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Coming Sept. 2010 Available in bookstores and online
The 3rd book in my series on werewolf-like creatures includes MANY new sightings nationwide
What does Sean Hannity have to do with Manwolves and other cryptids? The normally conservative talk show host proves he is not afraid to be a little out there on topics other than politics with his regular feature, "Conspiracy Month." (see clips here) In fact, he has documented the Beast of Bray Road, even tackling the controversial Gable film. Yours truly was interviewed for it along with witnesses Katie Zahn and Steven Krueger. Hannity sent producer Tim Rhodes to Elkhorn, and turned out an excellent 8-minute segment on The Beast.
Post October 29 2009 HOAXES NOT JOKESES - DON'T GIVE BALLOON BOY A WOLF SUIT
Look closely at this pic - see a familiar face?
People send me similar things all the time: Cousin Pete in a werewolf suit, or a landscape with a brown blob that is supposed to be a Bigfoot, Manwolf, or Sigmund the Sea Monster. Sometimes the senders even helpfully add outlines in red crayon to show where the head or legs go.
Why do they do it? Some of these senders want my endorsement so they can sell the pic on e-bay, others are just sort of kidding themselves that they have captured proof that cryptids exist. A few just want to dupe me.
I have thought a lot about hoaxers since the other week's Balloon Boy debacle. The Heene family falls into the hoaxing-for-profit category. These are usually easy to sort out. The sincere "proofers" don't bother me either. I truly hope that some day, someone WILL come up with a clearly defined, measurable, unfaked video or pic of an upright wild canine that the world can chew on.
It's the folks who just like to trick others that I worry about. I know of at least four Beast impersonators on Bray Road alone (hint; Halloween is their fave time for critter-scamming).
For one thing, they could get shot. It has happened to hoaxers in other places such as the so-called Choccolocco Monster whose fun was ended when someone aimed a rifle at him. (He survived but learned his lesson.)
I also worry about the safety of innocent motorists who may be passing by. Causing someone to have an accident would not be cool.
Beyond those considerations, I wonder about the psychology of the pure prankster. There is a degree of mean-spiritedness there, along with disdain for the hoaxees. A hoaxer is actually mocking those people who have had real unexplained experiences, and also makes it harder for researchers to do their work.
However, I've never been able to link any known hoaxers to reported Beast sightings by date or location. And I have a feeling that most people know a human in a bear or gorilla suit or werewolf mask when they see one. I've received far too many sightings of unknown upright canids over time and geographical distance to blame them all on hoaxers. In other words, hoaxes do not prove or disprove the existence of cryptids, they just gum up the binoculars.
And the photo above? That was taken by a nice lady named Donna Pulkowski who had some fun dramatizing the events on Bray Road and had the good manners to tell me that.
My final word is a plea to would-be Halloween jokesters is to curb your enthusiasm and stick to scaring trick-or-treaters at your own front door this year. At least you can then give them some candy to make up for it.
I was asked by friend Jim Cobb to answer a few interesting questions about my last two decades of work, and the result is posted at the Ghostwriter's Society Wordpress blog. April 22, 2009
CORN DOG MAN
The folks at Yahoo's Unknown Creature Spot have been joking about the mythical Corn-Dogman for months now, and a few of them requested an illustration, left.
I have long noted an association between sightings flaps and cornfields, and also with farm buildings, some containing corn. Probably because corn attracts deer, raccoons and other prey.
This is my version of Corn-Dogman. Looks nummy!
From what I understand, the original is going to some guy named Bill H.
Get a Corn Dog Man t-shirt
Guest Blog by Richard Freeman (Zoological Director, Centre for Fortean ZoologyMarch 28, 2009
MODERN SIGHTINGS OF LEGENDARY BEASTS
Mankind are narcissists. Since before Victorian times humans have seen themselves as the pinnacle of creation. Even after the Darwinian revolution man still placed himself at the top of the evolutionary scale. This overweening arrogance has been apparent in how we look at the world around us.
In his 1748 book An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding philosopher David Hume wrote that no amount of evidence could prove the reality of an event that violated the laws of nature, as it was more likely that the evidence was wrong rather than a law of nature turned over. But these are the laws of man; man made concepts, not the laws of nature. Humans seem fond of erecting barriers between things and putting things in boxes. Nature is more fluid and changeable than we humans give it credit for.
In former times book of natural history such as Ulysses Aldrovandi's The Natural History of Serpents and Dragons 1640, Edward Topsell's The History of Four-footed Beasts (1607) and The History of Serpents (1608), and Charles Owen's An Essay Towards a Natural History of Serpents 1742 all contain beasts such as dragons and unicorns alongside more familiar animals.
Most people consider such creatures as long since swept into the dustpan of zoology, existing purely as fauna of the imagination. But this may be wrong. Many creatures we think of today as being legendary are still reported! Herein we will take a look at some of them.
Forget demons, werewolves, giants and vampires, the dragon is the most ancient, powerful and widespread of all, monsters. It is found in every culture reaching back 25,000 years. No other beast has such a hold on the psyche of mankind. In the west we associate the dragon with fire but worldwide it is more associated with the element of water. Dragons were intimately linked with and had power over water. In most cultures they were associated with fertility and life bring rainfall. Dragon sightings are still reported today.
Back in 2006 I investigated reports of a much-feared dragon known as the Ninki-Nanka, said to lurk in the swamplands of The Gambia and other West African countries. One witness, a man called Momomodu told me of encountering a serpentine beast of vast length in a swamp called Kiang West. It had a crested, horse-like head and a long snake like body. Its shining scales were black and green. He watched it emerge from a hole in the ground and slither off into the swamps. He collapsed in shock then finally dragged himself home.
In the coming days he became more and more ill. He felt weak and his body was covered with lesions. Finally he sought out the local iman, an Islamic mystic for help. The iman concocted a potion that Momomodu belives saved his life. The locals belive that the Ninki-Nanka is so deadly that it can kill you just by looking at you. To see a Ninki-Nanka usually means death. I showed him pictures of a komodo dragon, a nile monitor lizard, an Apatosaurus and a Chinese dragon. He picked the dragon as the creature most like the creature he had seen.
Another man we spoke to, a liocal trader, said his uncle had once see it and described it as a vast reptile with fire in its mouth. Another man said a hunter from his vilage had died after seeing a Ninki-Nanka. Before he expired he described a huge serpent with a horse-like head. The hunteıs dog was seemingly unaffected.
The fear of the Ninki-Nanka is very real in West Africa. We interviwed another man at Kiang-West called Bula. Bula had lived in a village in the swamp untill, some years ago his uncle had seen a Ninki-Nanka. Such was the fear the dragon engendered that the whole village was abbandoned. Bula was so scared that he dare not even look into the swamp. We conducted our interveiw with him hiding behind a bush! Even our guide, Bakary, a well educated man, would only go so far into the swamp then refused to go further incase the dragon was lurking there. We forged on and found the empty, crumbling village standing eerily silent in the swamp. At Abuko national park a ranger called Hassa Jinda told us of how his grandfather had seen the creature. Papa Jinda, as he was known worked at a resivour that provided the town of Bathhurst (now Banjul) with water in the 1940s.
One night he noticed the pipes at the pumping station were damaged. Upon investigation he saw a huge creaure rising from the waters. It was so big he could not see the creatures tail. It had scales that shone like diamonds and a crest on its head. He thought the creature was looking for something as it semed to stop on occasion and lower its head as if searching. He saw the creature again in the late 1940s and soon fell ill. He lost his hair and his body was wracked with pain. He died two weeks later. Local lore states that if you see the Ninki-Nanka you will die within five years.
Another ranger at Abuko was Musa Jatta. He told us that the Ninki-Nanka was a serpentine beast large enough to eat a cow. It had four short legs and two bat like wings. It appeared after rainfall. A few years back one was supposed to have caused a lorry to crash as it slithered across the the road. We crossed over into Senegal and found the beliefs there the same as in the Gambia., a serpentine monster with shining scales and a crested head.
I investigated reports of a remarkably similar creature back in 2000 (year of the dragon) in Thailand. Known as the Naga it was supposedly a serpentine monster with a crested head. It had black scales with a greenish or rainbow like sheen to them. Many people had seen it in and around the Mekong River. One man, Officer Suphat, the head of the river police had been one of a crowd of twenty people who had seen the creature swimming in the river a few years before. It resembled a titanic, black snake and swam with a horizontal flexation (indicative of a reptile). Locals believe the creature protects a statue of Buddha that was lost when the boat carrying it capsized.
An elderly man called Mr. Pimpa who lived in a remote village had an even closer encounter. The old man had been exploring a cave system by candlelight when he had come to a place were the tunnel widened out. Here he saw a giant snake like monster. Its head was in the shadows but the visible portion of its body was sixty feet long. Mr. Pimpa pressed himself back against the wall in terror as the giant reptile crawled by at an agonizingly slow pace. Its scales were black with a glossy green sheen and it was around two and a half to three feet thick. Finally it disappeared along the passage and Mr. Pimpa collapsed gasping in relief. In the dark his head fell against a tiny semi-precious stone, which he pocketed. Scrambling back out of the cave system he returned to the village and told his weird tale. He later had the stone mounted onto a serpent shaped ring, which he showed to us. He believed that despite the fear he felt at the time the Naga brought him luck. Prior to his adventure he was a poor man who could hardly afford to feed his family. After it he inherited some land and became a successful farmer.
