Zoologist, media consultant, and science writer, Dr Karl Shuker is also one of the best known cryptozoologists in the world. He is the author of such seminal works as Mystery Cats of the World (1989), The Lost Ark: New and Rediscovered Animals of the 20th Century (1993; greatly expanded in 2012 as The Encyclopaedia of New and Rediscovered Animals), Dragons: A Natural History (1995), In Search of Prehistoric Survivors (1995), The Unexplained (1996), From Flying Toads To Snakes With Wings (1997), Mysteries of Planet Earth (1999), The Hidden Powers of Animals (2001), The Beasts That Hide From Man (2003), Extraordinary Animals Revisited (2007), Dr Shuker's Casebook (2008), Karl Shuker's Alien Zoo: From the Pages of Fortean Times (2010), Cats of Magic, Mythology, and Mystery (2012), Mirabilis: A Carnival of Cryptozoology and Unnatural History (2013), Dragons in Zoology, Cryptozoology, and Culture (2013), The Menagerie of Marvels (2014), A Manifestation of Monsters (2015), Here's Nessie! (2016), and what is widely considered to be his cryptozoological magnum opus, Still In Search Of Prehistoric Survivors (2016) - plus, very excitingly, his first two long-awaited, much-requested ShukerNature blog books (2019, 2020).

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Monday 12 October 2009


As I've often noted, mystery animals can turn up in the most unlikely places - and back in 2002 one of these just so happened to be the American version of ebay, the online auction house.

From 16 to 26 September 2002, a most extraordinary painting was offered there, as Item #907237942, by a seller from Old Town, Florida, using the name ectopistes@webtv.net and requiring an undisclosed reserve price. According to the seller's description of this painting, it was an original unframed water-colour, measuring 22" by 30", bearing the signature Canzanella, and it depicted a pair of very odd-looking mammals - see above photo.

The one in the foreground was described by the seller as white with a very slight pinkish hue (as the seller's video-camera photo of the painting had made it seem yellow). The seller had owned the painting for roughly 28 years after paying a thousand dollars for it, but had no information as to what the animals in it were. Emphasising their curious appearance, he/she had entitled the item 'Strange Cryptozoology Animal Painting'.

Certainly, the creatures depicted are decidedly unusual, even sinister, and I cannot readily identify them with any known species. There are certain similarities to badgers (though the portrayed animals' legs seem too long for all but perhaps the Asian hog badger Arctonyx collaris), and others to various viverrids. The pink-hued white fur of the foreground specimen may indicate albinism.

In any event, the painting is reproduced here, and I'd welcome any opinions or information concerning the mystifying animals depicted, and the equally mysterious artist responsible for depicting them.


  1. Werewolf-type creatures, maybe???

    Indeed it is fascinating.

    Is there a signature on the painting that would help track the painting's maker???
    Looks like a "Symbolic" painting.

  2. Probably an imaginary animal made-up from lots of real animals? Looks like a platypus' beak on the right hand side.

    David from Australia.

  3. I work at a dolphin encounter facility, and some of the trainers bring their dogs in to be with the dolphins after hours. Perhaps the artist saw a couple of these beautiful animals together and decided to combine them in a painting. It looks to me like a combination of Irish Setter and Bottlenose Dolphin.

  4. It looks sort of like the mask of the alien in Predator, IMHO...

  5. mixture of an eagle and either a coyote or wolf.

  6. I see a griffin, sans wings....

  7. Hi everyone, Thanks for all the great ideas and suggestions - good to see that this fascinating if perplexing painting has stirred up such interest. The artist was someone who signed themselves as Canzanella on the painting, but I haven't been able to trace any such artist, so if there is anyone out there with info, we'd all very much like to hear from you! Thanks a lot, Karl

  8. I agree with the person who said it kinda looks like a dolphin. In theory, there were mammals that overtime evolved to suit underwater enviornments which eventualy evolved into whales and dolphins. Maybe this is an artist's depiction of what they may have looked like.

  9. I've posted this painting on my Facebook wall too, and one correspondent has stated that he feels sure it had appeared in an issue of Omni magazine. Bearing in mind the painting's eBay seller stated in 2002 that he had owned it for around 28 years, this means that the painting existed at least as far back as around 1974. So if anyone has a run of Omni issues dating from the early 1970s or 1960s (was Omni out then?), it would be great if they could check through them and see if this picture is there. Thanks a lot, Karl

  10. They look a lot like the Ratel or Honey Badger to me (I don't see a "beak", just a short-furred snout). Also, particularly the animal behind looks like some sort of photo negative - it would be interesting to digitally invert the colours on a scan of the picture.

    (At first glance, i thought this was a photo of glass models on a glass shelf, rather than a scanned painting...)

  11. I too have thought along the lines of a badger, and was very intrigued by your comparison of the animal being a kind of photo-negative. Indeed, with the black background and ghostly white-furred animals, the whole painting looks like a photo-negative. So I followed your advice, and colour-inverted the painting, and the result is very interesting indeed - so much so, that I've made it the subject of my next blog. So check it out, everyone, and let me know what you think! All the best, Karl

  12. I suspect this may well be just an imaginative work. I've done pictures of strange creatures myself, but that's mainly because of my lack of artistic ability! Well, kind of, usually my efforts went a bit awry, so I changed them into imaginary creatures that looked better than my original efforts. I wonder if this happened here.

    - Ray Bell

  13. Those creature resemble the werewolves from the horror novel "The Wolfen" by Whitley Strieber. I suspect that this was a rejected cover illustration.

    ~Martin Evans

  14. Why not ask the seller or find the artist and ask?

  15. That is precisely what I was finally able to do, and here's what I discovered: http://karlshuker.blogspot.com/2011/02/mystery-painting-no-longer.html

  16. dav1jas@yahoo.co.uk9 June 2012 at 11:53

    An article on this painting appeared in Fortean Times some time ago, and if I recall correctly the artist was traced and it turned out that the picture was a fanciful image of the ancestors of dolphins before they became fully aquatic. I still have the magazine somewhere, so if this mystery still hasn't been cleared up feel free to contact me.

  17. Hi there,

    Thanks for your info and kind offer of help, which I greatly appreciate. However, please don't laugh, but the article re this painting in Fortean Times that you refer to was written by me! Let me explain. Quite some time after writing this particular ShukerNature blog post, I finally traced the painting's artist and discovered from her that, yes, it was her idea of what an ancestral dolphin might look like, so I then wrote it all up for Fortean Times, to which I contribute regularly, and also have my Alien Zoo column in it. Moreover, I subsequently wrote about my findings re the painting here on ShukerNature too, on 24 February 2011, so please check out that blog post of mine.

    All the best, Karl