Friday, 31 March 2023

The Beast of Beadnell (Testimonial)

The British Big Cat phenomenon is a rather curious add on to cryptozoology, and yet the odd circumstances surrounding it, (the possibility of an unknown population of large predatory cats inhabiting the UK) still make it a subject that is interesting to many researchers. Chiefly, this is because these out of place animals are not meant to be here. 

The conditions that ultimately led to their hidden habitation of the British countryside may have even been due to an ill-thought out and poorly implemented piece of government legislation - The Dangerous Wild Animals Act, 1976 - that not only made the conditions under which these animals were now expected to be housed, financially prohibitive, but also did not provide any support for those owners who could no longer afford to keep their animals. 

It is now roundly assumed that many owners simply set their animals loose, hoping I suppose, that they would eek out a quiet existence in the wild. However, quite the opposite appears to be true and in the intervening 47 years, Big Cat sightings have grown, year on year.

The following encounter was reported by an RAF engineer who encountered a Big Cat in the Autumn of 2021, and is presented verbatim in the witnesses own words:

"Me and my wife had spent a day up in Beadnell, Northumberland visiting family.  

At around 9pm we set off back home in our car.  I was driving. It took about twenty minutes in the car from Beadnell along winding roads to finally intersect the A1 southbound. Turning on to the A1, the journey would take about 1 hour to reach Blyth our home.  

Blyth Road (A1) Southbound
©Copyright David Dixon and licensed for reuse under 
Creative Commons Licence
As per usual, my wife was nodding in an out of sleep and I was listening to the radio.  About a quarter of an hour later we were passing the turn off to Alnwick, it was really dark and we were on the duel carriageway section of the road.  

About 5 minutes later, the road narrowed down to a single carriageway and I was driving at the speed limit (60mph) with my head lights on.  

Out the corner of my peripheral vision I spotted an animal crossing from left to right. I didn’t have time to brake, it was so quick, but what I saw was something out of the ordinary; a creature large and black.

Even my headlights didn’t pick up any detail of the animal, it was a pure black silhouette of a very large cat. It was too big to be a domestic cat!  

I’ve been to Africa and have seen big cats in the wild up close, like cheetahs and leopards, and this thing was of comparable size and the way it moved reminded me of these animals.  

Unfortunately, my wife was asleep and cannot recall this incident. But I’m clear in my mind that what I so on that night was something out of the ordinary and pretty strange.

Karl Mercer."

There are countless other witnesses, who like Karl, were wholly unaware of this phenomena and are now left with the unsettling awareness that a population of predatory big cats is now resident in the UK.

Moreover, this widespread population (the numbers of which are unknown) is homegrown and could even be in its 4th or 5th generation - making these big cats as much a part of the local fauna as other established non-native species, such as the grey squirrel and Canada goose.

Written by Andy McGrath

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 Read more about Alien Big Cats in my book: Beasts of Britain.

Thursday, 10 November 2022

The Aberdeenshire Apeman

Since the days of the legendary Big Grey Man of Ben MacDhui, Scotland has seemingly been an epicentre of Wildman sightings in the UK.

What follows below is the eyewitness testimony of one such Scottish Wildman encounter that took place in Aberdeenshire in the winter of 2019.

The report has been abridged, yet is still presented verbatim, in the witnesses own words:

"Hello, we’ve encountered something that we think was a British Bigfoot in Aberdeenshire (N.E. Scotland).

We stayed in a holiday cottage in the middle of the countryside in mid-December 2019. We'd stayed there the previous winter as well and adored the place and had a wonderful time. 

We returned last year and spent a really uncomfortable 10 days there. I saw no animals besides the sheep in the field and they acted oddly. I remember saying at the time 'there's something up'; they didn't go near the bottom part of the C-shaped field or spread out; they were bunched at the middle of the top part of the field the entire time.

There was a horrible creepy feeling that my Husband and I both felt the entire time. On many of the nights we kept hearing this strange long, low siren call which hadn't been there the previous time echoing around the woods late at night. It was after midnight, as well. We were a few miles away from two towns, but neither had any reason to have a siren going, let alone after dark to all hours. My Husband and I were both creeped out. I was up at all hours of the night checking on the kids and seeing if the doors were locked. 

The previous holiday my Husband and Eldest (aged 6 at the time) would go out for night walks, star gazing and watching animals playing in the late evening and night. Not the second time; we were afraid to go out, there was just a constant feeling of dread which didn't much improve during the day. Everywhere around the cottage there was just a feeling of needing to be on alert for danger which was bizarre. At the house we heard bangs, knocks and clangs out in the woods. 

