Cryptozoology (from Greek κρυπτός, kryptos, “hidden” + zoology; literally, “study of hidden animals”) refers to the search for animals which are considered to be legendary or otherwise nonexistent by mainstream biology.
Even in the 21st century, we assume there’s nothing new left to discover on this large, very diverse world of ours. That assumption couldn’t be farther from the truth! There have been numerous sightings and encounters over the centuries of creatures that have either thought to have been extinct or were never properly identified. The Cryptid connection brings you news, reports and commentaries of creatures that either still do, or are suspected to be living in the as yet still untamed vastness of areas like the Amazon etc.
Readers reports of strange creatures lurking in the shadows and more
Mark was caring for his parents’ ten-acre estate in a remote valley near Roswell, New Mexico, famous, of course, for its alleged UFO crash. “This valley is surrounded by mountains to the west (Sacramento), the Permian Basin in the east, and the Carlsbad caverns to the south,” Mark tells us. “This basin is very ancient; it was once the shoreline of an ancient sea.
“The Bottomless Lakes State Park is within this basin and is the result of many strange legends both ancient and recent, with countless rumors of individuals who see things come out of the water, people being chased by strange creatures, sightings for UFOs, and the list goes on. Legends of creatures that live in these lakes are old and as mentioned keep occurring to this day.
“As I was waking up one morning around 10 a.m., I walked outside to get a breath of fresh air. My uncle, who lived directly behind us, had a dog named Ono. Ono was half pit bull and half blue heeler. Directly east of us was a field, and as I happened to look east in the field, Ono was chasing a creature that stood approximately 2½ to 3 feet tall. This creature was light brown in color and was definitely reptilian. I just stood there watching as this creature and Ono disappeared out of sight. I was not frightened, just in awe and disbelief of what I was actually witnessing.
“My cousin had seen the creature around the same time and several days later, my aunt, uncle, mom, and I had seen unusual tracks that were not, to our recollection, of any known animals of the area. I know what I witnessed and science cannot tell me otherwise.”
THE MONSTER OF BENBROOK LAKE
Benbrook Lake is a small body of water on the southwest side of Fort Worth, Texas, created by the Army Corp of Engineers as a flood control reservoir in the mid-1900s. It was here that Jack L. had his unusual sighting.
“The heat brings all manner of animals to the water at sunset,” says Jack. “Deer, armadillo, fox, raccoon and possums all frequent the dark, green pool, but I’m not exactly sure what I saw there in the waning glow of dusk on October 20, 2005.
“I had arrived at Holiday Park on the lake’s western shore around 6:15 in the early evening, but the thermometer still registered in the 90s. There wasn’t another soul in view except for a lone hobbyist flying his radio-controlled airplane some 200 yards away. I fanned out my blanket and settled down to stretch in preparation for my daily swim.
“I happened across a set of large, strange tracks that led into the water where I routinely swam. Although unusually large, I attributed the tracks to a pair of Great Danes that I had seen running with their owner earlier in the month. As the sounds of the lake began to filter into my awareness, I heard someone trudging through the underbrush and reeds that fronted a small patch of woods to my right, which separated me from the point on the shoreline where I went into the water. It never registered that there were no other vehicles or evidence of swimmers nearby. I walked slowly back to my blanket and collapsed to soak up the heat.
“As I rolled onto my left side, I saw it. I say ‘it’ because I don’t really know what ‘it’ was. It had dark fur and was large… perhaps seven or eight feet tall. It was pushing through a stand of reeds about 200 yards from me. The reeds came up to my chest, but only reached the animal’s waist. It appeared to walk upright, grunting in a belabored manner. The animal had turned away from me so I could not make out any facial details. I wheeled about to see if there was anyone within earshot, but the lake was deserted now. I can’t describe my fear. I quietly and quickly collected my stuff and strode back to my truck for safety. I sat quietly and watched the animal disappear into the woods.
“I was shaking. Several minutes passed before I cranked the truck and headed home, primarily because I was afraid I would see the creature along the winding lake road that lead out of Holiday Park. I returned to the site two days later and found sufficient evidence that something large did move about the reeds. It appeared as though something large had nested there. I don’t know what I encountered, but I still swim and bike at Benbrook. Perhaps, someone will corroborate what I saw.”
Zion and his buddies had built a fort to play in within a wooded field on the outskirts of town. It was a place to hang out and engage in pretend defense against imaginary enemies. What they didn’t count on was an intruder of an altogether strange sort.
“It was maybe three in the afternoon when school got out,” says Zion. “I decided to call my friend Eric to see if he would like to go to the fort. His mom always made him stay home and eat dinner first, so I told him I would just meet him there. We started building onto the fort.
“At about 5:00 p.m. it started getting dark, so we decided to head back. As we packed all of our stuff, both Eric and I noticed something slowly coming out of a bush about 150 yards north of us. Acting quickly, we dove silently into the fort. We sat there for at least five minutes.
“It was the size of a large wolf, but dark black with long, large, white claws. It did not look like anything Eric or I had ever seen before – nothing we could compare it to. As it vanished from our sites, we cautiously started back. We made it out of the forest where we came to an abandoned house. We did not plan on stopping, but noticed that about 100 yards on the path the creature was standing on all fours looking at us.
“We stood paralyzed as it slowly walked toward us. All of a sudden it stopped. We got a good look at it. It had dark yellow eyes and not one look of mercy on its face and a row of bright white teeth showed. All of a sudden, we heard a noise behind us. We quickly turned around to see a doe and a fawn running out of a thorn bush. We turned around and the creature was gone. Seeing the chance, we ran home. We made it home, but not one memory of that animal will ever leave my mind. We have not seen it since then.”
There have been many claims for Chupacabras sightings, some of them in the southern U.S., especially Texas. Although there is no consensus about what Chupacabras might be – descriptions vary widely – Dub and his wife Ann think they might have spotted a creature that fits a common description in 2004.
“We were driving home late at night in East Texas near Crockett,” Dub relates, “when we saw something run right across the road in front of us. It was about ten feet in front of our car. We both later on drew a picture of what we saw and they look almost the same.
“The features we both noted were: About four to five feet tall and ran on the two hind feet. The knees bent backward, not forward as a human’s. It made it across the road in three or four seconds. It had the body of a slim small child, not like a fat kangaroo. The arms chugged back and forth like a person running. The head had a pointed chin and a pointed top at the back like a rooster’s comb. The body looked gray or some other dark color. The thing looked to be an alien to both of us. We have never seen a picture of any [conventional] animal that resembled what we saw. It seems there have been many sightings of such a thing in the past. These are found on the Internet under Chupacabras.”
It was also in Texas that a reader, calling himself The Kid, saw something larger when he was 12 years old. “My grandpa had taken us hunting up near Big Springs in west Texas,” he says. “We rode our jeep up the side of the mountain, when suddenly, two families of quail appeared. My grandpa was still teaching my two younger brothers to hunt, so they went with him to follow one family, and I followed the other all by myself.
“I strode up the mountain, and I carried with me only my shotgun and a bag full of shells. I scratched my foot on a very large rock. I howled in pain. I tended to my wound for a few minutes. I heard ducks nearby and knew that there had to be a nearby pond where I could wash my cut. I headed toward the sound. I stepped on a twig and six ducks flew off away from the pond. I figured the sound I made had scared them off, so I kept walking there.
“I was at the shore splashing water on my leg when I heard another splashing sound. I looked up and saw a man leaning over, drinking from the pond. It only took me a few seconds to realize that this was no ordinary man. This man had scales and a lizard’s head! I was petrified – I couldn’t move a muscle. I stood there watching the deformity drink, when all of a sudden I saw it jerk its head up. It eyed me for what seemed like hours. It jumped in the water and started to swim toward me. All I could do was shoot at it. I shot three shells, and then I heard the dreaded click. I ran and ran and ran. I met up with my grandpa, and he didn’t believe me. Would you blame him?”
