Only a couple of days after my last blog about the differences between pterosaur-like flying creatures reported today and what scientists have learned about the actual, prehistoric birds, a new witness came forth. This sighting took place in 2008, about twenty miles north of San Jose, California. It occurred in daylight at close range, and the witness had time for a good look at something that is not supposed to be! In the witness’ own words:

Hello Linda,

I’m delighted to have come across your website. Here’s my report of a sighting of what I believe was a pterosaur in 2008. My sighting was a little different than the drawings in the article you posted, “Pterosaurs or Terror-Sores.”

On or about Sept. 3, 2008, on a clear, sunny day around 11 a.m., I was driving North on Hwy. 680 between Fremont and Pleasanton, California. Just at the Hwy. 84 off-ramp, I looked up when something large caught my eye and what I saw was a small Pterosaur flying about 30 ft. above my car. Talk about “driver distraction!” It flew directly over me (perpendicular to my direction), heading East toward Livermore. The reason I can estimate its distance from me, is that it appeared to be about 10 feet above the top of the traffic cam located at the Hwy. 680/84 junction which I was approaching at that moment.

The creature looked very similar to the paintings of the “Ropen” of Indonesia. I would estimate it had about a 3-5 ft. wingspan. It was light tan, all leathery skin, and the most astonishing thing was that it had no feathers! I could see the wrinkles & texture of its skin moving over its bones as it flew. The eyes were very large, round eyes, and it appeared to be young, or at least I had that impression because of its size and some of its features, like the tail and the bump on the back of its head were not as developed as those depicted of adult Ropen/Pterosaurs. I thought it probably flew at night because of the size of its eyes, which were perfectly round and HUGE – much, much larger than an Owl’s, for example. The eyes probably took up 40%+ of its cranial-facial area. As my rational mind was striving to take this all in, I wondered why it was flying in daylight, though it did not seem to be alarmed by anything.

The wings were triangular, slightly rounded at the tips, but I did not see any “hands” attached to the wings as these creatures are sometimes portrayed. The back of its triangular-shaped head came to a rounded point, jutting out a few inches. Its tail was not much more than a pointed “stump.” It had a fairly broad triangular-shaped beak that was longer than the “bump” at the back of its head, perhaps about 10-12 inches. Again, I was surprised at the breadth of its beak because it differed from drawings I’ve seen in books. But this was no Pelican, Bat, nor anything else I’ve ever seen flying through the sky. It had no feathers. As it flew, it’s clawed feet hung down slightly, from its body positioned more toward the middle of its underside (i.e., they were not positioned at the back of the body under the tail, nor were they attached to the wings). Its large claws were slightly curled and facing backwards. I thought it looked a bit clumsy as it flew, in that its feet and legs were not tucked up tight against the body during flight like birds, they were just dangling down. I recall there were 3 visible “toes.”

I was so shocked, but also felt awe and excitement and wanted to pull over to watch it. But, alas, I had to force myself to take my eyes off of it and mind the driving. It would have been a dangerous place to stop on that busy freeway, let alone to get out of the car, and by the time I could have pulled over, the hills would have blocked the view in the direction it was flying, and of course it would be far away by then. I witnessed this creature for 6 – 8 seconds before I had to tear my gaze away, but that was enough time to absolutely know I was looking at something very, very strange — something I had only seen in books about dinosaurs.

I have a keen interest and curiosity about nature and the nature of reality, cryptozoology, metaphysics, and spirituality. Some would consider me a good observer. This experience felt like a privilege to have been a witness to a secret aspect of our natural world. Perhaps I somehow briefly interfaced with another dimension, but it was as real and 3rd dimensional as any other animal. I told a couple of family members about it and most of them do not believe me — but I know what I saw. It’s exciting and validating to read that more sightings of similar creatures are emerging in many locations.

Thank you for your great blog. I’m sure to be a frequent visitor.


[Also see this article for ROPEN, the flying cryptid mentioned by Kris]


Quetzalquatlus image via Wikipedia https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quetzalcoatlus


The past week’s tragic event at the Disney World lagoon had me thinking of the witness in American Monsters who told of being stalked by a bipedal, throwback-looking alligator over a couple of years.

