Friday, October 29, 2010


What is the first thing that comes to mind when you think of Africa? Lions? Hippos? Gorillas? Lots of various animal species cover the large continent, over lots of different habitats. From deserts, to coastal regions, to savannas, to the jungle, Africa seems to have it all. That said, they even still have dinosaurs...

Supposedly, in the Congo River Basin, around the waterways and lakes, there lives an animal called by the locals as Mokele-Mbembe, translated as "One who stops the flow of rivers." That's a pretty impressive name. This animal resembles a rhino or elepant sized sauropod, more commonly known as a Brachiosauros or Diplodocus. This animal has a hatred of hippopotamuses, killing them on sight, and also very leery of humans. Strictly an herbivore, it will not eat what it kills. To me, it seems that it just does not like to be bothered.

The first known sighting of sorts comes from a French missionary in the year 1776AD. The animal itself was not sighted, but the missionary did see tracks that he described that the creature "must have been monstrous: the marks of the claws were noted on the ground, and these formed a print about three feet in circumference."

Countless sightings and tales have happened since then, even various expeditions searching for the animal. One of the more famous sightings of sorts was during an expedition of the Smithsonian Institute starting in the year 1919AD. According to the authors of the "Field Guide to Lake Monsters," the trip found some interesting data. It states: "African guides found large, unexplained tracks along the bank of a river and later in a swamp the team heard mysterious roars, which had no resemblance to any known animal."

Today, it's hard to believe that an animal of such stature could go on unnoticed. But think of this, the Western Lowland Gorilla was thought to have a population of around 50,000. Then in 2006-2007, a team discovered more than 100,000 unreported gorillas living in a swamp area around one of the major Mokele-Mbembe reported areas. That is pretty interesting to think about. 100,000 gorillas living unnoticed by humans for quite some time. Possibly like a small population of sauropods, living in the dense, highly untraveled areas of the Congo River Basin. Something to think about...

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Sunday, October 17, 2010

The White River Monster...

Keeping with the current theme of aquatic cryptids, lets turn our attention to a little known animal known to the locals of Arkansas as "Whitey."

The town of Newport Arkansas is mostly famous for being the place where Sam Walton got his start in the "five and dime" store business. You have probably heard of his more successful business venture, Wal-Mart. Anyway, Newport is also famous for having a lesser known cryptid known as the White River Monster.

One of the earlier accounts of "Whitey" comes from the Civil War. So the story goes, Whitey sank a Confederate munitions ship. There is also a story from the Quapaw Indian tribe that has been passed down of Whitey sinking an indian's canoe. The more recent sightings do not involve the sinking of ships, only the sightings of this mysterious creature.

The first publicized sighting was in July of 1915, when a farmer noticed the beast splashing around in the river and described it as "wide as a car and three cars long." He also stated that the animal was gray. Whitey stayed hidden for some time, up until 1937 when two fishermen noticed the animal while having a hard time fishing. They reported the animal to the nearest land owner, who saw the creature, described it as having the skin of an elephant, being five feet wide by twelve feet long, and also having a face like a catfish. The farmer thought that this animal would destroy his crops, so he then applied with the local authorities to use T.N.T. to destroy the eddy and drive out the creature. Luckily for Whitey, the authorites denied his request, but the story brought in many people from across the USA. Many people showed up with cameras, a few brought their own explosives, and one reportedly even brought a machine gun. At this point in the story, people were starting to accuse the farmer of creating a hoax, just for tourism. But this was a highpoint in Whitey sightings, with around 100 during this short period alone.

Whitey stayed hidden for some time again, but resurfacing in June of 1971, when a few fishermen noticed a fountain of water blast from the surface of the river, with Whitey showing itself, this time with a spiky back. Luckily, one of the fishermen took a photo of the elusive creature, which was sold to the local paper. Supposedly, the photo was very blurry and many people were not impressed with it, but the newspaper has since lost the original copy of the photo.

The early 1970s brought many more sightings into the fold, many describing a long gray creature the length of a boxcar. Also noted from this era in the descriptions were a strange tusk sticking out of the animals head, and the bizarre noises that came from it, like the mixture of a cow's moo with a horse's neigh.

Then, in 1973, the Arkansas State Legislature created the "White River Monster Refuge," where it is illegal to "molest, kill, trample, or harm" the White River Monster if one is discovered. I find this very interesting that the state government decided to become involved in a cryptid. It could very well be a political move to bring in tourists to a very small town, but it could be a very handy piece of legislature if people really kick up the search for this amazing animal.

