Friday, July 30, 2010

Ghosts and Cryptids

Just recently, for what reason I'm not sure, I've been thinking about ghostly animals and spectral cryptids, and re-read Elliott O’Donnell’s 1913 classic book, Animal Ghosts, which includes a number of accounts relative to spectral animals of a distinctly wild nature.

And for those who may be interested in such things, I thought I'd bring a few choice items from O'Donnell's book to your attention.

For example, one of the chapters in the book dealt with spectral monkeys seen in the British Isles, and included the following account from O'Donnell that focused upon a ghostly baboon and a paranormal cat encountered near the English town of Basingstoke, Hampshire.

In O'Donnell's own words: “A sister of a well-known author tells me there used to be a house called ‘The Swallows,’ standing in two acres of land, close to a village near Basingstoke. In 1840 a Mr. Bishop of Tring bought the house, which had long stood empty, and we went to live there in 1841. After being there a fortnight two servants gave notice to leave, stating that the place was haunted by a large cat and a big baboon, which they constantly saw stealing down the staircases and passages.

“They also testified to hearing sounds of somebody being strangled, proceeding from an empty attic near where they slept, and of the screams and groans of a number of people being horribly tortured in the cellars just underneath the dairy. On going to see what was the cause of the disturbances, nothing was ever visible. By and by other members of the household began to be harassed by similar manifestations. The news spread through the village, and crowds of people came to the house with lights and sticks, to see if they could witness anything.

“One night, at about twelve o'clock, when several of the watchers were stationed on guard in the empty courtyard, they all saw the forms of a huge cat and a baboon rise from the closed grating of the large cellar under the old dairy, rush past them, and disappear in a dark angle of the walls. The same figures were repeatedly seen afterwards by many other persons. Early in December 1841, Mr. Bishop, hearing fearful screams, accompanied by deep and hoarse jabberings, apparently coming from the top of the house, rushed upstairs, whereupon all was instantly silent, and he could discover nothing.

“After that, Mr. Bishop set to work to get rid of the house, and was fortunate enough to find as a purchaser a retired colonel, who was soon, however, scared out of it. This was in 1842; it was soon after pulled down. The ground was used for the erection of cottages; but the hauntings being transferred to them, they were speedily vacated, and no one ever daring to inhabit them, they were eventually demolished, the site on which they stood being converted into allotments.

“There were many theories as to the history of 'The Swallows'; one being that a highwayman, known as Steeplechase Jock, the son of a Scottish chieftain, had once plied his trade there and murdered many people, whose bodies were supposed to be buried somewhere on or near the premises. He was said to have had a terrible though decidedly unorthodox ending - falling into a vat of boiling tar, a raving madman. But what were the phantasms of the ape and cat? Were they the earth-bound spirits of the highwayman and his horse, or simply the spirits of two animals? Though either theory is possible, I am inclined to favor the former.”

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Ken Gerhard: Interview Tonight

Tonight's guest on the Exploring All Realms show I co-host with Raven Meindel will be good friend Ken Gerhard. Ken will be speaking about how he got interested and involved in cryptozoology, the research he undertook for our recent co-written book, Monsters of Texas, and his earlier books, Big Bird! and Monsters Are Real.

Here's the links for the show (Link 1 and Link 2) and hope to see you there!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

The Sign of Bigfoot

This should be a good episode of Bigfoot Quest tonight (here's hosts Bob and Mike to tell you more):

Hello Friends:

Please join your hosts Bob Coyne and Mike Killen as we discuss the possibility that the creatures known as Bigfoot and Sasquatch might be making markers of tree limbs/branches and rocks. Many people have found unusual looking stick/limb and rock formations in the forests all over North America. Are these markers of some type created by these creatures? If so, what could they possibly mean? We'll be taking phone calls and comments from our chat room to ponder the possible answers to these questions and more. If you are able, please join us in our chat room. It's always fun and we love to interact live with our listeners.


When: Tonight, Tuesday July 27, 2010

Time: 9:00 P.M. Eastern

Duration: 90 Minutes

Bob Coyne & Mike Killen

The Texas Chupacabras

A lot of mythology, folklore and exaggeration has sprung up around the so-called Texas Chupacabras (or hairless canines, to give them their correct description). Yes, they look weird; yes, there may be a few odd genetic anomalies going on with them too. But they have nothing to do with the Chupacabras of Puerto Rico in the slightest.

It's a name, a media-tool, a word ingrained in popular-culture, and it's something I discuss in this new article at the website of the Dallas-Fort Worth, Texas-based magazine. And, if you live locally, you can read the same article in the printed edition of the magazine too.

Lone Star State Monsters

The Anomalist has a notable new story of a definitively crypto-nature, and here it is:

"Lon Strickler offers a collection of sightings from the Lonestar State that seem to show a pattern of activity for the large, hairy hominid known as Bigfoot. A recent email Strickler received that reported a sighting from 10 years ago near Rose City, TX, prompted him to collect other sightings from the vicinity that are now in the Bigfoot archives, as shown in Cryptid Sightings: Jefferson/Orange Counties - Texas Gulf Coast. Is this part of Texas a favorite haunt of Bigfoot?"

Jon Downes Q&A

Over at Ghastly Door, you can find a new interview with Jon Downes on the subject of his crypto-research, his views on various aspects of the phenomenon (including Tulpas), and his plans for the future, which include a trip to Hungary in search of an intriguing creature...

Friday, July 23, 2010

Bigfoot and Yeti

Over at Still on the Track, you can find two, good new articles: one on Bigfoot; and the other on the Yeti.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Dinner & Monsters!

It's still a while away, but if you're interested in attending - and given the fact that reservations are required in advance - now may be the time to contact the organizers at

Tigers On The Loose In Dallas? Er, No...

Well, while chatting with Dana as we ate dinner last night, my attention was suddenly drawn to a story on the TV suggesting there might be a couple of tigers roaming around downtown Dallas! Police investigated, local zoos quickly denied any missing animals, and the media had a good old time with the whole affair.

