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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Wednesday, 15 April 2020


Exquisite illustration of the red ruffed lemur Varecia rubra, in A Hand-Book to the Primates, Plate VII, 1894 (public domain)

Despite being officially deemed to have become extinct several centuries ago at the very least, the possibility that some of Madagascar's giant lemurs persisted into modern times and may still be doing so today has always fascinated me, ever since as a teenager back in the early 1970s I first read the famous chapter devoted to this island mini-continent's mystery beasts in Dr Bernard Heuvelmans's classic cryptozoology book On the Track of Unknown Animals. The most celebrated Madagascan cryptids that may be late-surviving giant lemurs include the tratratratra, kidoky, tokandia, habéby, mangarsahoc, kalanoro, and kotoko (see my book Mirabilis for extensive coverage).

My much-read, greatly-treasured, massively-influential copy of the 1972 abridged Paladin Books paperback edition of On the Track of Unknown Animals (© Dr Karl Shuker/Paladin)

On 5 November 2018, however, the American TV documentary channel Animal Planet posted on YouTube a video in which wildlife adventurer Forrest Galante was seeking a mystery lemur that I had never seen documented anywhere before (click here to access the video).

Forrest Galante (© Mitchell J. Long/Wikipedia - CC BY-SA 4.0 licence)

The locals describe it as a giant red lemur, and refer to it as the kisuala. In the video's description, the question is posed as to whether this cryptid may be a surviving species of Pachylemur - a two-species genus of extinct giant lemur that may have survived until at least as recently as 500 years ago.

Life restoration of Pachylemur insignis, based upon a photograph of a skull, a photograph of a skeleton, restoration by Stephen Nash, and correspondence with Dr Laurie Godfrey (© Smokeybjb/Wikipedia – CC BY-SA 3.0 licence)

They are known colloquially as giant ruffed lemurs, because they were most closely related to the somewhat smaller but still-living Varecia ruffed lemurs. One of these, the red ruffed lemur Varecia rubra, does indeed have predominantly – and very prominently – red fur,

The aptly-named red ruffed lemur (Mathias Appel/Wikipedia – copyright-free)

I don't think that I'm including a spoiler for viewers about to watch the video by saying that Forrest's search for the kisuala was unsuccessful – after all, had it been successful it would have made major headlines worldwide. However, it is always exciting to publicise a cryptid not previously documented within the cryptozoological literature, and we can but hope that future searches for this intriguing animal will be made.

The black-and-white ruffed lemur V. variegata, closely related to V. rubra – indeed, until 2001 they were treated merely as subspecies of a single species of ruffed lemur, but they exhibit sufficient genetic differences to warrant being elevated to full species in their own right (© Dr Karl Shuker)


  1. On an interesting note, Galante did later recover a Madagascan hippo skull supposedly under 200 years old (800 or so years after it was supposed to be gone), giving recent stories of the Kilopilopitsofy and Tsomgomby.

    1. Yes indeed, I saw that, but it was subsequently discounted by various scientists as being of such recent date. I think that I have some of the responses to it on file.

    2. Can you show me where they say, they think it's not less than 200 years old.

    3. Source details are here: https://www.zoochat.com/community/threads/malagasy-dwarf-hippo-may-still-be-alive.474545/