The caves were now considered sacred to the villagers. Mr. Pimpa led me through the caves to the place the sighting had occurred. It was an astounding place. On several occasions we had to cross icy subterranean rivers and navigate razor-sharp stalactites that hung like guillotines from the ceiling. When not crouched we were on all fours or slithering like worms on our bellies through the primal slime. Most of this honeycomb was no more than four feet high. The dank, unwholesome passages were usually half that wide. Occasionally they widened out into spaces of fifteen feet. These were peopled with unearthly rock formations like giant coffins or Greek pillars. All were festooned with offerings of jasmine wreaths in honor of the Naga.
In 2005 I took an expedition into the Gobi Desert in Mongolia. The trip was, ostensibly, to search foe the Mongolia deathworm, a sausage shaped, sand dwelling beast unknown to science. But whilst thee we hear several stories of modern day dragon sightings. One man, Damdin, who worked programming computers for a mining company told us of something that had happened to his aunt. His aunt had told him of a dragon that she has seen in a river in the1940s. This happened in the north of Mongolia just after WW2. The animal was dead and protruding from a frozen river. At first I thought it must have been a frozen mammoth but Damdin said it was long, black and scaly like a snake. It had been around 100 feet long but only the back was visible above the ice. It had been a very hard winter so the villagers fed on the dead dragonıs flesh until the spring thaws washed the carcass away. If only they had kept a few scales!
In Mongolia dragons are called Luu (pronounced low). It is believed that they live in heaven and only descend to earth on occasion. They bring rain and when storm clouds form around a mountain peak it is called Luu Hang. Bilgee, our guide told me that one of our expedition drivers had been in a certain area about ten years earlier and had tried to use a well but found it had been covered and locked. Upon enquiring about it, he was told that a dragon had entered the well. We enquired at a nearby gur (the circular tents of the nomads). The lady who owned the gur was most hospitable and we were soon gathered around drinking salty Mongolian tea. She told us that ten years ago an old wise man had seen a dragon entering the well. He had ordered it to be locked and said that no water should be taken from it. The local children became afraid. The story got about and three government officials came to see him. As this was in the socialist era and the story was deemed to be religious and hence against the socialist thinking of the time. The three men poured oil into the well as a punishment to the superstitious people. Soon after two of the men mysteriously died and the third remains childless to this day.
The woman did not see the dragon herself but she told us that it was supposed to change colour like a rainbow. To an evil person it would appear black.
We heard a story of a traveling doctor, who in 2004 had gone to draw up water from a well in a town called Bulgan Sum. He had seen what he described as a Chinese dragon coiled up in the well. It had a horse like head and a green scaled, serpentine body with small limbs. This was no nomad or peasant but an educated man.
Asia is the traditional home of the dragon and it comes as no surprise that most of the modern accounts come from this continent. Lake Tianchi in North East China is said to be the lair of a dragon. In 2004 there was a mass sighting were no less than five hundred people saw the creature leaping from the water. It was serpentine in form with a horse like head and black scales. The following year a number of soldiers from the Peopleıs Liberation Army saw a blackish green serpent like creature in the lake.
Sightings of dragons in Asia are nothing new. On August 18th 1901, First Officer F Wolfe, in charge of the Chinese customs launch Lung-tsing was off Tai Yue Shan Island, Hong Kong. He spotted a dragon-like animal coiled on the seaıs surface. It held itıs head around three feet out of the water. Itıs head bore a crest and it had two fins high on the neck. Wolfe rather stupidly ordered his second officer, V Kuster, into a gig with a number of men and told them to attack the creature. The men attempted to attack the animal with a boat hook, an endeavor that strikes me as akin to attempting to knock over Nelsonıs Column with a flywhisk. The monster reared fifteen feet out of the water, bit one of the oars in two and then dived. The mariners were indeed lucky that it didnıt turn on the gig. They estimated its length at fifty feet.
More Asian Sightings
From July 1897 to 1904 marine creatures strongly resembling dragons were reported from Along Bay, Vietnam. The French gunboat Avalanche was the first to encounter them. A Lieutenant Lagresill described how he and his crew watched a pair of gray and black, serpentine animals some sixty-five feet long. They sported saw like crests running along the spine and blew jets of vapor from their nostrils. This last detail recalls the rain bringing breathe of Asian dragons. Revolving guns were fired at them from a range of six hundred yards but seemingly had no effect on the animals what so ever. The Avalanche gave chase but was outpaced by the creature. Lieutenant Lagresill was laughed by many of his fellow officers when he recounted his story a week later at a reception for the Governor General of Indo-China. He invited the nay Sayers to return to along bay with him.
Lagresill was vindicated when the animals returned in front of a collection of officer who watched them for thirty-five Minutes from he deck of the Avalanche. In his own words "Undoubtedly these animals, known and feared by the Annamites, must have provided the idea of he Dragon, which modified and amplified by legend, has been, if I may so term it heraldized into their national emblem." Admiral de la Bedolliere of the French navy wanted to try and capture a specimen but a diplomatic crisis in China saw to it that his plan was never carried out. Another one of these beasts was seen again from the Vauban the following year. Jean Baptiste, a marine guard noted scaly skin and a snake like head.
The Charles-Hardouin was on passage from Nantes to Hong Kong when in December 1903 it ran into a latter day sea dragon. The Helmsman wrote ³I think that the Taiwan embroidered the beast on Imperial and Annamite is just a stylized version of this animal.² Later the same year a number of passengers on board the Gueydon observed the dragon. On February 14th 1904 Lieutenant Peron saw the serpent of Along bay from the steam launch Chateau-Renault. He observed the sixty-foot serpentine creature shoot jets of vapor from its nostrils. A fortnight after Peronıs sighting another gunboat the La Decidee met with a monster that Lieutenant LıEost estimated and his crew to be one hundred feet in length. Finally in May of 1904 the Gueydon mat again with the dragon off Along bay. On this occasion over one hundred people saw the creature.
The reports from this period were remarkably consistent. An animal sixty to one hundred feet in length, scaled, serpentine, moving in vertical undulations, having a saw like crest along the back, grayish black in colour and snorting vapor from the nostrils. In Asia the dragon is associated with the element of water rather than fire. All in all one could hardly ask for a better description of an Asian dragon.
In the U.K. ..TODAY!
The thought of huge reptiles lurking in African, swamps of Asian desserts or deep seas is one thing but such a creature in modern day Britain would seem impossible. In May 2003 David Nardiello was working teaching English in Nigshimozu high school in the town of Watagh Shinke-Cho, Osaka, Japan. He was cycling home late one night through heavy rain. The torrent had formed a pool in some nearby rice fields. Nardiello saw a white animal emerge from the water and turn to look at him. It had a long neck and snake-like head with black "shark eyes" and fangs. The body and tail were akin to a lizard whist the four legs resembled a cat. The animal had leathery, featherless wings. It flew into the air to a height of 30 meters and Nardiello, increasingly scared, cycled home as fast as he could.
Later that night he saw it flying through the night sky from his third-story flat. He asked his neighbors if they had seen it but none had. Some however said they had heard weird cries from the fields for the past few nights. His co-worker Kato Sensi dubbed it Nekohebitori or cat-snake-birdı. Nardiello felt strongly that the animal was a predator and was dangerous.
And in the USA...
San Francisco Bay is one of the busiest waterways on earth and has one of the most built up waterfronts. However there have been a number of sea dragon sightings here, even around Alcatraz Island, a popular tourist attraction. Brothers, Bob and Bill Clark have has some of the closest encounters. On February 5, 1985 at about 7:45 am they were drinking coffee in our car which was parked along the Marina Green in San Francisco only yards from the Bay with a beautiful panoramic view of the Golden Gate bridge on our left to Alcatraz island on our right.
³We noticed a group of sea lions about 150 yards in front of us. While watching them we saw what we thought was another sea lion come around Stone Tower point and slowly approach the group. When it got within a few yards a long, black tubular object telescoped about ten feet straight up out of the water and then it lunged forward almost falling on top of the sea lions. They immediately began swimming away, leaping in and out of the water as they fled toward shore. The creature churned the water as it swam behind one of them moving so fast it was a blur, but we were able to see it creating vertical undulations, which seemed to move down the length of the animal. Suddenly, it went underwater. Meanwhile, the sea lion came closer and closer to where we were parked. Actually, it swam straight at us. It leapt out of the water as it attempted to escape. The creature followed close behind stirring up the water as it made a final attempt to procure a meal. Now only 25 yards away, an arch of the animal was exposed which looked like half a truck tire.
It appeared black and slimy, yet at the same time it glistened in the early sunlight. The creature was swimming slightly below the surface almost parallel to the shore. The water was very clear allowing a silhouette of the creature's head and snake-like neck to be observable. A short flat snout, eyebrow ridges and lots of neck could be seen. It must have been 30 feet of neck because we both thought a big snake had just swam by. We were expecting to see the end of the snake but instead of getting smaller it began to get much larger! What we watched wasn't a big snake but something even more unbelievable. There was a loud crash and with a spray of water the creature seemed to stop dead in its tracks. The sea lion, apparently being familiar with the shoreline, had swum over a shelf of rocks bringing the beast into shallow water, only three feet deep. Instantaneously, a long black neck popped up, twisted backwards away from shore, then splashed as it hit the surface of the water and disappeared.
