Archive for Cryptozoology

Tap Tap Tapping – the White Raven Comes Calling

Whitie03Another cryptid has shown up to reveal yet another cryptozoological mystery to us! Not quite a monster, this white raven still seems a bit ominous, or maybe I  just have Edgar Allen Poe’s raven on my mind! See for yourself.

Scattered around the mystically beautiful island of Vancouver, BC, in the towns of Port Alberni, Comox, and Tofino, people have been seeing mysterious white birds. Science was able to identify these few, precious creatures as white ravens. While there aren’t many living on the island at this time, that tiny population is still a lot more than we normally see anywhere else on the planet.

Whitie02Science tells us these white ravens were born originally from black feathered parents with a rare genetic defect. While not albino because they do have pigmentation in their eyes, the condition we see is called leucistic meaning their pigmentation is significantly lightened.

According to Julie Mackey who is the assistant manager at the North Island Wildlife Recovery Centre, black feathered ravens can live to 30 plus years old and remain faithful to their mate as long as they live. However, the white ravens don’t seem to live as long or reproduce as abundantly as their counterparts.

Whitie04First Nations people keep many white raven tales alive in their culture. For them, the white raven can be the “bringers of light” or annoying tricksters. More ominous tales describe them as harbingers of the end of the world.

For me, they’re just another marvel thrown at us by the abundant resourcefulness of nature. They’re so rare, we should enjoy this brief time we have with them. And as I mentioned, they get me thinking of Edgar Allen Poe.

Will we see lots of these white ravens again in the future? Probably not.  As Poe’s raven wisely foretold “Nevermore.”

 

Nevermore

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I wasn’t able to identify who took the photos for this article. I found them on the web. Apologies to the photographer(s).

Striped Legged Horse? New Cryptid? Old Cryptid? Or Hoax?

NewCreatureIs this the latest Photoshopped hoax? Or a new mythological cryptid? Maybe it’s something more wonderful than that? CryptoVille looks into this mysterious creature to see if it could be real, or another big disappointment.

When I first saw this picture on Facebook, I was sure it was a Photoshopped hoax. What kind of horse has striped legs like a zebra? Or maybe it’s a photoshopped donkey? Do you remember the “Elephant Fish” and the “Goblin Shark”? So I was very skeptical.

Sound the trumpets and begin the flourish of music because this little creature is real! It’s called the Somali Wild Ass and it is an ancestor of today’s donkey. It’s also related to the zebra, hence the stripes on its legs. I was anxious to learn more and if you feel the same way, then read on! (Photos in this article by Ron Magill.)

The Facts

These beautiful creatures live in rocky deserts in very remote areas of East Africa. There are so few left in the wild that it’s feared something like a drought could kill them all off.

The are considered the smallest of the Equidae family (horses, zebras, wild asses) and are ancestors of today’s donkeys. They have a smooth gray coat that can look purple-ish when the light hits it right. They have a bristle-like mane that stands upright, just like zebras. Their bellies are white and they have black striped legs.

The San Diego Wild Animal Park oversees the breeding of these animals, lending them out to zoos around the US for breeding purposes. Scientists feel they have enough of these animals in captivity to keep the wild ass population healthy and free of any inbreeding problems.

somaliwildass02The little foal seen in the photo top right of this article is a female named Hani, after the Somali word for happiness/ joyfulness. She was born at the Miami Zoo in late summer 2012.

Scientists have learned these animals are very social, having relationships within their herds that last a lifetime.

The mares carry their young for eleven months. The foals engage in a lot of play which scientists feel prepare them for many situations later in life.

These animals enjoy excellent vision and hearing. They usually try to outrun anything trying to kill them, but if they must, they can defend themselves with lethal kicks from their strong legs and pointy hooves.

Here are the physical stats on these beautiful animals, courtesy of the San Diego Zoo website:

Life span: Up to 40 years

Gestation: 11 to 12 months

Number of young at birth: Usually 1 every other year

Age of maturity: Up to 2 years for males, 2 to 4 years for females

Length: Average 6.6 feet (2 meters) long

Height: 4.2 to 5.5 feet (1.2 to 1.5 meters) tall at shoulder

Weight: Average 605 pounds (275 kilograms)

Weight at birth: 50 to 60 pounds (23 to 27 kilograms)

MPH: Somali asses have been clocked at 30 mph when running

Somaliwildass04The Somali Asses are herbivores. In the wild, they eat mostly grasses but will dig into some bark, “scrub”, and even some tough desert plants when they must. Like almost all animals, they require a regular source of water in order to survive.

