When you say “paranormal” and “Phoenix” in the same sentence, the first thing most people think of is the famous Phoenix lights. That may change if the giant winged humanoid allegedly photographed on New Year’s night in that city turns out to be a new cryptid, a wandering Mothman, a lost Jersey Devil or a demon trying to get an early start on its 2017 soul quota.

What do we know about it? Someone named Richard Christianson posted the photo on social media on January 1st, 2017, and asked the most reliable experts on the Internet – his Facebook friends – what they thought was pictured in the photograph. The wings are pretty obvious to even the most casual viewer, two spikey things seem to be sticking out of its head and it appears to be larger than a nearby house. The lighting is suitably bad and sepia-toned to add an air of mystery and fear.


For believers, the speculation leaned towards “demon” or “angel” depending on one’s view of the state of the world - or at least Arizona. Those with a knowledge of cryptids suggested Mothman or the Jersey Devil without suitable explanations for why either might be so far from their normal east coast haunts.

Non-believers quickly point out that it looks like a palm tree. Why didn’t the poster’s friends – or any of the 100,000 people who shared the photo - go back in the daylight to check? It could be a Photoshop hoax, especially since there’s only one photograph and no video. Was Christianson (is that his real name or a coded message?) worried that the thing was coming after him? He didn’t give any info on the circumstances surrounding the encounter or whether it’s actually his photograph.

Facebook took the page down, which seems odd since the photograph – even under severe magnification – doesn’t show the creature’s private parts, which is what caused the Facebook powers that be to force an Italian art historian to remove an image from her page showing a statue of the Roman god Neptune with exposed genitalia.

Would these be acceptable if Neptune had wings?

Based on all of that, there’s no general consensus on what is pictured in Richard Christianson’s image. Why did Facebook take it down? Does it fall under fake news, possible nudity or something that violates some executive’s secret soul-bargaining deal to get more stock options?

Any thoughts?

Paul Seaburn

Paul Seaburn is the editor at Mysterious Universe and its most prolific writer. He’s written for TV shows such as "The Tonight Show", "Politically Incorrect" and an award-winning children’s program. He's been published in “The New York Times" and "Huffington Post” and has co-authored numerous collections of trivia, puzzles and humor. His “What in the World!” podcast is a fun look at the latest weird and paranormal news, strange sports stories and odd trivia. Paul likes to add a bit of humor to each MU post he crafts. After all, the mysterious doesn't always have to be serious.

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