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Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Are there giant cats roaming the Australian bush?


 One of the great mysteries of the Australian bush concerns the reported sightings of big cats usually described as pumas or black panthers. In north-eastern NSW stories of the "Tyagarah Lion" have been passed down over the years. Local resident David saw one bounding along the side of the road and reported "This was along the Old Tyagarah Straight in about 1979, and I' ve never forgotten it."

Neil saw an animal that he could not identify in June 2003 while driving to Rosebank from Clunes at 8.30 pm. Two km to the south-west of the general store he and a friend saw in the car headlights an unusual animal cross the road 6 to 12 metres in front of them. It had a feline-like face and a long body and tail, from snout to tail tip at least one and a half metre in length, covered with yellow tawney fur.

There have been over one thousand reports of sightings in every state received by researchers, several have been photographed or videoed and at least two have been shot. Retired businessman Dale O'Sullivan unveiled to the media a stuffed puma in October 2003, which he said was shot by his father at their Woodend cattle stud property in Victoria the 1960s. The puma was stuffed and stored in a back room and forgotten about for nearly half a century.

Many of the forestry workers, working around the Grampian mountain range in Victoria, the Hamilton Mayor, the Superintendent and some of the staff of the Hamilton Water Trust had all had close encounters with brown and black pumas. Farmers have photos of sheep carcases hanging in gum trees or lying on the ground stripped of flesh. The only problem is that black pumas are unknown as specimens in museums or zoos. However, there have been many unconfirmed sightings of black pumas in North America. It is possible that if pumas are reduced to very few individuals then the inbreeding will produce a melanistic colour phase.

Reports have been received from Australian military personal at bases across the nation during WWII that pumas were kept at several bases and that US airmen used a compartment in Vultee Vengeance dive bombers to smuggle the cats into Australia. Brown and black pumas have been regularly sighted at Cordering in south-west Western Australia, Darwin, Cape York, the New England Tablelands, the Blue Mountains near Sydney and in Gippsland.


Sunday, March 28, 2010

The Thylacine or 'Tasmanian Tiger' - Native Australian marsupial dog



The Thylacine (binomial name: Thylacinus cynocephalus; Greek for "dog-headed pouched one") was the largest known carnivorous marsupial of modern times. It is commonly known as the Tasmanian Tiger (because of its striped back), the Tasmanian Wolf, and colloquially the Tassie (or Tazzy) Tiger or simply the Tiger.

Native to continental Australia, Tasmania and New Guinea, it is thought to have become extinct in the 20th century. It was the last extant member of its genus, Thylacinus, although several related species have been found in the fossil record dating back to the early Miocene.

The Thylacine had largely become extremely rare or extinct on the Australian mainland before European settlement of the continent, but it survived on the island state of Tasmania along with several other endemic species, including the Tasmanian Devil.

Intensive hunting encouraged by bounties is generally blamed for its extinction, but other contributory factors may have been disease, the introduction of dogs, and human encroachment into its habitat. Despite its official classification as extinct, sightings are still reported, though none proven.



Like the tigers and wolves of the Northern Hemisphere, from which it obtained two of its common names, the Thylacine was an apex predator. As a marsupial, it was not closely related to these placental mammals, but because of convergent evolution it displayed the same general form and adaptations. Its closest living relative is thought to be either the Tasmanian Devil or Numbat.

The Thylacine was one of only two marsupials to have a pouch in both sexes (the other being the Water Opossum). The male Thylacine had a pouch that acted as a protective sheath, protecting the male's external reproductive organs while running through thick brush.



Saturday, March 20, 2010

Mexican police ask spirits to guard them in drug war


In secret meetings that draw on elements of Haitian Voodoo, Cuban Santeria and Mexican witchcraft, priests are slaughtering chickens on full moon nights on beaches, smearing police with the blood and using prayers to evoke spirits to guard them as drug cartels battle over smuggling routes into California.

Other police in the city of Tijuana, across the border from San Diego, tattoo their bodies with Voodoo symbols, believing they can repel bullets.

"Sometimes a man needs another type of faith," said former Tijuana policeman Marcos, who left the city force a year ago after surviving a drug gang attack. "I was saved when they killed two of my mates. I know why I didn't die."

Violence has exploded along the U.S. border since President Felipe Calderon set the army on drug cartels in late 2006. Turf wars have killed 19,000 people across Mexico over three years.

Badly-paid Mexican police have long prayed to Christian saints before going out on patrol in Mexico, the world's second-most populous Roman Catholic country after Brazil.

Cops are part of a messy war between rival trafficking gangs and the army as cartels infiltrate police forces, offering officers cash to work and even murder for them or a bullet if they say no. More than 150 police are among those killed in Tijuana and the surrounding Baja California state since 2007.

