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France’s Beast of Gévaudan


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#16    Abramelin

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Posted 31 May 2012 - 12:39 PM

Personally I think it must have been a wolfdog, or wolf-dog hybrid.

Two things: they are often much larger than their parents (wolf and dog), and because of conflicting instincts also often dangerous to humans.

The reason I think it's a wolfdog is because the story my father always told us.

My father was born and raised in a poor sthole of a town in the south of the Netherlands. His father wasn't known to be a 'loving father' for his kids (he treated them like cheap slaves) and all he gave his kids was food, but after he had fed the animals first (he was a farmer). The road my grandfathers farm was located at was nicknamed "Hunger Alley"; that was around the 20's of the past century.

My father must have been 15 or 16 years old (he was born in 1911) and if he didn't have to work on the farm he was playing in the fields or in the forests nearby. Sometimes a traveling salesman (I had to google, and I think the proper name would be 'huckster') who traded in all kinds of junk, and his 'house' was a turf hut near the edge of the forest. He lived alone - his wife had died and he had no kids - and sometimes he visited the area where my father lived.

The man always felt sorry for my father and my father's brothers and sisters because he knew how my grandfather treated them, and sometimes he just gave them something, be it food or some toy or whatever. One day my father was again playing near the forest, and the man came around, and told my father that if he wanted he could choose something he liked from the cart he was pulling along.

My father looked on the cart, and saw a young dog, and he immediately fell in love with this dog. He noticed that despite it being a young puppy that it had quite massive paws, and being the son of a farmer he knew that this dog would grow to be huge. The huckster said he got it from someone from Poland, and that it was a wolf-dog hybrid.

So my father took this dog home, but found out very soon this wasn't your avarage sweet little doggie... The dog  grew fast - my grandfather had taken a liking towards the dog, perhaps because they had similar characters, lol, and fed the dog well.

My father was never too tired to tell us that he and everyone were scared shtless of this huge dog: the animal was almost twice the size of a German shepard, it was simply massive and had huge fangs. The only one the dog would obey was my grandfather, a guy people had given the nickname 'de beul van Schaijk' (the brute from Schaijk).

My grandfather knew this wasn't a dog you would let run around free and so he kept it on the barnyard behind a fence and on a chain. But apparently this wasn't enough to keep that dog in, because sometimes he was able to brake loose by snapping the chain and splintering the planks the fence was made of. The dog then stayed away for a day or so, to return later with its head covered in blood.

This grandfather of mine, being the guy he was thought nothing bad of it, and assumed his dog had only killed and eaten a rabbit. These were not modern times, with internet, television, or radio, and anything remotely 'civilized' was far away from that village. However, it soon became clear the dog had killed a bit more than a mere rabbit: he had killed several cows during his frequent escapes, and eaten large parts of these cows. The cows that were found had there intestines all over the place and their throats had been ripped open.

Of course it was known that it had been my grandfather's dog - someone had followed the dog from a great distance - and people came complaining and wanted to be paid for their dead cows, and wanted the dog to be put down.

But as I said, my grandfather was as scary as the dog he owned, so people didn't push their demands... and all my grandfather did was build a large iron cage for the dog.

The bars of the cage were as thick as a finger, and when someone passed the cage, the dog became a furious monster and grabbed the bars and rattle the whole cage.

Somehow the story of this huge dog spread around, and one day a couple of people came round to ask my grandfather about this dog and where it came from and so on. They were from the police of a city far away, and were accompanied by a dog trainer (a young man who was also a boxer according to my father). They wanted to buy this dog and have it trained so it could be used as a police dog (!!!).

Well, my grandfather's love for money was greater than his love for the dog, and so he sold it.

The end of the story is that in the end they had to put this monster of a dog down because no one was able to handle it, and because it had nearly killed a couple of policemen during those tranings.

End of story? Not exactly....

When I was 20 years old an old biology teacher (I followed a training for lab assistent) started telling a story one day.

This teacher was a huge hombre himself, and he had a low rumbling but gentle voice. His hands were equally huge, and when a girl from my class asked him, giggling, about it, he said he had been a boxer when he was still a young man.

Aside from having been a boxer, he told us he had been a dog trainer.  Sometimes he assisted the police in finding suitable dogs to work as police dogs. One day he was invited to come along with the police to a tiny village in Brabant, a province in the south of the Netherands. He then said he met the largest dog he had ever seen in his life, and that he never saw one that size again.

