Half a century ago, Belgian Zoologist Bernard Heuvelmans first codified cryptozoology in his book On the Track of Unknown Animals.

The Centre for Fortean Zoology (CFZ) are still on the track, and have been since 1992. But as if chasing unknown animals wasn't enough, we are involved in education, conservation, and good old-fashioned natural history! We already have three journals, the largest cryptozoological publishing house in the world, CFZtv, and the largest cryptozoological conference in the English-speaking world, but in January 2009 someone suggested that we started a daily online magazine! The CFZ bloggo is a collaborative effort by a coalition of members, friends, and supporters of the CFZ, and covers all the subjects with which we deal, with a smattering of music, high strangeness and surreal humour to make up the mix.

It is edited by CFZ Director Jon Downes, and subbed by the lovely Lizzy Bitakara'mire (formerly Clancy), scourge of improper syntax. The daily newsblog is edited by Corinna Downes, head administratrix of the CFZ, and the indexing is done by Lee Canty and Kathy Imbriani. There is regular news from the CFZ Mystery Cat study group, and regular fortean bird news from 'The Watcher of the Skies'. Regular bloggers include Dr Karl Shuker, Dale Drinnon, Richard Muirhead and Richard Freeman.The CFZ bloggo is updated daily, and there's nothing quite like it anywhere else. Come and join us...

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Wednesday, December 23, 2009

DALE DRINNON: Pugnoses Part 1: Wild Child of the Italian Renaissance

Probably a couple years back in the Frontiers-of-Zoology group, astute member Dave Francanzo (cobriaclord) added a photograph reproducing a Renaissance curio shop with a small furry creature in the foreground, which elicited a pretty good discussion at the time.

At the beginning of the current month I posted this article on pug-nosed hominids [1] being sighted as the Barmanu and represented in old church carvings in France (As the Homo sauvage/Wildman or Basajaun). After the posting Dave answered with the posting:

Re: Article on 'Homo pongiodes'


Also, if you go to the photo album Wildmen and to the picture 'curious george and the greyhound,' the ape-like creature looks to have an upturned nose.

And so it does, indeed. In this case the 'Curious George' creature does not have a head shaped like that of a chimpanzee, the cranium is instead more like a young Neanderthal.

The creature is also the same size and general proportions as the human child in the far right of the original reproduction.

There shall be a part 2 to this but before leaving the Rennaisance it is a singular fact that at the time the Wildman was a 'known' creature. Linneaus catalogued it and in fact, one of the illustrated editions of Linneaus included a depiction of the Wildman that is unmistakeably like the Iceman.

Bottom line of that situation is, how can a species be called unknown now when it was known and named by Linneus? And even if it was subsequently denied by critics, isn't it still valid anyway when good evidence that the same thing is still around today resurfaces and is published by scientists of repute? The mere fact that a species is in dispute does not negate the fact that the species is known to science and listed on the books.

[1]"A new element in favor of the authenticity of Homo pongoïdes" By Olivier Décobert, France, October 2002

All the cryptozoologists know the case of the frozen corpse ('Iceman') that Bernard Heuvelmans and Ivan Sanderson had the occasion to examine in 1968, through the ice which surrounded this creature.

The disappearance of the corpse made more noise than its discovery... Jean Roche largely detailed this affair in its book Savages and hairy. Since opinions are divided, certain considerations were that it was about a hoax, others being convinced of the authenticity of this wild and hairy hominid Heuvelmans described like a Neanderthal form.

Jordi Magraner, whom the world of cryptozoology learned with consternation of his assassination in North-Pakistan in August 2002, had used the drawings of Heuvelmans like iconographic locates during its discussions with witnesses having observed the barmanou, the wild man of the Pakistani mountains, and all had recognised the Homo pongoïdes as correspondent so that they had seen.

A characteristic of Homo pongoïdes, which would have been quite difficult to invent, is the aspect of its nose, very crushed, the nostrils strongly turned forwards, as the nose of human which would have been supported against a vitre.

This very curious detail is found in the descriptions of Barmanou collected by Jordi Magraner.

Moreover, and it is what interests us here, this unique nose is found in representations of the past, like certain sculptures of the Middle Ages in France, which supposes the survival of these beings in our areas, up to one recent time (Michel Raynal gives a testimony going back to 1774 in Iraty Forest (South West France) in his article 'The wildman in the Pyrenees and the survival
of the Neanderthals').

One of these works is well known and is in the cathedral of Tugdual, in Tréguier (Brittany): it is about a woodcarving. While going up much further in the past one finds in the cave of Isturitz (always in the Basque Country) a rupestral engraving representing one hairy hominid with the fleeing face and once again, with the very crushed and gone up nose. I will thus add to these disconcerting observations these discoveries, which I made between the Basque Country and Bearn (Southwest France): in July 2001, on holiday in this area, I saw on a tourist leaflet a photograph representing the sculpture on stone of 'hairy', with a comment explaining that the original was visible in the Sainte-Engrâce church (11th century), among other carvings.

I went on the spot and discovered indeed this creature, which was represented beside a flute player. It seems that what one sees around the neck this being is a collar and it is probable that the musician is a 'showman of hairy man.'

Later, the well-known bear showers of the Pyrenees will take their succession, wild men becoming too much rare and untraceable in these mountains. It is curious besides to note that photographs of the sculptures posted in this church are accompanied by comments, which consider that the creature represented is a bear! It is clear that the idea of the wild and hairy man does not come to mind from people and that, vis-à-vis impossibility of identifying this being, one compares it to a bear, even if confusion is impossible... This lucky find was already interesting, but the aspect of the nose was not striking, although by looking at the sculpture on the side, one notes a difference compared to the nose of the flute player.

In 2002, benefiting from one week of freedom at the end of June, I left again for the Basque Country with the intention of visiting other churches to try to find new representations of 'hairy'. I was rather quickly disappointed, the majority of the buildings being too recent, and by spite, I turned over to Sainte-Engrâce, where I knew that I could again admire the sculpture, and I
benefited from it to explore the basic church .This is whereas I have a surprise of size: On one of the pillars were a series of small metal heads which had not drawn my attention at the time of my first visit. I examined them attentively and discovered animal representations. A wolf, a bird (raptor with the hooked beak), and... an hominid head with the crushed nose and the open nostrils, strongly turned forwards, a reducing face with "hair" going down to the eyes, massive jaws, not of chin, in short, the identical picture of the Homo pongoïdes! I was fascinated.

There were definitely too many coincidences not to correspond to reality... When one knows moreover than work of certain anthropologists shows that the Neanderthals, that one wanted during associating the species Sapiens too a long time, had, according to the structure of the nasal cavity, a broad nose with the open nostrils forwards, one has really evil not to accept the authenticity of the corpse observed by Heuvelmans, and thus, the obvious survival of paleanthrops in various places of the world until our time.

Copyright Olivier Décobert, France - October 2002

Bernard Heuvelmans, On the track of unknown animals (Plon, 1955)
Neandertal Man is always alive (Plon, 1974)
Jean-Jacques Barloy, Survivors of the shade (Arthaud, 1985)
Jean Roche, Savages and hairy (Exergue, 2000)
Michel Raynal, The wild man in the Pyrenees and the survival of the Neanderthals (Bipédia, vol.3, 1989)
The Neanderthal relics, of the Pyrenees in Pakistan (Bipédia, vol.10, 1993)
Jordi Magraner, Relic hominids of Central Asia (1992, Booklet diffused by association Troglodytes)

1 comment:

Dale Drinnon said...

Dave Francazio left some further coments after this blog was posted:
"Seems like the vast majority of cryptozoology deals with known species thought by science to be extinct. Would you agree with this statement? Is there a place to find accurate reconstructions of extinct mammalian species?

Thinking about Dale's post on the wildmen today, I have to agree that medieval people had run-ins with these creatures. Why isn't this a more widely held belief in the scientific community?"

To which I replied:
"l'd agree that the area of Cryptozoology where we are on firmest ground is in the area of creatures presumed to be known but extinct. There is another area which deals with species almost like known animals but slightly 'Off' and then the remaining category of creatures that have basically been made up to fit the reports. That is the most dangerous region of speculation because the proponents can go very badly wrong in their presumptions of what the hypothetical creatures can and cannot do.

There is some degree of uncertainty in reconstructions of any extinct species, but it can vary a great deal. Some creatures we know well enough to say with some accuracy what their coloration was, but sometimes this can be chancy (with the possibility of preserved hair or feathers being bleached or disciolored after death) and most of the times coloration is purely imaginary. With a good knowledge of accuracy and fully representative skeletal material, we can be pretty certain about what the body would look like at the muscular level (on the average). Ordinarily we do not have good indications as to what the skin was like nor yet detals about the shape of the ears or nose. In some kinds of animals, we have a good idea they might have had a flywhisk tail with a tuft of hair on the end because that is the type of a tail skeleton they have, but there is no way of knowing how much of a bush that would be. There is no way of knowing from a skeleton how full or flowing a horse's mane or tail would be.

I genuinely cannot understand why there is such a widespread and ingrained denial of hairy Wildmen in Europe during the Middle Ages. In times closer to the Middle Ages that certainly was not the case, it is a sort of conditioned disbelief that has been growing over more recent centuries. Several accredited scientists do firmly believe that there were such things in the past and might still be in more recent times: Ivan Sanderson produced his statement on the Wudewasa in a scientific journal and it has been a scientific theory with its adherants ever since. [Others such as Loofs-Wissowa have subsequently also published in accreditied scientific journals affirming their belief in relic Neanderthals surviving up to the present day]
I think there is a common misconception about what scientists think and what is and is not science. The public's perception of science is distorted by the media and scientists are largely disorganized as to what opinions they hold. It is not a solid and unified front but rather a mass of conflicting schools of thought."

And then on the next day, Dave posted:
"There is a whole book detailing art depicting the wildmen from medieval times:


The author describes the creature as fictional but it does seem odd that so much art would focus around a mythical beast in that time frame. I believe there is a 'wild man' in one of Brueghel's paintings as well."

And to top it all of, I think a Wild Man is the bearer on my (Scottish) family's coat of arms as well, although I cannot vouch for the authenticity of the design I had been shown.