Army raids on homes of police working for cartels have found ornately adorned Santeria-type altars covered with statues and skulls stuffed with money paying homage to gods and spirits.

"We all know that guns and body armor are useless against the cartels because they are well-armed and can attack any time. But this is something we can believe in, that really works," said a Tijuana-based policeman called Daniel.


BLACK MAGIC

A battle between top drug lord fugitive Joaquin "Shorty" Guzman and the local Arellano Felix drug clan has wrecked tourism in Tijuana and shuttered manufacturing businesses.

Small groups of police in the city started turning to strange rituals about 18 months ago, a practice spotted when municipal cleaners found a trail of dead chickens on beaches.

Priests and police say the animal sacrifices release life to rejuvenate spirits that will shield officers against hitmen. They believe the effects are intensified on full moon nights.

Many police see a need to shield themselves from witchcraft used by drug gangs who mix Caribbean black magic and occultism from southern Mexico using things like human bones, dead bats and snake fangs to curse enemies and unleash evil spirits.

Others worship the Mexican cult of "Saint Death", a skeletal grim reaper draped in white and carrying a scythe.

The rituals are carried out by sometimes shadowy Mexicans who have menial day jobs and are priests by night. They claim to be trained in Voodoo, Santeria and other religions from time spent in the Caribbean and in Mexican towns like Catemaco, a center for witchcraft on the Gulf of Mexico.

Police have the quiet support of their superiors.

"We know some agents use charms, saints and other methods for their protection," said Baja California federal police chief Elias Alvarez. "They look for something to believe in."

Mexico's often poorly armed police are intimidated by hitmen with automatic rifles, grenades and rocket launchers and despite low wages of around $300 a month some pay up to $160 for a tattoo of a Voodoo spirit like the three-horned Bosou Koblamin who protects his followers when they travel at night.

On the trail of the Skunk Ape, mystery ape of the Everglades



The Skunk Ape is a hominid cryptid said to inhabit the Southeastern United States, from places such as Oklahoma, North Carolina and Arkansas, although reports from the Florida Everglades are particularly common. It is named for its appearance and for the unpleasant odor that is said to accompany it.

According to the United States National Park Service, the skunk ape exists only as a local myth. Reports of the Skunk ape were particularly common in the 1960s and 1970s. In the fall of 1974, numerous sightings were reported in suburban neighborhoods of Dade County, Florida, of a large, foul-smelling, hairy, ape-like creature, which ran upright on two legs.

In 2000, two photographs of an alleged ape, said to be the Skunk Ape, were taken anonymously and mailed to the Sarasota Sheriff's Department in Florida. They were accompanied by a letter from a woman claiming to have photographed it on the edge of her backyard.

The photographer claimed that on three different nights the ape had entered her yard to take apples from a bushel basket on her porch. She was convinced it was an escaped orangutan. The police were dispatched to the house numerous times but when they arrived the Skunk Ape, also known as the stink ape was gone. The pictures have become known to Bigfoot enthusiasts as the "skunk ape photos".

The photographer still has not been identified. So although the photos are compelling and Coleman does not think they are part of a hoax, they still are not proof positive.

Loren Coleman is the primary researcher on the Myakka photographs, having helped track down the two photographs to an "Eckerd photo lab at the intersection of Fruitville and Tuttle Roads" in Sarasota County, Florida.

N AUGUST, 2004, Jennifer Ward was driving on a rural road in Southern Florida. She had just been visiting a friend and, as the sun was setting, she was now on her way home with her two daughters asleep in the back seat.

Something on the side of the road caught her attention. She suspected it was an animal of some kind, but could not tell what. She slowed the car to a crawl to get a better look. It appeared to be crouched in a ditch on the roadside. It was something large. Something she had never seen before.

As she neared it, the creature noticed her and stood to its full height – on two legs. It was the last thing Jennifer expected to see. “When he saw me, he was as surprised as I was,” she told the Sun-Sentinal. “I didn't stop because I was scared. It was almost dark, but I could see it and get a good look.”

What Jennifer described was a mysterious creature that has been seen in virtually every state of the Union, but has never been scientifically classified. It stood six to eight feet tall, she reported, and was covered in dark hair about two inches long. The area around its eyes was whitish and its full lips had the color and texture of the pad on a dog’s paw.


The Skunk Ape is thought to dwell in Florida’s swamps and Everglades. Researchers suspect that the individual Jennifer encountered may have been displaced by Hurricane Charley, which recently had ravaged the area.

Despite the number of sightings – the largest number of Bigfoot-type sightings outside the Pacific Northwest where Sasquatch resides – the rangers who regularly patrol the large nature preserves are skeptical about the existence of the Skunk Ape. So far, no rangers have officially reported any sightings.

