What is Fringe Science You Ask?

Have you had the thrill of seeing something unusual or unexplainable? Think it was a cryptid? Click To Tweet Did you believe your own eyewitness testimony? Do you feel the overwhelming need to investigate and prove the existence of this elusive creature?  Then consider yourself a fringe scientist.

Eyewitness Evidence and Huge Cryptids

These top five terrifyingly huge cryptids found in varying places in the world have all been “seen” in some way, shape or form.  Actual sightings, footprints, even hair and scalp samples have been attributed to these elusive creatures. Despite conclusive evidence, the legends of these huge cryptids lives on.  Do you believe?

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

1. Bigfoot – Possibly the most Famous of the Huge Cryptids

Bigfoot is the name given to cryptid apes or hominid-like creatures.  They are said to live in forests mainly in the Pacific Northwest region of North America.  They are described as large and hairy and as walking upright like humans.  Their fur is said to range from dark brown to a dark reddish color while their height is estimated to be between 2 to 3 meters (6.6 to 8 feet). Witnesses describe large eyes on a face with a low-set forehead having a pronounced brow ridge. The top of their head forms a dome-shape and is crested as seen in Lowland Gorillas. Think of a giant, upright orangutan and you’d get a pretty good idea of Bigfoot.   Most reports also mention a strong, unpleasant smell associated with their sightings.  They are thought to be nocturnal and omnivorous meaning they are plant and animal eaters.  Most significant is the very large footprints associated with this creature.  These big feet measuring up to 60 cm (24 inches) long by 20 cm (8 inches) wide are the reason for the creatures name!

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/a/aa/Gigantopithecus_blacki%2C_model_-_San_Diego_Museum_of_Man_-_cropped.JPG

Gigantopithecus blacki

Bigfoot evidence is broken down into five types:

  1. eyewitness sightings
  2. recordings both visual and sound
  3. footprints
  4. somatic samples including hair and blood
  5. some place emphasis on folklore and indigenous legends

At least 50% of the sightings have been hoaxes.  Most pictures have been verified as hoaxes although the jury is still out on the Patterson-Gimlin film which shows a blurry Bigfoot traipsing through the forest.  [tweetthis]Many believe Bigfoot represents relic populations of an ancient giant ape – Gigantopithicus. What do you think?[/tweetthis]

2.  Yeti – Bigfoot’s Mountain Cousin?

The Yeti or abominable snowman is a described as an ape-like cryptid taller than the average human.  It is said to inhabit the Himalayan region of Nepal and Tibet and is an important part of the history and mythology of the native population.  Some cryptozoologists believe the Yeti belongs to the same species of hominid as that of the Bigfoot or Sasquatch creature of North America, in other words, it too may be a separate population of Gigantopithecus adapted to the Himalayan Mountains area.

Yeti evidence follows much the same pattern as that of the Bigfoot: sightings, visual and audio recordings, mythology, footprints, and somatic samples including a scalp thought to come from the beast itself.

Because the area supposedly inhabited by the Yeti is even more remote than that of Bigfoot, actual sightings are even more rare; however, many footprints have been discovered and many hair samples have been analyzed.  Virtually all somatic or cell samples have been linked to other creatures which has led to theories about the true identity of the Yeti legend.

Sir Edmund Hillary, the first man recorded to have climbed Mount Everest, led the most well-known expedition into Yeti territory.  It was funded by World Book Encyclopedia and Hillary was joined on the trip by Desmond Doig.  They brought trip-wire cameras as well as time elapse and infrared photography equipment.

Even after a month-long investigation, they failed to find conclusive evidence of the Yeti.  However, after spending 30 years in the Himalayan Mountains, Doig believes there are really three animals that make up the Yeti legend:

  1. What the Sherpas call “dzuteh” is a large shaggy animal that often attacks cattle and is probably the Tibetan Blue Bear.  This relative of the brown bear is very rare and only known in the West by a few skins, bones and skulls.

    http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/4/4b/Tibetan_Blue_Bear_-_Ursus_arctos_pruinosus_-_Joseph_Smit.jpg

    Tibetan Blue Bear – Ursus_arctos_pruinosus. The bear (as the Dzu-Teh) is thought to be the source of the legend of the Yeti.

  2. “thelma” is probably a gibbon which Doig thinks may very well venture into Nepal although it has never been seen North of the Brahmaputra River in India.
  3. “mih teh” is the true abominable snowman of legend described as a savage ape covered in black or red hair that lives at altitudes up to 20,000 feet.  Although the legends of this creature endure, there is also no evidence confirming its existence.  However, there is also no way to give evidence that it does not exist.