The reality, it seems, was that all the fuss was caused by a couple of bobcats.

Of course, it's interesting to note that a couple of bobcats would be rummaging around in the heart of Dallas in the first place. But, this story is also perhaps instructive with respect to how we interpret and analyze reports of "big cats" on the loose...

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Britain's Exotic Cats

Just how far back into history can we take the reports of exotic cats on the loose in Britain? Much further than you might suspect...

The Anomalist & Crypto

I've noticed that The Anomalist has given much attention to crypto-based stories over the last few days - on Bigfoot and much more. Be sure to check it out!

Monday, July 19, 2010

Finding Witnesses

What's the best way to find witnesses to strange creatures? Well, sometimes - as my latest Lair of the Beasts post at demonstrates - hanging out in bars and fast-food joints works just as well as anywhere!

Japanese Monsters: An Interview With Richard Freeman

Just recently CFZ Press published Richard Freeman's new book, The Great Yokai Encyclopedia: An A to Z of Japanese Monsters. An appropriately Godzilla-sized book (it runs at 416 pages!), Yokai is a definitive look at the strange creatures and beasts of Japan, both in times-past and the present.

A couple of days ago I interviewed Rich about his book, which practically turned into a book-length venture too! Here you go:

Nick: Broadly speaking, what is the book about?

Rich: The book is about the monsters and ghosts of Japan. These are collectively known as Yokai and constitute a veritable supernatural menagerie. With a handful of exceptions these amazing creatures and characters are almost unknown in the west. The book looks at the cultural background that gave rise to these legends and then lists the creatures in an encyclopedic form.


Nick: What prompted you to write it - are Japanese monsters a passion of yours?

Rich: I find Japan endlessly interesting. Its folklore is fascinating, its wildlife is amazing, its culture is incredible and its women are the most beautiful in the world! Japanese monsters are just so mind bending and strange. In most folklore you can work out were the legends came from and what they mean to a certain degree, but you can do that a lot with Japanese monsters.

As to what prompted me to write it, well I was researching something totally unrelated when I stumbled upon a website called

It listed a number of yokai and I became hooked on Japanese folklore. When I realised that no one had written an English language, in depth book on yokai, I stepped up to the plate.


Nick: What are some of the more significant monsters in the book?

Rich: Some are great cultural icons like the tengu. Tengus are a man / bird hybrid. It has two basic forms, the first being a creature with the head of a bird (usually a raven or a bird of prey), a humanoid body, birds talons and birds wings. It is known as the Karasu Tengu. The second is more human like with a man’s face. A greatly elongated nose is seen instead of a beak. This form is the Yamabushi Tengu.

Their nature seems contradictory: they can spread chaos and fear but are also not averse to humble humans joining in with their merrymaking. They punish the vain and the rich and can affect the human mind leaving the victim wandering the forests or mountains in a state of madness known as tengu-kakushi. This sounds very like the effect certain fairies had on humans in western legend. In the South West of England this was known as being pixie-led. The same monster would equally be called on to help lost children find their way home. This may be because in some stories the evil tengu were converted to Buddhism and become enlightened creatures.

Another iconic monster is the oni. Oni are savage daemons embodying the worst of human nature. They can have ox like, bird like, or humanoid heads. They generally have horns and wild mane of hair. They have three claws on each hand and three toes on each foot. Some have three eyes. They may be red, green, blue, white or grey in colour. They go naked except for a loin cloth. They are usually huge in size and their favoured weapon is an iron spiked club.

Oni in Japan have a roll akin to that of trolls, giants and ogres in western lore. They walk the earth spreading terror in their wake until stopped by some hero. But like daemons they also torture souls in hell. Despite this, their unpleasant image was often carved into tiles at the end of Japanese roofs. The onigawara tiles were used to keep evil spirits away from the building.

Kappa has the shell of a turtle and frog’s arms and legs. It has a human like face but with a beak instead of a mouth. It has a fringe hair like that of a western monk about its head. The hair is known as okappa-atama. The top of a kappa’s skull is concave and holds a magick liquid that gives the water goblin its phenomenal strength. Despite being only the size of a small child, a kappa is strong enough to overpower a horse or cow.

Kappa will often challenge an unsuspecting human to a sumo match and easily overpower them with its magical brawn. The defeated victim would have his bowels devoured after they were ripped from his anus. Animals would be killed by kappas in this way as well. Kappa was particularly fond of the shirikodama, a fabled ball said to be found near the anus. A kappa victim will usually have a distended anus and is known as a Gappadoko. Some victims, oddly, seemed to be smiling after their fatal, anal violation. Kappa would often lurk in toilets and fondle women’s thighs and buttocks. Indeed Kappa were said to rape women if they got a chance.

In Japanese legend the red fox or Kitsune (Vulpes vulpes japonica) can achieve supernatural powers if it lives to fifty or one hundred years old. An ancient fox would grow a new tail with each century until it had nine. These spirit foxes could walk on their hind legs and don clothes like humans. Their powers included shape shifting and illusions. Such a state of position was known as kitsunetsuki.

Kitsune could take on the form of humans by placing a human skull on their head and preying to the constellation of Ursa Major. They would often take on the form of beautiful women and seduce men.

The Yuki-onna or snow woman is one of the best known of all yokai. She is also the most beautiful and sexually provocative. Yuki-onna is an inhumanly beautiful woman with long, silky black hair and exquisitely pale skin. She leaves no footprints in the snow when she walks and generally wears a long white robe. Sometimes she appears naked. Her skin is so pale that only her hair, face, and pubic hair show against the background of the snow.

Yuki-onna is thought to have been a woman who died in a snowstorm, possibly whilst pregnant. In some stories she manifests with a phantom baby. If a mortal holds the baby the infant sticks to their arms and becomes heavier and heavier until the victim cannot move and freezes to death.

