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Friday, December 30, 2016

Ivan Sanderson, Mokele-Mbembe, and Kongamato

Ivan T. Sanderson was one of the first people to seriously investigate reports of strange creatures, UFOs, and other things of the sort. While he is probably best known for his book Abominable Snowmen: Legend Come to Life (1961), he also investigated many other cryptids, including the Minensota Iceman, and the mokele-mbembe and other cryptids in Africa. The latter cryptids are the subjects of this post.
Ivan T. Sanderson


Before we get to Sanderson, the mokele-mbembe was first described in 1913, when Captain Freiherr von Stein zu Lausnitz went to explore the Cameroon when he was sent to do so by the German government. While there he was told of an animal called mokele-mbembe.

He described the creature:

"The animal is said to be of a brownish gray color with a smooth skin, its size approximately that of an elephant; at least that of a hippopotamus. It is said to have a long and very flexible neck and only one tooth, but a very long one; some say it is a horn. A few spoke about a long muscular tail like that of an alligator. It is said to climb the shore even at daytime in search of food; its diet is said to be entirely vegetable. At the Ssombo River I was shown a path said to have been made by this animal in order to get at its food. The path was fresh and there were plants of the described type [a liana] nearby."

In 1920, a 32-man expedition was sent from the United States to search for the mokele-mbembe. The team found large, unexplainable tracks on the bank of a river and also hear "roars, which had no resemblance to any known animal." But, during a train ride through a flooded area, their train derailed and tipped over, leaving four dead and half a dozen seriously injured.


Sanderson went to Africa in 1932, and that year he encountered what may have been mokele-mbembe.

First, Sanderson came upon some odd, hippo-like tracks. His native guides told him they were made by a creature called "mgbulu-eM'bembe." Sanderson also saw something swimming that was too large to be a hippo, but the creature disappeared before he could determine what, exactly, it was. Maybe it was mokele-mbembe?


That wasn't Sanderson's only odd encounter in Africa. He also had a run it with a flying creature, which some people think is a surviving pterosaur. It's called the kongamato.


The kongamato is a mysterious flying monster, and is believed by some to be a pterosaur. The name "kongamato" means "overwhelmer of boats" and the creatures are said to attack people on boats when they get too close. The creature is said to be a reddish color and has a beak full of teeth. Frank Melland first wrote about the creature in his book In Witchbound Africa (1923), which he said the natives described as "a lizard with wings like  a bat." The wingspan is between 4 and 7 feet, and it is featherless. When Melland showed them a drawing of a pterosaur, they identified it as kongamato.
Kongamato - "The Overwhelmer of Boats"

Now, to Sanderson's encounter.


During the same time he was in Africa and may have spotted a mokele-mbembe, Sanderson also had an encounter with a flying cryptid creature. He and others had made camp near a river, and one evening Snaderson shot and killed a large, fruit-eating bat. That dead bat fell into the river, so Sanderson waded out to get it. As he went towards it, he lost his balance and fell. He steadied himself, but when he did, his companion yelled "look out!"

Below is the encounter in Sanderson's words:

"And I looked. Then I let out a shout also and instantly bobbed down under the water, because, coming straight at me only a few feet above the water was a black thing the size of an eagle. I had only a glimpse of its face, yet that was quite sufficient, for its lower jaw hung open and bore a semicircle of pointed white teeth set about their own width apart from each other. When I emerged. it was gone. George was facing the other way and blazing off his second barrel. I arrived dripping on my rock and we looked at each other. 'Will it come back?' we chorused. And just before it became to dark to see, it came again, hurtling down the river, its teeth chattering, the air 'Shss-shssing' as it was cleft by the great, black, dracula-like wings. We were both off guard, my gun was unloaded, and the brute made straight for George. He ducked. The animal soared over him and was at once swallowed up in the night."

Sanderson and George made it back to their camp and Sanderson asked the natives "What kind of bat is this large and all black?," spreading his arms to show the size of the wingspan. The response he got was "Olitiau." Sanderson told the natives he had encountered the creature at the river, and they immediately fled.

