home on the range, where the deer and the ________ play" (8)
  28. Flightless bird featured on the coat-of-arms of Australia (3)
  29. Latin name for the hoopoe (5)
  30. Fungus-farming weevil of the Platypodinae subfamily, with a tasty-sounding name? (8,6)
  31. _________ Jim, video game invertebrate (9)
  32. The ________ Coast, 1986 Harrison Ford movie (8)
  33. _______'s Garden, Beatles song on their 1969 album Abbey Road (7)
  34. Species of 'Moby Dick' in the 1851 novel by Herman Melville (5,5)
  35. Alternative name for the sea eagle, bird of prey in the genus Haliaeetus (4)
  36. Wading bird closely related to the heron (5)
  37. Jungle- and forest dwelling herbivorous mammal with a short, prehensile nose trunk (5)
  38. That's So _____, first Disney Channel series to reach 100 episodes (5)
  39. Elongated, tubular organism present in great numbers in topsoil and water sources (8)
  40. Species of 'Knuckles' in Sega's Sonic the Hedgehog video game series (7)
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  • $\begingroup$ why are there 2 17s? I assume one should be 16. the one on the second row. $\endgroup$
    – Marius
    Nov 23 '20 at 14:49
  • $\begingroup$ @Marius Oops, nice spot! Will fix now... $\endgroup$
    – Stiv
    Nov 23 '20 at 14:54
  • $\begingroup$ The checkmark has now been awarded as the grid has been solved and the hidden answer is found, but if anybody can demonstrate how to fill the grid with the animals through logical deduction alone rather than just trial and error (or getting lucky with guessed word placements!) that would make for a useful additional answer :) $\endgroup$
    – Stiv
    Nov 24 '20 at 19:56
  • $\begingroup$ HEY THIS IS NOT RELATED TO ANIMAL CROSSING $\endgroup$
    – user69881
    Nov 25 '20 at 2:03
  • $\begingroup$ To add to my previous comment above, the logic of the crossword has now been explained by Alaiko - that's a wrap, people! $\endgroup$
    – Stiv
    Nov 25 '20 at 15:41
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Answers:

Answer

Large rodent native to Central and South America (6)

AGOUTI

Wading bird sacred to the Ancient Egyptians (4)

IBIS

Shrek, Shaun or Dolly? (5)

SHEEP

Feathers McGraw, Chilly Willy or Pingu? (7)

PENGUIN

Captain Nemo's submarine in Jules Verne's Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Seas (8)

NAUTILUS

Shakespeare play, The Taming of the _____ (5)

SHREW

Favourite food of Obelix in the Asterix comic books (4,4)

WILD BOAR

Sole member of the Icosteidae family, named for the floppiness of its body (7)

RAGFISH

Maximus, Boxer or Sleipnir? (5)

HORSE

Horton, Babar or Dumbo? (8)

ELEPHANT

Kept as a pet by Buzz McCallister in 1990's Home Alone (9)

TARANTULA

Adam ___, real name of singer Stuart Leslie Goddard (3)

ANT

Chinese Zodiac sign (5)

TIGER

Chinese Zodiac sign (3)

RAT

Turtle of the Emydidae family, usually found in fresh or brackish water (8)

TERRAPIN

Small bird of the Sitta genus, often with grey/blue upperparts and a black eye stripe (8)

NUTHATCH

Captain Archibald _______, regular character in The Adventures of Tintin comic books (7)

HADDOCK

Eucalyptus-loving marsupial native to Australia (5)

KOALA

Cleopatra's means of suicide? (3)

ASP

The Pink _______, 1963 Peter Sellers movie (7)

PANTHER

Large, horned mammal - one of Africa's 'Big Five' (10)

RHINOCEROS

The ________ King, 2002 Dwayne Johnson movie (8)

SCORPION

____ Scamander, protagonist of the 'Fantastic Beasts...' movie series (4)

NEWT

Bird in the genus Baeolophus - definitely not a rodent! (8)

TITMOUSE

Pincered insect whose name is used colloquially as a synonym for 'eavesdrop' (6)

EARWIG

Terk, Magilla or Donkey Kong? (7)

GORILLA

Classic folk song lyric: "Home, home on the range, where the deer and the ________ play" (8)