Seeing a bizarre creature out in the remote wilderness is one thing… but seeing one in the landscaping of your own home is quite another. In August 2005, Greg stepped outside his apartment building to smoke a cigarette. “As I was turning to head back indoors,” he reports, “a gleam in a nearby shrub (about 20 feet away) caught my eye. I looked more closely and saw what, for all intents and purposes, was a face leering at me. At the moment, I thought how unusual that the evening lighting and the arrangement of the shrub’s branches and leaves would create such a startling effect. So I walked closer to the bush, wishing I had a camera to capture this unusual optical illusion.
“At about five feet from the shrub, I stopped dead in my tracks. This was a face – a very malevolent face that looked like a gremlin from the movies. Its eyes were focused intently on mine and it was perfectly still, although a slight breeze was rustling the rest of the bush. Disbelieving, I shook my head, closed my eyes, and opened them again. The face was still there, still looking at me.
“I thought it must be a cat, raccoon or possum and took another step toward the face. At that moment, I felt a wave of such hostility that it practically took my breath away. I looked more closely now and could see green and darkly mottled ridged eyebrows, brilliantly white (almost mesmerizing) pupils, rubbery-looking pointed ears, and a very large mouth partly opened in what appeared to be a sneer – or a threat.
“Shaken, I hurried back into my apartment, locked the door, and looked out the front window only to see that the thing was still watching me. Keep in mind that I was looking at it from a different angle now, yet it held its form and appeared to have slightly turned its head toward me. Then I understood something. I had caught a glimpse of some legendary elf- or gargoyle-like creature, and I wasn’t supposed to. The malevolence I felt and the hypnotic stare of the creature were its warnings to me to back off.
“What would have happened if I’d walked right up to the thing in the bush? I’m glad I didn’t, by the way.”
BLACK LUNAR MONSTER
The woods are home to all kinds of creatures, of course, but most of them can be readily identified. Occasionally, one is sighted that is not so easily named. Braydon and his friend Tony were walking in a wooded area near Bardstown, Kentucky between 11:00 p.m. and 12:00 midnight. “Did you hear that?” asked Tony. “Hear what?” Braydon replied.
They both listened. Tony was about to say something else when a black-skinned, orange-eyed creature just walked right by them. “I was startled for a sec, then I was scared stiff,” Braydon says, “for it was now looking right at us. I whispered, ‘Run!’ Before we started running, the creature ran in the opposite direction.
“It was about five feet tall on all fours and looked like a mix between a pit bull terrier and a giant bird with no wings. It doesn’t really walk on all fours, but kind of leaps. No fur.”
CREATURE ON THE GARAGE
Hollywood has created many memorable and terrifying fictional monsters over the years, but what Adam saw in December 2005 at his home in North Hollywood, California seemed very real to him.
“I was inside my garage all day and night organizing things,” Adam says. “I was finishing up when at approximately 9:30 p.m. I was shocked by a large crash and smash against my closed garage door. At first I thought it was maybe a drunk homeless person that fell against the garage door, or kids outside throwing a football around. So I slowly and quietly listened and walked out of the garage to hear what it was.
“As I got around to the front of the garage, I didn’t see anyone. I decided to keep quiet and just listen for any movement. Then I heard something on the roof of the garage. I went into the garage and grabbed my flashlight. I returned outside and looked on top of the garage, which is 12 feet high – and there it was in the night, crouching on all fours. I didn’t need to turn the flashlight on, but I did.
“When I flashed the light on the thing, it looked back at me with glowing yellow eyes. At first I thought it was a cat, but it was too large. Possum, no; mountain lion, no. It kept looking at me for about 30 seconds. I still thought it could be a cat until it turned its head away from me. ‘Oh my god,’ is all I could say. My brain had never seen an animal such as this one.
“Its head was that of a dog, its snout wasn’t long, it was medium and flat. It scared the hell out of me. It had a nubby tail, but its head was unusual, like no animal I’ve ever seen. It was about 3½ to 4 feet long, looked about 40 pounds, gray or black fur like a cat. After those 30 seconds of confrontation, it leaped off the garage with amazing ease, and thundered through my backyard, jumped over a 7-foot fence and was gone.
“It wasn’t a cat; it was too heavy and clumsy, like a dog, yet it wasn’t a dog because it jumped off a 12-foot-high garage. It wasn’t a mountain lion because it was gray and black and it had a dog face. It was a different creature that possibly related to a cat or dog, but much more evolved and quicker.”
Dinosaurs in art, history and literature
What Recorded History Tells Us About Dino’s and Man
“So God created the Great Dragons”
…Genesis 1:21 The Latin Vulgate; 5th Century
Everyone agrees that stories of world wide floods similar to the Biblical Flood of Noah exist in virtually every culture. The same can be said for stories, descriptions, legends etc. concerning dragons. Evolutionists have no trouble with either of these stories, because they feel that there is a good rationalization for them.(Image: More about the Palestrina Mosaic on Page 2 of this section and the Anasazi petroglyph on Page 3)
On the other hand, those of us who do believe the Bible, and thus would expect that man and dinosaur (or dragon) co-existed in the past, would expect; and find it strange if stories concerning the flood and dinosaurs did not abound in most cultures of the past. If dinosaur and man co-existed, where there was writing, art, literature and artifacts, among them should be indications of this interaction. Dinosaurs (or dragons) would not have been very discreet neighbors.
As it turns out, there is plenty of such evidence of interaction between man and dinosaur in history, art and archeology, as believers would expect.
As late as the sixteeth and seventeenth centuries, many serious scholars were studying animal life, recording what they saw, and claiming personally to have seen dragons (dinosaurs).
Johann Johnston (1693-75), a doctor of medicine, published the celebrated: De Serpentibus et Draconibus in 1653. It featured many animals which are now extinct, all – according to the author,`carefully drawn from living models.
This in and of itself does not prove anything, however, their absence would be difficult to explain.
How many artifacts are needed to prove that man and dinosaur co-existed? It would seem to present a major difficulty for evolutionists to explain the representation in art or literature–or in artifacts of recognizable species of dinosaurs— by ancient men who supposely had never seen one alive.
One could surmise that perhaps they had merely come across fossils, but surely, they would not have had the necessary skills to assemble them, and then to draw them or describe them as in life?
Modern scientists have themselves occasionally placed the wrong heads on skeletons or combined the bones of more than one specimen. This presents a problem if you believe in uniformism and evolution.
There is way too much “evidence” to place on one page, so deciding what proofs to represent is difficult. Textual evidence, like stories, accounts, newspaper articles and the like are plentiful, but perhaps not as persuasive as are physical evidences such as physical artifacts or pictures. There is an abundance of each, some very interesting ones on this page and the pages following.
The above quote from Jerome’s Latin translation of the Bible,(Genesis 1:21) uses the word dragon, where others have used the word whales, or sea monsters.
The Hebrew word; Tanniyn is the same word that is variously translated as whales, sea monsters and jackals at various points in the new and old testaments.
It seems likely that in Jerome’s time, great dragons did exist, so he could believe that that was a correct translation in Genesis and other places where the word is used. More modern translators, believing dragons to be a myth, but Genesis to be factual, have substituted other close meanings of the word–except where it obviously would not make sense contextually.
“A rather simple strategy to find Dinosaurs in history: Look for pictures, statues, carvings, or written descriptions. Attempt to associate names with them. Try to find the names in other places.
Try to obtain more descriptive material. Realize that, even as today, local names will vary. But, if you are genuinely interested, you will find dinosaurs everywhere! Europeans called them “Dragons,” Chinese and Japanese called them “Lung,” Scandinavians even had species names for them, including, apparently, for Tyrannosaurus Rex.
