Archive for Cryptozoology

Happy Halloween from CryptoVille!!

HalloweenCreatureHappy Halloween friends of CryptoVille!

Things are certainly hopping in this land of cryptids and mysterious happenings! This year, I thought I’d share some articles with you by topic so you can read about the weird & wonderful creatures that you like!


Are VAMPIRES your thing? We took a bite out of these mysterious creatures in these articles:



How about Zombies???


Werewolf02Maybe a Werewolf is more your style?


We have some GHOST stories too!


Strange Creatures haunting your dreams?


Let’s not forget BIGFOOT!!


If STRANGE PLACES are more your style, check out:



There’s still plenty more to find! If you go to the top of this page, in the right margin, you’ll see “Articles by Topic.” That’s where you can find more articles about all things cryptozoological.

Thanks for visiting CryptoVille! Come back and see us soon! Happy Halloween!!


Kangaroos that Walked: What it May Mean for Cryptids

GiantKangarooBrianRegalScience has revealed another gem that changes the way we think about a species of animals. It got me thinking. Could it be applied to the way we think about cryptids? Could these strange and mysterious monsters of the cryptozoology world be variations on a theme, like sthenurines were on the kangaroo family tree?

A professor of ecology and evolutionary biology at Brown University, Christine Janis, is pretty sure that giant kangaroos, who lived 100,000 years ago, walked instead of hopped. She was joined in her research by Karalyn Kuchenbecker (former undergraduate at Brown University) and Borja Figuerido from the University of Malaga, Spain. They posted their research results in the journal PLOS ONE, which was later reported by Science Daily. (Artwork above right by Brian Regal of Sthenurus stirlingi.)

Native to the Pleistocene era, giant kangaroos, or sthenurines, weighed upwards of 550 pounds, and could reach two meters (6.5 feet) in height. Their faces resembled a rabbit’s, and they seem to have had “sticky up” ears too, though not as big as a rabbit’s in proportion to the face. Their arms were short and definitely made for foraging. In contrast, modern kangaroos, the reds and the grays, use their front arms for walking when on all fours.

The Differences

Janis and her team concluded an exhaustive, detailed look at bones from these now extinct sthenurines and compared them to skeletons of modern kangaroos. They found significant differences.

  • Sthenurine teeth were made for browsing, as opposed to the teeth of modern kangaroos that are clearly made for grazing.
  • Hopping requires a flexible backbone, sturdy tail, and hands that can support the body weight. Sthenurines had none of these traits.
  • Sthenurines could support their body weight on just one foot; a requirement for walking. Modern kangaroos cannot.
  • Sthenurines had bigger hip and knee joints which is required in walking animals. Also the pelvis is different than that of modern kangaroos. Larger bones allow larger, stronger muscles to attach to them. Critical when one is walking.

GiantKangarooByNobuTamuraJanis said, “If it is not possible in terms of biomechanics to hop at very slow speeds, particularly if you are a big animal, and you cannot easily do pentapedal locomotion [which includes using a long tail] then what do you have left? You’ve got to move somehow.” (Artwork left by Nobu Tamura.)

Evidence is good that these animals, these relatives of modern day kangaroos, walked instead of hopped.

So why am I telling you this on a cryptozoology website?

Cryptids: Just Variations?

So this got me thinking. Never mind that this member of the kangaroo family most likely walked instead of hopped – what about the rabbit-like face? I find that even more weird than the fact it most likely walked instead of hopped.

Let’s look at bipedal creatures we hear about often enough. Bigfoot, Sasquatch, the Yeti, Mande Barung, Orang Pendek. From all I’ve read about them it seems to me more than likely they are just variations on a theme in the evolutionary tree. I believe, of all the cryptids we talk about, these are the ones that have the greatest chance of being real and one day provable.

What about things like Saber Wolves, Siberian Tigers migrated to Alaska, giant bears, the Tasmanian tiger? Well all of these creatures are based on animals that we are very familiar with today. It seems less of a stretch of the imagination to think these have a good chance of being real.

There are other creatures that will probably not be found to be evolutionary variations, in my opinion. These would include the Mothman, Jersey Devil, Deer Man, Wolf man, Lizard man, and things like that.

BigfootRedHairbyLexaFor the creatures that may one day prove to be real, we’re going to need evidence. That would involve a carcass, unfortunately. Science needs to be able to test and measure something in order to evaluate it properly. Notice with the sthenurines, they had at least a hundred skeletal samples to examine. In the cryptid world, we’ll be lucky if we can get them just one!

Still, my hope is one day more of these creatures of cryptozoology will be added to the roster of known animals around the world. As always, science is going to point the way.

What do you think?


Cryptid Shows: Doing More Harm than Good?

CryptidComicCoverCryptozoology lovers are no doubt enjoying all the latest TV shows delving into the mysteries of monsters from all parts of the United States. Bigfoot, Swamp Beast, Saber Wolves and all the rest are fair game to these intrepid investigators. But is any of it real?

Like many of you I’ve been enjoying the latest rash of TV programs about the cryptids we love to think about. We have Destination America channel’s Mountain Monsters, Swamp Monsters, Alaska Monsters and the very popular Cryptid: Swamp Beast over on History Channel.  (Comic cover right; can’t read artist’s name but it’s there.)

I’d like to share with you my thoughts about these shows and my perceived problems with them, then get into whether they help or hurt the cause for serious investigation into these creatures.

Hunting Cryptid Formula

With the three shows on Destination America, Mountain, Swamp and Alaska Monsters we clearly see a formula. They tell us a little about the creature they’re hunting, they go interview some witnesses and look at some “evidence.”

For me, that’s the first problem. We never see the evidence long enough to be able to analyze it. We just get quick glimpses of what instantly looks like some computer generated image (CGI) but I for one would like more time to analyze these things.

AlaskaMonstersThen there is the “footprint” evidence they occasionally find. To a one, they are all flat images that look like someone took a stamp and squeezed it against the dirt. When real trackers find prints, there is rarely a uniformity about the impression. Why? Because animals are alive and moving. Even Bigfoot prints show unevenness, dug in toes or heels. But the images from these programs all show what I believe are impressed, that is manmade, footprints.