Usually the Yuki-onna is depicted as a sort of thermal vampire sucking the heat and life out of people lost in the snow. Sometimes she will take men’s body heat by making love to them.

Those are some of the most famous yokai but the more obscure ones are the strangest. Many seem to do strange things for no apparent reason. It is likely that some details of the original stories have been lost in the mists of time. Take a look at this lot for sheer weirdness.

Mouryo is a kind of giant, bipedal, flesh eating rabbit that violates graves! It will dig up human corpses and eat their livers.

Atsuuikakura is a monster of the folklore of the Ainu people of northern Hokkaido. It is a giant flesh-eating sea cucumber that grew from the undergarments of a dead girl! It holds onto driftwood and tries to overturn passing boats.

Bake-kujira is a zombie whale! This vast and bizarre ghost turned up in the seas off Shimane prefecture in Osaka with an entourage of strange fish and birds. Whalers tried to harpoon it but the weapons had no effect on the huge phantom who swam out to sea followed by its ghostly court. Bake-kujira is supposedly several times larger than a mortal whale and will attack humans out hunting whales.

The Basan is found in Ehime Prefecture, and is a giant rooster that breaths out fire. In the day it hides in bamboo groves and at night it wanders around making an odd rustling sound that wakes up villagers.

Gashadokuro is a titanic animated skeleton fifteen times taller than a man. It is composed of the bones of people who died of starvation that have changed into a huge cannibalistic spirit. It is animated by the dead’s anger at their own horrid deaths. They stalk the night making a "gachi gachi" sound. If this monster catches a human it will bite their head off. The appearance of a Gashadokuro is foretold by a ringing in one’s ears.

Katakiriuwa takes the form of a small pig whose body is constantly aflame. Katakiriuwa has only three legs, one ear and one eye. The phantom pig casts no shadow. It appears only on Amami Island (Okinawa). One of its favourite haunts is around the city hall in Naze.

Katakiriuwa is said to run between a person’s legs and steal their soul. This activity also renders the victim’s sexual organs impotent. If you see the Katakiriuwa before it can run between your legs it will disappear. Crossing the legs also deters this nasty little yokai.

Sagari is the ghost of a horse that died beneath a nettle tree. It manifests as a disembodied horses’ head dangling from the branches by its mane. It neighs and whinnies and whoever hears its baleful vocalizations falls ill. Sagari are reported from Fukuoka and Kumamoto prefectures on the island of Kyūshū.

The black hair cutter or Kurokamikiri is one of the most grotesque and disturbing yokai and has a hair obsession. Kurokamikiri is vaguely humanoid. It has a bloated body with chubby arms and legs. It has no neck but a bulbous head. Its skin is deepest black and the only features visible are a wide mouth with a slug like tongue and huge flat teeth, and two tiny, evil yellow eyes spaced far apart on its dark visage. Kurokamikiri will creep up behind its victims and bite off their hair. Kurokamikiri is said to make a “mogaaaaa!”sound.

Ittan-momen flutters through the skies above Kagoshima prefecture. It resembles a strip of white cloth over thirty feet long. Innocuous as it looks, the Ittan-momen is the anaconda of the yokai world, dropping down upon its victims and winding about them in order to suffocate them.

The raccoon dog (Nyctereutes procyonoides albus) or Tanuki in Japan is credited, like several other beasts such as the fox and the cat, with shape shifting. The Tanuki is generally less malevolent than the fox or the cat. It can sometimes be a comical figure using it’s belly as a drum to created a ‘pon- poko’sound. In some areas the males have shape shifting testicles that they use to play outlandish tricks on humans. They are fond of saké, human women and disguising worthless leaves as money.

One story involves a tanuki who disguised his testicles as a tea shop and fooled some people into drinking tea in them. One man dropped some hot ash from his pipe ans scorched the tanuki's scrotum!


Nick: What, for you, is the most significant, or stand-out, Japanese mystery animal?

Rich: The Tatsu or Ryu, the Japanese dragon is the most ancient and powerful of all the yokai as indeed dragons worldwide are the most ancient and powerful of all monsters. Tatsu are creatures of god-like power. They are intimately associated with water and the sea in particular. Most Japanese dragons are benevolent towards mankind, but if treated with disrespect they can wield god like power. An angry dragon could cause earthquakes, tsunami, typhoons, floods or droughts. The length of the largest dragons are measured in miles. Asian dragons rarely breathe fire but their breath condenses and forms rain.

Creatures resembling Tatsu are still reported in the world’s oceans and deep lakes today. The seas around Japan are no exception. In 1879 the steam ship Kiushiu-maru one of a fleet belonging to the Mitsubishi Company observed a serpentine monster attacking a whale in the Sea of Japan. Captain Davidson stated that he saw a whale leaping from the water with the monster biting into its belly. He observed the whale disappear beneath the surface as its assailant reared up thirty feet before plunging down after it. He said the creature was as thick as a junk’s mast.

In 1901 a report of a dragon was recorded in a Japanese nature magazine called Shizen Shimbun. The creature was seen by flashes of lighting during a storm at sea. It had horns, sharp teeth, large eyes and a rough hide. The Diet Library confirms the existence of both the magazine and the report. There can be little doubt that some of the creatures we call ‘sea serpents’ are one in the same as Asian dragons.


Nick: Does Japan have a similar range of unknown animals as other parts of the world, such as lake-monsters, hairy man-beasts, flying monsters etc? Or, are there many that are unique to Japan?

Rich: Japan, like all other countries has creatures from what I have called "The Global Monster Template” - these are creatures that turn up in all cultures.

Dragons = Tatsu

Hairy man-like beasts = Hibagon, Yama-chichi, Hi-Hi, Kenmon and Satori

Little people = Yanari, Koro-pok-guru

Monster birds = Tengu, Pheng, Raicho, Takagamisama, Itsumaden

Monster cats = Bake-neko, Neko-mata

Monster dogs = Inu-gami, Kajigababaa, Hito-okami

However Japan has masses of weird monsters found no were else on earth and, in the main, it was these that inspired me to write the book.


