May 12, 2022 I Nick Redfern

Cryptozoology: Is It What It Appears To Be?

Cryptozoology is the study of, and the search for, so-called Cryptid creatures. Within the field of Cryptozoology there are such creatures as Mothman, Bigfoot, the Loch Ness Monster, the Dogmen and much, much more. But, should any of these beasts really be in the category of Cryptozoology? I'll explain what I mean: more than a few of these "monsters" have distinct paranormal and supernatural overtones attached to them. For example, take a look at Bigfoot. At first glance, these giant apes of the woods appear to be just unclassified animals. It's not quite like that, though. Consider this: there are longstanding cases of the Bigfoot creatures having the ability to become invisible. Yes, really. Most investigators of the Bigfoot and cryptid ape phenomena take the view that the beasts they seek for are flesh and blood animals that have been incredibly lucky, in terms of skillfully avoiding us, or getting captured and killed. There is, however, another theory that may explain how and why the Bigfoot always eludes us, at least when it comes to securing hard evidence of their existence. It’s a theory that posits the creatures have the ability to become invisible – that’s to say, they can “cloak” themselves so that we do not see them. It’s a theory that the bulk of Bigfoot enthusiasts have absolutely no time for. It is a fact, however, that regardless of what people think of the theory, there is certainly no shortage of invisible-driven reports.

 (Nick Redfern)

The website Native Languages notes: “The Bigfoot figure is common to the folklore of most Northwest Native American tribes. Native American Bigfoot legends usually describe the creatures as around 6-9 feet tall, very strong, hairy, uncivilized, and often foul-smelling, usually living in the woods and often foraging at night...In some Native stories, Bigfoot may have minor supernatural powers - the ability to turn invisible, for example - but they are always considered physical creatures of the forest, not spirits or ghosts.” Native Americans aren’t the only people who hold such beliefs. Bhutan Canada says: “In 2001, the Bhutanese Government created the Sakteng Wildlife Sanctuary, a 253 square-mile protected habitat for the Migoi. The sanctuary is also home to pandas, snow leopards, and tigers but the Bhutanese maintain that the refuge was created specifically for the Migoi. Migoi is the Tibetan word for ‘wild man’ or more common to Western culture, the Yeti. The Yeti, often called the Abominable Snowman in the west and referred to as the Migoi by the Bhutanese, is a bipedal ape like creature that is said to inhabit the Himalayan region of Nepal, Tibet, and Bhutan. The Migoi is known for its phenomenal strength and magical powers, such as the ability to become invisible and to walk backwards to fool any trackers [italics mine].” 

Now, let's turn our attentions to the matter of the Loch Ness Monster. You think they're just colonies of animals that spend most of their time swimming around 700 feet deep? Well, yes, that is a part of it all. But, there's far more: there's an undeniable paranormal aspect to the Nessies. The monsters have been seen looking like giant eels. Other eyewitnesses have said they looked like camels. Plesiosaurs have been suggested. Giant frog-like monsters have been encountered. As have tusked animals in the deep waters. There is something else, too: centuries ago, the monsters of Loch Ness were known as Kelpies. And, guess what? They were shape-shifters. They would take on the guises of beautiful women and quickly drag them into the inky depths and to their deaths. The fact that the monsters have taken on different appearances in modern times suggests strongly that those legendary shapeshifters have never gone. More importantly: the fact that these things can morph their shapes makes me suspect these "animals" are supernatural in nature. So, should they really be placed in the category of Cryptozoology? It's a good question.

How about Mothman? It, too, is one of the world's most famous monsters. There can be few people reading this who have not at least heard of the legendary Mothman of Point Pleasant, West Virginia, who so terrorized the town and the surrounding area between November 1966 and December 1967, and whose diabolical exploits were chronicled in the 2002 hit Hollywood movie starring Richard Gere: The Mothman Prophecies, so named after the book of the same title written by Mothman authority John Keel. A devil-like, winged monster with glowing, red eyes, Mothman’s appearance came quite literally out of nowhere and, some say, culminated in high tragedy and death. But what was the Mothman of Point Pleasant? And how did the legend begin?  To answer those questions we have to go back to the dark night of November 12, 1966, when five grave-diggers working in a cemetery in the nearby town of Clendenin were shocked to see what they described as a “brown human shape with wings” rise out of the thick, surrounding trees and soar off into the distance.

