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Posts Tagged ‘cryptids’

IMG_1542 (800x598)Sly of the old Sly and the Family Stone band  famously sang about “different strokes for different folks,” (1968) but I’ll riff on that line to describe two crypto-tomes I recently read: “Different Books from Different Blokes.”
Both authors are prolific writers and long-time investigators of strange creatures great and small. Each, though, has his own distinct style and writing goals. I’ll start with the book that is dedicated to one certain, well-known creature.

The meat of author Nick Redfern’s Chupacabra Road Trip; in search of the Elusive Beast, comes sandwiched in the colorful mini-memoir style his fans have come to crave from him. Redfern describes his far-ranging personal travels and experiences and provides research showing that these odd predatory creatures whose name means “Goat-sucker,” are not only quite different from some recent reports of beasts mis-labeled as chupacabras, but that they have been reported as early as the mid-60s in Puerto Rico. It’s a wild trip that covers all possible aspects of the creature.

The flavor of Albert Rosales’ Humanoid Encounters; the Others Among Us 2000-2009 is more along the lines of the old Dragnet TV series character Joe Friday — “All we want are the facts, ma’am.” Rosales’ reports provide the important details of every encounter in an economical but convincing manner. And, similar to many of Redfern’s works, it’s a world-wide hunt. Rosales takes a far-ranging, multinational track to search out all types of mystery humanoids from the Ukraine to Bolivia to my own neighborhood of Jefferson County, Wisconsin. (The latter described a 2007 sighting of two yellow, seven-foot tall flying humanoids! I’ve described this area as the “Jefferson Square of Weirdness” in my own books.)

Rosales presents his subjects in chronological order, identified by location. The creature variety is terrific, and at 292 pages, it’s a massive assortment. Many of these reports haven’t been documented elsewhere. This book was preceded by the 1995-1999 volume, and I presume will be followed by a compilation of the most recent reports. I would love to see Rosales add a separate index (online, perhaps) by humanoid categories to make a wonderful resource even better.

Humanoid Encounters and Chupacabra Road Trip have both earned permanent spots on my shelves – highly recommended and vive la difference!

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GoatmanLSGThe image of a creature part man, part goat is one of the oldest in the history of civilization. It brings to mind the ancient nature god, Pan, those licentious Greek and Roman satyrs, and has long served as the basis for illustrations of the Christian devil. Most people think of anything resembling these creatures as mythical allegory. But every now and then, sightings of upright goats with sharp horns and bad attitudes show up in contemporary reports of encounters with unknown creatures. Wisconsin author J. Nathan Couch has written a well-received book, “Goatman; Flesh or Folklore,” that has had many researchers — myself included — taking a second look at the bleating beast.

I admit I was one of those who generally categorizedthe idea of goatmen  as folklore or urban legend. For one thing, there ARE quite a few localized legends around the country that follow a couple of oft-repeated story lines. One such trope always involves some secret lab experimenting with human/animal hybrids until one half-goat escapee terrorizes the countryside. Another tale,  usually set a century or so in the past, describesa goat-like monster killing a just-married man while his terrified wife hides in a wagon or carriage. The latter legend that I’ve described in several of my own books is prominent around Washington County, Wisconsin and is supposed to have occurred on Hogsback Road in the Town of Erin.

That particular area of the state is also very rich in modern-day reports of both Bigfoot and dogmen. So imagine my surprise when a man who is related to me by marriage (a couple of times removed) mentioned at a family gathering a week or so ago that he and a companion had personally witnessed a creature in the general vicinity, perhaps 10-15 miles to the northeast of Erin. It appeared to be an upright goat sauntering across the highway as the two young men drove along Trenton Road just east of West Bend, Wisconsin, sometime around 2003. He was in his twenties at the time, and said that he and his friend completely agreed on what they’d seen. They were both extremely shocked, he added.

He described it as man-sized, with hooves, big muscular legs and smaller forelimbs held out in front of it “like a T-Rex.” And it had horns. I made sure that point was clear, because over the years I’ve had a number of people tell me they had seen a satyr or goat man, only to change their minds when I showed them a forensic sketch of what most dogman witnesses describe. But those witnesses saw neither horn nor hooves.