ANTELOPE

Flightless bird featured on the coat-of-arms of Australia (3)

EMU

Latin name for the hoopoe (5)

UPUPA

Fungus-farming weevil of the Platypodinae subfamily, with a tasty-sounding name? (8,6)

AMBROSIA BEETLE

_________ Jim, video game invertebrate (9)

EARTHWORM

The ________ Coast, 1986 Harrison Ford movie (8)

MOSQUITO

_______'s Garden, Beatles song on their 1969 album Abbey Road (7)

OCTOPUS

Species of 'Moby Dick' in the 1851 novel by Herman Melville (5,5)

SPERM WHALE

Alternative name for the sea eagle, bird of prey in the genus Haliaeetus (4)

ERNE

Wading bird closely related to the heron (5)

EGRET

Jungle- and forest dwelling herbivorous mammal with a short, prehensile nose trunk (5)

TAPIR

That's So _____, first Disney Channel series to reach 100 episodes (5)

RAVEN

Elongated, tubular organism present in great numbers in topsoil and water sources (8)

NEMATODE

Species of 'Knuckles' in Sega's Sonic the Hedgehog video game series (7)

ECHIDNA

Grid:

Grid

Strategy:

I don't really have a great answer to this. I started with the smaller ones (asp, ibis, rat), as well as putting the starting letters in each box. Then I tried to fill in blanks as I solved them.

Hidden Animal:

shadedShading through the words and picking out the overlapped letters yields: RAISETHESEUP.

braille_gridCredit to @Arturo (answer here). 'Raise' is meant to raise the overlapped sections - as if coming out of one's monitor. Doing this and grouping them into 5x3 sections yields the Braille spelling of SNAKE, the hidden animal. SNAKE makes sense because of the slithery way the crossword is filled.

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  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Great progress :) The crossword grid is 100% correct, well done! And you've found the hidden message - now can you apply it correctly...? (When you find the correct animal, you'll know it's correct...) $\endgroup$
    – Stiv
    Nov 23 '20 at 22:39
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ Could you write out the clue answers as text? Images are very non-accessible. $\endgroup$
    – bobble
    Nov 24 '20 at 2:28
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Yes I can do that @bobble $\endgroup$ Nov 24 '20 at 13:34
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Arturo has found the hidden animal in their answer - if you can include this (you might find it beneficial to modify your diagram to show it visually) and explain why this is apt then that would round your answer out really nicely :) $\endgroup$
    – Stiv
    Nov 24 '20 at 17:47
  • $\begingroup$ Thanks for rounding off your answer nicely. The black squares were also intended as a visual clue as well, but using the intersections was the way to solve it properly :) Checkmark is yours! $\endgroup$
    – Stiv
    Nov 24 '20 at 19:54
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Grid:

Completed Grid

Building from PartyHatPanda's answer,

if one "raises" the intersection squares and reads them as Braille enter image description here

they form the answer:

SNAKE, which, considering the Ouroboros-like nature of the puzzle, fits perfectly.

(New account, but I've been a lurker for months in the PSE. Solved the grid independently but from this computer it's hard to share a photo with the final solution).

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    $\begingroup$ This is the correct final answer, well done (and welcome!) +1 for the spot. I'll ask @PartyHatPanda to include this in their answer for completeness, but of course you're also very welcome to edit your answer with further details about the rest if you're able to :) $\endgroup$
    – Stiv
    Nov 24 '20 at 17:46
  • $\begingroup$ @Stiv, I've added the completed grid and Braille resolution $\endgroup$ Nov 24 '20 at 18:58
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ Looks great, thanks - nice gridwork! Well done for finding that final answer. I'm going to grant the checkmark to @PartyHatPanda because they'd got all the way up to that final step (and already have all the clues in their answer too), but do stick around on the site and solve some others - hope to see you here again :) $\endgroup$
    – Stiv
    Nov 24 '20 at 19:51
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+100
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This answer is meant to supplement PartyHatPanda's and Arturo's answers as it only focuses on the logical deduction of the grid (as requested by the OP in the question's comments). For the actual answer, refer to those contributions instead.


Step 1:

Fill in the numbered cells with the respective initial letters.

AC_1

Step 2:

Next, check for numbered cells that are the minimum length away from the next numbered cell (and therefore can only be fitted in one way) or they are near cells that only they can reach. These are:

ASP and ANT: These are only 1 cell away from next numbered cell, so their middle letter can be immediately placed.

RAT: This requires a bit of thinking, but it is easy to see that RAT must go right from 14 numbered cell and then down. If it goes down first, then neither of 15 or 21 can adequately use without leaving the cell left of 17 (R1C19) empty.

TAPIR and SHEEP: There are 3 cells between this numbered cell and the next for both of them, so those must be the only slots for them.

SHREW: 6 (SHREW) must go right, before going up to join with 7 (WILD BOAR) and there is only one way to do this.

HADDOCK: It must use the cells in the upper right corner of the grid. The only other number that can use those cells is 18 and since KOALA is only 5 letters, it does not have enough length to go upwards and then back down.

EARWIG: It must use the cells in the last column in the bottom right area.

AGOUTI and IBIS: The cells in the upper left corner must be used by AGOUTI. 36 (EGRET) must go the other way and 2 (IBIS) is too short. Once filled, it forces 2 (IBIS) to use the cells to its left (since no other number cells can use those)

PENGUIN: The bottom left cells must be used by PENGUIN. It cannot be used by 32 (MOSQUITO) as it doesn't have enough letters to go around to 33 (OCTOPUS)

The grid at this point:

AC_2

Step 3:

RAVEN: After filling in TAPIR, 38 (RAVEN) can only connect with 39 (NEMATODE) in one way.

NEMATODE: 39 (NEMATODE) must cross TAPIR in some way and connect with 40 (ECHIDNA). This can only be through the intersection at 'A'. After that, NEMATODE must not block 40's path to 1, so the word must turn right after T.

ECHIDNA: To connect with 1, ECHIDNA must turn downwards at some point since the word is too long to connect directly. If it were to go left twice, then the cell in R2C6 will be unused. Therefore, it must go left and then down and after that, there is only one way to connect to 1 (AGOUTI).

KOALA: It must use the cells in the last column, rows 3 & 4 to connect to 19 ASP.
SCORPION: Note that the cell right of 23 and below 20 cannot be used by 20 (PANTHER) since it needs to go upwards. So, it must be used by 23 (SCORPION). Filling in the letters from N in the reverse order, we find that there is only one way to connect with SCORPION making use of any unused cells and not blocking off 26 (GORILLA).

GORILLA: After filling SCORPION, 26 (GORILLA) has only one way to connect with 27 (ANTELOPE).

EMU and ANTELOPE: After filling in 26 (GORILLA), the cell below 28 can only be used by 28 (EMU). 27 (ANTELOPE) is now blocked off from the top, so it must connect to 28 (EMU) by going around it.

UPUPA: After 27 (ANTELOPE) is filled, 29 (UPUPA) must connect to 30 (AMBROSIA BEETLE) via the P letter intersection and there is only one way to do this without blocking off 30.

The grid at this point:

AC_3

Step 4:

WILD BOAR: 7 (WILD BOAR) must intersect at 'I' in TAPIR and can only connect with 8 (RAGFISH) in one way.

RHINOCEROS: 21 (RHINOCEROS) must connect with 22 (SCORPION) using the cells in Rows 5,6 and Column 18 and the cells in Row 7, Columns 19, 20. There is only one way to satisfy this.

NEWT: After filling in RHINOCEROS, 23 (NEWT) must use the cell immediately to its left to connect to 24 (TITMOUSE).

PANTHER and TITMOUSE: 20 (PANTHER) must use the cell immediately to its left and snake upwards. TITMOUSE must somehow go right and then down to connect to 25 (EARWIG). There is bound to be an intersection point between these two and it has to be 'T'. Based on this, we can fill in both of these animals.

TIGER and TERRAPIN: TIGER and TERRAPIN must intersect somewhere and this can only be at 'E'. Based on this, we can fill in 13 TIGER using the cells to its right before going upwards. 15 (TERRAPIN) must use the cell R3C14 to connect to NUTHATCH as no other word can use this cell. This forces only one orientation for TERRAPIN (it needs to snake up and down).

NUTHATCH: 16 (NUTHATCH) can be filled in as there is now only one way left to connect to 17 (HADDOCK).

RAGFISH and HORSE: Once NUTHATCH is filled, we can make some deduction about the cells in R1C12 and R1C13. Those cannot be filled by 9 (HORSE), so they must be filled by 8 (RAGFISH). This means RAGFISH cannot use the A in R2C11, as it would then not be able to connect to 9 (HORSE). Therefore, it must snake towards the right using both R1C12 and R1C13 before going down. After that, the unused cells in R3C11 and R4C11 must be used by HORSE as it connects to 10 (ELEPHANT) making use of the intersection at 'S'.

The grid at this point:

AC_4

Step 5:

This next step requires us to fill in some part of 10 (ELEPHANT), 11 (TARANTULA) and 20 (AMBROSIA BEETLE) before making the next deductions. Simply making sure to use squares only reachable by these words, we get to:

AC_5

ELEPHANT: Now, we can see that 10 (ELEPHANT) must use the cell on top of 11 to reach 11 (TARANTULA). Otherwise, it will get blocked off from TARANTULA.

TARANTULA and AMBROSIA BEETLE: Now, note that AMBROSIA BEETLE has 14 letters. This means if TARANTULA was to go right from 11 first and then snake up towards 12 (ANT) using the cell R8C12, then AMBROSIA BEETLE does not have enough space to connect to 31 (EARTHWORM). Therefore, TARANTULA must go down first from 11 and snake up towards 12 (ANT) making sure to leave enough space for 30. AMBROSIA BEETLE can then be filled in.

EARTHWORM: 31 (EARTHWORM) must use the cell R8C9 as it is the only one near to it. The cells in R9, C6-7 must also be used by EARTHWORM. MOSQUITO cannot use those cells as it will then be forced to intersect with EARTHWORM to go to 33 (OCTOPUS). This means the intersection point must be at 'O' but this is impossible to achieve.

The grid at this point:

AC_6

Step 6:

MOSQUTIO: 32 (MOSQUITO) must use the cell in R8C7 to connect to 33 (OCTOPUS). Once that cell is used, it must also use the cell in R5C7, so there is only one way to connect to 33.

Then, an intermediate step by partially filling in some animals:

34 (SPERM WHALE) must use the cells in R5-7, C1. The intersection points must be at 'E' in R7C2 and at 'H' in R5C2. So, we can fill in SPERM WHALE by circling it around and stopping at A. (At this point, it is unclear where L goes). Next, we extend 33 (OCTOPUS) and 5 (NAUTILUS) as far as possible, making use of cells that only they can reach. This gives us:

AC_7

NAUTILUS and OCTOPUS: Now, if 5 (NAUTILUS) were to make use of the intersection at 'U', then it has three empty square to its right, but only two remaining letters to use (T and I). This means that NAUTILUS does not intersect OCTOPUS at U and instead snakes away to the right. This means P of OCTOPUS must go into R5C4.

SPERM WHALE: Once OCTOPUS is filled, SPERM WHALE must be completed using the cell R4C3.

ERNE and EGRET: Now, it becomes clear that these two words must intersect and this can only be at 'R'. Keeping in mind that words must go straight after an intersection, there is only one possible orientation.

With that, the grid is completed.

AC_8

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    $\begingroup$ Fantastic work Alaiko - I'm so glad somebody wrote this part of the puzzle up :) The deductive interplay between MOSQUITO, NAUTILUS and OCTOPUS was probably my favourite part of the whole puzzle, so it's really great to see it all explained. It feels odd not to have a checkmark to give to an answer with such detail, so I'll take a look behind the sofa and see what else I can find...! $\endgroup$
    – Stiv
    Nov 25 '20 at 15:39
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ @Stiv Agreed. That part did require a bit of thinking. The puzzle as a whole was fantastic as well. Truly enjoyed the process of working this out step by step $\endgroup$
    – Alaiko
    Nov 25 '20 at 15:50
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Bounty message (for posterity): A Happy New Year gift to @Alaiko for explaining the logical solving path behind placing the animal names in the grid - rounds out the full explanation of the puzzle solution very nicely, and very deserving of this little something extra. With my thanks :) $\endgroup$
    – Stiv
    Jan 8 at 11:45
  • $\begingroup$ @Stiv Thank you, Stiv! A belated Happy New Year to you as well. $\endgroup$
    – Alaiko
    Jan 8 at 11:54

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