The world of cryptozoology, that of strange, unidentified or undiscovered creatures, has various shades of weirdness. Some of these alleged creatures seem as if they could possibly be flesh and blood creatures lying outside of our known classifications, while others seem more removed from the more conventional possible explanations, and still others shoot way off into a totally new realm of the odd. Here in this domain of the truly outlandish we find a menagerie of eyebrow-raising beasts that have propelled themselves far beyond what is easily explainable by any standard, to firmly and deeply lodge themselves into the world of the unexplained. These are the cryptids that make us scratch our heads; the weird, wonderful, and at times utterly preposterous, showing that the world is a mighty strange place indeed.
There are so many such cases that it is hard to even know where to begin. I suppose when it comes to truly weird supposed mystery monsters, as good a place as any to start with is what can only be described as some sort of underwater lizard man which is said to have terrorized the waterways of the state of Indiana. What has gone on to be known as simply “The Green Clawed Beast” is known primarily from one particularly dramatic and frightening witness report from 1955. On August 21, 1955, a Mrs. Darwin Johnson and her friend, a Mrs. Chris Lamble, were reportedly swimming on the Ohio River near Evansville, Indiana on a clear and calm summer’s day when they encountered something rather bizarre to say the very least.
At some point during their relaxing swim, Johnson purportedly suddenly had difficulty swimming and began thrashing about in a panic in the water, as if something was intentionally and inexorably pulling her down. Lamble looked on in horror as her friend clutched at the water and gasped for air, and Johnson apparently once managed to break free from whatever was yanking on her leg, which would later be described as a scaly, clawed hand, only to be pulled down yet again as she desperately screamed for help. Lamble furiously splashed her way across the water in her inner tube in an effort to reach her terrified, drowning friend, and as she approached the mysterious assailant then released its grip and sank away in the murky depths of the river.
Once on shore, Johnson displayed gashes and bruises on her leg consistent with powerful claws, as well as a green palm print of a massive hand etched upon her flesh, which could apparently not be washed off for several days. While neither of the women had gotten a good look at the vicious mystery beast, they both seemed to agree that it had been a very large, fish-like humanoid of some sort, very much like the beast depicted in the 1954 film The Creature From the Black Lagoon. As weird as this all is, it would all get even stranger still, when investigator Terry Colvin interviewed the women years later and found out that they had been visited soon after the incident by a mysterious individual identifying himself as an Air Force Colonel, who had questioned them and then advised them against talking about it with anyone else. Just what was it that tried to drag Johnson down to her death and why was that “Colonel” snooping around and telling them to remain quiet on the matter? No one knows.
This case bears a strong similarity to another such purported fish-like or reptilian, semi-aquatic humanoid monster sighted in Thetis Lake, in Victoria, British Columbia, Canada. The sighting that first propelled this monster into the public consciousness is from August of 1972, when 16-year-old Robert Flewellyn and his friend, 17-year-old Gordon Pike, claimed that they had seen a surge of water out on the lake, after which an incredibly bizarre creature emerged, which was described as being around 5-feet tall and covered with scales, with webbed fingers, a fish-like mouth, bulbous eyes, and several wicked-looking barbed fins protruding from its body connected by a thin membrane.
The boys claimed that the creature had fearlessly lurched towards them to attack, and that one of them had even been slashed on his hand by one of the thing’s spiny fins in his effort to get away. The Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) supposedly launched a brief investigation into the spooky incident, but were unable to find anything useful. Four days later, two other boys, 14-year-old Russell Van Nice and 12-year-old Mike Gold, also claimed to have been menaced by seemingly the same creature while out fishing, saying:
It came out of the water and looked around. Then it went back into the water. Then we ran! Its body was silver and shaped like an ordinary body, like a human being body, but it had a monster face, and it was all scaly with a point sticking out of its head and great big ears and horrifying eyes.
