There is a legend on the Isle of Man of a community that came to know a hyper intelligent mongoose who eventually learned to include itself in human society and even learned to talk. It may sound like a joke, but a serious investigation into the legend is now being launched by Christopher Josiffe from London University’s Senate Library.
According to the legend, a little girl named Irving first encountered the small creature after hearing sounds coming from behind the barn near her house. As she went to investigate, a mysterious light brown creature with tan fur came from around the corner and introduced itself as an “extra clever mongoose from Delhi” named Gef. That’s right – it introduced itself verbally. The mysterious creature allegedly had the ability to speak. The story definitely has a very high wackiness factor, but let’s take a moment and peel away the emotional connotation so we can focus on the real facts and possibilities. Many researchers who have looked into this case are surprised by the number and quality of written testimonies and the veracity each seems to hold.
Possibility one, is that the mongoose somehow, through a natural mutation combined with hours upon hours of training, acquired the capabilities of speech. A system of language usually is generated from the Wernicke’s area of the brain where a system of observation mixes with symbol interpretation in the brain and higher memory functioning. Research has suggested that rodents similar to mongooses do have the potential for extensive long term memory, but would it be enough to support a language system of interpretation and response? In addition, the articulate Gef didn’t merely mimic the speech of those around him, he actually spoke articulately like a small person.
Possibility two, the creature was no ordinary mongoose. The creature could have been a supernatural entity from either an alternate dimension or an entity comprised of forces we do not quite understand that is terrestrial, but imperceptible with our current understanding of the laws of physics. Such a creature whose explanation hides outside the scope of our understanding easily could acquire the ability to speech the same way poltergeists or ghosts who have no consciousness connected with the physical world would be capable of interacting with physical objects, being seen despite their incorporeal form, and even seem to think and communicate with the living.
Possibility three, of course is the mundane explanation. The creature could have merely been the well trained pet of an early ventriloquist, and been trained to move its mouth as though speaking while a nearby ventriloquist threw his voice at the creature. In the days that this sighting took place, ventriloquism as a stage presence was certainly taking off.
Hopefully the work of Christopher Josiffe will uncover the reality behind this legend once and for all. As most of those involved directly with the tale have passed on, the only people who remain are the children of those who were involved with the talking mongoose legend.