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  • The Sasquatch: Bigger is Better June 23, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
    The Sasquatch: Bigger is Better

    There is a natural and very understandable human tendency to see a terrifying four-foot dog and describe it, honestly, to your neighbour as a terrifying six-foot dog. This is well known, of course, and may be behind the extraordinarily long lengths given to some snakes, a previous subject of this blog. However, there is another […]

    The Longest Snake in the World June 16, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
    The Longest Snake in the World

    British newspapers gave a couple of acres of space between 1800 and 2000 to ‘monster snakes’ discovered in this or that corner of the Green & Pleasant land. Typically a vicar in Devon had found an adder that measured two and a half feet long… However, leaving the shores of Britain behind there were better […]

    In Search of the Hodag June 11, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    In Search of the Hodag

    The Hodag is one of the most interesting mythical creatures from the great American wilderness. It is associated above all with Wisconsin and particularly with a hoax that dates to 1893 when newspapers reported the capture of a Hodag, apparently a small horned lizard. Full points to those who organized this brilliant photograph above, surely […]

    The Shining South African Snake Monster June 4, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    The Shining South African Snake Monster

    Beach spent a few minutes going through Heuvelmans’ wonderful On the Tracks of Unknown Animals but could find not hint of this ‘thing’. The following description appeared in 1899 in some nature notes in a British newspaper! The natives of Natal [South Africa] have implicit faith in the existence of the lamp snake, which they […]

    The Greene County Wild Man May 20, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    The Greene County Wild Man

    When we think wild men most readers will think sasquatch and yeti: when people in the nineteenth century (and before) thought wild men they thought lunatics or hermits who had gone to live in the wood and who had lost touch with humanity. Perhaps in mythic terms there is not that much difference? However, this […]

    The Durham Serpent May 19, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    The Durham Serpent

    Here is a weird little story that allegedly appears in St Nicholas’ Parochial Register, Durham for 1568. Mdm. that a certain Italian brought into the cittie of Durham, the 11th day of June, in the yeare above sayd, a very great strange and monstrous serpent, in length sixteen feet, in quantitie and dimentions greater than a […]

    The Manufacture of Chinese Wildmen May 4, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    The Manufacture of Chinese Wildmen

    This comes from a British newspaper and 1892. It appeared in a curiosity column along with an item on marrying trees (really!). All this to say that this material should probably be treated with circumspection if not downright superstition. Or perhaps someone recognizes an obscure Chinese custom or institution: drbeachcombing AT yahoo DOT com Beach would […]

    The Earliest African Unicorn Evidence November 8, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Medieval
    The Earliest African Unicorn Evidence

    This blog, several years ago, ran a series of posts on unicorns. Here is a late appendix based on reading Cosmas Indicopleustes’ Christian Topography, a work that dated to the mid sixth century of our era. Cosmas was a widely travelled Greek. He had been to Ethiopia and he may have been to Sri Lanka, […]

    Mysterious Boggart Body Found in Manchester September 4, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Mysterious Boggart Body Found in Manchester

    Beach apologises first of all for three days of animals: cats, killer sheep and now boggarts, but this one really got his curiosity going. The book in which the description is found is Edwardian, but the author is recalling his boyhood in mid-nineteenth century Lancashire on the edge of Boggart Hole Clough in northern Manchester. […]

    Prodigious Portrait of a Seven-Headed Monster June 14, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Prodigious Portrait of a Seven-Headed Monster

    This peculiar creature appeared in a seventeenth-century English pamphlet. The pamphlet limits itself to two pages and tells a simple story. The true Portraiture of a prodigious Monster, taken in the Mountains of Zardana [in Syria]. the following Description whereof was sent to Madrid, Octob. 20, 1654, and from thence to Don Olonzo de Cardines, […]

    How to Train a Griffin! June 6, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient
    How to Train a Griffin!

    Beni Hassan is a collection of ancient Egyptian tombs in central Egypt. The tombs there have many precious illustrations of day-to-day life under the Pharoahs. And one of the most curious images is that above from the tomb of Khety (eleventh dynasty). Reader, what are you looking at? No, idea? Well, there is little doubt […]

    Dragons in Sixteenth-Century Devon? June 2, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval, Modern
    Dragons in Sixteenth-Century Devon?

    Challacombe is a small village to the west of Exmoor in Devon in the south-west of the UK. On the edge of the moor there are many ‘hillocks of earth and stones, cast up anciently in large quantity’, i.e. prehistoric burial mounds. So far so normal, this is a classic landscape in a marginal agricultural area, that […]

    Caesar and a German Unicorn? May 14, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient
    Caesar and a German Unicorn?

    Karl Shuker has recently put up a post on an ancient cryptoid: the Hercynian Unicorn. KS, always interesting, quotes the work of a German author Markus Bühler (whose work I’ve not read), suggesting that we are dealing with a ‘freak deer’ across the Rhine. However, before conjuring up abberant creatures to explain curious antique references, […]

    Colonel Fowler and the Mammoth, 1887 February 27, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Colonel Fowler and the Mammoth, 1887

    Col. F. Fowler lived for 12 years in Alaska, from c.1877-1889. On finishing his time there he was asked by a reporter about the most interesting thing he had seen there. He answered as follows: Two years ago last summer I left Kodiac for a trip to the head waters of the Snake River, where […]

    In Search of the Lamia in Ethiopia? January 28, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    In Search of the Lamia in Ethiopia?

    This passage appears in an 1863 book about a Briton’s residence in Abyssinia. The author seems to be in two minds about the monster he is describing. Is it real or is it a figment of the locals’ imagination? In the text he seems to account for it as legend, but note that he had […]

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