Cold weather apparently comes to North Africa on occasion (who knew?) so the Somali asses grow longer coats to fend off the cold. In the Spring, they molt the excess hair off by rolling on the ground, scratching at themselves, and biting off whatever clumps of hair they can reach.

Scientists say two asses will stand side by side, head to tail, and obligingly nip off excess clumps of hair that their pals can’t reach.

Grooming is important to these animals, and is necessary to keep their skin healthy.

Some History

Mankind has been aware of these beautiful animals for a long time. The Egyptians domesticated them 6,000 years ago! They were also featured in ancient cave paintings found around the North African area.

Spanish explorers brought some domesticated Somali asses to the New World (Southwest US) when they came in the 16th century. The descendants of these animals are what we call burros and they still live in the desert Southwest.

Today they are critically endangered in the wild because they have been hunted for food and their body fat which local tribes believe cures tuberculosis.

Video

Here’s a cute video of Somali Asses in action, courtesy of the St Louis Zoo, October 2013. Just under one minute long.


It’s so wonderful to find such special animals still living among us, and extra nice that science knows all about them! I’m still hopeful the other “special” animals of our world will soon join their ranks and be acknowledged by the scientific community!

Til the next time!

References

http://animals.sandiegozoo.org/animals/somali-wild-ass

https://simplymarvelous.wordpress.com/category/rare-breeds/

http://www.stlzoo.org/animals/abouttheanimals/mammals/hoofedmammals/somaliwildass/

The Mystery of Bigfoot in Britain

BeastofBolamLakeA recent sighting of cryptozoology favorite, Bigfoot, was reportedly seen in Britain and photographed. Could it be true? Could this monster of a beast really live in such a confined and highly populated country?  CryptoVille begins to look into the mystery.

When I first heard of this report, I was skeptical. One thing we know about American Bigfoots is that they require a huge territory with dense areas of vegetation to hide and lots of game to hunt. In fact, some researchers think they may follow migrations of deer through the seasons. (Artist’s rendering of the Beast of Bolam Lake, right.)

Size Matters

Let’s first look at some logistics. Britain would fit inside the state of Texas. While Texas is, I believe, our second largest state in the Union, confining a population of large animals there wouldn’t bode well for them. I know people claim to see Bigfoots in Texas, particularly in the Eastern forested sections. But those creatures are free to roam up into Oklahoma, over to Kentucky, wherever they need to go to find food and water as the seasons dictate.

So my first thought is that a population of Bigfoots large enough to reproduce successfully (i.e., minus inbreeding problems) would be very “squeezed” into an island the size of Britain.

Most Recent Report

The report that jumpstarted this discussion again began in the Friskney Nature Reserve which is in the Northeast section of the country, right along the coast. (See map.) A man named Adam Bird, described as a “Bigfoot enthusiast”, claims to have captured some images of the beast while he was walking through the reserve.

At first he didn’t see the creature, but later, upon examining his photos, he spotted the dark anomaly in the distance.  He claims that he was walking that particular route because he was hearing strange, unidentifiable noises and seeing large footprints.

This is what he said to a reporter for the UK”s Mirror:

“My investigators and I were tipped off that this small patch of woodland in Friskney could be a hotspot for Bigfoot beasts. There is at least one reported sighting here, so we decided to check it out. We stayed there for a few hours that day and felt watched and followed the whole time. I took various photographs throughout the investigation and when I checked back through them, I spotted the creepy picture. It looks like a shadowy figure stood within the trees staring at us from afar.”

My thoughts: one report does not a “hotspot” make. Look at the photos and see for yourself. I don’t think they look “shadowy” nor does it look particularly creepy. I mean it’s broad daylight and the figure is quite far ahead of them. That’s all.

Photo 1

BritBigfoot02

You see the “figure” in the distance. It does look sort of humanoid, but frankly, it could also be a hole in the side of a tree, or something else formed naturally. As per usual in the Bigfoot field, we have another nondescript, hard to decipher photo. For me, this isn’t proof.

Photo 2

BritBigfoot01

The enlargement of the same photo. For me, this doesn’t help at all. That could be anything.

Photo 3

ThePrint

The footprint. The most definite thing about this “evidence” is the line the researchers put around it. I don’t see a whole lot there. What looks like toe indentations continues out both sides of the outline making me think that must just be a natural crack in the dry dirt.

Landscape

Note the landscape in those photos above. Yes, it looks forested, but it also looks pretty barren at the moment. I tried to find out if deer populated the area because in the Americas, deer is the Bigfoot’s protein of choice. What I did discover that this area is so close to the ocean, that tourists come in droves to see all the species of seals that live there.

