At fisrt I never thought of the possibility of a hyena in the case of the Beast. But the more I talked with Franz, the more I changed my mind.
If the idea of a hyena being in Gévaudan in these times seems impossible at first sight, it could be on the contrary absolutely possible.
1819 : A booklet, sold 1 franc to the visitors of the Jardin des plantes, describing the living animals of the menagerie as much as the
stuffed animals in the Cabinet du Roi. In the description of the hyena that is held in cage N°5, one can read this :
"5 . Oriental stripped hyena. - ... This fierce and indomitable animal is in the class of the lynx: it lives in Egypt, it roams the tombs to feed on the corpses; the day it attacks men,
women and children, and devours them.
It wears a mane on its back, barred like the royal tiger, it is the same species as that which is seen at the Cabinet of Natural History, and which devoured a large amount of people in Gevaudan."
1994 : Franz Jullien publishes a booklet titled "The second death of the Beast of Gévaudan". In this document, he explains
how he clearly identified the Beast as a hyena. The animal killed by Antoine is as wolf, the one killed by Chastel a hyena. His booklet is unfortunately
not available anymore anywhere...but here.
But a hyena does not have 42 teeth, only canine do.
2009 : After many talks, Franz and I agree on the fact that maybe Buffon mistook a canine for a hyena, being fooled by the colour of the fur, quite similar.
2011 : New discussion about how did the museum work at its beginnings, which shows new perspectives. Here they are briefly:
the mode of fonctionning of the collections when Buffon was alive is like this: the animal was given the name of the country in which it'd been killed.
As testified by the 1819 booklet's cover, there was the living hyena held in cage N°5 in the menagerie, astuffed stripped hyena, "locked" in the Cabinet of natural history and which did come from Gévaudan.
There is no doubt on the fact that there was a hyena in Gévaudan by the time of the Beast, because it has been killed over there. But, absolutely nothing proves that it had anything to see with the killings that occured in the county from 1764 to 1767. Maybe it was only seen and thus has made the identification of the "Beast" impossible, and making plausible all the testimonies about a "hyena" (Lafont, d'Enneval or Ballaivilliers talked about it that way...).
This questions the very identity of the stuffed animal: is it one of the two beasts officially killed:
- that of Antoine (which, by the way, can justify many things about his coming...)
- that of Jean Chastel (cwhich, by the way too, questions many things, considering that Chastel's beast was living in couple with...a female wolf and that breeding between hyena/wolf is impossible - and we're pretty sure about that! - ).
Or is it an other independant animal? In that case why was it never seen along with the Beast?
I can't see well from here...
Have we solved anything?
But it's only my own private personnal thought.