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The Partridge Creek Monster, also known as the Partridge Creek Beast or Leemore's Terrible Monster, is an animal depicted in a story published by French writer Georges Dupuy in 1908. The story details two alleged encounters with a medium sized theropod dinosaur in the Partridge Creek area of Yukon, Canada, and is often accused of being a fictional account despite it being published in a newspaper as a true story . Several alleged sightings of similar animals had also later been made in the Kamchatka Peninsula area of Siberia, Russia, as well as an isolated alleged sighting of a similar creature in Fairbanks, Alaska.

History[]

Late 19th to early 20th century[]

Throughout the 1930s, Canadian writer and former Hudson’s Bay Company inspector Philip H. Godsell wrote a number of articles in which he included a story that had been told to him by his friend, Frank Beatton, the HBC’s Chief Factor at Fort St. John, British Columbia. Beatton had heard the story from a scientific party; whose members had heard it from one of their Indian guides, a Cree named Chequina, who had in turn heard the tale from his father. Sometime in the late 19th or early 20th Century, Chequina’s father had purportedly travelled to the Upper Liard River Country in what is now southeastern Yukon, where he fell in with a primitive tribe of Dene Indians. Godsell writes, “Around their fires, these Stone Age people had told of a ‘medicine valley’ to the north, inhabited by monsters of fearful size and ferocity.” One of the Cree’s new Dene acquaintances produced a scrap of buckskin from his medicine bag, on which had been burned the image of one of these monsters. The Cree treasured this charm for years and eventually bequeathed it to his son, Chequina, who in turn later showed it to the scientific party he was tasked with guiding. The scientists told an incredulous Beatton that the figure depicted on the buckskin scrap was a dinosaur, drawn in flawless anatomical detail.[1]

1903[]

James Lewis Buttler and Tom Leemore were hunting moose near Clear Creek when the animals they were stalking burst away in a sudden rapid fright after having been extremely quiet. They discovered the gigantic tracks of some animal that appeared to be a tail impression. They followed it for a while, until the tracks disappeared into a deep rocky gorge. They later met Georges Dupuy, Father Pierre Lavagneux and five unnamed Indians who agreed to search for the monster. They were initially unsuccessful but eventually encountered it near their campsite. They observed it for about 10 minutes and had a very clear look at it.[1][2][3]

1907[]

Lavagneux claimed to have seen the animal again in the same area on December 24, 1907. It carried a deceased caribou in its gaping jaws and left tracks identical to the tracks recorded four years earlier.[1]

1908-1914[]

Hugh Grosvenor, the Duke of Westminster, planned a hunting trip to the Yukon equipped with a huge steel cage intending to capture the animal but those plans were cancelled by the onset of World War I and were never revisited.[1]

1922-1928[]

Newspapers across North America reported that a group of carnivorous dinosaurs resembling ceratosaurids had been spotted in the Soviet Union’s Kamchatka Peninsula. Indigenous hunters allegedly discovered the mangled remains of a young ceratosaurid in Russia’s boreal wilderness, and brought one of its severed feet, which was the size of a man’s head, back to civilization. Some journalists who commented upon the story suggested that these alleged Russian dinosaurs might be related to the Partridge Creek Monster, speculating that the animals might cross the Bering Strait during especially severe winters, when Kamchatka and Chukotka were linked to Alaska by an unbroken stretch of ice. When a subsequent expedition in search of the Russian dinosaurs proved fruitless, some suggested that the prehistoric remnants abode within the Chersky Mountains, a range newly discovered in northeastern Siberia, between the Yana and Indigirka Rivers.[1]

September 1999[]

Around 2012, an unidentified user on the Panda Pages section of the World Wildlife Fund official website described an alleged encounter with a large theropod dinosaur 30 feet in height resembling an allosaurid (akin to larger species such as Saurophaganax) rather than a ceratosaur, after departing from a Denny's restaurant to stop at a hotel in Fairbanks, Alaska (which is relatively close to Partridge Creek). The animal allegedly terrorized the individual and their family while inside their car as well as another couple witnessing the animal from nearby, and allegedly the animal was looking to feed two of its young.[4]

Descriptions[]

The Partridge Creek Monster was described as resembling a ceratosaurid, a family of small to medium sized carnivorous theropods known only from Late Jurassic to Early Cretaceous strata in the fossil record of Africa, Europe, North America, and South America, most recognizable by the prominent horn on their snouts. It is apparently depicted in a manner common for dinosaur illustrations at the time with its tail dragging behind it. Dupuy reported that the animal left an imprint in mud measured at more than 2 feet deep, 30 feet long, and 12 feet wide, with a tail 10 feet long and 16 inches wide at the tip. He later estimated the animal at 50 feet long from nose to tail and that the crest of its spine stood 18 feet above the ground. Its hide is uniquely shown and described as hairy like that of a wild boar with thick bristles, and its underbelly was plastered in thick mud. It also produced a terrifying roar and was greyish-black in color.[1]