Could Bigfoot eat seals? Maybe a carcass, but they are pretty slippery when alive and wet, so it seems doubtful.

Another Account

I read an article by Nick Redfern, whom you may know more from his association with UFO hunting. The article is dated 1-19-2, which I’m guessing means January 19, but is it 2002 or 2012? I have no idea.

NickRedfernAnyway, he describes a group of “monster hunters” (called the Centre for Fortean Zoology) that work out of Exeter, England. The group is made up of journalist Jonathan Downes, zoologist Richard Freeman, Graham Inglis, and John Fuller. Nick said they found some interesting evidence for an “ape-man” living in the British Isles.

It seems the investigators were in the area of Bolam Lake when they saw what they call “The Beast of Bolam Lake.” They said it was about eight feet tall, three feet wide (the shoulders?), with dark colored hair.

Nick quotes Downes saying, “We only saw it for a few seconds then it vanished into the trees. This is the latest in a bizarre series of Big Hairy  Man sightings which have confounded zoologists and which have taken place in the UK in the last six months. I have been a professional monster hunter for years but the thing I saw has prompted me to completely re-evaluate my whole world view.”

BeastofBolamLakeNick writes, “The events at Bolam Lake are part of a larger, nationwide spate of similar reports that has included encounters at Cannock Chase, Staffordshire; Sussex; Sherwood Forest of Robin Hood fame; Cumbria; and Longridge Fell, Lancashire – a place renowned for “monster” sightings.” (Artist’s rendering of the Beast of Bolam Lake, right.)

This group also collected hair samples that they were sending to “specialists” in Scotland, England, the USA, and Denmark for testing. No results have been forthcoming which I’m going to assume means the samples were from known animals which is why they didn’t make the news.

Another Viewpoint

I tried to find pictures of this “Beast of Bolam Lake,” not too successfully. But I did find another interesting article by ghost hunter Rob Kirkup. Rob and some friends investigated the area around Bolam Lake hoping to catch a glimpse of the beast. You can read his account here:

http://www.ghostsofthenortheast.co.uk/the-beast-of-bolam-lake.html

The one thing I took away from his account is that he mentions journalist Jonathan Downes as “well respected” and I think Rob means among the paranormal community.

Rob writes, “It’s a lot more likely that this is something paranormal as opposed to a flesh and blood animal. I’ve read a lot of Jon Downes’ work and he believes a lot of the monsters spotted in England are paranormal as there is a lack of places for them to live without being seen, he also says the glowing eyes are a giveaway. There is an iron age fort not far away and legend has it that iron age forts are protected by guardians from another dimension, could the protector be The Beast of Bolam Lake?”

BolamLakeIn all honesty, that’s where they lose me. I know there are strange paranormal occurrences in the world that no one seems able to explain and I intentionally avoid them in CryptoVille because there is no good way to explain any of it, in my opinion. (Bolam Lake, left.)

But without doubt, Bigfoot and his cousins around the world are flesh and blood animals.  So what are people seeing in the Bolam Lake area? Well, if it’s not a flesh and blood animal, maybe it’s a demon or something. I don’t go in for this shapeshifting stuff very much.

Bottom Line

I appreciate Adam Bird’s enthusiasm for the creature. In fact, he said he saw what we call a Skunk Ape in Florida when he was younger and was visiting there on vacation. That fueled his desire to search his native Britain for another cousin of the big hairy guy.

That said, my focus is on finding top quality evidence that we can share with the scientific community which will prove the existence of this creature(s) once and for all. I don’t see that here. I don’t see that in any of the reports/accounts I’ve read so far. In fact this latest report opens up more questions than it answers.

detective girlIf anyone ever finds scientifically sound evidence that “Britfoot” exists, then I’ll be just as happy as the next Bigfoot lover. But until then, I must remain skeptical as to the existence of Bigfoot in Britain.

I’d love to hear what my British readers have to say about this. Have you heard any other stories or reports along these lines through the years?

Til the next time!

 

References

http://www.ghostsofthenortheast.co.uk/the-beast-of-bolam-lake.html

http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/weird-news/bigfoot-britain-mysterious-figure-lurking-4731307

http://www.rense.com/general33/britfoote.htm

 

Newly Found Giant Penguin!

dr_daniel_thomas_holds_a_thigh_bone_from_the_fossi_547789b430Note to universities: time to have a clear-out of your storage areas!! They did at Auckland University and they found some very interesting stuff! Cryptozoology lovers will find this account amazing and frustrating as science slowly and painfully uncovers a monster from our past.