As far as finding hair and scat samples – they love pointing them out but NO ONE puts any into a Ziploc bag for laboratory analysis by some scientists later on. That’s an egregious error if done by people who are seriously on the trail of a cryptid creature. And that’s why I doubt they are serious.

Other Problems

So the hunt continues and they hear all sorts of things and get glimpses of even more ephemeral things in the woods and bayous.

MountainMonstersBogus Glimpses

The worst example (in my opinion) of this “seeing things” occurred in a recent episode of Alaska Monsters. They were hunting the Otterman/Kushtaka and the youngest member of the group was seen ahead of them, then disappeared. But then he turns up right behind them saying he was behind them all the time. The implication is that the image of him they saw was actually the “shape shifting” Kushtaka. Um hmmm. We all saw the guy walking in front of the investigators – it could have been anyone in the crew in the dark considering the shot was somewhat unfocused.

Creature Calls

In all three shows the “creature calls” are awful. They just sound “canned” like they came out of an amateur studio technician’s repertoire. I’m sure I even heard a supposed “Yeti” roar on that TV show, Russian Yeti: The Killer Lives that was also played on Mountain Monsters in one of their shows. The sounds were exactly alike!

It’s so bad that I don’t believe a single creature call that we “hear” in any of these programs.

Camera Men in Peril

Don’t you love all the shots of the investigators running from harm’s way, sometimes even getting in a car/ATV/whatever and we see them race away into the darkness? So what happened to the camera man left behind to film the getaway? Are we to seriously believe that if anything was really trying to kill the investigators, they’d leave their crew behind? Would anyone be that heartless? I doubt it.

cryptids_by_heavymetalartwork-d6oi4ibThose Traps

All these shows seem to delight in making a newfangled trap to catch the cryptid of the week. Maybe it’s a redneck thing, but I look at them and think what a waste of a tree. They all make a lot of assumptions about cryptids they never see when deciding what’s big enough or clever enough to hold them. I look at them all and think “Rube Goldberg.” (Artwork left by HeavyMetalArtwork on Deviant.)

The Investigators

I think across the board, the producers have found some very interesting and fun characters to host these shows. I mean some of them are really “out there,” wouldn’t you say? But they’re also endearing in their own weird ways and that’s one of the things I like about these shows.

I also think they’d love to actually find these things the same way that we’d love them to find the creatures. So I give them A for effort.

I would also love to see them all lose those horrible, dirty beards – ewwww!!! But that’s just me.

SwampMonstersWhat about the Hog?

You may be thinking that on the show Mountain Monsters they were delighted with themselves because they actually trapped a large hog. Yes, but it wasn’t a monster sized hog or a cryptid.

Here’s the thing about these wild boar/hogs. They are overrunning many parts of the southern US at this point. I think by this time in Texas they must be a plague. Hunters are shooting them as quickly as they can because these porkers are literally ruining the landscape.

So to catch a wild boar in one of the Rube Goldberg style traps, isn’t that exciting to me. It’s not a cryptid.

(not) Finding Bigfoot

The Animal Planet program Finding Bigfoot sort of follows this same formula, but for me the saving grace is they have a skeptical scientist on board to lend balance to the investigation, Ranae Holland.

FindingBigfoootThe other three investigators on the show, Bobo Fay, Matt Moneymaker, and Cliff Barackman at least try to approach the search somewhat scientifically. I know they get into some weird things like having disco lights at night in the forest, playing guitars, hog calling, but for the most part, their approach is fairly sound.

Speaking of sounds, I think the main problem with their investigation is that they make toooo many sounds! They make too much noise, do too much calling and wood knocking – surely that’s going to scare away a wild animal. But I guess it makes for good TV.

At least they cast any footprints they find and they scientifically gather any hair or scat evidence they think they find – and they get it tested.

I hope they do one day bring home the definitive proof that Bigfoot exists to the point where the scientific community agrees and classifies the beastie as a new member on our roster of known animals.

One annoying thing about this show (and to be fair, many other programs, especially the ghost hunting ones) is that when they hear a call in the distance or a knock, we can’t hear it. Do you mean to tell me that audio technology in this day and age isn’t able to capture the sound so the TV viewing audience can hear it too? It drives me crazy!

Help or Harm?

These shows help bring a variety of cryptid creatures to our attention that we otherwise may never have heard about. That’s very true in my own experience. In fact, I’ve really enjoyed researching some creatures I never heard about before and sharing my findings here in CryptoVille.

But my goal, my drive, is to find the evidence that these creatures actually do or don’t exist. If they do exist, then I want to see us find evidence that will convince the scientific community at large. Anything less is unacceptable.

SwordFrom reading reviews and comments about these shows around the web, I can tell you that these shows do a lot of harm. People that would scoff at us for trying to prove the existence of these creatures to begin with, find our efforts even more laughable based on the “findings” of these TV programs.

These shows seem to erode any credibility the cryptozoological community has. It’s a shame, but there isn’t anything we can do about.

Except – bring home the definitive evidence one and for all.

Gold Standard: River Monsters

I don’t particularly like fish and I definitely have never felt the need to fish. Yet this man has me watching his show. How did that happen?

GoliathJeremy Wade is the reason this program is so excellent (with kudos to his excellent team of cameramen & crew). Take him away and Animal Planet would make it into just another silly show.

It helps that he’s a trained biologist and a serious investigator. He’s logical, rational, and very intelligent. His shows begin with a problem or mystery and he sets about solving it. And he always does.

My favorite episode was the one where he searched for the Loch Ness monster; a two hour episode. It was masterful. As a lover of cryptozoology with an entire website dedicated to the topic, I can say I am utterly convinced he solved the mystery of the Loch Ness monster. It was a fascinating journey of discovery.

If you get a chance to watch it, do. Be sure to watch the two hour version, as Animal Planet put together a one hour abridged version (do they think we have short attention spans?!!!).











He doesn’t build silly traps to catch his prey, he doesn’t rely on gimmicks like creature “calls,” and he always takes very good care of his crew. What he does do is educate us as the shows progress. We learn about fish biology, ecology, climatology, and even some sociology on occasion.