We also went to visit a nearby rock formation and there were a few people there with dogs that were acting up. My kids love dogs, so we were happily chatting to the owners and so many of them said they were acting up; wanting nothing to do with a walk and pulling to go back to the car.

One night after getting back to the house and locking the door. I was putting some ice cream we had been eating into another container in the kitchen. Normally, I would store it in the outside freezer, but had decided not to, because of the malevolent feeling in the air. I remember that I was too scared to even look at the windows and I had consciously pointed my head at the floor, in case something was in the window (there are no curtains in the kitchen).

Then I heard two knocks on the window and looked up to see what had made the sound. It looked like a chimpanzee hand, very dark skinned, with hairy, bare palms. It knocked again with two fingers, the second two were curled in. It then leaned into the window and gaped at me, I didn't see teeth but I could have been distracted by the glowy green (towards the yellow end spectrum) eyes. It kind of had a Homer-Simpson-like protruding muzzle; not a proper muzzle, but definitely protruding. Like, if you were to puff up your cheeks. It wasn't as sharp a glow as a cats, it was blurry. The head appeared domed but not pointy. Its fur was black or very, very dark brown fur. I was about 2.5m away and not happy.

The kitchen, where a huge face stared menacingly at the witness while
tapping on her windowpane!

I looked away so it wouldn't think I was challenging it, backed to the door, turned the lights out, closed both doors (kitchen to hallway, glass door) and hallway to living room (solid wooden door) so that no light got out. I checked the front door again and tucked the curtains closed in the living room, and sat on the arm of the sofa to stop people getting past me. 

I didn't tell my husband, I was afraid that he'd go into the kitchen to see, with a poker and that outside door is from the 90's and flimsy! I was scared that if it decided to come in it'd be through it no problem. I could not say anything in case my husband went out and it kicked off, endangering him and our children.

It thumped on the window within minutes, as soon as I'd sat down. We heard it over the TV loud enough to startle everyone, I blamed it on my jacket falling and stopped my husband going to check. I was terrified it'd look through the little window by the fireplace. I put a DVD on and persuaded my husband and son not to go for a walk, saying it was creepy outside.

That night I didn't sleep well, I'd get up and look out the window and see that the sheep were in a circle, horns out, not grazing or sitting down, just looking towards the house. It was a clear night, the moon was out. All night I heard the clack of a stone moving (gravel drive) or scrunching, about 4 or 5 times usually toward the other side of the house in front of the kids bedroom. Next door's dog was going skeppy angry and whining for hours.

The next morning no wildlife; before we left for the day, while they were eating breakfast I checked all around the house, in the byre windows and around the back of it. The grass in front of the window was trampled, but no prints; it was very dry and the ground was packed. I  noticed that there was a smudge on the window, where the thing had knocked, that was too high for a person to reach. There's 4/5 steps up to the kitchen level of the house and its face was a few inches above my eye level, and I'm 5 foot 7 inches tall.

It’s horrible to talk about now, it was wider than the damn windows though and its head filled one of those panes of glass, it was broader than the entire window! The face was snarling and menacing, I'm not sure if it had no teeth or decided to slow reveal them as I bugged out too soon, but its expression was readable and it was not happy. It lurked outside most the night, I was up at 2, 3, 5 and it only buggered off towards 6. 

Thinking back on its appearance, it had heavy jaw, with more muscles up the sides; a lot more powerful looking than a humans, but the chin didn't come to as much of a point. Its face was a lot longer looking and flatter than a humans too, with more space under the nose and from the mouth to chin and a protruding brow ridge. The nose was broad, very fleshy looking, and didn't stick out much. It had a Homer Simpson like mouth that stuck out a bit, and its eyes were bigger than a gorillas, more human-like and had a green watery reflection that wasn't sharp like a cats. I didn't really see its ears, but noticed that the hair on its head was longer.

Its fingers were like a gorillas, but huge, broad and rubbery looking and had fuzz on the back and wiry hairs towards the top. It only extended the first two fingers and knocked the glass with both of them, one after the other. It was right-handed. Its thumb looked funny, but I can't say how. At that point that it leaned in, I noped out of there!