In their book Cryptozoology A to Z, Loren Coleman and Jerome Clark note that "A large flying animal, possibly a giant unknown bat or more improbably a Jurassic pterosaur seen throughout sub-Saharan Africa, is called Kongamato or, less frequently, Olitiau or Sasabonsam."  So, it is likely that kongamato and olitiau are the same animal. It also seems that kongamato may not be a surviving pterosaur, but a giant bat of some kind.

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Juan Acavar's Surviving Smilodon

In 1975, a strange cat was shot in Paraguay. After it was killed, Juan Acavar, a zoologist, examined it. What he concluded it was is amazing.

Acavar said that the cat had foot-long saber teeth in its mouth. Now, the only cats known to have that were the saber-toothed cats which are supposed to have gone extinct thousands of years ago. Acavar thought that the cat was a living saber-tooth, to be specific, a smilodon.
Charles R. Knight Smilodon painting, 1903

It is said that, fearing ridicule for saying he had seen an animal supposed to be extinct, Acavar instead said that the cat was a "mutant jaguar." But was it really?

If anyone out there knows more about this strange cat seen by Juan Acavar in 1975, let me know!

Book Review: Monstro Bizarro by Lyle Blackburn

I guess there will be one last book review on this blog for 2016. The book today is Lyle Blackburn's Monstro Bizarro: An Essential Manual of Mysterious Monsters. The book is part of the Rue Morgue library collection.

The book is 130 pages and includes lots on cryptids in movies, TV, and pop culture, as well as articles on cryptozoology museums, festivals, cryptids, men in black, and other things by Blackburn and others including Ken Gerhard, Nick Redfern, and David Weatherly.

This is an excellent book for those interested in cryptozoology. You can get it here.


"You've heard of Bigfoot, Yeti, the Loch Ness Monster and maybe even the menacing Mothman who once brought terror to Point Pleasant, West Virginia. But how about Ogopogo, the Mongolian Death Worm or the Bishopville Lizard Man?
"Welcome to a world of mysterious, real-life monsters, featuring a roster of cryptozoological marvels including the legendary Chupacabra, Jersey Devil, Boggy Creek Monster, Momo, Mokele-Mbembe, Real Wolfmen, Shunka Warak'in and more!
"Let author and columnist Lyle Blackburn take you on a sightseeing tour of the darkest forests, the murkiest lakes and the most sinister skies in North America and beyond, in this seventh installment of the Rue Morgue Library series.
"Plus! Cryptid Cinema, Monstrous Museums, Monster Toys, Beastly Art, Travelogues of Terror, Real Case Files, Cryptid Television, Photo Galleries and lots more!
"Also features a foreword by Blair Witch Project co-creator Eduardo Sanchez, along with contributions by Ken Gerhard, Nick Redfern, David Weatherly and others." 
Author of this post w/ Monstro Bizarro 
author Lyle Blackburn


Wednesday, December 28, 2016

The 52 Hz Whale

The loneliest whale in the world?

Somewhere in the ocean, there is a whale with a very unusual call, with a frequency of 52 Hertz. The call of this whale does not resemble the calls of known whale species. For example, a blue whale's call is between 10 and 40 Hz, and a fin whale is 20 Hz.
Spectogram of the signal from the
52Hz whale

The 52 Hz whale was first recorded in the 1980s and has been detected many time since, in different areas of the ocean. Some people think this whale is the last of its kind and is hopelessly searching the ocean for a mate.

The first recording of the whale's call was made in 1989. It was detected every year afterwards as well, at least up to 2004. Bill Watkins, a marine mammal researcher who worked at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, first realized the significance of the first recordings of the whale made by the Navy in 1989. He researched the mystery whale until his death in 2004, and found that it seemed to be a unique animal. As in, possibly the only one of its kind. Watkins wrote:
"It is perhaps difficult to accept that if this was a whale, that there could have been only one of this kind in this large ocean expanse. Yet in spite of comprehensive careful monitoring year-round, only one call with these characteristics has been found anywhere, and there has been only one such source each season."