You will find the Apatosaurous/Diplodicus (they are likely the same) unmistakably described in the Bible book of Job 40 (Behemoth), as well as a large marine or carnivorous dinosaur in Job 41 (Leviathan).
Leviathan is mentioned several other times, but, … not described again.
When you look at the problem of dinosaur extinction this way, you quickly learn, if you really want to, that large creatures with reptilian characteristics, some flying, some two-legged, some four-legged, some marine, appear in the art, sculpture, literature, chronicles, and legends of virtually every culture in world history. But none of them were called “Dinosaurs” because the word wasn’t invented until the early 1800’s!”..Tom Willis, CSA
The Stones of Ica”
“In widely separated areas of North and South America, construction of earth mounds and artificial shaping of hills and cliffs show familiarity on the part of the ancient artisans with animals SUPPOSEDLY EXTINCT in the Americas for thousands, and in some cases, MILLIONS OF YEARS. A great mound in Wisconsin is shaped like the outline of an elephant or mastodon . . .
Some pre-Incaic people carved the rock cliffs of the Marcahuasi Plateau of Peru into huge representations of lions, camels, and something resembling a STEGOSAURUS.
“In a small town near the Nazca lines, the narrow Ica River was eroded away along the banks, revealing several hundred carved stones that had been buried in subterranean chambers. As the water receded, the carved stones were left on the Ica’s banks.
As the locals began to collect these stones, a particular image of a fish caught the eye of Dr. Javier Cabrera, the town’s physician. Dr. Cabrera recognized the outlined image as that if an extinct species of fish. His curiosity peaked, he sought more of these stones. Gradually, the villagers knew that he was interested in these strange objects and so they gave him what is now his collection– something Cabrera calls his “library”– of stone enigmas.
The stones come in all sizes. There are small ones that can easily fit your palm and there are rocks as large as a dog. All of the stones have images that have been carved with continuous lines etched into the rock surface. The etching reveals a lighter color than the original dark varnish of age, yet the etched grooves also bear traces of this varnish, indicating that the carving was done in ancient times”….DAN EDEN
“In the vicinity of the village of Ocucaje and Ica, in Peru, a collection of rounded stones totaling perhaps 16,000 and weighing from five pounds up to huge boulders of 800 pounds has been amassed by Dr. Javier Cabrera, who has about 11,000 of them in his museum. What is unusual about these ‘stones of Ica’ is that they are covered with incised drawings ostensibly made by carvers of past civilizations.
The engraved drawings show people, extant and extinct animals, star maps, the star ring of the zodiac, and maps of unidentified land areas. The people are shown hunting or struggling with a variety of monsters that resemble Brontosaurs, Click and drag photo to resize. See Also: Ica Stones Revisited
Triceratops, Stegosaurs, and Pterodactyls, . . .
Even more surprisingly, human beings are portrayed as having domesticated animals that appear to be DINOSAURS and are using them for transportation and warfare. People are shown using telescopes, looking at the stars, and performing surgery” (ibid., p.193-194).Berlitz
….. these stones cannot be so easily dismissed because early Spanish reports tell that some of the stones were sent back to Spain by Spanish explorers in 1562 — proving they are not of recent origin.
There is no rhyme or reason for them to have been “fabricated” so many centuries ago. Furthermore, the fact that they are at least several centuries old is attested to by the oxidation produced by the aging of the minerals covering the incisions of the drawings.
“In addition to the stones, Cabrera, right, also had a collection of minature clay figures from the same period which also showed humans interacting with dinosaurs. More about these clay figures at OMNIOLOGY.COM. See Also The Interactive Bible
Are there still large unclassified animals roaming the oceans of the world? The average zoologist would say “probably not.” But two particular zoologists, were they still with us, would emphatically disagree. In 1905, Michael J. Nicoll and E. G. B. Meade-Waldo observed a”sea monster” which has never been caught, classified, or explained.
The chief witnesses in this amazing yet little-remembered encounter were experienced British naturalists, Fellows of the Zoological Society of London best known for their work in ornithology. Their account of “a creature of most extraordinary form and proportions” is recorded in the 1906 edition of the Society’s Proceedings and in Nicoll’s 1908 book Three Voyages of A Naturalist.
On December 7, 1905, at 10:15 AM, Nicoll and Meade-Waldo were on a research cruise aboard the yacht Valhalla. Fifteen miles east of the mouth of Brazil’s Parahiba River, Nicoll spotted a large dorsal fin which “resembled that of no fish I had previously seen.”
Nicoll turned to his companion and asked, “Is that the fin of a great fish?” Meade-Waldo looked. The fin was cruising past them about a hundred yards from the yacht. Meade-Waldo described it as “dark seaweed-brown, somewhat crinkled at the edge.” The visible part of the fin was roughly rectangular, about six feet long and eighteen inches to two feet high.
Meade-Waldo turned his binoculars on the object, and immediately a head on a long neck rose from the water in front of the frill. He estimated the neck was “about the thickness of a slight man’s body, and from 7 to 8 feet was out of the water; head and neck were all about the same thickness.”
The head had a very turtle-like appearance, as also the eye,” Meade-Waldo wrote of the incident. It moved its head and neck from side to side in a peculiar manner: the color of the head and neck was dark brown above, and whitish below-almost white, I think.”
The neck threw up a significant wave where it entered the water, and Nicoll noted that, “Below the water we could indistinctly see a very large brownish-black patch, but could not make out the shape of the creature.”
Nicoll added, “This creature was an example, I consider, of what has been so often reported, for want of a better name, as the ‘great sea-serpent.'”
In a 1929 letter to sea-serpent writer Rupert T. Gould, Meade-Waldo added that “I will never forget poor Nicoll’s face of amazement when we looked at each other after we had passed out of sight of it.” Gould gave the case a very thorough treatment in his meticulous if partisan book, The Case for the Sea-Serpent, published in 1930.
The original sighting lasted for several minutes. The Valhalla drew away from the creature, and the yacht was traveling under sail and could not come about to pursue. At 2:00 AM on December 8th, however, three crewmembers saw what appeared to be the same animal, almost entirely submerged, overtaking and passing the Valhalla at a speed of about nine knots.
That, in brief, is the story of the most important sighting in the long and controversial history of the sea-serpent.
So what did the witnesses see?
Skeptics often explain sea-monster reports as misidentifications of known animals, floating debris, etc. Very often, they are undoubtedly correct. On this report, however, the response from skeptics was a deafening silence. Neither then nor since has a “non-monstrous” explanation been offered.
There is no logical reason to doubt that the observers saw an unknown marine animal. The observing conditions were perfect and the witnesses highly qualified. It would be hard to wish for better testimonial evidence.
Comparison of head profiles of:
c . Common eel
d. Leopard seal
If we accept that an unknown animal was involved, what are we to make of it?
The first question to consider is what class of animal the thing could belong to. No one has suggested an amphibian, a bird, or any type of invertebrate. That leaves mammals, reptiles, and fish to choose from.
Meade-Waldo thought the beast’s head was “turtle-like” but offered no specific theory as to what type animal it was. While Nicoll also thought the head reminiscent of a turtle’s, he believed the creature was a mammal. “It is of course, impossible to be certain of this,” he admitted, “but the general appearance of the creature, especially the soft, almost rubber-like fin, gave one this impression.”
Classifying the creature is made more difficult because Nicoll and Meade-Waldo did not observe details that would have narrowed the possibilities: there is no mention of gills, hair, external ears, pectoral fins, mammae, or nostrils in their accounts. Leading cryptozoologist Bernard Heuvelmans, in his classic tome In the Wake of the Sea-Serpents note that Nicoll’s sketch shows the creature’s mouth ending directly below the eye. In reptiles, the mouth normally continues back beyond the eye. In mammals, it does not.
