Feb 15, 2023 I Nick Redfern

Monsters Out of Ancient Eras: Could Time Travel Explain Sightings of Bizarre Creatures?

Imagine driving, late at night, across the foggy moors of central England and coming across what looks like nothing less than a living, breathing pterodactyl! Think it couldn’t happen? It already has. From 1982 to 1983, a wave of sightings of such a creature – presumed extinct for 65 million years - occurred in an area called the Pennines, better known as the “backbone of England” and comprised of rolling hills and mountains. So far as can be determined, the first encounter occurred at a place with the highly apt name of the Devil’s Punchbowl, on September 12, 1982. That was when a man named William Green came forward with an astonishing story of what he encountered at Shipley Glen woods. It was a large, grey colored creature, that flew in “haphazard” style and which possessed a pair of large, leathery-looking wings. The latter point is notable, since it effectively rules out a significantly sized feathery bird, and does indeed place matters into a pterodactyl category. Seventy-two hours later, a woman named Jean Schofield had the misfortune to see the immense beast at the West Yorkshire town of Yeadon. That the thing was heading for the Leeds/Bradford Airport provoked fears in Schofield’s mind of a catastrophic mid-air collision between a passenger plane and the mighty winged thing.

Perhaps inevitably, the local media soon heard of the sightings and the story was given pride of place in the newspapers of the day. While the theory that a large bird of prey had escaped from a menagerie or zoo satisfied the skeptics, it did not go down well with the witnesses, who were sure that what they had encountered was something straight out of the Jurassic era. Rather notably, the media attention brought forth additional witnesses, including Richard Pollock, who claimed he and his dog had been dive-bombed by the monster, which descended on the pair with alarming speed, “screaming” as it did so. Pollock hit the ground, protecting his dog as he did so. Given the fact that the creature was practically on top of him, Pollock couldn’t fail to get a good look at it: he described it as reptilian, and with a face that looked like a cross between a crocodile and a bat, which is actually not a bad description of a pterodactyl. Or, another, huge, ancient flying thing from ancient times.

(Nick Redfern) Time travel, a giant bird and Cryptozoology.

There was then somewhat of a lull in reports; but they exploded again in May 1983. There was a sighting at Thackley on May 6, by a witness whose attention to the creature was provoked by the sudden sound of heavy wings beating above. Yet again, it was a case that not only caught the media’s attention but provoked others to come forward. One of them was a Mr. Harris, who said that in November 1977, at Totley, he saw just such a flying monster that soared overheard, growling as it did so. He was adamant that what he saw was a full-blown pterodactyl. Quite naturally, further attempts were made to try and lay the matter to rest, including the amusing – but utterly unproven – theory that the pterodactyl was actually a radio-controlled model! And claims of escaped, exotic birds were once again trotted out, but without a shred of evidence to support them. A few more, somewhat vague, reports trickled in. For the most part, however, the curious affair of the Pennines pterosaur was over. If we can rule out models, and mistaken identity, what does that leave us with? Time travelers, that’s what we’re left with. 

Joshua P. Warren is a highly respected ghost-hunter from Asheville, North Carolina. Among his many investigations of the spooky kind, one in particular stands out. In the early-to-mid- 2000s, Warren investigated and documented a huge amount of supernatural activity at the Jackson Farm, Lancaster, South Carolina. Ghostly apparitions were commonplace on the large property, and particularly so late at night. One of them, amazingly, was described as being a spectral, winged animal that “had a wide wingspan and a long neck with some kind of huge bird head.” The terrified witness, Adam Jackson, drew a picture of the ethereal monster he encountered. It would be hard to find a better image of a pterodactyl. I stressed that Warren is a ghost-hunter to show that some such cases might actually involve not time travelers but the spirits of long dead animals. Or, perhaps, we’re seeing a blend of both.

What about a Smilodon? Or a saber-tooth tiger, as it’s popularly known? Let’s see. As for what the Saber-Tooth Tiger was, we have these words from UCMP Berkeley: “Smilodon is a relatively recent sabertooth, from the Late Pleistocene. It went extinct about 10,000 years ago. According to Jenny Burrows, on a particular day in 2009, she had been walking through the woods with her pet Labrador dog, Bobbie, when it suddenly stopped in its tracks, whined loudly, and dropped to the floor, shaking. Thinking that her faithful pet had possibly had a seizure, Jenny quickly bent down to comfort the dog, and could then see that it was staring intently to its left. Following Bobbie’s gaze, Jenny was horrified to see moving in the undergrowth what looked like a large cat – “like a mountain-lion, but it was much bigger.”