One possible explanation for this unknown creature for some is that it is a male Elephant Seal. With its bizarre vocalization, it's "tusk/bone/horn" sticking out of it's face, like the male seal's extended nose, and add the grayish coloration, one might think this would fit the description. Not to mention that Elephant Seals are known to migrate great distances. But in order for this to be true, it would mean that the seal would've had to swim through the Panama Canal to reach this area, with the closest Elephant Seal colony on the western side of North America. While possible, I find this highly unlikely.

So whether this is a hoax for tourism, a wayward Elephant Seal, or a truly unique animal, this is a creature that deserves more attention. So if you are ever in Northeastern Arkansas, take a closer look at the White River, and if nothing else, buy a T-shirt saying that you looked for Whitey.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Lake Monsters...

Of all the creatures of the world of Cryptozoology, none has a longer existence than the lake monster. These creatures, like many others, have been passed down from generation to generation with oral history and folklore. Arguably, the very first lake monster known to the world was in 565AD, when Saint Columba chased away an unknown creature from a man by using the sign of the cross, and saying "Go no further. Do not touch the man. Go back at once." And the creature fled. This was in a little lake known as Loch Ness.

The Loch Ness monster, Nessie, is probably the most popular lake monster known to man. With all of the time and effort spent into looking for this creature, I think we will dive into some of the lesser known lake monsters.

When you think of lake monsters, the last place that you would probably think of would be Utah. According to legend though, Utah is the home to five different lake monsters. The more popular of the five, would be from Utah and Bear lakes, respectively. Both of these lakes are the home of twin water dragons. In 1864, a local man at Utah lake encountered one of these serpents, which looked like a giant snake with the head of a greyhound. Many sightings came afterwards, all of which had the same descriptions: A snakes body, with a larger head, fearsome black eyes, and in later reports, short, stocky legs. At Bear Lake, two local citizens, one of which was Brigham Young, tried to capture the lake monster. Their plan involved a three hundred foot, one inch rope, with meat attached to the end. No monster was ever caught, but the meat was always missing when the hook was checked.

Another lake monster that is rarely talked about is located in Lake Okanegan in British Columbia, Canada. The local Native American tribe, the Salish, called the animal the "N'ha-a-tik," or Lake Demon. They believed that the creature lived in an underwater cave near the middle of the lake. They were so afraid of the monster that they would make sacrifices to the creature. In the mid 1800s, the stories started to accumulate about the Lake Demon, now called, Ogopogo. One of the more famous stories is of a settler crossing the lake on a small boat with his two horses swimming behind, tied to the boat. Around the center of the lake, the horses were pulled underwater, and the man only saved himself by cutting the ropes of the horses. Many of the recent sightings all describe a serpent like creature, around 50ft in length, with a larger, horse like head. If anyone is up to the task, around the year 2000AD, a few companies in the area offered a reward of two million dollars for definitive proof of the Ogopogo.

Staying on the western side of the North America, we move to Lake Tahoe. Tahoe Tessie, as it is called now, has been sighted by many, including the Native American tribes in the area, the Washoe and Paiute. They believed that the creature lives in an underwater tunnel underneath cave rock, which is very similar to the Ogopogo. This creature has a few more sightings than other lake monsters, most are from recent history. In the 1950s, two police officers noticed a large black hump, rise out of the water, then follow a nearby boat around speeds described by the officers at sixty miles per hour. In the 1990s, a kayak instructor noticed what looked like a green, two person kayak flip over, to immediately sink. Thinking it was one of his students, or a rental, he got into the company boat to investigate, only to find nothing. None of his students for that class were involved in flipping. In 2004, a bartender for the Tahoe Queen snapped a photo of a black hump in the water, which they described as the head of the creature. The most interesting footage that is out there though, is just in the rumor mill as of now. Supposedly, there is some really decent Tessie footage that is being analyzed by professionals and experts before being released to the public. Hopefully, something will come out of that.

Lastly, we come back to the state of Ohio, and the shores of the Great Lake Erie. South Bay Bessie, or Bessie for short, has been in the news since the early 1800s. The first recorded sighting of Bessie came from 1793AD, when the crew of the ship "Felicity" landed at Middle Bass Island. The captain went down to the shore and noticed a few ducks, fired at them so he could eat a good meal, and spooked a large, 16ft snake out of the nearby grasses on the shore. The serpent then chased the captain around 100ft, then retreated into the water. In July of 1817AD, a crew from another boat noticed a larger serpent, around 30-40ft, between three to five miles from the shore of Ohio. An interesting report came from the Canadian side in May of 1887AD, when two brothers came upon a "lake monster writhing in agony." They originally thought it was a phosphorous mass on shore, once investigated they described it as a large sturgeon, only with large arms, flailing around, looking like it was dying. They went to get ropes to tow it back, only to return to scrape marks on the shore, and silver scales the size of silver dollars. South Bay Bessie is very popular in Northern Ohio, with a minor league hockey team, and a very tasty beer named after it.