Explanations[]

In the September 1908 issue of Knowledge & Illustrated Scientific News, naturalist Richard Lydekker commented on the publication of Dupuy's story, noting that the existence of carnivorous dinosaurs in northern Alaska "seems incredible to every scientific mind" and pointing out the "prima facie presumption" that "the larger dinosaurs were inhabitants of warm rather than of Arctic zones".[5]

Zoologist and cryptozoologist Dr. Karl Shuker commented on the matter in his 1995 book In Search of Prehistoric Survivors saying "the existence of such an entity calls for our belief not only in the post-Cretaceous persistence of an endothermic hairy dinosaur but also its existence in what must surely be the least compatible habitat for any type of large reptile living today, its lack of cryptozoological credibility should hardly come as a great surprise!"[6]

American comics artist Stephen R. Bissette calls the story "one slice of great northern Yukon territory fiction" and cites it as among early "Western/paleontology tales" involving protagonists in the Wild West facing still-living dinosaurs. According to Bissette, Dupuy's story is "enshrined as the real thing by certain cryptozoology circles", despite having been published as fiction. [7]

The story itself however was originally published as a non-fictional account, contrary to the evidently false claims by the likes of Bisette, so that detail urges the reader to seriously consider the account as genuine for a start. However, there are questionable details in the account, such as the inclusion of the "Klayakuk" Indians or the characters called Father Pierre Lavagneux, James Lewis Buttler, and Tom Leemore, none of which are known to exist outside of Dupuy's account. Dupuy also described the McQuesten Post as being located on the southern shores of the Stewart River opposite the mouth of the McQuesten River about 75 kilometres (47 miles) west of the town of Mayo and 106 kilometres (66 miles) southeast of Dawson, despite the fact that the only known location called McQuesten Post was one which once existed at the confluence of the Stewart and Yukon Rivers.[1]

Such curious details might either suggest that Dupuy was misinformed and mistaken about certain names of places and people or that he was constructing a fictional account, but the latter might seem less likely as other sightings of similar animals have been made by other people. It is also noteworthy that the Duke of Westminster, Hugh Grosvenor, once planned a well-equipped search and hunting party to acquire the animal, although these plans were eventually postponed by World War I and subsequently apparently never revisited. The validity of Dupuy's account remains unverified to this day and no other search parties or explorers are known to have taken up the challenge to hunt for the elusive legendary animal.[1]

It is curious and adds a certain degree of validity to the account, in regards to modern perspectives on theropods, that Dupuy describes the animal as being covered in a fur of thick bristles, a feature not thought to exist among theropods until the discovery of proceratosaurids like Yutyrannus (which was also speculated to have inhabited an area of temperate rainforests with seasonal temperature changes) described in 2012 and discovered in the Liaoning Province of China, more than a hundred years after the events of the account allegedly took place.[1] A common critique of the account was the idea that theropods only lived in warm climates and not cold ones like Canada, although modern paleontologists have argued that dinosaurs, such as Nanuqsaurus described in 2014 from Alaska, did inhabit cold climates in the past, based on fossil evidence from both the Arctic and Antarctic regions.[8]

Additionally, we do not yet have any fossil remains of ceratosaurid skin integuments that could further support Dupuy's description of the animal, although it is reasonable to suggest that even if extinct members of the group, which are thought to have inhabited warmer climates, were once generally or exclusively covered in scales, it is possible that a modern descendant could have adapted to colder climates and be sporting a coat of feathery bristles as featured in genera like Yutyrannus. Another curious note is the animal's great size, being much larger than known ceratosaurids from the fossil record, and this could be attributed to the fact that animals in colder climates and at higher latitudes are usually greater in size since it helps to reduce heat loss. Alternatively, the animal's great size could just be an accidental or deliberate exaggeration on Dupuy's part, or perhaps even a completely fabricated description to evoke a response of wonder from the reader.[9]

Another common critique of the account is the note of the animal seemingly having dragged its tail behind it, which was a common way of depicting dinosaurs during the time period when Dupuy lived, whereas modern depictions are usually depicted with the tail held in a horizontal manner, particularly to help balance the animal as it moves or runs. However, various groups of dinosaurs such as sauropods are known to have dragged their tails as seen from fossil evidence, and there are various circumstances during which dinosaurs may have dragged their tails even if it wasn't considered common. The Partridge Creek Monster is at first said to have left an imprint of its tail in the mud, which would be expected from an animal laying down on the ground, and at another time the animal is said to have left tracks of its tail dragging in the snow, which could be explained by the snow simply being deep enough so as to allow its tail to be lowered enough to leave drag marks, particularly if walking up or down a hill.[1][10]

It has also been noted that there haven't been any traces of ceratosaurids found in the fossil record between the Late Cretaceous strata and the modern day, although similar gaps in the fossil record and a lack of modern remains is true for countless extinct and extant organisms and thus does not invalidate Dupuy's account or any other accounts like it, but at best it's simply a lack of physical evidence. Examples of this include the coelacanths which disappear in the Cretaceous strata but are still found alive today, or how lions are known to have existed in Mesopotamia despite the fact that no remains have been found in the area.

