Thursday, February 22, 2007

Of Dragons and Dinosaurs - Part 3

Thus announced the December 8th, 1901 edition of the Brooklyn Daily Eagle, telling the strange story of a hunter's discovery in the Florida Everglades of what appeared to be an actual living dinosaur. The event is described in the article as follows:

Interestingly enough there is a dash of what seems like conspiracy thrown into the equation as well:

This article from 1901 is an amazing historical piece, not just because of the alleged shooting of a dinosaur, but because it effectively describes the field of cryptozoology decades before the likes of Sanderson and Heuvelmans. As told to the paper by an anomoyous source either within or connected to the group, it discusses a secret group of scientists who, according to the article, worked in secret to uncover living fossils and provide proof for their beliefs that many mythological creatures, such as dragons and griffins, were in fact based on medieval sightings of these living fossils. It then goes on to state that, given the type of climates that dinosaurs are known to have preferred, this group of scientists narrowed down the possible areas to search in in North America to two different areas: the Florida Everglades and, interestingly enough, the Dismal Swamp, between Virginia and North Carolina. Of these two, the Everglades seemed the more probable of the two, and thus the shooting as described above was the alleged result.

Why wasn't this discovery, and also the alleged discovery of proof of living mammoths, made public and announced to the world? The anomoyous source explains as follows:

The cryptozoological literature has spoken for years about the rumors of surving mammoths in Alaska and Siberia, and indeed there are documented newspaper accounts from over a century ago that discuss sightings of such animals. There are even accounts of brave explorers killing surviving mammoths to gather their skins and pelts, though such claims are few and far in between and some have been exposed as hoaxes. The newspaper's mysterious source goes on to describe one such hunting expedition that led to the death of a mammoth and the obtainment of its body as proof. As the source describes the final moments of the hunt:

What eventually happened to the remains?:

The newspaper account, when compared to the known hoax cited above, seems possibly to be a hoax, and that may indeed be the likely explanation for the whole piece, as newpaper hoaxes were notorious in the early days. However, assuming for the sake of argument that it is true and a valid report, could there have actually been a secret group of cryptozoologists going on expeditions back in the late 19th-early 20th centuries and obtaining the proof that modern cryptozoologists have struggled to obtain ever since? To put it into a larger context, can we believe any of the previously discussed reports dealing with dragons and dinosaurs to be true, or are they all newspaper hoaxes? Are some true, and others fake? If they are true, then what are we dealing with here? Some type of zooform phenomena, some now-extinct undiscovered animals, or something else? What do you think?

Monday, February 19, 2007


Just a quick note for anyone who might actually be reading this, but I am aware that I haven't updated in a week, just need to find the time to do so. Once I get the time, I plan on finishing my "Of Dragons and Dinosaurs" posts and then head back to Long Island to write about the ghosts of LI and then the wildmen and gorilla reports on the island from the late 19th-early 20th centuries. This post will be removed with my next update, but for now it's going to serve as a bookmark.


Sunday, February 11, 2007

Of Dragons and Dinosaurs - Part 2

For decades, stories and legends have emerged from the deepest regions of Africa regarding sightings of creatures known by names such as Mokele-mbembe, Emela-Ntouka, and the Kongamato. Thought by many to be surviving prehistoric reptiles, these creatures have inspired countless expeditions in search of evidence to prove their existence, all the way back to the early 20th century. Although there is of course debate over the identity of the different cryptids, and whether or not they even exist, it is generally acknowledged among cryptozoologists that the deep jungles of the Congo could. at least, possibly contain surving dinosaurs and denizens of the Mesozoic era. Viewed as being largely unchanged from prehistoric times, the deep regions of the Congo remain unexplored in many places, and thus this is used as an argument for the survival of living dinosaurs in Africa. What are we to make of more perplexing reports, however? Lake monsters such as Nessie, Champ, or Ogopogo are usually thought of by the general public to be surviving plesiosaurs, and of course there are the "U-28" and "U-85" cases which tell of World War I era encounters with bizarre creatures. While most reports of "living dinosaurs" have to be taken with a gigantic heaping of salt, especially since zealous Creationists have decided to twist the reports and put out false evidence to further their religious agenda, there are old newspaper accounts that are still worth reading and analyzing, even if just for their historical value. This article, from the Brooklyn Daily Eagle edition of Feb. 8, 1888, is one such report:

This "serpent" was described as follows:

What are we to make of such a strange creature? At first glance of the article it bears a similar description to a dinosaur, but the disproportion of the body is a curious addition to the report, since it brings to mind the image of an overly top heavy animal. However, since it is noted at the end that the creature walked on four legs, the addition of two large scales may signify it to be some kind of variation on the stegosaurus, though more research is needed to further elaborate on this theory.

