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Rumours of a dogman or werewolf which terrified Brits for centuries was probably a giant monkey, a researcher has claimed.
Beasts of Britain author Andy McGrath has tried to get to the bottom of frightening stories passed down through generations describing a 5ft8 bipedal monster.
He says reports from around the world, both ancient and modern, suggest that a creature resembling both a dog and man was once lurking in the wilderness.
But with dogs unable to walk on their back legs and no fossils proving otherwise, Andy believes scared witnesses have likely described "a species of large, unknown monkey with a dog-like muzzle and a long tail".
Andy, who is set to release this month Beasts of the World, vol.1,said: "Perhaps, our ancestors were some of the last people to see in Europe, a species of giant monkey that may have inhabited many areas of the world, including Europe up until the medieval period.
"A species that is now functionally extinct, although it's still sporadically witnessed in remote regions in the present day?"
Another explanation Andy offers is people simply hallucinated that they were seeing the mythical beast after accidentally getting high off bread.
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He added: "In the not so distant past, entire towns were accidentally intoxicated with hallucinogenic bread, that had been tainted by ergot fungus in tainted rye."
The result of which once ingested is said to have been an intense trip which not only made people see things, but also behave bizarrely such as howl like a wolf.
Andy said: "Ergot fungus caused those who consumed it to suffer psychotic episodes, which included: uncontrollable rage; constriction of the vocal cords – causing barking or howling, a feeling of tremendous excitement, a burning sensation in the skin and transformational (shape-shifting) hallucinations!
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"This strange phenomenon named: ignis sacer (Holy Fire) or St. Anthony’s Fire, after the holy order formed to care for ergot victims, would have been an extremely traumatising experience on those towns affected by it.
"It would also certainly go a long way to explain past werewolf hysterias and perceived encounters."
Women being tried for witchcraft throughout history may be common knowledge but Andy explains werewolf trials also led to executions in 16th and 17th century France.
Fears these so-called werewolves had a taste for human flesh died down when people began to understand suspects as having a mental disorder called lycanthropy, Andy says.
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"Lycanthropy is recognised as a psychopathological disease, in which the sufferer imagines that he or she is a wild beast and may even develop a taste for raw flesh or rancid meat," Andy said.
"They may howl like a wolf, run naked through the woods, and even become violent, nay, homicidal, if left untreated.
"The causes of this illness are not well understood but have been attributed to drug abuse, plague, and war, in the past.
"However, what causes this illness is not readily understood."
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