There is no hard and fast rule for fish. Heuvelmans, noting that eels and some other fish have relatively soft dorsal fins which flex as the body moves, suggests the sighting involved the sea monster type he calls the “super-eel,” an eel or eel-shaped fish swimming with its head and forebody out of the water. Some known species of eels do swim this way on occasion, although the reason for such behavior is unclear.
Another logical candidate might be a reptile. Nicoll’s sketch certainly bear some resemblance to a long-extinct plesiosaur. The suborder Plesiosauria was a very successful group during the Age of Reptiles. It included dozen of species, the largest perhaps fifty feet long. A descendant of the plesiosaurs was Gould’s favorite theory, although he also suggested the Valhalla sighting could have involved a “turtle-like creature.”
In addition to Heuvelmans’ note about the mouth, however, no plesiosaur is known to have possessed a dorsal fin. With their wide, turtle-shaped bodies, they would not need one for stability. It is conceivable that some types had an ornamental fin used for display when facing a threat or attracting a mate, but this is pure speculation.
Paleontologist Robert Bakker has recently argued that plesiosaurs did not, as once believed, sail unaffected through the extinctions which punctuated the Age of Reptiles. Instead, the true plesiosaurs died out at the end of the Jurassic period, and lookalike reptiles quickly evolved to take their ecological niche. This is an important point because the traditional view had buttressed the idea that plesiosaurs might have also survived the K-T extinction at the end of the Mesozoic era and lived on to the present day.
Nicoll’s original idea that the beast was a mammal has problems as well. There is no known mammal, living or extinct, which resembles this long-necked creature, although our knowledge of the fossil record is necessarily incomplete. One could hypothesize that the serpentine prehistoric whales known as zeuglodons might have developed a long-necked form. The objection to this is that zeuglodons were in fact evolving in the other direction, resulting in the almost total disappearance of the neck in modern whales. An alternative idea is that the Valhalla incident involved a huge elongated seal. However, no known seal has a dorsal fin. (Whether some zeuglodon possessed them is not certain. )
How does this creature compare to other authoritative sea-serpent reports? Meade-Waldo was aware of the famous 1848 sighting by the crew of the frigate HMS Daedalus. He commented that his own creature “might easily be the same.” The Daedalus witnesses reported an animal resembling “a large snake or eel with a visible length of 60 feet. Captain Peter McQuahe saw what he thought was a mane on its back, while his subordinate, Lieutenant Drummond, thought the feature was a dorsal fin. Some fish lay the dorsal fin back flat when swimming at high speed: an officer on the Daedalus estimated the creature they saw was making an estimated ten miles an hour and creating a noticeable bow-wave.
In fact, reports of dorsal fin are not at all common in the better-documented sea-serpent cases. Nor do those which are reported necessarily match the squarish fin described in the Valhalla case. For example, the crew of the merchant cruiser Hilary, who reported using a sea monster for target practice in 1917, described a triangular dorsal fin.
If one of the candidates for the Valhalla sighting is a giant eel, then we should have other giant-eel sightings on record. There are a few. A German vessel, the Kaiserin Augusta Victoria, observed such a creature in its entirety off England in 1912. The Kaiserin‘s Captain Ruser described it as twenty feet long and about eighteen inches thick. In 1947, the Grace liner Santa Clara ran over a brown eel-like creature estimated at 60 feet long. Finally, Heuvelmans add an account of some tourists who went spearfishing in the Mediterranean in 1958. They allegedly had a very close encounter with a creature like a giant moray eel, which literally scared them out of the water. Any discussion of the giant eel theory must mention the six-foot long leptocephalus, or eel larvae, collected by the research vessel Dana in 1930. A normal leptocephalus is only three inches long. Some forty years after the Dana specimen was netted, however, it was reclassified as the larva of an eellike deep-sea fish belonging to a group called noticanthiforms. Known noticanthiforms don’t change much in size during the metamorphosis from larva to adult: the ratio in this still-unidentified species is not certain.
Heuvelmans’ compilation of 358 “significant” reports includes at least a dozen which may concern the same creature as in the Valhalla case, although no other report matches this one in every detail. This is a familiar obstacle for partisans of the sea-serpent. Every case is different, and the witnesses in these hundreds of cases could not possibly all have been describing the same species. To skeptics, this is evidence of hoax or error. To Heuvelmans, it indicates there are several types of animals involved: as many as nine, according to his book.
The idea of an entire seaquarium of monsters cruising the seven seas is understandably difficult to swallow. Still, there is nothing outrageous about the idea of one or two unknowns remaining at large. There had never been a sighting of a megamouth shark (Megachasma pelagios) before the first specimen was caught, quite by accident, in 1976. The Indopacific beaked whale ( Indopacetus pacificus) known from two skulls found 29 years and thousands of miles apart. There are no confirmed sightings of the whole animal, alive or dead. The Peruvian beaked whale (Mesoplodon peruvians) was unknown to science until 1976 and not formally described until 1990. No one can state with certainty that the oceans hold no more surprises.
If this still sounds like inconclusive speculation, it is. Until we have a body, or, at the least, closeup photographic evidence, what Willy Ley called “the great unknown of the seas” will continue to frustrate all attempts at definitive classification.
We are left with this simple fact: on December 7th, 1905, two well-qualified witnesses observed a large unknown marine animal. Their report stands as irrefutable if incomplete evidence that the oceans hold at least one spectacular creature still evading the probes of science.
Dragons. The very word conjures up fantasy and mythical worlds of ages long since gone and always yearned for even in the 21st century. Dragons are perhaps one of the most sought after cryptids, and most certainly one of my own favorite points of almost fanatical interest. Here there be dragons!
In European folklore, a dragon is a serpentine legendary creature. The Latin word draco, as in constellation Draco, comes directly from Greek δράκων, (drákōn, gazer). The word for dragon in Germanic mythology and its descendants is worm (Old English: wyrm, Old High German: wurm, Old Norse: ormr), meaning snake or serpent. In Old English wyrm means “serpent”, draca means “dragon”. Finnish lohikäärme directly translated means “salmon-snake”, but the word lohi- was originally louhi- meaning crags or rocks, a “mountain snake”. The word lohi- in lohikäärme is also thought to derive from the ancient Norse word lógi, meaning ‘fire’ as in the Finnish mythology, there is also mentions of “tulikäärme” meaning firesnake, or fireserpent. Though a winged creature, the dragon is generally to be found in its underground lair, a cave that identifies it as an ancient creature of earth. Likely, the dragons of European and Mid Eastern mythology stem from the cult of snakes found in religions throughout the world.
In Western folklore, dragons are usually portrayed as evil, with the exceptions mainly in Welsh folklore and modern fiction. In the modern period the dragon is typically depicted as a huge fire-breathing, scaly and horned dinosaur-like creature, with leathery wings, with four legs and a long muscular tail. It is sometimes shown with feathered wings, crests, fiery manes, ivory spikes running down its spine and various exotic colorations.
Many modern stories represent dragons as extremely intelligent creatures who can talk, associated with (and sometimes in control of) powerful magic. In stories a dragon’s blood often has magical properties: for example in the opera Siegfried it let Siegfried understand the language of the Forest Bird. The typical dragon protects a cavern or castle filled with gold and treasure and is often associated with a great hero who tries to slay it, but dragons can be written into a story in as many ways as a human character, including as wise beings whom heroes can approach for help and advice; in such cases they resemble Asian rather than European dragons.