David Shealy, a Skunk Ape researcher and lifetime resident of the Everglades thinks otherwise. He believes he has evidence in the form of a plaster cast of a large Skunk Ape footprint and a reddish hair sample that was found in a broken branch seven feet above the ground. Shealy also runs a small roadside “zoo” and a gift shop stocked with Skunk Ape memorabilia, so he may have a vested interest in keeping the creature alive in the minds of the public.


There was a wave of sightings in the 1970s, all consistently describing the animal as reaching about seven feet tall, weighing about 300 pounds or more, and to be foul-smelling. (Although Bigfoot or Sasquatch is also said to be bad-smelling, the Skunk Ape’s odor is particularly offensive.)

Sightings became scarcer over the following 30 years and then escalated again in the 2000s, with most sightings coming out of the Ochopee area. A group of people taking a guided tour of a swamp area claimed to have seen a large, hairy ape-like creature walking along the banks of the swamp.

Soon after, a local fire chief named Vince Doerr said he saw it crossing a road near his home, and before it disappeared into the swamp, he managed to snap a photo of it. Because the creature is some distance away in the photo, it is considered interesting but not conclusive evidence. In fact, Doerr himself later stated that he suspected it was just someone in a gorilla suit.

Jennifer Ward’s account of her sighting is also highly compelling, and adds yet another piece in the hairy hominid puzzle.

Fish with transparent head





Since 1939, scientists have thought the "barreleye" fish Macropinna microstoma had "tunnel vision" due to eyes that were fixed in place. Now though, Monterey Bay Aquarium researchers show that the fish actually has a transparent head and the eyes rotate around inside of it.

Video from MBARI's remotely operated vehicles (ROVs) to study barreleyes in the deep waters just offshore of Central California. At depths of 600 to 800 meters (2,000 to 2,600 feet) below the surface, the ROV cameras typically showed these fish hanging motionless in the water, their eyes glowing a vivid green in the ROV's bright lights. The ROV video also revealed a previously undescribed feature of these fish--its eyes are surrounded by a transparent, fluid-filled shield that covers the top of the fish's head.

Most existing descriptions and illustrations of this fish do not show its fluid-filled shield, probably because this fragile structure was destroyed when the fish were brought up from the deep in nets.

The researchers were able to bring a net-caught barreleye to the surface alive, where it survived for several hours in a ship-board aquarium. Within this controlled environment, they were able to confirm what they had seen in the ROV video--the fish rotated its tubular eyes as it turned its body from a horizontal to a vertical position.

Strange Florida Lagoon creature video, the 'Muck Monster'



WEST PALM BEACH, FL -- There's something lurking just under the surface of the Lake Worth Lagoon.

Greg Reynolds of LagoonKeepers.org recalls, "Channel marker ten is the first time we saw the unknown creature." "I hollered out...and said what is that? We followed it, started taking video."


Don Serrano was with Reynolds. "I didn't know what it was….I was like HEY LOOK! And we moved over and saw it. It was different, very different."

"Little wakes and just kind of moving like this…real long ones too, just like that."

Reynolds remembers, "We sped up on it to catch up to it and we got up on it, it dove down." "Every time we get 10 feet from it, it would just disappear."

What could it be?

"Who knows? I have no idea, but it was something that’s for sure, without a doubt," said Serrano.

Thanks to the LagoonKeepers, until it's identified, it has a name:

Reynolds calls it, "The elusive muck monster!"

Thomas Reinert, a Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission Marine Biologist studied the video and said: "This appears to be one animal moving in this direction…nothing's breaking the surface. Typically dolphins break the surface, sea turtles, manatee, a large school of fish, if it were a shark at that level you would see a fin."

"I cant definitely say what it is." "I can speculate but we need more evidence to determine the identity of the Lake Worth muck monster," said Reinert.

"We spend a lot of time out here on the water and seen a lot of different creatures out here and this is the first time in three and half years that I’ve ever seen anything out here that didn't know what it was," Reynolds said.
"We see dolphins out there, sharks, we always see a fin."

Whatever it is, it certainly has people talking, and watching.



Sunday, March 14, 2010

The Big Hairy Truth is Out there



.. like it :)

The 'Ropen' - Are there giant flying creatures on the remote islands of Papua New Guinea?




Shortly after World War II, as Western missionaries began to penetrate the deep jungles and remote islands of Papua New Guinea, stories of a flying creature called the Ropen ("demon flyer") began to be reported. 

Described as a nocturnal creature, the Ropen possesses two leathery wings like a bat, a long tail with a diamond-shaped flange on the end, a beak filled with teeth, and razor-sharp claws. The creatures inhabit the caves that dot the islands of New Britain and Umboi, located in the Bismarck Archipelago and are known to the locals of the area as Indava, Duwas, Seklo-bali, Kundua or Wawanar.

Reports seem to fit the presumed-extinct Rhamphorhynchus, a pterodactyl with a wingspan of 3-4 feet. Like the Kongamato in Kenya, the Ropen is said to have a taste for decaying human flesh and has even harassed native funeral gatherings with western missionaries present.