However, he had also noticed this animal was ferocious and really dangerous and not much worth as a police dog. But the other men wouldn't think of leaving the dog there, and against his advice they bought the dog. Finally this teacher told us the dog had to be put down soon.

You can understand I was flabbergasted after hearing this story. I had many doubts and I wished my father had been still alive (he died the year before) so I could check his story for more details and then return to this teacher and tell him about it.

Somehow I postponed telling this teacher about my father, and I became totally focussed on studying for my exams. Years later I thought I'd visit this teacher again, but I learned he had died already.

.

Edited by Abramelin, 31 May 2012 - 12:46 PM.


#17    Abramelin

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Posted 31 May 2012 - 12:59 PM

I found this:

Wolfdogs in the wild
Hybridization in the wild usually occurs near human habitations where wolf density is low and dogs are common.[18] However, there were several reported cases of wolfdogs in areas with normal wolf densities in the former Soviet Union.[19] Wild wolfdogs were occasionally hunted by European aristocracy, and were termed lycisca to distinguish them from common wolves.[20] Noted historic cases (such as the Beast of Gévaudan) of large wolves that were abnormally aggressive toward humans, may be attributable to wolf-dog mating.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wolfdog


Many people, however, misinterpret wolf-dog hybrid behavior. In addition, in contrast to domestic dogs, wolves are unfamiliar with the subtleties of human social interaction, and so it is reasonable to assume that hybrids are subject to misinterpreting human behavior. This web of misunderstanding leads to frustration for the animal and owner and may exacerbate the animal’s aggressive or territorial behaviors. When problems escalate to this point, many people resort to caging or abandoning hybrids. Abandonment is particularly problematic, since few animal rescue services will accept hybrids into their facilities.

http://www.britannic...ns-best-friend/

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Edited by Abramelin, 31 May 2012 - 12:59 PM.


#18    Abramelin

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Posted 31 May 2012 - 01:17 PM

Just for extra, lol:

I think it was 78' or 79' of the past century when I was on a holiday in southern France. At some moment I wanted to buy a souvenir, entered a small shop and wandered around to find something nice.

Then my eyes fell on this wallet which had - I thought - the image of a dog on it:

Posted Image

Posted Image


Years later I found out it this wasn't just some dog, but that it was the "Beast of Gévaudan". The village I had visited (forgot the name) was a stone's throw away from Gévaudan.


#19    Abramelin

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Posted 31 May 2012 - 05:27 PM

And just for fun (and believe me, NOTHING MORE) I'd like to add that my family name is often pronounced as "Lycan" by Anglo-Saxon Americans, and Australians. It's off from how one should pronounce it, btw.

When I was still in basic school - a Roman Catholic hellhole -  a blackrobe once asked me if I was a member of the "family Wolf".  I really thought he meant a family with a surname "Wolf".

But he had a smirk on his face when he asked me, and I didn't know what to make of it. He smelled kind of bad too, so I was somewhat distracted...

Can't trust those Men In Black, heh.

.

Edited by Abramelin, 31 May 2012 - 05:46 PM.


#20    HollyDolly

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Posted 31 May 2012 - 06:22 PM

:tu: That's a very interesting story. That man who was your teacher had to have been the same man who came to your grandfather's place with the policeman for the dog.And your idea about the Beast of Gevedaun does have a real possiblity maybe of being true.
I wonder if the beast could have been a cross with some large dog like a great dane,or irish wolfhound or german shepherd maybe.
I don't know if we will ever find out the answer.What a neat story.

As far as the priest goes, don't know what  the dutch word for wolf is, but lycan is sometimes used to refer to werewolves.Maybe that was why he smirked, implying that the family was a bunch of werewolves,which of course wasn't right.
I hope you post somemore stories,that was very interesting.


#21    Abramelin

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Posted 31 May 2012 - 06:35 PM

View PostHollyDolly, on 31 May 2012 - 06:22 PM, said:

:tu: That's a very interesting story. That man who was your teacher had to have been the same man who came to your grandfather's place with the policeman for the dog.And your idea about the Beast of Gevedaun does have a real possiblity maybe of being true.
I wonder if the beast could have been a cross with some large dog like a great dane,or irish wolfhound or german shepherd maybe.
I don't know if we will ever find out the answer.What a neat story.