As it happened, he sent me an email message not about these ancient reptiles but about the flying creatures generally termed Pterosaurs that seem to be reported more and more often around the US in modern times, especially in Texas and Pennsylvania. As a student in the fields of paleontology and zoology, he noticed some major differences in the way these creatures are usually described by witnesses, and the actual characteristics scientists scientists now ascribe to some of them–fuzzy skin filaments, odd beaks, bright colors, etc.–as research has progressed over time. I asked his permission to post this as a guest blog and he agreed.

Please note, as he states below, that he’s not trying to contradict what any witnesses have reported. After all, he has seen something quite unusual, himself! He’s just intrigued by the fact that Jurassic-era flyers were probably quite distinct from the leathery, pointy-winged creatures reported today. I think it’s a question worth pondering. Here it is in almost its entirety:

Hello Linda, it’s me again and thankfully despite all the mayhem going on here in central Florida; another hostile encounter with any part-time bipedal reptiles hasn’t been on the list. I’m aware it’s still there as ever so often I’ll still hear sounds off in the river system or come across areas where all the animal life is gone (including me soon after realizing it).


I was rereading your books, great work by the way, and one of the things that struck me across them and other cryptozoological archives I ended up digging through trying to find if anyone had seen anything similar to the “Gator Man” was these Pterosaur reports. Pterosaurs are something of my forte in paleontology, enough I was actually planning on writing my doctoral thesis on the group should the opportunity arise in the years to come. However as I was reading many of these sightings of large, very unbird-like flying creatures is that many of them doesn’t actually match the science we know behind the animals. There are exceptions, but the majority does leave me raising an eyebrow.


Now science has gotten things wrong about Pterosaurs since we knew of the group. If you want an idea of how outlandish it was in the first years, in the 1784 when the first species was described by Cosimo Alessandro Collini, he thought he was looking at some sort of giant, reptilian penguin and that the wings were giant paddles that linked the wrist and ankles. It wasn’t until the 1830s that the swimming interpretation was finally overridden by correctly classifying them as winged, flying reptiles. However as more and more species were classified and more and more very good fossils, including numerous impressions showing us both the epidermis and wing shape, we’ve gotten a lot better at distinguishing what was what.

Pterosaurs_Buckland_1836 (Drawing of pterosaurs by English naturalist William Buckland (1784-1856) in 1831. Buckland imagined pterosaurs hanging on cliffs.1831 (public domain)Wellnhofer, P.; 2009: A short history of pterosaur research, Zitteliana 29, pp 7-19) — Wikimedia Commons notes this as an inaccurate image due to the wing structure depicted)

The thing that makes me skeptical of many of these Pterosaur reports being exactly what they are said to be is that many of them match the pop culture representation of the group. You’re typical pop culture Pterosaur is something of an amalgamation of various Pterosaur species and birds.


They’ve got

-Long pointed, straight beak and backwards crest of Pteranodon longiceps
-Rhamphorhynchus muensteri
styled teeth and long, arrowhead tipped tail

-Walk in a bipedal manner like birds

-Are devoid of any filament epidermis and are either scaly or just blank skin

-Use their feet for grasping

-Are either quite tall standing up, man sized, or size of a coyote

-Have pointy wingtips

The problem is there isn’t a single species of the entire Order that fits more than one of those indicators. Since Pteranodonis the genus most people are familiar with (Pterodactyl[us] was a sea gull sized individual species, not the name of the group; just to clarify), I’ll do a quick comparison.


Pteranodon had

-An upwards curving beak with variable crests. Only the males of one of the two species have the “spike back” crest pop culture uses, the males of the other species had a fan shape. The females of both species had barely any, or no crest at all. It was also completely toothless, the name “Pteranodon” literally means “Wings without Teeth”.

-An incredibly short tail

-A covering of fur-like pycnofibers on the chest, back, neck, and face.

-Round tips to the wings (all large Pterosaurs did)

-Grasped with the mouth like a pelican or heron. Their feet were built for walking like some larger birds and couldn’t articulate like a bird of prey’s can.

-Strictly quadrupedal aside from very brief instances. Their hips weren’t built properly to walk upright. One of the whole reasons Pterosaurs got bigger than birds if they used both their arms and legs to vault themselves off the ground, thus giving them a bigger starting lift.