(Nick Redfern) Cryptozoology might be more bizarre than you know.

Then, it got extremely strange: As the Saber-Toothed monster loomed fully into view and out of the confines of the bushes and undergrowth, she could see that its body seemed to be semi-transparent and that, “the bottom of its front paws were missing or invisible. It looked at me with a sort of surprise when it saw me watching it, and then it was gone, just like that. It was terrifying, absolutely terrifying; but it was a beautiful animal, too. Seeing it was scary, but a privilege, too.” A perfect example in this category is the account of a woman named Jill O’Brien. She had a bizarre encounter – in September 2008 – in Alaska’s Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve. It was an encounter that I was able to personally investigate in early January 2009, as Jill had then recently moved to Oklahoma City, which is not that long a drive from my Arlington, Texas home. So, it was time for a road-trip and a notable interview. Jill’s story was as intriguing as it was bizarre. As Jill prepared to take one particular photo of Mount St. Elias, she heard what she described to me as “thudding” and “crunching” on the ground, and coming from somewhere behind her.

Her first, terrifying thought was “bear.” Thankfully, it was not. Jill found herself confronted by a very small mammoth, one that was somewhere in the region of four-feet in height, or maybe slightly bigger. Now, for years, reports have surfaced and circulated suggesting that – against all the odds – in certain parts of the world the mammoth survived extinction and still lives. I have investigated a lot of cases involving alleged, surviving mammoths. Personally, and for the record, I don’t think the mammoth is still with us. It’s just not feasible. I do, however, think there is enough circumstantial evidence to suggest it may have clung on for far longer than many suspect. But that’s quite another story for another day. Those excited by the prospect that mammoths still live today should note I’m not suggesting Jill saw a young, living, breathing, mammoth. And it’s most assuredly not what Jill was suggesting, either. You’ll see why. 

As Jill watched in a mixture of awe and shock, the mini-mammoth raced past her and…vanished. Gone. When I asked Jill to explain what she meant, she said that the animal was suddenly enveloped by a small “black cloud,” which “sucked into itself” and disappeared. The entire encounter lasted barely a handful of seconds at most. Jill was, however, very sure of what she had seen. In her opinion it was nothing less than the ghost of a long-dead mammoth. Based on everything we’ve seen so far, though, I’m inclined to think that that baby mammoth may have briefly stepped out of one timeline and into another – and back to where it originally came from. Then, there's things like Bigfoot: they might not be modern day apes. Rather, they might be creatures from hunderds of thousands years ago. For example, take this scenario: 

One candidate is 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, biology, and zoology all 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. 

(Nick Redfern) Giant apes out of their time.

It turns out that in 1936 a German 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. Von Koenigswald was temporarily, and disastrously, interrupted at the height of the Second World War when he became a prisoner of war of the Japanese. Nevertheless, he was not deterred, and, when the hostilities were over, he continued his quest to understand the true nature and life of Gigantopithecus. As did several other people. One of them was an anatomist named Franz Weidenreich. 

In his 1946 book, Apes, Giants, and Man, Weidenreich made the controversial assertion that Gigantopithecus may have been far more human-like than ape-like. Chinese scientists also got hot on the trail of Gigantopithecus during this same time frame. Then, in 1956, a massive jawbone of the huge ape was unearthed at a cave in Liucheng, China. The result was that, in a relatively short time, a great deal was learned about this previously unheard of hairy giant. Perhaps most amazing and impressive of all were Gigantopithecus’s statistics: estimates suggested that the height for an adult male would have been around ten-feet, while it might have tipped the scales at 1,200 pounds in weight. 

Now, finally, and back to Jill for some possible answers to all of this weirdness: she watched in a mixture of awe and shock, the mini-mammoth raced past her and…vanished. Gone. When I asked Jill to explain what she meant, she said that the animal was suddenly enveloped by a small “black cloud,” which “sucked into itself” and disappeared. I'm inclined to think that the very same black cloud might have been a way into another time. There's something else, too: perhaps a lot of animals on our world know exactly what those black clouds are: portals to other times. Yes, I know it's a bizarre theory; but I think it's at least worth taking a look at it. Our animals may know far more than us. Massively more than us.

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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