If it growled, it was very faint and I'm now unsure. Nothing huge and loud. When I remember it, it's kind of flashbulb memory, it feels like my ears go 'hurrrrrrrr!' to themselves deep inside, then I get that ear wash pounding sound, but first there's that 'hurrrrr!' which coincides with it leaning in.

At the time I had no idea what it was, was it real? Was it a monster? Was it some sort of spirit thing? It was threatening, it was something unknown and I hid it from everyone. Thinking about it gives me the screaming abdabs, the hair on the back of my everything is standing up and my back's gone cold just talking about it. It still scares me!

Another strange thing happened the following day, which I later connected to the incident. We were visiting a local beauty spot when I heard a thump, a crunch of vegetation, and a stick cracking. I looked over expecting to see a deer but saw nothing. There were no sounds of birds or anything, everything was completely silent. I still had no idea what I'd seen the night before and was trying very hard not to think about it. Then two stones came flying out of the treeline; they sailed high up into a birch tree's branches before landing by my feet. They were about an inch across, and I could see dirt still on them. I was well impressed with the aim as both of them landed within 6 inches of each other. 

Then the air changed and felt rumbly, static and thick. It was like the air had gone fuzzy and was pressing on my face. I thought 'Okay, there's something here that wants me to go away, I'd better head down now'. I had a pagan friend who believed in land spirits and who had told me that one of these spirits, called a Cailleach, was said to throw stones when it was angry."

The area in which this sighting took place is on the borders of the Cairngorms National Park; a pristine area that has long been associated with tales of the Wildman. Could this sighting constitute a modern day report of the Big Grey Man or maybe, one of his descendants?

Written by Andy McGrath

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The Wenvoe Wildcat

On the 4th November, a local woman and her 2 daughters spotted a black panther while driving through Wenvoe, in the Vale of Glamorgan, South Wales.

The woman, who had never heard of the Big Cat phenomenon before, said:

"I was driving through Wenvoe, close to Culverhouse Cross, when my youngest daughter said that she had seen a bear. I looked over to a field on my right and saw what looked to me like a lioness. It had a long tail and was all black. It walked like a lion, and looked like a panther."

She added: "We watched it walking in the field for 2 minutes, before deciding to leave. It was still in the field when we drove off. I don’t know how far away it was, but I had a very good view of the animal and it looked big, like a lioness."

Over the years Wales has had more than its fair share of Big Cat sightings, and this recent encounter further solidifies the theory that a growing population of these large predators may be taking root in the British Countryside.

Have you witnessed a big cat in Britain? 

Written by Andy McGrath

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Sunday, 25 September 2022

Apeman of Abernethy

Abernethy Forest, Scotland is the largest part of what remains of the Old Caledonian forest, located in Strathspey in the Scottish Highlands. In August 2012, it was the location of an alleged British Bigfoot encounter made by two brothers, whilst on their annual camping holiday.

One of the most compelling aspects of this particular sighting, is that one of the brothers, had spent 37 years working as a primate keeper in zoos around the UK; making his description of this creature, fascinating.

" was like a bonobo, but with a much flatter muzzle.”

The 2 brothers had arrived at their campsite the evening before and woke early the following morning, to hunt in a nearby field that had a rabbit warren.

One of the brothers, said: “I usually hunt alone because my brother has a heavy footfall, but after a few steps, I couldn't hear him behind me, so I looked back to see if he was still there. Both his mouth and eyes were wide open and he was looking straight past me. There was a dark figure crouching down with its back to us. It looked like it was eating berries from the bush. It stood up and turned and to look straight at me. It must have stood seven to eight feet tall!  It was covered in jet black hair all over its body, except for the upper chest and face and its skin was very dark, except for its bottom lip, which looked pink. It had a wide nose and large eyes and looked to be around four feet across its shoulders, with longer hair on its forearms and on its chin. Its features reminded me of an older bonobo chimpanzee, but the face was much flatter, especially around the mouth. It was going bald on top and to my eyes, it was like a bonobo, but with a much flatter muzzle.”

He added: “I have never been so scared in my life, although it never once took a step towards me or made any threatening movement, it was just the fact that it should not have been there. It then turned and walked off into the treeline, looking back one more time, to see if we were following it. Then it was gone. “

Scotland is a vast and pristine nation that boasts a tiny 1.9% of its landmass devoted to urban sprawl. If a Bigfoot-like creature were to survive undetected somewhere here in the UK, I can think of no more remote a habitat in our beautiful isles, than here!