-Actually pretty short, both due to posture and short legs. A very large male Pteranodon of either of the two species would barely come up to the average man’s hips if it held a natural posture. And the females were significantly smaller.


Now there were other Pterosaurs that match up a bit better with some reports. Ludodactylus sibbicki closely resembled a smaller Pteranodon with both a crest and teeth, but had a very stout snout that looked more like a Gharial crocodilian’s snout or a gar fish’s head than a beak. Other species like the enormous Quetzalcoatlus northropi  were far larger thanPteranodon and with their arms being much longer than their legs, could be mistaken for being bipeds if standing up straight and one didn’t get a good look at the limbs. But the problem with Quetz is it is almost ludicrously tall, taller than a giraffe, has almost no crest (and the one is does have doesn’t point backwards), and has a enormous head and toothless beak.

To my knowledge, there are no large Pterosaurs known with long tails. Long tails were a trait of early members of the group and were practically unheard of by the time of the Cretaceous. Plainly put, the image I see in a lot of Pterosaur sightings closely matches a creature of pop culture, a mixture of Pterosaur species along with modern birds and fantasy dragons, which seems to have never existed. In fact the two things I saw pop up the most, point wings and scaly bodies, are about as unheard of in the group as they are in mammals. In life, Pterosaurs would have looked like some kind of bizarre fusion of a bat and a bird.


This isn’t me calling these eye witnesses liars. I’ve seen inexplicable stuff myself and I doubt I’d have the right to call foul on these people. They’re seeing something alright for there to be so many. I just wanted to know two things from you as a researcher.

1. Have any of them speculated about anything else what they saw might have been? Giant bat? Odd looking bird? Something mythological?

2. Have any of the people who’ve come to you about these reports described anything that seems to match the more accurate representation of what these animals looked like? Something akin to what I’ve described in looks or behavior?

If you want to know a sort of inside joke among some in paleontology, we often refer to inaccurate pop culture representations and cryptozoology reports of Pterosaurs as “Terror-Sores”. Both from them being unrealistically monstrous and how much of a sore headache they give any expert who looks at the darn things!


Two notes I will make real quick though.

1. There is one species of Pterosaur that somewhat resembles your pop culture image. Harpactognathus gentryii, a large Jurassic Pterosaur from the USA that did have a reasonably large wingspan (roughly 4 meters at max), a long tail, and a short crest. The problem with this creature being the species reported is it’s from the Jurassic and represents a lineage of Pterosaurs that largely died out by the Cretaceous period. We have thousands of fossils of Pterosaurs from the later period and not one of them looks anything like Harpactognathus. By the Cretaceous, the primary type of Pterosaur was the short tailed, toothless, large bodied lineage such a Pteranodon. So if Harpactognathus or anything like it had any decedents, we’d have seen them in the Cretaceous record somewhere because the archive of Cretaceous Pterosaurs is so good. Additionally, the species still lacks the reported pointed wings (flying with such is aerodynamically impossible by the way), has even more pycnofiber fuzz than Pteranodon, and would have been just as incapable of bipedal walking or perching. It’s also still smaller than many reported giant “Pterosaurs”

2. If you want to give an easy way for any folks reading to remember that Pterosaurs and Dinosaurs aren’t one and the same, here’s a comparison. Dogs and elephants are members of the same mammal family, Placentals. But a dog is not an elephant and an elephant is not a dog. Pterosaurs, dinosaurs, and crocodiles are all members of the same reptile family, Archosaurs; but aren’t the same thing.

 Thanks to the “Gator Man eyewitness” for this thoughtful letter! To answer his two questions very quickly, some witnesses have speculated that they might be seeing a dragon or a Native American Thunderbird, but most are at a loss to explain what they saw. To answer the second question, I think that there probably are some who have seen creatures closer to what he has described as the real appearance of pterosaurs, but that they may be found in the books of other researchers who specialize in the topic and have more examples. (I’m looking for help from readers here rather than delay posting while I make a lengthy search)
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It’s almost time for Relay for Life, the American Cancer Society’s annual fund raising campaign to help fund studies for new treatments and other supportive work. I’m taking part as Walworth County’s survivor/speaker of the year to celebrate my own 10 years of remission, and hope any of you who are able will contribute to this important cause through my personal page link.  Just click here to share, or simply read my story if you can’t contribute at this time, and I thank you on behalf of all the unknown numbers of people–perhaps even you or your family–who will benefit!