So, what is the 52 Hz whale? Some think it is a malformed or hybrid blue whale or a different species. The WHOI has even been contacted by people who are deaf who believe the whale may also be deaf, and that is why it seems to be hopelessly searching for another of its kind.

Christopher Willes Clark, who made recordings of the whale in 1993, does not think it is "one of a kind," but just a "different" whale of a normal species. He has said:  "The animal's singing with a lot of the same features of a typical blue whale song. Blue whales, fin whale and humpback whales: all theses whales can hear this guy, they're not deaf. He's just odd."

Over time, the whale's calls have deepened and now they are around 47 Hz. An interesting note is that calls from blue whales have also been changing to deeper pitches since the 1960s.

Currently, a documentary is also being made on the "loneliest whale." Find out more about it here.

Listen to the whale's call below:

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Owner of the Mothman Diner Dies

Saw this on Loren Coleman's CryptoZooNews yesterday…
Carolin Harris
Carolin Harris, owner of Harris' Steakhouse (A.K.A. The Mothman Diner) in Point Pleasant, West Virginia, passed away yesterday morning. In addition to owning the diner, Harris was co-director of the Mothman Festival.

This was posted on the Mothman Festival Facebook page:

"It is with great Sadness that we even have to say this, but late last night we lost a wonderful person, the sweet and lovable Carolin Harris, of Harris Steak House (or as you might know it by - 'The Mothman Diner'). She was also the co-director of the Mothman Festival and has given us so much support over the years. 
"She was like a mother to so many in our small town… always welcoming to all, with her kind and hospitable heart and a smile on her face. We're not sure that we'll ever be able to fill this void of not having her around. She will be greatly missed, that's for sure."

While I was in Point Pleasant earlier this year, I stopped and got a photo at Harris' diner, the "Mothman Diner."

RIP Carolin Harris.


2016 has seen the deaths of many people in the cryptozoology world, and many others as well, including, today, Carrie Fisher, 60, who played Princess Leia in the Star Wars films. This was a real shock to me today. Star Wars VIII (which Fisher is in) is done filming, but who knows what they will do now with future films. Fisher suffered a heart attack last week and was in critical condition. RIP Carrie.

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Inside the Goblin Universe - Coming in January

In January 2017,  Inside the Goblin Universe is coming to Paranormal UK Radio. The show will be hosted by Ronald L Murphy, Jr. and my friend Colin Schneider. Currently they are recording some episodes that with various researchers, including Jonathan Downes and Timothy Renner. Colin recently  asked me to be on it as well, so we will be recording an episode sometime. When there is more info on that, I will post it on this blog.

About the hosts:

Ronald Murphy

"Ron had been called the 'crypto guru' due to his research into the field of cryptozoology, but it is not only strange and hidden creatures that fascinate him. Holding degrees in literature, religious studies, and history, he examines the world of paranormal phenomena from multidisciplinary angles and applies scientific analysis in his examination into his scrutiny of the mysterious. He is currently exploring the possible connections to infrasound and pheromones to accounts given by experiencers. From a psychological approach, Ron applies Jungian philosophical ideas into his research as he attempts to uncover the underlying archetype behind the enigmas of the world. He has traveled from Florida to Maine in the United States and throughout Great Britain in his continuos quest to uncover that which remains hidden. He has written extensively on the motifs of the wild man, mermaids, werewolves, ghosts, and vampires. Ron also has a keen interest in the theoretical shadow realm of the faerie, that goblin universe which seems to be the impetus from which the paranormal emerges, viewing the figure of the fairie as forms on which archetypes are fashioned. Ron is looking forward to taking this journey into the unknown with you."

Colin Schneider

"Colin is one of the youngest active researchers in the United States. He has been involved in cryptozoology and ufology since he was 13. Colin first got interested in the pursuit of the unknown after he visited the International Cryptozoology Museum in Portland, Maine. A frequent attendee of conferences about the unexplained, Colin has given lectures at numerous events. He has been published in magazines such as Cryptid Culture Magazine and Animals & Men. Colin also is the Ohio representative for the Centre for Fortean Zoology and runs the blog the Crypto-Kid."