As far as the priest goes, don't know what  the dutch word for wolf is, but lycan is sometimes used to refer to werewolves.Maybe that was why he smirked, implying that the family was a bunch of werewolves,which of course wasn't right.
I hope you post somemore stories,that was very interesting.


The Dutch word for 'wolf is.... 'wolf', lol. (but the -o- is pronounced like the -o- in "not").

And yes, I wished I could have spoken to that teacher again. He was an old guy, just a bit older than my father was when they must have met. My father had been a boxer too (and not a very good one, lol), so when he - my father -  said the bars were as thick as his pinky (when he was telling the story, he always raised that fat pinky of his), I was amazed. My father had quite large hands for the rather small guy he was (even his wife, my mother, was taller than he was, lol). But he had done manual labor for all of his life. And it showed.

Dolly, one thing I inherited from my father is this: the love of telling stories (and his love for nature: plants and animals, but also flying kites, but especially: birds and of course: crows).

It's just that I have to translate everything I think of or remember that makes it a bit difficult.

.

Edited by Abramelin, 31 May 2012 - 06:40 PM.


#22    Zirna

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Posted 31 May 2012 - 07:20 PM

I have personaly gotten to interact with wolf-dog hybrids,  Not all of them are aggressive.   Their characteristics are determined by both parents, so it's possible that the wolf-dog hybrid that your grandfather owned could have an ancestry that contains a bloodline from a domestic dog known for violence.  That's why most breeders don't use pitbulls and the such, normaly they use german shephereds and malimutes.

The Dictum of St. Thomas Aquinas:

                                         Omnes angeli, boni et Mali, ex virtute naturali habent potestatem transmutandi corpora nostra

#23    Abramelin

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Posted 31 May 2012 - 07:25 PM

I have another story my father told me.

When he was even younger then when he got that wolf-dog hybrid, the same guy offered him a littlle cat.

But not just some cat, a cat with a very short tail, and with long hairs at the tip of its ears.

My father absolutely loved that cat. He told me that cat - a cat that grew to be much larger than any domestic cat - ws like a dog in cat's clothes, lol.

And when he told me that story, I showed him a book with many pics of all kinds of cats in it.

And what did he point at? : a bobcat, or a 'lynx' as we call it here in Europe.

He had always thought that that cat was some kind of weird distortion of Mother Nature, lol.


#24    Abramelin

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Posted 31 May 2012 - 07:31 PM

View PostZirna, on 31 May 2012 - 07:20 PM, said:

I have personaly gotten to interact with wolf-dog hybrids,  Not all of them are aggressive.   Their characteristics are determined by both parents, so it's possible that the wolf-dog hybrid that your grandfather owned could have an ancestry that contains a bloodline from a domestic dog known for violence.  That's why most breeders don't use pitbulls and the such, normaly they use german shephereds and malimutes.

I hope you got the message: my grandfather was't the nicest of guys.

I feel tempted to post his photo here, but I better not.

My feeling is that the dog got fkd up by my grandfather, and that is why he became so aggressive.

--

I feel quite **** now, so I tell you another thing.

My father once got beaten up badly by my granddfather.

His brother saw the ''result'.. and he told my grandfather, his own father... "I know you are now much stronger than I am,. But believe me, if you ever do THAT to me, and I grow up, you will not awake the next morning."


#25    Zirna

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Posted 31 May 2012 - 07:59 PM

View PostAbramelin, on 31 May 2012 - 07:31 PM, said:

I hope you got the message: my grandfather was't the nicest of guys.

I feel tempted to post his photo here, but I better not.

My feeling is that the dog got fkd up by my grandfather, and that is why he became so aggressive.

--

I feel quite **** now, so I tell you another thing.

My father once got beaten up badly by my granddfather.

His brother saw the ''result'.. and he told my grandfather, his own father... "I know you are now much stronger than I am,. But believe me, if you ever do THAT to me, and I grow up, you will not awake the next morning."

Sorry to hear about your father, noone deserves that.  I was just pointing out that the dog-parents has something to do with the personality.  But the personality of the owner can add to it.  Both things could contribute to it.  But seeing that the other parentage of the wolf-dog hybrid is unknown it could be a possibility.

The Dictum of St. Thomas Aquinas:

                                         Omnes angeli, boni et Mali, ex virtute naturali habent potestatem transmutandi corpora nostra

#26    Abramelin

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Posted 31 May 2012 - 08:01 PM

I think I inherited some bad genes.

