"Marcos Rodríguez still finds it hard to be human." So writes Matthew Bremner in a profile of Marcos Rodríguez Pantoja, a Spaniard who has said he lived with wolves for 12 years beginning at the age of about 7. Bremner's piece for the Guardian focuses the least on that period: Rodríguez says he stumbled upon a den and went to sleep with the pups; when the mother returned, he says she fed him some of the meat she had and the rest was essentially history. He describes learning how to set up rabbit traps and use their blood to attract fish; when he was found by police, he was reportedly wearing a deerskin. Those details are as fascinating as they are easy to question: Bremner digs much deeper into the aftermath of Rodríguez's return to civilization and what led to him being in the Sierra Morena mountain range in the first place.
After his mother's death and his father's remarriage and amid tough economic times, he was around the age of 6 "sold" to a man and tasked with looking after his goats (Bremner speaks with an anthropologist about the likely nature of the arrangement). Rodríguez says he was brought to the Sierra Morena to apprentice under a shepherd who taught him some survival skills but disappeared one day; wary of returning to a home he said was abusive, he vanished into the mountains, where he says he befriended snakes and feared only wild boar. Life upon emerging was confusing, a maelstrom of "rejection and disbelief" combined with struggles like learning how to speak again. It wasn't until a 2010 film based on him that celebrity came, and with it more confusion: "The intensity of their belated fascination was almost as puzzling as their earlier contempt—Rodríguez could never understand what was expected of him." Read the full story here. (Read more Longform stories.)