Nick: Do you cover fictional Japanese monsters such as Godzilla, Mothra etc?

Rich: I take a look at Japanese film monster such as Godzilla (or Gojira to give him his Japanese name) Rodan, Gamara and their colleagues (known as Kaiju) in the introduction to the book. Some are based on the giant monsters in Japanese legend. Godzilla has his ancestory in the Japanese dragons as much as he does in dinosaurs.


Nick: Was it difficult doing the research?

Rich: I can honestly say I have enjoyed writing this book more than any other. Uncovering all the strange bits of information was a joy. Some things I had to translate and I had help from the people on the forum at www.obakemono

Tony Eccles, head of ethnography at the Royal Albert Memorial Museum was good enough to let me digitally photograph a 17th century Japanese book on animals that included dragons and ancient turtles.


Nick: Is this is a project you have wanted to do for a long time?

Rich: There was no long-term planning for the book. As I said earlier I stumbled across yokai quite by accident. As soon as I found these weird creatures, I was addicted to yokai and I knew that I had to write a book on them as none such existed for English readers.


Nick: How old are the stories of Japanese monsters - is there a long history, folklore of such beasts, or relatively recent?

Rich: Some monsters are truly ancient. The Tatsu and the Tsuchinoko, a type of dorso-ventrally flattened snake, go back to the ancient Jōmon Period (14,000 BC to 300 BC), The earliest accounts of Tengu come from the Heian Period (794-1185).

Other folklore is more recent. In 1979 stories abounded in Japan that the Kuchisake-onna or slit mouthed woman was hunting down children. The scare stories spread via playground lore and within one year had covered most of urban Japan. She has even travelled abroad. In 2004 a similar scare occurred in South Korea.

Kuchisake-onna is said to cover her mouth with a surgical mask. She approaches victims (usually children) and asks “Do you think I am beautiful?” If they answer yes then she removes her mask and reveals the jagged tear that extends her lips all the way into her cheeks. She again asks “Do you think I am beautiful?” If the victim answers either yes or no the Kuchisake-onna will attack them and slash open their mouths with a knife or scalpel so that the resulting wound resembles the mouth of the Kuchisake-onna. Reputedly there are two ways of stopping her attacking. One is to answer her question by saying “You look normal to me," or by offering her a piece of candy.


Nick: I understand that Vol 2 is already in the works?

Rich: Recently I uncovered another books' worth of information. I have a collection of news stories from the late 19th and early 20th century concerning sightings of yokai. I need to get this translated from Japanese into English. I also have two volumes on yokai in French that I need to translate into English. Between them there is enough for a second volume. I hope this will be ready in a couple of years. If there is anyone out there that can help me with the translations I’d be grateful.


Nick: What do you hope that the publication of the book will achieve?

Rich: I hope the book will open people’s eyes to the weird and wonderful world of Japanese monsters. If you’re sick and tired of vampires and werewolves (and who isn’t; by god they have been so done to death in films and half arsed "dark romance" novels) then this book will be a breath of fresh air.


If you're in the UK, you can buy Rich's book here, for the US click here, and in Canada, here's the link.

Friday, July 16, 2010

The Stafford Castle Tortoise

England's Stafford Post newspaper reports on the engaging story of Stafford Castle's pet tortoise, who appeared to have lived and died at some point in the 19th Century, but who - in 2010 - is once again in the news! If only he or she knew!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Water-Beasts of the Midlands - A New Theory

(The Canals of Birmingham, England: The Alleged Haunt of Giant Eeels, picture taken by Nick Redfern, 2010)

As someone who grew up in the West Midlands and Staffordshire areas of England, I take keen note of sightings of strange creatures seen in the vicinity. And, one particular interest of mine is the issue of water-based beasts reported in these parts.

Back in the late 1980s, when I was working as both a fork-lift driver and van-driver, I heard a number of noteworthy stories pertaining to sightings of monstrously large, and decidedly violent, eels that allegedly roamed the winding canals of both the city of Birmingham and certain areas of the nearby county of Staffordshire.

One particularly memorable account originated with a lorry-driver who recalled such a sighting somewhere in Birmingham, West Midlands one summer’s day in the latter part of the 1980s; and that “shook the staff rigid” at a store that overlooked the stretch of canal in question. In this case, the animal was described as being dark brown in color and was said to be no less than an astonishing fifteen feet in length. Supposedly, it had been briefly seen by a fork-lift driver, who had sat, not surprisingly mesmerised, watching it “circling” one particular area of the canal frequented by a large number of semi-tame ducks that the staff at the store would regularly feed with bread during their daily lunch-hour.

Then, in the early part of 2003, a story surfaced in the local press to the effect that the remains of a large, dead python had been found in the same precise stretch of canal where the giant eels were said to have been seen roaming years earlier. It was January 23, 2003 and the Birmingham Evening Mail newspaper splashed across its pages a story titled 15-Foot Python Dead In Canal. Steve Swingler, the journalist who broke the story, wrote:

“Walkers, joggers and cyclists have been pounding a towpath in Edgbaston oblivious to a near-15ft Burmese Python lurking just feet away below the water. The giant reptile, capable of killing a child, was fished out of the canal near Rotten Park Road, Edgbaston by the RSPCA [Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals] yesterday. It had been spotted by a terrified passer-by.” The beast, Swingler added, had only been dead for a short time.

Inspector Rob Hartley, of the RSPCA Rescue-Centre in Barnes Hill, told the newspaper, with much justification, that: “It’s like something out of a horror movie. This thing is massive; we’ve never seen one this big before. It’s a monster. We’ve measured it at fourteen and a half feet and up to 14 inches wide. It probably weighs at least 11 stone [154 pounds]. We don’t know whether it simply got too big for someone to look after and they let it go free or it escaped.”