The sketch accompanying this article is one that I made for my own entertainment and has not been corroborated by this witness who wishes to remain anonymous. I added features such as the slightly larger “arms” and pointed teeth that I imagine would be necessary for an animal able to tear apart a sturdy young bridegroom as described in the old stories. I’ll do a second version and an update if the witness agrees to talk further.

I will add that I consider this person entirely credible. And his sighting was only 11 or 12 years ago, not such a long time as cryptid reports go. It was not a dogman, not a Bigfoot. Perhaps Goat Man does live on, after all, and this gentleman, unlike the unlucky bridegroom of the Civil War era, lived to tell its true tale.

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I was delightfully surprised today when giant bird witness John Bolduan send me the link to a video he self-recorded in which he recounts his excellent sighting of a huge, stork-like bird in northern Wisconsin. I met him on-site and measured the road which the bird flew over at low altitude–it ranged between 20 and 22 feet. John said the bird’s wingspan was at least that wide if not wider. His is the first encounter detailed in American Monsters; a History of Monster Lore, Legends and Sightings in America, and I’ll be talking about it tomorrow as part of my talk at the Milwaukee Paracon June 6 at 5 pm. A big shout out to John for providing this amazing reference for his experience.

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copyright Linda S. Godfrey all rights reserved, no use without permission

copyright Linda S. Godfrey all rights reserved, no use without permission

Sure, it has monsters. But the astounding beauty and diversity of the landscape around the west central midsection of Wisconsin is as remarkable as the wide range of unknown creatures that seem to inhabit it. My previous post focused on the hairless creature legend of Hillsboro; the two accounts I’ll highlight here are located slightly west of that area, near Tomah and Westby. Both cases are especially apropos to summer road trip time, since the creatures involved seemed to home in on the witness’s cars!

The “Big Bird of Tomah” was spotted by a now-retired, male medical worker driving south on his way from Black River Falls to Tomah one morning around 1999-2000. He was nearing the north side of Tomah on US Rte. 12 when something large and black swooped across his windshield–it was a black, feathered bird with a body he described as about six feet long, and a wing span he estimated at twelve feet. He said it was close enough that he was able to look it in the eyes as it passed him. He did not recognize the species. Luckily, the bird kept going, and so did the man. He told some co-workers but as usually happens in these cases, was disbelieved.

Just for comparison, that side of the state is also known for the sightings of a giant, stork-like bird near Hayward, the Man-Bat of La Crosse, and a flying Lizard Man seen by a state patrol officer and a group of construction workers near Medford. I also have a report of a man-sized bird seen standing on a bridge near Neillsville, on or near Ho Chunk land.

The “Westby Wolfman” report came to me just a week ago but occurred in 1990-91. The witness wrote:

“I saw a wolf figure that ran and stood on two legs, but it would have been in 1990 or 1991. It was outside of Westby, Wi on County Road P around 4:30 to 5:00 in the morning. I think it was in the spring of the year. I was on my way to work. It ran from the side of the road and charged into the driver’s side door of my car. Thankfully the window was up. I saw his face clearly. I stepped on the gas. It scared me.

“Although the whole thing happened so quickly, it was early in the morning and still dark outside. It had a wolf face. It was on two legs. It did not look like a costume. It was taller than the car I was driving. I would guess it to be maybe 6 ft tall. It had black fur, maybe dark gray. Where it came from on the side of the road, there was a bridge and a trout stream. It did not dent my car. Trust me, I looked. When it charged the car it hit hard.

“Years later I confided to one of my clients about the incident. She told me there was a book I needed to read. It was your book. When I saw the sketches in the book, I realized it was the same as I had seen that morning. I never heard of any other sightings in that area, but perhaps there were and they were too afraid to say anything either. I never reported it because I didn’t think anyone would believe me.”

There have been many other strange creatures spotted around this area of the state—kangaroos, Bigfoot, and lake serpents to name a few. It’s an extremely scenic part of the state to visit even if you only see known animals, which can be just as exciting in their own right. Summer Road Trip Rating: Five Screeches! * * * * *

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art by Linda Godfrey

art by Linda Godfrey

Super-sized birds are one of the most tantalizing topics for researchers of cryptid animals. Most of these weird flyers resemble some type of actual bird (often a type thought long extinct) that would seem to put them in the “likely to be ‘real’” category – except for their wingspan usually reported at 20 feet or more, their massive bodies, and their penchant for carrying off live creatures considerably larger than the rabbits, fish and squirrels preferred by even the largest of our known birds of prey.

The 2005 sighting near Hayward, Wisconsin by a Minnesota businessman named John Bolduan that I chronicled in American Monsters describes one of the better observations I’ve seen anywhere of these creatures. Bolduan’s sighting was in close range in full daylight and included seeing the bird on the ground, taking off, and then flapping away, with nearby trees, tall grasses and roadway for size comparisons. It had a stork-like appearance, but Bolduan hasn’t been able to match it to any known species.

Since the time that I had to submit the manuscript for that book, I’ve received other reports of oversized avians that I wish could have been included. A brief summary:

  • Pike County, PA, autumn 1996 or 1997: A woman reported seeing a huge birdlike creature gliding over the trees during the day. She stopped her car to watch it and estimated it was the same length as her car, 17 feet. She tried reporting it to an area animal preserve and to a game warden, who both told her she had probably seen a vulture, but she said it looked nothing like a vulture and could not find anything to compare it to other than something prehistoric.
  • State Line Island, Nebraska, May 1995: In another daylight sighting, a man hiking along the North Platte River encountered two birds standing in a clearing that appeared the size of large humans but were covered with black feathers and had raptor-like heads. No markings. One turned and looked at him, then both spread their wings to an estimated 20 foot span and jumped from the ground. One was carrying a small deer in its talons and had a hard time getting airborne with it as the other bird screeched from the treetops. He believed the deer was the same small doe he had seen at that site the day before and estimated its weight at at least 75 pounds.
  • Clements, Michigan, spring 2014: NOTE — I’m withdrawing this report of a “giant” bird that had been sent by a third party. Subsequent interviews with the actual witnesses revealed this was almost certainly a turkey vulture. According to the father and son, it had the typical pinkish-red, unfeathered head and other characteristics of this bird that is probably the Midwest’s most oft-misidentified bird of prey. Just goes to show the importance of a little extra digging, and my apologies for posting the brief version prematurely!
  • On the other hand, as if to make up for that one, I received another report from Brookfield, a suburb of Milwaukee, that was indeed submitted by the original witness who answered follow-up questions. Her sighting occurred in fall, 2006, in daylight, as she and her three-year old son stood in the backyard of the home they were renting. She noted that the area had enough natural cover that they often saw deer, coyotes and other wildlife. She wrote, “A bird that resembled a golden eagle, except that it was about the same height as me (five feet, four inches) landed 15-20 feet away from us, looking me in the eye. We all remained still, staring at each other for a while. I remember feeling a little scared, as it could easily fly away with my 3-year old, but also a great reverence as I felt the bird was deciding how it felt about us being on that land.”  The woman added that they all stood for about 20 seconds, eyeing one another, before it flapped away with “great ease.” After it left, she took a  yardstick and measured what its height and wingspan would have been according to where it had stood in relation to corresponding features of her lawn, and said it stood 50-55 inches tall (about a foot shorter than she thought at first) with a 12-foot wingspan. A golden eagle may have a 5 1/2 to 8-foot wingspan but stands only about 27-36 inches tall. She added that the breast color of the bird she saw was “creamish,”  which is not usual for this species. Was it a golden eagle? If so, it was a specimen considerably larger than the known dimensions of that species, with unusual coloring. I do think what ever it may have been, it probably was interested in checking out her 3-year old, and that’s the scariest aspect of this encounter. Golden eagles have been known to seize small deer and domestic animals.

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Sasquatch illustration by Linda S. Godfrey for American Monsters

Sasquatch illustration by Linda S. Godfrey for American Monsters

American Monsters release day! What a great time I had on CoasttoCoastam.com with George Noory last evening talking about all the creepy critters! Thanks to all who listened, called in, and followed my blog afterward. In case you missed the show (I’m not normally up between two and four a.m. either :-) click HERE.

Also, check out my guest blog running today in Huffington Post on America’s Seven Scariest Monsters. It was extremely difficult to choose only seven, and I’ve seen a few comments wondering why I didn’t include the upright canines such as Michigan Dogman or Beast of Bray Road. It’s true that few things are scarier than encountering a menacing, upright wolf, but since I’m so identified with my wolfmen books and research, I wanted to emphasize that this book is a survey of the whole weird menagerie from giant birds to lake monsters. Besides, the canine crew gets its due in the book’s section on land beasts. And I wouldn’t care to run into any of these creatures on a dark trail at night. 

