Some thoughts on the f80v creature in the Voynich Manuscript.

* Could it be a catoblepas?

Early images differ very much on what this mythical creature looked like. But it has its context: the previous folio f79v has another mythical creature - a mermaid, or rather a human figure in a fish beak, like the first incarnation of Vishnu and many more similar Eastern representations.

Very striking is the resemblance of f80v to Topsell's title page image of a Gorgon (in the text referred to as a catoblepas). However that image is dated 1607. The only way there could be a connection to the 15th Century Voynich creature is when they were both copied (or re-copied) from a common earlier original. In that case trying to find Topsell's source could lead to that assumed common manuscript. A manuscript that might tell us a lot more about the VM if the creature was not the only thing he copied.

To the catoblepas

* Tracing back.

Topsell gives Gesner as the source of most of his book. However in Gesner's book I could not find that particular picture of a Gorgon. With other writers I had no succes either. However I found some more early images of the catoblepas.

To the discussion and images

* Could it be a fish-like or lizard-like animal?

Because at first sight it looks like having scales this is a common opinion. But these creatures have completely different tails: At the position of the hind legs the tail is invariably equally thick as the body.

To the tail

* Could the scales be fur or wool?

It appears that in medieval times animals with fur or wool were sometimes drawn with scales representing their fur. Actually the two ram's in the Voynich Zodiak do have somewhat similar wiggly lines for their fur.

To the "scales".

* Could it be the "missing" Capricorn?

Once the scales can well be fur or wool, many animals are candidate for the f80v creature. Especialy goats. They also have short horns and their attacking stance very much looks like it could be the position f80v is in. The capricorn was mostly drawn as a goat so it could well be it. And it is an animal that can be expected in the Voynich Manuscript. Afterall there must have been at least one on the missing pages for January and February. The scribe could have redrawn it in the margin of f80v to indicate the time of year there.

The capricorn was through legend associated with fish and often drawn as half goat half fish. That might be another reason the VM scribe chose for a scale-like pattern on his goat.

To the Capricorn.

* With so many reasonable possibilities there is no need here for extravagant theories like the VM being a (modern) forgery, or coming from the New World. Even if it was proven beyond doubt that the creature is e.g. an anachronistic armadillo the most likely explanation would still be that a later owner had drawn it in the margin like with other additions.

These thoughts were mainly discussed on two blog's:

Nick Pelling:
Is this the way to Armadillo
The secret history of the catoblepas part 1

Koen Gheuens:
The Beast on f80v page 1
The Beast on f80v, most recent

Ger Hungerink, 5 July 2019.

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