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Doing-The-Mowing _ Leonrw via http://www.flickr.com/photos/leonrw/3374517312/

Anomalous Bouncing Beasts: Killer Kangaroos and Phantom Marsupials

Occasionally amidst reports of mystery beasts and strange critters seen the world over, Australia’s loveable leaper, the kangaroo, appears in various distant locales under the rather Fortean label of “out-of-place-animals.”

Kangaroos have, from time to time, been kept as pets in parts of America and the UK, and escapees do sometimes result in what might be classified as “anomalous” sightings of the creatures.

Journalist Chris Cunnyrigham notes that “These animals have a propensity for showing up in areas outside their native Australia,” citing colonies that have appeared in Europe, for example under various circumstances. “These… were engendered by human agency (escaped pets and menageries of animal enthusiasts) and still don’t account for the phenomenon known as Phantom Kangaroos.” Indeed, there are many reports of kangaroos turning up in what are simply the oddest places imaginable–with no apparent human intervention of any kind–begging the question “how did the ever manage to get there?”

One recent string of reports involves the appearance of phantom marsupials north of Tokyo, Japan. Below is a short statement detailing the activity, as reported by ABC News:

The descriptions given by the apparent eyewitnesses seem close enough. For years they have spoken of a beige animal with large ears, one to 1.5 metres tall, that stands by the roadside and then hops away.

The sightings were all reported in the Mayama mountain district of Osaki city in Miyagi prefecture, a community of 441 households, located about 350 kilometres north of Tokyo.

Reports such as these are, for the most part, fairly mundane. However, in my own article “Screaming Kangaroos: Large Anomalous Marsupials in the USA?” I noted a few strange encounters with what have been described as “kangaroo-like” animals, some of which were violent, even resulting in death:

In the United States, reports of what have been called “phantom kangaroos” have been chronicled for decades, namely by researchers like Jerome Clark and Loren Coleman. In the state of Tennessee going back as far back as 1934, an “atypical kangaroo” was reportedly killing and partially devouring several animals, including German shepherd dogs in mid to late January. One witness, Reverend W. J. Hancock, described the animal as “looking like a large kangaroo, running and leaping across a field.” Another witness, Frank Cobb, claimed to have found a dismembered Alsatian, which he believed had been killed by the phantom marsupial. According to legend, a search party was formed, which followed the kangaroo’s prints to a nearby cave, where the trail ran out. The alleged “killer kangaroo” was never apprehended.

In addition to raising many eyebrows, this report raises a variety of questions; kangaroos, known to be strict herbivores, wouldn’t be killing and devouring small animals, let alone German shepherds. Additionally, the only reliably documented case of a kangaroo attack resulting in a human death occurred in New South Wales, in 1936, where a hunter was killed after trying to rescue his two dogs from a fight that had ensued with a kangaroo.

As often as they are reported, where do these “Phantom Kangaroos” come from? Aside from their obvious point of origin in the Land Down Under, what abilities do they mask that might allow them such curious abilities to travel great distances… or are they merely getting a little help from time to time, courtesy of folks who might fancy them as pets?

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