Albertus Seba and a Pair of Speckle-coated Mystery Big Cats from the 1750s

Posted by: Karl Shuker on March 16th, 2014

Speckled mystery cats, labelled tigers, Albertus Seba, 1750s, close-up
A pair of anomalous speckle-coated ‘tigers’ depicted in a 1750s plate from Albertus Seba’s Thesaurus

In the other day’s ShukerNature blog post (click here), I presented a selection of speckle-coated mystery big cats reported from various parts of South America. Now, less than a day later, I’m able to present a very unexpected but fascinating update to this subject.

As so often happens during my cryptozoological researches, while seeking something entirely different while browsing online this morning I came upon a remarkable engraving that may have some bearing upon the speckled mystery cat saga.

Albertus Seba (1665-1736), a Dutch pharmacist by trade but inflamed by an unquenchable passion for collecting zoological specimens, was so successful financially in his work that he was able to assemble not one but two truly spectacular, prodigious collections of unprecedented size and scope that gained international acclaim. Indeed, the first of these collections was so astonishing that in 1716 it was purchased in its entirety by no less a celebrated figure than the Russian tsar Peter the Great; the second was auctioned in 1752 in Amsterdam, and several prize specimens were purchased by what was then the St Petersburg Academy of Sciences, founded by Peter the Great (but merging in 1841 with the Russian Academy to become the present-day Russian Academy of Sciences).

Further details can be found here on my ShukerNature blog.

For plenty of additional information concerning a wide diversity of South American mystery cats, be sure to check out my two mystery cat books – Mystery Cats of the World (1989) and Cats of Magic, Mythology, and Mystery (2012).

Karl Shuker About Karl Shuker
My name is Dr Karl P.N. Shuker. I am a zoologist (BSc & PhD), media consultant, and the author of 25 books and hundreds of articles, specialising in cryptozoology and animal mythology. I have a BSc (Honours) degree in pure zoology from the University of Leeds (U.K.), and a PhD in zoology and comparative physiology from the University of Birmingham (U.K.). I have acted jointly as consultant and major contributor to three multi-author volumes on cryptozoology and other mysterious phenomena. I am the Life Sciences Consultant to The Guinness Book of Records/Guinness World Records (Guinness: London, 1997-present day), and was consultant to Monsters (Lorenz Books: London, 2001), as well as a contributor to Mysteries of the Deep (Llewellyn: St Paul, 1998), Guinness Amazing Future (Guinness: London, 1999), The Earth (Channel 4 Books: London, 2000), and Chambers Dictionary of the Unexplained (Chambers: London, 2007). I appear regularly on television & radio, was a consultant for the Discovery TV series Into the Unknown, and a question setter for the BBC's quiz show Mastermind. I am a Scientific Fellow of the Zoological Society of London, a Fellow of the Royal Entomological Society, a Member of the Society of Authors, and the Cryptozoology Consultant for the Centre for Fortean Zoology (CFZ). I have written articles for numerous publications, including Fortean Times, The X Factor, Paranormal Magazine, FATE, Strange Magazine, Prediction, Beyond, Uri Geller's Encounters, Phenomena, Alien Encounters, Wild About Animals, All About Cats, All About Dogs, Cat World, etc. In 2005, I was honoured by the naming of a new species of loriciferan invertebrate after me - Pliciloricus shukeri.

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