We sat there trying to grasp the reality of what was happening. For a moment we were mesmerized as the creature was practically laying at our feet! The creature twisted clockwise like a corkscrew and exposed its midsection above water, giving us an excellent view of the underbelly, which was creamy white with a tint of yellow. It resembled an alligator's belly with a soft leathery look but was divided into many sections several feet wide. There was enough room to accommodate a human being inside it. The midsection had hexagonal scales which fit next to each other rather than overlapping. The largest scales appeared at the widest part of the midsection where the underbelly and side of the creature met, gradually reducing in size as they approached the top, front and end of the midsection. If the smallest scale was compared to a dime the largest scales were larger than a silver dollar. The midsection was about 20 feet long, black on top, and slowly changed from a mossy green to a grassy green and ultimately to a yellow-green as it approached the underbelly. There was a distinct line where the texture of the skin changed from the scales into the smooth, leathery underbelly.
The animal rolled off the rocky ledge exposing a padded underbelly and lateral fins While it continued twisting another section six to nine feet long arched upward three feet above the water, as if pinched from both ends. Then the arch twisted away from us exposing a fan-like appendage that was attached to its side at the waterline. It looked like a flag flapping in the wind. It was triangular in shape with a serrated outer edge. Mossy green ribbing ran out from a single point attached to the side of the animal like the spokes in a wheel. A paper thin green membrane stretched between each rib which extended farther than the membrane, creating the serrated edge. The appendage was equilateral with each side several feet in length reminding us of a "dragon's wing" in miniature. Bob concentrated on the fin trying to remember as much detail as possible. He counted the number of ribs but stopped when he got to six since there were too many. All this time it hung open against the side of the animal. The fin unfolded like a fan and had many spikelike ribs creating a serrated edge!"
The creature turned its head to the left and then to the right looking for the sea lion. Bob wanted to get closer to the creature while it was sitting under the water but when he opened the car door and began to get out Bill became worried the creature would attack them. The brothers were lucky enough to see the creature (or another one of the same species) several more times.
Britain has masses of dragon legends; Somerset and the North East are particularly rich. Were do these tales spring from? One man who thinks he knows is historian and Fortean researcher and author Mike Hallowell. Mike had been researching the history of Marsden Grotto a pub that is built into the cliff face in Marsden Bay, South Shields. The pub was built in a cave blasted into the living rock with dynamite but it may be connected to a huge network of tunnels that occur naturally. In the pub itself is an old carving of the Lambtom worm, a serpent dragon that terrorized the area around the River Wear near Durham until it was slain by Sir John Lambton whilst dressed in a suit of amour studded with spikes.
The coast around Marsden was said, at the time of the Dane lore to be the haunt of a much feared sea dragon called the Shony. Vikings would stop the beast attacking their long ships by tossing a crew member overboard as a sacrifice to the beast. So the story goes this sacrifice became a kind of maritime worship and persisted long after the time of the Vikings. It was supposedly practiced by Scandinavian sailors. Half eaten bodies were said to have washed by as far away as Lindisfarne. The cult of the Shony persisted around Marsden. Many landlords of the Marsden Grotto pub awoke to discover the sacrificial victims of the Shoney washed ashore on the beach outside the Grotto. The pub's cellar was used as a makeshift morgue on many occasions. The bodies had their hands bound and throats slit. Some were half eaten.
According to Mikeıs informants the last body was washed up in 1928! The idea of a dragon worship cult practicing human sacrifice in England well into the 20th century sounds like a plot line for Hammer Horror or Dr Who. Mike has tried to access police records to check on this but because the county boundaries have change he is finding this hard. Both the local police forces insist that their records donıt go back that far and that the otherıs do! Mike and his family saw what he believes to be the Shony in the waters off Marsden Bay. He described a brownish humped back, quite distinct from a whale, breaking the surface of the sea. More worryingly Mike has had threatening phone calls and e-mails warning him to drop the whole case and leave his investigations into the cult of the Shony well alone. Could a vestige of this cult still be active?
In September 1982 a freakish animal was appearing in the skies above the Aire Valley in West Yorkshire. It was first spotted in a wooded area known as the Devilıs Punchbowl on the 12th September. It flew low and erratically, on large, bat-like wings and, according to the anonymous witness, resembled a pterodactyl. The witness was interviewed by my friend and expert on the occult history of Ilkley Moor, Paul Bennett. It was also seen by a resident of nearby Eldwick, who described it as being gray with a pointed beak and short legs.
It returned on the night of the 15th, and this time came right into town. It was spotted by a man walking his dog in Pudsey. On hearing a loud scream, followed by a low groan, the man fearing a mugging was taking place investigated. The sounds were repeated from rooftop level, and he looked up to see a bat-winged, bird-like creature perched upon a neighborıs roof and towering over the chimney pots. He said: It was making a screaming call with its beak open, the grunt with its beak closed. It launched itself from the roof, its weight causing it to drop below roof level, before its slow wing beat carried it off into the darkness.ı The witness estimated the monsters wingspan to be eight feet (three meters).
It was seen again in Yeadon, flying towards the airport. Then the sightings trailed off until 7th June the following year. A woman living in Thackley, Bradford, saw it flying with laborious strokes down her street towards a wooded, disused railway. The massive size astonished her. Mike Priestly, features editor on the Telegraph and Argus and twice 'Yorkshire Reporter of The Year' decided to track the mystery down and photograph it. His patience was rewarded when he snapped a large flying creature in the skies above Bradford. His 300mm telephoto lens was unable to get a clear picture because of the extreme distance of the subject. Reports of the beast continued from Basildon, Shipley, Crossflats, Pudsey, Yeadon and Thackley.
The last recorded sighting occurred in November 1985. Journalist Malcolm Hodds described a black beast with a 1.5 meter wingspan and finger-like feathers. The Yorkshire pterodactyl flap was over, but on the other side of the Pennines a remarkably similar monster reared its head in 1999. Ian Wharton told me of the strange encounters of two of his colleagues in the Parks Department working at Hesketh Park, Southport. One man, Clive Everson, approached Wharton one morning in having claimed to have just seen what looked like a pterodactyl. A gray skinned, bat-winged creature, with a long beak and massive wingspan, had risen up out of the bushes in front of Everson, and flown away leaving him dazed and alarmed. A second man, Percy Whaterton, had seen two beasts answering the same description in the woods that backed onto his house. These strange creatures were badly frightening the birds in the park and Whaterton thought that they may be nesting in the forest. To date nothing further has been heard from this area.
The ex-wife of my friend Larry Warren claims to have seen the creature perched atop a roof in Liverpool. She described it as gray, with leathery skin, bat-like wings, claws and a beak full of sharp teeth. In the late 1990s I received several anonymous phone calls from a man claiming that a dragon-like creature had returned to the skies above Ilkley. He said a black-skinned, leathery-winged creature the size of a helicopter had been seen on several occasions. I could not verify the story so make of it what you will.
If you think you know vampires think again. The modern idea of a vampire bears no resemblance to the creature first written of in Eastern Europe. The image of the romantic, beautiful, ageless, sexy vampire is modern concoction. The original records of vampires are a million miles away from our modern conception. Foul, disease bearing horrors, they did no always drink blood. The average vampire story consisted of a person thought of as dead, rising up from he grave, often bloated and covered in grave mould. They would visit family members, often sitting on their chest and draining the life force out of them. One of the best-known stories concerns Arnold Paole.
In the spring of 1727, Arnold Paole returned from service in the military to Meduegna, near Belgrade. He bought some land, built a home and established himself in the community. After a short time, he was married to a local girl whose father's land bordered his. While stationed in Turkish Serbia he had been visited by an undead being. Afterwards, he hunted down the creatureıs grave and burnt the cadaver. However, the incident affected him so greatly that against the advice of his superior officers, he resigned from the military and came back to Meduegna.
Shortly after his marriage, Paole fell from a cart and broke his neck. A month after he died, he was seen wandering around the village. Several weeks after the initial reports, most of the people who had claimed Paole had visited their home died. I was decided exhume the body of Arnold Paole. The group consisted of two military officers, two army surgeons, and a priest from the local church. When the group exhumed the body, they found a fresh corpse. There was no decomposition of the body whatsoever, and in fact the old skin and nails had fallen off, and new ones had grown to take their place. Fresh blood was upon his lips. When one member of the group drove a stake into the body, he cried out and fresh blood spilled from the wound. The group then scattered garlic around the remains, and did the same to each of the graves of his victims.
All was quiet in Meduegna for several years until 1732, when there was another spate of inexplicable deaths. This time, the town took no chances and immediately sent out a group to the graveyard to investigate. The report has ended up in many history books over time. It was signed by three renowned army surgeons and cosigned by a lieutenant-colonel and a sub-lieutenant. Of all the bodies they disinterred during the investigation, they once again found no less than 11 corpses which displayed the same marked traits as the Paole corpse. No decomposition, fresh skin grown, fresh blood in the arteries. It was said that Paole had feasted on local cattle as well as people.Then, the theory states, as time passed and the cows were killed for their meat, the vampire qualities were passed on to anyone who ate the meat.
