Posted by: Loren Coleman on March 30th, 2011
Photo: Quirky China News/Rex.
Photo: Quirky China News/Rex.
Daily Mail had the story. Shaanxi Province, China farmer Liu Naiying said that one of his sheep has given birth to a dog.
But did he specifically observe this occur? Think about it. He actually did not see the birth.
Read the words:
Mr. Liu told how he found the unusual baby animal shortly after it was born in one of his fields.
‘I was herding the sheep, and saw a sheep licking her newborn lamb on the grassland. The lamb was still wet,’ he said.
‘When I went up close to check on the lamb I was shocked because it looked so weird, like a cross between a sheep and a dog.
‘I was a bit frightened, as I’ve been raising sheep for 20 years and had never seen such a creature.’
Thousands have flocked to his farm in to see it. Millions have now read about it on the Internet. This woolly-haired puppy looks like a lamb, but it is not one. Sheep cannot give birth to dogs.
In China, calmer heads are prevailing. Yue Guozhang, a researcher at Xi’an City Animal Husbandry Technology Centre, said sheep and dogs were different species.
“It’s not possible that a sheep could become pregnant with a puppy,” he said. “It’s likely that this is just an abnormal lamb.”
Actually, it is merely a rural legend, an urban piece of folklore gone crazy in this Internet age. It does not look like an abnormal lamb to me. It looks like a normal, fuzzy-furred young canid that was found born near sheep. Oftentimes, herding dogs give birth to their young among sheep, so their newborn are familiar with the smell of their wards from the beginning.
There is no mystery here. But in a time of New Zealand and Japanese disasters, Arab uprisings, and a new Libyan war, obviously, a story like this is going to take on a life of its own.
This is not the first time something like this has happened, with great fanfare.
One of the first field investigations cryptozoologist supporter Tom Slick conducted was his finding and examining of the “hoat.”
In February 1939, R. B. Grubb of Muskogee, Arkansas bought a “hoat” – what was said to be part Poland China hog, part goat – from a Yellville, Arkansas preacher, J. W. Usher. Usher thought it was a “sign.” The first two days Grubb showed it, 5128 people came to see it. This is quite similar to the phenomenon experienced by the Chinese farmer, where thousands have come to see.
Grubb then contacted Robert Ripley, and a cartoon depicting the “hoat” was published in the “Ripley’s Believe It or Not” column of February 10, 1939. Grubb contacted Ripley, because as a postman, he could not keep exhibiting it.
In 1988, while writing my Tom Slick book, I was able to track down and interview Grubb, then 92. He remembered Slick, who pulled up in a fancy car, offered, then gave Grubb a $100 for the “hoat,” put the farmyard monstrosity in Slick’s nice automobile, and drove away with the “hoat.” (BTW, $100 in 1939 is equal to $1,592.15 in buying power in 2011.)
My research showed that Slick took it to his San Antonio research farm, called ESSAR Ranch (as in “S” and “R” for “scientific research”). There he tried to breed the “hoat” to hogs and goats, without success.
Like the sheep/dog of China, looks are deceiving, but genetics are not.
Both editions of my biography of Slick, including the 2002 one still available, Tom Slick: True Life Encounters in Cryptozoology (Fresno: Linden Press, 2002) contain the story of the “hoat.”
Loren Coleman is one of the world’s leading cryptozoologists, some say “the” leading. Certainly, he is acknowledged as the current living American researcher and writer who has most popularized cryptozoology in the late 20th and early 21st centuries. Starting his fieldwork and investigations in 1960, after traveling and trekking extensively in pursuit of cryptozoological mysteries, Coleman began writing to share his experiences in 1969. An honorary member of Ivan T. Sanderson’s Society for the Investigation of the Unexplained in the 1970s, Coleman has been bestowed with similar honorary memberships of the North Idaho College Cryptozoology Club in 1983, and in subsequent years, that of the British Columbia Scientific Cryptozoology Club, CryptoSafari International, and other international organizations. He was also a Life Member and Benefactor of the International Society of Cryptozoology (now-defunct). Loren Coleman’s daily blog, as a member of the Cryptomundo Team, served as an ongoing avenue of communication for the ever-growing body of cryptozoo news from 2005 through 2013.