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Posts Tagged ‘cryptozoology’

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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GoatmanLSGLast night on Sanjay Singhal’s Beyond the Forest radio show (archived podcast now up) I discussed an update to the Wisconsin Goat Man story published just previously here. The drawing in the post below was my original forensic sketch based on what the witness described, but at the time it was posted I didn’t yet have the witness’ confirmation as to the accuracy of the sketch. That came yesterday in an email. He said, “We saw that thing,” and characterized my drawing as very accurate.

Yikes!

And by the way, that radio show was one of the most fun programs I’ve done. The first 25 minutes were devoted to Sanjay’s tribute of his late friend, Joshua, who first got him started in blogging and radio, but after that we discussed everything from Sanjay’s and my UFO encounter last August while staking out a dogman site with a property owner, our own thoughts on Bigfoot awareness of humans in its territory, trail hike safety considerations, spook lights and more. I’ll be doing another show with my good friend and colleague Sanjay on January 26, 8-10 pm Central.

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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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pterosaurMaggie2

A few days ago I received the following report from an Oklahoma family. The father and his 12-year old daughter, Nu, had a daylight sighting of what they thought looked like a pterasaur, and each of them drew a sketch of what they saw. The dad wrote the following description:
 “My daughter and I saw a featherless bird without a tail on Saturday 09/27/2014 between 10 am to 10:15 am. The sighting was about 3-4 seconds. I spotted the creature first and told my daughter “hey what’s that.” She caught 3 seconds or so of it. My daughter knows birds and she can tell you about birds in good detail. She told me that the bluejays were sounding an alarm call at the time.
It was a clear beautiful day. Maybe a few fluffy clouds here and there.There was no flapping and it flew (glided) from SE to NW towards the Stinchcomb Wildlife Refuge.  It looked black or dark brown. It had no tail but the feet were behind and I thought you could see toes or knuckles pointing up. If you put both of your hands like open fists straight behind your back – that would be like it.  The feet were in line with the wings from my angle.
I did not get a good look at the head and so I am not sure if it had an appendage or bump on the back but it gave me the impression it had some thing but it was not obvious.  It seemed big – between 6 – 8 ft maybe. It wasn’t a hawk or a vulture. I would say it was 2 1/2 times bigger than a adult vulture.  It was about 60 Feet away. If you look straight ahead and lift up your right arm and raise it above your vision (where you can no longer see it without moving you head)  that would be the angle.
We live near lake Overholser in Oklahoma City. We are located just west of 23rd and Council.”
Nu’s mom, Maggie, added the following:
“My daughter and husband said it was close enough to tell it had no feathers, The most surprising thing was there was no tail!  We have hawks outside and turkey vultures and they come in low sometimes and you can see the 2 tone feature patterns. Even far away the feathers are clear.This thing they said had no tail, no feathers and was structured differently from other flying animals. My daughter says it did not look like a bat as they are here as well.”
I thought they did a very good job with the descriptions, especially with the sketches, and thank them for coming forth with their sighting.

pterosaurMaggie1

This one is a shot I took of the pterosaur reconstruction at Chicago's Field Museum. There are many known varieties of the order Pterosauria, which lived during the Cretaceous and Jurassic periods.

This one is a shot I took of the pterosaur reconstruction at Chicago’s Field Museum. There are many known varieties of the order Pterosauria, which lived during the Cretaceous and Jurassic periods.

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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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HillsboroHairlessI always feel a twang of chagrin when I find out more about a story long after it’s gone to press. But it’s also a chance to make good on the additional facts and keep faith with my readers that I’ll try to put forth the best information I have–late to the party or not. Such is the weird tale of the 1992 creature known as the Hillsboro Hairless Thing, aka the Hillsboro Mutant and the Hora Horror, which I wrote about briefly in my 2011 book, Monsters of Wisconsin.

The news accounts I’d found then that seemed the most consistent  told of a small, gray, hairless critter that jumped out of a hay mow in the barn on the Joe Hora farm and attacked a beagle owned by Hora’s grandson, Brian. But I have long-time Hillsboro, Wisconsin newspaper writer Steven Stanek to thank for a treasure trove of original news clippings that add much to the story.

In actuality, according to an article Stanek wrote two weeks after the first breaking story in the Hillsboro Sentry-Enterprise, the beagle was the aggressor as it pulled the creature from its hiding place in the hay. All the stories agree that the farmer hit the two-foot-long beastie with a pipe and quickly killed it. Left is a picture of Brian Hora holding the carcass. Below is a scan of the printed newspaper story and photo that includes the curious beagle and a better view of the creature.

IMG_20150130_0001

This later article also mentioned that not everyone agreed with the DNR’s conclusion that the creature was a raccoon with mange. Two veterinarians who examined its post-mortem photos said the hairlessness was too complete to be mange. The creature also lacked the strong smell and thickened skin associated with mange, according to witnesses. As for the animal’s identity, a raccoon (perhaps hairless due to genetic mutation) still seemed to be the top local contender although a few citizens suggested a quill-less porcupine or a Mexican hairless dog as possible candidates.

More surprisingly, it turned out that another one of the creatures, very similar except with larger ears, had been spotted on a farm in nearby Yuba twice in summer, 1991. The animal appeared to be very healthy despite its naked appearance, said property owner Phil Connors in Stanek’s article.IMG_20150130_0002

Even weirder, yet another one turned up in adjacent Juneau County along Highway 71 in July, 2011 (right after my book had gone to press, naturally). It was found dead by Highway Patrolman Jeff Potter. About the same size and shape as the previous animals, it also displayed the same long, raccoon-like toes and bare tail. The headline in the Juneau County Messenger read, “Does Wisconsin Have Chupacabras?”

So, does it?

My own opinion is that they were all raccoons with a genetic mutation for hairlessness. I learned during my research for American Monsters on the famed Texas blue dogs also  at first also termed Chupacabras that hairlessness is not a terribly unusual mutation in mammals and that it’s a dominant trait. If that’s true, there are likely more of them hiding in the woods and hollows of Juneau and Vernon Counties. I just hope that the next one will be preserved and subjected to scientific analysis so that the legend–if not the carcasses–of Hillsboro’s Hairless Horrors can at last be properly laid to rest.

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