And more was to come. In the hot and humid summer of 2003, hysterical and pretty much near-unbelievable rumours wildly spread around the town of Cannock to the effect that a giant, marauding crocodile was on the loose in the area. Yes, really! Local police, the nation’s press, and even representatives of the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA) all wildly rushed to the scene of the action – which was the Roman View Pond, just outside of Cannock – and valiantly sought to determine the full facts about what, amongst the local media and the populace, was fast becoming known as the "Cannock Nessie."

In reality, the "Nessie" turned out to be a three-foot-long Spectacled Caiman!

But, while investigating the affair at the time it occurred, Jon Downes recorded that: "...we found ourselves in the middle of Cannock Chase, and deep in conversation with the local wildlife-officers who told us that koi had also been turning up in isolated ponds across Cannock Chase, as well. It seems as if there is some kind of strange, Piscine Johnny Appleseed at work, doing his best to stock of the waterways of the West Midlands with these large, ornamental fish."

And, six years later, in 2009, it seems that someone was yet again up to their old, nighttime tricks, and once more anonymously dumping exotic creatures in a certain body of water around the town of Cannock. On this occasion, however, the scene of all the action was a small, three-metre-deep pool that is hidden in a corner of the Brickworks Nature Reserve at Wimblebury - which is only a stone’s throw from the heart of the Cannock Chase.

As the Chase Post newspaper humorously noted, up until recently "the only things lurking in the murky waters were six bicycles, a shopping trolley and scaffolding poles." But all that changed in 2009. Cannock Chase Council officials, concerned about vegetation dying, made a startling discovery, said the Post; adding that amongst the usual debris and rubbish, "there were fish in the water, lots of fish - 20,000, to be precise. Even more baffling, there were not just native species: as well as roach and perch, ornamental varieties such as brown goldfish and koi carp were found."

And only very recently a two-foot-long snapping turtle was caught by an astonished angler in the waters of Birmingham.

So, you may ask: where am I going with all this? Well, a couple of weeks ago, I received a phone-call from a man named Terry Baxter, who lives in Birmingham, and who had seen an article I had written some time ago on the Birmingham eel encounters of the 1980s.

Terry had an intriguing theory to explain why people are seemingly dumping exotic animals in the waters all across the West Midlands and Staffordshire. He didn't doubt that such actions are overwhelmingly reckless, however.

And, I fully agreed with him: letting such creatures loose in deep ponds on a nice sunny day during a hot English summer might seem a good idea at the time. But, when autumn and winter arrive, the creatures are unlikely to survive for very long at all - which is precisely why the "Cannock Crocodile" was so active in the summer of 2003, but summarily vanished forever as the good old English weather got worse and colder.

But, Terry was not of the opinion that ignorant, stupid people were simply dumping these beasts because they had grown too large, and vicious, to handle. In other words, this wasn't the work of inexperienced owners simply getting rid of their increasingly aggressive pets.

Rather, Terry claimed second-hand knowledge of a group in the Midlands - and what sounded like a distinctly shadowy group, too - that was "very Fortean" in its nature, beliefs and pursuits. He felt that the group was trying, albeit in a somewhat unwise and skewed way, to "make Britain mysterious again."

Somewhat puzzled, I asked him to clarify what he meant by that, and he replied that, in centuries-past, Britain was packed with legends of strange beasts of all manner. But that, today, he added: "...all we've got left are big-cats, and even Nessie has gone off the radar."

Well, I wouldn't say it's quite that black-and-white and simplistic, but he does have a point!

So, according to "certain information" Terry claimed to have acquired, there were - and still are - people in the West Midlands and Staffordshire trying to turn back the clocks on the sterile concrete jungle, and create modern-day mysteries of a "water-monster" variety, specifically by introducing exotic animals to certain parts of the British Isles.

As Terry put it: "They want to see legends developing of the 'Great Serpent of Cannock;' or the 'Giant Fish of Birmingham,' really so that the old stories and legends will live again and England will be magical and mysterious again."

Whether Terry is right or not is moot. But, there's no doubt at all that we have indeed seen regular dumping of exotic animals in the waters of central England for years.

I don't support these actions, at all, not do I think it's a good idea in the slightest. But, as a theory - and one based on what Terry claims is second-hand testimony from a source with some knowledge of this situation - I can't rule out the possibility that this is precisely what is going on and why.

Keep watching this space, and I'll update you when (hopefully) I hear more...

The Cannock Chase Big-Cat: The Latest

Big Cats in Britain are embarking on an ambitious new quest to seek out the big-cats of Britain's Cannock Chase woods - which, as you may know from my many posts on the area, is packed with strange beasts...

Crypto and the Navy

Here's a very cool story about the U.S. Navy and Loren Coleman's International Cryptozoology Museum.


Richard Freeman delves deep into the world of a certain Russian lake-monster: the creature of Lake Chany.

Says Rich: "One of Russia’s largest lakes seems to be the home a large, powerful and dangerous creature that locals say has killed 19 fishermen. Lake Chany is virtually unknown in the west but it is a vast expanse of water covering 770 square miles. Its is 57 miles long by 55 miles wide but is fairly shallow at only 23 feet deep with an average depth of only 6 feet. Lake Chany is in the southern part of the province of Novosibirsk Oblast close to the borders of Kazakhstan.

"The creature involved in the attacks is described as serpentine and huge. The beast claimed its latest victim, a 59 year old fisherman last week. 60 year old Vladimir Golishev was in the boat then the creature overturned it and dragged his friend away. He told the Daily Mail...

"'I was with my friend some 300 yards from the shore. He hooked something huge on his bait and stood up to reel it in. But it pulled with such force it overturned the boat. I was in shock-I had never seen anything like it in my life. I pulled off my clothes and swam for the shore, not daring hope I would make it. He didn’t make it and thy have found no remains. It’s time to find out the truth.'