Carl E. Baugh of the Creation Evidence Museum has conducted two Ropen expeditions to New Guinea. He observed one of the creatures through a monocular night scope and snapped a picture of a strange print in the sand the next morning.

In 1987, Tyson Hughes, an English missionary, began an 18-month contract to assist the Moluccan tribespeople of Ceram Island, Indonesia to develop efficient farms. Tyson heard stories about a terrifying creature called the Orang-bati ("men with wings") that possesses enormous leathery wings like a bat and live in the caves of Mount Kairatu, an extinct volcano situated in the center of the island.

According to the book Searching for Ropens, a'Ropen' it is "any featherless creature that flies in the Southwest Pacific, and has a tail-length more than 25% of its wingspan."

On Umboi Island the word "ropen" refers to a large nocturnal creature that glows briefly as it flies. The ropen is the subject of folklore (like a man but also like a spirit) but it's believed by some natives to be a real animal. Descriptions vary, but it is often said to be batlike, and sometimes, Pterosaur-like; although pterosaurs are believed to have been extinct for 65 million years.

The ropen is believed to be nocturnal and to exhibit bioluminescence. Purportedly it lives on a diet of fish, though there have been some reports of the creature feasting on human flesh, especially grave robbery.






Investigations

As an attempt to discredit mainstream scientific views on the age of the Earth, several expeditions have been embarked upon by American creationists, including Carl Baugh, Paul Nation, Jonathan Whitcomb, David Woetzel, and Garth Guessman.

In late 2006, Paul Nation, of Texas, explored a remote mountainous area on the mainland of Papua New Guinea. He videotaped two lights that the local natives called "indava." Nation believed the lights were from the bioluminescence of creatures similar to the ropen of Umboi Island. The video was analyzed by a missile defense physicist who reported that the two lights on the video were not from any fires, meteors, airplanes or camera artifacts. He also reported that the image of the two lights was authentic and was not manipulated or hoaxed.

In 2007, cryptid investigator Joshua Gates went to Papua New Guinea in search of the Ropen for his TV show Destination Truth. He and his team also witnessed strange lights at night and could not confirm what they were.

In 2009, the television show Monster Quest conducted an expedition in search of the "demon flyer" but found no evidence of the creature. Later, they had a forensic video analyst examine the Paul Nation video. The analyst could not definitely conclude what was causing the lights, but ruled out vehicles and campfires believing the footage was of a pair of bioluminescent creatures perched in a tree that later take flight.





Identity

As is often the case with cryptids, the Ropen's true identity is subject to debate. Some believe it to be a pterodactyl-like creature, while others suggest that the Ropen is a misidentified bat (e.g. flying foxes, which are large fruit bats than can have wingspans up to two metres (six feet), or frigatebird.

Flying lights in Papua New Guinea have been reported by not only natives but by Western visitors. Evelyn Cheesman, the entomologist, mentions them in her book The Two Roads of Papua (published in 1935): "baffling" lights that lasted "about four or five seconds."


Giant Snake in Amazon


IT SOUNDS like an Indiana Jones adventure. After 23 years of research including the detailed study of ancient art, cultures spanning 3000 years and three continents to the latest in satellite imaging technology, a father and son make an extraordinary trip deep into the heart of the Peruvian Amazon to confirm their theories that this is where a giant anaconda with a difference lives.
But that's precisely what Lisburn man Mike Warner (73) and his son Greg (44) have done, seeking evidence that this was the home of the Yacumama and actually capturing a picture of the creature. A leviathan of the jungle, which reports say reaches 40 metres in length and two metres in diameter, it dwarfs any snake known to science.

This anaconda is not green but dark brown and is known by the locals as the 'black boa' or 'Yacumama'.

"Yacumama is translated as Mother of the Water and reports of this giant snake abound throughout the Amazon basin and history."
Mike, who is partially sighted, has spent 23 years researching the beast but it was only six months ago when his son discovered his research documents and they decided to take part in the incredble journey.

Cryptozooologist Mike of Hillhall spent his life savings setting up the expedition with Greg to find out more about the snake, which reports say can engorge water then shoot a monkey out of a tree like a water canon.

The team spent 12 days in March using the latest satellite equipment to take images of the huge reptile and were able to officially announce the discovery on May 2.

The explorers were dogged by hazardous weather conditions in the middle of the rainy season but eventually managed to take off by hydroplane from the Amazon River on day five of the expedition.

"Despite being buffeted by a freak storm we managed several flyovers at an average altitude of 400 feet recording video footage from two cameras at either side to the rear of the aircraft and Greg, located in the front with the pilot, taking around 300 still photographs" said Mike who had his 73rd birthday while in Peru.

