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).

Dr Karl Shuker's Official Website - http://www.karlshuker.com/index.htm

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Friday 29 March 2013


Reconstruction of the mystery beast sighted by Sheila Charles in May 1996 (Tim Morris)

Time to re-open the file on another overtly bemusing mystery beast, methinks.

Some of the most intriguing cryptids are those that feature in just a single report and are never heard of again...or are they?

On 24 May 1996, a bizarre dog-like beast 4-5 ft in total length, but with a sleek serpentine head, red reptilian eyes, a slender 24-30-in neck, shaggy black fur, long hind limbs, shorter forelimbs, and no tail at all, ran out in front of the car driven by Sheila Charles as she was taking her son Shane to school in Magalia, California. She swerved to avoid hitting the creature, and veered out of control into a canyon. Fortunately, no-one was badly injured, and the mysterious beast's reality was later confirmed by the driver of the car following her, who had also seen it.

The only published account of this dual-eyewitness encounter dating from that time period that I have seen appeared in UFO News World Report, 1996. But could there be other sightings of it on record, and does anyone have any thoughts as to what this extraordinary beast may have been? If the answer is yes to either of these questions, I'd love to hear from you, so please post your data here!

Incidentally, I am greatly indebted to Australian colleague and FB friend Ian Thomas for reminding me that there is one creature on record that shares a degree of similarity with this extraordinary creature. None other than Glatisant, the snake-headed, hound-baying Questing Beast of Arthurian legend!

A Heredities bronzed sculpture of Glatisant the Questing Beast in my personal collection (Dr Karl Shuker)

This ShukerNature blog is excerpted from my book Karl Shuker's Alien Zoo: From the Pages of Fortean Times (CFZ Press: Bideford, 2010)


  1. I initially thought it might be a dinosaur, but no tail and lots of fur, whereas dinos had feathers, though they were coarse and could have been mistaken for fur. Additionally, the only feathered ones were bipedal theropods which didn't go on four legs. Maybe 65 million years of evolution could explain that, but it sure doesn't explain the missing tail. All dinosaurs had tails. So some kind of really wierd mammal, but what?

  2. Something with mange? A bear of some type maybe? When animals that should have fur are missing a lot of it, they can look pretty insane.

    Just my two cents, it would be way more cool if it was a snake-wolf or something instead.

  3. Is it possible, that the observation af a snake-headed dog mentioned, could have been made of a long-range visitor of the species Tayra (Eira barbara) from Latin America?

    I've found a reference for a specimen caught in Costa Contra County of California: http://arctos.database.museum/guid/MVZ:Mamm:140048

    Henry Nielsen

    1. Actually, it's contra costa county.

  4. The relatively flat skull and lengthy-looking neck of the tayra could certainly be considered snake-like at certain angles, but whereas the tayra has a long thick bushy tail, the Californian beast had none - unless it had been lost in some skirmish, perhaps?

  5. Hello, Dr. Shuker! I have recently noticed something peculiar about most cryptozoologists. It appears to me that the majority of cryptozoologists believe that the North American continent is too heavily-populated to still conceal large unknown species. However, North America has one of the smallest population densities of any continent on Earth. And there are still numerous wilderness areas left on this fascinating continent.

    Therefore, why do cryptozoologists tend to ignore North America so much? I just don't get it!

  6. Except for the "no tail at all" part, I find this concept pretty strange. There could be something here.
    Just a puzzle piece.

  7. A fairly large animal with little or no tail but quite a long neck, which was obviously a mammal, apart from certain completely and utterly biologically implausible features, and was seen precisely once ever by anybody who wasn't King Arthur, very briefly from a speeding car at night?

    Be sensible! This is nothing more or less than a bad description of a deer!

  8. This "Snake-dog" and the Questing Beast remind me of the fictional Nightstalker from the game Fallout New Vegas. I would like to think it was based of the "Snake-dog" sighting and/or even the Questing Beast.

    1. Your comment made me smile. I thought of the nightcrawler too

  9. Hi, honestly can't believe noone but me has mentioned this - to my eye it bears a striking resembelance to a Sirush - other than the lack of tail of course

  10. I think it could have been an escaped or released Hyena. Obviously we have to assume the eye witnesses have unintentionally exaggerated the length of the animal, and to a certain extent then also the length of the neck. However it is a plausible match for an escaped pet. Here is a good photo in profile.


  11. Wow! I think my wife and I saw this in Nevada, just south of Tonopah. We didn't really notice the reptilian aspect of the head but the description is bang-on otherwise. All black, shaggy with no tail. It turned it's head towards us and bared it's teeth as it sauntered across the road in our headlights. We nicknamed it the devil-dog of Tonopah, it was truly weird. That's a good six hour drive away from Magalia, California though. That was May this year 2013.