For my Halloween post this year, I fall back on one of the creatures of the night that has longed intrigued me – the wild beast hound/wolf. The thought of some creature prowling the countryside in search of victims has always made my blood chill. Some of these creatures like the famous “Hound of Baskervilles” were fictitious creations but often some of these stories of demon dogs or wild beasts were based on some historical incident.
Take for example, the story about the Beast of Gevaudan. Between 1764 -1767, in the former province of Gevaudan whichwas located in the mountains of south-central France, a man-eating creature is claimed to have killed more than 100 people. This creature bore some resemblance to a large wolf but it did not hunt in packs as wolves do. It seemed to attack people preferentially even when cattle and other livestock were present. It attacked the head and killed by biting the neck or taking the whole head off. Many of the victims’ bodies were found partially eaten.
Things got so bad that King Louis XV sent professional wolf hunters to help and though they killed a number of wolves, including a particularly large one called Le Loup de Chazes, the attacks and killings continued. Eventually a local hunter, Jean Chastel, was credited with killing the real beast. Chastel claimed that he was part of a larger hunting group when he stopped to read the bible and pray. At that point, the beast appeared and stared at him. Upon finishing his prayer, he killed the beast. Survivors of the attacks positively identified the carcass as that of the beast that attacked them and human remains was found in its stomach.
However, others wondered about Chastel’s tale and some suspicion arose that the beast did not immediately attack Chastel because it had in fact been raised and trained by Chastel.
But what was the beast? It was described as being wolf-like but much larger, the size of a cow. It had a wide chest, a long tail ending in a lion like tuft of fur,large pointed ears and a long jaw with protruding fangs. It’s fur had a reddish tinge and smelt horribly. Some witnesses claimed that its feet resembled hooves rather than paws. Others claimed the hide was so tough that it was practically bullet proof.
Traditional stories suggest that the beast was a werewolf or a warlock who could shape-shift. Another early theory was that the beast was the result of cross breeding wolves with certain breeds of domestic dogs. Or perhaps it was a lion wearing armor, or it was a rare form of hyena.
I think it is interesting that some cryptozoologists and scientists suspect that it could have been a surviving remnant of a Mesonychid which are a group of animals that seemed to resemble the creature described by the survivors; especially the description of the size, protruding fangs, hooves and reddish fur. The only problem is that Mesonychids are believed to have died out some 32 million years ago.
So what do you think it was? And are they still prowling around today?
This is what a Mesonychid might look like………..