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Clare, Michigan, is known for several odd phenomena, and thanks to a recent eyewitness report, I’m about to add a third.
Set very near the center of Michigan’s lower peninsula, Clare became the site of a string of UFO sightings in the late 60s and early 70s when strange lights were seen along Herrick Road. There have been UFO sightings about 14 miles south in Mount Pleasant, as well.
It was in those same decades when area was also known as home of the Clare Deer Man. Most witnesses described that creature as fairly human from the torso up, including a human-like head, with eyes that were between animal and human. Its lower body, however, featured the legs and hooves of a deer or goat. It sounded like a satyr; something torn from the ancient legends of Pan.
In 2005, however, a young woman driving home at night from her job at a nearby golf course at about 11:45 pm on Sunday, August 28, saw something entirely different. The weather was clear and warm, although Tropical Storm Katrina was at that time pounding the nation’s southernmost states. As she tooled along in her 1996 Dodge Intrepid, she was sober and alert to her surroundings. She wrote:
I had just turned onto Eberhart Rd. which is a dirt road from Beaverton Rd.  I was traveling south on Eberhart, and going slow as I had just turned the corner,  when I spotted the creature on the right hand side of the road, under a yard light that someone had placed at the end of their driveway. 
 At first I was unable to tell what it was, only that it was large and seemed out of place.  In that area of the world we have many deer, and raccoons, rabbits, and the occasional coyote, wolf, mountain lion or bear.  But even from a distance and with it hunched over, I could tell this was out of the ordinary.
 I slowed my car to a stop as I approached the creature, at this point I still had not seen its face as it was hunched over eating the garbage that had been placed by the side of the road for pick up the following morning.  The visibility was good, as the home had installed a yard light, at the junction of the road and their driveway, and the garbage and the creature were directly under it. 
The first thing I noticed about the creature was that the fur was very short, like a horse’s or a greyhound’s, and shiny.  The second thing I noticed was that it was in an odd position as it appeared to be hunched down with its arms and face low to the ground, as it was eating garbage, and it had shoulders like a man.  It was jet black, and very and I cannot stress this enough, very heavily muscled, as it ate I could see the muscles in its shoulders and arms moving under the skin.  It was larger than a man, perhaps the size of a bear when hunched over.  If I had to guess, when fully standing, I would assume it to be over seven feet tall.
At this point my mind was going a million miles an hour trying to identify this creature, the fur and shape was like nothing I had ever seen.  Then it looked up, and I still get goose bumps to this day when I remember that face.  Its face was horrible, I mean really horrible.  The eyes were red, like a sort of red that appeared to give off its own luminescence, this could be incorrect and it could have been that they were just incredibly reflective from the yard light, but he was looking at me, not up, so it was very odd to me that they should glow like that.
The teeth were the most predominate feature, they looked so unreal that I stared until it moved trying to convince myself that I was seeing it wrong and there was a logical explanation.   The face was shorter than most werewolf or dog man images, and the teeth were so large that it seemed impossible that such a thing could exist.  It was hideous, and so terrifying.  It had ears like a doberman but they curled in slightly, and it was sitting back on its heals, and it was built like a man from the chest up, shoulders and all.  Then it made a lunge of sorts towards the car, the last thing I saw before flooring it out of there, was the face twisting into a snarl and that it was coming towards me.  
I have spent years trying to fathom how anything with teeth like that could possibly be a living thing, they just seem like they would get in the way, if that makes any sense. I have also spent years trying to convince myself that his teeth appeared metal due to the reflection of the lights, but Linda, and I could be wrong, but it looked like his teeth shone like metal.
I literally floored my car, and it fish tailed on the gravel and I nearly lost control.  I was so frightened, all I could think of was to get out of there and get out of there fast.  I was living a couple of country blocks down the road at that time, and was so scared that I pulled my car up to the door and ran inside and locked the doors.  I haven’t seen it since, and  outside of seeing a pair of ghostly legs crawl behind a chair while living in a haunted house, several years after seeing the dogman, I have never seen anything else that couldn’t be logically explained.
When I told her about the UFO and deer man reports, she said she had never heard about them although she grew up only a block from Herrick Road. But they made a sort of strange sense to her. She replied,
I grew up with an intense fear of UFOs so intense that even as an adult I never felt safe in the area, yet oddly enough as soon as I moved, it was simply gone.  Even as an adult, I could not sleep in the dark, and I would have these awful nightmares about getting sucked out my window, or being lined up in the back yard at night with the neighbors, no one being able to move or speak.  *shudder*  I left and moved to central NY in 2011 and have had no fear since.
Clare is also located about 20 miles east of Evart, known for glowing cemetery lights, and about 32 miles from Reed City, where several dogman sightings have taken place. The Manistee National Forest lies just westward of that town.
As I told the witness, what she saw didn’t resemble the majority of dogman reports I receive in regard to its huge, muscular shoulders–canines don’t have shoulders–its sleek, shiny black fur, and of course the horrific face and giant, metallic teeth. I believe dogmen with this description usually have some association with other unknown phenomena such as lights, UFOs and other strange creatures, and Clare certainly fills that bill.
These, black-furred, super-muscled monsters are not unique to Michigan but are reported from all over the world. In fact, I have another new report of a similar creature seen near Houston Texas. Watch for it here soon!


