Cryptid Profile: The Afanc
Since the 15th-century, monstrous creatures resembling a cross between a crocodile, a dragon, and a beaver have been said to dwell within lakes all throughout Wales. They were known to devour anybody foolish enough to swim within their waters and that the thrashing of ones tail could cause massive flooding to areas surrounding the lake in which it was inhabiting.
Some stories and legends even recount how the famous King Arthur managed to kill an Afanc by throwing a chain around its neck and hauling its body out of Llyn Barfog (aka: Bearded Lake). When King Arthur had the vicious monster on dry land, the beast became powerless and he was able to kill it with his sword. It is said that proof of the event can be found within a stone not too far from the lake known as ‘Carn March Arthur’ (aka: the Stone of Arthur’s Horse). Upon this rock is a hoof-print shaped mark that is etched deeply within the stone. This mark was said to appear due to the extreme force Arthur’s horse, Llamrei, needed to use in order to pull the Afanc from the water.
Now, everybody knows that the possibility of a crocodile/beaver/dragon hybrid is absurd. But it is perfectly reasonable to believe that people at the time of these sightings were truly seeing something strange. But what could the Afanc be? Researchers believe that there are two likely candidates for the origin of the Afanc legend. The first proposed candidate is a type of giant river otter. Currently, the world’s largest otter is the South American Giant Otter which can grow to lengths of almost 6ft and is very territorial. The belief is that a sub-species of these giant otters could have possibly lived within the area of Wales at the time of the 15th century.
The second (most likely) candidate for the origin of the Afanc is an already recognized and well known fish, the pike. Pikes are long predatory fish that can reach lengths of 6ft, and some researchers believe that under the right conditions, the fish could possibly grow upwards of 10ft. They have pointed heads, sharp teeth, and are gray-green in color. If one has never seen a pike before, it could easily come across as a monstrous creature, especially to those on shore in the 15th century.
-The Pine Barrens Institute
*Image Credit: http://grahamhowells.blogspot.com/2013/05/blog-post.html