This is one of those tales that leaves you rolling your eyes. How does a fossil of a potentially new species of bird get lost in storage at a major university? For over 40 years?! (Photo above right of Dr. Thomas holding the thigh bone of the new species.)

Well it happened in New Zealand at Auckland University. Someone must have been having a look around the storage shed and discovered the fossilized bones of a very large bird. Scientists are able to tell that this bird was likely a deep sea diver, like the Emperor penguin, and it too would have been a tasty meal for sharks and dolphins.

DrThomasDr. Daniel Thomas (photo left) took the bones and scanned them, sending the results to a paleontologist in America who printed the image using 3D printing. Everyone was surprised to find these were the bones of what appears to be a VERY large penguin. At the moment they can’t determine if it was an adult or a juvenile.

Dr. Thomas said the bird measured 4 feet 3 inch (1.3 m) tall! Compare that to an Emperor penguin, currently the largest in existence, who reaches about a foot less in height.  In 2012 scientists  discovered the remains of another extinct penguin, the Kairuku, but this bird was smaller than the new giant species.

According to The New Zealand Herald, “… the new species was the first of its kind to be found on North Island, and the specimen dates back 28 million years to a time when New Zealand was largely underwater.”

At the time of my posting this article, there are no sketches or drawings of what this new species would have looked like.

Dr. Thomas said the storage shed is full of other items that may also lead to more fantastic revelations about the Earth’s past. He said, “It turned out there was a raft of other specimens as well – it was a treasure trove of some really incredible stuff.”

GiantPenguinsSo Much for Curiosity

What gets me about this situation is how a university full of scientists managed to ignore the pile in the storage shed for so long. Was no one curious? And you know if it happened in Auckland, it’s happening at every university around the world.

So now I’m thinking about American universities in particular. Are they inadvertently sitting on great discoveries too? Might there be some actual evidence that Bigfoot exists? Or that giant birds are still circling over our planet?

I realize some of these fossils and data have been put aside because at the time of their discoveries, technology wasn’t advanced enough to aid in determining what was actually found. But doesn’t anyone keep records of this stuff? Does no one review these things periodically?

Apparently not. Shame on them.

ATTENTION ALL UNIVERSITIES: It’s time to have a clear-out of all your obscure storage facilities! You owe it to the cause of science and the advancement of human knowledge!

CommunityCleanup-300x300

 

 

Ok, now I’m getting off my soap box.

Til the next time!

Gobblesquatch – Thanksgiving Cryptid!

Twas the day before Thanksgiving and all through the land

Not a creature was stirring … except for some rumblings in the deep woods!

Gobblesquatch

 

It’s that time of year when the elusive Gobblesquatch is on the move again! So grab your cameras and enjoy a look at this latest cryptozoological oddity!

http://visitcryptoville.com/2013/11/28/gobblesquatch-legendary-creature-or-holiday-hoax/

I’d like to wish you all a very Happy Thanksgiving and a safe and enjoyable weekend!! See you next week!

Magical Creature Found in Peruvian Rainforest! It Glows!

GlowWorm02It glows in the dark, luring its prey into its waiting jaws. Then it buries its neon green self in the jungle floor until it’s ready to strike again. What could it be? Science is working on the answer!

Scientists were happy to reveal that they found yet another creature to add to the roster of known animals on planet Earth! This time the critter was found in the Peruvian rainforest, deep in the jungle and it’s a bug! A bug that glows neon green in the dark!

Entomologist Aaron Pomerantz, of the Tambopata Research Center in Peru, was working with his team in an area called the Refugio Amazonas when a photographer named Jeff Cremer brought the bugs to his attention. The new creature is a glow worm that glows bright neon green in the darkness.

GlowWorm01Scientists tell us that they think these glow worms are the larval stages of  a yet to be discovered beetle, also living in the area. Their glow is produced by phosphorescence and it seems to lure dinner right into their mouths.

According to Pomerantz, “[Ants or termites will] fly right into their jaws, and then they’ll just clamp shut and that’s their meal.” He and his team observed the glow worms eating stick insects as well. (Photo left by Jeff Cremer. He may have taken the other ones in this article, too.)

These creatures live below the ground and come to the surface to feed. They measure about a half inch long (1.2 cm). The glow worms use a “fast popping or “clicking” motion” to flee any predators after them.

This is one of the reasons the scientist believe these glow worms grow into what are called “click beetles.” They estimate there are in excess of 10,000 species of click beetles in the world. This one may be a new species.