And I am not proud of it, not at all.

But I am glad ......... they made me a fighter.

I don't buy superstitious crap.

===

And yes, I am sorry if I offended anyone.

Sorry, but not truelly.


#27    Thegreatsilence

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Posted 04 June 2012 - 04:38 PM

This beast is as unique as Okapi is. It's a canine beast with feline-like proportions (such animals existed during Prehistoric times). Pliny the Elder who is a quite reliable source refers to it as Leucrotta or Crocotta, that it looks like a cross between a hyena and a lioness and is able to mimick human speech just like Margay's cat does when trying to attract capuchin monkeys. Don't know if the beast is a French native but I found some reference of it coming from the Middle East  (Turkey and Lebanon) :

From a Roman poet, Oppian of Apamea :

Quote

The third species inhabits the mountains of Taurus and Cilicia—an animal superior to the race of wolves, named the Golden, of prodigious strength, and able to resist the unspent brass and the pointed iron. He dreads the rising of the dog-star,and during the prevalence of its heat, lies concealed in his shady cavern. (Cynegetica, Book Third)

Comment from a forum posted in 2006 :

Quote

I was in the Middle East (Lebanon) a year ago and heard a story about some animal attaking cattle and people. They called it sheeb. After laughing at everybody who mentioned the story of the sheeb, "something" attaked a person I knew very well. People descibed the animal/beast as a very large animal (almost as big as a tiger), and that looks like a huge wolf with tiger traits. They said it was very smart and hard to hunt. After 6 months of terror, they were able to kill it, but I did not get to see it (I had left the country).
I did some research and discovered in an Arabic Encyclopedia that a Sheeb is a cross between a wolf and a hyena. It is described as a very aggressive animal, stronger than a wolf and smarter than a hyena. It is said that the cross is very rare and hard to replicate. The similarities between what is described in this forum and the pictures of La Bete make me believe that it must be the same animal.



#28    Erudite Celt

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Posted 20 June 2012 - 07:32 AM

View Postthe L, on 04 January 2012 - 07:14 PM, said:

Thanks for posting a fascinating link. Their are some accounts from 18th century of Dire Wolves in the Carpathian mountains. Dire Wolves are believed to have gone extinct after the last ice age ( everyone say Coelacanth ) The description of this beast in Gévaudan sounds very much like a Dire .

Posted Image
Posted Image
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#29    La Bete Feroce

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Posted 24 October 2012 - 03:04 AM

I'm resurrecting this thread, as I thoroughly love this subject.

The Beast was not a dire, nor in my opinion any other cryptid or extinct predator.

Information on the Beast in English is scarce, but in Europe - France, more specifically - it's all there for those who wanna read up on it. Two "Beasts" were slain. One by Antoine De Beauterne, arguably not the real Beast but rather a large wolf (it was killed in a neighboring area, to boot, some ways off from the depredations of our La Bete), and then the true Beast, shot in the neck by Jean Chastel and finished off by hunting dogs. A fellow named Marin conducted the autopsy, who also performed the autopsy on Beauterene's Beast. He was inconclusive as to its true identity, but did determine that it was definitely canine, and in his opinion was a wolf-dog hybrid of unknown breed. The full measurements of this Beast are available on the web. Marin based his wolf-dog opinion based on the size of the head, the presence of a white, heart-shaped patch of fur on its chest (common in dogs, not in wolves), a long tail, and unusually long claws. These traits manifest in wolf-dog hybrids, and hybrids are known to be larger than wolves and behave unpredictably. One could easily become a maneater.

The Wolf of Sarlat, as well as the Wolves of Périgord, are known to be wolf-dog hybrids who terrorized France in the same decade as the Beast of Gevaudan.

But the Beast of Gevaudan stands out. It wasn't like these other maneaters. It survived Duhamel and his dragoons, the great wolf-hunter Deneval, and left countless dead bodies in its wake. It fought ravenously against armed peasantry - men even, at times - and withstood, on ocassion, being shot at extremely close range while taking only minimal damage. Additionally, the Beast was able to rend off limbs with ease, and one of its trademarks was the decapitation of its victims. Neither a wolf nor a dog has that level of bite force... only a hyena does.

