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

IMPORTANT: To view a complete, regularly-updated listing of my ShukerNature blog's articles (each one instantly clickable), please click HERE!

IMPORTANT: To view a complete, regularly-updated listing of my published books (each one instantly clickable), please click HERE!

IMPORTANT: To view a complete, regularly-updated listing of my Eclectarium blog's articles (each one instantly clickable), please click HERE!

IMPORTANT: To view a complete, regularly-updated listing of my Starsteeds blog's poetry and other lyrical writings (each one instantly clickable), please click HERE!

IMPORTANT: To view a complete, regularly-updated listing of my Shuker In MovieLand blog's articles (each one instantly clickable), please click HERE!

Search This Blog



Saturday 5 September 2015


The peluda or shaggy beast (© Helena Zakrzewska-Rucinska/Dr Karl Shuker/Marshall Editions; this splendid illustration was specially commissioned for my book Dragons: A Natural History)

When I was researching the first of my two books on dragons, Dragons: A Natural History, published in 1995, a certain trio of French dragons attracted my particular interest. For each of these monsters not only featured in its own fascinating legend, but also was exceptionally unusual in morphology and behaviour. Yet, surprisingly, none of them had previously attracted much attention in dragon books. Consequently, I swiftly remedied that sad situation by devoting a detailed section to each one, in which I recounted its legend and illustrated it with reconstructions of their supposed appearance.

These three remarkable reptilians were the tarasque, the peluda, and the gargouille. I have already excerpted my above-cited book's tarasque account on ShukerNature (click here) and I will be doing the same at some stage in the future with the gargouille. Today, however, it is the turn of the peluda to take centre-stage, so here is my book's account of this very memorable monster:

There on the bank of the river Huisne, at La Fert‚-Bernard in medieval France, something was definitely moving. Suddenly, what appeared at first to be the head and sinuous body of a huge viper-like snake emerged from a spherical mass of bright green vegetation, and reared upwards above it. Moments later, however, the vegetation itself began to move, quivering as if it were a living creature - which was only to be expected, for that was precisely what it was. What had seemed to be nothing more than a cluster of riverside foliage was in reality the round body of a huge animal with shaggy green fur - and what had appeared to be a giant serpent was now exposed as this extraordinary animal's head and neck!

It was the peluda - a terrifying amphibious neo-dragon also known as the shaggy beast ('la velue'), which had been spawned in early biblical days and was refused entry onto Noah's Ark, yet had nonetheless survived the Great Flood, and was now terrorising the environs of La Fert‚-Bernard. Its dense green pelage partially hid four horny, turtle-like feet, and bristled with countless numbers of spine-like quills - which contained potent stinging venom, and could be jettisoned like poisonous javelins into anything unwary enough to approach too closely. This monstrous beast could also kill a person with a mighty thwack of its immensely powerful tail - and when it was sufficiently angered, a single blast of flame spewed forth from its coiled throat could incinerate fields for miles around.

For a time, the peluda had contented itself with raiding farms and stables each night in search of horses and other livestock as prey - robbing the farmers of their livelihood, but rarely of their lives, unless they were foolish enough to challenge its depredations.

Occasionally, massed attacks on the beast by brave companies drawn from the local populace had succeeded in driving it into the Huisne - but the peluda was of such colossal size that whenever it submerged itself underwater, the river immediately overflowed its banks, and much of the district bordering on either side was completely flooded, thereby causing as much devastation to the farmers as the monster's own onslaughts.

A second vivid artistic representation of the peluda (© Tim Morris)

More recently, however, the situation had become even worse, for the peluda had lately expanded its dietary scope - adding children and damsels to its murderous menu. Several of the village's fairest maidens had been devoured, and only this morning yet another had been ambushed and carried away - but this time she had not been alone. Her valiant fiancé had been nearby, and had witnessed the terrible deed. Now he swore vengeance against her antediluvian attacker, and he took up his trusty sword to do battle.

Protected from the peluda's deadly arsenal of self-propelling quills by his suit of mail, and additionally armed with knowledge gained from the village's wisest seer, the bold youth strode forth and aimed a terrible blow with his sword - but not at the monster's undulating neck, and not even at the heaving belly concealed beneath its shaggy fur. Instead, he hacked down at its writhing tail, and severed it in two with a single slash of his keen blade. Instantly, the mighty peluda keeled over and died - for its tail was the only portion of its body vulnerable to mortal injury.

Back in La Fert‚-Bernard there was great rejoicing, and the remains of the peluda were embalmed. As for its conqueror, he was acclaimed forever more as a hero, and rightly so - after all, he had achieved a feat that not even the Great Flood had been able to accomplish!

For plenty of other diverse dragons, be sure to check out both of my dragon books – Dragons: A Natural History, and Dragons in Zoology, Cryptozoology, and Culture.

No comments:

Post a Comment