The town of Berwick in Northumbria had an out break of vampire contagion in the early 1900s. A young woman called Betty Hough, who had been out courting, was found dead with bite marks on her neck. Soon after farm animals began to be killed and drained of blood. About one week later a 16 year old girl was attacked by a foul smelling manı in filthy clothes, who had long teeth. Luckily two farm workers managed to haul the thing off her but not before it bit one man in the neck and escaped into the night. A mob led by Bettyıs fiancé Colin McFaddon and a pack of sniffer dogs followed a tail into some woods. May dead animals were found drained of blood. The trail ended beside a tree. Reaching in McFaddon felt the horrorıs foot. The mob dug the thing up and McFaddon hacked off its head before the mob cut it up with their spades.
Some other nocturnal entity was haunting Highgate Cemetery in the fag end of the swinging sixties. The media soon dubbed it the Highgate Vampire. In 1969 a man named Thornton had been looking around the cemetery. As night began to fall he tried to find his way out but became hopelessly lost. Soon he felt a presence behind him and turned to look. Not six feet away was a dark 7 foot tall specterı. It seemed to be hovering above the ground and transfixed him with glowing eyes. He was unable to move and felt drained of energy. The thing held him in its thrall from several minuets before he collapsed and the vampire vanished.
Soon after an old lady said she had been walking her dog by the cemetery gates when it had started to howl. Looking up she saw a tall dark man with glowing eyes floating above the ground. It approached her then vanished. Investigators from the British Occult Society, led by David Farrant, searched the graveyard. They found a number of vaults had been broken into and coffins smashed. They also discovered dead animals in the cemetery.
Then on December 21st David decided to spend a night in the graveyard alone. He was situated by the gate were the old lady had her encounter. At around 11 pm he noticed a strange feel come over the place and an eerie wind seemed to be disturbing the vegetation. Some shape was coalescing out of the darkness. It was a black figure 7 feet tall with red glowing eyes. David felt that it was evil and was trying to hypnotize him. He managed to tear his eyes away from its gaze and it vanished. The society felt that a satanic group had raised the entity and were controlling it.
Indeed the desecration of the cemetery got worse. A womanıs corpse had been ribbed from its grave. The society decided to do a banishing ritual and met one night in 1970 with the purpose of dispelling the vampireı. They drew up a circle inscribed with protective symbols and set about the ritual banishment. Almost as soon as they had begun they were disturbed by torchlights. The police had surrounded the graveyard and thought that the society were Satanists! In the confusion David was arrested and blamed for the desecration. He escaped conviction but received threatening letters claiming to be from the Satanists.
In the meantime the vampire had been spotted again. A young girl walking in Swains Lane beside the graveyard had been attacked by a tall black figure with a deathly white face. It had thrown her to the floor with tremendous force. The vampire only retreated when caught in the headlights of a passing car. The thing seemed to get more powerful and aggressive. With this in mind another banishing ritual was attempted in 1971. This time David and his colleagues had more success. The group, all wearing protective talismans evoked the entity and it manifested as an icy black shape with red eyes inside the circle. Once again it used hypnotic powers and almost succeeded in getting all those present under its thrall. One girl even passed out. David described it as if the entity were trying to absorb you. The group managed to manifest the thing and drive it away from them again but not exorcize it.
David was later caught in the cemetery again and jailed by an overzealous judge who did not understand what he has trying to do. Shortly after a man was found dead in the graveyard with appalling wounds to his neck. The official police verdict was suicide. One cannot help wonder if it was something else. Sadly the Highgate Vampire case has been hijacked by the 'Reverend' Sean Manchester, a self styled Bishop of theOld Catholic Church. Manchester has written a book The Highgate Vampire that must be the most appallingly self aggrandizing drivel I have ever read.
In it he paints himself as a Byronic hero who battles the forces of darkness like a cross between Errol Flynn and Dr Van Helsing. He claims, among other things, to have staked the vampire--an actual animated cadaver according to him-- and battled a giant demonic spider! Manchester is fiercely jealous of David Farrant and never ceases to dog and criticize him at every opportunity. Perhaps this is because Arrant and his friends were the only ones brave enough to attempt to tackle the entity in reality.
It's a long way from a crumbling London cemetery to a modern American city but vampires have allegedly struck there as well. After the Vietnam War over 100,000 ethnic Hmong-a tribal people from the hills of Laos- moved to the USA. The Hmong had been recruited by the CIA during the war. In 1977 Hmong men in the USA began to die for no apparent reason. They were all healthy young men, living in modern cities. None of them showed any signs of trauma or illness. The deaths began to spread and they baffled doctors. These deaths were named SUNDS, sudden unexplained nocturnal death syndrome. The deaths climbed alarmingly from 1977 to 1981. Some Hmong immigrants told of feeling an evil presence in their bedroom at night as well as a feeling of paralysis. Up to 75% of Hmoug in the US said they had felt these things.
Delving into Hmong folklore stories of a vampire called the Dab tsog (pronounced da cho) were unearthed. The Dab tsog was said to live underground and rise up at night to feed on the living by sucking the life from them whilst sitting on their chest. Back in Laos the monsters were held at bay by ancestral spirits. The ancestor spirits were fed and given offerings by shaman in return they kept the evil spirits away. Most of the men who immigrated to the US were young. The shamanistic practices were conducted by older men, usually the head of the family. When older men well versed in the rituals were brought over to join their families the cases of SUNDS dropped off and is now virtually unknown.
The idea of a human being able to transform into an animal is a universal one. In Africa there are were-crocodiles and were-hyenas, in Asia there are were-tigers and in Europe there are were-bears and most famously werewolves. The real wolf is a much-maligned creature. The cases of humans killed by wolves are few and far between. Wolves killed some children in northern India few years ago. But this was because humans had wiped out most of the animals the wolves were feeding on. In the original werewolf legends a human would transform completely into a wolf rather than the human-wolf hybrid beloved by Hollywood.
Curiously most modern werewolf sightings are of just such hybrid, bipedal beasts. Linda herself has covered the modern werewolf sightings in the US so here I will limit myself to werewolf sightings in the UK.
At Langrick Fen (in an area appropriately named Dogdyke) a strange skeleton was unearthed in the 1920s A local archaeologist digging in the peat discovered a human skeleton but with a wolf's head. The man took his discovery home, but during the night he found his house besieged by a werewolf. The archaeologist spent the night barricaded in the kitchen as the beast tried to gain entrance to his house, and as the sun came up and the werewolf left, the man took the skeleton and reburied the bones where they were found.
Exmoor in Devon and Somerset is a stretch of wild moorland with several werewolf stories attached to it .In the 19th century a woman walking home after dark reported seeing a gray man with a wolf's head, apparently stalking a large rabbit. The werewolf vanished when disturbed by a stag that ran out from a nearby wooded area.
There are reports of werewolf sightings close to the village of Lynton well into the 20th century. Some of the reports say the creature could pass through fences like a ghost or would just fade away in front of witnesses. The early Fortean Elliot O'Donnell investigated the case above and a number of other werewolf sightings. Some if which point to an ethereal nature.
A Miss Jean St Denis was drawing landscapes near a little railway station close to were she lived in Merionethshire, Wales. One dusk she saw a figure sitting an abandoned truck. Growing nervous she packed up and began to walk home when she realized she was being followed. Turing around she saw a naked human figure with gray skin and a wolf's head. It raised its claws up to its face then vanished.
Another of O'Donnel'ıs stories concerned a Mr and Mrs Anderson who had inherited a large sum of money and decided to build a villa in Cumbria. At night their children and servants were disturbed by weird sounds. The Andersons decided to wait up in their childrenıs bedroom to get to the bottom of the matter. Between 2 am and 3am they heard a growling from the garden below. They opened the window to look but could see nothing. Suddenly they heard the front door opening and something enter. An animalistic padding came up the stairs and stopped outside the door. Mr Adnerson bravely flung it open but the corridor was empty.
On Christmas Eve the children had been sent to bed at 10 am. Two hours later Mr Anderson was carrying a sack of gifts for the children up the stairs. Outside the weird growling started again. When he entered the childrenıs room they had a unique Christmas surprise, as standing behind Mr Anderson was an upright, gray figure with a wolf's head, sharp teeth and glowing eyes. The beast melted away when Mrs Anderson came in with a candle.
The Andersons sold the house soon after but not before they had searched the gardens. In a cave behind the garden they found a wolf skull and a headless human skeleton. Mr Anderson burnt the bones.
A strikingly similar case happened to a Mr Andrew Warren. At the age of 5 he had been living with his grandfather in the Hebrides, Scotland. His granddad had fostered an interest in natural history and geology in him. One day the pair found weird remains in a dried up tarn (mountain pool). It looked like a human skeleton with a wolf''s skull. They took the remains home. That evening Andrew was alone in the house when he heard something rapping at the window. On investigation he found a human-like, gray creature with a wolf's head, looking through the window. It was snarling and it raised a clawed hand. Andrew locked the door and waited in the hall for his family to return. Next day they took the bones back to the tarn and the wolfman was seen no more.
The Reverend Montague Summers recounts another such story, this time it once again in Merionethshire, Wales. An Oxford professor and his wife had rented a cottage for a holiday in 1888. Whilst fishing at a nearby lake the professor had come across what looked like a wolf's skull and taken it back to the cottage for examination. That evening, whilst the professor was out with a friend, his wife heard something snuffling about the back door. Looking out of the window she saw a huge wolfman who gripped the window ledge with its claws and looked at her with red, strangely intelligent eyes. She ran round the house bolting the doors. She heard the beast rattling the latches and scratching about outside the cottage.