After an exhausting 12 days in the jungle and a 30 hour trip back home the father and son team were finally able to examine their photo evidence in more detail, over 700 photos and five hours of video

"The data is immense and will take months to fully appreciate but already it supports our theories of 'channels' created by these giants as they make their way through the dense jungle knocking down trees 90 feet tall, but more importantly we managed to catch one of these reclusive giants on camera as it made its way through one of its watery channels."

It was Colonel Percy Fawcett, who was commissioned by the Royal Geographical Society of London in 1906 to map an area of the Peruvian Amazon in a dispute over rubber production who, after an encounter with a giant anaconda, first documented large 'trails 6 feet wide' or what are now called 'channels'.

And according to Greg it was the link made between his account and the evidence of large irregular 'channels' at the site they visited that led to the discovery.

They have now shared their findings with the Peruvian government, the National Geographic Society in Washington and Queens University in Belfast.

The team will now spend months analysing the footage and plan to return to same location in October to get thermal imagery which will help find the numbers of anacondas. This time they hope to bring with them a television crew.

Greg concluded: "The real hero is my father. It must be incredible to have spent 23 years researching this and then to succeed in an expedition where others had failed."
There was an amazing postscript to their trip when an anaconda, believed to be the one they located in March, is thought to have been responsbile for smashing the house of an elderly couple in a small village in Peru earlier this week.

The Minhocão



In the late nineteenth century, many sightings surfaced from South America of a creature called the minhocão. This creature was reputed to be similar to a huge earthworm. An article by Auguste de Saint-Hilaire in the American Journal of Science was the first published reference to this shadowy creature of southern Brazil. Its name, he said was derived from the Portugese minhoca (earthworm). Sainte-Hilaire recorded several instances, usually at fords of rivers, where livestock were captured by one of these creatures and dragged under the water. Instances he recounted took place at the Rio dos Piloes, Lake Padre Aranda, and Lake Feia, all in the province of Goyaz.

A possible parallel with the Brazilian beast was described in 1866 by Paulino Montenegro. He described a creature in the folklore of Nicaragua called sierpe. This animal was described as "like a large snake," and lived in ponds called chaquites.

Legends of the Minhocão were nearly forgotten until 1877, when another article was written on the creature, this time for the German publication Zoologische Garten by zoologist Fritz Müller. He provided further data on the monster, including accounts of trenches dug by the subterranean creature which were so large as to divert rivers, and which destroyed entire orchards. This article also included, unlike Saint-Hilaire's, an actual sighting of the monster. The sighting took place sometime in the 1840s near the Rio dos Papagaios in Paranà State.

A black woman going to draw water from a pool near a house one morning ... saw a short distance off an animal which she described as being as large as a house moving off along the ground. ... In the same district a young man saw a huge pine suddenly overturned ... he found the surrounding earth in movement, and an enormous worm-like black animal in the middle of it, about twenty-five metres long, and with two horns on its head.

He also mentioned a sighting which took place in 1849. Lebino José dos Santos heard tales of a Minhocão which had been found dead near Arapehy, Uruguay. The creature was found lodged between two rocks. It was reputed to have skin "as thick as the bark of a pine-tree" and was armored with "scales like those of an armadillo." One was also seen near Lages, Brazil in approximately 1870.

Francisco de Amaral Varella ... saw lying on the bank of the Rio das Caveiras a strange animal of gigantic size, nearly one metre in thickness, not very long, and with a snout like a pig, but whether it had legs or not he could not tell. ... whilst calling his neighbours to his assistance, it vanished, not without leaving palpable marks behind it in the shape of a trench ...

Two possible theories were proposed for the identity of the Minhocão. One, which is generally the most popular, holds that the creature was none other than a surviving glyptodont (a prehistoric South American animal which resembled an armadillo). Another held that it was a large species of lepidosiren (serpentine South American lungfish).

Karl Shuker debunks the glyptodont theory in his discussion of the creature by pointing out that glyptodonts were not burrowing animals (in addition to their lack of adaptations for burrowing, such as massive claws, their well-developed defenses were evidence that they lived much of their life above ground and near predators) and that they were presumably not nearly as aquatic in nature as the Minhocão is supposed to be. In addition, he points out that, contrary to what may be thought, the armored carapace of the glyptodonts was not terribly similar to that of an armadillo.

He goes on to debunk the lepidosiren theory and to endorse an identification of the creature as a species of caecilian. Caecilians are wormlike amphibians native to Mexico and South America, among other places. They physically resemble earthworms, and unlike most amphibians, live their lives nearly entirely below ground. Two sensory organs on the animals' head which, at times, resemble horns. Caecilia can also grow quite large (one Colombian species grows to nearly 5 feet).