Quite a few times he’s started a show telling us about historical accounts of some creature of legend and folklore and then he goes and actually finds the fishy beast behind the tale. It’s incredible. I wish we could get him to look for Bigfoot!

So if you’re thinking of starting your own show about finding cryptids, this is the show to emulate.

Thumbs Up or Down

For now, these other cryptid shows are doing well which means lots of people are watching. I’m guilty of it myself, mainly because I like to hear about new creatures and also watching these guys go through their antics is often very amusing, not to mention mind boggling!

So what do you think about these cryptid shows? Do they do more harm than good?

The Kudimudra and the Disappearing Lake

Bunyip_(1935)A strange tale from Down Under, this time a monster that haunts a desert lake area. A lake that is sometimes there and sometimes not. Is this just another cryptozoology tale run dry, or could there be something to this mysterious tale?

The aboriginal people of Australia living around Lake Eyre tell the tale of the Kudimudra, a fearsome creature that eats people who wander into the lake. It’s supposed to look like a bunyip, a creature known throughout Australian aboriginal culture. The name varies from area to area, and so by Lake Eyre, it’s called the Kudimudra.

Bunyip translates to devil or evil spirit. They lurk near waterways throughout the continent. Descriptions from early 19th century newspapers described it as having the face of a dog on a crocodile head. It supposedly has tusks resembling those of a walrus, perhaps a duck-like bill, flippers, the tail of a horse, and dark fur! Westerners arriving in Australia found the natives so frightened and agitated by this evil spirit, that these people couldn’t give them an accurate description. Apparently!

Whatever it looks like, the Kudimudra belongs to the bunyip family. But there’s one problem with this tale – bunyips are associated with water and Lake Eyre is usually a dried up wasteland.

Here are some artists’ renderings of this creature:

























Lake Eyre

If it was full, Lake Eyre would be the largest lake in Australia and the third largest endoheic body of water in the world. Endoheic means that the waters from this lake don’t connect with the sea. Any rivers or waterways draining into it, hit a dead end, so to speak. They never reach the ocean.

lake-eyre-basinBut due to seasonal changes and other climatological conditions, the lake rarely ever fills completely. Making the lake seem further dried up, there are deep basins throughout its terrain, but if and when they are filled with water, it’s so far out that no one can see them.

The last time the lake was completely full was in the years 1974-1976!

On those rare occasions where surrounding rivers run full enough to raise the lake level to full (see satellite image below), they bring with them an abundance of fish into the lake. That in turn attracts thousands of birds as well as other land animals.

LakeEyre01Could the Kudimudra be among them?  If so, where does it go or hide during the dry times, which is most of the time in that desert area? Is it like the species of frogs that live in that lake and bury themselves until the next wet season?

I doubt we’ll ever know. And given the bizarre description of this beast, it seems unlikely to be real. I think it’s probably just a legend and folktale devised by the Aboriginal peoples.

(Unless someone gets a good photo of one during the next rainy season.   )

What do you think?


PS — They’re even on stamps!


Alaskan Tiger – Another Great Beast of the North?

Siberian TigerFerociousCryptozoology reports of a huge tiger living in the frozen wilderness of Alaska have been around for years. Is it really a tiger, or some other cryptid, unknown to science? CryptoVille investigates this monster-sized mystery and grabs this cryptid tiger by the tale, I mean tail!

The Siberian Tiger (panther tigris altaica), also known as the Amur tiger, is well known to science. It’s the largest tiger species in the world. Unfortunately, these beautiful stately animals are critically endangered.

The Siberian tigers live primarily in Eastern Russia with some making their way into China and North Korea. One of the interesting things about these tigers is that they live in harsh Northern climates. They are adapted to put up with cold temperatures and lots of snow. So does that mean they could survive in Alaska? Let’s see.

Science Says

Science tells us that these creatures can be fierce but they also tend to avoid humans. Living in such harsh and cold conditions helps them to avoid humanity who tend to visit those areas far less frequently than other places. There have been some cases when tigers turned into maneaters, but if memory serves, I think that was in India.

SiberianBearFightOne report I read stated that their favorite prey were red deer. Another said that they also eat elk and wild boar. (Taxidermy exhibit left between Siberian tiger and brown bear from Vladivostok Museum.)

In the early 90s, scientists were able to tag and monitor eleven tigers for a year and a half. What they found was the tigers far and away preferred to follow the red deer around, and didn’t pay much attention to wild pigs, elk, moose, or bear. That said, another study, per Wiki, found that when all sizes of prey animals are in the area, the tigers will go after the largest among them. Tigers have been known to kill and eat adult moose as well as bears weighing in excess of 990 lbs (450 kg).

So what does this mean for an Alaska tiger, if one exists? Well, the problem is red deer no longer live in Alaska. In fact no deer live in Alaska with the exception of a few along the Southern region, south of Juneau. So if they are the primary food source for Siberian/Amur tigers, we’ve got a problem.

Another interesting fact that science tells us: where tigers are present, wolf numbers drop dramatically. Now if it’s one thing that Alaska does have, it is wolves. So their presence would indicate the absence of tigers.


Siberian/Amur tigers grow between 8 and 10.5 feet long. They used to grow bigger but hunters have killed off the really big ones. Nowadays tigers are lucky to survive into adulthood for very long because hunters are still trying to kill them.

Anyway, the male can weigh between 450 – 675 pounds while the females weigh between 200 – 350 pounds. In the wild they generally live to be 10 – 15 years old. But in captivity, they can live up to 22 years and beyond.

The color of these tigers ranges from reddish-orange to a reddish-brown color. As you would expect, they have long vertical stripes on their sides.

These animals have a winter coat and a summer coat, so there are color variations according to season. I’ve read where they “lighten up” in winter, presumably to blend in better with the snow.


In a book review called Tiger Tales, Eric Morrison quotes author Alexander Dolitsky as saying, “The significance of the tiger to the cultures of the Russian Far East is comparable to the importance that many animals have in the cultures of the indigenous people of Alaska and the Arctic regions. It is a courageous character, so you will find the tiger character in the mythology and the legends and folktales of these people that see the tiger with admiration. It’s the same as some Native people see the wolf, for example, with admiration as well.”