Roman dragons evolved from serpentine Greek ones, combined with the dragons of the Near East, in the mix that characterized the hybrid Greek/Eastern Hellenistic culture. From Babylon, the muš-ḫuššu was a classic representation of a Near Eastern dragon. John’s Book of Revelation—Greek literature, not Roman—describes Satan as “a great dragon, flaming red, with seven heads and ten horns”. Much of John’s literary inspiration is late Hebrew and Greek, but John’s dragon is more likely to have come originally through the Near East. Perhaps the distinctions between dragons of western origin and Chinese dragons are arbitrary, since the later Roman dragon was certainly of Iranian origin: in the Roman Empire, where each military cohort had a particular identifying signum, (military standard), after the Parthian and Dacian Wars of Trajan in the east, the Dacian Draco military standard entered the Legion with the Cohors Sarmatarum and Cohors Dacorum (Sarmatian and Dacian cohorts)—a large dragon fixed to the end of a lance, with large gaping jaws of silver and with the rest of the body formed of colored silk. With the jaws facing into the wind, the silken body inflated and rippled, resembling a windsock. This signum is described in the surviving epitome of Vegetius De Re Militari 379 CE—”The first sign of the entire legion is the eagle, which the eagle-bearer carries. In addition, dragons are carried into battle by each cohort, by the ‘dragoneers'”—and in Ammianus Marcellinus, xvi. 10, 7. Parthia lies athwart the Silk Road, the cultural thread between East and West: it is hard to deny all connection between this Romanized Parthian dragon and distant Chinese origins.
The most famous dragons in Norse and Germanic mythology are:
Of these, J.R.R. Tolkien wrote:
Many European stories of dragons have them guarding a treasure hoard. Both Fafnir and Beowulf’s dragon guarded earthen mounds full of ancient treasure. The treasure was cursed and brought ill to those who later possessed it.
English “dragon” derives (via Middle English, Old French, and Latin) from Greek dracon, “serpent, dragon”; the Greek word derives from Indo-European *derk-, “to see”, and may originally have meant something like “monster with the evil eye.” Notwithstanding their folkloric associations, there is no etymological connection between dragons and the ghoulish figures known as draugar in Old Norse, who haunt rich burial mounds.
The emblem books popular from late medieval times through the 17th century often represent the dragon as an emblem of greed. The prevalence of dragons in European heraldry demonstrates that there is more to the dragon than greed.
The poem Beowulf describes a draca (= dragon) also as wyrm (= worm, or serpent) and its movements by the Anglo-Saxon verb bugan = “to bend”, and says that it has a venomous bite; all of these indicate a snake-like form and movement rather than with a lizard-like or dinosaur-like body as in later belief (though the dragon of Beowulf does show several features that would later become popularized with dragons; namely, it breathes fire, lives underground, and collects treasure).
In Great Britain, to this day, a rampant red dragon (clutching a mace) is the heraldic symbol of the County of Somerset. The county once formed part of the early-medieval Anglo-Saxon kingdom of Wessex in western England, which too bore a dragon or wyvern (a two-legged as opposed to a four-legged dragon) as a symbol. The Wessex beast is usually colored gold in illustrations.
Now, however, the dragon is more commonly associated with Wales, as its national flag features a red dragon (Y Ddraig Goch). This may originate in Arthurian Legend where Myrddin, employed by Gwrtheyrn, had a vision of the red dragon (representing the Britons) and the white dragon (representing the invading Saxons) fighting beneath Dinas Emrys. This particular legend also features in the Mabinogion in the story of Lludd and Llefelys. The legendary house of Pendragon and Celtic Britain in general have become associated with the Welsh dragon standard after the fact.
According to the writer on heraldry Arthur Charles Fox-Davies, the red dragon of Wales originated with the standard of the 7th century king Cadwaladr, and was used as a supporter by the Tudor dynasty (who were of Welsh origin). Queen Elizabeth, however, preferring gold, changed the royal mantle and the dragon supporter from red to gold, and some Welsh scholars still hold that the dragon of Wales is properly ruddy gold rather than gules. There may be some doubt of the Welsh origin of the dragon supporter of the Royal arms, but it certainly was used by King Henry III. It has also been speculated that the red dragon of Wales may have even earlier origins in the Sarmatian-influenced Draco standards carried by Late Roman cavalry, who would have been the primary defence against the Saxons.
Dragons of Slavic mythology hold mixed temperaments towards humans. For example, dragons (дракон, змей, ламя, (х)ала) in Bulgarian mythology are either male or female, each gender having a different view of mankind. The female dragon and male dragon, often seen as sister and brother, represent different forces of agriculture. The female dragon represents harsh weather and is the destroyer of crops, the hater of mankind, and is locked in a never ending battle with her brother. The male dragon protects the humans’ crops from destruction and is generally loving to humanity. Fire and water play major roles in Bulgarian dragon lore; the female has water characteristics, whilst the male is usually a fiery creature. In Bulgarian legend, dragons are three headed, winged beings with snake‘s bodies.
In Bulgarian, Russian, Belarusian, Ukrainian and Serbian lore, a dragon, or “змей” (Bulgarian: Змей), zmey (Russian: Змей), smok (Belarusian: Цмок), zmiy (Ukrainian: Змій), zmaj (Serbian: Змај) is generally an evil, four-legged beast with few if any redeeming qualities. Zmeys are intelligent, but not very highly so; they often place tribute on villages or small towns, demanding maidens for food, or gold. Their number of heads ranges from one to seven or sometimes even more, with three- and seven-headed dragons being most common. The heads also regrow if cut off, unless the neck is “treated” with fire (similar to the hydra in Greek mythology). Dragon blood is so poisonous that Earth itself will refuse to absorb it. In Bulgarian mythology these dragons are sometimes good, opposing the evil Lamya /ламя/, a beast that shares a likeness with the zmey.
The most famous Polish dragon (Polish: Smok) is the Wawel Dragon or Smok Wawelski, the Dragon of Wawel Hill. It supposedly terrorized ancient Kraków and lived in caves on the Vistula river bank below the Wawel castle. According to lore based on the Book of Daniel, it was killed by a boy who offered it a sheepskin filled with sulphur and tar. After devouring it, the dragon became so thirsty that it finally exploded after drinking too much water. A metal sculpture of the Wawel Dragon is a well-known tourist sight in Kraków. It is very stylised but, to the amusement of children, noisily breathes fire every few minutes. The Wawel dragon also features on many items of Kraków tourist merchandise. Dragon is the coat of arms of the Polish princes- Piastów of czersk.
The Cuélebre, or Culebre, is a giant winged serpent in the mythology of Asturias and Cantabria, in the north of Spain. It usually lives in a cave, guards treasures and keeps nymph-like beings called xanas or anjanas as prisoners. They are immortal, but grow old. They can be tricked in particular ways, especially on certain days. Dragons in Aragonese mythology
There is a legend that a dragon dwelled in the Peña Uruel mountain near Jaca. It says that it could mesmerize people with his glance, so the young man who decided to kill the beast equipped himself with a shiny shield, so that the dragon’s glance would be reflected. So, when the young man arrived the cave where the dragon lived, he could kill it easily because the dragon mesmerized itself. This legend is very similar to the Greek myth of Medusa.
Herensuge is the name given to the dragon in Basque mythology, meaning apparently the “last serpent”. The best known legend has St. Michael descending from Heaven to kill it but only once God agreed to accompany him in person.
Sugaar, the Basque male god, is often associated with the serpent or dragon but able to take other forms as well. His name can be read as “male serpent”.
A. Xaho, a romantic myth creator of the 19th century, fused these myths in his own creation of Leherensuge, the first and last serpent, that in his newly coined legend would arise again some time in the future bringing the rebirth of the Basque nation.
Dragons are well-known in Catalan myths and legends, in no small part because St. George (Catalan Sant Jordi) is the patron saint of Catalonia. Like most dragons, the Catalan dragon (Catalan drac) is an enormous serpent with two legs, or, rarely, four, and sometimes a pair of wings. As in many other parts of the world, the dragon’s face may be like that of some other animal, such as a lion or bull. As is common elsewhere, Catalan dragons are fire-breathers, and the dragon-fire is all-consuming. Catalan dragons also can emit a fetid odor, which can rot away anything it touches.