The giant caecilian theory is certainly an enticing one and one which could yet prove to be true, although doubtless the creature would prove to be much larger than any known caecilian. In my view, though, Shuker's dismissal of the lepidosiren theory does not sit well. This possible identity should not be ruled out entirely. Given the evidence, we may conclude that the glyptodont theory, although appealling, does not account for the sightings.

But the case may never be proven, as the Minhocão has not been sighted since the 1870 sighting recounted above. It may be that the creatures have become extinct since the "heyday" of reports, unless one considers certain reports, usually passed off as being of a Sucuriju gigante or giant anaconda, of horned water serpents.

The Mongolian Death Worm



Trudging carefully across the arid sands of the Gobi desert, Czech explorer Ivan Mackerle is careful not to put a foot wrong, for he knows it may be his last. He scours the land and shifting valleys for tell-tale signs of disturbance in the sands below, always ready for the unexpected lurch of an alien being said to kill in one strike with a sharp spout of acidic venom to the face. A creature so secretive that no photographic evidence yet exists, but the locals know it’s there, always waiting in silence for its prey, waiting to strike – the Mongolian Death Worm.


Reported to be between two and five feet long, the deep-red coloured worm is said to resemble the intestines of a cow and sprays a yellow acidic saliva substance at its victims, who if they’re unlucky enough to be within touching distance also receive an electric shock powerful enough to kill a camel… or them.



Given the latin name Allghoi khorkhoi, the Mongolian Death Worm was first referred to by American paleontologist Professor Roy Chapman Andrews (apparently the inspiration for the Indiana Jones character) in his book On the Trail of Ancient Man, in 1926 but he didn’t appear to be entirely convinced about the whole idea. Even though locals were desperate to relay events of when the dreaded worm struck, Andrews writes: “None of those present ever had seen the creature, but they all firmly believed in its existence and described it minutely.” But it wasn’t to stop other inquisitive adventurers taking up the investigative mantle when Andrews was no longer interested, or able to pursue the matter.



Only a few years ago, in 2005, a group of English scientists and cryptozoologists spent a month in the hostile Gobi desert searching for the fabled creature, and although they spoke to a number of Mongolians in the area, all of whom regaled wondrous stories of the worm, no one could verify they had seen the creature first-hand. Even still, after four weeks the team had gathered enough verbal evidence to be convinced that the worm really does exist. Lead researcher, Richard Freeman, said: “Every eyewitness account and story we have heard describes exactly the same thing: a red-brown worm-like snake, approximately two feet long and two inches thick with no discernable head or back (tail).”

Today, it is Ivan Mackerle, a self-made cryptozoologist who travels the world in search of scientific evidence that proves creatures like the Loch Ness monster and Mongolian Death Worm exist. As a boy he read the stories of the Russian paleontologist Yefremov, who wrote about a worm, which resembled a bloody intestine, that could grow to the length of a small man and mysteriously kill people at great distance, possibly with poison or electricity.



Mackerle says: “I thought it was only science fiction. But when I was in university, we had a Mongolian student in our class. I asked him, ‘Do you know what this is, the Allghoi khorkhoi?’ I was waiting for him to start laughing, to say that’s nothing. But he leaned in, like he had a secret, and said, ‘I know it. It is a very strange creature.’”

So Does the Mongolian Death Worm really exist, and what if it does?

This insistence by locals that worm is a reality will continue to fuel inquisitive minds and as long as open-mindedness remains a fair virtue, we’re prepared to wait a little longer for empirical proof of its existence.

Just remember, if you do decide to go Death Worm hunting in the Gobi desert, don’t wear yellow, seemingly that’s the color that sends our wrinkly friend into one its trademark electrifying, spitting freak outs. Don’t say we didn’t warm you.

The giant snakefish





In 2002, the snakefish (or Channidae) was described as “something from a bad horror movie” by US Interior Secretary Gale Norton.

Some describe snakefish as having ”a voracious appetite, often consuming all other fish in a lake or pond and even eating its young. It can slither across land, staying out of water for up to three days, to find new sources of food.”

Norton also warns that once on land ”snakeheads can eat almost any small animal in its path…. They have even attacked people in China who got too close to snakeheads’ egg nesting areas.” According to Wikipedia, snakefish can be up to over a metre in length and over 6 kilograms in weight.



Most snakefish are 2-3 feet long. They’re also fast reproducers with no natural enemies outside of their native environments. Within their native environments, small snakefish are preyed upon by bigger fish, while full-grown snakefish are consumed by crocodiles and alligators.

Because of their ability to move into new habitats and wipe out local ecosystems (and to cross from one body of water to another and repeat the process) snakefish have been prohibited in 13 American states and other countries (e.g. Australia).

The Jersey Devil



The Jersey Devil, sometimes called the Leeds Devil, is a legendary creature or cryptid said to inhabit the Pine Barrens in southern New Jersey. The creature is often described as a flying biped with hooves.