At last the noises vanished and soon she heard her husband and his friend returning. She told them of her ordeal and they loaded their guns and waited to see if the werewolf returned. As darkness fell they heard its clawed feet crunching on the gravel of the drive. The monster leered in through the window again. The men grabbed their guns and gave chase. They watched the beast flee from the garden and bound over to the lake. It seemed to vanish in the water. Next day the Professor took the skull and threw it into the lake. They were not disturbed again.
The best known werewolf case in Britain was that of the Hexham Heads. An 11-year-old boy and his younger brother were weeding their parent's garden in the town of Hexham, Northumberland when they unearthed two carved stone heads. Both heads were roughly a little smaller than tennis balls and very heavy. They were crudely carved and weathered looking, one resembling a skull-like masculine head and the other a slightly smaller female head. The female head supposedly resembled a witch. The heads were cut with hollows for eyes and mouth and a rough protrusion as a nose. Shortly after the boys had taken the heads into their house, a number of peculiar incidents began to occur. The heads would turn around all by themselves and household objects were found inexplicably broken. At one point one of the daughters of the family living in the house found her bed showered with glass.
However it was the next door neighbors who experienced the most startling occurrence. A few nights after the discovery of the heads, a mother living in the neighboring house was sitting up late with her daughter who was suffering from toothache. She and her daughter saw what they described as a "half man, half beast" enter the room. They both screamed and husband came running from another room to see what all the commotion was about. By this stage however, the beast had walked off down the stairs. It could reportedly be heard "padding down the stairs as if on its hind legs". The front door was found open so it was presumed that the creature had left the house that way.
Soon after this incident a doctor who had studied the Celtic culture and had written several books on it took possession of the stone heads to study them. She had several other heads that were similar and she was certain that the Hexham heads were Celtic and around 1800 years old. The doctor lived in Southampton about 150 miles from Hexham and had heard nothing of the strange goings on encountered by the previous owners of the heads. She put the two stone heads with the rest of her collection. A few nights later she too encountered the mysterious creature. She woke from sleep feeling cold and frightened. She looked up and saw standing in front of the door of the room and saw a half-man, half-animal type creature.
"It was about six feet high, slightly stooping, and it was black, against the white door, and it was half animal and half man. The upper part, I would have said, was a wolf, and the lower part was human and, I would have again said, that it was covered with a kind of black, very dark fur. It went out and I just saw it clearly, and then it disappeared, and something made me run after it, a thing I wouldn't normally have done, but I felt compelled to run after it. I got out of bed and I ran, and I could hear it going down the stairs, then it disappeared towards the back of the house."
After this, the doctor and her family saw what they described as a huge black creature, like a werewolf appear a number of times around the house. It particularly appeared a lot on the stairs where it would always run half-way down the stairs and then jump over the banisters to land in the hall, where it would run then off on padded feet. Sometimes it could be heard padding around although it could not be seen and sometimes doors would fly open seemingly for no reason. The doctor stated that there was "an evil presence about the house". Eventually she decided that the stone heads were the source of the problem and got rid of the whole collection.
The two Hexham heads passed into the hands of other collectors who experienced no werewolf phenomena however some did report that a sense of evil seemed to be emitted by the witch like head which made them very uncomfortable. Eventually the heads became untraceable and their current whereabouts is unknown. One of the strange additions to the mystery was the claim by the previous owner of the house in Hexham, where the heads were discovered, that he had in fact made the heads as toys for his children in 1956 and they had been lost in the garden. According to him the heads were not Celtic at all but only around 20 years old when they were found. The current whereabouts of the heads are unknown but a friend of mine, Dr Gail Nina Anderson, has said she strongly suspects that they are languishing, forgotten in the Vaults of Newcastle Museum. As recently as 2007 there have been a number of reports of an upright walking wolf like creature seen near the German War Cemetery on Cannock Chase, Staffordshire.
THE LITTLE PEOPLE
Much like the dragon, legends of other races of human-like creatures abound worldwide. There are many kinds, pixies, goblins, gnomes, elves, the list is endless. The modern image of a fairyı is very much a construct of the Victorian age. In fact there are no legends pertaining to fairies having wings. Most fairies were at best neutral towards humans, many were downright dangerous. These were not the gossamer winged creatures of Disney, but something to be feared. Many would not even call them by name, referring to them as good folk, little people or "themselves."
Not all were small and pretty. In fairy lore a fairy can be big and ugly! The Transactions of the Devonshire Association record the experience of Mrs G Herbert in 1928. She recalled seeing a pixie close to Shaugh Bridge on Southern Dartmoor in 1897. These also record that in 1897 a farmer on Dartmoor hah been suffering with sickness among his cattle. He sacrificed a sheep to the pixies on the moor and the illness stopped. "It was like a little wizened maneighteen inches or possibly two feet high, but I incline to the lesser height. It had a pointed little hat, slightly curved at the front, a doublet and little, short knicker things. My impression is of contrasting colours, but I cannot now remember what colours, though I think they were red and blue. Its face was brown, wrinkled and wizened."
In 1918, whilst boarding at Claremont school, Eastbourn, Sussex the novelist Pamela Frankau saw what she described as an albino dwarf scurry across her bedroom floor and out onto the landing. Mr W E Thorner had a strange experience on the island of Hoy in the Orkney Islands, Scotland one winterıs day during WWII. He was walking near a cliff top at Torness when he saw a group of small, wild-looking me dancing two and fro. They had sallow, unkindly faces and bedraggled hair. Thy danced with wild abandon and at times seemed to throw themselves off the cliff. He thought it looked like a tribal dance of a race of primitive men.
I was once in a car with a man who said he saw a small, brown skinned humanoid creature about 18 inches tall standing in the middle of the road. He even happened in the early 1990s near Lizard Point, Cornwall. He saw the creature illuminated in the car headlights. It turned and ran off down a path that lead to the beach. He could make out no facial features nor could he be sure if the creature wore clothes. I did not see this as I was sitting in the back seat of the car and he in the front passenger seat. We both walked down the path that the creature had ran along but saw nothing. There was however a distinctly eerie feeling.
Lee Walker is a Fortean researcher from Liverpool. He publishes an excellent magazine called Dead of Night. In one section called "New Ferry after Midnight" he recounted personal experiences from Merseyside. One of the strangest concerned an encounter with what appeared to be a latter day goblin. The story occurred in the late 1970s. Leeıs family had two pet rabbits that they thought were both female. As it turned out one was male and had to be re-homed but not before it had made its little friend pregnant. The rabbit gave birth to a number of young and all was well for several weeks.
Then one morning one of the babies was found dead. Its head had been crushed flat. It was assumed to have been an accident were the mother had stood on the youngster's head. Next day another rabbit turned up dead. Once again its head had been literally crushed flat. It was decided that the babies, now weaned, were to be separated from their mother for their own safety. The young were put in a separate enclosure. However the next day a third young rabbit was found dead in the same condition as the other two. The Walker family considered that some kind of predator was at work. But the hutch remained bolted and what kind of predator crushed its victim's skull but did not eat them?
The next day and the day after the same thing happened. Finally the last rabbit was taken into a shed and put in a hutch with its lid weighted down with a brick. Lee's sister checked up on it and was amazed to see that something had moved the brick. She had a feeling she had disturbed something just before it was about to attack the rabbit. But what kind of an animal could lift a brick off the roof of a hutch? She replaced the brick and went back inside the house. A short while later she had a feeling that he rabbit was in danger and rushed back out to the shed. Lee and his family heard her scream. She came rushing into the house in hysterics. She claimed to have seen a goblin.
Finally they managed to calm her down and she blurted out a bizarre story. She had entered he shed and one again seen that the brick had been removed from the lid of the hutch. She saw a dark shape crouching beside the hut and at first thought it was a huge rat. Then the thing stood up. She said it was a squat, humanoid figure clad in what looked like a monkıs hooded robe. I was about three feet tall. As it turned to look at her she saw it had leathery brown skin. It had a wide mouth filled with sharp teeth, pointed ears, bloodshot eyes and a large, war festooned nose. In one hand it clutched what looked like a lump hammer. She had run screaming into the house at that point. A search of the shed revealed no creature but the last rabbit lay dead in its hutch. Its skull had been complexly flattened.
What are we to make of such strange sightings? Of course there have always been hoaxes such as the sightings of the Brentford Griffinıin the 1980s. But the persistence of certain monster archetypes argues for some kind of objective existence of these creatures. Monsters have always haunted mankind and no matter how civilizedı we become I think they always will.
NOTE: Many thanks to Richard Freeman for this amazing and exhaustive study!
STRANGE BRAY ROAD EVENT - Feb. 10, 2009
Here's a weird Bray Road incident that happened last night, an unseasonably warm Feb. evening about 40 degrees F. and a clear sky, good visibility. Two men were driving along Bray Road near a farm where past sightings hav e occurred, when they saw a wolf-like animal that was much larger than a coyote standing in the road. They said it just didn't look right, although it was on four legs. It ran off into a field as they approached, and they went home for a camera. When they returned it was nowhere to be seen. But they did see a man walking barefoot down the road. (!?!) Could have been just a coydog hybrid and some teenager celebrating the February thaw, but the oddity of it all intrigues me. I'm in the processing of begging more details. I hope they at least snapped Shoeless Joe.