A more modern sighting of the so-called “Thetis Lake Monster” allegedly occurred in 2006, when a man named Jesse Martin claims he was at the lake getting into his car to leave when a humanoid figure dash out of the darkness to smash right into the side of his vehicle. The spooked witness then drove away as fast as he could, and says that when he got home he found a set of five nasty claw marks on the side of his car, as well as what appeared to be fish-like scales plastered about. Such accounts are reminiscent of some of the creatures of the lore of some North American native peoples, such as the fish-like humanoid beasts told of by the Kwakiutl Indians, which they refer to as the Pugwis. Could this lore be behind some of these cases, with perhaps some nugget of truth buried within? Is this some sort of unidentified animal, aliens, or tall tales? No one really knows, but reptilian fish-men certainly rank up there with the stranger and more inexplicable of alleged mystery monsters.
Another type of bizarre humanoid monster that seems to pop up in various locations throughout the United States is some sort of half-human, half-goat hybrid abomination purportedly standing up to 7-feet tall and imaginatively called "The Goatman." One iteration of this perplexing monster is the Goatman of Prince George's County, Maryland, which is said to be a humanoid goat that runs around attacking the unwary with an axe. The origins of this supposed monster are certainly steeped in urban legend, with one of the tales claiming the creature was once a mad scientist whose experiments backfired on him and mutated him. One paranormal investigator Mark Opsasnick, author of the unwieldily titled book The Real Story Behind the Exorcist: A Study of the Haunted Boy and Other True-Life Horror Legends From Around the Nation's Capital, has said of the Maryland Goatman’s origins:
There were basically three aspects to the Goatman legend, as described by early newspaper accounts. Number one is that they described a creature that was half-man, half-animal, walking on two feet. The other aspect of the legend was that it was a mad scientist -- a scientist who worked in the Beltsville Agricultural Research Center who was experimenting on goats, and the experiment went astray, and he started attacking cars with an ax. [He'd attack] anyone who would roam the back roads of the Beltsville Agricultural Research Center. The third aspect of the legend was that it was just an old hermit who retreated to the woods and would be seen walking alone at night along Fletchertown Road, and when anyone would come around, he'd just run away.
Despite this campfire story style and almost comic bookish origin tale, there have been many witnesses who have claimed to have actually seen the Maryland Goatman or even been attacked by it, claiming that the creature is much more than just a simple urban legend. Also with its own version of the Goatman tale is Pope Lick Creek, in Louisville, Kentucky, which allegedly has a twisted, horned half-goat humanoid beast that stalks the railway here. Said to be everything from an escaped circus freak, to a mutated goat, to a ghost, demon, or even the Devil himself, the Pope Lick Monster is said to use various powers to lure people to their deaths, such as mimicking voices to bring people to the train trestle, where they are hit by the many heavy freight trains that come barreling through, or instead just resorting to attacking with an axe much like its Maryland cousin. The legend has made the Pope Lick railway trestle a popular place to go for thrill seekers and monster hunters, and whether there is really a monster or not there have still been a fair amount of deaths at the location due to these foolhardy souls being hit by trains.
Not to be outdone is yet another goat-like monster reported from Lake Worth, Texas, which is described as looking like a half-man, half-goat, with fur, scales, and long clawed fingers. The creature is said to be equally adept at swimming and climbing trees, and will kill and eat fish, chickens, and pretty much whatever it can catch. The sightings that really set of the phenomenon was made in the summer of 1969, when a group of three couples were parked along the shoreline of Lake Worth near Greer Island, in Tarrant County. According to witnesses, they were startled when at around midnight the beast crashed down onto one of the cars from the trees above and lashed out to attack, purportedly grabbing at one young women before they were able to drive off to safety. One of the witnesses claimed that his car had an 18-inch long gash in it made by the thing’s formidable claws, which was shown to authorities. This was enough to cause the police to investigate the case, but no useful evidence was ever found besides the damage to the car.