Every once in a while I’ll be going through my files and will  discover items that have never been resolved for various reasons, just crumbling away in the staid limbo of manila folders. Here are a couple of headscratchers that turned up recently.  While I also have a bunch of newer reports to share soon, I feel I should mention these oldies first, just in case anyone knows more:

Nashotah Bigfoot? July, 2006, Nashotah, Wisconsin report from three men driving on County C south of town described “something huge and brownish that turned to gray toward the back end” crossing the road in front of them as close as only six feet from the car. It was on all fours, had bigger legs than arms (or forelimbs) and its rear end was higher than its front end, giving it a posture “like a souped-up car” as it ran. They were sure it wasn’t a bear or a deer, and indeed, I’ve heard reports of Bigfoots running on all fours in just this manner.

The man who wrote me about it (second hand) in October, 2006, said he was investigating the incident for the BFRO (Bigfoot Field Research Organization) but it doesn’t appear on their site as far as I could discover. I sent him a recent email for an update and am hoping for a reply. I also have the name of the witness, but his contact info has changed.

I would say this sounded more like a Bigfoot than dogman, except the witnesses also said it had a 4-6 inch long tail.  They did not get a good look at its head. The driver said he’d also seen a large upright creature running through his back yard, and it was seven to eight feet tall. That by itself is not conclusive. I remain especially interested in this incident because of the “Hartland Hairy Thing” seen only two years ago in Hartland, Wisconsin, just five miles away. Both towns are about thirty miles north of Bray Road, Elkhorn.

Water Walker and Giant Swimming Animal: August, 2006, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, was the date of an old Yahoo conversation I printed and saved from another group because of a question from John Scherf asking if anyone had seen the “Lake Michigan Water Walker.” He said that a strange figure was sometimes sighted sitting on the beach in the very early morning hours. It would then rise up and walk out onto the lake waters until it disappeared. (A person wading out to swim, perhaps?”

The page also included a note from friend and long time cryptid quester Kimberly Poeppey: “I saw a big animal swimming in Lake Michigan! It was as big as a car. It was swimming in the bay by the Art Museum.” She added it was winter and the animal was swimming around blocks of floating ice, leaving a large wake behind. All she could see was its “big, dark, back.” Lake monster?

Anyway, I feel better having given these three mysteries a fighting chance. I penned out a rough map, above, just to give some idea of their relative locations–all in S.E. Wisconsin. I’m no cartographer, but I added a few representative bipeds and quadrupeds in appropriate places for interest. And I’m far from done going through my files. I’ll post again if anything else shakes out.




Scan_20160420 (2)Two men young were cruising around the towns and villages of northeast England on a later summer’s night in 1989 for lack of anything better to do, when they found an unexpected cure to their boredom in the form of an upright, unidentifiable creature that ran in front of their car. The driver, who wishes to remain anonymous, wrote me about it after having found one of my dogman sketches based on other eyewitness reports. He said he had searched for years afterward trying to figure out what he and his friend had seen that night, but my sketch came the closest.