More info can be found on Colin's blog and PA UK radio.

Sunday, December 18, 2016

My Favorite Cryptozoology Books of 2016 (Updated)

2016 was a good year for cryptozoology books. We got lots of good titles from people such as Bernard Heuvelmans, Nick Redfern, Karl Shuker, Lyle Blackburn, and many others. In this post we will take a look at my favorite books from last year on the subject of cryptozoology and other strange things. (NOTE - Post has been updated March 2017)

By Gareth Williams

By Bernard Heuvelmans (Translated by Paul LeBlond, with a new Afterward by Loren Coleman)

9. Monster Trek
By Joe Gisondi

10. Legend Tripping
By Robert C. Robinson

12. Women in Black
By Nick Redfern

14. Tracking the Stone Man
By Dr. Russell L. Jones

15. Loch Ness: Back into the Depths
By Patrick Gallagher

16. Paranormal Montana
By Greg Strandberg

This year we got lots of good books on regional cryptozoology, lots of books with new information in them, and, most notably to me, lots of books on the Loch Ness Monsters. The LNM is what first got me interested in cryptozoology when I read this book, but I hadn't gotten a lot of books specifically on that subject in a long time, so it was nice this year getting some new ones.

Friday, December 16, 2016

Finding Bigfoot Returns in January

Finding Bigfoot is returning next year for a new season.

"Finding Bigfoot is set to return to Animal Planet in January and this season promises new evidence backed up by some compelling testimonials.
"The all-new episodes take the team across the U.S. as they search for the ever-elusive cryptid.
"The team is made up of Bigfoot Field Research Organization (BFRO) president Matt Moneymaker, skeptic and scientist Ranae Holland plus researchers James 'Bobo' Fay and Cliff Barackman.
"In the season premiere they head to North Carolina where an Appalachian family has been reporting Bigfoot sightings for decades. 
"A gathering of the locals at the town hall proves to be a goldmine of anecdotes and pointers.
"The team decide that with so much information and so many clues to investigate, they need more help. Family members and friends are drafted in and the eight-strong team head to a location where they are hopeful of spotting a Bigfoot.
"Later in the season the team will visit Arizona, Utah, Hawaii, Colorado and New Mexico as they leave no stone unturned in their search for the truth behind the legendary creature.
"One bold town in Minnesota even calls itself the 'home of Bigfoot' and the team are skeptical, but after some great leads they turn up some interesting evidence.
"Their search even takes them as far as the Hawaiian Islands, where they go on the trail of the Menehune (little foot)." 

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Silver Bridge Collapse - 49 Years

49 years ago today, the Silver Bridge, spanning the Ohio River and connecting Point Pleasant, West Virginia, with Ohio, collapsed.

Around the same time there were sightings of the infamous Mothman, UFOs, and Men in Black… leading some to believe both events are related.

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Happy Birthday Karl Shuker! (And Cryptozoologist of the Year)

I saw on Karl Shuker's blog right now that been award "Cryptozoologist of the Year" by Loren Coleman and the International Cryptozoology Museum (see here). And, today is also Karl's birthday!
Karl Shuker

Happy Birthday Karl!

Karl's two most recent books are Still in Search of Prehistoric Survivors and The Journal of Cryptozoology, Volume 4. 

Journal of Cryptozoology Volume 4

Now available - the 4th volume of The Journal of Cryptozoology. Currently the only peer reviewed scientific journal concerning cryptozoology.

Here is what you will find in this volume, from Karl Shuker's blog ShukerNature:

"An insightful examination by Paul Michael Donovan of the original occurrence and subsequent dispersal and gradual generalization in meaning of a famous cryptid term - 'bunyip.'
"An exhaustive and exceedingly valuable checklist compiled by Dr Charles G.M. Paxton and Adrian J. Shine of identities proposed over time for what must surely be the world's premier cryptid - the Loch Ness monster.
"A very pertinent application of DNA analysis by Dr Haskell V. Hart to alleged cryptozoological (bigfoot) samples, a practical approach that I anticipate becoming ever more important in this field.
"The presentation by Bruce A. Champagne of a very comprehensive, novel type proposal for water monsters."