"In 2007 a 23 year old special services soldier, Mikhail Doronin was lost when something capsized his boat. His 80 year old grandmother Nina was watching from the shore and said that the lake was calm. Her husband 81 year old husband Vladimir said 'Something on an awesome scale lives in the lake, but I have never seen it.'

"Official figures say that 19 people have vanished in the lake in the past three years. Locals say the figure is actually much higher and that remains have washed ashore with bite marks showing large teeth."

And for the rest of the story, click on the link above.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Paranormal London: A Q & A With Neil Arnold

As you'll know, a few days ago I reviewed Neil Arnold's new book, Paranormal London. Well, Neil was good enough to take part in a Q&A about his book (which we did yesterday), and which is related below, and focuses heavily on cryptozoology. Enjoy the interview and enjoy Paranormal London!

Nick: Neil, broadly speaking, what is Paranormal London about?

Neil: I was approached by a big publisher in the UK to write a book on London within their 'Paranormal' series, and felt it was a chance to cover material rarely, if at all, published previously. They wanted the book to cover any mysteries pertaining to the capital.

Nick: You're very well known for your cryptozoological research, but Paranormal London covers other areas too, such as UFOs and ghosts. Do you have an overall interest in Forteana?

Neil: No I don't. I used to when I was around thirteen-years-old, but have become almost bored by UFOs, ghosts, etc. However, I knew that by writing 'Paranormal London' I couldn't leave out such mysteries. I think the fields have become saturated and regurgitative.

Nick: London and its surrounding areas have long histories of reports of exotic cats. Can you outline some of the cases, and your views on where the cats came from and still are coming from?

Neil: I didn't want the sightings of exotic cats to be mentioned in the book as they aren't paranormal. However, the book enabled me to cover some London stories of a mysterious nature. I've researched sightings of 'big cats' across the world since I was around nine-years old and am still surprised that it's considered a mystery. A majority of animals we see in the UK are offspring of animals which were released in the '60s and '70s when it was quite the fad to purchase leopard, puma etc. However, there are many sightings and cases which date back centuries previous, which would point to escapees/releases from private collections and travelling menageries which were in abundance across the UK. The problem is, this mystery has been lumped alongside UFOs, ghosts etc, which is ridiculous. When there are silly reports in the UK of lions, cheetahs and tigers, the press have a field day and then when these animals aren't found, they are deemed supernatural. Lions and tigers would escape from a zoo on occasion but wouldn't exist in the wilds of the UK. The US is slightly different; drug dealers are certainly purchasing Bengal tigers and these have escaped. There are sightings of black cats throughout the US and also Europe and Australia. It's a worldwide situation. I don't believe zoos or circuses are to blame. There is such a naivety to the situation in the UK. Puma and lynx (which was once native to the UK) could easily survive. There is plenty of prey and cover, and no-one is actually looking for them. In the UK, alongside the 'Beast of Exmoor' and 'Beast of Bodmin', the most famous mytsery felid is the 'Surrey Puma' which was seen in the leafy suburbs around the 1960s, although sightings persist today, but not of the same animal. There have also been a few silly headlines which I've covered, such as the Edgware tiger and the Winchmore Hill lioness. In 2001 a lynx was caught in a back garden in Cricklewood.

Nick: There's a chapter in the book on London's Highgate Vampire. What is your opinion on this mystery?

Neil: The Highgate 'vampire' was a malevolent spirit which succumbed to petty politics, press intrusion and inaccuracy, hoaxing and satanism. There most definitely was something lurking in this old cemetery in the '60s and early '70s, but inadequate research and silly headlines meant that pretty much all you read today about the case is very foggy. It's a fascinating case, concerning a seven-foot tall, black, red-eyed mass said to have prowled the Gothic Highgate Cemetery in North London. It's just a shame the term 'vampire' was applied! Reports do still occur, but there's no suggestion that a blood-drinking monster haunts the place.

Nick: What do you think about the flying creatures of London you describe in the book, such as the Brentford Griffin?

Neil: When you walk through London, it's amazing how much architecture represents monsters. And dragons feature heavily. There have been some strange reports over the years of weird, winged creatures. But again, I'm of the opinion that such things are either hoaxes or connected to the human psyche, and once the press get hold of the story it starts to get stronger, a snowball effect. If you believe in something enough it starts to happen! I doubt a griffin was seen over Brentford in the mid-1980s, but when you consider the local football team play at Griffin Park, the coat of arms for the place is a harbours a griffin, and there's also the Griffin pub. It's quite uncanny. However, one person's griffin is another's dragon. Strange, albeit snake-like flying serpents were recorded over Hammersmith in the 1700s, but clearly these aren't flesh and blood creatures. Dragons are probably the most celebrated mythical creatures which are embedded in our culture, and for some reason, they are seen infrequently.

Nick: What other cryptids roam London?

Neil: I don't like the term cryptid - mainly because a majority of the 'monsters' seen not just in London, but over the world, aren't creatures awaiting discovery, but instead are 'zooform phenomena'. London's history is peppered with stories of out of place animals, however - in the River Thames there have been reports of a shark, whales, a leather-back turtle, walking catfish and an alligator. In the sewers: giant rats; in the skies: eagles, vulture's and insect swarms; and of course on the streets: large, exotic cats, and hundreds of cases of escaped animals from baboons, monkeys, elephant's, kangaroos, wolves and wallabies. There are also so-called 'monsters' recorded throughout the capital and some hilarious monster hoaxes too.

Nick: What's your favorite paranormal story from London?

Neil: There are so many weird paranormal stories throughout London folklore. I tried to write about a few obscure ghost and UFO cases, but the weirdest paranormal stuff concerns phantom animals - the hellhound of the old Newgate prison, the spectral ape which visited a Hampstead man, the ghostly birds, mainly the 'poultrygeist' - a ghostly chicken said to haunt Pond Square in Highgate, and not forgetting phantom bears, ghost cats and the phantom assailants such as Spring-Heeled Jack.

Nick: What's next for you re lectures, investigations and books?

Neil: I have finished a book regarding 'beasts of London', which is possibly going to be published by the CFZ for their 'Mystery Animals...' series. It's a great book because it digs deeper into some of the cases in 'Paranormal London', but also looks at menageries and escapees, zoo escapees, spectral creatures, monsters and weird creatures found in the local rivers, streams and ponds, as well as giant birds, insects, mystery cats - this chapter proves that animals were purchased in abundance back in the 1960s as pets. I've also written a local book called Haunted Rochester which is where I live and known for its Charles Dickens connections, and I'm also doing Haunted Maidstone, Paranormal Sussex, Cryptozoology In The Movies, and a book on 'big cats'. I conduct several lectures a week and am often in the field mainly concerning my research into exotic cats. More information can be found at: and

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Bigfoot Quest: Tonight

This just in from Bob and Mike at Bigfoot Quest:

Hello All:

Please join your hosts Bob Coyne and Mike Killen as we welcome K. Steven Monk and Shane Honea to the show. Steven and Shane are both members of the Georgia Bigfoot Society, an organization dedicated to finding Bigfoot in Georgia. Shane is a field researcher/investigator for the group and Steven is the group's director. Shane became interested in Bigfoot at an early age and had his own sighting as a teenager while out coon hunting with two friends. If you can, please join us in our live show chat. It's always a lot of fun and we love to interact live with our listeners


When: Tonight, July 13, 2010

Time: 9:00 P.M. Eastern

Duration: 90 Minutes

Bob Coyne
Mike Killen

Monday, July 12, 2010

Exploring All Realms: Beginning Thursday

I'm very pleased to announce that from this coming Thursday night (July 15) at 9PM EST I will be co-hosting a regular, weekly, 1-hour-long radio show with good friend Raven Meindel called Exploring All Realms. For all the information on times, schedules, guests and more, see:

NOTE: the show was due to begin last month, but my time back in the UK for my mom's funeral meant we had to reschedule things; however, all is now up and ready for this week - and indeed for each future week.

If you are an author, researcher, investigator or eyewitness and want to be a guest on the show, do let us know via this email address. Or, if you are a publisher and would like your authors to be on the show, let us know and we'll be pleased to have them on.

And, if you would like to post the banner for the show to your site, let me know and I'll send it along as an attachment.

Exploring All Realms with Redfern and Raven:

EXPLORING ALL REALMS with Nick Redfern and Raven Meindel is an exciting, vibrant and mystery-packed talk-show devoted to just about everything paranormal, supernatural, cryptozoological and ufological. Each week, Nick and Raven will be speaking with leading investigators, researchers, eye-witnesses and authors in their respective genres as they seek out the truth about the mysteries of this world and beyond, including Bigfoot, ghosts, psychic phenomena, alien encounters, conspiracies and cover-ups. For all the information on times, schedules, guests and more, see:

EPISODE 1: We are very pleased to announce that, for the first episode of Exploring All Realms with Redfern and Raven, the guest will be the acclaimed author Brad Steiger. An expert on numerous aspects of the world of the unknown, Brad has penned approximately 170 books, with no less than 17 million copies in print. His huge list of titles include Shadow World; The Werewolf Book; Real Vampires; Strangers From The Skies; and Worlds Before Our Own.

And, on Exploring All Realms, Brad will be speaking with us about his brand new book, Real Zombies: The Living Dead, And Creatures Of The Apocalypse. For more data on Brad, check out his website that he runs with his wife Sherry: Brad & Sherry Steiger's Mysteries and Miracles which can be found at Don't miss the chance to hear the words of a true legend in the realms of the paranormal, the supernatural, ufology, and strange creatures!

Nick Redfern is the author of numerous books on the world of the paranormal, including There’s something in the Woods; Science Fiction Secrets; Contactees; Memoirs of a Monster Hunter; and A Covert Agenda. He has appeared on many TV shows, including the SyFy Channel’s Proof Positive; the History Channel’s Monster Quest; the BBC’s Out of this World; and the National Geographic Channel’s Paranatural. He can be contacted at his website:

Raven Meindel runs the blogs Raven’s Crypto Haven ( and Raven’s Mysterious Haven ( She has appeared on the History Channel’s Monster Quest, and is the Michigan representative of the British-based Center for Fortean Zoology - a full-time group dedicated to the investigation of unknown animals, such as the Abominable Snowman, the Chupacabras, and the Loch Ness Monster - and has written for the CFZ's in-house magazine, Animals & Men.

Bigfoot at Cryptomundo

Over at Cryptomundo, Loren Coleman updates us with a good post on that Bigfoot story. It seems that matters are getting clearer - and, in all likelihood, winding-down to a conclusion...

In Search of the Sisimite

Dale Drinnon has a very good, and very long, new online post on the monstrous Sisimite, which he describes thus:

"The Sisimite is equally well known in Belize, Guatemala, Honduras and in parts of southern Mexico's tropical forests. The Sisimite or "guardian of the forest" is best described as a large, hairy gorilla or apelike creature; It has no verbal communication that is known and according to reports, is a rather malevolent or evil primate (unlike sasquatch but similar to the mythical African gorilla of old) who would kill humans of the same sex and abduct and rape those of the opposite sex, which is not unlike current behavior patterns of male orangutans (A male orangutan at Tanjung Putting Reserve in Indonesian Borneo once raped the female cook for Birute Galdikas on a banana tree stand during feeding time.)."

And here's the link to Dale's complete post.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

A Texas Gallery

Following my appearance on Coast to Coast last night, where I was speaking about my new book - Monsters of Texas, co-authored with Ken Gerhard - C to C have placed on their site a gallery of a few color photos that appear in the book and which highlight some of the high-strangeness of a crypto variety that Ken and I describe in MoT.

Wild Birmingham!