INDIE VIDEOS DOCUMENT LEGENDS - Feb. 9, 2009
You just can't have too many independent documentaries about unknown, upright canines, in my book. There are two on the market right now, Navajo Skin Walkers and Legends, and Hunt the Dogman, that explore first-person accounts and legends from two very different parts of the country.
Navajo Skin Walkers, produced by J.C. Johnson of Crypto Four Corners, documents eyewitness accounts of the Navajo skinwalker, a wolf-like being connected to dark shamanic activities. I liked that these were Navajo people telling their own stories. Ditto for the tribal legends recounted by Chief Leonard Dan. Although the legends are not all canid-related, he tells of afascinating sighting of one of the "little people" complete with a photo he says he took of one sitting on a river rock. I would like to see the photo vetted by an analyst but it's a startling sight.
Hunt the Dogman roams the hills of rural Kentucky, specifically the Land Between the Lakes National Recreation Area. According to several witnesses, the LBL is terrorized by a vicious, werewolf-like creature that some believe slaughtered a family of campers. Co-producer and intrepid outdoorsman Bart Nunnelly brings his own mother in as a witness, and also leads viewers through the woods of the Spottsville Monster. Yours truly even makes an appearance, sporting my post-chemo crewcut. (Scarier than the monsters.) I love that both these films take viewers straight to the source, and document both the eyewitnesses and the local terrain in a way that books cannot. It's also great to support indepedendent film makers doing this important work. Recommendation: add to your crypto-brary now!
WHISTLING DIXIE Aug. 18, 2008
Astonishing! Dyer and Whytton DID hand over the freezer with evidence that they committed fraud! I did not believe that anyone who at least had to pass some minimal exams to become a policeman could be that dumb, but this world is a wondrous place. Now I wish that I would have left the slogan I had originally inked onto the t-shirt of the front chump in the cartoon at left. It had said, "I'm with stupid," with arrow pointing to his buddy. I took it off because I thought it was self-evident overkill. Now I realize there is no way to overstate the idiocy of this pair. Perhaps the only appropriate comment is a long, raucous Bigfoot hoot.
NO BODY OF EVIDENCE
posted August 17, 2008
Before I began to write books, before I was a newspaper reporter, I was an editorial cartoonist. You can even find my work in some early 90s editions of "Best Editorial Cartoons." And every once in a while, the urge to satirize in line art returns. This past week was one of those times.
It started with the bizarre turn of events that had two Georgia men claiming to have a Bigfoot body in a freezer, then "releasing" the facts to self-styled Bigfoot Hunter Tom Biscardi, then posting a self-filmed You Tube video that proclaimed a former You Tube video they made of a scientist flown in to examine the body was a hoax...but that they still had a corpse???
Then the long-awaited Friday press conference produced zip in the way of new evidence but weird DNA results; a little bit human and a whole lot of 'possum...so they say they are trying the DNA again and will call the press later.
In the meantime, you can buy a t-shirt from their Web site!
It's all like a poorly plotted novel. What irks me is that every time someone even allegedly hoaxes a crytpid sighting, it brings just a little more ill repute to the whole field, from researchers to serious witnesses.
And the guys are still promising a body, although it will only be available to their hand-picked "experts." I hope they prove me wrong, but as many others from Bill Hancock to Loren Coleman have posited, I believe their final claim will be that someone stole the body. The alternative would be to hand over the freezer with the twisted gorilla/Sasquatch costume, and be proven intentionally fraudulent. Anyone who thinks that is going to happen is just whistlin' Dixie...or maybe, the Devil Went Down to Georgia.
REDFERN SCORES WITH "SOMETHING IN THE WOODS" and
IS THERE A BIGOOT ON DUNDEE MOUNTAIN?
Posted Aug. 11, 2008
Be warned when beginning Nick Redfern's latest title, There's Something in the Woods. Those woods are black as night. And there is plenty in them.
Spinning off from his previous adventure reports, Three Men Seeking Monsters and Memoirs of a Monster Hunter, Redfern continues his determined trek around the planet in search of elusive and creepy creatures. He spends half the book in his home country of England, and the other half in Texas and other monstrosity-rich parts of the US. This creates a two-world framework that echos the dichotomy inherent in his research; are these beasts from Earth, or somewhere else?
A Fortean at heart, Redfern usually comes entertainingly down on the elsewhere side. He goes so far as to utilize certain ancient rites and magic practices to try to summon hairy wild men or batmen to his examination table, occasionally with startling success! One of the most fascinating sections of the book, however, involves a lengthy and detailed interview with a crop circle-maker. Although I've always found it hard to believe the delicate geometric formations could be made by teams of humans with ordinary tools, this cereal artiste changed my mind. At least, for some of the designs.
Redfern concludes with a hint toward his future that cements this book's place as the darkest volume of his memoir trilogy. HIs burning question -- What is the precise nature of the place these terrible and fantasic animals inhabit? -- demands some unthinkable answers. If he does learn the truth, will he dare to take his readers along for the super-charged ride? Only his (may we hope?) fourth memoir will tell for sure.
Dundee Mountain: SCHOOL PROJECT OR ACTUAL SIGHTING?
Although I always enjoy getting monster reports, one of the hardest things to do is suss out what's real and what's just someone trying to jump on the sightings wagon. I don't like to dismiss anything out of hand, especially if there are photos and/or film involved, so when I received a report a few weeks ago from a young Wisconsin teen of a May, 2008 Bigfoot sighting in the northern unit of the state's Kettle Moraine State Forest, I gave it a good look. The young man sent several photos that he said were stills from video he shot on a school science hike. I'm not posting them because he expressed concern over retaining the rights, but have privately shown them to a few other researchers.
An initial warning light went off when he admitted he had first read "Beast" and "Hunting" and that he was looking for what he called the "Bray Bearwolf", his own fusion of Bray Road Beast and Bearwolf. He claimed that he and several friends saw two different creatures. One photo included "motion blurs" of something running. My friend Steve Cook confirmed that the blurs looked much like effects of the Photoshop rubber stamp tool. The other shot was of something brown almost entirely hidden in leaves. The young man willingly sent me the video, which unfortunately made it all too clear that this was a staged "documentary" for a class project. Although they found "footprints," no measurements were made of the vague imprints. A "structure" consisted of several branches leaned against a tree, something very easily constructed in minutes for the camera. Although mention of fur and feces were made, the accompanying science teachers strangely failed to take samples of these potentially ground-breaking pieces of evidence. Much of the film consisted of shaky film footage of the trail and .class members contributing dramatic comments. Again, the lamentable influence of "Blair Witch Project" rears its knit-capped head.
I did interview the film maker at length on the phone, and asked him outright if he was putting me on, and he said no, he was not. Maybe these kids did get lucky. There are numerous other reliable witness reports from in the Kettle Moraine Forest and the area north of Milwaukee indicating unknown upright creatures have been spotted in the region. Dundee is also the site of one of Wisconsin's three "UFO Capitols" with UFO Daze celebrated every summer. I'm just skeptical, based on their film, that these particular boys spotted anything truly out of the ordinary. Even though they really, really wanted to. And I do hope they keep making crypto-mentaries.
Listen to the student's e-mailed report and my comments on Uncanny Radio, webcasts 24 and 25.
SICK OF MONSTERS?- Posted July 6, 2008
A recent conversation on the Yahoo group Unknown Creature Spot, about whether encounters with unknown creatures can cause human illness, brought my own unpleasant experience back to mind. In the late fall of 2006 I was sitting in my oncologist's office, getting the unwelcome news that I had a small but aggressive type of breast tumor. He told me that it was so fast-growing that it probably hadn't been there for more than two months. I counted backwards to what I was doing eight weeks previous to that day, and realized that that was the weekend I had spent in La Crosse, investigating the sightings of the Man Bat. Proximity to the same creature had made the two original witnesses sick immediately.
(illustration at right is of Sumerian demigod "Pazuzu," origin unknown)
While I would never say that I think Man Bat caused my breast cancer (although I had very few predisposing conditions), I will always wonder if spending time in those certain areas during a period when I know my immune system was in poor shape somehow pushed me over the edge. There are many researchers who believe that getting too close to certain sound, light or electromagnetic frequencies may have an adverse effect on the human body.
Michael A. Persinger and Gyslaine Lafrenieree in "SpaceTime Transients and Unusual Events" note that intense "ionizing radiation" strong enough to produce a visible, unexplained figure can produce all kinds of symptoms, from sleep problems too skin blotches to worse. "Transient blood clotting and alterations in white blood cells would be expected with concomitant complications in the immune mechanisms; in some rare instances death could occur or malignant growths could develop." (emphasis mine)
At the suggestion of some UCS members, I asked friend and colleague Brad Steiger for his opinion on the topic. He kindly wrote:
This aspect of "monsters" was much more commonly discussed in the early 1960s and particularly in instances when UFOs were sighted previously in the vicinity. Some researchers became quite paranoid about this. If you consider that Bigfoot, for instance, is an actual physical entity, then being in its proximity would have no more adverse consequences than if you had crossed the path of a wolf, bear, or coyote. Your nose would certainly detect the musk of the animal, but other than holding your breath or your nose for a few minutes, there would be no adverse results.
If, however, you think the entity entered from Shadow World or some other "zone of strangeness" than there could be unexplainable (by our present day science) effects of mental disorientation and such physical effects as nausea, vomiting, loosening of the bowels (very commonly reported), and bizarre illnesses, physical debilitation, and weakness...a kind of general, overall malaise. Some blamed cancer on repeated contact with scat and other specimens left by the beings.
Those who maintain that these creatures are undiscovered physical animals scoff at such reports. Those who are willing to entertain a more paranormal or multidimensional approach have mentioned a wide variety of side effects from creature hunting. Fainting, seizures, loss of memory, and so forth. - Brad Steiger
One well-known example of illness, death and bad luck clustered around creature sightings involves the famed Mothman of Point Pleasant, VA. Beyond the Silver Bridge collapse that led to 46 deaths, various investigators and people involved in film documentaries on Mothman have contracted strange illnesses or met a strange and early demise.
I have actually suggested that creatures such as Bigfoot and Manwolf, even if they were "natural" animals, might be capable of using infrasound the way other big predators, such as the cheetah, do to have an effect on their prey. Infrasound, or sound waves lower than human hearing can detect, has been shown in studies to have effects from hallucination to illness in humans. However, as Brad notes, we don't get sick from being around normal animals. I've stood near a cheetah at the zoo, and once rode an elephant -- elephants are known to communicate with infrasound -- with no ill effects. So this still implies something extraordinary going on when brushes with Manwolves, Bigfoot, Man Bat, Mothman and the like seem to make people sick. And until more is known about this phenomenon, I'd advise some caution when venturing into known areas of high strangeness.
WOLF DID NOT BITE MAN ON BRAY ROAD - Posted Feb. 27, 2008
This is about what I expected. The man, "Nathan," who claimed in a local chat site that he had been bitten by a wolf on Bray Road, (see below) is now saying online that the story was typed up by a friend on his computer as he lay passed out from drinking too much. Whether that is true or he submitted the hoax himself, the whole thing was rather stupid and a prime example of a "red flag" report. I think it is good to always remember there are people out there brainlessly seeking attention, and I offer it as both a cautionary tale and the reason I don't "bite" on everything presented to me. As anyone who has read my books knows, it's not the first Bray Road hoax and I'm sure it won't be the last.
WOLF BITES MAN ON BRAY ROAD? Posted February 25, 2008
I'm not sure what's happening on Bray Road lately...sightings of bipedal canines out there are up again, but on the evening of Feb. 20, the night of the lunar eclipse, an Elkhorn area man and his girlfriend took a spin down Bray Road, he said on a local chat site called "Coffee Talk"...and saw a hulking, wolf-like creature. Evidently the foolhardy sort, the man began to get out of his car, and the animal rushed at him and bit him on the ankle. He said he kicked at it with his other foot, causing it to bleed on its muzzle, managed to slam the door as it ran away yelping and took off to a nearby medical facility (not the local hospital). Since it was an animal bite, it should have been reported to police. The man, known on the site as "Nathan", says he has a copy of the report. The man added that since blood from the animal's muzzle splashed onto his leg, they were able to do some analysis and concluded that it was from a canine associated with wolves and some coyotes. (That is mighty fast marker analysis!) The creature was as high as the man's waist on all fours, he said, so if that is true it was no coyote. However, it did not stand upright so there is every possibility it was a stray wolf or hybrid. If it was anything but a tall tale. The site regular who tipped me to the story advised me the man has a reputation as someone who likes to stir things up. He claimed to another member that Milwaukee's Fox 6 News was interested in the story but he wanted to keep it "private."
I will be checking this one out but am not too excited about it until and unless I get a corroborating incident report.
Oh, and the man did not test positive for rabies, according to his story. However, according to government standards, tissue (preferably brain) from the animal itself is required to test for rabies, and results are not instant. Most times, shots are started as a precautionary measure even when the animal has been captured and particularly when it is not available for testing. He hints his friends will be keeping a very close eye on him come the next full moon, however.
By the way, a very recent CSI episode (airing a day or so after the man's post) featured almost an identical story thread. Did he read a preview and become inspired?
I offer this "report" as a prime example of one that, at least at first blush, does not pass the sniff test.
January 29, 2008
Here is a new venture; through a series of strange circumstances, I seem to have ended up co-host of a new radio show based in Wisconsin's strangest town, Burlington (also on the Web). We have some great guests line up for the hour show, and I'll be sharing the lateste creature reports on my segment called BEASTWATCH. Manwolf, aka Steve Sullivan, will inform and perhaps incite mob action with his consumer guide to sci-fi and paranormal film and TV. At any rate, it should be a lot of fun. By the way, those "Bigfoot" sightings reported from Seeley WI lately? I have it on good authority...guy in a gorilla suit trying to drum up local business.
P.S. I hope viewers of the recent History Ch. Monsterquest episode "American Werewolf" weren't too disappointed to learn the origin of the famous "werewolf" fur. I won't spoil it for anyone who hasn't yet seen the show which repeats Feb. 3
Here is the radio info:
"If it's downright uncanny, it's on Uncanny Radio"The strange, the unfathomable, the peculiar, and the downright uncanny -- you'll find them all on UncannyRadio with Manwolf and Linda. UncannyRadio will cover all aspects of the strange -- from UFOs to unicorns, werewolves to weird places, to the just plain eccentric people who live among us. Hosted by award-winning authors Linda Godfrey and Stephen D. Sullivan, Uncanny Radio brings you the latest creature reports, a consumer's guide to paranormal and sci-fi TV and movies, and conversations with fascinating and unusual people. Based in America's Strangest Town, Burlington, Wisconsin, but covering the galaxy. Recent guests have included Nick Redfern discussing his book "Man Monkey: In Search of the British Bigfoot" and Mark Moran, one of the originators of the Weird US series.
Wednesday nights 8-9 pm Central on 89.1 FM -- or streaming live on www.wbsdfm.com.
November 16, 2007 -
I want to say my head is swimming but it's more like swarming -- with monsters. That is after reading Neil Arnold's new book from CFZ Press, MONSTER! The A-Z of Zooform Phenomena.
As an author in the strange-creature genre, I'm always looking for new, comprehensive and well-researched reference books. It helps if they are fun, besides. Neil Arnold's new "MONSTER!" book hits each of those nails on their warty, pointy-eared heads. Even Karl P. Shuker, a pre-eminent writer and researcher in this field who wrote the foreword, confesses to finding entries in Arnold's book of creatures he had never before heard or dreamt of. Arranged alphabetically for easy look-up, the entries also contain brief commentaries on the "zooform" likelihood of the creature in question, explaining their relation to other known or unknown entities and opinions on the reliability of the report.
Arnold also enforces his own ratings system, from 1-4 stars, on the solidity of each entry. Speaking of solidity, Arnold makes it clear up front that he believes many of the creatures described in the book are "zooform" or non-flesh-and-blood in nature. He does his best to sort them out, which increases the book's usefulness as a reference source. "Mystery cats," for instance, rate 3 stars and the comment that they are simply out-of-place felids, while the Karakura, "a vague night-demon from Turkish lore" rates only one star and a note that too little is known about it. I rate Arnold's book five stars, with the comment that anyone wanting to bone up on unknown creatures throughout world history will want MONSTERS! at their fingertips. And I'm still swooning over the revelation of Japanese vampire cats and the High Hat Sasquatch. -
November 5, 2007 - Return of the Bearwolf?
It never ceases to amaze me the way these things seem to work. Only a few days ago I had decided to post a note about the Washington County Courthouses's cryptid creature art, and then today I get a call from Mike Lane, the hunter who went looking for the creature's footprints last fall right about this time. He found some, too...bipedal, large and roundish looking deep imprints that indicated something very large and upright went walking through a mushy field across from Holy Hill, and then entered a marsh where the tracks ended. (See photo of Mike standing in front of that marsh last year.
Mike was calling today to tell me that he heard of another sighting that occurred not much more than a week ago, on Oct. 25 or 26 very nearby the original incident. He was in a local watering hole Nov. 1 and got talking to a man who told him his brother was driving along Hwy. 175 near midnight the previous week when he saw something big running along the adjacent railroad tracks, clearly distinguishable by moonlight. (Oct. 26 was a full moon and it was light, indeed, that night as I had noticed myself.) At first he thought it was a bear because he estimated its weight at about 300 pounds and the creature was running on four feet, but then he realized it did not move like a bear or have a bear's physical shape; it looked more like a large dog, he said.
Then the "bear" stood up and began running on two legs and he knew it was no bear. Bears will rear up sometimes to see better, true, but they do not run on their hind legs, and the man said this thing continued at a very rapid speed. Mike gave the man his card to pass on to his brother in hopes of learning more, but so far the witness has not responded. Mike has promised to keep me posted.
Add this to the second sighting original witness Steve Krueger had in June of an extremely large, wolflike creature and it looks like something very large and out of the ordinary is still running around Holy Hill.
November 1, 2007 - Crypto Critter in Courthouse, Mysterious Kentucky and American Werewolf on Monster Quest
I'm back after the appearance marathon that resulted from Halloween coinciding with the release of Strange Wisconsin (see link above). Some of the highlights included signing all my books for two days at the Milwaukee Public Museum last week, with almost all of the 1500 daily participants dressed as trolls, beasts, fairies and other fabulous personae, and speaking at Chad Lewis and Terry Fisk's Eau Claire Unexplained Conference which drew a crowd of 375 on the Saturday before Halloween.