If you ever take a cruise along the Inside Passage of Alaska, you may be surprised to see how much of a Russian influence is in the area. I visited there years ago and was quite surprised by it. So it leaves me wondering if this admiration for the tiger has just overflowed into the psyche of the Alaskan people via the Russian influence.

I wonder if knowing about a tiger that lives in the snowbound forests of Siberia may make one think that it probably lives in Alaska as well. As we all know, many creatures crossed the land bridge from Russia to Alaska a long time ago. Could the tigers have come through as well?

SizeComparisonTiger Migration

One source I read ( said outright that Siberian tigers were present in America in the state of Alaska about 100,000 years ago. They make this claim by pointing to the fossil record. (Picture right shows size differential between a Siberian tiger and a man.)

The scientist who discovered this data is Sandra J. Herrington who is/was associated with the Museum of Natural History, University of Kansas, Overland Park. Here’s what she found out.

I think we all know that when the Bering Land Bridge formed during various ice ages, it allowed animals from Asia to migrate over to the area now known as Alaska.  This bridge was made up of what scientists call “steppe tundra habitat.”  These kinds of areas have little to no places to hide.

That’s our first problem. Tigers only live in areas where they can be hidden at all times. They abhor being out in plain sight. Ms. Herrington quotes another scientist (Hopkins from a report issued in 1982) who thought the tundra may have included some areas that were wooded. The question then remains, was it wooded enough to satisfy the tigers’ need to hide?

SiberianSnowMs. Herrington says that they have fossil remains of lions (Panthera atrox) from that area. Could some of them be tiger fossils mistaken for lion fossils? The question arises because apparently it’s hard to tell the difference between a modern lion skeleton and that of a tiger, much less those of ancient fossilized lions and tigers.

Ms. Herrington figured out a reliable way to distinguish between the two. This wonderful discovery led to the knowledge that tigers at least got as far as the Eastern Bering land bridge (Beringia as science calls it) during the Wisconsin glacial period (85,000 – 11,000 years ago).

She writes, “These results suggest that other large fossil Panthera may have been misidentified, and additional evaluation may further increase the range of fossil tigers.”

Interestingly, the fossil tigers found in Beringia were the same size as modern day tigers.

siberian-tigerrelaxedAnother Monster for Alaska?

Based on my research, it seems unlikely that there are surviving tigers in Alaska today mainly because their favorite food source is missing (red deer) and the presence of wolves who tend to avoid areas with tigers.

That said, Alaska is so huge, vast, and unexplored, who can really say what’s lurking in all the hidden places of that landscape? I’d like to give the tigers a fighting chance. So I’ll say:

“However unlikely it is, there may be a chance that some tigers exist in Alaska.”

What do you think?


Brazil’s Mapinguari

Mapinguari01Another mysterious creature emerges from the mists of time in Brazil’s vast Amazonian rainforests! But there’s more mystery surrounding this cryptozoology puzzle than fact. Is this beast, the Mapinguari, a horrible monster worthy of the gaming world? Or just another misunderstood great ape, or giant sloth, or giant anteater …

I’ve done some research on supposed South American Bigfoots before and the one fact that is certain – there are more names for this (or these) creatures than one can possibly remember. So when I read about the Mapinguari, I was surprised to find that this may or may not be another iteration of a big hairy ape.

Another report I read stipulated that the Mapinguari is more like a giant ground sloth, not to be confused with the Mapinguary who was described as an “unknown hominid.” My head hurts!

So Mapinguary with a Y may be another Bigfoot cousin. But what about the other creature?

It seems that this beast, the Mapinguari (with an I), has been known for centuries, and its description can only be described as fantastical and downright crazy! Recent reports, though, sound more like a giant creature we may know in other parts of the world, more along the lines of the Mapinguary – the ape variety.

Mapinguari02Old Legends versus the New

The folklore of the natives still living in the Brazilian rainforests describe the Mapinguari as being a large animal with one great eye and backward-facing feet. Its claws are very long and its skin resembled that of a caiman (related to alligators). Finally it had a second mouth on its belly, huge and menacing.

In more recent times (the last hundred years or so), the creature has been most often likened to a giant ape, but some say they see what seems to be a giant ground sloth from time to time.

Sloths tend to have long arms with claws at the end. It is said that when it stands on its hind legs it reaches seven feet tall. Its fur is thick, matted, and very stinky.

Witnesses said that the creature shrieks horribly and when they shot it with arrows and bullets, the tough skin wasn’t penetrated.

Though it’s been said that this creature is definitely a carnivore, it has never eaten a human.

I think it bears pointing out that Bigfoots have long arms (minus the claws), but their hair gets matted and very stinky too. I think it’s more likely that an ape relative would shriek as I’ve never heard or read of a sloth making any great noise. Researchers believe Bigfoot is an omnivore, eating whatever it can get.

The puzzling aspect is that the skin of the creature proved impenetrable to bullets and arrows. Perhaps the humans just missed?

Divided Opinions

Some researchers think the Mapinguari is just a very old legend from the days when people remembered the giant animals that used to live in the area. Giant ground sloths were alive at the same time early humans were in that area. In fact, scientists believe humans hunted them as a food source.

Others “narrow” it down to three possibilities: either the Mapinguari is a giant ape, or a giant sloth (i.e., Megatherium Mylodon) that survived to the present day, or perhaps even a giant anteater (i.e., Myrmecophaga tridactyla)!

SturgeonOssiclesInterestingly, giant sloths had ossicles, or little bony protrusions on their skin that made them very tough and protected them from predators. That lends credence to the report that arrows and bullets couldn’t penetrate the skin. (Photo right shows bony protuberances, ossicles, along the side of a Lake Sturgeon in modern times.)

Let’s see what science has to say about the extinct giant sloth and giant anteater and how they compare to the legend of the Mapinguari.