Many legends exist that allude to the possible existence of a bipedal, ape-like creature, living undetected in some of the most remote and isolated regions of our planet.

Over the last 50 years, trace evidence of these animals; like footprints, hair samples, film and photos have been captured, catalogued and studied with an almost microscopic zeal, by the obsessive devotees of this particular zoological fetish!

However, what many students of this genre do not realise is that Britain and Europe too, have tales of tall, hairy, wild men; called Wodewose; whose images can be found carved upon our ancient cathedrals and woven into the medieval tapestries of our Noble heraldry.

There are, amazingly, modern day accounts of these mysterious ape-men, and those few who do encounter this unknown animal, often struggle to understand what it is that they have seen. In this case, our witness, a primate keeper and experienced outdoorsman, was expertly qualified to judge what type of animal it was that he and his brother encountered; yet still shocked by the zoological implications that such an animal could be living undetected here in Britain.

How could it be possible that a type of 'Wildman' could be roaming our countryside, avoiding the detection of our teeming millions and managing to live sustainably off of the available resources in the British countryside?

Scotland is a vast and pristine nation that boasts a trifling 1.9% of its landmass devoted to urban sprawl. If a Bigfoot-like creature were to endure here in the UK and resist our best attempts to capture and catalogue it, I can think of no more remote a realm in our beautiful isles, than there!

It is no surprise then, taking in to consideration the provident conditions present and the sparsity of human habitation, that from time, some of the locals and visitors this pristine area of the UK claim to have had encounters with strange, bipedal, 'ape-men', that resemble in appearance, the North American Sasquatch.

Find out more about other Hirsute Hairymen in my audiobooks: 


People of Mu

Could the Menehune still live in the mountain forests of the Hawaiian Islands?
By Heath Cajandig - Heart of Kauai, CC BY 2.0, 

Even though the Menehune were said to be displaced when the first settlers arrived in Hawaii, some people still believe that the Menehune are roaming the islands, carrying out tricks on people. Indeed, an 1820 Census of Kauai listed 65 people as 'Menehune.' Other Hawaiian mythology records refer to a few other forest dwelling races: the Nawao – who were large and wild hunters descended from Lua nu'u – the Mu people and the Wa people.

What’s in a name? Manahuna (a term used for low class people) Nawao, People of Mu.

Monstrous Measurements: height 2 – 3 ft. Nawao and Mu people are said to be taller. Hairy, stout and muscular. Red or dark skin. Protruding forehead. Big eyes. Long eyebrows. Short, thick nose. Sharp, pointed ears. Small mouth. Broad shoulders. Round belly. Usually well dressed.

Beastly Behaviours: Nocturnal. Has a deep voice. Normal language is telepathic, expressed with whispers or growls. Said to be able to learn human language. Works at night to bold fishponds, stonework’s, irrigation ditches, houses, and monuments. Also said to carve petroglyphs! Likes playing games, music, dancing, singing, diving and sports. Is afraid of owls and dogs. The Menehune have been known to use magic arrows to pierce the heart of angry people, igniting feelings of love instead. They also enjoy cliff diving, and according to local lore, they were smart, extremely strong and excellent craftsmen. They were rarely seen by human eyes, and they are credited with mighty feats of engineering and overnight construction.

Deadly Diet: Eats bananas, shrimp, milk, fish, squash, berries, sugar cane and sweet potatoes.

Hairy Habitat: Lives in caves, lava tubes, hollow logs, or banana leaf huts in the mountain forests of the Hawaiian Islands, especially Kauai.

Scary Sightings: Late 18th Century: In the late 18th century, a census of the island of Kauai by King Kaumualii, counted 65 Menehune in the Wainiha Valley. (This could possibly refer to low class or very impoverished Hawaiians as a similar derivation of this term, Manahuna, is used for low class people.)

1940s: About 45 elementary schoolchildren saw a group of Menehune jumping up and down among some trees on the Waimea Parish Property in the 1940s. When they noticed that they were being watched, the Menehune apparently disappeared into a secret tunnel near the parish house.

July 19th, 1975: 700 miles south-west of Hawaii on the island of Fiji, 6 witnesses described seeing 8 figures, 2 feet tall and covered with black hair, run behind some bushes and disappear.

Beastly Evidence:

Megalithic Builders: These industrious master builders used their great strength to build temples (heiau), fishponds, roads, canoes and houses. One such structure they are believed to have built is Kikiaola, also known as the Menehune Ditch, a historic irrigation ditch that funnels water from the Waimea River on Kauai. Another one of their amazing feats is the legendary overnight creation of the Alekoko Fishpond on Kauai, which archaeologists estimate to be around 1,000 years old.

