Thursday, August 18, 2011

The Alp

For you who not are familiar with the Alp it's a ancient creature. It's  described in old books and art like „Nachtmahr“ (“Night-mare”) by Johann Heinrich Füssli (1802). It was first mentioned in the 16th century and most of the myths about this creature were made up during the 19th century.

How the Alp was imagined in the 19th century

The Alp is a sort of huge bat with humanoid features as longer legs and arms. Since there are no clear pictures of this creature one has to rely on eye witnesses when it comes to it's apparence.
It's covered in fur and is believed to closest related to flying foxes. The humanoid features are hard to explain but it might be a misunderstanding it has armes, most likely it's a thicker part of the humerus and radius bone that might look like arms. Below is a bat skeleton and this would give you a prettu good idea of the skeleton of the Alp.

Picture from a recent spoting

The size of the Alp is disputed and there are a misconception that they are the same size as a full grown man. There are no evidence that this would be the case, quite to opposite.  The proportion between the body and the wings are 1:5 or 1:6. An Alp of the same size as a full grown man would have need a wingspan of about 10 meters to fly. This has never been recorded. The wingspan is more likely 4-5 meters and this would give i length of about one meter.

Not unlike a flying fox. There are many differences between a flying fox and an Alp but this is the closest relative.  See image below. The wingspan of a flying fox is just under 2 meters so the Alp is bigger.

The myth about the Alp being a vampyre origins from the myths about vampyre bats. There are bloodsucking bats but they are very rare. It was during the 19th century the myths about the Alp as a vampire. There were no records of the Alp being a bloodsucker before 1817 and it's the myths about Vampire from the 18th century that during the beginning of the 19th century starts to incorperate other creatures and present them as vampires. But that the Alp is a blood sucking vampyre has never been proved. There are also myths about the Alp being a shapeshifter and haunt it's victims by entering their mind and giving them nightmares (the appearance of the Alp is enough to give you nightmares, I'll admit that).

My extensive research shows that the Alp is distant relative to the flying fox. It's extremely shy and has an very long lifespan. There are creatures that can reach almost 200 years and the only explanation there has never been found any remains of a dead Alp is that it's a very small population, they live long and in isolated areas. There are probably only 6-8 individuals left and they are spread out over central and eastern europe. Where they breed, how they nest and other question remains unknown.