Nov 30, 2022 I Nick Redfern

Cryptozoology: It Can Be a Dangerous Game: Deadly, Too, at Times

That's right: Cryptozoology can be dangerous. Very dangerous, too. In no particular order, let's take a look at a certain monster that lurks in the depths of Loch Ness. No, not the Nessies. We're talking about creatures known as Kelpies, and that were around for centuries in Scotland. And they would kill you in a moment. Within the folklore of Loch Ness and much of Scotland, there are centuries-old legends and myths concerning supernatural, violent, shape-shifting creatures known as kelpies. Or, in English, water-horses.  It should be noted, though, that although the creatures are assumed to be one and the same, there is one noticeable difference between the tales that specifically refer to kelpies and those that talk about water-horses. Typically, water-horses are far more at home in deep, sprawling lakes, while kelpies prefer pools, rivers, marshes, and lakes of a particularly compact kind. Then, there is a variant of the kelpie known as the Each-Uisge, which is a far more murderous monster than the kelpie, but which is clearly of the same supernatural stock. The term, Kelpie, has unclear origins; although the most likely explanation is that it is a distortion of the Gaelic calpa, which translates as heifer. Kelpies are terrifying, murderous creatures that lurk in the depths of Scottish lochs, canals and rivers – and more than a few of them in Loch Ness. Not only that, like werewolves, kelpies are definitive shape-shifters; creatures that can take on multiple guises, including hideous serpentine monsters, horses, hair-covered humanoids, beautiful maidens of the mermaid variety, and horse-like creatures. The kelpie is solely driven to by a crazed goal to drown the unwary by enticing and dragging them into the depths, killing them in the process. 

(Nick Redfern) A Loch of Death? For a Long Time, YES!

While numerous, old bodies of water in Scotland have kelpie legends attached to them, it’s surely no coincidence that the bulk of the legends are focused upon Loch Ness. There is good evidence to suggest that the creatures of the loch do indeed have the ability to change their form and morph and mutate into numerous states. It’s also notable that many reports of the Loch Ness Monsters suggest they have mane-like hair flowing down the back of their head and neck – not unlike the mane of a horse, which may well have prompted both the name and imagery of the water-horse. Before we get to the matter of Loch Ness, let’s take a deeper look at this malevolent, demonic entity, the kelpie of darkest Scotland. 

Reports of, and legends pertaining to, strange creatures in the large lochs of Scotland date back centuries – specifically to the 6th century. With hindsight, they sound very much like kelpies, even though they had acutely different names and titles. In 1900, Alexander Carmichael, for example, told of a beast known as the Glaistic. It was a hideous monstrosity. Half-human and half-goat, it dwelled in isolated bodies of water, always ready to pounce on, and slaughter, the unwary and the unfortunate. Moving on, we have the Lavellan, described by some as a shrew-like animal and by others as a lizard-style beast. Both its saliva and breath were said to be deadly – to both man and beast. Note that the reference to the Lavellan having deadly breath echoes the old story of the wyvern of Wales’ Llyn Cynwch Lake. Loch Tummel, in Perthshire, Scotland has its own kelpie, even though it, too, goes by another name, the Buarach-Bhaoi. Highland Perthshire Tourism says of this fearsome thing that it resembled nothing less than a gigantic leech which typically wrapped itself around horses and then dragged them into the depths of its underwater abode – and draining the unfortunate animals of blood in definitive vampire style. Loch Lindie was the deadly domain of Madge, a violent, murderous monster that, said Edward Nicholson, in 1897, had the power to morph into numerous forms, including those of a raven, a cow, a horse, and a hare. Similarly, Loch Leathan was the lair of the deadly Boobrie, yet another body-altering thing with nothing but cold-hearted killing on its crazed mind. Now, onto a distinctly different creature and a very different location. Now, to a really dangerous creature (sometimes, at least).