The worked facing stones of Kikiaola purportedly created by the first wave of Hawaiian settlers prior to 1000 CE who are now called the Menehune, hence the common name for this irrigation channel being the "Menehune Ditch"

Royal Fishpond: It is said that they built the Alekoko Fishpond for a princess and her brother. The shy but strong group lined up in a double row, which stretched 25 miles (40 km) to distant Makaweli. The workers passed stones hand-to-hand to build the pond. They worked at night so as not to be seen by others, cutting, transporting and fitting stones for their projects in a long bucket brigade. If they were discovered, their work would have been abandoned.

Twin Pillars: The Menehune were promised no one would watch them at work, which was carried out after dark. However, one night the royal siblings snuck up and watched the thousands of Menehune at work, only to fall asleep. At sunrise the Menehune discovered them and turned them into twin stone pillars that can be seen today in the mountains above the fishpond. Interrupted by the sun, the Menehune left two gaps in the fishpond wall. Many generations later, Chinese settlers filled the gaps to raise mullet, but the stonework that closed the gap was far inferior to that of the mystical Menehune.

Population census: an 1820 Census of Kauai listed 65 people as 'Menehune.

Beastly Theories:

Pacific Proto-Pygmy: Hawaiian legend has it that many centuries ago, the Menehune were a mischievous group of small people, or dwarfs, who lived hidden in the forests and valleys of the islands before the first settlers arrived from Polynesia. These Menehune, who roamed the deep forests at night, were said to be about two feet (60 cm) tall, though some were as tiny as six inches (15 cm), small enough to fit in the palm of a hand. They enjoyed dancing, singing and archery, and their favourite foods were bananas and fish.

Original Inhabitants of Hawaii: Some scholars, such as folklorist Katharine Luomala, theorize that the Menehune were the first settlers of Hawaii, descendants of the Marquesas islanders who were believed to have first occupied the Hawaiian Islands from around 0 to 350 AD. When the Tahitian invasion occurred in about 1100 AD, the first settlers were subdued by the Tahitians, who referred to the inhabitants as ‘Manahuna’ (which means ‘lowly people’ or ‘low social status’ and not diminutive in stature). They fled to the mountains and later came to be called ‘Menehune’. Proponents of this theory point to an 1820 census which listed 65 people as Menehune.

Folklore & Fable: Another description that has been passed down in local folklore is of the three Menehune of Ainahou. Ainahou is a forest on the north side of Halekala Crater on Maui. The three Menehune were called Ha'alulu, Molawa and Eleu. All the other Menehune living in Hawaii knew them well because they possessed very unusual powers. Ha'alulu means "to tremble" and it seemed like this little man was always cold, but his magic gift was that whenever he would start shaking, he would become invisible and could travel anywhere without being detected. Eleu in Hawaiian means "quick and nimble" and whenever Eleu moved, he was so quick that he disappeared and no one could follow him. Molowa's name means "lazy," but what most people didn't know was that whenever he appeared to be sleeping or lazy, his magical self-became imperceptible and he would go around the island and do good deeds.

Written by Andy McGrath

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Saturday, 24 September 2022

The Basajaun


Irati Forest, Navarre, Spain.

The long tradition of orderly historical record-keeping, inherent in the cultures of the former vassals of the Roman and Greek empires, has left a detailed and largely intact smorgasbord of wildman representations throughout Europe, that is found, not only upon the ancient edifices of our holy houses but also woven into the clannish standards of our noble families and inculcated into the illustrations of our ancient animaliums.  This, in combination with the large literary and oral history of human encounters with the wodewose, or wildman; means that the average researcher, spoiled for choice, can choose instead to focus on individual cases or regional wildman varieties, finding sufficient fodder in the single as one would in the whole. Within this bygone pantheon, the Basajaun of the Basque nation (Euskadi) that straddles southwest France and northeast Spain, is a minor player, but nevertheless important, due to its honorific title: “Lord of the forest” or “Forest man”, in which its contiguous affiliation with its semi-mythical continental cousins is confirmed. 

