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The Beast of Gevaudan
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oldroverOffline
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PostPosted: 14-03-2012 19:18    Post subject: Reply with quote

Well according to something I saw about this the other day, a policeman and a cryptozoologist looking for clues about it, they tracked an old museum catalouge or something which listed the specimen from Gevaudan as 'hyena'.
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AnalisOffline
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PostPosted: 23-03-2012 15:31    Post subject: Reply with quote

stuneville wrote:

But again. this is pattern we see to this day in cryptozoology. I'm pushed for time right now, but briefly, bearing in mind that today, in the UK, a densely populated island, people tacitly accept the existence of wild big cats, and until recently the existence of wild boar in the Forest of Dean was officially denied (there are loads of them, which has now been officially acknowledged) whereas France was then far more sparsely populated than today, is contiguous with mainland Europe, and had vast tracts of woodland in which heaven knows what could hide. There was no internet, no local press even. Communities were often effectively isolated from the rest of the world. Everything was word of mouth, and no-one knows how much of that tradition has been lost. For all we know there could hav been a mountian of anecdotal evidence from elsewhere going back centuries, now lost altogether.

Again, I'm not saying this is what must have happened, but I am demonstrating there are plausible conditions in which large cryptids could thrive without official acknowledgement, and that those conditions are often still viable today.


I believe you overestimate the isolation of rural communities in old France and Europe as a whole.
You are refering to a classic scenario put forward by cryptozoologists, the animal that gave birth to old tales and legends, but became extinct before modern zoology could identify it. There are at least two cases that are reasonably confirmed : the giant lemur propliothecus in Madagascar, present at least as late as the 15th century, and probably the source for the legendary tretretre ; and the Atlas bear.
But the latter doesn't really support your scenario : it was relatively well known by ancient scholars, and left many traces among Roman art. In the 19th century, its existence was acknowledged by a number of zooogists, who gave it a scientific name. A dead specimen was studied in the 1830s. It is true that some naturalist still kept doubts, but it is evidence not of lack of evidence, but of how stubborn scientists may be. The fact that the specimen was lost didn't help. Although some questions remain unanswered. It's unclear if it was a subspecies or whole species. And its exact date of extinction is also unclear. But the discovery of bones dated 4th century dispelled any doubts about its existence in Roman times.
If this bear, in a marginal region of the Roman Empire, was widely known at the time, it is difficult to understand how an unknown large mamal could have remained completely unknown in Western Europe.
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oldroverOffline
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PostPosted: 23-03-2012 16:05    Post subject: Reply with quote

Agreed, I think our picture of historical settlement is most probably a bit romanticised.
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chumpanzieOffline
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PostPosted: 02-04-2013 17:34    Post subject: Article on the beast of gevaudin published 1890 Reply with quote

Published after the events in the anaconda standard july 7th 1890.

http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn84036012/1890-07-07/ed-1/seq-4/
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MrRINGOffline
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PostPosted: 06-03-2014 14:41    Post subject: Reply with quote

I've been reading an English-translated book of all the original letters and accounts written about this incident, and one thing that escaped notice before when reading about the attacks is that the region was particularly remote and they had recently put in more infrastructure to be better able to communicate with other communities. The town was also coming off a number of very lean years of crop failures.

As for the Beast itself, there is so much in terms of description and behavior that it would interesting to see somebody with modern effects or art dry to draw up correct visual descriptions of what they were seeing. I thought it odd that so many of the people describing it referred to it's face as looking like a young calf!
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MrRINGOffline
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PostPosted: 17-03-2014 16:51    Post subject: Reply with quote

After reading the book, I'm convinced the beast was a liger, but I don't know how it arrived there.
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SpookdaddyOffline
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PostPosted: 17-03-2014 17:08    Post subject: Reply with quote

MrRING wrote:
I've been reading an English-translated book of all the original letters and accounts written about this incident...


Is that the Derek Brockis translation of Abbé Pierre Pourcher?

I've kind of come to the Beast of Gevaudan in a very roundabout way (via a reading binge initiated by Patrick Newman's excellent Tracking the Weretiger - Supernatural Man-Eaters of India, China and Southeast Asia) and was looking around for something on the subject of Gevaudan which contained contemporary sources.

It may seem a stretch from man eating tigers in India to unknown killers in southern France but I kept finding details and observations which clearly resonated between the two.
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MrRINGOffline
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PostPosted: 17-03-2014 19:16    Post subject: Reply with quote

Spookdaddy wrote:

Is that the Derek Brockis translation of Abbé Pierre Pourcher?
.


The very book! I talked to a friend who is a wildlife expert of sorts (raised on a farm, works in a vets office) and she thought all the specific behaviors described by the beast reminded her of cats, and we got to talking about ligers. When I looked at photos online, they had a number of the same things in common:
- large heads and paws
- front legs look smaller than the back legs
- long hairy tails
- odd striping patterns mimicking the look of the stripes on the back of the Beast in some descriptions
- the face was described as being like the face of a calf... and I can see where the face of a big cat could be said to be like a calf.
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PeteByrdieOffline
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PostPosted: 17-03-2014 19:26    Post subject: Reply with quote

Worth thinking about. But everyone in 18th century France would have been familiar with cats. And one thing about cats, whether big or small, is that they are very distinctively feline. I mean, any cat owner watching a lion, tiger or liger rolling about, stalking or sleeping, would immediately recognise his own cat in its body shape, facial features and mannerisms.
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MrRINGOffline
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PostPosted: 17-03-2014 19:50    Post subject: Reply with quote

It’s very true, the record of that time discounted the idea that it was both lion and lynx. But they also described the Beast as having a short calf like face, which could be a mistaken look at the features of a cat . That region of France had until 10 years previously been extremely remote, with better roads being built due to a famine according to the original compiler. Perhaps the behaviors of the Beast were so un-big cat like from their experience, and the liger was such an odd mix of attributes (doing a google search on liger let me see a number of fairly extreme variations) that a variation might easily have created a creature that to an average person would be classified a wolf.

There was much talk in the writings about trying to compare what people were seeing to the then-state of the art books of animal species, so they were certainly trying to understand what it was.
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oldroverOffline
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PostPosted: 17-03-2014 20:41    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
as having a short calf like face, which could be a mistaken look at the features of a cat


Or a mastiff of some sort or a wolf mastiff cross, I think either of which would be more in keeping with the idea of the animal being wolf like.
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