So there you have it, just a few of the lake monsters that are out there. Keep in mind, almost every large body of water has a lake monster story. Next time you are out in open water, try to keep that in mind. And also bring a camera. You never know what might pop up beside your boat.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Frogs in Loveland...

Around 15 miles Northeast of Cincinnati lies the town of Loveland. Just a small town, like many other smaller suburbs in the greater Cincinnati area. What sets this town apart though, is it's history with frogs.

The most famous of the Loveland frog stories is from March of 1972. One night, on a patrol, an officer driving down Riverside road spotted what he thought was a dog in the road. The witness slowed down to a stop and when he did, the assumed dog stood up on two feet and ran past the front of the police car. He described the animal as being around 3 feet tall and 50-75 pounds. The officer then went for backup. Around two weeks later, another officer spotted a similar animal on the same road, this time getting out of the car and firing his weapon at it. Nothing was ever found from either incident. Many years later, one of the officers in an interview, stated that the whole incident was blown way out of proportion. His story was that it was a large Iguana, or another reptile that could have been kept as a pet. This almost puts the story to rest. Almost...

Before these sightings, a man was driving around Loveland area close to the Little Miami river. He noticed something strange towards the water, pretty close to a bridge. He decided to pull his car over to get a better look. He saw three human like creatures, with bodies like amphibians, huddled together near the river. He even described one of the creatures holding a devices that emitted some sort of spark or electricity. This was in May of 1955, almost 20 years before the police officers' encounter.

Even before these more recent sightings, the Shawnee Indian tribe had witnessed what they called the "Shawnahooc," or River Demon. Supposedly, as the legend goes, a group on a hunting trip spotted a large, bipedal frog on the banks of the river. Once it was noticed, it fled into the river. The Shawnee tribe was so spooked by this random encounter, that they never went to the river alone. They even sent out their bravest warriors to go look for it to kill it, to keep their villagers at ease. If you are noticing, there seems to be a long history with this cryptid.

So lets look at all of this information. The Shawnee legend reports a large, frog like creature that can stand upright. In 1955, a man sees three similar creatures huddled by the river, one of which is holding a wand of some sorts. And then in 1972, two different police officers see what they describe as a 3-4 foot tall frog like creature. This account seems to be the easiest to debunk, but think of this:

At the time of the sighting, it was March, the 3rd to be exact. The road conditions were described as icy. One of the officers who witnessed the animal, in a later more recent interview, states that it was just a reptile that someone had as a pet. So say this is an iguana of some sorts. How does an iguana, or any pet reptile for that matter, get up from an icy road, and run away? Reptiles are cold blooded, in those conditions they would not be able to move as fast as it was originally described. Have you ever seen a snake on a cold morning? They do not move too quickly. In my eyes, this description does not make much sense.

I find it hard to discount the Native American legend. The Shawnee were some of the fiercest warriors that have ever lived, and they were afraid of something in the Little Miami river. The other part of this story that stands out, is the account of the three creatures by the river, and one of which holding a wand of some sorts. This makes me think of the fabled "Bridge Trolls."

Luckily this creature is local, so there are many opportunities to go and look for the Loveland Frog. One of my favorite things to do, is take a night bicycle ride down the Little Miami bike path, find a place to stop, and turn off my headlight. Hopefully someday, I will be able to tell my own account of this amazing creature.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Lets start at the beginning...

This is where it all started. Frame 352 of the famous Patterson-Gimlin film. This is when Bigfoot was introduced to the masses. The film is shaky, but the image sticks with you. At this point, at frame 352, the animal turns and looks at the camera. Then it hits you. You are staring at one of the most unknown, mysterious creatures on the planet. Some say it is a man in a suit. That is not what I see. I see muscles moving under the skin. I see it turn its upper body in a way a primate would. I see breasts, clearly this is a female. To me, this is a very important film in our history. If you have not seen it, I suggest you do...
click here

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

And we have liftoff...

Welcome! We are now off and rolling. Please check back for news, stories, pictures, and more from the wonderful world of Cryptozoology!