(Nick Redfern) When a Bigfoot Goes on a Rampage

The vast majority of reports on record suggest that the Bigfoot creatures are largely solitary and prefer to stay away from humankind as much as possible. Even when Bigfoot and people do cross paths, the beasts generally use intimidation to ward off their unwelcome visitors - and perhaps even stranger methods, too, such as Infrasound. There are, however, rare and not entirely verified accounts of Bigfoot mutilating, killing, and even eating people.. Thankfully, such reports are in the minority – unless, that is, one is of the opinion that many of the thousands of people who go missing in the United States every year are helping, in a most unfortunate way, to feed and fuel Bigfoot. All of which brings us to a creature that has, for centuries, been greatly feared by Native Americans: the Wendigo. A terrifying thing that appears prominently within the lore of the Algonquin people – the most widespread and populated of the Native American groups, with tribes originally numbering in the hundreds - the Wendigo is an evil, cannibalistic, and rampaging creature with the ability to possess human sous and minds, forcing them to do their dark bidding. Humans have the ability to transform into a Wendigo, especially if they have engaged in cannibalism. Notably, in centuries past, those who were suspected by the Algonquion of being Wendigos were decapitated after death, to prevent them from rising from the grave and going on slaughtering, people-eating rampages. 

(Nick Redfern)

From various parts of South America, including Columbia, Ecuador, and Venezuela, come stories of a massive, mighty, and extremely violent Bigfoot known as Mono Grande. One of the most fascinating – but also disturbing and tragic – stories came from one Count Pino Turolla, a noted archaeologist who traveled the world, Indiana Jones-style, in pursuit of all things mysterious and fabulous. Turolla (who died in 1984 at the early age of sixty-two) was born in Yugoslavia and later immigrated to Canada. Of note, he developed what became known as the Turolla Control-Descent Parachute that was used by the U.S. military. It was while traveling across South America in the 1960s that Turolla first heard of the marauding monster. The information came from Turolla’s personal guide, Antonio, who told a shocking story. Some years earlier, Antonio and his two sons traveled to a particular range in Venezuela where they were confronted on the sprawling savannah by a trio of enormous, gorilla-like animals that were around eight feet in height, had long and hanging arms, and tiny heads. Not only that, they were armed with large and crudely fashioned wooden clubs. A violent altercation occurred, something which resulted in one of Antonio’s sons being bludgeoned to death by the merciless monsters.

Turolla didn’t have time to investigate the matter of the Mono Grande at the time, but half a year later he was back. And, this time, it wasn’t ancient, historical artifacts that he was looking for: it was for the South American Bigfoot itself. He hooked up with Antonio yet again, and they – along with three other, native men - headed off to where Antonio’s son lost his life in bloody fashion. The story told by Turolla was terrifying: “When we set out from the camp, we began hiking southeast across the savanna and after a few hours entered the forest, where we followed a narrow track through undergrowth so thick that it reduced our vision to only a few feet on either side. Only now and then did a small clearing enable us to have a field of view of 6 to 10 meters ahead. “When we entered the canyon where Antonio had seen the big mono, the Indians became very alert and apprehensive, stepping carefully, and sensing every sound and movement in the brush around them. I was carrying a 3.5 Winchester automatic and kept it at the ready. Tension was mounting as we slowly made our way along the trail. The subdued light created lurking shadows and a mood of mystery. 

