Sep 08, 2022 I Nick Redfern

Cryptozoology and Strange Creatures: Is it all in the Mind? Yes, Literally!

How and why is it that so many people are fascinated by reports of lake monsters, sea serpents, Cthulhu-like beasts, mermaids and more? Jonathan Downes, of the Center for Fortean Zoology, believes there may very well be an answer to this question. It’s a question that may also have a bearing on our beliefs on other unknown animals, too, such as Bigfoot, Mothman, and the Abominable Snowman. Downes is keen to stress that his theory does not explain every aspect of the overall “mystery animal” controversy. He does, however, suspect that it explains at least a portion of it. With that said, I will now hand you over to Downes: "Researchers Albert Budden and Paul Devereux have both written extensively about 'energies' which can have certain effects on the human mind. Devereux suggests consciousness-affecting energy can originate via natural radioactivity and electro-magnetic fields. His books list numerous examples of anomalous experiences he believes have occurred after an encounter with these energies. Budden contends that modern electro-magnetic pollution as well as natural electro-magnetism can have a radical and often deleterious effect on people."

(Nick Redfern) Jon Downes: Monster-hunter of the alternative type.

Jon says: "None of this is completely proven, but between them they are building a persuasive case for the earth’s natural energies playing a part as being at least the stimulus for 'paranormal' experiences. But here's the important question in relation to the above: why should so many of these experiences result in the manifestation of creatures of a definitive cryptozoological nature? I have more than a few ideas when it comes to answering that particular question: 'What I saw at Bolam, England in January 2003 [a Bigfoot-type creature] was a very real phenomenon. But whether it had any objective reality outside of my own experience, I’m not sure. But, there were several of us who saw this thing at once; or, largely the same thing. I’m fairly convinced that what I saw was a para-psychological phenomenon, rather than a flesh and blood one." Jon adds:

"What I believe is a theory that Richard Freeman [zoologist and cryptozoologist] and I came up with. Actually, he came up with it first. Richard noticed that wherever he went on an expedition, the same types of mystery animal were being reported. As just one of many examples, he was in Thailand in 2000 and came back telling me that, as well as the Naga – this giant, water-based and cave-based snake he was looking for, and which is analogous to the western dragon, and perhaps lake-monsters as well – there were sightings of a Bigfoot-type of hairy beast, a large and mysterious golden cat, and a large winged thing called the Garuda [Author’s Note: the Garuda a bird man from Indo-Chinese legend that is akin to the Japanese Tengu], very much like the Owlman of Cornwall. Everywhere you go, there is what Richard calls a "global template" for monsters. And, me and Richard have looked into this very deeply, and you basically have got the same types of paranormal mystery animals reported all over the world, and in nearly each and every culture. There are the big, hairy, ape-like creatures. You have the little, hairy, ape-like creatures. You have phantom black dogs, phantom big cats, dragons and lake-monsters, and you have the large, flying things. So, we were looking for a unifying theory behind all this." Jon has even more to say:

"And it’s now that we come to the heart of that unifying theory: Richard and I have concluded that you have to go back to when the Human Race was a bunch of a couple of thousand, small, hairy creatures walking around on the plains of East Africa. And every man, woman and child on the planet is descended from these same, little, hairy creatures. And, at that time, there would have been a lot of things that would have scared the hell out of them, and which they would have been in mortal danger from, such as large, wild hunting dogs, and big cats of that era. They may even have been in dire danger from their own relatives, such as the smaller, stronger, hairy men, and the larger, and now-extinct, primitive, giant apes. They would have also been in danger from crocodiles, alligators – huge ones, perhaps - and possibly very large birds, too, which the fossil record shows did exist; very large. All of these things would have provoked a “fight or flight” response in our ancestors. And all of these types of creature are present in today’s world as mystery animals."

And there is even more coming: "Richard and I believe the memories of these creatures, and our ancestors’ experiences with them, and fear of them, have become hardwired into our subconscious as a kind of fossil memory. And when I say 'our' I mean everyone. It’s in all of us, whether we know it or not. And that, under certain circumstances, something can make your brain reboot to that primitive state, and perhaps create images of those primitive creatures our ancestors lived in fear of. This is, we believe, in much the same way as when your computer reboots it first goes back to its most primitive state, no matter how many programs you might be running when it crashes and needs to reboot. And, we think that when this happens to the human brain, you can experience one of those archetypal, primal fears, in the form of a dragon, a big cat, a black dog, and even the large hairy man-beast.

(Nick Redfern) Cryptozoology that goes against the normal. And, good for that!

A fascinating theory, certainly, but what might make the human brain reboot in the fashion that I describe? Once again, I have some specific theories and ideas with which Richard accords: The human brain is, basically, an incredibly sophisticated computer. And one of the things that make computers reboot from time to time is an electrical power surge. I think it’s very interesting that in places where the British Bigfoot has been seen, such as at Bolam Lake –and where lake monsters are seen, too - we had an enormous amount of electrical equipment fail on us. This was equipment that was tested in Devon before we left, and even on the day before I had my encounter, and it all worked perfectly – until we got to the lake. The idea of power-failures in such situations goes back to John Keel, et al, and is very well known. We also found there were strange magnetic anomalies at the lake, too. And when we got back to CFZ headquarters in Devon, England we found there were veins of magnetic iron-ore underneath that very part of the country. And we’re wondering if these weird magnetic anomalies, caused by perfectly natural phenomena, can affect, or interfere with, the human brain, and cause it to reboot to that most primitive stage, and those very primitive, fossil memories – as me and Richard call them – of all these various types of archetypal creatures in Cryptozoology, and you can experience one of these great primal fears. In my case, at Bolam, it was in the form of a large ape-like animal.’”

