Tuesday, November 4, 2014

A Werewolf Skull in Macedonia?

This is another of those creepy stories that seem to surface around Halloween, when local weird news items can command worldwide attention as long as they are spooky enough. Halloween is now over, but here at Augoeides I'm happy to report on them regardless of the time of year.

Recently in Macedonia a farmer named Trayche was plowing his field when he hit something. The object turned out to be a box that was chained shut. Like any good horror movie victim, the farmer unchained and opened the box, and inside found a skull that looked part wolf and part human. He told student Filip Ganov that he believed the skull came from a werewolf.

Trayche wouldn't part with his werewolf skull but he did let Ganov take pictures, which were presented to a wildlife expert in Bulgaria who speculated that it was indeed from a wolf but not necessarily a werewolf.

Instead, he surmised the wolf was suffering from Paget's disease, a genetic disorder (also common in humans) that can cause misshapen bones and enlarged skulls. Paget’s disease can be caused by canine distemper virus, a common virus in wolves and dogs.

The skull definitely looks both canine and human and a little baboonish, which would probably cause some consternation among Bulgarians and Macedonians raised on Eastern European folklore. The chain around the box is a good indication whoever buried it believed it was a creature they didn't want roaming around again.

In fact, wolves suffering from Paget's disease might have something to do with how the werewolf myth got started in the first place, just like how many experts think that bears with mange make up a large percentage of Sasquatch sightings. Ganov was unable to obtain a sample of the skull for DNA testing, which could set the issue to rest once and for all. Not only could scientists determine if the skull came from a wolf, but as Paget's disease is genetic they could even confirm or disprove the wildlife expert's hypothesis.

Of course, the weirdest outcome would be to find a mixture of human and wolf DNA. Since humans and wolves can't interbreed, that would mean the perhaps before its death the creature could indeed transform from a man into a rampaging beast. That would certainly explain why its skull was chained up and buried.

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