You can get it here.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

The Valhalla Serpent - 111 Years Ago Today

75 years ago today, Pearl Harbor in Hawaii was attacked. Also on this date, 111 years ago, one of the most famous sea serpent sightings occurred.

While on the yacht Valhalla, two naturalists (Yes, scientists saw a sea serpent!), Michael J. Nicoll and E.G.B. Meade-Waldo, were fifteen miles east of the Parahiba River in Brazil on a research cruise when they spotted something strange around 10:15 a.m.
The Valhalla monster
Nicoll spotted the thing first, and asked Meade-Waldo, "Is that the fin of  a great fish?"

They both saw a fin moving through the water about a hundred yards away from them, which Meade-Waldo described as "dark seaweed-brown, somewhat crinkled at the edge." The fin was rectangular, about six feet long, and about two feet high.

Meade-Waldo grabbed some binoculars to see the creature better, and when he did, a long neck, "about the thickness of a slight man's body" rose out of the water. The neck of the creature, he said was "from seven to eight feet out of the water." The head and neck were the same thickness. He went on to describe it more:

"The head had a very turtle-like appearance, as also the eye. It moved its head and neck from side to side in a peculiar manner. The color of the head and neck was dark brown above, and whitish below - almost white, I think."

Nicoll also noted that under the water, they could see a "very large brownish-black patch, but could not make out the shape of the creature. They watched the creature for several minutes until the yacht moved too far away.

At 2 a.m., December 8, 1905, three crew members on the Valhalla may have seen the creature again, entirely submerged.

Neither naturalist knew what they had seen. Meade-Waldo had no theory, and Nicoll thought that they may have seen a species of mammal. "The general appearance of the creature, especially the soft, almost rubber-like fin, gave one this impression."

He did add, however, that he thought that "…This creature was an example, I consider, of what has been so often reported, for want of a better name, as the 'great sea-serpent.'"

Nicoll's original eyewitness drawing of the sea serpent

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Still in Search of Prehistoric Survivors: The Creatures That Time Forgot?

In 1995, Karl Shuker's book In Search of Prehistoric Survivors was released. Now, the book has been re-published, updated, and expanded, as Still in Search of Prehistoric Survivors: The Creatures That Time Forgot?

"It has been 21 years since the original publication back in 1995 of In Search of Prehistoric Survivors, considered by many to be Dr Karl Shuker's finest cryptozoological volume. Not surprisingly, then, in subsequent years there has been a growing, persistent clamor among his numerous fans worldwide for him to prepare a new, updated edition. Now, at last, he has done so -- and what an update it is!
"At over 600 pages long, with a  word count of almost 260,000 and more than 300 color and b/w illustrations, this is both a massively-expanded new edition of the original volume and a valid stand-alone book in its own right, because it contains many entirely new cryptids as well as updates for all of those previously included here. The result is the most comprehensive documentation and analysis ever published of those diverse mystery beasts that at one time or another have been postulated to be bone fide prehistoric survivors.
"But if these elusive beasts do indeed exist, could they really be creatures that time forgot? From sea serpents and lake monsters to living dinosaurs and surviving pterodactyls, from bunyips and behemoths to Nandi bears, devil-pigs, thunderbirds, and many, many more, read Dr Shuker's meticulous, objective, and always scrupulously scientific assessments of each and every cryptozoological case presented in this fascinating book, and judge for yourself."

You can get the book here.

Monday, December 5, 2016

Ohio Bigfoot Conference 2017

The 2017 Ohio Bigfoot Conference will take place May 20th.

Speakers so far are Lyle Blackburn, Thom Powell, and Jeff Meldrum. Recently there was an announcement saying there will be two more speakers and some special guests announced.

Tickets sold over the weekend. VIPs sold out in less than five minutes.

I will have updates as more speakers are announced.

Lyle Blackburn
Jeff Meldrum
Thom Powell

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Small Town Monsters - Mothman of Point Pleasant

Small Town Monsters announced their 4th film yesterday - The Mothman of Point Pleasant, coming spring 2017.