(Nick Redfern) Welcome to Point Pleasant, home to the Mothman

Three days later, the unearthly beast surfaced once again. It was at the highly appropriate time of the witching-hour when Roger and Linda Scarberry and Steve and Mary Mallette – two young, married couples from Point Pleasant - were passing the time away by cruising around town in the Scarberrys’ car. As they drove around the old factory, the four were puzzled to see in the shadows what looked like two red lights pointing in their direction. These were no normal lights, however. Rather, all four were shocked and horrified to discover that, in reality, the “lights” were the glowing, self-illuminating red eyes of a huge animal that, as Roger Scarberry would later recall, was “…shaped like a Mothman, but bigger, maybe six and a half or seven feet tall, with big wings folded against its back.” A legend was born. Now, let's get to the matter of the supernatural side of Mothman. In the period 1966 to 1967, Point Pleasant, West Virginia (and its surroundings) was swamped by UFOs in the skies. Creepy-looking, pale-faced Men in Black with bulging eyes that didn't even look completely human terrified eyewitnesses. And, of course, there was Point Pleasant's terrible curse: the collapse of the Silver Bridge that drowned dozens of people. In other words, the story of Mothman is not just about a giant, unknown winged thing. Rather, there was multiple strange, supernatural phenomena afoot from 1966 to 1967. So, should we remove Mothman from the Cryptozoology field to that of the supernatural? I would definitely say "Yes." Now, let's address matters relative to the controversy-filled Dogman enigma.

Since 1991, the Wisconsin town of Elkhorn has been the lair and hunting ground of a terrifying creature that is the closest thing one can imagine to a real-life werewolf. And, just maybe, that’s exactly what it is. The monster has become known as the Beast of the Bray Road – on account of the fact that many of the initial sightings were made on that particular road. Without doubt, the expert on all-things of a lycanthropic nature in Wisconsin is author and journalist Linda Godfrey, who has penned half a dozen books on werewolves, and who I interviewed about her research into this malignant beast. She told me: “The story first came to my attention in about 1991 from a woman who had heard rumors going around here in Elkhorn, and particularly in the high school, that people had been seeing something like a werewolf, a wolf-like creature, or a wolf-man. They didn’t really know what it was. But some were saying it was a werewolf. And the werewolf tag has just gotten used because I think that people really didn’t know what else to call it."

(Nick Redfern) One is a Dogman, the other isn't

Linda continued: “I started checking it out. I talked to the editor of The Week newspaper here, and which I used to work for. He said, ‘Why don’t you check around a little bit and see what you hear?’ This was about the end of December. And being a weekly newspaper that I worked for, we weren’t really hard news; we were much more feature oriented. So, I asked a friend who had a daughter in high school and she said, ‘Oh yeah, that’s what everybody’s talking about.’ So, I started my investigations and got one name from the woman who told me about it. She was also a part-time bus driver. “In my first phone call to the bus driver, she told me that she had called the County Animal Control Officer. So, of course, when you’re a reporter, anytime you have a chance to find anything official that’s where you go. I went to see him and, sure enough, he had a folder in his file draw that he had actually marked Werewolf, in a tongue-in-cheek way. People had been phoning in to him to say that they had seen something. They didn’t know what it was. But from their descriptions, that’s what he had put. So, of course, that made it a news story. When you have a public official, the County Animal Control Officer, who has a folder marked Werewolf, that’s news. It was very unusual."

It definitely was very unusual! There's more, however: I have cases of the Dogmen vanishing into strange, dense fog, never to be seen again. I have three cases where the Dogmen morphed into ape-like animals. And I have three cases of the Men in Black knocking on front-doors after an encounter with the Dogmen. I should stress these particular MIB were most definitely not "government agents." Their skin looked like plastic. Again, there were the bulging eyes. And they were beyond skinny: "cadaverous" might be a good term to use. Now, as we get to our end, consider this: all of these creatures have been placed into the field of Cryptozoology. But, they clearly are not normal animals. There's something very different going on with all of these "animals." So, I say to you, the reader: should we just continue as we have been for decades? Or, should we revamp much of the field of Cryptozoology? I say the latter: these animals are just too weird for what should pass for unknown animals.

Nick Redfern

Nick Redfern works full time as a writer, lecturer, and journalist. He writes about a wide range of unsolved mysteries, including Bigfoot, UFOs, the Loch Ness Monster, alien encounters, and government conspiracies. Nick has written 41 books, writes for Mysterious Universe and has appeared on numerous television shows on the The History Channel, National Geographic Channel and SyFy Channel.

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