In Portuguese mythology, coca is a female dragon that battles Saint George on the Corpus Christi holiday. The fighting has a symbolic meaning: when the coca defeats Saint George the crops will be bad and there will be famine and death. When Saint George defeats the coca he cuts off her tongue and ears; the crops will have a good year and it announces prosperity. Still, she is called “saint” coca just like George is called saint and the people cheer for her. Another dragon called drago is also represented in Portuguese mythology and used to take part in celebrations during the Middle Ages.
Saint Margaret and the Dragon, alabaster with traces of gilding, Toulouse, ca 1475 (Metropolitan Museum of Art)
The legend of Saint George and the dragon is well-known in Italy, but other Saints are depicted fighting a dragon. For instance, the first bishop of the city of Forlì, named Saint Mercurialis, was said to have killed a dragon and saved Forlì, so he often is depicted killing a dragon. Likewise, the first patron saint of Venice, Saint Theodore of Tyro, was a dragon-slayer, and a statue representing his slaying of the dragon still tops one of the two columns in St. Mark’s square. St. Michael, the patron saint of paratroopers, is also frequently depicted slaying a dragon. Many dragons of the European Middle Ages were thought to be demonic or of evil status.
According to the Golden Legend, compiled by the Italian Jacobus de Voragine, Saint Margaret the Virgin was swallowed by Satan in the shape of a dragon, from which she escaped alive when the cross she carried irritated the dragon’s innards. The Golden Legend, in an atypical moment of scepticism, describes this last incident as “apocryphal and not to be taken seriously” (trans. Ryan, 1.369) – which did not prevent the legend from being popuar and getting artistic treatments.
But many more are the legends about dragons in Italy, particularly in Umbria. One of the most famous dragons of Italian folklore is Thyrus, a wyvern that besieged Terni in the Middle Ages. One day, a young and brave knight, tired of witnessing the death of his fellow citizens and depopulation of Terni, faced the dragon and killed him. From that day, the town assumed the creature in its coat of arms. Also a Latin inscription supports this: “Thyrus et amnis dederunt signa Teramnis” that stands under the banner of the town of Terni.
Another poem tells of another dragon that yet lived near the village of Fornole, near Terni in the south of Umbria. Pope Saint Sylvester arrived in Umbria and freed the population of Fornole from the ferocity of the dragon, making him become mild. In gratitude, the population built, in the 13th century, a little church dedicated to the Saint on the top of the mountain, near the dragon’s lair. In the apse of the church there is a fresco representing the iconography of the Saint.
If it existed at all, this swamp-dwelling monster may have only recently died out. Local tribes of the Apa Tani Valley and the Jiro Valley in northern Assam, India, claimed to have seen this large, crocodile-like monster many times over the years. They described it as measuring between 11 and 13 feet long with a long snout, four limbs, and 5-foot-long tail. Unlike a crocodile, however, the buru did not have scales, but rather was smooth with blue and white coloration. Natives testified that it would occasionally lift its head out of the water and let out a bellow that could be heard over great distances.
After many run-ins with the creature, the natives deliberately set out to destroy the creature by draining its swamp habitat. The last one may have died sometime in the early 1940s, although some natives believe it only retreated underground. An expedition sponsored by London’s Daily Mail in 1948 proved fruitless, although it came away convinced that the natives were quite sincere in their belief in its existence.
Cryptozoologist Dr. Karl Shukar, after examining all the available evidence, surmised that the buru might have been a species of giant lungfish.
A walrus-like creature in the heart of Africa? Such is the description of the dingonek by John Alfred Jordan, an explorer who actually shot at this unidentified monster in the River Maggori in Kenya in 1907. Jordan claimed this scale-covered creature was a big as 18 feet long and had reptilian claws, a spotted back, long tail, and a big head out of which grew large, curved, walrus-like tusks.
Natives of the area further described it as having a scorpion-like tail and reported that it would kill any hippos, crocodiles, or human fisherman that dared encroach on its territory.
This sounds like a fantasy creature, but consider this: At the Brackfontein Ridge in South Africa is a cave painting of an unknown creature that fits the description of the dingonek, right down to its walrus-like tusks.
Emela-ntouka literally means “elephant killer,” aptly named by natives of the Republic of Congo who have seen this swamp-dwelling monster attack and disembowel elephants that cross its path. The instrument of this disembowelment is a large, ivory or bone horn on the animal’s head, leading to speculation that the emela-ntoouka might be a surviving relative of the triceratops or styracosaurus.
This is a nasty, vicious creature, according to the natives, who further described it as having a red-brown color, massive legs, and the ability to hide totally submerged beneath the water. Interestingly, its attack on elephants seems only to be defensive or territorial, since the monsters don’t eat the elephants. They seem to be plant-eaters.
Pterodactyl-like flying monsters are said to have been sighted in modern-day Southwestern United States. The kongamato is the African version of this dinosaur-era holdover, reportedly seen in Zambia and Zimbabwe. Although not as large as pterodactyls known from fossils – 4- to 7-foot wingspans compared to as large as 33-foot wingspans – the kongamato resembles the prehistoric creature in virtually every other respect: a long, tapered jaw filled with sharp teeth, bat-like membranous wings, and an overall lizard-like appearance.
Some researchers think the kongamato could in fact be a large species of bat. However, in 1923, explorer Frank Melland heard of this creature while traveling through Zambia. Intrigued, he showed illustrations of a pterodactyl to the locals, and “every native present immediately and unhesitatingly picked out and identified it as a kongamato.”
Let us leave the African continent now and travel to South America, where there have been reports not of a dinosaur-like creature but (perhaps more disturbingly) of a giant worm. Witnesses in Uruguay and southern Brazil describe the monster as looking like a gigantic armor-plated slug. Imagine a black slug as big as 14 feet long with a snout like a pig’s and two tentacles poking out of its head. Some reports have it as long as 75 feet! Normally living underground, the minhocão occasionally surfaces, leaving deep trenched in its wake.
Most scientists think its length has been exaggerated and suggest that the minhocão could either be: an unknown species of horned viper; a glyptodont, a giant relative of the armadillo, thought to be extinct; or an outsized caecilian, a subterranean worm-like amphibian.
Those are good guesses. But we know what the minhocão really is. Like the other creatures profiled in this article, they are the living, breathing monsters that hide in the damp, dark shadowy corners of our planet.
Georgia wildlife officials say we don’t have panthers – and people who claim to have seen one continue to insist otherwise.
It’s a perennial stalemate that has lingered for decades, with dozens of sightings reported annually across Alabama, Georgia and South Carolina.
Without evidence, however, the reports are routinely dismissed as mistaken identity linked to hound dogs, bobcats, large feral cats or small deer.
The lone exception was a 140-pound panther killed during a black powder hunt in 2008 near West Point Lake in Troup County. Genetic tests confirmed it was not – as biologists first said – an escaped pet.
It was a Florida panther and a member of the last subspecies of cougar still surviving in the eastern U.S., with fewer than 120 animals.
Almost two years later, authorities still have no explanation of how the cat ended up in Georgia – 600 miles from its known habitat.
Such mysteries bring up the obvious question of whether there could be other panthers – or something other than panthers that could explain the persistent sightings.
The most recent ones I’m aware of occurred just this past month.
One was a woman’s call to Columbia County authorities claiming to have seen a panther at the New Hope Baptist Church Cemetery in the Campania community.
The other was this actual photo – taken by a hunter’s trail camera – in Screven County.
The image, snapped about an hour before daylight, shows a dark cat meandering through swamp grass. Its tail is not visible, but it has an unmistakable flat, feline face.
Could it be a panther? Perhaps not. It doesn’t appear large enough to be a mature cat from a species that routinely grows to be more than seven feet long.