With Strange Wisconsin now officially on both online and brick-and-mortar bookshelves, I want to point out one story that has not been printed elsewhere of interest to all students of crypto-related culture. In West Bend, Wisconsin, the Washington County Courthouse has a new mural painted last winter that contains, to my knowledge, the only purposely included cryptid in a courthouse mural in the country, excluding classic griffins, chimeras, etc.
The mural, 30 feet wide, was created under the direction of artist Ted Conde. He included the fuzzy creature depicted right (and told me there are several others hidden in the mural as well) after last fall's news reports about the Washington County creature mistakenly reported as Bigfoot. (See update below and full story ). Conde told me he wanted to add mystery to the painting, and that he's open to the existence of such creatures. Partly because the painting was done in a stippled, Impressionist style and partly because Conde wanted the creature to remain mysterious, the image is admittedly a true blobsquatch. But the intent is there and included in a government building meant for permanency. If anyone knows of other courthouse murals that include a Bigfoot, mystery canid, Mothman, or other cryptid I'd love to hear about it. (Photos copyright Linda Godfrey)
The Strange Wisconsin book, btw, tells the full story with an excellent illustration by fantasy artist Troy Therrien, along with explorations of the Man Bat of LaCrosse, the Wausau Whatzit, many Bigfoot sightings and the latest Bray Road incident.
And yeehaa it's here! the new History Channel show "Monster Quest" has hit TV screens at last with its Halloween debut episode, and finally I can talk about it without violating contract rules!
A new series produced by Doug Hajicek of Whitewolf Entertainment in Minnesota, Monster Quest aims to investigate monster lore and legend by using the latest in scientific equipment and technique. The first episode aired Oct. 31, and will continue with different cryptids each time. If you check the episode lineup on the above link, you will see American Werewolf is slated for Jan. 23. That title is based on my book, Hunting the American Werewolf. I've been interviewed on many national TV and radio shows, but this is the first time I was ever asked to write and co-produce one. I spent most of the summer of 2006 tramping around Wisconsin and Michigan with Hajicek and his crews, setting up polygraphs and interviews with witnesses, staking out Dogman hotspots, and digging up historical incidents. I still can't reveal results, of course, and the show has undergone many revolutions of change from my original script but the HC writes:
"American Werewolf - Eyewitnesses in Wisconsin and Michigan report seeing a tall hairy man - beast some describe as a dogman...a centuries old legend based on myth, not a real animal. But what are they seeing? MonsterQuest will deploy professional hunters and trackers in an area with recent sightings, armed with a tranquilizer gun. And for the first time eyewitness accounts will be put to the test, using polygraphs and hypnosis&the results will astonish. Wednesday January 23rd"
Also, my son Nate who is a film and painting grad of the School of the Art Institute of Chicago was tapped to do historically researched art for the film; at right is a detail of his interpretation of a peasant woman being attacked by a French werewolf. He even checked details such as the red color of the hood a female peasant would have worn at that time (remember Little Red Riding Hood?). (copyright Nate Godfrey, may not be reproduced or posted elsewhere).
Mysterious Kentucky is another book I'd like to recommend. By my friend and fellow Fortean Bart Nunnelly (also a fine artist and who contributed several illos to Strange Wisconsin), this book covers everything from Western Kentucky Werewolves to lake creatures, Bigfoot, Goatman and more, and is embellished with Bart's powerful drawings. A true field investigator, Bart is also an "experiencer" who has been lucky enough to have several of his own encounters.It's a 164-page Crypto-rama of lore and first-hand reports, and I enjoyed it immensely. I also supplied a "blurb" for the book's front page and meant every word of it.
Sept. 18, 2007 - Was the Washington County Bearwolf "Just" a Large Wolf?
Last fall, a man who contracted with Washington County to pick up deer carcasses made headlines when a wolf-headed creature stood upright to pull a deer off the back of his pickup truck as he sat in the cab doing paperwork. See full story. But in June, just weeks before ending his contract for that route, Steve Krueger saw something else in that area that amazed him. In his words:
I was picking up a deer on the north side of Zedler between Parkside and Thornapple in Mequon. As I was loading the deer with my winch I glance up and saw the VERY large wolf come out of the brush from the north side of Zedler and head south down Thornapple. It was walking casual and I don't even know if it saw me, if it did I was no concern to it. It's back was about 4' from the ground almost touching the bottoms of the mailboxes. It's fur was pretty dark. It was by far the biggest wolf I've ever seen. I did not know they got as huge as that one was. I called the DNR and they confirmed that wolves have been known to travel the lake down from up north, but also there are people that have wolf hybrids as pets also.
Wolves do get that large. I have a photo from an old Michigan newspaper that shows a dead wolf held upright that towers over the men next to it. It makes me wonder, of course, if what Krueger saw was actually this creature boldly bracing itself on the truck bed to snatch the deer. Almost 8 months had passed since the original incident, but wolves are territorial. They also range very widely, so it's hard to say whether the same animal Krueger saw would still be in the area.
However, Krueger plainly saw the deer-napper reach into the truckbed to grab the deer with its paw! It's hard to imagine a natural wolf doing this. Expected canine behavior would be to use its forepaws to hold itself up and position itself, while lunging for the carcass with its jaws.
I've often noted in interviews that, other than noticeable shoulders and sometimes lack of a tail, the main difference between Manwolves and very large timber wolves seems to be behavioral. Manwolves have often been observed holding prey meat with their paws while walking on their hind legs or "kneeling." Witnesses have also often noted that the forepaws had longer "fingers" than is normal on a canine paw. But they have also been seen many times converting from bipedal locomotion to moving on all fours, and vice versa. A witness in Texas who has been tracking what may be a Manwolf sent me the map below that shows where he could tell that it converted from quadruped to biped in one short journey. Therefore, I can't rule out the possibility that this June sighting may have been the same creature Krueger saw, but in its quadrupedal position.
In the man's own words, "I am an avid outdoorsmen and have been conducting bigfoot research for over ten years now and have found many tracks of bigfoot. The tracks I seen were not the tracks of a bigfoot, but of an odd type of canine for lack of a better word. These tracks were made by something I have never seen before." The tracks were "three-toed" and larger, and similar to others found in Australia. He included a photo of an Australian print which I'm not reprinting since I don't know who owns it. But it is almost identical to my photo of the tracks found in the mud pit south of Milwaukee last spring, where something large appeared to have surrised a deer. (That link takes you to my Myspace blog, which is also where I have a pictorial "Bloghouse" having some fun with my cancer journey.My websites were not working for months so I was stashing important creature lore there too) I don't think it's a bear print; the toes are too long and too few and the back pad seems too narrow.
This south Milwaukee print site would be completely within the range of something based in Washington County. Could it be Krueger's creature? It's impossible to know either way for sure, but it could even have been the very large wolf he observed in June. Looking at a massive wolf from the front end, there would be no way to learn whether its hind feet were super-sized for walking bipedally when it chose. So...I still think there is the possibility this was the Manwolf variation I've come to call Bearwolf, or just a very robust Manwolf. It could also be a timber wolf that has become fearless of man from living too close. Much easier is declaring what it is not...like Steve Krueger has said from the beginning, it isn't Bigfoot!
Sept. 8, 2007 - Books!
Woohoo! I think I have my Web problems solved, and can update once more! It was a combination of factors, not least among them the case of chemo-brain that I am just now coming out of as if awaking from a horrific nightmare. I can think again! Well, at least as well as I could before chemo. And not a moment too soon. The speaking season is fast upon me, and as I've happily noted above, my sequel to Weird Wisconsin is about to debut. Titled "Strange Wisconsin: More Badger State Weirdness" and published by Trails Books in Madison, Wisconsin, it features not only people, places and "things" that were oddly omitted from the Weird book, but many new legends, creature sightings, oddities and more. It's about the same size, with the same full-color photos and illustrations, many by yours truly and my son Nate. I also am proud to claim a raft of fabulous contributors, both of articles and of art, who helped to make this book something I'm really excited about.
But speaking of books, I received one last week by my friend Nick Redfern (who wrote the foreword for Hunting the American Werewolf). Nick is the author of some of my favorite tomes, including Three Men Seeking Monsters and Body Snatchers in the Desert. Now he has written Memoirs of a Monster Hunter, a rollicking tale of his creature-seeking trek through the US, beginning with the Laughlin, Nevada UFO conference where he met his Texan wife. I hadn't intended to read the whole thing right away but couldn't put it down. And that is not just because I happen to take up the better part of the chapter on Wisconsin upright wolfen creatures...I had actually forgotten we did that interview back in 2003. Nick is a keen observer of both the incredible people he meets and the strange, synchronistic events that seem to occur where ever he goes. His investigations into Owl Men, Goat Men, the vicious Chupacabras, vampires and water monsters delve not only into mere physical reports but also touch upon inherent Fortean aspects when present. The Goat Man of Texas and the irrational, palpable sense of fear and foreboding that accompany its encounters are compared to Pan, the old Goat Man of antiquity and similar creatures in Great Britain.
The book is not only an overview of current cryptid hot spots, but Redfern's own journal of the strange as he lets readers inside his very active, punk rock-drenched mind to share his hunt from a winningly intimate perspective. Highly recommended. Nick has simultaneously released a book on British Bigfoot sightings with a title I love, "Man-Monkey." Watch for that review next.
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