GiantGroundSloth01Fact from Fiction: Megatherium Mylodon

Some people think the Mapinguari is a species of Mylodon which was a giant ground sloth. It’s believed they reached 7- 9 feet tall when they stood on their hind legs and get this – their very large claws wrapped around under their feet when they stood upright giving the appearance that the feet were facing backward! The Mylodon could weigh up to 5 tons.

Some described it as looking like a big bear except its head was more like a horse’s head. The tail looked like that of a kangaroo.

The big difference between the purported scary Mapinguari and this known creature from the fossil era is that Mylodon was a vegetarian while the Mapinguari was/is a carnivore.

Science also knows that Mylodon was covered in “sandy red hair” and they know this because in 1895 a big piece of Mylodon skin was found in the “Mylodon Cave” (excavation site) of Chilean Patagonia. (Photo below right.)

As late as 1994, ornithologist David Oren reported that the Amazonian people were still reporting sightings of Mylodon in the deep rainforests of their country.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAScientists believe these giant sloths dug extremely large “burrows” in the ground because they found some with sloth bones on the burrow floor as well as evidence of their claw marks along the side of the “walls.”

So it seems they were interesting creatures, to be sure. But could they be alive today? So little is known about those rainforests that I’m going to give the giant ground sloths a fighting chance and say maybe. Scientists will tell you that all ground sloths went extinct thousands of years ago, possibly as a result of overhunting by humans, or possibly as a result of some climate change in the area.

GiantAnteater01Fact from Fiction: Megatherium Tridactyla

Giant anteaters are still alive today and known to science. They live anywhere from the southern parts of Belize down to the northern sections of Argentina. They are 5 -7 feet long but only weigh between 40 and 100 pounds. Their head is narrow, their eyes very small, and they have a really long nose, and a super long sticky tongue.

These animals have very poor vision but an awesome sense of smell. I guess that’s important when you’re routing around for ants and termites beneath the ground.

This is fascinating: the anteater has very large claws on its front paws that turn under when they walk. So here we have another animal that looks like its feet are on backwards walking around the Amazonian rainforests!

Anteaters are related to sloths. There are four species of anteaters and six of sloths in the order Pilosa.

But look at the pictures. They still look like very different animals and how anyone could confuse these mild grazers with some horrible monster is beyond me. Science reports that the anteaters will defend themselves from predators and use their big claws to do some damage, but that’s in defense. They aren’t particularly aggressive.



As far as I’m concerned there is no way the “giant” Megatherium tridactyla is behind the legend of the menacing Mapinguari. The only thing they have in common is those backward facing feet.

What is the Mapinguari or Mapinguary?

There are precious few accounts of this creature nowadays, but I was able to find an article in September 1999 Discover magazine called Beasts in the Mists by Marguerite Holloway that describes in more detail David Oren’s attempt to find the legendary Mapinguari. It’s a wonderful read if you have the time. Here’s the link:

In his book, Mysterious Creatures: A Guide to Cryptozoology by George M. Eberhart, he mentions several interesting encounters with this beast. Here’s a synopsis of those events:

Mapinguari031930: While on an adventure with ten friends, a man named Inocencio got separated from his friends. This was in Rio Uatuma, Para State, Brazil. As night came on he got into a tree to sleep and stay safe. He said he heard “loud cries” and they were being made by a black, “thickset” figure that resembled a man. He shot it, but the creature got away, trailing blood behind it.

1975: In Rio Jamauchim, south of Itaituba, Para State, Brazil, mine worker Mario Pereira de Souza reported seeing a Mapinguari at their mining camp. There was a great scream then the creature came running towards him on its back legs. He said the creature was unsteady on its feet and smelled horrible. De Souza was so traumatized by the event he said he has never set foot in the rainforest since.

1980s and 1990s: David Oren found fifty witnesses who claimed to have seen the Mapinguari. The group was comprised of Brazilian Indians, mine workers, and workers from the area rubber plantations. There were reportedly seven more men interviewed who claimed to have shot the animal at one time or another.

In the Rio Jurua Valley, a group of Kanamari Indians said they “raised two infant Mapinguaris on bananas and milk.” They released them back into the wild when they were around one or two years old because they smelled so bad the people couldn’t stand it anymore.

Late 1990s: Villagers along the Rio Purus, Amazonas State, Brazil, relocated their homes across the nearby river because someone had found Mapinguari tracks on the original side of the river. This case was reported by Marc van Roosmalen, a Dutch zoologist.

Bottom Line

Based on my research, I think there might be a slim chance that the giant ground sloth is still alive and hiding in the deep Brazilian rainforests. If it is, I am sure it’s not the Mapinguari of legend. In the early 1970s, scientists found an “extinct” peccary in Paraguay – the Chacoan peccary, the third largest in South America, thought to have died out a few hundred years ago.

Many scientists travel the Amazon these days and one thing they all agree on is the ability of the dense, overgrown, pest-ridden forest to hide creatures and things. So why not some giant ground sloths?

Mapinguai-By-Glaucio_Compared_to_OrangutanThe original description of the Mapinguari with the second mouth in its belly, one eye on its head – sounds like the stuff of  nightmares and legend.  I don’t think it exists other than in fantasy games and perhaps some novels. (One scientist, Dale Drinnon, thinks the orangutan might be behind this monstrous depiction – see photo, right.)

That said, I have a pretty good suspicion who the real culprit is though. In my opinion, the one who scares the people living and working in the remote rainforests is most likely a relative of Bigfoot, in this case Mapinguary with a Y.

Look at it this way, there is pretty good evidence that Bigfoot cousins exist around the world, from Asia to Russia to the USA. I’ve learned a few things recently that make me even more sure this is the case.

HominidTimelineAnthropologists no longer consider the line of hominids on the “family tree” to be a straight line towards humanity. They see it more like a bush where various branches of hominids and apes branched off, most winding up at a dead end. That allows for a lot of variation within the species.

These scientists also believe that several species of hominid probably existed at the same time. For instance, remember when they thought Neanderthals had all died out before Homo Sapiens appeared on the scene? Now they know that’s not true and in fact, they’ve found some Neanderthal DNA in some human’s DNA!

