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The Beast of Gevaudan
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MrRINGOffline
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PostPosted: 01-03-2012 20:12    Post subject: Reply with quote

Has anybody read this book on the subject (or did FT review it?)

LINK

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In a brilliant, original rendition, Monsters of the Gévaudan revisits a spellbinding French tale that has captivated imaginations for over two hundred years, and offers the definitive explanation of the strange events that underlie this timeless story.

In 1764 a peasant girl was killed and partially eaten while tending a flock of sheep. Eventually, over a hundred victims fell prey to a mysterious creature, or creatures, whose cunning and deadly efficiency terrorized the region and mesmerized Europe. The fearsome aggressor quickly took on mythic status, and the beast of the Gévaudan passed into French folklore.

What species was this killer, why did it decapitate so many of its victims, and why did it prefer the flesh of women and children? Why did contemporaries assume that the beast was anything but a wolf, or a pack of wolves, as authorities eventually claimed, and why is the tale so often ignored in histories of the ancien régime? Smith finds the answer to these last two questions in an accident of timing. The beast was bound to be perceived as strange and anomalous because its ravages coincided with the emergence of modernity itself.

Expertly situated within the social, intellectual, cultural, and political currents of French life in the 1760s, Monsters of the Gévaudan will engage a wide range of readers with both its recasting of the beast narrative and its compelling insights into the allure of the monstrous in historical memory.
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MrRINGOffline
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PostPosted: 07-03-2012 14:43    Post subject: Reply with quote

This may be the best site I've seen on the subject:

http://labete.7hunters.net/index.htm
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oldroverOffline
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PostPosted: 07-03-2012 18:19    Post subject: Reply with quote

I read the other day, over on Doubtfulnews I think, that this affair had been debunked. I'm not saying it has for a moment, because I can't find anything about whatever this new revelation is. Has anyone else heard anything?
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Quake42Offline
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PostPosted: 08-03-2012 11:52    Post subject: Reply with quote

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Has anyone else heard anything?


Nope, and this is one of my favourite cryptozoological mysteries. I still lean towards a mesonychid, though how on earth one survived for so long in Europe is another matter...
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oldroverOffline
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PostPosted: 08-03-2012 18:17    Post subject: Reply with quote

Perhaps they hibernated for about 30 million years.

Aside from the fact that there were killings taking place in the area at that time, during which period wolves were blamed and many shot, is there any evidence to suggest that any animal was involved. From the link earlier there didn't seem to be any consistent description. It reminds me of Peter Stumpp.
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Quake42Offline
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PostPosted: 09-03-2012 16:57    Post subject: Reply with quote

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Perhaps they hibernated for about 30 million years.



ISTR reports of an animal in the medieval Near East that sounded mesonychid-like. Can't find the reference now. But yeah, probablt a bit of a long-shot.
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oldroverOffline
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PostPosted: 09-03-2012 17:13    Post subject: Reply with quote

Funnily enough I came across this yesterday, don't ask me where though. One thing which seemed to put them out of a connection with the beast of... was that they were reported to have huge floppy ears.

Thing is with a Mesonychid, which are among my all time favourites, is that they'd have been noticed if they were anything like the beast in question. They wouldn't have been shy.

Also I'm not sure how closely they'd have physically resembled a large wolf. While some reconstructions make them look quite familiar and canine/lupine, like this;

http://www.bluelion.org/andrewsarchus.htm

Others, which I have to say I favour, show something altogether more unusual;

http://eng.prehistoric-fauna.com/publ/main/bestiary/andrewsarchus/2-1-0-68

I do note the mention of the hooves but also that they're sometimes described as 'cloven', to me this suggests that in the inevitable hype someone was trying to emphasise a diabolical element, rather than report an actual physical feature. [/url]
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PostPosted: 09-03-2012 21:48    Post subject: Reply with quote

Doesn't "cloven" just mean split in two, another way of saying cleaved? More like the hoofs of a dear than those of a horse.

I wonder if the Beast was some kind of hybrid. If you look at ligers, which are lion-tiger hybrids, you can see they are bigger than both of their ancestral species. Perhaps this was some rare one-off wolf-fox hybrid.
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oldroverOffline
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PostPosted: 10-03-2012 02:22    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yes cloven does mean that, but in the context of a supposed rampaging killer I think it's more likely used to suggest a devilish aspect to the situation.

While it is true that hybrids between lions and tigers do tend to be bigger than either original species, a fox wolf hybrid woiuldn't be even close to the sizes apparently reported for the beast.

Personally I think that while people may favour a range of potential explanations, I think there are two good factual precedents to explain a situation like this; Peter Stumpp and Rudraprayag. Personally I'd go for the former, as as this occurred in what is essentially modern Europe there's no serious non human contender.
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stunevilleOffline
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PostPosted: 10-03-2012 08:24    Post subject: Reply with quote

I was idly thinking about this last night. This has been postulated elsewhere, but how about if some of the pictures or models of "fabulous animals" from antiquity do show now-extinct cryptids, which have been mis-identified as bad portrayals of known fauna?

What really made me think was how accurately many animals are portrayed in ancient Chinese / Indian / Middle-Eastern drawings, whereas others are considerably more fanciful. So what if those pictures of "Chinese Lions, c. 1250" aren't of lions at all? How do we know what the remote Persian tribes identified as "lions"a couple of thousand years ago? How do we know they weren't actually mesonychids? Take these for example:

http://i19.photobucket.com/albums/b176/garbaldisham/lions2Bof2Bdahomey-748644.jpg

They're identified as "lions", but why not leopards, or jackals, or hyenas, or wolves, or even relicts of which we're now unaware?

OK, another long shot, but maybe worth considering.
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PostPosted: 10-03-2012 09:36    Post subject: Reply with quote

I've often thought this too.
It's not beyond the realms of possibility.
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Quake42Offline
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PostPosted: 10-03-2012 12:10    Post subject: Reply with quote

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I was idly thinking about this last night. This has been postulated elsewhere, but how about if some of the pictures or models of "fabulous animals" from antiquity do show now-extinct cryptids, which have been mis-identified as bad portrayals of known fauna?


Yep. I've got a lot of time for this argument and it's unfortunate that this whole area has been taken over by creationists, so it's impossible to have a sensible discussion on it.
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AnalisOffline
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PostPosted: 10-03-2012 12:16    Post subject: Reply with quote

oldrover wrote:

Thing is with a Mesonychid, which are among my all time favourites, is that they'd have been noticed if they were anything like the beast in question. They wouldn't have been shy.


I think I had already mentioned that somewhere, but the Beast of Gevaudan shown in The brotherhood of the wolf movie made me think of an Andrewsarchus (and yes, they said that it was the last of its kind...).
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Xanatic_Offline
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PostPosted: 10-03-2012 12:35    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hmm, in that movie they do explain what the creature is though, and it's not an andrewsarchus. I won't say more, since people might not have watched that excellent movie.
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oldroverOffline
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PostPosted: 10-03-2012 18:34    Post subject: Reply with quote

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I think I had already mentioned that somewhere, but the Beast of Gevaudan shown in The brotherhood of the wolf movie made me think of an Andrewsarchus


Yeah we've talked about this before.

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I was idly thinking about this last night. This has been postulated elsewhere, but how about if some of the pictures or models of "fabulous animals" from antiquity do show now-extinct cryptids, which have been mis-identified as bad portrayals of known fauna?


I agree this is something to be aware of. I wouldn’t want to argue that there weren’t any different now extinct species around a few thousand years ago, in fact we know there were hadropithecus for example which we know from fossils. And as we’ve said here before, the fossil record is nothing like complete, so who knows what we may have just missed.

That said it’s not easy to draw an accurate inference about it from art. Mainly because art is not only subjective and contextual, but also made by people with wildly differing degrees of ability, time and budgets.

Compare the lion with the ram statue here;

http://www.historywiz.com/galleries/sumerianlion.html

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Raminathicket2.jpg

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Ram_in_a_Thicket_head_on.jpg

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/d/dd/Bm-ram2.jpg/307px-Bm-ram2.jpg

There’s no doubt that the lion is far more naturalistic and the ram could be seen as being crude and naïve compared to it. Yet just by looking at the gold and lapis lazuli it’s covered in, it’s obvious that the ram is a much higher status object. So it’s reasonable to suggest that the ram isn’t crude just highly stylised, equally it’s also clear that it is meant to portray a ram despite the fact that the fleece is made up of what appear to be feathers. I think that is likely to be a limitation of the available materials so that’s another distorting factor to consider.

Then there’s the question of skill compare either with the ambiguous little animal figures shown earlier. Both the ram and the lion show a very close attention to anatomy and proportions whereas the small figures don’t, the one on the left for example has the shoulders forward of the neck, which is something that’s never been seen in nature. I’d say this just means that whatever they are, and I agree that could be anything, they’re too crudely made to draw any conclusions from without some other context. A context which we not have or understand any more. Further it leads to the fact that a whole load of apparently clearly identifying features could be accidentally transferred to a piece. I think if you asked a group of people, even those who had some idea of how to draw, to draw a dog off the top of their head some of the results could be seen as being any number of exotic creatures.

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Yep. I've got a lot of time for this argument and it's unfortunate that this whole area has been taken over by creationists, so it's impossible to have a sensible discussion on it.


I want to be absolutely clear that I’m not suggesting the following applies to anyone here, I know it doesn’t. I’m just discussing the above point, and not directing anything at anyone or attacking they’re point of view whatever that may be.


There’s a lot of Cryptozoology, not all by any means, but still a lot that to me seems to be something that could be seen as being very close to creationism. To continue with the mesonychids, purely as an example, they’re not just an extinct animal they’re part of an almost entirely extinct eco-system. The specific niche they occupied has gone, the prey on which they relied and the parity or slight advantage they had with or over it are gone. In fact nearly every environmental factor that ever shaped them, that made the environment that supported them, has gone and has been these last 30,000,000 years. So you might be able to see why some may equate suggesting that something like this could have survived this long, while its world changed so much, to a rejection of pretty much everything we’ve come to understand about the driving forces in nature, and being instead fairly close to the idea of an eternal creation of some kind. Or less extreme like saying that yes I believe in evolution, but I don’t believe in its most inevitable implications, change and extinction.

As I said I’m not suggesting that’s how anyone here feels and don’t think it is for a minute, so please don’t anyone be offended, it was a general point only.
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