The drawing you see here is my new rendering made to accommodate his exact description. I’ll quote his own telling of that night’s events, sent to me in two emails that I’ve combined here. He gave me permission to post his sighting but asked that I withhold his name:


The night of our encounter was not long after I bought the car. My friend Sean and I were out driving around the local towns and villages, playing some tunes on the cassette and generally just cruising about … It must have been late because it was dark by the time we passed through the small coastal village of Cresswell [Northumberland], so I’m assuming it was around 23.00hrs.
I remember we were heading SW from Cresswell to Ellington on Cresswell Rd., having just passed the entrance to the caravan site on our left. I had not yet had the opportunity to test the extra fog lights on the front of the vehicle and I wanted to see how bright they were in the dark. Sean was looking in the glove compartment for a different cassette and I told him I was going to switch the fogs on.
We were coming up to a slight right hand bend, there was a six-foot wall with dense foliage on our left and a normal hedgerow bordering a field to our right, that was when I saw something run out in the middle of the road. I wasn’t going very fast, probably 30mph maximum and had ample time to slow down so as not to hit it – even to stop but I’m not sure I did. I think I just crawled the car towards it as I couldn’t believe what I was seeing.
It had ran out onto the road from my right and had stopped in the middle of the road looking directly at the car. It was covered in thick, mousey grey/brown fur about 2-3 inches long and stood on its rear legs which were jointed with the knee at the rear like a horse or dogs. Its upper arms were down by its side and It held its forearms out in front of it with its hands and long fingers hung down at the wrist. (They may have been long hands or long fingers but I remember the hands from the wrist to the fingers as being very long).
It had one foot in front of the other as if in mid-step as it seemed I had caught it by surprise, and while its body was still facing in the direction it was travelling, the head was facing the car.
I remember the eyes which reflected the light back at me as being perfectly round and a green/yellow colour much like that of a cat’s eyes when caught in the light.
It stood about 5-6 foot tall but was hunched over, even then I’d say it wouldn’t have been over 6 foot tall stood erect. It had what seemed to have a very muscular body, not big or bulky, more wiry with powerful limbs, thick chest and small waist. It also had a short tail. maybe 4-5 inches long, definitely not as long as most dogs; personally I’d describe it as more like a goats tail. (After seeing this I mainly searched for sightings of satyrs in the region as this was the closest thing I could relate it to)
Its head and face were like that of a dog or goat, as in not flat like a humans face, but with a muzzle and quite large ears. I do not remember seeing any teeth and it did not have horns. The whole encounter could not have lasted more than a few seconds. I assume it regained its composure after being caught off guard as it took off over the 6 foot wall and through the foliage atop that in a single bound. Although I often drive by the same area, I have never seen it again.
As for how I felt, I was in shock at first, like when someone gives you a fright. I shouted, Sean!, Sean! to make sure he was looking as he was fishing around in the glove box for a tape. I just couldn’t take it all in. After it had gone we were still going slow. We were looking back to where it had disappeared and I felt terrified. I’ve always considered myself a fairly macho type and not easily scared, but there was NO chance of me getting out of that car to follow it.
In fact, as we drove on a ways, there was a guy walking his dog farther up the road, maybe half a mile and for a moment I considered telling him not to go down that way. We slowed down but we honestly didn’t know what the hell to say, and we decided he was far enough away from it, so we just kept going. We were still also really shook up at this point.
Oh, and I forgot to mention that neither myself nor Sean was under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
It’s very hard to talk about it, as quite frankly most people don’t believe it. I wasn’t sure if you would, or even do, as I imagine you must get a few folks who try and pull your leg.
But, hand on heart, all I have said is true to the very best of my knowledge. I want you to know that. I can’t tell you how excited I was when I found out someone else had seen it and I could actually put a name to the creature.



Sketch of Camberwell Old Cemetery creature submitted by eyewitness.

I’ve been waiting for many years for a report of a werewolf in London–just to quote the title of Warren Zevon’s famous song in a blog. One finally arrived a couple of weeks ago. And although the actual occurred 20 years ago on October 9, 1996 (the eyewitness says the date is etched in his memory), it’s a very compelling story. It includes a particular feature I’ve never heard before in any encounter, but that makes perfect sense in any encounter with an upright canine–werewolf or not.