Most accounts of the Jersey Devil legend attribute the creature to a "Mother Leeds", a supposed witch of whom it is said that after giving birth to her 12th child, stated that if she had another, the devil could take it. . According to the story, her wish was granted, and upon its birth, her grotesque offspring flew off into the surrounding pines.

Throughout the 1800s, the Jersey Devil was blamed for livestock killings, strange tracks, and reported sounds. In the early 1900s, a number of people in New Jersey and neighboring states claimed to witness the Jersey Devil or see its tracks.


As the story spread, even grown men declined to venture out at night. It was said that the beast carried off large dogs, geese, cats, small livestock and even occasional children. The children were never seen again, but the animal remains were often found. The Devil was also said to dry up the milk of cows by breathing on them and to kill off the fish in the streams, threatening the livelihood of the entire region.

In 1740, the frightened residents begged a local minister to exorcize the creature, however the Devil returned to the Pine Barrens on at least two occasions before the century was over. Legend has it that naval hero Commodore Stephen Decatur visited the Hanover Iron Works in the Barrens in 1800 to test the plant’s cannonballs. One day on the firing range, he noticed a strange creature winging overhead. Taking aim, he fired at the monster and while some say that his shot struck it, the Devil continued on its path.

The second sighting took place a few years later and this time the Devil was seen by another respected witness. Joseph Bonaparte, the former king of Spain and the brother of Napoleon, leased a country house near Bordertown from 1816 to 1839. He reported seeing the Jersey Devil while hunting game one day in the Pine Barrens.

The Devil brought terror to the region. It snatched sheep from their pens and preyed on children who lingered outside after sunset. People all across South Jersey locked their doors and hung a lantern on the doorstep, hoping to keep the creature away.

The stories continued to be told and the lore of the Devil was recalled throughout the 1800’s, although actual sightings of the creature were few. Then, in 1909, the Jersey Devil returned again and literally thousands of people spotted the monster or saw his footprints. It became so bad that schools closed and people refused to go outside.

A police officer named James Sackville spotted the monster while walking his beat one night. He was passing along a dark alley when a winged creature hopped into the street and let out a horrific scream. Sackville fired his revolver at the beast but it spread its wings and vanished into the air.

In spite of the sightings, the beast was always considered a regional legend until the bizarre flap in 1909, which even the most skeptical researchers admit contains authentic elements of the unexplained. Many people saw the creature during the month of January, including E.W. Minster, the postmaster of Bristol, Pennsylvania, which is just over the New Jersey border. He stated that he awoke around 2:00 in the morning and heard an “eerie, almost supernatural” sound coming from the direction of the Delaware River.

He looked out the window and saw what looked to be a “large crane” that was flying diagonally and emitting a curious glow. The creature had a long neck that was thrust forward in flight, thin wings, long back legs and shorter ones in the front. The creature let out a combination of a squawk and a whistle and then disappeared into the darkness.

Sightings continued. On January 19, 1909, Mr. and Mrs. Nelson Evans were awakened in the early morning by the sound of a large animal on the roof of their shed. They described it as: “about three and a half feet high, with a face like a collie and a head like a horse. It had a long neck, wings about two feet long and its back legs were like those of a crane and it had horse’s hooves. It walked on its back legs and held up two short front legs with paws on them.”

One afternoon of that same week, a Mrs. J.H, White was taking clothes off her line when she noticed a strange creature huddled in the corner of her yard. She screamed and fainted and her husband rushed out the back door to find his wife on the ground and the Devil close by, “spurting flames”. She chased the monster with a clothesline prop and it leapt over the fence and vanished.

A short time later, the creature struck again. This time, it attacked a dog belonging to Mrs. Mary Sorbinski in south Camden. When she heard the cry of her pet in the darkness, she dashed outside and drove the Devil away with a broom. The creature fled, but not before tearing a chunk of flesh from the dog. Mrs. Sorbinski carried her wounded pet inside and immediately called the police.

By the time that patrolmen arrived, a crowd of more than 100 people were gathered at the house. The crowd was witness to the piercing screams that suddenly erupted from nearby. The police officers emptied their revolvers at the shadow that loomed against the night sky, but the Devil escaped once again.

Eyewitness accounts of the Devil filled the newspapers, as well as photos and reports of cloven footprints that had been found in yards, woods and parking lots. The Philadelphia Zoo offered a $10,000 reward for the capture of the Devil, but there were no takers.

Then, as suddenly as it had come, the Devil vanished again.

The creature did not return again until 1927. A cab driver was changing a tire one night while headed for Salem. He had just finished when his car began shaking violently. He looked up to see a gigantic, winged figure pounding on the roof of his car. The driver, leaving his jack and flat tire behind, jumped into the car and quickly drove away. He reported the encounter to the Salem police.

In August 1930, berry pickers at Leeds Point and Mays Landing reported seeing the Devil, crashing through the fields and devouring blueberries and cranberries. It was reported again two weeks later to the north and then it disappeared again.

In November 1951, a group of children were allegedly cornered by the Devil at the Duport Clubhouse in Gibbstown. The creature bounded away without hurting anyone but reports claimed that it was spotted by dozens of witnesses before finally vanishing again.

Sightings continued here and there for years and then peaked once more in 1960 when bloodcurdling cries terrorized a group of people near Mays Landing. State officials tried to calm the nervous residents but no explanation could be found for the weird sounds.

Policemen nailed signs and posters everywhere stating that the Jersey Devil was a hoax, but curiosity-seekers flooded into the area anyway. Harry Hunt, who owned the Hunt Brothers Circus, offered $100,000 for the capture of the beast, hoping to add it to his sideshow attractions. Needless to say, the monster was never snared.

The most recent sighting of the creature was said to have been in 1993 when a forest ranger named John Irwin was driving along the Mullica River in southern New Jersey. He was startled to find the road ahead of him blocked by the Jersey Devil. He described it as being about six-feet tall with horns and matted black fur.

Could this have been the reported Jersey Devil - or some other creature altogether? Irwin stated that he and the creature stared at one another for several minutes before the monster finally turned and ran into the forest.

Today, there are only a few, isolated sightings of the Jersey Devil. It seems as though the paved roads, electric lights and modern conventions that have come to the region over the course of two and a half centuries have driven the monster so far into hiding that it has vanished altogether. The lack of proof of the monster’s existence in these modern times leads many to believe the Devil was nothing more than a creation of New Jersey folklore. But was it really?

If it was merely a myth, then how do we explain the sightings of the creature and the witness accounts from reliable persons like businessmen, police officers and even public officials? They are not easy to dismiss as hearsay or the result of heavy drinking. Could the Jersey Devil have been real after all? And if so, is it still out there in the remote regions of the Pine Barrens - just waiting to be found?

The Oarfish - the origin of the sea-serpent myths of old?







These unusual creatures have been known to wash ashore on beaches after storms, providing endless hours of fascination for curious onlookers. They also have a habit of floating near the surface of the water when they are sick or dying. Because of this, it is believed that the oarfish may be responsible for many of the legendary sightings of sea monsters and sea serpents by ancient mariners and beach goers.

Oarfish are large, greatly elongated, pelagic Lampriform comprising the small family Regalecidae.
Found in all temperate to tropical oceans yet rarely seen, the oarfish family contains four species in two genera. One of these, the king of herrings (Regalecus glesne), is listed in the Guinness Book of World Records as the longest bony fish alive, at up to 17 metres (56 ft) in length.
At least one account, from researchers in New Zealand, describes the oarfish as giving off "electric shocks" when touched.




The most noticeable feature of the oarfish is its extremely long, ribbon-like body. These fish can reach a length of over 50 feet (15 meters) and weigh as much as 600 pounds (272 kilograms). Its scaleless body is covered with a silver to silvery blue skin and is topped with an ornate, red dorsal fin that resembles a decorative headdress. This dorsal fin runs the entire length of the fish, with a tiny spine projecting above each of over 400 individual fin rays. The pelvic fins of this fish are elongated and similarly colored. The oarfish has a small mouth with no visible teeth. Their diet consists mainly of plankton, small crustaceans, and small squid that they strain from the water using specially formed gill rakes in their mouth. In turn, the oarfish may be a food source for larger ocean carnivores such as sharks.

Almost everything we know about the oarfish has been learned from specimens that have washed ashore on beaches or have been accidentally caught by fishermen. They have been known to come to the surface at night, apparently attracted by the lights of the boats.

In 2001 a live oarfish was filmed alive for the first time. It was spotted by a team of US Navy personnel repairing a buoy in the Bahamas. This specimen was observed to be swimming by undulating its long dorsal fin while keeping its body fairly straight. This type of propulsion is known as an amiiform mode of swimming.

Oarfish have also been observed swimming in a vertical position. It is believed that this may be one way that the oarfish searches for food. Little is known about the reproductive habits of the oarfish, although they have been observed spawning off the coast of Mexico between July and December. After spawning, the eggs are abandoned by the adults to float on the ocean surface until hatching. Once hatched, the tiny larvae feed mainly on plankton until they mature. Adult oarfish are thought to live solitary lives.

Oarfish are a pelagic species found throughout the deep seas of the eastern Atlantic Ocean and Mediterranean Sea. They are usually found at a depth of around 600 feet (200 meters), although they have been known to go as deep as 3,000 feet (1,000 meters).

They have also been observed at depths as shallow as 20 feet (60 meters). It is possible that they move to shallower waters as they search for food. Though rarely seen in the wild, their numbers are thought to be abundant enough that they are currently not considered to be endangered.


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