Interestingly enough, thirteen years later from this report, there emerged a report from the Florida Everglades of an alleged dinosaur actually being killed....

Sunday, February 4, 2007

The Little People

In the December 25, 2005 edition of the Boston Herald, it was written that belief in fairies, elves, leprachauns, etc., collectively known as the "Little People" or "Hidden Folk", still flourishes in Europe, as for example in the case of Icelandic road planners who will always consult an elf expert before building a highway, in order to avoid building through elf territory. Many people in European countries still hold a mixture of fear and respect for the Hidden Folk, and will be especially careful not to arouse their anger , for they know that to do so would be disastrous. Such beliefs even extend to the United States, as reported in the lead article of the May 2006 issue of Fate Magazine, where it was reported that a small town in Minnesota, that was settled primarily by Scandinavian immigrants, told stories of what were called the Huldefolk, and a witness named Richard Connors even reported having an unexpected wrestling match with one of the beings!
As demonstrated in this account, belief in the Little People doesn't neccesarily stop at just the folklore and mythological angle, but instead continues on to reports of actual encounters with the Little People, mainly from the United States and Europe but not just limited to these countries. While such reports may sound absolutely incredible, there is a long history of sightings dating back for centuries, with one of the more recent and well known being from Wisconsin back in 1919. To quote from a post on the UFO Updates mailing list:
"13-year-old Harry Anderson saw twenty bald-headed little mennear Barron, Wisconsin, one summer night in 1919. Harry wasriding in a car with others in the Wisconsin countryside whenthe car ran out of oil. Harry walked to a farm to fetch some,and as he was walking back he saw twenty little men walkingalong towards him in single file. They had bald heads and whiteskins, and wore leather "knee-pants" held up by braces overtheir shoulders. They paid no attention to the terrified boy,who ducked out of sight behind a tree, but muttered tothemselves and sang a little song:"We won't stop fightingTill the end of the warIn Nineteen-Hundredand Ninety-Four".The terrified Anderson, "heart pumping", continued on his wayback to the car once the marching dwarfs had passed by, not oncelooking back behind him."
To give another example, this one took place in 1950 in Oregon:
"Ellen Jonerson, "aUniversity of Oregon graduate and a very intelligent person",saw a dark-skinned, 9- to 12-inch-tall "little man" wearing "alittle romper and a sort of plaid shirt" walking with a"waddling" motion across her breezeway, pass under the runningboard of a car, and disappear."

What are we to make of such reports? They are hardly the only ones of their kind out there, and yet the very idea of such beings existing seems too impossible to take seriously. Are they a hidden race that has somehow managed to more or less conceal its existence from humanity for centuries? Maybe they are nature spirits who have taken form, or perhaps they are a part of the Earth itself, literally formed from the planet's mana, or energy. Whatever the reason for their existence, the reason behind their being seen so scarcely now as opposed to centuries past, when many stories exist of interaction with the Little People, may be able to be attributed to humanity's current general disbelief toward such beings as being improbable and the stuff of stories and myths. While of course as stated above many people in European countries still believe in their existence, the prevailing idea about the Hidden Folk is that they aren't real and belong only in folklore and old stories told to scare children and the gullible. Maybe such entities are only seen in high numbers when people are more open to the idea and believe in them more, and without such belief the little people lose their power and fade into the background. This admittedly sounds like something out of a fantasy novel, and the reports of fairies, elves, etc. may indeed only be the stuff of myth and legend and nothing more, but there is an interesting account from Scotland dating March 1966 that, if true and at the moment I hold it to be an intriguing account and nothing more, may explain why mythological beings such as fairies, satyrs, centaurs, are so prevalent in ancient culture but not as much in the present day. This is from Colin Wilson's book Poltergeist:
"A man talking a walk in the Royal Botanical Gardens suddenly experienced a state of heightened perception. He then became aware of a figure or nature spirit resembling the God "Pan" standing nearby. The being had a pointed chin and ears, shaggy legs with cloven hooves with two little horns on his forehead. He was apparently naked. The witness saluted the being that seemed startled by the intrusion. During a brief conversation the being told the witness that he lived in the garden and that his task was to help the growth of trees. He also stated that they no longer were interested in humans since we no longer believed in them."
Perhaps it is the same for other anomalous entities as well, such as for example the creatures recounted in this posting, also from the UFO Updates mailing list:

Maybe such creatures only appear because there is still a segment of society that believes in the possibility of such beings, and without that segment to keep them alive the creatures would just disappear? I admit that I have my doubts about that theory, but I believe it to be one worth considering. While the existence of the Hidden Folk is far from proven, there is no shame in considering the possibilty and expanding one's world view just a little bit further.