GlowWorm03Research into this little critter’s lifestyle and biology continues. Pomerantz added, “Right now, the team isn’t sure if it’s discovered a completely new species or a new subspecies of an already known species of beetle larva, but the researchers are contacting experts in Brazil to find out.”

Every day new creatures are being found. One day we’ll add some cryptids to that roster of animals known to science! We live in an exciting time!

References

http://www.livescience.com/48789-peru-glow-worms-discovered.html

 

What’s Making the Earth Hum?

StrangeNoises01Worldwide people have noticed a strange phenomenon that’s been happening for at least decades. The Earth is humming. Could this be a cryptozoological mystery or is the answer closer to home? We examine this latest clue in the mystery of the noises coming from no where!

David Deming, a geophysicist at the University of Oklahoma, believes the Hum heard ‘round the world has a global source. He quotes someone named Moir who says, “It’s a very, very low wavelength noise, perhaps between 50 or 56 Hz. And it’s extremely difficult to stop infrasound because it can have a wavelength of up to 10 meters [nearly 33 feet], and you’d need around 2.5 meter [8 feet] thick walls, built with normal materials, to keep it out. It gets into our wooden houses very easily. And part of the reason people have so much trouble identifying the source of it is because of how low frequency the Hum is: It literally  moves right through your head before you can figure out which ear picked it up first.”

According to Deming’s research the likely candidate for the hum’s origin is a US Naval system called TACAMO (Take Charge And Move On). This system uses VLF (very low frequency) radio waves to communicate with submarines far below the ocean’s surface. They use these frequencies because they are so large that they can go around just about any obstacle in its path like a mountain or skyscraper. Also, these frequencies can penetrate seawater unlike other forms of MFs.

An aside here: Remember how the original Ghost Hunters used to talk about high EMF levels in homes and/or areas? They also mentioned that there have been studies done where high levels of these waves can cause hallucinations, depression, and a host of other symptoms.

Back to the Earth hum.

StrangeNoises02Variations

Deming points out that peoples’ experiences with the Hum, as well as scientific data collected in those areas, sometimes conflict. The problem is further complicated by the entrance of all the conspiracy theorists who blame the noises on UFOs, grand governmental plots to overthrow the world, and the like. Personally, I think we can put all those “theories” aside. The Earth is a noisy place and people are naturally noisy – I think the explanation lies in that direction.

What we need is more serious research! Deming has been encouraging more research by his peers but they are slow to respond. Deming cites one example where the Hum was investigated in the Connecticut community of Windsor. This study was federally funded and had been requested by local Connecticut authorities. Deming thinks that getting local authorities involved in the studies is the way to go. He feels the data they gather will contribute to a greater, more comprehensive view of what’s really causing the Earth to hum.

Dr. Glen MacPherson, of the University of British Columbia, runs a website dedicated to collecting information about this phenomenon. You can find it here:

www.thehum.info

MacPherson hopes through the efforts of this website that professional and independent researchers will use his data to construct effective testing procedures and methodologies.

Moir believes that unless somebody funds a serious study and finds scientists to conduct serious tests into the phenomenon, the general population will continue to blame things like telecom towers, radio bands used by the police, mobile phones and the more bizarre explanations nurtured by conspiracy theorists.  The taint of these fringe theorists is what causes serious scientists to turn away from this problem. That has to be overcome and it starts with common sense and spreading the word among the general public.

Distribution of Noise Map

If you go to MacPherson’s website you will find a global map showing where these mysterious noises are occurring. For now, we’ll concentrate on the US portion of the map.

DistributionMap

The first thing that caught my eye was that these noises almost all seem to be in or near urban centers. Note how they follow the coastline and the busy Midwest cities. There are some that seem remote in the upper mid to West states (Montana, the Dakotas, Idaho) but we can’t tell from the map what is in those areas. I say that because these noises have been blamed on things like large industrials site noise, electrical substation noise, and pipelines. Those types of things may be in those areas.

For a long time, I thought these noises may be part of the natural world such as tectonic plate noise, volcanic grumbling, electrical build-up within the Earth, and things like that. But look at the worldwide map of noise distribution and the area in the world with the most volcanic and tectonic plate action, the Pacific Rim of Fire, has few to no reports of strange noises!

So that’s got me thinking. Maybe these noises are being caused by something(s) manmade.

Call Home Then Hang Up

To that point, remember how Deming felt the noise was mostly being caused by that Naval communication system, TACAMO?  I have to wonder, do they ever turn it off? I mean when we call someone, we call, communicate, and hang up. Doesn’t the Navy ever hang up? Maybe there’s a reason the system has to be on all the time, but if that’s true, then it’s a dirty trick. It’s not fair or right to seriously inconvenience people with these noises.

What Is Clear

Studying this problem leaves us without any doubt – more extensive research is needed. The scientific community has to get over its disdain for the topic based on the silly notions of some conspiracy theorists.

I could say the same thing. I could avoid cryptozoology altogether because there are some people with strange and wild ideas about EVERYTHING we talk about, from Bigfoot, to aliens, to mermaids and beyond. But I stick to the scientific side of things as much as I can.

The scientists would be able to do that even more than I can for the simple reason they are trained and qualified scientists.

I think most of us can see that there is some kind of natural or manmade phenomenon behind this nightmare and it’s something we need to solve. It’s bothering thousands of people around the world, and who knows what it’s doing to all the animals in the same areas. The potential is there for the noises to be wrecking entire ecosystems.

I don’t know what we can do to get the scientists involved, but if I can think of something, you can bet I’m going to do it!

StrangeNoises03

Have you ever heard these strange Earth noises? What do you think they are?

Reference

http://theextinctionprotocol.wordpress.com/2014/07/06/a-mysterious-sound-is-driving-people-insane-its-spreading-and-nobody-knows-whats-causing-it/

www.thehum.info

 

 

 

The Murderous History of Mermaids

FlirtyPinkMermaidSure, they’re beautiful, seductive, and alluring, but as far as cryptids go, they’re all up to no good. Cryptozoology stories show us time and again how these sirens of the waters are out to kill men who wander into their grasp. So why do we find them so fascinating? CryptoVille investigates!

In an entertaining article by Matt Simon for Wired.com, he relates some facts and anecdotes about mermaids that leave us all wondering, why the heck do we love mermaids so much?!

Here are a few of his major points:

  • The first sea-person was actually a male named Ea and he was the Babylonian god of the sea. He was known to battle evil while also introducing his people to the arts and sciences.
  • After that the Greeks and Romans adopted him and renamed him. He became Poseidon in Greece and Neptune in the Roman world.
  • Ancient Syrians believed in a goddess named Atargatis and she was actually the first mermaid. She was human on top and fish below and they believed she safeguarded the fertility of her people.

So up to this point, the merfolk were pretty much benevolent and nurturing. Then for some reason, they start to turn toward the dark side.

MermaidsMurderousMerfolkCoupleDark Side Begins

If anyone has been through any classical history courses, then they’ll be familiar with Pliny the Elder, a Roman naturalist and writer. One of his topics included the Nereids whom he described as half human, half fish.  However in this case, the upper, human part was still covered with scales so their appearance was rather rough, and by implication, unattractive. (Artwork of a mer-couple above left 16th Century Italian by Ulisse Aldrovandi.)

Pliny mentioned that these Nereids would climb aboard ships at night and sink them. Definitely not nice.

In Greek mythology the sirens were evil creatures who lured sailors to their doom by enchanting them with their exquisite singing. Their appearance and their songs were supposedly irresistible.

Conflicting Views

And so these conflicting views of mermaids entered the minds of Medieval Europe spawning a mix of tales about these creatures, from the sublime to the deadly. Overall the message was that mermaids should be avoided if you know what’s good for you!

MermaidsMurderousAtagartisonCoinMatt mentions an interesting point in his article, writing, “[…] it was a pervasive ancient belief that every land animal must have a counterpart in the sea, and humans were no exception.” I hadn’t heard that before and I find it interesting because it would explain the large amount of  stories and legends about these watery people across all of Europe. (Photo right of Atagartis holding an egg on an ancient Syrian coin. Courtesy of Wiki.)

There’s another salient point to this, I think, that I’d like to share with you. I was reading a book review on Amazon and the reviewer, “Ashtar” wrote, “We are used to a modern, scientific view of nature and animals. The Middle Ages saw things differently. Animals weren’t seen as random products of blind, natural forces. They were created by God for the edification of the human race. Indeed, Adam named all animals in the Garden of Eden, each name reflecting their true character. Animals were not just brute beasts. They carried a moral message, directed to sinful humanity. They also carried a hidden, mystical meaning, which somehow paralleled the message of the Bible itself! All the world was seen as an enchanted, magical place, with each thing a symbol for deeper, moral or spiritual, realities.”

So for example, in a Medieval bestiary, you’d see a brief description of a pig followed by a dissertation on sinful gluttony and heretics. Don’t we still say, “S/he eats like a pig?”