If, as the legends suggest, it does live in the barren, frozen, high altitudes of the Himalayan Mountains where few men dare to go, it may be safe from human contact for a long time to come.

3.  Loch Ness Monster – Huge Cryptid Serpent of Scotland

The Loch Ness cryptid supposedly inhabits the Loch Ness in the Scottish Highlands.  Evidence of its existence is like that accumulated for Bigfoot but is comprised more of eyewitness sightings and legendary accounts.

Most commonly, it is speculated that this creature represents a surviving population of plesiosaurs.  Sightings of the monster on land, however, dispute this hypothesis as the land sightings suggest a creature with legs or webbed feet.

Perhaps Nessie may be a relic population of Apatasaurs? However, as with Bigfoot and Yeti, most of the scientific community regards Nessie as a myth and explains sightings in one of two ways:

  1. misidentification of known animals or objects
  2. hoaxes (“Surgeon’s Photograph of 1934 has been proven a hoax)

Despite the lack of scientific support, the Loch Ness Monster represents one of the most famous cryptids in cryptozoology.

A monster sighting in the Loch was reported as far back as 565 AD by Saint Columba.  The account, however, was reported second-hand over a century later by Adomnán in his book, “Life of Saint Columba”.

Adomnán recalls a story of St. Columba coming upon some men burying a man on the shore of the Loch.  They told St. Columba the man had been attacked and killed by a ‘waterbeast’ while he was swimming.  The story recounts that St. Columba sent his own man into the water and he too was attacked.  However, St. Columba was able to stop the beast in its tracks.  He blessed himself and yelled these words to the beast, “Go no further.  Do not touch the man.  Go back at once.”  The beast retreated and his man was saved from certain death.

Wow!  What a fantastic way for a missionary to mesmerize followers using their fear.  Have your man fake being attacked and then miraculously call off the beast using the power of God – instant converts!  Certainly there is no way to corroborate this story. Definitely, it is not strong evidence for the existence of the beast but it does make for dramatic reading.

Modern technology has led to perhaps more convincing evidence:

  • sonar
  • satellite imagery
  • there is even a webcam feed that allows visitors to watch a section of the Loch for signs of the elusive beast – ‘Does a watched pot ever boil?’ ha, ha, ha
  • Apple Maps photographs
  • Google Maps imagery

    Atlantic Sturgeon Cephas, CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons - http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Acipenser_oxyrinchus_PAQ.jpg#/media/File:Acipenser_oxyrinchus_PAQ.jpg

    Atlantic Sturgeon
    Cephas, CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wiki Commons

Despite all the new technology, there is still no conclusive evidence of Nessie. However, there is a convincing candidate which could explain at least some of the sightings of a monster in the Loch Ness.  Baltic sturgeon may be able to enter the waters of the Loch periodically.  They are very large freshwater fish that can have very long lifespans.  They have no scales but instead large bony scutes which act as armor.

Their top side (dorsal surface) varies from gray to pale olive or gray-brown.  They have changed little in 175 million years and thus look like a very ancient fish.  Specimens have been recorded at over 6 meters in length and weighing 800 kg.  These specimens are likely 100 years old. They are bottom feeders but do occasionally breach the surface and could, from a distance, look like a monstrous creature.

So what do you think?  Are these sightings of a relic plesiosaur people call Nessie or is an ancient sturgeon causing all the commotion?

4.  Chupacabra – Not so Huge Cryptids but Terrifying

The Chupacabra is mainly an Americas cryptid.  Sightings began in 1995 in Puerto Rico but it has been sighted as far north as Maine and as far south as Chile.  The name means “goatsucker” and comes from the reported habit of the creature attacking and drinking the blood of livestock.  Its favorite prey – goats!

The physical descriptions of this creature are not consistent but the details that do crop up most often include that it is a heavy creature about the size of a small bear.  Also consistent in reports is the presence of spines running from the neck to the base of the tail.

Benjamin Radford completed a 5 year investigation into this cryptid. He reviewed the eyewitness testimony of witness zero in Puerto Rico.

Apparently she had just watched the movie, Species.  Her account of the creature, oddly enough, was a close description of the alien Sil from that movie.  This fact discredits the existence of this creature. And yet, reports still occur regularly.

Radford also determined that reports of blood-sucking had never been confirmed by necropsy (animal autopsy) of ravaged livestock. Blood dries after death and settles in the creature.  To the casual observer, it may seem the creature has been drained of blood when, instead, normal death processes have occurred.

