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.

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Wednesday, October 28, 2009

NICK REDFERN: The Real Wolfman

Tonight, the History Channel broadcasts a 2-hour show called The Real Wolfman, which tells the strange, intriguing and notorious story of the Beast of Gevaudan.

The star of the show (the beast aside, of course!) is good friend - and Texas-based CFZ rep - Ken Gerhard, who sets off to France in an effort to try and resolve the puzzle.

Ken has told me a lot about the show over the last few months, and it sounds like it will be an excellent production.

Here's the link for times etc, for those who may want to watch the show.


Gavin Lloyd Wilson said...

It doesn't seem to be on the History Channel here in the UK... yet.

Dark Dorset said...

Probably an advance documentary before the release of 'The Wolfman' remake of the 1941 classic Universal Horror film

Retrieverman said...

As a dog and wild dog expert, here's my take on it:


Retrieverman said...

I watched it. I don't think a brown hyena could be trained to attack a person.

It conflated the brown and spotted hyenas.

Spotted hyenas will attack people.

But not brown ones.

Unknown said...

hyenas are not only scavengers but very capable hunters. hyena's have been known to attack "easy prey" (which can be easily translated to women and children) in the wild, notably prey that were significantly smaller/weaker than themselves.

i personally think there could be a few things going on in the mystery of the beast of gevaudan. some of the victims may have been killed by impersonators or fakes. others may have been legitimate kills. some may have even been killed by regular wolves. a combination of these things could easily account for over 100 kills, and accounted for the discrepancies in the beast's descriptions.

the real question is, if it truly was a hyena (a stripped hyena matches most of the descriptions of the beast's physical appearance pretty accurately) how did it get to be so big? they estimated the creature to be some 6 feet long. hyena's dont get that big.

Retrieverman said...

Striped hyenas and brown hyenas are not known for their hunting prowess. The brown hyena are actually the largest animals that can survive on scavenging alone. They do take fur seal pups on the Skeleton coast, but the skill involved in hunting fur seal pups is far less that a cat hunting mice.

In Central Asia, striped ones are believed to be man-eaters, but there is very little evidence of it. In India, an analysis of the attacks of various animals showed that striped hyenas were less likely than wolves to attack people. There is a recent case of a rabid one killing a bunch of people, but I seriously doubt that a rabid one could live for that long in eighteenth century France.

Spotted hyenas are superior hunters. The others are mostly scavengers. (The striped hyenas are also not much larger than a Labrador or a German shepherd.)

However, I think the stripes on the beast are nothing more than brindling, which you'd get on a brindle dogue-type dog crossed with a wolf. As for the be-heading, it's very likely that a person was working in concert with the wolf-dogs. I wonder if it is possible for a big dog to decapitate someone if it is running at full speed, and I also wonder if the mastiff-type dogs may have had much stronger jaws in the past. After all, mastiff dogs were used in war for thousands of years, and maybe they actually did have stronger jaws than they do now. I would have liked to have seen the jaw pressure experiment performed on a mastiff-type dog's skull, not a dobermann. It's possible that since we've bred mastiff-type dogs to be pets that they have lost some of their jaw strength.

The biggest mastiffs are larger than the hyenas. Indeed, they are larger than the largest wolves.

My suggestion is to look at the dogue-types. Only the red dogue de Bordeaux currently exist, but originally there were brindles. The French matin dog, which was the French equivalent of the Great Dane or Irish wolfhound (a sort of mastiff-sighthound), is also worth looking at. However, they weren't that big, but they were known for killing large prey.

I don't think it was a brown or a striped hyena.