Yet another often brought up curious note is how such a large animal would require a breeding population and probably ought to have been seen by more people, although disregarding the fact that we currently have multiple accounts of encounters, it is also possible that many people would not speak of it out of fear of being mocked, and people who potentially did encounter the animal or heard stories of such encounters may simply never have told anybody because nobody asked or they might be long dead along with the animal itself even having been endangered or gone extinct, leaving no more stories to be told, while adding on top of this that such encounters could have been rare considering the size of the population, the capability of the animal to remain undetected (akin to the Knysna elephants of South Africa), or the locations being generally untouched wilderness rarely visited or explored by human beings.

There are, however, also legitimate reasons for skepticism. It should be noted that at the time the original story of the Partridge Creek Monster appeared, otherwise-reputable newspapers and magazines were far more prone to publishing exaggerated and outright false stories than their modern-day counterparts. While the original account of the Partridge Creek Monster was published as a true story in a newspaper rather than as a work of fiction, other similar stories published in newspapers from the same time have since been proven to be hoaxes. This kind of fraudulent news, often called "yellow journalism", was at its peak in the 1890s and 1900s, around the same time that the initial story of the Monster was published. Whatever the case may be, the truth about the Partridge Creek Monster - whether it was a dinosaur, some other kind of animal, or a mere journalistic hoax - will probably never be known for certain.

In Popular Culture[]

  • The Partridge Creek Monster is featured in the popular trading card game MetaZoo: Cryptid Nation.

Gallery[]

Related[]

References[]

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 1.7 1.8 1.9 "The Monster of Partridge Creek: A Dinosaur in the Arctic?" by Hammerson Peters, May 7th 2021, Mysteries of Canada https://mysteriesofcanada.com/yukon/the-monster-of-partridge-creek-a-dinosaur-in-the-arctic/
  2. Dupuy, Georges (July 1908). Newnes, George (ed.). "The Monster of 'Partridge Creek'". The Strand Magazine. Vol. 36, no. 211. George Newnes Ltd. pp. 73–79 – via Internet Archive https://archive.org/details/TheStrandMagazineAnIllustratedMonthly/TheStrandMagazine1908bVol.XxxviJan-jun/page/n81/mode/1up?view=theater
  3. Dupuy, Georges (15 April 1908). "Le Monstre de 'Partridge Creek'" [The Monster of "Partridge Creek"]. Je sais tout (in French). Vol. 4, no. 39. Paris, France: Pierre Lafitte & Cie. pp. 403–409 – via Bibliothèque nationale de France https://gallica.bnf.fr/ark:/12148/bpt6k1029821/f416.item
  4. "MY TRUE STORY. AN UNEXPECTED ENCOUNTER", WWF Panda Pages http://wwf.worldwildlife.org/site/TR?type=fr_tribute_fund&fr_id=1040&pxfid=25130&action=reply&parentid=47040&return=rlst&bpg=post&bpg=post&pg=fund
  5. Lydekker, Richard (September 1908). "The Monster of Partridge Creek". Zoology. Knowledge & Illustrated Scientific News. Vol. 5, no. 9. London, England. p. 219 – via Hathi Trust https://babel.hathitrust.org/cgi/pt?id=uc1.c2834659&view=1up&seq=237
  6. "THE PARTRIDGE CREEK MONSTER - A LIVING DINOSAUR IN THE YUKON?" by Dr. Karl Shuker, June 13th 2014, ShukerNature, http://karlshuker.blogspot.com/2014/06/the-partridge-creek-monster-living.html
  7. Lansdale, Joe R. (19 July 2017). Red Range: A Wild Western Adventure. IDW Publishing. p. 110. ISBN 978-1-68406-290-4 https://books.google.se/books?id=TE4rDwAAQBAJ&pg=PT110&redir_esc=y#v=onepage&q&f=false
  8. "The polar dinosaurs revealing ancient secrets" by Zaria Gorvett, December 1st 2022, BBC Future https://www.bbc.com/future/article/20221130-the-polar-dinosaurs-revealing-ancient-secrets
  9. "Why Are Animals Bigger in Colder Climates?" by Lindsey Konkel, November 20th 2012, Live Science https://www.livescience.com/24916-animal-size-versus-climate.html
  10. "Sauropod tails: up or down?" by Dr. David Hone, January 4th 2010, Dave Hone's Archosaur Musings https://archosaurmusings.wordpress.com/2010/01/04/sauropod-tails-up-or-down/
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