MermaidsMurderousClonfertCathedralMermaid Image

Knowing how the Medieval world thought about creatures gives us a clue as to how they’ve developed such a bad reputation. Since the Medieval world set-up and spawned most stories about mermaids, we have to consider how these people would have viewed sexy sirens, sensual creatures, and tempters/temptresses. (Photo left of a mermaid in the Clonfert Cathedral, Ireland.)

I believe they’d have seen them as immoral and decadent beings looking to lure men (and in some cases women) into sin. So the horrific crimes these merfolk are accused of in the legends are told as cautionary tales indicating people of sound moral stature should avoid them or suffer the consequences.

Better Days Ahead

Nowadays, though, we can relax a bit about mermaids because they’ve gotten quite friendly and amiable as in the Disney cartoon, The Little Mermaid. There are even some romance novels starring mermaids that are pleasant enough to keep their readers buying the stories.

Even more fantastical, there are women around the world running businesses as mermaids! They star in aquarium shows, appear at private parties, work in movies – all on the up and up.

ArielI can understand how the merfolk got the bad rap in the old days – it was simply a part of the culture back then. But nowadays things are dramatically different, and these stories and legends about these alluring creatures are seen for what they are – beautiful art, entertainment, and mysterious stories.

As for whether they really exist, well, so far there is absolutely no scientific proof that they do. So if you love mermaids and want the world to believe in them, keep a sharp eye on the water and have your camera charged and ready to shoot!

If you’d like to read more stories about mermaids, see my Mermaid Mondays feature. Go to the top right of the screen and you’ll see “Articles by Topic.” That’s a drop down menu. Select Mermaid Mondays and it’ll bring you to those reports.

Til the next time!

SeaJellyBed

Reference

If you’d like to read the rest of the article by Matt Simon, here’s the link. It’s very amusing as well as informative:

http://www.wired.com/2014/10/fantastically-wrong-strange-murderous-sometimes-sexy-history-mermaid/

Deer Men and Women: Real or the Stuff of Legend?

DeerManBronzeSculptureA bipedal creature lurking in the forests around the US, prominent deer antlers on their head. Are they half human, half deer? Or the product of legend and lore? CryptoVille investigates this cryptozoology puzzle to see if this monster is the real deal, or not!

Most of what I read about the Deer Men of the world is firmly based in Native American legend, lore, and tradition. Are these stories clues to something real? And what about sightings in recent times? Let’s see what we can make of all this.

Legends and Lore

It seems there are two basic stories about Deer People, one concerning a Deer Man and the other a Deer Woman.

In an old Cherokee legend, people and animals could communicate long ago. Things went well as long as the people only harvested the animals they needed for food, clothing, and shelter. As time went on, the people got a bit greedy, or some might say, bloodthirsty.

That’s when they started killing animals indiscriminately. The animals tried to rebel but couldn’t overcome the human hunters. Finally Awi Usdi, Little Deer and leader of his “people,” met with the hunters and told them that from that point onward, they had to perform a ceremony before their hunts, asking the animals permission to kill one of their own. Then the hunters must ask for forgiveness from the sacrificial animal and respect it.

DeerManDancneThe story continues by saying if the hunters refused to do these things, Awi Usdi would hunt them down and cripple them using his own magic powers, so that they would no longer be able to hunt.

At first not all of hunters agreed to the terms and they continued to hunt indiscriminately. Awi Usdi hunted them down and afflicted them with severe rheumatism so they were no longer able to hunt. Soon after, all the hunters followed the terms of Awi Usdi and peace descended on the land once more.

The Deer Woman story is a bit different. It reminds me of a Grimm’s fairytale with its cautionary overtones and morality tale undertones.

Deer Woman

Wendy Froud refers to this legend as the “Horned Woman” and said that among the Southeastern tribes of the United States (Cherokee, Muskogee, Seminole, and Choctaw), the legend is pretty much the same. She mentions that the Dakota and Lakota tribes have stories about this Deer Woman that are a bit different, but still similar to those of the Southeastern tribes.

Another tribe, the Karuk, use the story of the Deer Woman more as a spirit associated with fertility and maturation as a means to prepare young women for marriage.

 

DeerWomanThe stories of the Southeast tribes primarily warn against marrying someone who was not approved by one’s family and society. The society felt that arranged marriages ensured the survival of their culture and propagation of their people.

The main story revolves around a young man who is seduced by a beautiful young woman and he leaves his home and family, and tribe for her. If he continues to be with this young woman, he will fall more deeply under her spell and stay with her which ultimately results in “depression, despair, prostitution, and death.”

The only way to discover the real identity of the enchantress is to look at her feet. If she is the Deer Woman, her feet will be hooves and knowing that should break the spell for the enamored young man.

According to Wendy, “Her [Deer Woman] tales are morality narratives: she teaches us that the misuse of sexual power is a transgression that will end in madness and death. The only way to save oneself from the magic of Deer Woman is to look to her feet, see her hooves, and recognize her for what she is. … Deer Woman instructs us that sexual attraction does not a proper marriage make; it is the societal and cultural responsibility of each tribal member to choose a mate wisely — therefore ensuring tribal survival into the next generation. Both the Karuk stories and the Southeastern stories illustrate this cultural responsibility.”

According to Wiki, Deer Woman can also appear as an old woman or even a deer. She is sometimes described as having the upper body of a young woman and the lower body of a deer. When compared with other similar tribal legends of dangerous women, these females all have a physical deformity and lure men to their deaths.

 

DeerManHoaxThen There’s This

In the 50s and 60s, a columnist named Jerry Moriarity popularized the legend of the Deer Man in his column, “Mostly Malarkey.”  It’s important to note that malarkey means “Speech or writing designed to obscure, mislead, or impress.” So his columns were clearly fiction and entertainment.

Another journalist named Dave Clarke wrote several articles about this creature in the Star Courier. Dave believes the Deer Man is local to Kewanee, IL and that if you see it three times, you die.

Finally, in 2005, an episode of the Masters of Horror TV program featured the Deer Woman, probably unrecognizable from the original legends.

 

DeermanHoax02Are They Real?

So are the Deer people real? Are they flesh and blood cryptids? I think not. There’s a very clear folklore component to the stories and it’s easy to see how they are cautionary tales to help preserve the culture and traditions of the native peoples. (Think about all the “old wives’ tales” we all heard growing up as well as Grimm’s fairytales, not to mention Aesop’s Fables.)

Is it above someone to make a headdress with deer antlers and call themselves the Deer Man or Woman? I wouldn’t put it past some hoaxer to do so, as we’ve seen with Bigfoot videos, ad nauseum. But back in the world of reality, I don’t expect anyone to find a real creature like this Deer Man or Deer Woman anytime soon.

What do you think about the Deer Man or Woman?

Giant Shrimp Caught Off Florida Coast: Hoax or Cryptid?

GiantShrimp01Steve Bargeron was fishing off a dock in Fort Pierce, Florida this week when he pulled an almighty huge “shrimp” from the water. This 18 inch beast is either a hoax, or some kind of monster cryptid. CryptoVille investigates!

Steve shared his finding with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) and they posted it to their Facebook page. It seems that Steve saw the 18 inch creature in the water and pulled it out by its back, similar to what one does with a live lobster. (Photo right.)

The FWS said, “Scientists think it may be some type of mantis shrimp (which are actually not related to shrimp, but are a type of crustacean called a stomatopod), and continue to review the photos to identify the exact species.”

Mantis shrimp are actually quite formidable animals. Let’s see what science has to say about them, including how big they normally get.

MantisShrimpMantis “Shrimp”

These little beasts (photo left) are not shrimp at all, but are part of a family of crustaceans called stomatopods.  They normally grow to about 12 inches in length, but in rare cases reach up to 15 inches. This 18 inch behemoth would be a rarity indeed, at least as far as we land-based creatures can tell.

They look like a cross between a praying mantis and a shrimp. Their large front claws, referred to as “thumb splitters” are extremely strong and can crack open the shells of their prey or tear into softer targets. Their prey includes clams, invertebrates, and some fish.

Scientists tell us that they can “fire” their appendages at 170 mph! They are fierce competitors in their little marine environments. They often live around coral reefs, rock crevices, and any shoreline debris they can find. They spend most of their time hidden away in their burrows, coming out to search for food, using their excellent eyesight to search for predators while they are exposed.

Mantis shrimp mostly live in tropical/subtropical waters, but there are some heartier varieties that can live in sub-Antarctic waters. They also come in a variety of colors.

GiantShrimp02What Does it Mean for Cryptids?

I think this find is exciting because it shows us that animals already known to science can be more diverse than we may initially think. This is especially true when we’re dealing with aquatic/marine animals. Due to our inability to get into the oceans, seas, and rivers long enough and be able to go deep enough, we can’t tell what’s really living down there. (Another view of the 18 inch “Giant Shrimp”, right.)

I think as time goes on we can expect to find a lot more exciting surprises like this mantis shrimp, especially from the ocean!

Til the next time!

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