The man, who asks that I refer to him as “Gary,” was 26 at the time and was on his way to meet a friend who lived on Underhill Road in southeast London. In order to walk there, Gary had to make a long trek heading southwest past  Camberwell New Cemetery and then down the entire length of Brenchley Gardens and around Camberwell Old Cemetery. He decided to cut through the older cemetery to save 20 minutes of walking time, even though it was already dark and the idea of walking through the cemetery at night was “freakishly scary” to him. He said he normally rode his bicycle to his friend’s house, but their plans for that evening precluded his usual means of transport.

He didn’t have a flashlight and the cemetery had no lighting system, so he could see only a few feet ahead of him as he made his way across the grounds. He was well into the middle of the graveyard when the movement of something very large and dark caught his eye. “I swear I saw what I thought was a dog, a big dog, move very quickly,” he said. He stopped and squinted into the darkness but decided his mind was playing tricks on him and started off again. He did not get very far.


(Camberwell Old Cemetery used under Creative Commons Lic., website http://www.geograph.org.uk/photo/4711520 )

“It was then in a flash my life changed forever,” wrote Gary. “It was so quick that I never had a chance–I thought that somebody had literally run into me and knocked me over…Something had grabbed me by my arm VERY tightly and smashed me to the ground. It was big, it was powerful, and it had extremely bad breath and it smelt cold and awful.

“This thing was now bearing down on me looking directly at my face, dribbling onto me and growling,” said Gary. But it was the creature’s next action that truly frightened him. It began to eagerly sniff his body, up and down, exactly as a dog would do. “I was convinced I was going to die,” said Gary. “I am afraid to say that as brave as I think I might be I was not, at this point, and shamefully I soiled myself.  As I lay there being smelled I was waiting for the bite, but that never happened. Just as quick as it started it was over and the beast was gone and sprinted off in a flash.”

It sprinted away on its hind legs.

The fact that the beast ran off just as the witness felt he was about to be killed conforms with the overwhelming majority of dogman reports I’ve received over the years, but only a small handful of those reports have involved any physical contact. Gary added that he had a theory about the dog’s extremely close examination of his body. He suffers from an illness that happens to be one of the many diseases dogs can smell in humans. “I truly believe it was this that the creature could smell on me,” he said. “I think if I did not suffer from this, I would now be dead. I know some animals can smell sickness and I’m sure they wouldn’t eat anything infected if they could help it.”

Gary isn’t positive that was the case, however. “Maybe it had no intention of eating me at all? Maybe I was in its territory and it was just scaring me to say keep out.”

But there was another weird aspect of the creature that he has never been able to shake off.


Since he and the creature were very close, and face-to-face, he had quite a good look at it despite the low level of light. Its fur was a dark color. The head reminded him of a German shepherd, he said, but its body was more the size and musculature of a Great Dane. He couldn’t see its eyes very well, and they evidenced no eyeshine or glow. (He mentioned that he took “artistic license” when adding the eyes to his sketch because he didn’t see their shape very well.) It did growl in a low tone as it smelled him in what he described as “deep nasal sniffs.” The creature’s breath was like rotten fish but with a weird sweetness to it.

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“Hand of Anthropoid Ape” Dover Publications 1979 “1491 Copyright-free Illustrations of Mammals, Fish, Birds, Insects, etc.”

When I asked Gary how it held him by the arm, he said it was not with a paw. “When it grabbed me (this is the horrible bit and makes my skin crawl) it was a hand that grabbed me–a big hand, humanlike. Its whole hand went around my arm in a viselike grip. I will argue til the day I die that it was a hand that grabbed me. I don’t care who thinks that’s mad. It seemed to me that it had long nails; if they were sharp I can’t confirm, but they were long and clawlike. If you had to grow nails to a similar length, they would protrude 5-6 inches from your hand with a slight inward curvature.”

I asked Gary whether the long claws tore any of his clothing, and he said he was wearing a motorcycle jacket that was open so he only had one small tear on the front of his t-shirt.

The incident was not something that Gary was able to just brush off. He had something like post-traumatic stress disorder that caused him to take six months off work. He’s still terrified of woodlands and the dark. Strangely, the incident also made him afraid of fog although he says there was none in the cemetery that night. Even as he drew the sketch, he said he had to stop every now and then because it was causing him to have flashbacks. He said he has never told anyone but his wife about this incident, and that he only wrote me because she encouraged him to do so to get it off his chest and “lay the demons to rest.” He also has not set foot in the cemetery again.

“Part of me wants to be rational and say it was a strong man in a costume,” he said, “but that’s my mind wanting to say, stop being stupid. But if that’s the case it was the best costume I’ve ever seen, [that must have been] worn by an Olympic athlete due to the speed and strength.” He also felt strongly that the creature possessed a keen intelligence as it interacted with him.

What might the creature have been? I tend to agree with Gary that it was probably not some human in an amazing dog suit. The fact that it had its jaws open as it exhaled puffs of nauseating dog breath in Gary’s face doesn’t sound like anything a person wearing a mask could pull off, and neither does its action of deep-sniffing his body as it held him down.

It did appear to have physical mass, weight, odor, breath, and all the requisite characteristics of a living, breathing animal. Its eyes did not glow as do the eyes of phantom hounds, for which England has long been famous. It seemed to act rather like any guard dog might: First surveillance, then a take-down, an inspection, and an all-clear.

A normal guard dog would probably not have trotted off on its hind legs, however. Nor would it have been able to encircle and grip Gary’s arm with a big hand.

Could it have been an actual werewolf–that is, a human able to change its physical form into that of a wolf, while retaining a few human characteristics such as hands rather than paws? While I’m not one that believes in Hollywood-style werewolves, there have been occasional reports of upright canids that do not seem like they could be natural animals simply walking upright. (My next book will address this aspect!)

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Dog paws may appear “elongated” when held in front as in a begging position (Dover Books 1979)

The hands Gary describes definitely fit that latter category. But I also hear from many witnesses that the creatures they saw had  definite, clawed paws that were simply elongated. When witnesses do report seeing human-like hands, there are often other characteristics such as glowing red eyes or a very humanoid body more normally  associated with tales of shapeshifters or phantom hounds rather than most contemporary sightings. English folk lore is rife with such creatures.

One other possibility is the creature known as the “man-monkey” that has been studied extensively by Nick Redfern in books such as Man Monkey: In Search of the British Bigfoot. While most sightings of this fur-covered, upright and primatelike beast have occurred in Staffordshire rather than London, in a forested area called Cannock Chase. But there have been several encounters with the creature in a German cemetery in Cannock Chase. But although the man-monkey explanation would explain the “hands” Gary witnessed, it doesn’t account for the very canine face that he drew.


“Fanciful Orangutan,” Dover Books 1979. (This is not a close depiction of an actual orangutan, I think, but reminds me of man-monkey descriptions.)

Redfern notes, however, at least one similarly ambiguous creature encounter that looked like a gorilla from the front, but displayed a long, dog-like muzzle from the side. Redfern asks (p. 59) whether the creature may have been a “shape-shifting Lycanthrope” or a “weird chimera that possessed the unique attributes of several beasts.” In Memoirs of a Monster Hunter, Redfern wonders whether such creatures may be a remnant of England’s legendary Cormons, “emotion-sucking vampires from an unholy realm.” He explains, “These shadowy entities generated imagery of bizarre monsters and beasts in an attempt to generate high levels of stress and emotion in the person that saw them…” (p. 35).

As I pointed out above, however, the creature that toppled and pinned Gary was no mere shadowy entity. And, again, the physical attack he suffered is extremely rare in my experience. In the 24 years I’ve collected reports, there have only been a hiker in Quebec Province with a superficial skin tear, a young man whose loose-fitting, cotton shirt was clawed as he was chased near the shore of Lake Michigan in South Milwaukee, and a few scratched automobiles that showed creature contact. I’ve heard of other attack-type incidents reported elsewhere, but they still are rather few and far between compared to most encounters.

I do have another recently received report from England (northeast), however, that will be the subject of my next blog article once I finish my own sketch of it. This one did not involve an attack, but was as mysterious as the Camberwell Old Cemetery creature in its physical attributes. Whether they are weird natural animals on the loose, werewolves, Cormons, or man-monkeys, the upright hairy beasts of England are definitely not confined to London.