Nevertheless, the story took off, with front-page headlines such as “Fishy Man-Goat Terrifies Couples Parked at Lake Worth,” and not long after there were other reports of the creature terrorizing visitors to the area of Greer Island, screaming in the night and in some instances claimed to be hurling car tires huge distances. Before long, the whole area was caught up in monster fever, and armed hunters and amateur monster hunters were pouring into the area to try and capture or kill the beast. It was during this alarming frenzy that in October of 1969 a man named Allen Plaster allegedly took a picture of the creature, which is fuzzy and inconclusive yet still serves as the only known photographic evidence of it. Whether it was ever real or not, the Lake Worth Monster has spawned an annual festival called the Lake Worth Monster Bash, held every October.
There have been theories as to what the Lake Worth monster could possibly be, of course. For some it is more or less a Bigfoot roaming the region, or some other similar bipedal primate. For others this is all urban legends and campfire stories. Others still think this was all the result of people playing pranks, which then caught on in the media firestorm and fueled mass hysteria and copycats, which is reflected in the fact that as soon as summer wound down and kids headed back to school the reports more or less dried up. Whatever the case may be, it is certainly another curious case, and one wonders what is with all of the Goatman stories flying around all over the place.
If a Goatman isn't weird enough, then how about an actual Batman? From the wilderness of Mt. Saint Helens in Washington state, in the United States, comes a truly bizarre beast that is most often referred to as the “Batsquatch.” The creature was supposedly first reported in 1980, and was described as a winged humanoid of some sort with purple skin, glowing red eyes, and an ape-like face. The creature was often blamed for mysteriously savaged dead animals apparently found scattered about the region, and the most famous report was in 1994, when witness Butch Whittaker claims to have seen the creature ominously flying up over the mountain. Many online sources claim that Whittaker took photos of the monster, but these seem to be evasive to find. Another sighting from 2009 was made by a witness who saw a similar creature at Mt. Shasta, California, and described the incident thus:
Me and my friend were hiking around Mt. Shasta and out of one of the crevices, flew out this big creature. I mean this thing was huge. It was as tall as a man, as stocky as Hulk Hogan and had leathery wings. I believe the wing span was at least 50 feet from one end to the other. I was holding up my camera, but was paralyzed with fear as this thing flew by. I didn't get a picture, sorry. What do you think this might be? Could it have been a pterodactyl? It was flying or gliding fast, it seemed to have a head of a bat. Thinking about it, it doesn't have the head of a pterodactyl, I just saw a picture of a pterodactyl and the heads are not similar. I would think it had the head of a bat or maybe more like a fox. The damn thing finally flew into a clump of trees and vanished. I heard you guys might be going back to Mt. Shasta, if you do, please look out for this thing. If you see it, you will xxxx all over yourself, I kid you not.
Considering the obscure nature of this supposed cryptid and the extremely sparse sightings reports, the Batsquatch seems to be perhaps a purely fictional construct to be taken with a grain of salt, but it must be pointed out that winged humanoids of various types have been reported from throughout the world and are a very prominent category of cryptid, so there is the off chance that something is going on here. Who knows?
Also said to resemble some sort of bat-like creature are what have come to be known as the Lone Pine Mountain Devils, of the American Southwest. Said to look like hairy, humanoid winged creatures with bat-like features and sharp claws, these beasts have been supposedly reported since the first foreign settlers arrived in the area with the Great Gold Rush of 1849. Gruesome stories of the creatures maiming wildlife and even humans were numerous at the time, and one particularly macabre account comes from the missionary Father Justus Martinez, who in 1878 claimed that a pack of monstrosities that he described as “winged demons from the depths of Hell” had massacred and partially eaten an entire convoy of 37 Spanish settlers, of which he was the only survivor. Father Martinez purportedly wrote in his journal of the attack thus:
My God. My God. They are all gone. The winged demons have risen! What sin have they committed against each other and thy sacred earth. May the forgiving Lord not abandon their souls, which were taken from them into the depths of hell! And through the earthly fires of man, a sole tree remained on the mountain's peak. And the Devils that spared me, returned to the refuge of the Lone Pine of the Mountain.
In most cases, the Lone Pine Mountain Devils are said to eat only the cartilage and soft tissue of their victims, leaving the rest to rot and to scavengers. Although the veracity of these reports remains rather flimsy, and there has been speculation that the increased number of settlers to the region led to their extinction, such accounts can be found particularly prevalent on the Internet, and supposedly sightings have continued right up to the present day. Make of it what you will.
