And yet I know no more than the mahogany
That forms this desk, of what they mean;-Lycanthropy
I comprehend, for without transformation
Men become wolves on any slight occasion.
- Lord Byron
Werewolves. People who shapeshift into howling, bloodthirsty wolves by the light of the full moon. As Lord Byron noted, this affliction is also known as lycanthropy. It's a superstition that dates back centuries and has been popularized by books of fiction and dozens of films. Virtually every culture on the planet has lore and traditions of were-creatures.
But is there any truth to the werewolf legend?
In medical terms, lycanthropy is applied to people who suffer from the delusion that they transform into wolves. And physically there is a genetic condition called hypertrichosis in which a person, male or female, is mostly or even entirely covered in thick dark hair. All 32 members of the Aceves family in Mexico have this rare condition, for example. Some of them have become skilled acrobats and travel with a circus. Fajardo Aceves Jesus Manuel even bills himself as "Wolfman." The family is currently under study by The Center of Biomedical Research in Guadalajara, Mexico.
Undoubtedly, throughout the centuries people with this genetic disorder have inspired the werewolf legend. In times past, they would have been shunned by society, even cast out by their own families. We can imagine that they would have sought refuge in the forests, surviving as best they could, like primitives… or animals… perhaps even killing to stay alive.
These tragic circumstances are a far cry from the werewolf tradition, however, in which a human literally transforms into a wolf.
So again we ask, is there any truth to the werewolf legend? There have been reports.
The Ohio Man Dog
On August 27, 2005, a truck driver named Scott called into the Coast to Coast radio show and told host Ian Punnett of his strange sighting. While driving, his truck's headlights illuminated a strange scene: some kind of beast was crouched on the side of the road eating a deer. He described it as looking like a cross between "an ape with a dog's head" and the werewolf from the horror film Van Helsing.
Next page > More reports of werewolves