First, we will start of with a history of the cynocephali for those who may not know what they are. According to the Cryptid Wiki, the Cynocephali existed in the mythology of Europe, India, and China. They were said to exist in modern-day Iran. In European mythology, they were described as dog-headed people. Sometimes they were said to be hairy giants.
One theory to explain the Cynocephali is that they are just baboons. That could be the explanation, but, as we shall see, stories of werewolf like creatures continued, and still do in today's world. The Cryptid Wiki has a good ending paragraph about the Cynocephali:
"Since there do not seem to be sightings of these creatures today, most cryptozoologists ignore them. To the few who do pay attention to them, the Cynocephali are viewed as either just one more kind of hairy humanoid of as a cryptid canine of some sort."
Well Cryptid Wiki, there may still be sightings of Cynocephali, as we shall see later in this post. But first, some more on some old werewolves.
BEAST OF GEVAUDAN
I first learned about the Beast of Gevaudan about three years ago in Loren Coleman and Jerome Clark's 1999 book Cryptozoology A to Z. Between the years 1764 and 1767, eighty to 118 humans were killed by this mysterious, deadly cryptid canine. On June 30, 1764, Jeanne Boulet, a 14 year old girl, was out by the village of Saint Etienne de Lugdares, France, herding sheep, when she was found by other villagers - dead, and her body was torn apart. Soon, the killer was hunted by many people. Several times, the hunters encounters a giant, wolf-like creature that was attacking a person. It was shot many times, and some people claimed they wounded it, but no one could ever kill it, leading some to think it was a werewolf!
|Beast of Gevaudan|
Finally, on September 21, 1765, Francois Antoine was near the village of Pommier with forty other hunters when they trapped the Beast at the bottom of a ravine. They shot it several times and finally succeeded in killing it. It was soon dubbed the "Wolf of Chazes" and appeared to be a specimen of Canis lupus. It was six feet long, 32 inches high, and weighed 143 pounds. It had inch and a half long fangs and had forty-two teeth total. Some have suggested that this Beast was a wolf-dog hybrid.
Wait, did I just say this Beast? There was more than one Beast of Gevaudan? The answer - yes!
Over the next two years attacks continued. On June 19, 1767, Jean Chastel shot and killed a huge dog-like creature. The attacks stopped for good afterwards.
Some people think that Chastel, who killed the second beast, was a real killer, and that he had trained the Beast, which was said to be a hyena. The Beast he used as a distraction while he went out and did his evil deeds.
There are quite a few theories for what the Beasts of Gecaudan were, and you can find out more about them on Karl Shuker's blog on his excellent post on the monsters - he explains it much better than I could!
SHAPE SHIFTING WEREWOLVES
A long time ago, Europeans believed that a person could turn into a werewolf. Lycanthropy, according to wikipedia, is "the mythological ability or power of a human being to undergo transformation into a werewolf. People who were thought to be werewolves were called lycanthropes.
Beginning in the 16th century, Europe had many witch and werewolf trials. Those who were thought to be lycanthropes of witches were captured and lots of times killed. Only one person actually confessed that they were a werewolf.
At age 18, a boy named Hans was accused of being a werewolf. He was brought to court in 1651 during the Werewolf Trials in Estonia and admitted that he had been hunting as a werewolf, for two years. He claimed that two years earlier he had been bitten by a "man in black" that turned out to be a werewolf, thus turning him into one, also.
NATIVE AMERICAN LEGENDS
Europeans were not the only ones with stories of werewolves. Native Americans knew of them as well.
Many tribes of Native American believed in shape-shifters. The Navajo are one such tribe, and believe in skinwalkers, which they call the "yeenadlooshi", which means "he who goes on all fours." They say that skinwalkers do not look exactly like normal people - they have large eyes that are always glowing. They believe that if a person looks a skinwalker in the eyes, it can steal their skin! Their skin was also said to be hard as rock, so they could not be hurt by the Native's weapons. Sometimes it is said that skin walker's tongue is black, which means their soul was poison.
To become a skinwalker, the Native's say, is caused by dark forces.
Skinwalkers can change from human to animal form, and are said to be much more intelligent as an animal. They can read minds and try to lure people out of their homes by mimicking the voices of their loved ones.
Skinwalkers can take many animal forms, including coyotes, owls, and crows. The most common form, though, is the wolf.
For those who don't know, there are reported encounters today with something that sounds like a werewolf. These creatures are called Dogman by cryptozoologists, and sightings happen all over North America. Two of the most famous are the Beast of Bray Road seen in Wisconsin and the Michigan Dogman.
Sightings of Dogmen go back to at least 1936. That year, Mark Schackelman saw a creature as big as a man, with dark fur, kneeling like a human, digging on a mound at St. Coletta School for Exceptional Children in Wisconsin. The first night he saw it, the creature ran away. He saw it again the next night, though, and it didn't act frightened.
When Schackelman saw the creature the next night, it stood up on its hind legs to a height of six feet. It smelled like "rotten meat" and had hands with fingers and thumbs. It was very muscular, and had the head of a wolf. When Schackelman shined his flashlight at the creature, it growled in a "neo-human voice" something that sounded like "ga-dar-rah." Schackelman became terrified and felt he needed to pray. As he did, the creature left, and he never saw it again.
There have been many other Dogman sightings across the country, and they have occurred in just about every state. Lots of them have occurred in Wisconsin, Michigan, Ohio, and surrounding states.
Linda S. Godfrey is the author of four excellent books fully on the Dogman and other books on cryptozoological subjects as well. You can find all of them here. Joedy Cook also has a few books on this cryptid, the most recent being Dogman: Werewolf Encounters in Northeastern America, which came out in June. I also have a whole chapter fully on Dogman in my book, and it is one of the longer chapters in the book.
|The Michigan Dogman|
Dogmen are normally said to be about seven feet tall, with hind legs like a dog, a tail, very muscular body, sometimes the hands are like elongated dog paws, but sometimes they look like human hands, like in Schackelman's report, and they have heads described as looking like a wolf or German Shepard. They are definitely not Bigfoot.
For a long time most people didn't know about the Dogman, but now it seems everyone in the world of cryptozoology does. On a recent Sasquatch Watch Radio, Joedy Cook said he thinks they are going to be the next "big thing." I think that, too. Lots of people know about them, there are books fully on them, and they have been featured on several TV shows, including Mystery Hunters, MonsterQuest, and Monsters and Mysteries in America.
I do not think Dogmen are shape-shifting werewolves. They are some type of canine that walks upright like humans (and Sasquatch, too!) They live all over North America, and maybe other places of the world as well. And, whatever they are, they aren't a nice little animal you'd want to run into in the woods. These things are known to chase cars and people, and there are some reports of them actually attacking people. They are dangerous.
Dogman sightings continue today. All the old "legends" and "myths" about werewolves may not be myths at all.
|Would you like to see this on a lonely country road|
in the middle of the night?