Posted in History & Literature

Beast Of Gevaudan

In 1764, a young woman herding cattle in Gevaudan, France, told the story of how she was attacked by a giant, fearsome beast. She reported that the beast charged towards her, but was only stopped by the bulls that defended her. The beast was described as being as big as a calf, with a large dog-like head with exposed very large fangs and dark reddish fur with black streaks. Not long after this story, a young boy living nearby was violently killed, with his throat torn out. The number of people attacked and killed by this mysterious beast grew and grew. The population of Gevaudan was terrified. No wolf or dog had been known to be as large as the beast reported by survivors, nor as vicious as this.

The story of the so-called “Beast of Gevaudan” was heard by Louis XV, who responded by dispatching professional wolf-hunters to Gevaudan to slay the beast. One of these men was called Francois Antoine – a veteran wolfhunter. Over the coming months, he hunted several large wolves, but the attacks continued.

On September 21, 1765, Antoine finally encountered the beast. It was a ferocious wolf-like animal, about 1.8m long and 70cm tall. Antoine shot it several times, in the eye, shoulder and side. The beast withstood the first couple of shots and finally fell to the ground after the third. But as Antoine and his colleagues cheered, the beast stood back up and charged Antoine. It took two more shots to finally slay the beast. Survivors of attacks were able to identify the beast as the true Beast of Gevaudan. The beast was embalmed and stuffed for display and the populace of Gevaudan celebrated the end of the terror, with Antoine being celebrated as a hero and expert wolfslayer.

However, the story did not end there. Attacks continued for years even after the Wolf of Chazes was slain. The ultimate end to the story is credited to a hunter named Jean Chastel, who shot and killed a large wolf-like beast in 1767, after which the attacks stopped. Some say that he used a blessed silver bullet – possibly originating the myth that werewolves can only be killed by silver bullets.

It is still unclear what exactly the Beast of Gevaudan was. Some believe it to be a large wolf, but most historians agree that it was likely a wolf-dog hybrid given its large size, unusual ferocity and distinct coloured fur. Other theories include the beast being a large red mastiff, an Asian hyena or a pack of wolves, which is likely given the sheer number of attacks in such a short space of time. All in all, the final kill count of the Beast of Gevaudan is estimated between 80 to 120 people, with a further 49 injuries.

Posted in History & Literature

Zodiac: Capricorn

Capricorn is the Zodiac sign for those born between December 22 and January 19. The symbol for Capricorn is a goat with a fish tail instead of hind legs.

The model for Capricorn is the god of shepherds, Pan. Pan had the upper body of a man but a lower body of a goat and was famous for his sexual behaviour (he is often portrayed in art with a massive penis). He is also famous for his music, especially his hauntingly beautiful pan flute performance. But how did a god with the top half of a man and the bottom half of a goat come to represent a constellation where the top half is a goat and the bottom half is a fish? The back-story of Capricorn is related to that of Pisces; that is the story of how the monster Typhon gatecrashed a feast of the gods. While Aphrodite and Eros transformed into a pair of fish to escape Typhon, Pan turned himself into a goat to run away. However, when he reached the Nile River, he hurriedly tried to change into a fish but messed up the spell, with only his lower half turning into a fish. Just before he crossed the river, he saw that Typhon was attacking Zeus, so he let out a horrible screech to scare Typhon, allowing Zeus to escape. Zeus returned the favour by drawing Pan’s image at the time in the form of a constellation.

(Part of the Zodiac series:

Posted in History & Literature

Zodiac: Leo

Leo is the Zodiac sign for those born between July 23 and August 22. The symbol for Leo is a ferocious lion.

The model for Leo is the Nemean Lion, killed by Hercules during one of his twelve labours. The Nemean Lion was a frightening beast with claws sharper than any sword and able to cut through any armour, with a golden hide that could not be pierced by any weapon. With its ultimate offence and defence, no warrior could defeat the Lion and it continued to wreak havoc in Nemea. As stated in the legend of Cancer, Hercules had to complete twelve challenges for his sins, the Hydra being the second. The first labour was to kill the Nemean Lion. Not knowing that the Lion had invincible leather, Hercules shot many arrows at it with no effect. The Lion laughed at his vain attempt and pounced, ready to shred him with his claws. Hercules understood that arrows and swords were no use, so he pulled out his club and smashed the Lion’s head with full force. The Lion was completely stunned by the impact and Hercules took this opportunity to strangle it with his bare hands. After a few minutes, the Lion collapsed and Hercules came out as the victor. He tried to take the hide by cutting it with his knife, but the knife did not even make a scratch. After thinking about it, he took the claws of the Lion and found that this could cut through the hide. With the golden hide, Hercules made the toughest armour that would protect him from much harm in the future. The corpse of the Lion was lifted to the heavens and turned into a constellation.