“It was getting toward late afternoon when suddenly we heard a howl, very loud, coming from somewhere in the thick vegetation. The Indians froze. The howl was as loud as the roar of a jaguar, but it was higher and shriller in pitch. It reverberated through the forest, encircling us as if it came from all directions. Something was moving, crashing powerfully through the underbrush. The Indians turned abruptly and raced back along the trail, yelling at me to follow. But I was frozen in my tracks; my heart beating so hard that I could hear it. Then, suddenly, the howling stopped. I waited, and when I had regained control of my movements, I advanced slowly along the trail, my finger on the trigger of the gun. Then, as I reached a small clearing, the howling started again, in one crescendo after another. But again, as suddenly as it had started, it stopped. It was then that I saw two furry patches running away from me with a leaping sort of step through the foliage that bordered the clearing. As they bounded across the surface of a group of boulders at the far end of the clearing, I was able to catch a fleeting glimpse of them. They clearly were erect, hairy, apelike creatures, and appeared to be over 5 feet tall. Then they disappeared around the rocks into the jungle, and I heard the cracking sounds of dry twigs and branches as they hastily forged their way through the thick underbrush. I waited for what seemed an eternity for something else to happen, trying to impress on my mind what I had just glimpsed. I opened my mouth to yell to my companions, but no sound came out. Finally I turned and retraced my steps, and encountered them advancing cautiously back up the trail. ‘They’re gone,’ I said. No one uttered a word. We continued up the trail. We did not see or hear the creatures again.” Moving on...

It’s not every day that a U.S. president makes comments and observations on Bigfoot. But, as incredible as it may sound, President Theodore Roosevelt may have done exactly that in the pages of his 1890 book, The Wilderness Hunter. The president, who was also a keen hunter and an avid outdoorsman, told a story that sounds eerily, and chillingly, like a close encounter with a murderous, homicidal Bigfoot. He wrote: "Frontiersmen are not, as a rule, apt to be very superstitious. They lead lives too hard and practical, and have too little imagination in things spiritual and supernatural. I have heard but few ghost stories while living on the frontier, and those few were of a perfectly commonplace and conventional type. But I once listened to a goblin-story, which rather impressed me.

"A grizzled, weather beaten old mountain hunter, named Bauman who, born and had passed all of his life on the Frontier, told it the story to me. He must have believed what he said, for he could hardly repress a shudder at certain points of the tale; but he was of German ancestry, and in childhood had doubtless been saturated with all kinds of ghost and goblin lore. So that many fearsome superstitions were latent in his mind; besides, he knew well the stories told by the Indian medicine men in their winter camps, of the snow-walkers, and the specters, the formless evil beings that haunt the forest depths, and dog and waylay the lonely wanderer who after nightfall passes through the regions where they lurk. It may be that when overcome by the horror of the fate that befell his friend, and when oppressed by the awful dread of the unknown, he grew to attribute, both at the time and still more in remembrance, weird and elfin traits to what was merely some abnormally wicked and cunning wild beast; but whether this was so or not, no man can say."

As for the killing, Bauman's friend had gone off onto one of the many tracks. Not a good idea on that fateful day. This is how it was reported in the pages of Roosevelt's book: "At first Bauman could see nobody; nor did he receive an answer to his call. Stepping forward he again shouted, and as he did so his eye fell on the body of his friend, stretched beside the trunk of a great fallen spruce. Rushing towards it the horrified trapper found that the body was still warm, but that the neck was broken, while there were four great fang marks in the throat. The footprints of the unknown beast-creature, printed deep in the soft soil, told the whole story. The unfortunate man, having finished his packing, had sat down on the spruce log with his face to the fire, and his back to the dense woods, to wait for his companion.

"While thus waiting, his monstrous assailant, which must have been lurking in the woods, waiting for a chance to catch one of the adventurers unprepared, came silently up from behind, walking with long noiseless steps and seemingly still on two legs. Evidently unheard, it reached the man, and broke his neck by wrenching his head back with its fore paws, while it buried its teeth in his throat. It had not eaten the body, but apparently had romped and gamboled around it in uncouth, ferocious glee, occasionally rolling over and over it; and had then fled back into the soundless depths of the woods. “Bauman, utterly unnerved and believing that the creature with which he had to deal was something either half human or half devil, some great goblin-beast, abandoned everything but his rifle and struck off at speed down the pass, not halting until he reached the beaver meadows where the hobbled ponies were still grazing. Mounting, he rode onwards through the night, until beyond reach of pursuit.” Cryptozoology can be dangerous and deadly.

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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