If there really are flesh-and-blood monsters in our world, and one day we find them, the likelihood is that (a) they’ll be creatures that we have never identified before; or (b) presumed extinct animals that aren’t quite so extinct, after all. Either way, the findings would amount to amazing revelations. And, if we do identify them, then it’s likely some will cry to have their titles changed. You know the ones: Bigfoot, Nessie, Champ and so on. One of the theories is that the Bigfoot creatures might be surviving pockets of Gigantopithecus blacki. It was a massive ape that lived in the distant past and which some Bigfoot researchers are convinced may explain sightings of large, anomalous apes in some of the wilder, desolate, and forested areas of our planet today. There is just one problem with this particular theory: mainstream science and zoology assure us that Gigantopithecus became extinct thousands of years ago. Just maybe, however, it didn’t. In terms of what is known about Gigantopithecus, we have to travel back in time to a relatively recent period: the 1930s. The immense beast has the thorny problem of nothing less than male impotence to thank for its discovery. For years, Chinese herbalists and doctors (some accredited and some not) have utilized fossilized teeth to create cocktails that, so they claim, can cure the embarrassing ailment of being unable to “get it up.” Since the Chinese landscape is rich in fossilized bones, people have made significant profits from selling such items to apothecaries all across China.
It turns out that in 1936 a man named Ralph von Koenigswald came across a huge fossilized tooth – specifically a molar – in a Hong Kong apothecary. It was highly fortuitous that von Koenigswald was the man that made the discovery, since he was a paleontologist, and instantly recognized the significance of what had fallen into his lap. Not only was the molar giant-sized, von Koenigswald was able to determine it came from a primate – and a large one; a very large one. In the immediate years that followed, von Koenigswald found further such examples and coined the term Gigantopithecus blacki – the former word standing for “gigantic ape” and the latter a reference to a deceased friend Davidson Black. Of course, the biggest problem is this: could entire groups of Gigantopithecus have made it to what is now the United States? That’s a tough one, but not completely impossible.
Now, let’s move onto the Nessies of Loch Ness, Scotland, All sorts of theories have been put forward for what the creatures might be. They include the paranormal angle (that’s the one I subscribe to), giant eels or something totally unknown to us. And, then, there’s the giant salamander theory. Salamanders are amphibians that are noted for their long tails, blunt heads, and short limbs and which – in the case of the Chinese giant salamander – can reach lengths of six feet. But, is it possible that some salamanders could grow much larger, even to the extent of fifteen to twenty-five feet? Incredible? Yes. Implausible? Maybe not. Steve Plambeck is a noted authority on the giant salamander theory when it comes to the matter of the Loch Ness Monster. He says: “Nessie is a bottom dwelling, water breathing animal that spends very little time on the surface or in mid-water, although just enough to be spotted visually or by sonar on very rare occasions. Its forays up from the depths are most likely made along the sides of the Loch, to feed on the fish which are predominantly found along the sides, in shallower water above the underwater cliffs that precipitously drop off into the 750 foot abyss. Such behavior is only consistent with a fish, or aquatic amphibian, which can extract all of its needed oxygen directly from the water.”
How about the Texas Chupacabra? It’s notable that plans for my July 2004 expedition to Puerto Rico began in April of that year. You might justifiably ask: why so? Well, I’ll tell you. This was the very same period in which the Chupacabra mystery came to the heart of the United States. Or, to be absolutely precise: to my home-state of Texas. That’s right, while monster-hunter Jon Downes and I were racing around the wilds of Puerto Rico, strange things were afoot in the Texan town of Elmendorf. Around seventeen miles outside of the city of San Antonio, a Chupacabra reared its head. Unlike the sprawling city which is famous for being the home of the legendary Alamo, Elmendorf is small in the extreme. It is currently home to no more than 1,500 people and is less than five square-miles in size. For such a tiny and obscure locale, unbridled, near-worldwide infamy was waiting just around the corner. There was something very unusual about the Chupacabra of Elmendorf. The famous moniker aside, it was acutely different, in terms of its physical appearance, to the Puerto Rican original. The name “Texas Chupacabra” has firmly stuck, even though we know they are really mutated coyotes (and I do mean mutated, rather than just being hairless because of mange). That the Texas Chupacabra has continued to keep its monster-type name suggests it will continue to be called that, regardless of what people think of it.
Frankly, I can’t see the Scottish Tourist Board wanting to change the names “Nessie” and “Loch Ness Monster” to “The Oversized Salamander.” Somehow, it just doesn’t work. The same goes for Gigantopithecus. Okay, maybe that’s really what they are. But, just about everyone knows the name of “Bigfoot.” Again, who would really want to change “Bigfoot” for the boring title of “Gigantopithecus? “It’s the same for Mothman. Changing its identity to something like “Unidentified bird-like creature” would be disastrous for the economy of Point Pleasant, West Virginia. Whatever the monsters of our world might be, I say let’s keep their famous names, regardless of what they might be. And, in the process, keep the magic and the intrigue, too.