(Part of the Zodiac series:

Posted in History & Literature

Zodiac: Cancer

Cancer is the Zodiac sign for those born between June 22 and July 22. The symbol for Cancer is a large crab.

The model for Cancer is a crab who served Hera. This story is closely tied to that of Hercules’ twelve labours. Hercules, being the son of Zeus and a human woman, was hated intensely by Hera, the wife of Zeus. Thus, she made him made, causing him to kill his family and being punished by having to undergo twelve near-impossible challenges. One of these was killing the nine-headed monster, the Hydra. Hercules had already accomplished the first task so easily that Hera wanted to distract him. She sent a crab down to the human world and commanded it to attack Hercules. The crab crawled all the way to the battle scene and ferociously bit his toe. But Hercules simply kicked the crab, causing it to get crushed and killed instantly. Hera felt sorry for the crab and sent its body into the heavens where it became a constellation. This is quite possibly the saddest death in all of Greek mythology.

(Part of the Zodiac series:

Posted in History & Literature

Zodiac: Pisces

Pisces is the Zodiac sign for those born between February 19 and March 20. The symbol for Pisces is two fish connected by a ribbon.

The model for Pisces is Aphrodite, the goddess of love, and her son Eros. One day, the two were attending a banquet of the gods, having a good time. Suddenly, the banquet was interrupted by a monster named Typhon. Typhon was a terrifying monster 150km wide, with a hundred dragon heads, a hundred mouths through which he breathed fire and had limbs of snakes. He was a composite of various beasts such as oxens and lions, had a black tongue and had eloquent speech rivalling certain gods. When he appeared, the gods were frightened and all transformed into different animals to escape. Aphrodite and Eros jumped into the river, turned into a pair of fish and escaped. It is said that they tied a ribbon to their waists so that they would not lose each other in the stream.

(Part of the Zodiac series:

Posted in Science & Nature

Giant Monster

A gigantic dinosaur monster of 50m height and 20000t weight appears in the centre of Tokyo! The invasion of giant spiders! These are common scenarios in science fiction films. Mankind has always been fascinated by giant creatures. Whether it be a child or an adult, no one passes by the skeleton of a Tyrannosaurus rex without being awestruck. Thus, it is very easy to use such creatures in movies. But the key point of every monster movie is the “stats”. A height taller than a high-rise building and a weight nearing one of a battleship excites people before the movie even starts. The problem is that this is very unscientific (considering it is a “science fiction”).

Let us look at the dinosaur monster first. The moment the monster steps on to land, it will be crushed like tofu. Every structure in its body will collapse and the skeleton will give way, causing 20000t of meat to crash to the ground. Simply put, the monster is just too heavy. Let us hypothesise that the monster is the shape of a gigantic T-rex. Tyrannosaurus rex was 15m tall and weighed 7t. If a 15m dinosaur is stretched to the height of 50m, the height becomes 3.3 times the original. But as the width and depth need to be expanded by 3.3 times as well, the weight becomes 37 times the original. The question is whether the monster can support its own weight. Just as the volume increased by a factor of 37, the cross-sectional area of every part of the body increases by a factor of 3.3 x 3.3 = 11. As muscle strength is directly proportional to the cross-sectional area, the strength only increases by 11 times. Thus, the load on a creature’s body is the same as the factor of expansion (e.g. there is 3.3 times the load on the monster’s muscles). But this is only when the T-rex was simply stretched. According to the stats, the monster weighs 20000t – 2800 times the weight of a T-rex. To support 2800 times the weight with 11 times the muscle, the load on the bones and muscle is 250 times. This is equivalent to having 249 people the same weight as you on your back. Of course, the monster cannot support this and its bones will become crushed and its internal organs will all burst, causing instant death.

Similarly, a giant insect monster also receives the same load as its expansion. But unlike an animal, insects have an exoskeleton instead of a skeletal system. This structure cannot support the load caused by the expansion (also, if you stretch an ant that is not even 1cm to just 10m, the load becomes over a thousand times). Ergo, the monster will collapse instantly. A giant monster is an unscientific creature that can only exist in our imagination.