A threatened species, the Red-Spotted Interrobang is rarely spotted in the papers of college students seeking to impress their sort-of-cute graduate teaching assistants. The Red-Spotted Interrobang is a hybrid of the Common Exclamation Point and the Lesser Question Mark, having been bred by experimental writers unsatisfied with having to choose between the two. The Interrobang has a very short lifespan—finding itself typically edited out of first drafts by sort-of-cute graduate teaching assistants—and tends to survive on a diet of nectar and workshop-induced self-loathing.


Widely hated by those indigenous to its tropical region, the Two-Tailed Caret, like the appendix, has no actual function. Years ago, it served to do the hard work of inserting text by way of its two signature tails but has since fallen out of common use and been left to breed wildly, uncontrollably, into a colony the size of Kentucky. Measures are being taken to exterminate all Two-Tailed Carets; a small group of adjunct lecturers have spearheaded the project. It remains to be seen whether the population of the Two-Tailed Caret’s predator, the Greater Comma Splice, will incur any significant damage as a result. When asked about the possibility of this, nine out of ten sort-of-cute graduate students shrugged and pointed to their composition students’ papers, citing that the Greater Comma Splice population seems to be “doing just fine.”


The Crested Asterisk camouflages itself in poor syntax, relying on this tactic to confuse its predators and prey. It is the only specimen known to cause injury by way of over-emphasis. The Crested Asterisk mates for life and is most commonly found in subarctic regions; though considered among the brightest of the punctuation marks, it often mistakes falling snowflakes for others of its genus.


The Large-Billed Tilde is about the size of a quarter, lives approximately several miles from humans, and eats roughly three times its weight in Dark-Winged Apostrophes a day. It is characterized by extreme indecision and can often be seen pacing the bottoms of pages, coming to rest in the gratuitous shade of Overwrought Sentences. The Large-Billed Tilde tends to be ostracized as a result and is so cripplingly indecisive as to avoid mating, leaving the scientific community to question why there is any wild population at all. The mark rides on the backs of Royal Ampersands and eats fleas off the signature, dramatic flourish that is the Ampersand’s beak. The Large-Billed Tilde is known to live under rotted wood and make a shrill chirp when disturbed.


Another hybrid mark, the One-Legged Slash was created when a colony of upper-case letter “I”s was caught in an Italicized Tropical Storm. The One-Legged Slash eats almost exclusively fruit from orchards and is a hated pest in many tropical regions for this reason, though it has become popular as a pet for its ability to rapidly join and splice.


The Royal Ampersand, a species hunted to near-extinction for its characteristic twisted beak, is now only found in captivity. A regular point of discussion for sort-of-cute graduate students, the Royal Ampersand prides itself on being an alternative form of its twin—with which it has a complicated and largely parasitic relationship—the word “and.” Once native to Guatemala, the Royal Ampersand can often be seen in Mayan mythology and artifact as a sacrifice to the Complete Sentence. Black market trade for the Royal Ampersand’s bill remains an issue to the present day.

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Read “A Field Guide to Common Punctuation” here.