See the Dire Wolf in the Extinct animals gallery
Reports of the Beast of Gévaudan date back to 1764 when in a south-central portion of France, a wolf-like creature massacred defenseless civilians. The first known encounter with the creature was when a young woman, when tending to her livestock, saw the creature approaching. Her dogs, the woman's only protection, were quickly scared off. The beast, described as the size of donkey, was pushed away by the cows. Using their horns, the livestock was able to save the woman.
After the first encounter, the creature began to kill woman and children. In over sixty cases, the heart and vital organs were torn out. As the attacks increased in brutality, peasants began to speculate the creature was actually a loup-garou (werewolf). Reports of the creature looking through windows in the dead of night began to circulate as the fear of the darkness grew. Many feared to leave their home.
After a brutal and public attack on two young children, help was requested from the Royal Court of Versailles. King Louis XV quickly sent a large crew of troops, under the leadership of Captain Duhamel, to the area. As the troops were stationed in the town, they came in contact with the creature several times, but were unable to kill it. To lure the creature, several soldiers dressed as woman on the assumption that it favored "easier" prey. As time went on, the killings stopped and the troops returned to their home base.
After the troops had left, though, the killings resumed. Soon, a large reward was posted for the death of the beast. Hunters came in droves and in a very short time over a hundred wolves were killed. During this time, the killing of children seemed to increase in quantity and brutality.
In June 1767, Marquis d'Apcher brought together several hundred hunters and trackers. Splitting into groups, the men searched the country in search of the beast. Jean Chastel, who had loaded his weapons with silver bullets, confronted the creature and fired two shots. The second shot hit the creature in the heart and killed it instantly. After the creature was gutted, the remains of a small girl were found inside its entrails. For several weeks the carcass of the gigantic creature was hauled around the countryside to celebrate its death.
Later investigations proved the events described did happen- and the creature was a wolf. Cryptozoologists confirmed the reports by using surgeon's reports as a basis.