In October of 2010, the University of Michigan biologist Barry O’Connor determined that all U.S. sightings of the Chupacabra were of coyotes infected with Sarcoptes scabiei commonly known as mange.  Symptoms of mange include loss of fur, thickened skin, rank odor and emaciation which would make the spinal column more pronounced perhaps giving the appearance of spines running down its back.

Phylis Canion, in 2007, found a carcass of an unusual looking blue dog-like creature near her farm.  She had been losing chickens to three similar looking animals for years.  She preserved the creature and displayed it as a Chupacabra.  She received attention from the TV series “The Unexplained Files” and in 2008 was featured in an investigation of the Chupacabra for the series “Monster Quest”.

DNA analysis was finally performed on the remains by Michael Forstner, PhD professor at Texas State University.  His analysis determined that the creature was not a new discovery but instead was a coyote, Canis latrans.

<a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/39958775@N08/6325935920/">MichaelGras</a> via <a href="http://compfight.com">Compfight</a> <a href="https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/">cc</a>

Doesn’t that look like a coyote with mange?
MichaelGras, CC BY 2.0, via Compfight

Unable to believe she was wrong, Phylis herself had a separate DNA test completed through the genetics lab at the University of California at Davis.  They came to similar results as those found by Forstner except they determined it was a coyote hybrid.  What about the blue color of the creature and its hairless condition?  These characteristics suggest the creature suffered from an extreme case of mange.  I think the case is closed on the existence of this creature.  The evidence is just not that convincing.  Why do reports still come in?  Superstition and legends are a strong element in the areas this creature is reported seen.  Legends die slowly if ever!

 

5. Mokele Mbembe – Is this Huge Cryptid a Dinosaur Remnant?

Everyone knows the big dinosaurs went extinct 65 million years ago right? Or did they? Click To Tweet Many would like to think they still do exist in remote areas of our planet.  Lost World was written in 1912 by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and was set in a remote Venezuelan jungle populated by prehistoric creatures. Jurassic Park by Michael Crichton was based on that wildly popular novel.

The remote jungles of Africa, especially the Democratic Republic of Congo are said to hide a particular dinosaur relic known as Mokele mbembe which translates to “one who stops the flow of rivers” in the Lingala language.  This cryptid is said to have the following characteristics:

  • amphibious
  • about the size of an elephant
  • brownish-grey skin
  • long-flexible neck
  • lives in caves
  • digs in riverbanks
  • attacks but does not eat hippos, elephants and crocodiles
  • eats leaves and fruits of shore plants

Rumors of this cryptid date back to the 16th century according to Daniel Loxton and Donald Prothero authors of “Abominable Science: Origins of the Yeti, Nessie and other Famous Cryptids”.  The idea of this elusive African dinosaur relic seems to have really taken hold after the discovery of dinosaur fossils in the 19th century.

However, the origin of the legend of Mokele mbembe can be directly traced back to the showman and zoologist (this title lending him some credibility I suppose) Carl Hagenbeck who wrote a book in 1909 titled, “Beasts and Men”.

Hagenbeck contemplated on the recent fossil finds of dinosaur bones and suggested that sauropods like Apatosaurus might still live in the isolated jungles of Africa.  He had no evidence but there were vague legends and stories of strange creatures from natives of the area.  The story was quickly picked up by the press, including the Washington Post, which published a story in 1910, Brontosaurus Still Lives.  Press releases like this one were responsible for the creation of this cryptozoological legend.

There are no photographs, blurry or otherwise, of Mokele mbembe.  There are no bone or teeth finds.  There is no evidence of this cryptid other than stories and anecdotes from natives and explorers who have reported strange footprints near shorelines and strange sightings in Congo lakes.

In a world with Google Earth and other impressive technology, it is unlikely that dozens or hundreds of large dinosaur-like creatures could exist and yet never have been photographed or found dead. But like those people who believe in the other cryptids, no news is still good news.  Their creatures might still be hidden waiting to be found.

“Cryptozoology is based largely on anecdotal evidence…People are generally poor eyewitnesses, and can mistake known animals for supposed cryptids [unknown animals] or poorly recall details of their sighting…Simply put, eyewitness testimony is poor evidence.”— Ben Roesch, 2001

The existence of most of these creatures is based primarily on eyewitness testimony and vague legends.  Evidence is weak and yet many continue to believe.  It is fun to think that there might be something that fantastic to be discovered.  Finding one of these creatures would give the discoverer more than 15 minutes of fame. [tweetthis] I think despite the weak evidence, there will always be believers of cryptids. Are you a believer?[/tweetthis]  Let us know in the comment section below.

 

%d bloggers like this: