Whereas Arthurian legend had its Fisher King, rural Hungarian lore apparently once included an ostensibly real but presently-unidentified mystery beast known as the fisher pig. Also termed the swamp pig, this hitherto-obscure creature, seemingly undocumented in mainstream cryptozoological literature until now, was kindly brought to my attention by Facebook colleague and Hungarian crypto-investigator Orosz István via a series of FB communications during early July 2016, and which can be summarised as follows.
The old shepherding folk of his country still speak of this mysterious animal, which they claim to be extinct now (allegedly dying out during the 1880-1890s, according to a mention of it by famous Hungarian agricultural writer Imre Somogyu in his celebrated 1942 book Kertmagyarország Felé), but which once lived in marshes around the rivers Tisza and Körös. It did not graze like normal wild boars, and its diet consisted of crabs and fishes. When I asked Orosz if any illustrations of fisher/swamp pigs existed, he replied that he was not aware of any, but added that it was said to be very big, with a curved back, and lived in large herds.
This interesting account attracted a wide range of speculation on FB, including whether it may actually have constituted a late-surviving species of entelodont. These omnivorous pig-like ungulates (but constituting a separate taxonomic family from true pigs) existed in Eurasia and North America from the middle Eocene to the early Miocene (37 million to 16 million years ago), culminating in their last but largest representative Daeodon shoshonensis (aka Dinohyus hollandi). Distributed widely across the U.S.A., this monstrous so-called 'hell pig' or 'terminator pig' stood around 6 ft tall at the shoulder and sported a massive 3-ft-long skull.
However, it seems highly unlikely that such conspicuous creatures as entelodonts could have survived into modern times in Europe without having attracted very appreciable, sustained attention from the sporting fraternity, for whom they would have made extremely noteworthy targets and thence trophies (i.e. mounted heads, preserved pelts, etc), to be displayed proudly in hunting lodges and country estates across the continent. And yet no such specimens seemingly exist; none, at least, has been brought to public notice so far.
Much more plausibly, Orosz felt that the fisher pig was probably nothing more than a local variety of the familiar European wild boar Sus scrofa, whereas fellow Hungarian crypto-enthusiast Tötös Miklós considered that it may have been a feral (run-wild) variety of domestic pig. Both wild boars and feral domestic pigs will indeed inhabit swamps and marshes, are famously omnivorous, and are known to enter shallow water to devour fishes and invertebrates.
Yet as wild boars and feral domestic pigs are such well known creatures in this region of Europe, why would any that lived in the Tisza and Körös marshes be delineated with their own name by the local shepherds, unless they had evolved a distinctive morphology and lifestyle that separated them from more typical wild boar and ferals at least in the eyes of the shepherds (if not in those of zoologists)? For now, therefore, the Hungarian fisher pig remains a thought-provoking cryptozoological conundrum.
My sincere thanks to Facebook friends Orosz István and Tötös Miklós for their much-appreciated information and insights concerning their country's enigmatic fisher pig, and to Markus Bühler for his excellent entelodont statue photographs.
This ShukerNature blog article is excerpted from my newly-published mega-book Still In Search Of Prehistoric Survivors – at 0ver 600 pages and almost 260,000 words long, and with more than 300 illustrations, most in full-colour and including many spectacular but hitherto-unpublished artworks, an ideal Christmas present for any crypto-fan!