My point is there probably were and are a lot of variations among hominids and who knows what else, hiding in the remote sections of the world. It’s frustrating to me that we can’t get to them and learn about them, but that day may come. It’s just going to take more research. And perhaps a bit of luck.

What do you think?





Alaska’s Otterman, or Kushtaka

WordIs the Otterman on the roster of Alaska’s state monsters? Does this cryptid actually exist? Or could something else be lurking in the wilderness, taking the blame? Cryptozoology fans will want to know, so CryptoVille investigates!

The next installment of Destination America’s new show, Alaska Monsters, will cover the Otterman. If nothing else, these shows bring to light creatures I never heard of before and I am delighted to investigate! So here’s my take on the Otterman.

In the folklore of the Tlingit and Tsimshian Indian tribes, Kushtaka (Kooshdakhaa) translates to “land otter man.” These creatures were said to shape-shift into human form or that of an otter.

Interestingly, the Dan’aina tribe of South Central Alaska and the Inupict tribe of Northern Alaska have their own names for these creatures: Nat’ina and Urayuli respectively.

Land_Otter_Man-cardVariety of Tales

There are many versions of the Kushtaka or Otterman stories. In some, they are kind and helpful while in others they are menacing tricksters that try to lure sailors to their deaths, people near the shore into the water, and small children into their clutches to steal their souls by turning them into Kushtakas.

Part of the legend says Kushtakas make a high pitched whistle – low, high, then low again. It’s also said they can be driven away with copper, urine, and sometimes fire.

Overall the Otterman’s goal seems to be to turn humans into more Kushtakas/ Ottermen. That’s where the terror comes into the story because according to Tlingit tradition, in order to be reincarnated and eventually reach everlasting life in the hereafter, one must be human. If one is turned into a Kushtaka, they are out of luck unless a Shaman finds them who can undo the damage.

It is said that the Ottermen are afraid of dogs, so having one nearby would protect you.

StrangestStoryOne Real-life Account

I found this story in an article on the EsoterX site called The Fearsome Alaska Tlingit Kushtaka: If it’s not One Thing, it’s an Otter. Harry Colp was a gold-prospector exploring the area around the Patterson Glacier, north of Thomas Bay, Alaska, with several colleagues. The year was 1900 and what he recorded in a manuscript was later discovered by his daughter. Sometime after that it was produced as “The Strangest Story Every Told.

“I left come the next morning, which was a fine sunny day. I took only the rifle with me, and when I came to the ridge, sure enough there were a few grouse hooting. I shot two and had gotten them when I bagged another one, which fell down the ridge about a hundred yards before it hung up.”

The story continues with him climbing down a ridge to fetch the dead bird when he spots a very promising ledge of quartz that he thought would have gold associated with it. He then began looking around for landmarks so he could find the area again to show his colleagues.

“… I turned half round to get a back sight on some mountain peaks, and lying below me on the other side of the ridge from the ledge was the half-moon lake the Indian had told me about.

Right there, fellows, I got the scare of my life. I hope to God I never see or go through the likes of it again. Swarming up the ridge toward me from the lake were the most hideous creatures. I couldn’t call them anything but devils, as they were neither men nor monkeys – yet looked like both. They were entirely sexless, their bodies covered with long coarse hair, except where the scabs and running sores had replaced it. Each one seemed to be reaching out for me and striving to be the first to get me. The air was full of their cries and the stench from their sores and bodies made me faint.

ThomasBayI forgot my broken gun and tried to use it on the first ones, and then I threw it at them and turned and ran. God, how I did run! I could feel their hot breath on my back. Their long claw-like fingers scraped my back. The smell from their steaming, stinking bodies was making me sick; while the noises they made, yelling, screaming and breathing, drove me mad. Reason left me. How I reached the canoe or how I hung on to that piece of quartz is a mystery to me.

When I came to, it was night; and I was lying in the bottom of my canoe, drifting between Thomas Bay and Sukhoi Island, cold, hungry, and crazy for a drink of water. But only to satisfy the latter urge, I started for Wrangell, and here I am. You no doubt think I am either crazy or lying. All I can say is, there is the quartz. Never let me hear the name of Thomas Bay again and for God’s sake help me get away tomorrow on that boat!”

This handwritten manuscript is kept at the Alaska State Library. (Map of Thomas Bay area above.)

What Academics Think

Anthropologists, folklorists, and psychology experts have many reasons to think the Otterman is a manifestation of humanity’s longing to explain existence,  death, and the hereafter. They go into quite a bit of detail explaining it.

But here in CryptoVille, we want to know is it really a cryptid or a legend?

So far my opinion is that Bigfoots are probably being confused with the Otterman legend. The description by Harry Colp sounds to me exactly like that of a group of Bigfoots. They can have open wounds or sores just like any other animal.









Why Pick an Otter?

I’ve wondered how an adorable otter became associated with such a horrible creature. Anthropologists have a long explanation for it, starting with the difference between sea otters and river otters and how the Tlingit perceive them, plus the priorities of the Tlingit culture … etc.

It’s interesting reading so if you’re up for a quick study, see my references below. (Southeast Alaska Indian art linked to adorable pictures of otters above and below, as seen on EsoterX website.)


otter_aaw2Overall, it reminds me of something that happens nowadays. You know how some people hate the Fall season because they see it as everything dying, drying up, disintegrating? Yet others look at this season as a time of abundance because of the harvesting, beauty because of the gorgeous leaves and happy pumpkins, and yummy food. I guess you could look at otters like the adorable fuzzballs they are, or see them as tricky, untrustworthy creatures.

The glass is either half full, or half empty, right?

Does the Otterman Exist?

There is no good evidence to point to and say there it is – an Otterman/ Kushtaka!  Certainly no evidence that will convince the scientific community.

That said, I think it’s more than likely that the Otterman of today is a Bigfoot. I don’t believe these animals shape-shift, steal souls, or lure people to their deaths.

I believe anthropologists, folklorists, and psychologists are pretty much right in their opinions of how the legend of Kushtaka arose and why it did.  Am I putting down the Indians’ belief system and folklore? No. They are entitled to believe what they want.

