If there’s one thing I like, it’s a good, old-fashioned monster movie: I’m talking about the likes of Them!, a B&W, 1954 saga of giant, radioactive ants rampaging across the desert land of Alamogordo, New Mexico, USA. Then, there’s Godzilla, a classic movie that also hit the cinemas in 1954. Moving on to 1958, how about Earth vs. the Spider? Yet another monster of huge proportions. Of course, such movies, as much as they entertain us, are simply fiction and nothing else. Or, maybe they’re not just fiction, after all. Could there be massive monsters in our midst? Well, there were at various points in our history. For example, in the Jurassic era there existed in what today is the United States a dragonfly called Meganeura monyi. This was no regular dragonfly, however. It had a wingspan in excess of three feet. As another example, in 2001 Ohio State University geologists discovered the fossilized remains of a centipede in an old mine. It was a centipede five feet long. Then there were the ancient remains of a sea-scorpion unearthed from a German quarry in 2007; an arthropod, the sea-scorpion is of the same group as insects and spiders. There was something very notable about this particular sea-scorpion, however: it was slightly more than eight feet in length. Of course, none of these oversized things were alive at the time of their discovery. Indeed, they lived, walked, and flew millions of years ago. But, could there be real oversized versions of today’s creatures? Possibly, yes. Let’s begin with the matter of some creepy, eight-legged monsters.
The largest known spider is the South American bird-eating spider, which goes by the name of Theraphosa blondi. One particular specimen, a twelve-year-old named Rosi, has an impressive leg-span of just under twelve inches, making her the largest, living spider on record – ever. That does not mean nothing larger than Rosi exists. It simply means we haven’t formally classified it or them. But, more than a few people claim to have seen such things. In 2001, English cryptozoologist Dr. Karl Shuker heard a fascinating story from explorer Bill Gibbons, who spent a great deal of time investigating reports of the Congo’s most famous monster, the long-necked Mokele M’Bembe. The story dates back to 1938 and the experiences of a pair of explorers, Reginald and Margurite Lloyd. While negotiating a jungle pathway in the heart of the Belgian Congo, they saw something very strange step out in front of them. Their first thoughts were: was it a small crouching person, or a similarly crouched monkey? To their eternal horror, it quickly became clear it was neither. What it actually was, was a gigantic spider, one that had legs which spanned four-feet!
Moving on to the United States, there is the 1948 report of William Slaydon, his wife, and grandchildren – which eerily echoes the report coming out of the Congo a decade earlier. The location was Leesville, Louisiana, and the family was walking to a nearby church for an evening of worship and prayer when their journey was suddenly interrupted – and in horrific fashion. As the Slaydons strolled along the road, to their horror, a giant spider – described as being “the size of a washtub” – surfaced out of a nearby ditch and raced across the road. Never again did the family walk that particular stretch of Louisiana road. Moving on…
As is the case with practically every investigator of the unknown, I am sure, occasionally I am on the receiving end of stories, tales and accounts that sound great, but where the person relating the data insists on either complete or partial anonymity. Of course, such tales can be very interesting indeed; but, equally, they can be extremely frustrating, too. Primarily, this is because at the end of the day, without hard evidence that the person really is who they claim to be, very little can be done with the story in terms of investigating it and/or validating it, aside from keeping it on file, and hoping that by making it public – as I’m doing now – it may encourage others to come forward. And the strange story that follows is a classic example.
It comes from a man who claims to be a retired British police constable, who has personal knowledge of a story of truly monstrous proportions, and which focuses on dark goings-on after sunset in the British city of Birmingham in the late 1970s and early 1980s. For what it’s worth, here’s the tale. According to the man, who identified himself only by the surname of Sykes, while serving in the British Police Force (service that, he said, began in 1977 and ended in 1988), he heard two tales from colleagues of giant eels seen in the winding canals that run through the city of Birmingham – both of which occurred, he thought, around 1979 or 1980. In both cases, the witnesses had reported seeing very large creatures – the first, amazingly, around twenty feet in length, and both very dark in color. Needless to say, if the physical details described in the first encounter were not exaggerations on the part of the witness, then it was without shadow of a doubt, a definitive monster. Now, let’s take a look at yet another giant.
Don is a keen outdoorsman who lives in Minnesota’s Clearwater County (which is also the home of Lake Itasca) and someone who had an extraordinary encounter at the lake in March 2013. Yes, it was with a leviathan of the deep. But, no, it was not of the famous, long-necked, humpbacked variety so often reported at Loch Ness. Don’s experience involved nothing less than a huge, monstrous frog. We’re talking about a frog of around four-feet in length. According to Don, it was as he strolled along the lake shore with his German Shepherd, Ben, that he saw a sudden disturbance in the water, at a distance of around fifty feet. Puzzled, he continued walking, and kept his dog on a tight leash. Just in case. It was probably a very wise move. As Don closed in, he was both shocked and horrified to see a huge frog crawl out of the water and, for a couple of seconds, peer intently and eerily in his direction. Don, somewhat concerned for his and Ben’s safety, stood frozen to the spot for a few moments. As did Ben. Don quickly thought about taking a picture with his iPhone, at which point the monstrous mutant flopped back into the water, with a powerful splash, and was gone. Such was Don’s amazement, he raced home, got a bunch of provisions, food and bottled water and spent the entire day and night staking out that specific area of the lake. Unfortunately, the beast did not return.