Which leads us to the hyena theory. It being a hyena contradicts aspects of the Marin report such as the dentition and the white patch of fur on the chest. Hyenas have 34 teeth while wolves have 42. The Beast had, I believe, 40 (I may be wrong, been a while since I read the report). That aside, hyenas lack dewclaws, and there was no mention of dewclaws being present in the autopsy. The black stripe down the back that was the most established, well known feature of the Beast is easily attributable to the Striped Hyena. No dog or wolf would have that. Moreover, Hyena proportions are consistent with the measurements in the report. The Beast was said to have made noises reminescent of a demonic laugh, or a neighing horse. Hyenas laugh, don't they? During one attack on a mother protecting her children from the Beast, a local farm-dog came to the rescue anda took a bite into its neck. What happened next? The farm dog whimpered and ran off. Why would this happen? Hyenas emit a rancid odor out their ass not unlike a skunk when threatened. To top it all off, the Museum of History in Paris, France has a log archiving the submission of "The Beast of Gevaudan" in 1766 at the time when Chastel's Beast was slain, which their personal taxidermists positively identified as a Striped Hyena.

Posted Image

With the exception of the white patch on the chest, it's a match.

What do I think it was? I'm not sure.

I'm split 50/50 on either wolf-dog or hyena.

If it was a wolf-dog, I believe its mother was a wolf and its father was either an Irish Wolfhound or a Dogue de Bordeaux. I'm more partial to the Dogue theory. And it was probably armed in boar hide as was customary for 17th and 18th century war-dogs. This would explain its resiliency to gunshots. It would also account for the black stripe on its back (characteristic of boars). Something like this:
Posted Image

If it was a Hyena, it was loosed from a menagerie. But whose? Probably Count de Moranges, who throughout the reign of La Bete, pranced around Gevaudan organizing hunts against it and proclaiming that it WAS a hyena. He was the premiere aristocrat in Gevaudan, and he had associations with the Chastels. The Chastels are highly culpable suspects in involvement with the Beast. Antoine de Chastel, son of Jean Chastel (who shot the Beast), was for a time employed by the Count as a caretaker in his menagerie of exotic animals. The Chastel family were avid dog-trainers and wolf-hunters who had an affinity for the wilds and who lived on the fringes of society. They even got in a clash with Antoine de Beauterne's men during the course of a hunt, and were subsequently thrown in jail. And you know what happened, then? The killings suddenly stopped, that is up until they were released again...

Jean Chastel only took action and killed the Beast when it nearly took the life of his woman. And it took him all of about a week to do what France's best couldn't accomplish in years. The Beast walked right up to him during a hunt, stood there subordinately and he shot it. Seems fishy, doesn't it?

I have another theory that it was an African Hunting Dog, the Lycaon. They actually fit the bill to a T. The Lycaon measures up exactly to the autopsy proportions, /would/ have the white patch, makes the bizarre noises La Bete reportedly made, has red eyes as recorded in the autopsy, has four toes without dewclaws, has 42 teeth like a wolf, is known to have a short, compact rib-cage like in the autopsy to enable faster turning, and some have the black stripe on the nape. The African Hunting dog is really the best match, but they tend to range on the small side. However, well nourished they can reach the size of the Beast. The Lycaon, like the hyena would have been accessible by the Chastels in a menagerie. And let's examine the way La Bete killed: Wagged its tail during attacks, and ate its victims alive. The African Hunting Dog does these things! I have a video of a lone African Hunting Dog bringing down an Impala and devouring it alive, if anyone wants a gander. It's very brutal, and the whole time, the dog is prancing around excitedly wagging its tail. Ya, so did the Beast of Gevaudan.

Posted Image

Note the black stripe beginning on the head (in this particular Lycaon, it's not as prominent as in others), the heart-shaped patch of white on the chest, the mottled fur color (this was noted in the Marin report), the white tipped tail (also a characteristic of La Bete, which would not be found in wolves, dogs or hyenas), and the fact that its hind legs are longer than its forelimbs. This was also characteristic of the Beast.

So what was it?

Wolf, Wolf-Dog Hybrid, Hyena or Lycaon? Bleh. There's just so many contradictions, a solid conclusion is ultimately impossible.

It was simply a Beast.

Edited by La Bete Feroce, 24 October 2012 - 03:31 AM.


#30    WGH

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Posted 24 October 2012 - 08:29 AM

I wonder what happened to the beast's remains?





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