Moving along we come to another creature that is rather difficult to really categorize, which hails from the U.S. state of Illinois. For years the swampy river areas of Saline County, Illinois have apparently been plagued by reports of a hairy, bipedal man-sized creature described as being similar in appearance to an anteater, of all things, with an abnormally long, pointed snout and which has come to be known as the Tuttle Bottoms Monster. First reported in the 1960s, the creature has supposedly been frequently reported prowling about the wilderness, with former Harrisburg Police Chief Gary Crabtree saying that he had personally received around 50 such reports prior to retiring in 1999. The creature has been speculated as being everything from some sort of bizarre unknown primate to a genetic experiment gone wrong, to exactly what it sounds like; an escaped anteater.
In other strange stories we have tales of bizarre creatures that can only be described as some sort of big cat, yet with truly startling variations. In South America there are stories of a beast known as the Tshenkutshen, or more commonly “the rainbow tiger” or “rainbow jaguar,” which hunts the jungles of Ecuador. As its names implies, the animal is typically described as being the same general size and dimensions as a tiger or jaguar, but rather than the usual color schemes of these big cats, the Tshenkutshen has a chest adorned with a bold and striking pattern of black, white, red and yellow stripes. Another interesting feature is that the paws are not like a regular cat’s, but rather more like a primate’s, with fingers and a somewhat opposable thumb, which supposedly allows for it to display incredible climbing skills and nimble acrobatic feats through the trees. It is also said to be extremely aggressive and dangerous.
Natives of the regions of Trans-Cutucú, Sierra de Cutucú and the Sangay vulcano area near Chiguaza have long told of such a creature, and one was even purportedly killed in 1959 by a settler named Policarpio Rivadeneira, who shot the creature while in the Cerro Kilamo area, near the Abanico river. According to Rivadeneira’s account, the cat was jumping from tree to tree with great aglity, after which he shot it dead after he became concerned that it would attack. The animal was described as being very much like a jaguar, black in color, only with a rainbow colored profusion of stripes upon its chest unlike anything he had ever seen. It also was claimed to have a hump on its back and forepaws that were very simian in nature. As astounding as this finding was, it is unknown what happened to the carcass. What sort of cat would have such a multicolored, rainbow display on its chest? Did it ever exist at all? It is unknown, but very curious indeed.
Perhaps an even stranger feline cryptid is the so-called “Cactus Cat” of the deserts of the American Southwest. Reported since at least the 19th century, the Cactus Cat is said to look like a smallish, bobcat-like felid with black coloration, but very unique in that it supposedly sports spiny fur that bristles like a hedgehog’s spines, as well as sharp bony protrusions on its legs and an armored, barbed and formidable tail. The Cactus Cat allegedly comes out at night to use these bony ridges to cut open cacti, from which it drinks the sap, then becoming intoxicated and unruly. It was said that if the tail were to touch the skin it would leave severe welts, but that the cats did not typically attacks humans, preferring to be left alone, although it was said to be rather fiercely territorial when it had to be. The Cactus Cat was also said to be capable of letting out a very loud, unearthly wail, usually when high off of cactus sap. Other stories tell of them being immune to scorpion venom or of sleeping in large hollowed out Saguaro cacti. It is all very odd indeed, and one wonders what could have caused such tales or if there is any grain of truth to them at all.
Mystery animal, tall tales, urban legend, or something else, these are tales that stretch beyond the normal oddness of the field of cryptozoology, and which perhaps cannot even be contained by such classifications. With cases like these we are in a new frontier of the bizarre, adrift in uncharted waters of the twisted and unexplained. Is there any answer to these oddities, or are they to remain perpetually orbiting around the fringes of the fringe? Whatever the answers may be or what one thinks, there is no denying that these are at the very least fun to look at, and offer a glimpse into just how deep the rabbit hole can go with regards to cryptozoolgy and the world of the weird in general.