But as always, I’m looking for scientifically sound evidence that these animals exist. I’ve said before I’m convinced Bigfoots are real for a variety of reasons. And I feel pretty certain the Otterman is just another name for the big hairy guy we love to research and investigate.

What do you think?



Bulgarian Alien Seen Lurking in Forest – 7/11/14

YundolaBulgariaUFOs and Aliens at the topic of today’s post! Did some students catch an alien lurking in the forests of Bulgaria this past summer? Or is it some kind of monstrous hoax? Cryptozoology lovers will want to know, so CryptoVille investigates!

This video came to my attention recently and I was really struck by it for a number of reasons. We see Mexican TV host Jaime Maussan explaining what happened to a group of students hiking in the forests of Bulgaria. (Photo, above right.) He got his report from the Bulgarian news, Gustonews.

The students are seen climbing up a hill in a forest and one of them takes a photo using his cell phone. In the background we see something strange nestled between the tall skinny tree trunks. We see a tall, skinny, black eyed “being” staring at the students.

After that story, Jaime goes on to liken the first sighting to another seen in Ciudad Juarez. He shows us that photo where a young man is standing next to his car, having his photo taken. Behind him we seen a tall, skinny alien-type creature with the big black slanted eyes.

Finally, Jaime shares with us a photo taken in Switzerland in 2005, of a “creature” hiding in the woods.

Have a look at the video (4 minutes)  yourself, then I’ll share my thoughts with you:



Bulgarian Alien

Several things impress me. The creature, who they think is an alien, seems to be focused on the distance behind the students, not at the students. Shouldn’t he/it be more concerned that they’re coming right towards him?

How could the students have missed that thing which wasn’t far ahead of them?

If the alien didn’t want to be seen and wanted to observe the students covertly, why didn’t it hide better? I mean, it’s standing in plain sight!

The fact that students were involved, that this  “creature” seems to be a blow-up model of an alien makes me think this is certainly a hoax. Jaime Maussan said the Gustonews people checked the photo to be sure it wasn’t manipulated in any way. If we can believe that report, it only means the students had a blow-up model of a tall skinny alien that they stuck in the woods.

If they exist at all, then aliens should be able to observe us much more stealthily than following us around. They would probably have tiny drones and things they can send around to observe us.

Everything about this video screams HOAX to me.

Ciudad Juarez

So the young man having his photo taken in the dead of night leaving a lot of space to his left – for what? So they can get the blow-up alien doll in the image as well? Notice how the “creature” is listing forwards and the lack of movement anywhere, even its arms. Nothing about this video rings true either.

Swiss Missed?

Finally, the photo from Switzerland. The creature already looks like an x-ray, an effect further enhanced when they contrast the image! Again, if this thing didn’t want to be seen, why is it facing forward in clear sight of the camera?

It’s junk, in my opinion.  Aliens don’t hang around to have their photos taken.

Over at Roswell

Now let’s think about the images of the aliens in the first two segments, Bulgaria and Ciudad Juarez.  They looked so familiar to me, then I remembered something.

Here’s a photo of the alien display at the Roswell UFO Museum, Roswell, NM.


Look familiar, don’t they? That’s why I feel sure these other “alien photos” are hoaxed. Clever people around the world would be able to either make or obtain an alien figure then use it to hoax viewers around the world.

They drive me crazy!!

What do you think?

The Saber Wolf – Alaska’s Other Cryptid?

AlaskaCryptozoology reports from the vast state of Alaska indicate there’s another monster afoot in the frozen parts of the world! Is this mysterious creature a relic from the Ice Age, or something new coughed-up by evolution? CryptoVille shovels around searching for the truth!

Last Friday I was watching that new show on Destination America channel, Alaska Monsters. They mentioned this coming week’s episode will be about the saber wolf. I had never heard of that animal/cryptid, so I decided to do some research and see what else may be lurking in the wilds of the last great frontier!

Archaeological Record

To begin with, there was an animal called the Dire Wolf (Canis dirus) that lived in the Pleistocene era up to the most recent Ice Age. Its territory was the North American plains, so that’s pretty much the whole upper Mid-west to Western region, as well as Canada and Alaska.

SaberDireWolfbyFeralkynonDeviantFor some reason, people used to think this animal had long, saber tooth fangs and weighed upwards of 600 pounds, all of which they would use to hunt down and tear apart their unfortunate prey. (Artwork left by FeralKynon on Deviant.)

Thanks to more research done within the last decade, Science now tells us this wolf averaged about 100 – 150 pounds, but could grow up to 200 pounds. It was first thought this wolf was the predecessor of the dogs we know and love today, as well as the gray wolf, but DNA studies done in 2007 at UCLA, proved that was untrue.  The Dire Wolf seems to have died off in the last Ice Age, while another wolf species (Canis lepophagus) went on to survive and become the predecessor of today’s gray wolf and dogs.

The Dire wolf had bone-crushing jaws but archaeological evidence suggests it was a scavenger as well as a hunter. It was a social animal like wolves today, living in packs.

SaberDireWolfRealisticScientists also report that the brains of the Dire Wolf were smaller than those of today’s gray wolf. The Dire Wolf had short, stubby legs which they estimate could run about as fast as a house cat. (More realistic portrayal of the Dire Wolf, right, artist unknown.)

My first thought was that this animal may be a hangover from the Ice Age, still hiding out in the remote areas of Alaska. It could have been renamed by locals as the ferocious predator, the Saber Wolf. But that sounds less likely the more I read about Canis dirus.  Moving on.

Mythology of the Beast

The first fossil remains of the Dire Wolf were discovered in 1854 and people of the day were so fascinated and horrified that a mythology about the creature seemed to spring to life. Namely, they determined the animal was huge, muscular, of savage temperament, with diabolical saber-toothed fangs and glowing green eyes.

This description was picked-up in recent times by a variety of role-playing games and novels.

Odin_and_FenrirSome say the old Viking tale of Odin and Fenrir was the root of this legend. Fenrir was a humongous wolf that Odin chained as a pup. Once Fenrir grew to adult size, it turned on Odin and killed him. Odin’s son avenged his father’s death, killing Fenrir. A Dire Wolf is thought to have been the source for Fenrir’s description, but there’s one problem with that. The Viking poem describing all this was written in the 13th century. No one knew about Dire Wolves until 1854.  So I think we can put all that aside. (Artwork left by Dorothy Hardy, 1909, Odin and Fenrir.)

Do Saber Wolves Exist?

No one has the definitive answer to that, and I seriously doubt the TV program Alaska Monsters is going to shed any real light on whether it exists or not. (I hope I’m wrong!)

However, your intrepid host here has been wondering about this problem for a few days and I would like to share my conjecture with you. Remember this is only conjecture and theorizing – no actual proof.

Science seems pretty convinced that the Dire Wolf died out as the Ice Age ramped up. But they also say things like “probably, we think, it seems.” So they can’t say with 100% assurance at this point in time.

So, what if the Dire Wolf didn’t exactly die off, but instead mutated. I’m wondering about this because of something else I learned a couple years ago.

I was putting together an article about the Black Beasts of Britain. I learned that back in the 1600s, wealthy land owners feeling an economic pinch, let the animals from their menageries loose on the moors and in the forests around them.

I asked an expert in Evolutionary Genetics from the University of Florida if it was possible that in 400 or so years, those lions (and whatnot) could have evolved into their own species, different from their African cousins. He said it was biologically possible.  You can see that article here:

So what if the Dire Wolf, instead of dying out completely, evolved a bit differently over the next 12,000 years (the length of the last Ice Age).  Four hundred years versus 12,000 years – a lot could happen.

Let’s add to this the fact that every time we see a show about Alaska, we hear how vast and unexplored it is. We learn about dozens of planes going down and disappearing into thin air (or so it seems).  It’s not the kind of terrain that weekenders can just go out and have a look around.

Dire Wolf and SmilodonNow there are some hearty souls who live in remote areas of that state, and who may have had some close encounters with the more elusive creatures of the Alaskan wilderness.  Could some of these encounters be with an animal more like the imagined Saber Wolf? (Artwork right depicts a pack of Dire Wolves surrounding a Saber Toothed Tiger.)

I would like to leave the door open on this possibility.  Yes, we know there are no living descendants of Dire Wolves, at least in the lower 48. Yes, dogs and gray wolves evolved from another wolf, not the Dire Wolves.

But what was happening up in the remote wilderness of Alaska over the last Ice Age, 12,000 years in the making? Time may eventually tell, but for now, it’s a fascinating theory, at least to me.

What do you think?




Was a Chupacabra Caught by Texas Couple in April 2014?

Maybe you’ve seen this video circulating on the web, but it only just came to my attention. (Thank you Lisa WV!!) A couple, Jackie and Bubba Stock from DeWitt Texas, somehow captured this creature in a cage and were wondering if it was a chupacabra. They fed it cat food and corn which it seemed to eat quite happily. Based on the video alone, one wildlife biologist speculated it was a canine of some sort.

I was excited by what I was seeing … but then things didn’t quite add up. Look at the video which is about 2 minutes long:



The fact that it’s black and hairless really makes it look like the legendary chupacabra. The paws have long nails which I would expect a chupacabra to have. In the past, investigations into these cryptids have concluded they are some sort of canine or canine-coyote hybrid.

But look at the way this creature sits to eat. It sits on its hind legs. I don’t think dogs do that, at least I’ve never seen one do it.

So what could this be?

Some More Clues

Thanks to investigator Ben Radford in an article for Live Science, Texas ‘Chupacabra’ Turns Out to Be Imposter, we get closer to the truth.

Ben points out that the mouth and jaw of this animal are designed to grasp, tear, and rip – not to clasp onto an animal and suck blood. The jaw structure on this creature is typical for that of dogs, coyotes, foxes, and even raccoons.

When you look at the video, you can see the animal is happy to be eating the cat chow and corn which it wouldn’t be if it used blood to sustain itself.

Ben also pointed out the animal was caught in a tree. I don’t recall ever hearing of a chupacabra being spotted in a tree. Generally speaking, I also don’t know of any dogs, coyotes or foxes that climb trees.

Now let’s get back to how the animal was sitting while it ate. The long claws are very evident. Now add some hair and you have … a raccoon.



Put these clues all together and it’s pretty clear that this poor beastie is a mange-ridden raccoon. I hope they took it to a vet to get some treatment.

One other point – that growl. I don’t think it’s beyond the scope of a very frightened raccoon to make a guttural sound like that, especially when it’s sick. Animals can do crazy things with their voices, including humans.

Case in point:

I love that – the kitty was busted!! LOL!!

Chupacabra Debunked?

There was another body found by a Texa woman and rancher, Phylis Canion, a few years ago. She had two labs run a DNA analysis and the results were that the animal she had found was not that of any canine known to science at the time. It seemed to be more from the coyote family tree, however, this one, found by Canion, was a hybrid. It may take a while for science to catch-up to these creatures but for now none of them appear to be blood-suckers as evidenced by their jaw/mouth anatomy.

Blood Suckers

What kind of mouths do the blood suckers of the animal world have? Here are some examples. (Pictures below.)

First up, the ubiquitous mosquito – ouch!

Next, the Great Lakes lamprey (remember them from the River Monsters episode “Vampires of the Deep?”)

After that, a bed bug – the ones that love to suck our blood while we sleep at night!

Next, the blood sucking moth Calyptra thalictri. Lovely.

Finally, the mouth of a medicinal leech.

What do they have in common? It seems that when nature is creating a blood sucker, it goes in one of two ways: giving the animal a needle-like proboscis, or giving it a tightly rounded “mouth” with clasping ridges in the center of which is a rasping “beak” or tooth.

The final picture is an artist’s conception of what the chupacabra looks like. Done by Inchigo2546 on Deviantart.

Mosquito Great Lakes lamprey bedbugonskin-300x199 CalyptraThalictrimoth leach-mouth-bmp Monsters__Chupacabra_by_Ichigo2546


As far as the creature in this video goes, I’m satisfied that it’s a raccoon with the mange, poor thing.

Til the next time!


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