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Sketch of Alberta canid creature by witness

Sketch of Alberta canid creature by witness

One particular drum I keep beating as I compose my cryptid chronicles  is the fact that unknown, upright canine-like creatures are seen all over the Americas, and indeed, the world. There is not just one “beast.” More and more, in fact, seem to come from Canada. This makes sense, considering the sheer amount of natural forest and abundant wildlife enjoyed by our neighbors to the north. Alberta is an area I’ve heard from in the past, and I received one not recently that falls into the scary sightings category of huge canines that run with cars. Creatures with this seeming attraction to vehicles often remain on all fours, but this one showed off  its bipedal ability, as well. The woman who wrote wished to remain anonymous, but her letter began:
“My sighting happened as my husband and I were driving around at night in the late autumn of the year about 2010 or 2011.  I was on the passenger side just idly looking out my window when I seen something crouched down beside a white car. It started running alongside my truck the opposite side of some parallel parked cars on the road. The way it ran was akin to a cheetah in fast motion, the hind legs were lunging all the way forward past the front ones. I seen that it was very skinny, I could see the vertebrae of the back, ribs and shoulder blades. After about 50 meters there were some houses so it stood up on its hind legs and turned its head, which swiveled on its shoulders like a human, and looked dead at us long enough for me to get a really good look. It took a quick glance into the woods and in a single bound leapt the whole length of the cut line, about 15 feet.
“It had shoulders like a man and the head and face of a dog, yellow eyes and no discernible genitals. I could see that its hair was very short and almost iridescent against grey skin.  Its arms hung like a man’s but, its hands were also like a man’s but with a long dew claw-style thumb. After it jumped into the woods I looked at my husband and he was just looking at it and turned to me saying ‘Did you just see that too?’ “
The sighting occurred near Fort McMurray, a growing community with a brisk oil sands industry. I asked for further details about the creature, especially since the woman first estimated its height at about nine feet! She wrote back to say may have been shorter than that. Her first guess was based on a quick comparison to a six-foot fence in the vicinity. The creature’s head stuck above the fence,  she said, but  thinking about it later she thought she might have over-estimated just how far above the fence it was. Guessing the height of any large, moving creature from a moving vehicle is always a tricky business, but it seems this beast had to at least have been well over six feet tall  on two legs.
I had a few other questions, too, such as the exact fur color and the features of its head.She went on to add:
“The hair must have been grey too, it reflected a lot of light. I remember seeing the face had an elongated snout, it was kind of snarled. Its ears were similar to a dogs pointed ear near the top of its head. The tail was kind of bushy compared to the rest of it. Its legs had hips like a humans and thighs also like a human but had the inverted ankles of a dog, its feet were long but only the front pads appeared to be touching the ground. It was a fairly lit area, the other side of the road was a residential area. It did notice me, I think I may have interrupted it because it was kind of hidden behind a car when I first spotted it and it immediately looked up and started running.  It seemed more annoyed than anything. By the time it stopped running it was 30m in front of my truck on the other side of the cars parked on the road so it sprinted really fast.”
It’s interesting to me that, given the amazing amount of wilderness area Canada possesses, that the creature would have shown up on a busy road in a residential area. But Ft. McMurray is located at the confluence of the Athabasca and Clearwater Rivers, surrounded by forest — typical shelter areas for these cryptids.
As for its appearance, I do get reports of dogmen with short, gray fur — the typical color of many Eastern Timber wolves. This creature is also definitely canine, judging by the long snout, pointed ears and tail. Its behavior seems more motivated by a desire  to disappear from view rather than intending to taunt the witness, and the witness only suggested it was annoyed at being seen. The great speed and leaping ability it displayed are  characteristics I’ve heard often.
The hand-like paws are a bit more rare among the reports I receive, but as I’ve often noted, many witnesses have said the paws were elongated but were still not true, human-like hands. The dew-claw- like “thumbs” argues a little to that point, I think. And the creature was running on its toe pads rather than flat-footed.
As always, many thanks to the eyewitness for sharing her experience. I can’t help but wonder if any of those other drivers on that busy street also saw the creature.

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