Thursday, February 1, 2007

Of Dragons and Dinosaurs - Part 1

Here in the 21st century, dragons and dinosaurs have entered the popular consciousness as icons of pop culture, appearing everywhere one looks, much like the so called "Grays" of Ufological lore. Indeed, much like the Grays, it is possible to find images of those two groups of reptiles on cups, t-shirts, calendars, action figures, posters, etc., and also in literature, film, and video games. Indeed, as evidenced in the high ratings for the "Walking with Dinosaurs" special on the Discovery Channel, fascination with dinosaurs is at an high time high, and dragons have featured prominently in many of the fantasy shows and films that have been released in the past few years. However, one would be hard pressed to find a member of the average public who believes in the literal existence of dragons or who believes that living dinosaurs are still lurking in the deepest regi0ns of our planet. Contemporary wisdom tells us that the dinosaurs died out sixty-five million years ago as a result of an as of yet undetermined cataclysm, while dragons are strictly the inhabitants of the realm of myth and legend, and nothing more. This makes certain reports from newspapers and other sources all the more perplexing, for they describe encounters with creatures that should not or could not exist in our modern day world. Take this report, for example, as described in the February 12, 1882 edition of the Brooklyn Daily Eagle, first brought to light in Jerome Clark's book Unexplained Phenomena:

Assuming the newspaper account is true, what the article describes as a "flying snake", or what we might call a "dragon", was a very frightening reality for the passengers of that California train upon that fateful day in February of 1882. It is obvious that there are no populations of giant flying snakes breeding in the wild, and yet such a beast stepped out of the twilight world for a short time only to sneak back into the shadows when its time was past, just another inhabitant of the Goblin Universe. Although, just two months later, two woodchippers working in Butte County, California, would report an even more bizarre entity, as reported in the April 1st 1882 edition of the Brooklyn Daily Eagle and taken from the original report from the Gridley Herald. They said, in a letter to the Herald, that the creature looked "something like a crocodile" and was "not less than eighteen feet in length". The most striking aspects of the creature were its twelve wings, six on each side, and its invulnerbility to bullets, which merely caused to utter "a cry similar to that of a calf and bear combined". The bullets, when striking against the "dragon", merely made a sound as if they were "striking against a thin piece of sheet iron". What kind of animal is this, whose image bears a striking similarity to the classic Western depiction of a dragon, but who can not be harmed by bullets? When considering the creature's appearance, the Crawfordsville Monster written about Charles Fort comes to mind. While bearing some glaring differences from the Butte Country Dragon, the Crawfordsville Monster also was in the range of twenty feet in length and propeled itself through the air with several rows of fins. It is entirely possible that the Crawfordsville Monster and the Butte County Dragon are related or even one in the same, since the sightings of the former were only a mere nine years later from the encounter with the Dragon.

However, each of the sightings discussed so far have been linked in that each has been of a solitary creature, and the creatures in question have posed no direct harm to human beings, with the possible exception of the attack on the train by the "Flying Snake", which seemed more out of anger than general malice. This then begs the question: have there been reports in which such creatures have posed a direct danger to other animals or even human beings? If one goes back yet again to that most Fortean of newspapers, the Brooklyn Daily Eagle, there is yet another report from California of similar animals, this time proving that they can be quite dangerous. Taken from the September 10th, 1895 edition, the piece, entitled "The Dragons of Fresno", starts as follows:

The two dragons killed a number of wild ducks and also entered a Mr. A.X. Simmon's poultry yard and dismembered many of his hens, leaving them "bitten in two" and "partly devoured". Finally, a hunting party was assembled to catch or kill the two beasts, and after initial failure J.D.Daniels and a Mr. Templeton staked out the area in hopes of encountering the dragons. Their stakeout was a success, as J.D. Daniels reports:

It was at this point that the trail was lost, and a company of men assembled the next day to track down the wounded creature also ended in failure. The most interesting part, however, comes at the very end of the article:

Could a cast of this footprint be locked in a storage room or hidden away in an attic, just waiting to be discovered and heralded as proof of the authenticity of these stories? While it would wise not to hold one's breath, the possibilty is always open...