Several times (here and here) I have mentioned at this blog the legends of large eels - and at least one python - roaming the canals of the city of Birmingham, England, which is situated about 10 miles from where I grew up.

Well, now there's this story: an alligator snapping turtle that has surfaced (quite literally!) from the watery depths of the city. Of course, many such beasts are simply exotic pets that have gotten out of control, and which their owners have elected to secretly dump in the pools, lakes and rivers of the area.

In view of this new story, I strongly suspect we have not heard the last of Birmingham's out-of-place critters...

Friday, July 9, 2010

The Bigfoot Saga Continues

The latest - from The Anomalist - on that Bigfoot story...

"Bigfoot Found in North America? Not So Fast Ghost Theory
Javier Ortega revisits yesterday's "Breaking News" from Craig Woolheater at Cryptomundo concerning a gentleman's claims a family of Bigfoots had been camping in his backyard. Ortega's posting of this information has drawn some excellent commentary, including one from Matthew Moneymaker of the Bigfoot Field Research Organization."

Dead Birds

This is kind of weird...

Everybody, from time to time, stumbles upon the body of a dead bird. But, 3 times in practically as many weeks, and on both sides of the world?

When me and Dana were back in England a few weeks ago for my mom's funeral, a blackbird slammed into the kitchen window of my dad's house and was killed outright.

Then, the next day, when the three of us went to my mom's nursing-home to thank all the staff for looking after while she had Alzheimer's, there was a brightly-feathered little bird dead at the door to the building.

And, just this morning, after having run a few errands, I got home and found another dead bird - this time on our drive.

Maybe it's all some odd coincidence.

Comments anyone?

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Texas Monsters on Coast to Coast

Tomorrow night - from midnight to 2AM Central Time - I'll be on Coast to Coast with host George Noory speaking about my new book co-written with Ken Gerhard, Monsters of Texas.

For those who may wish to listen to the show, here's the link.

You can expect to hear much about the so-called Texas Chupacabras; Bigfoot in Texas; sea-serpents off the coast of Galveston; the cryptozoological mysteries of Texas' Big Thicket woods; the werewolves of Texas and much more.


From today's Anomalist:

"Breaking News: Bigfoot Found in North America Cryptomundo. With part of the headline reading "Documented Events Reveal Sasquatch Lives," Craig Woolheater gets some Bigfoot afficionados' blood pumping with a short release from Overnight AM broadcasters claiming a family of Bigfoots have taken up residence in the backyard of a 70-year-old retired veteran's home in an unannounced location. Woolheater provides a link to the broadcast that features the alleged eyewitness. Reportedly, UFO Magazine and Clearly Skewed Entertainment have a film crew on the way to the site. PLEASE NOTE: Loren Coleman says the editor of UFO Magazine has been contacted and reports Breaking Bigfoot Story: Holes Developing. Is another Georgia Bigfoot event beginning to take shape?"

I say: yep, let's all just see how this develops - or doesn't!!

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Paranormal London Reviewed

Over at my Reviews blog, you can find my review of Neil Arnold's crypto-saturated new book, Paranormal London - and a very good book it is, too!

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Matt Bille on Monsters of Texas

Matt Bille delves into the world of books of the cryptozoological kind, and says of Ken Gerhard and my Monsters of Texas book:

"Ken Gerhard and Nick Redfern's Monsters of Texas (also from CFZ Press) is a fun read, setting down reports of giant birds, Sasquatch-type things, and other Texas oddities, The authors present what people have claimed in a straightforward fashion, leavened with humor though applying a little less skepticism than I would have used. Their most important contribution, I think, is documenting that there may be a grain of truth hidden in the chupacabras myth, since coyotes and coyote hybrids with long hind legs, prominent fangs, and hair loss seem to turn up in Texas often enough to hint there may be some recurring genetic anomaly presenting itself."

For the rest of Matt's post, click here.

Bigfoot: To Kill Or Not To Kill?

Over at Cryptomundo, Loren Coleman has an excellent new post on the highly-emotive issue of whether or not we should strive to kill a Bigfoot to prove the existence of the species. Not only that: the posting has provoked a lively debate in the "Comments" section. So, if you have a viewpoint on this particular matter, now is the time to present it to one and all!

Jan Williams RIP

Jon Downes pays tribute to Jan Williams, without who the CFZ of today simply would not exist. I remember Jon telling me, after we first met in 1997, about how Jan played a pivotal role in the events that led to the formation of the CFZ. So, it's only fitting that Jon highlights Jan, her life, and her work.


Richard Freeman discusses Britain's ancient phantom black-dog mystery in the Daily Express.

Paranormal London

I finished reading Neil Arnold's latest book last night - Paranormal London - and will be reviewing it tomorrow. If you're into crypto, you'll love it! And there will be an interview with Neil, about the book, here very soon.

Texas Monsters on Dark Matters

I'll be speaking about my new book, co-authored with good mate Ken Gerhard - Monsters of Texas - on Don Ecker's Dark Matters radio show tonight. The show will be broadcast live at midnight to 2AM Central Time, and you can find out more about the show right here.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Speaking of Strange

I'll be on Joshua P. Warren's Speaking of Strange radio-show tonight (at 8PM Central Time) for an hour, where we'll be speaking about a whole variety of things, including my latest book, Monsters of Texas, co-written with Ken Gerhard.

Animal Mythology

Over at my regular Lair of the Beasts column at, you can find a new article from me on the way in which a whole body of wide and varied legends, tales and myths have built up around the Wild-Boar...

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Bigfoot & Sex

Bigfoot and sex seem to be issues that seldom get discussed together in a cryptozoological forum; aside, that is, from Loren Coleman's definitive piece on the subject, which can be found in his 2003 book, Bigfoot! The True Story of Apes in America. Well, Loren now has a brand new post on the subject, and which focuses on the controversial story of Albert Ostman. Here's the link!

On the Track - July

The July edition of the CFZ's online show, On the Track, has just been posted to YouTube, and can be found directly below: