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!

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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!

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Tuesday 17 October 2023


The full wraparound cover of my brand-new, 34th book ShukerNature Book 3: Crystal Palace Dinosaurs, Jungle Walruses, and Other Belated Blog Beasts (© Dr Karl Shuker/Coachwhip Publishing)

I'm very happy to announce today that my 34th book is now officially published, and as you can discern from its title – ShukerNature Book 3: Crystal Palace Dinosaurs, Jungle Walruses, and Other Belated Blog Beasts it's a third compendium of my most significant ShukerNature blog posts, expanded and updated wherever possible, packed with colour and b/w illustrations, and 404 pages long.

If you have purchased either or both of my previous two (as I'm sure you have!!), you will know that ShukerNature Book 1 was devoted to creatures I'd blogged about that I referred to in its subtitle as cryptic. That is, not merely cryptozoological in most cases but also (indeed, especially) little-known, esoteric examples - from the likes of locust dragons, king hares, giant oil-drinking cathedral spiders, and Linnaeus's hellish fury worm, to medieval snail-cats, glowing lightbulb lizards, tizheruks, tsmoks, and many more offerings from the most obscure realms of unnatural history.

For ShukerNature Book 2, I concentrated upon creatures I'd blogged about that I referred to in its subtitle as monstrous. That is, straddling the often ill-defined borders between the mythological and the mundane, fantasy and fact, reverie and reality - such as living gorgons, bottled homunculi, fossil griffins, Lewis Carroll's mock turtle, Harry Potter's ambiguous amblypygid, and Doctor Dolittle's pushmi-pullyu, the Big Grey Man of Ben MacDhui, Wisconsin's giant grasshoppers, South America's photographed but non-existent 'ape', and all manner of other fascinating if macabre curiosities and caprices from the shadowy hinterlands of darkest zoology.

My first two ShukerNature compilation books (© Dr Karl Shuker/Coachwhip Publications)

For this present, third ShukerNature book, however, I elected to veer off into a very different direction when selecting its contents as drawn from my blog. I've been a professional cryptozoological researcher and writer for almost 40 years now, so, as you can imagine, I've covered a vast array of subjects during that lengthy period of time. Yet however many I do document, there are always countless others jostling for position on the literary sidelines, impatiently agitating to secure their place in a future book or article of mine. Of these, there are a number that I have fully intended to blog about for many years, but for a multitude of different reasons I have somehow never got around to doing so in spite of just how much they have always fascinated me. Equally, there are subjects that my many readers down through the years have persistently asked me to blog about but which again, inexplicably, I've never actually done so.

During the lengthy, enforced periods of social lockdown necessitated by the Covid-19 pandemic, however, I made a determined effort to rectify my previous procrastination concerning these undeservedly delayed subjects, by researching and blogging about as many of them as possible. Having now done so with a sizeable selection, it is these, therefore, that constitute the theme of this third ShukerNature book – which in turn safeguards them from the uncertainties of ongoing online existence by preserving them for all time in print.

They include such long-awaited topics as the awe-inspiring Crystal Palace dinosaur statues that I visited and photographed over a decade ago but never wrote up afterwards (but which are now the subject of my book's spectacular wraparound cover – the very first such cover that has ever graced any of my books), my personal (and undoubtedly controversial, iconoclastic, heterodox) views regarding the (in)famous Surgeon's Photograph reputedly depicting an unknown object in Loch Ness, the huge but mysterious animal head discovered in an ancient Egyptian boat, and the muddle of misidentification surrounding Lake Dakataua's aquatic migo.

Longstanding friend and awesome artist Anthony Wallis's stunning portrait of the Nandi bear that he prepared exclusively for inclusion in this latest book of mine – thanks Ant! (© Anthony Wallis)

Plus the Nandi bear specimen that was actually examined by two of the world's foremost scientists before it mysteriously vanished, the officially-impossible elephant hybrid whose existence proved all the experts wrong, the wry comedy of zoological errors enshrouding the huge but hysterical imperial flea, as well as an eclectic assemblage of jungle walruses, flying monkeys, hairless hyaenas, Koch's monstrous Missourium and horrid Hydarchos, Beebe's black-and-white mystery manta ray, the giant lizards of Papua, a tenacious tomb-shattering pterodactyl, and lots more too.

So many of these curious, charismatic subjects have been a long time coming, I freely confess – but now that they are finally here for you to read about and ponder over, I hope very much that, as with all the best things in life, you'll consider them well worth the wait. More details concerning my book can be found on its dedicated page here, in my official website.

As always, my new book can be ordered directly through Amazon.com, Amazon.co.uk, and other online bookstores, or ordered via your local physical bookstore anywhere.

Vintage engraving of 19th-Century sculptor Benjamin Waterhouse Hawkins's Crystal Palace studio in 1853, containing some of his completed prehistoric animal statues (public domain)



Friday 13 October 2023


A giant spider model owned by longstanding friend and fellow cryptozoology enthusiast Mike Playfair (© Michael Playfair)

In a trio of detailed ShukerNature blog articles posted by me during summer 2020 and spring 2021 (click here, here, and here to read them), I documented the fascinating if exceedingly startling series of claims that had been emailed to me by a United States soldier concerning the supposed presence of enormous spiders seen by him and others on several occasions during 2005 and 2007 at US army training areas at Fort Polk, Louisiana's Joint Readiness Training Center, where for several weeks back then he'd been stationed for complex field training.

As I discussed in my accounts, however, the fundamental physiological problems of such sizeable spiders even being capable of existing, let alone actually doing so, would seem sufficient reasons in themselves for discounting these claims out of hand. Yet the extent of detail provided by this self-alleged eyewitness (I do have a name for him on file but in deference to his request to remain publicly anonymous I have never revealed it) is such that I felt it warranted published coverage, if only to see if it elicited any independent, corroborating reports from anyone else.

Now, finally, after more than two years, it has done so, and not from some stranger either, but instead from a longstanding friend on Facebook – namely, veteran monster/mystery beast fan Rich Janusz from Connecticut.

My own giant spider model (© Dr Karl Shuker)

On 10 July this year, Rich sent me three private messages in swift succession on Facebook, and gave me his full permission to document them in a future ShukerNature article – thanks Rich! Due to pressing work commitments, however, I wasn't able to do so straight away, but I am doing so now, having combined his three messages together into a single continuous communication – so here it is:

I have read over the years your reports of giant spiders in the Fort Polk area. I will give you my wife's brother's account.

My wife's brother is an MP in the CT NG. Some years ago, he went to Fort Polk for training. He was training on the use of night vision goggles. They heard a rustling noise, and he swears that himself and his friend saw a spider at least as big as a trash can cover crawl across the trail that they were watching. He is not a bs artist by any means. He has told me this story several times and I believe him.

Sorry that I can't be more specific about dates, call it 2011 or 2012.

At first her brother laughed and said that they were campfire stories. Later he said we'll talk later, [and] a few weeks later he told me the story. Since then he has told it among family and friends. Plus, what was his reaction to the incident? Him and his friend debated going back the way they came, and decided to continue, but very cautiously at first, and then they practically ran through the exercise.

As indeed I would have done had I encountered at close range at night a spider the size of a dustbin lid (my UK-English translation of trash can cover!).

Giant spider sculpture in Ottawa, Canada (© Markus Bühler)

Needless to say, all of the issues of physiological improbability that I discussed previously in relation to my soldier correspondent's sightings claims apply equally here. Yet as I also noted previously, it is not inconceivable, surely, that some novel evolutionary advancement of the typical size-limiting spider respiratory system could yield spiders bigger than those presently known to science (though as there is currently no physical evidence of any kind to substantiate this, such a notion is presently wholly speculative).

Meanwhile, I'll be very interested to see whether this long-awaited, long-hoped-for first independent testimony to the putative reality of Fort Polk's reputed mega-spiders induces other reports of such creatures from this Louisiana location to emerge.

My thanks once again to Rich Janusz for so kindly permitting me to document his extremely interesting, thought-provoking information here.

Another view of my giant spider model (© Dr Karl Shuker)