Other opinions are that it could be a bobcat in low light, or perhaps a mature feral cat that has somehow interbred with bobcats.
The seemingly pointed ears on the cat in the photo might lend credence to that argument, since panthers have more rounded ears. But the angle of the photo could also have made rounded ears seem more pointed.
One common denominator among many reported “panther” sightings is a description of a cat much smaller than a typical panther, leading some theorists to surmise the creatures could be jaguarundi, a panther-like wildcat native to Mexico and Central America that has been found in Texas and Florida.
The jaguarundi is known to inhabit swamps and remote river basins and is so elusive that relatively little is known about the species. It is also commonly found with dark brown or black fur, which could help explain the large percentage of sightings in which the cat was a “black” panther.
Wildlife biologists continue to say it is unlikely that panthers, jaguarundis or other such predators are living in our midst undetected. And people who have seen them will continue to disagree.
More Cryptid references for your researching pleasure from Wikipedia.
The Jersey Devil
The Jersey Devil, the supposed mythical creature of the New Jersey Pinelands, has haunted New Jersey and the surrounding areas for the past 260 years. This entity has been seen by over 2,000 witnesses over this period. It has terrorized towns and caused factories and schools to close down, yet many people believe that the Jersey Devil is a legend, a mythical beast, that originated from the folklore of the New Jersey Pine Barrens. Others disagree with this point of view. The following text will show there is evidence to support the existence of an animal or supernatural bring known as the Jersey Devil. The evidence consists of the stories of the Jersey Devil’s origin, the sightings of it, and finally, the theories on it.
There are many different versions of the birth of the Jersey Devil. One of the most popular legends says a Mrs. Shrouds of Leeds Point, NJ made a wish that if she ever had another child, she want it to be a devil. Her next child was born misshapen and deformed. She sheltered it in the house, so the curious couldn’t see him. On stormy night, the child flapped it’s arms, which turned into wings, and escaped out the chimney and was never seen by the family again. A Mrs. Bowen of Leeds point said, “The Jersey Devil was born in the Shrouds house at Leeds Point.” 1 Another story that also placed the birth at Leeds Point said that a young girl fell in love with a British soldier during the Revolutionary War. The people of Leeds Point cursed her. When she gave birth, she had a devil. Some people believe the birth of the devil was punishment for the mistreatment of a minister by the Leeds folk.
Another story placed the birth in Estelville, NJ. Mrs. Leeds, of Estelville, finding out she was pregnant with her 13th child, shouted,”I hope it’s a devil”. She got her wish. The child wad born with horns, a tail, wings, and a horse-like head. The creature revisited Mrs. Leeds everyday. She stood at her door and told it to leave. After awhile, the creature got the hint and never returned.
Burlington, NJ, also claims to be the birthplace of the Jersey Devil. In 1735, Mother Leeds was in labor on a stormy night. Gathered around her were her friends. Mother Leeds was supposedly a witch and the child’s father was the devil himself. The child was born normal, but then changed form. It changed from a normal baby to a creature with hooves, a horses head, bat wings and a forked tail. It beat everyone present and flew up the chimney. It circled the villages and headed toward the pines. In 1740 a clergy exercised the devil for 100 years and it wasn’t seen again until 1890.
There are many other versions of the legend. The legends say it was the 6th, 8th, 10th, 12th, or 13th child, It was born normal or deformed, and the mother confined it to the cellar or the attic. Although there are many discrepancies in all of these stories, there are 3 pieces of evidence that tie all of the legends of the Jersey Devil’s origin together.
The first thing that ties the legends together is the name “Leeds”. Whether the mothers name was Leeds or the birth place was Leeds Point, all of the stories include the name Leeds. Alfred Heston, the Atlantic County Historian, believes that the devil could be a Leeds or a Shrouds baby. He discovered that a Daniel Leeds opened land in Great Egg Harbor, NJ, in 1699. His family lived in Leeds Point. He also discovered a Samuel Shrouds, Sr. came to Little Egg Harbor, NJ, in 1735 and lived right across the river from the house of Mother Leeds. The 3rd fact ties in the Burlington story with the others stories. Professor Fred MacFadden of Coppin State College, Baltimore, found that a “devil” was mentioned in writings from Burlington as early as 1735. He also indicated that the word Burlington was used to was the word used to names the area from the city of Burlington to the Atlantic Ocean. This means that the name that is now used for the birthplace such as Leeds point or Estelville, could be the same place referred to in the Burlington Legend.
The origins provide some validity to the existence of the Jersey Devil, but the sightings are the most substantial pieces of evidence. The sightings have been divided up into 3 time periods, pre 1909, January 16-23, 1909, and post 1909. From the pre 1909 era, few documented records of sightings still exist. The ones that do confirm the existence of the devil.
In the early 19th century, Commodore Stephen Decatur, a naval hero, was testing cannon balls on the firing range when he saw a strange creature flying across the sky. He fired and hit the creature but it kept right on flying across the field. Joseph Bonaparte, former king of Spain and brother of Napoleon, saw the Jersey Devil in Bordentown, NJ, between 1816 and 1839 while he was hunting. In 1840-41 many sheep and chickens were killed by a creature with a piercing scream and strange tracks. In 1859-94, the Jersey Devil was seen and numerous times and reportedly carried off anything that moved in Haddonfield, Bridgeton, Smithville, Long Branch, Brigantine, and Leeds Point. W.F. Mayer of New York noticed while visiting the Pine Barrens, most of the locals would not venture out after dark. The devil was sighted by George Saarosy, A prominent business man, at the NJ/NY border. This was the last reported sighting before the turn of the century.
In 1903, Charles Skinner, author of American Myths and Legends, claimed that the legend of the devil had run it’s course and that in the new century, NJ would hear no more of the devil. New Jersey rested easy with that thought for 6 years, until the week of January 16-23. 1909. During this week, the devil would leave his tracks all over South Jersey and Philadelphia. He was seen by over 1,000 people. This was his largest appearance ever. It all started early Sunday morning, January 16, 1909. Thack Cozzens of Woodbury, NJ, saw a flying creature with glowing eyes flying down the street. In Bristol, PA, John Mcowen heard and saw the strange creature on the banks of the canal. Patrol James Sackville fired at the creature as it flew away screaming. E.W. Minister, Postmaster of Bristol, PA, also saw a bird-like creature with a horses head that had a piercing scream. When daylight came, the residents of Bristol found hoof prints in the snow. Two local trappers said they had never seen tracks like those before.
On Monday, the Lowdens of Burlington, NJ, found hoof prints in their yard and around their trash, which was half eaten. Almost every yard in Burlington had these strange hoof prints in them. The prints went up trees, went from roof to roof, disappeared in the middle of the road, and stopped in the middle of open fields. The same tracks were also found in Columbus, Hedding, Kinhora and Rancocas. A hunt was organized to follow the tracks but the dogs wouldn’t follow the trail.
On the 19th the Jersey Devil made his longest appearance of the week. At 2:30 am, Mr & Mrs. Nelson Evans of Gloucester were awakened by a strange noise. They watched the devil from their window for 10 minutes. Mr. Evans described the creature they saw:
It was about three feet and half high, with a head like a collie dog and a face like a horse. It had a long neck, wings about two feet long, and its back legs were like those of a crane, and it had horse’s hooves. It walked on its back legs and held up two short front legs with paws on them. It didn’t use the front legs at all while we were watching. My wife and I were scared, I tell you, but I managed to open the window and say, ‘Shoo’, and it turned around barked at me, and flew away.2 Tuesday afternoon 2 professional hunters tracked the devil for 20 miles in Gloucester. The trail jumped 5 foot fences and went under 8 inch spaces. The hoof prints were found in more parts of South Jersey. A group of observers in Camden, NJ, saw the devil. It barked at them and then took off into the air.
The next day, a Burlington police officer and the Reverend John Pursell of Pemberton saw the Jersey Devil. Rev. Pursell said, “Never saw anything like it before”.3 Posses in Haddonfield found tracks that ended abruptly. In Collingswood, NJ, a posse watched the devil fly off toward Moorestown. Near Moorestown, John Smith of Maple Shade saw the devil at the Mount Carmel Cemetery. George Snyder saw the devil right after Mr. Smith and their descriptions were identical. In Riverside, NJ, hoof prints were found on roof tops and also around a dead puppy.
On Thursday, the Jersey Devil was seen by the Black Hawk Social Club. He was also seen by a trolley full of people in Clementon as it circled above them. The witnesses descriptions matched others from the days before. In Trenton, Councilman E.P. Weeden heard the flapping of wings and then found hoof prints outside his door. The prints were also found at the arsenal in Trenton. As the day wore on the Trolleys in Trenton and New Brunswick had armed drivers to ward off attacks. The people in Pitman filled churches. Chickens had been missing all week throughout the Delaware Valley, but when the farmers checked their yards that day, they found their chickens dead, with no marks on them. The West Collingswood Fire Department fired their hose at the devil. The devil retreated at first, but then charged and flew away at the last second.
Later that night, Mrs. Sorbinski of Camden heard a commotion in her yard. She opened the door to see the Jersey Devil standing there with her dog in it’s grip. She hit the devil with a broom until it let go of her dog and flew away. She started screaming until her neighbors came over. Two police officers arrived at her house where over 100 people had gathered. The crowd heard a scream coming from Kaigan Hill. The mob ran toward the creature on the hill. The Policed shot at it and the devil flew off into the night. The streets of Camden were empty after this.
On Friday, Camden police officer Louis Strehr saw the Jersey Devil saw the devil drinking from a horses trough. The school in Mt Ephraim was closed because no students came in. Mills and factories in Gloucester and Hainesport had to close because none of the employees came to work. Many New Jersey residents wouldn’t leave their houses, even in daylight. Officer Merchant of Blackwood drew a sketch of the creature he saw. His sketch coincided with the descriptions from earlier in the week. Jacob Henderson saw the devil in Salem and described it as having “wings and a tail”4. The devil was only seen once more in 1909 in February.
Since 1909, the Jersey Devil has continued to be sighted by people all over New Jersey. The number of sightings that have been reported to the authorities has dwindled over the years. This could be attributed to the fact that people don’t want to be branded as crazy. Even though the number of reported sightings has dropped, there’s still a considerable amount of sightings in the post 1909 era.
IN 1927, a cab driver on his way to Salem got a flat tire. He stopped to fix the tire. As he was doing this, creature that stood upright and was covered with hair, landed on the roof of his cab. The creature shook his car violently. He fled the scene, leaving the tire and jack behind. Phillip Smith, who was known as a sober and honest man, saw the devil walking down the street in 1953. The characteristic screams of the Jersey Devil were heard in the woods near Woodstown, NJ, in 1936.
Around 1961, 2 couples were parked in a car in the Pine Barrens. They heard a loud screeching noise outside. Suddenly the roof of the car was smashed in. They fled the scene, but returned later. Again they heard the loud screech. They saw a creature flying along the trees, taking out huge chinks of bark as it went along.
There have been other sightings since 1909, such as the Invasion of Gibbsboro in 1951. The people there saw the devil over a 2 day period. In 1966, a farm was raided and 31 ducks, 3 geese, 4 cats, and 2 dogs were killed. One of the dogs was a large german Shepard which had it’s throat ripped out. In 1981, a young couple spotted the devil at Atsion Lake in Atlantic County.
In 1987, in Vineland an aggressive german Shepard was found torn apart and the body gnawed upon. the body was located 25 feet from the chain which had been hooked to him. Around the body were strange tracks that no one could identify.
The sightings and prints are the most substantial evidence that exists. Many of the theories on the Jersey Devil are based upon that evidence. Some theories can be proven invalid, while others seem to provide support for the Jersey Devil’s existence.
One theory is that the Jersey Devil is a bird. Mrs. Cassidy of Clayton thought it was an invasion of scrowfoot ducks. The scrowfoot duck is much too small to be mistaken for the devil. Others believe the devil is really a sand hill crane. The crane used to live in South Jersey until it was pushed out by man. The sand hill crane weighs about 12 lbs., is 4 foot high, and a wingspan of 80 inches. It avoids man but if confronted it will fight. It has a loud scream whooping voice that can be heard at a distance. This could account for the screams heard by witnesses. The crane also eats potatoes and corn. This could account for the raids on crops. This theory doesn’t explain , however, the killing of live stock. It also doesn’t explain why people described the devil as having a horses head, bat wings and tail, all of which the crane doesn’t have.
Professor Bralhopf said that” the tracks were made by some prehistoric animal form the Jurassic period”5. He believes the creature survived underground in a cavern. An expert from the Smithsonian Institute had a theory about ancient creatures surviving underground. He said the Jersey Devil was a Pterodactyl. The Academy of Natural Sciences could find no record of any creature, living or extinct, that resembles the Jersey Devil.
Jack E. Boucher, author of Absagami Yesteryear, has a theory in which he believes the devil was a deformed child. He thinks Mrs. Leeds had a disfigured child and kept it locked away in the house. She grew sick and couldn’t feed the child anymore. It escaped out of hunger and raided local farms for food. This doesn’t take into account the incredible life span of the devil. The child would have been 174 years old in 1909. It also doesn’t account for the sightings of the devil flying.
Only a small amount of the sightings and footprints could be hoaxes. The Jersey Devil has been seen by reliable people such as police, government officials, postmasters, businessman, and other people whose “integrity is beyond question.”6 As for the hoof prints, even if some were hoaxes, There is still no way to explain most of the tracks, especially the ones on roof tops and tracks that ended abruptly as if the creature took wing.
The last theory is the most controversial one. Many people believe that the Jersey Devil could be the very essence of evil, embodied. It is said that the devil is an “uncanny harbinger of war”7. and appears before any great conflict. The jersey devil was sighted before the start of the Civil War. It was also seen right before the Spanish American War and WW I. In 1939, before the start of WW II, Mount Holly citizens were awakened by the noise of hooves on their roof tops. The Devil was seen on December 7, 1941, right before Pearl Harbor was bombed. He was also seen right before the vietnam War.
The Jersey Devil’s habit of being a forerunner to wars could be because of his possible demonic origins. In 1730, Ben Franklin reported a story about a witchcraft trial near Mt Holly, NJ. One of the origin legends say that Mother Leeds was a witch. The devil’s birth could have been a result of a witches curse.
Other facts support the supernatural theory are the reports of the death of the devil. When Commodore Decatur fired a cannon ball at the devil, it went through him and he was unaffected.
In 1909, a track walker on the electric railroad saw the devil fly into the wires above the tracks. There was a violent explosion which melted the track 20 feet in both directions. No body was found and the devil was seen later in perfect health. In 1957, the Department of Conservation found a strange corpse in a burned out area of the pines. It was a partial skeleton, feathers, and hind legs of an unidentifiable creature. The devil was thought to be dead, but reappeared when the people of New Jersey thought that this time his death was real. Each time he is reported dead, he returns. Sometimes this year. The Jersey Devil will be 260 years old. It seems the devil is immortal, which a supernatural being would be. Another thing that supports this theory is the incredible distances the devil could fly in a short period of time. No animal could travel as fast as the devil did in 1909 when he was sighted in South Jersey, Philadelphia, and New York through out the week.
None of these theories can give a definitive answer to what the Jersey Devil was or is, but the sightings prove there is something out there. Whether the Jersey devil is a bird or a demon, is still left ot speculation. The people of New Jersey have definitely seen something out there lurking in the Pine Barrens.