The theory of Jon and Richard rolls along: "Getting back to the issue of rebooting monsters, I’m careful to point out the following: we admit it’s not a theory that can explain everything, because some of the world’s man-beasts, such as the Yeti and Orang-Pendek, are flesh and blood. Some of the Bigfoot sightings are; some aren’t. The same goes for some monsters seen in lakes and rivers. And what I can also tell you is that what I saw at Bolam had a great effect on my cerebral cortex. Endorphins are the pleasure chemicals released during sex. There are two substances which mimic the production of endorphins. They are chocolate and opiates, both of which I have abused in my time. And I know the effect that drugs can have on the central nervous system. And, after whatever it was I saw in Bolam in 2003, my body was immediately flooded with endorphins. That is a sign, to me, that something was playing around with my cerebral cortex. As for the other people at Bolam who saw the same thing I saw, well, maybe, we can externalize these images – like a Tulpa, a creature created by the imagination and externalized by the human mind. Or, quite possibly, the expectation of us all potentially seeing a British Bigfoot at Bolam made us all hardwire the very same image when we were all rebooted.

(Nick Redfern) Not animals as we see them.

I thought I would chime in myself when it comes to the particularly bizarre aspects of Cryptozoology. Such as Bigfoot creatures seen in the U.K. Ridiculous, but Jon himself once saw such a creature - in the north of England - barely a few meters away from him in 2002. Many of the cases, and certainly the vast majority of the available testimony, on record from the British Isles clearly demonstrate that the British Bigfoot most assuredly is not a flesh and blood beast; or, at least, it’s not of a flesh and blood nature in the way that most of us generally accept, or understand, the term. There are numerous reports of the British creatures vanishing in the blink of an eye. Such entities are seen time and again in the vicinity of ancient stone circles, prehistoric hill-forts, and areas of historical and archaic significance. They appear to have the unfathomable ability to significantly affect electrical equipment and even people’s perception and state of mind - and seldom, if ever, in a particularly positive fashion, either. For the most part, the sightings are always of solitary beasts – hardly ever with others of their kind or with juvenile offspring. And, they are seemingly utterly content to go on about their enigmatic activities quite successfully without the need for even a modicum of food, water or shelter. Such, then, is the strange and monstrous "existence" and "life" of the British wild man.

In 2007, it was revealed by Staffordshire County Council that, on average, a staggering 170 deer are killed each and every year on the Cannock Chase woods. That’s a figure of almost one every two days per year. But, here’s the important thing: those deaths are, for the most part, nearly always easily explainable via the aforementioned accidents involving various vehicles - very often driven by people speeding along the long, wide road that links the towns of Hednesford and Rugeley, and which cuts a dramatic and picturesque swathe right through the heart of the very Chase itself.

The other important factor here is that there is zero evidence to suggest the bodies of these many animals are being stealthily hauled away by mysterious beasts after being hit by racing drivers. Yes, they may very well get gnawed and nibbled on by small, wild animals after dark, but on practically every occasion, they remain where they fall, which is generally in a smashed state on the tarmac, or, on the grass at the side of the road, having been hurled there by the pulverising force of metal hitting flesh and bone at high speed. It is then the unenviable job of the council to dispatch workers to clean up the usually grisly mess, a task they perform very regularly, and which anyone can see them doing, if such is their warped idea of entertainment. 

The only other possibility to account for how a Bigfoot just might survive by eating deer on Cannock Chase - and, I stress, I do not believe this to be the case, at all - is that Staffordshire County Council is engaged in a gigantic X-Files-type conspiracy to hide mountains of evidence that, each and every year, the bodies of hundreds of deer - after having been hit by cars, vans and lorries - are being grabbed by scavenger-style Bigfoot beasts all across the area, and then heartily and voraciously devoured. Such a scenario would most certainly make for a wonderfully entertaining cryptozoological novel, but for the world of reality? Forget it! And, let’s not lose sight of the fact that sightings of the British Bigfoot hail from all corners of the country, so such an unlikely conspiracy would have to be one of nationwide proportions - and which would make the possibility of keeping it under wraps even more unlikely.

Then there is the matter of habitat. Aside from stumbling upon the very occasional, so-called "Bigfoot Tepee," nothing of any real substance has ever surfaced to offer a viable solution to certain, critically important questions: where on earth does the British Bigfoot live? Where do they mate? Where do they rear their young? The more we address such important questions, the less credible are the answers that come to the fore. Or, at least, they become less credible when we try and pigeon-hole the existence of the beasts into the flesh and blood camp. Yes, strange creatures do "live." But, not in a way that we do. It's time for Cryptozoology to be overhaiuled and revamped.

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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