May 16, 2023 I Nick Redfern

Monsters on the Rampage: Huge Monsters, Too!

A terrifying confrontation with a huge, unknown animal took place on May 30, 1908. The witnesses were Captain W.H. Bartlett, Second Officer Joseph Ostens Grey, and the rest of the crew of the cargo steamer, Tresco. Bartlett and his men had left Philadelphia two days previously. The journey was a normal one; that is, until an enormous animal appeared on the scene, which was close to one hundred miles from Cape Hatteras.  It began with the curious sight   All was well and completely normal – for a while, at least. When they reached a point around ninety miles off of Cape Hatteras, North Carolina, however, those aboard could not fail to see something very strange; in fact, something almost unbelievable happened: more than thirty sharks were being furiously pursued by a gigantic creature; a large hump that broke the waves made that abundantly clear. And, it must be stressed, only a monster of immense power, strength and ruthless killing techniques would even consider taking on not just one shark but dozens of them! When a head and neck of a massive scale quickly appeared, one and all knew there was a monster in their very midst. 

At this point, the captain and the crew got a good look at the astounding thing of the deep. It was easily in excess of one hundred feet in length. Its body was “as thick as a cathedral pillar,” and looked very much like a classic dragon of Chinese mythology. Second-Officer Grey prepared a report that reads like fantasy but that was only too real: “There was something unspeakably loathsome about the head, which was five feet long from nose to upper extremity. Such a head I never saw on any denizen of the sea. Underneath the jaw seemed to be a sort of pouch, or drooping skin. The nose, like a snout upturned, was somewhat recurved. I can remember seeing no nostrils or blow-holes. The lower jaw was prognathous, and the lower lip was half projecting, half pendulous. Presently I noticed something dripping from the ugly lower jaw. Watching I saw it was saliva, of a dirty drab color. While it displayed no teeth, it did possess very long and formidable molars, like a walrus’s tusks. Its eyes were of a reddish color. They were elongated vertically. They carried in their dull depths a somber baleful glow, as if within them was concentrated all the fierce menacing spirit that raged in the huge bulk behind.”

(Nick Redfern) Strange creatures below

Luckily for all of those on the ship, the monster soon decided to exit the area – but not before creating a huge wave that shook the ship in chaotic fashion, almost as if it was warning the crew to come no closer. They understood the message and hastily left the area. And who can blame them for that? Nineteen-Sixteen was the year when one Irwin J. O’Malley revealed his discovery of a huge, fossilized creature of unknown origins and huge proportions. He recorded: “During the latter part of a holiday trip to the Yangtze Gorges undertaken by my wife and self in November, 1915, we met Mr. M. Hewlett, British Consul at Ichang, and his wife, and in their company spent a day in the Ichang Gorge, landing at various points to climb the cliffs and explore some of the numerous caves. While exploring a large cave on the right of the bank of the river, and about one mile above the Customs Station at Ping Shon Pa, we discovered the fossils about to be described. The cave is reputed by the Chinese to extend some twenty miles to a point near Ichang.

“It is reported that a party from H.M.S. Snipe spent three days in the cave some years ago and that they failed to reach the end. Evidence that the party penetrated beyond the point where the discovery was made exists in the name of their ship painted on the cave walls at a point considerably further in. The Chinese name of the cave is Shen K’an Tzu, which means ‘The Holy Shrine,’ and one of the characters forming the word K’an is the Chinese character for dragon.’ A large rock is seen at the entrance, and some eight to ten yards behind this there is a peculiar piece of curved rock bearing some slight resemblance to a portion of a dragon’s body; the resemblance is possibly suggestive enough to impress the Chinese mind, but altogether fails to impress the foreigner.

“After proceeding some hundreds of yards inside the cave we found ourselves walking on a peculiar ridge in order to avoid the surrounding pool of water. The ridge curved backward and forward across the width of the cave like the curves of a large serpent, the suggestion being so strong we lowered our lamps in order to examine the ridge more closely. To our astonishment and delight, we found that we were in very truth walking along a perfect fossil of some huge reptile. Further inspection revealed the presence of six or eight of these enormous monsters. Having taken a few small specimens of loose portions of scale for examination in a better light, we left, to return the following morning for the purpose of measurement. On our return the following morning we selected one of the largest fossils lying for a great part of its length isolated from the others, the coils of the remainder being rather entangled. The isolated portion measured seventy feet, so that is absolutely certain that the length is at least seventy feet, and as far as we could ascertain, this same specimen extended for another sixty or seventy feet. However, I admit that error is possible here, owing to the interlacing coils of the reptiles. The depth of the body seen in the foreground is two feet. The head is partially buried in the cave wall and appears to be a large, flat head similar to that of Morosaurus comperi. 

(Nick Redfern) Beware of what might be around

“About twelve or fourteen feet from the head two legs are seen partially uncovered, and again to more about fifty feet from the head. The fact that several persons have penetrated this cave in former years beyond the point where the discovery was made seems to indicate the fossils have been but recently uncovered; by a heavy discharge of water through the cave. It seems probable that these reptiles were trapped by some volcanic disturbance and starved to death; the size of the bodies compared to their length would indicate this.

“A point of peculiar interest is the resemblance to the Chinese dragon of these fossils. I believe that it has therefore been supposed that the Chinese borrowed their idea of the dragons from Western mythology. The discovery has created a great stir among the local Chinese and foreigners, who are daily flocking to view the fossils. I am attempting to interest the Chinese authorities in Pekin and also the Chinse Monuments Society in order that the specimens may be preserved from damage.” Richard Freeman suspects that what O’Malley came across were the remnants of a China-based dinosaur called named Mamenchisaurus. That O’Malley said the creature’s remains resembled a “Chinese dragon,” has led Freeman to ponder on the incredible notion that dragons were not just creatures of legend and folklore, but all too real monsters, which brings us to Freeman’s personal views on dragons that were said to spend significant amounts of time on the ocean waters. He says, from his home in Exeter, England:

I started my career as a zoologist – so I had a grounded training. But cryptozoology was my passion. Now, I have had a particular passion – an obsession, I suppose – for years with dragons. But there was something that always puzzled me: no-one had ever thought, for more than a hundred years, to publish a definitive, non-fiction book on the subject. And as I am a qualified zoologist, I thought: why not me. It’s important to note that I’ve traveled the world pursuing these creatures – the Gambia, Mongolia, Thailand, and right here in England with some of the old legends from past centuries. And of one thing I can be certain: there isn’t just one answer to the question of what dragons are or what they may be.”  “There are many creatures that have become linked to the lore and legend of what today we perceive and view as dragons, and some of these creatures are distinctly different to each other. But that should not take away from the fact that dragons are a real phenomenon. I am absolutely certain, having reviewed many ancient reports of dragon activity, that many sightings – perhaps two or three hundred years ago and probably further back – were genuine encounters, but where the witnesses were seeing what I believe to have been huge snakes, giant crocodiles, and the Australian ‘monster lizard’ Megalania.

“Any mention of dragons always conjures up images of fire-breathing monsters, and there are definitely reports that fall into that group. But, when you look into many of the earliest, ancient legends, you find that the dragon is more often associated with water. So, I have a theory that some of the better lake monster accounts from centuries ago may well have influenced dragon tales [italics mine]. Personally, I also believe that some classic tales of dragons in England in Medieval times, and tales of beasts such as the Lambton Worm, probably have their origins in lake monster accounts, giant eels, etc., that have then mutated into tales of dragons on the loose. But the important point is that this shouldn’t detract from the fact that people did see something. I would pretty much stake my life on the fact that Megalania still exists – or did until very recently – in the large forests and lagoons of Australia, and that also roamed New Guinea. This was a huge, killer-beast; a massive monitor lizard that exceeded thirty feet in length. In literal terms, this was a classic dragon-type animal.

(Nick Redfern) Richard Freeman, monster-seeker

“There is no excuse for not getting out into the field and doing firsthand investigations; none at all. In fact, it’s vital. I have no time for the armchair theorist. And one of the experiences that I will remember for the rest of my life was traveling to Thailand with the Discovery Channel in 2000, where we chased giant snakes – the Naga – in the caves and tunnels that exist deep below Thailand. It’s very easy to see why the inhabitants in times past considered them to be dragons. The Naga is apparently a large snake, a very large one – maybe in the order of literally tens of feet in length, oil-drum-sized bodies, and definitely big enough to take a whole man. There have come reports from the Congo of an animal known as Mokele-mbembe. Again, it has cross-over qualities with dragon legends, but I’m sure that it will be shown in time to be some sort of giant monitor lizard, too.

“Back in 1979 Peter Dickinson wrote a book that was titled The Flight of Dragons. Dickinson had come up with this idea – an excellent theory, in fact – that real-life dragons did exist and that they were the descendants of dinosaurs such as the Tyrannosaurus Rex. Dickinson suggested that these animals developed large, expanded stomachs that would fill with hydrogen gas, which would come from a combination of hydrochloric acid found in the juices of the digestive system that would then mix with calcium found in the bones of their prey. Then, from there, the hydrogen – a lighter-than-air gas – allowed these creatures to take to the skies and then control their flight by burning off the excess gas in the form of flame. Anyone seeing this would be seeing the closest thing to the image of the dragon that we all know and love. Dickinson’s theory is an excellent one, and may well be a perfect explanation for sightings of real dragons – in times past, and perhaps today, I believe. The dragon has its teeth and claws deep into the collective psyche of mankind, and it’s not about to let go. Our most ancient fear still stalks the earth today. Beware: this is no fairytale. When your parents told you that there were no such things as dragons, they lied.”

A U.K. military officer, F.W. Kemp, had an extraordinary encounter of the beastly variety with his wife in 1932. In the wake of their sighting of something terrifying, Kemp wrote down the whole story, something that ensured the story would be preserved for posterity – and it certainly was. It reads as follows: “On August 10, 1932, I was with my wife and son on Chatham Island in the Strait of Juan de Fuca. My wife called my attention to a mysterious something coming through the channel between Strong Tide Island and Chatham Island. Imagine my astonishment on observing a huge creature with head out of the water traveling about four miles per hour against the tide. Even at that speed a considerable wash was thrown on the rocks, which gave me the impression that it was more reptile than serpent to make so much displacement.

“The channel at this point is about 500 yard wide. Swimming to the steep rocks of the Island opposite, the creature shot its head out of water on the rock, and moving its head from side to side, appeared to taking its bearings. Then fold after fold its body came to surface. Towards the tail it appeared serrated with something moving flail-like at the extreme end. The movements were like those of a crocodile. Around the head appeared a sort of mane, which drifted round the body like kelp. The Thing’s presence seemed to change the whole landscape, which make it difficult to describe my experiences. It did not seem to belong to the present scheme of things, but rather to the Long Ago when the world was young. The position it held on the rock was momentary. My wife and sixteen-year-old son ran to a point of land to get a clearer view. I think the sounds they made disturbed the animal. The sea being very calm, it seemed to slip back into deep water; there was a great commotion under the surface and it disappeared like a flash.

“In my opinion, its speed must be terrific and it senses of smell, sight and hearing developed to a very high degree. It would be terribly hard to photograph, as its movements are different from anything I have ever seen or heard of. I should say its length to be not less than eighty feet. There were some logs on Strong Tide Island which gave me a good idea as to the size of monster as it passed them. I took a measurement of one the next day which was over sixty feet in length, and the creature overlapped it to a large extent at each end. I put a newspaper on the spot where it rested its head and took an observation from our previous point of vantage. The animal’s was very much larger than the double sheet of newspaper. The body must have been at least five feet thick, and was of a bluish-green color which shone in the sun like aluminum. I could not determine the shape of the head, but it was much thicker than the body.” Terrible monsters!

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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