What’s in a name? The name, Basa-Juan is a composite title, combining the Basque words - Baso (forest) and Jaun (man); which, when united, render the all too familiar habitational title present throughout crypto-hominology of: “Man of the Woods”, "Lord of the Woods", or “Forest Man”, etc. It is, in concurrence with other wildman legends, likewise branded with other appellations throughout the region, such as Anxo, Basandere (woods-woman), Bebrices, Iretges, Mono careto (ugly ape), Nonell de la neu (Catalan – Nonell of the snows), Peladits (finger peeler), Tartalo (Cyclops), Torto, and Yan Del Gel; attesting to its ethno-known, or at the very least, long folkloric tenure in Basque culture.

Monstrous Measurements: In the Basque folk tradition the Basajaun is a mostly peaceful giant that possesses great strength and agility. It is bipedal, standing 5 – 10 ft. tall, with a large, man-like body that is covered in long, reddish, or dark brown hair that hangs down to its knees, sometimes even reaching its feet. The male (Basajaun) has a beard, the female (Basandere) does not.

Terrifying Tracks: Leaves ‘mysterious tracks’ that do not match any known local species, or; circular tracks shaped like the hooves of a cow.  

Beastly Behaviours: Legend has it that the Basajaun protects flocks and warns shepherds of incoming storms or roaming packs of wolves through loud yells, whistles, and hollers, in return for bread, which it collects while the shepherds are asleep. It is generally benevolent, but also carries a large stick or a club and occasionally abducts shepherdesses. Screeches like a cat when angered or distressed. Reputed in Basque folklore to have taught blacksmithing and agriculture to men. Wears animal skins.

Deadly Diet: Grasses, roots, and game animals.

Hairy Habitat: Lives in caves, deep in the woods. Believed to inhabit the forests of Ataun and Gorea in the Basque region; the Irati jungle in Navarre; Maladeta Massif, Aragon; and especially the Pyrenees Mountains of France and Spain.

Scary Sightings: 

1774: Engineer, Julien David Leroy wrote in his work on logging in the mountains of the Pyrenees that, the pastors of the Iraty Forest region of Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port and its neighbouring areas along the border with Spain, claimed that a shaggy-haired Wildman, superficially resembling a bear, was known to inhabit the region.

Unknown Date: Local folklore holds that long ago, 2 hairy brothers, named Iretges, lived in the woods near Bedeilhac-et-Aynat, Ariege Dept. France. The brothers wore animal skins and were notorious for abducting shepherdesses; until one day, the villagers, tired of their depredations, lured them into a trap and killed them.

1979: Six woodsmen encountered a 6ft. tall ape-man in a sparsely-populated area in the Pyrenees Mountains of Huesca Province, Spain. After hearing a scream and squealing nearby, one of the men, Manuel Cazcarra went off to investigate, only to discover a hairy man-beast, 6 ft. tall, standing before him. The creature perhaps alarmed by Cazcarra’s sudden appearance, climbed up a pine tree, where it stayed, clutching a branch with its arms and legs, and seemingly berating the man with its loud screams. Cazcarra called the other men, who came running up, one of them, Ramiro López, who was just in time to see the ape-man climb down from the tree and hide behind a dense bush, before suddenly launching a hefty tree branch in their direction. The men decided not to pursue the creature further. The two men who had witnessed the creature were experienced woodsmen and were familiar with the bears that inhabit this region and swore categorically that the animal they had seen was not a bear. One week later, The Guardia Civil (Spanish Police) accompanied by one of the woodsmen, returned to the area and found ‘mysterious footprints’.  Shortly afterward, a family driving towards Prats de Molló witnessed an ape-like animal, crossing a road close to the French border.

1993: A group of cave researchers (Speleologists) decided to spend the night at a ruined church near Collada de Vallagrasa in the Catalan Pyrenees Mountains of Spain, when they heard strange noises that sounded something like those of an enraged cat. Approaching the source of the clamour near the church door, they were astonished to see a bulky, man-like creature, 5ft. tall and covered in shaggy hair that appeared to be frightened and agitated. Upon seeing the group, it fled into the woods. Later, the same wildman was seen again in the woods between Fargo De Bebie and Ripoll, Gerona.

1994: A mountain climber named Juan Ramo Ferrer saw an apelike creature, while hiking from Peña Montañesa to the village of Bielsa close by. The strange creature, which was shorter than a man and covered with reddish hair, with very long ape-like arms, jumped from tree to tree and squealed at the terrified hiker, who fled to a local campsite near Peña Montañesa. According to Ferrer, his hirsute harasser, “exuded a musky odour.”

Unknown Date: Two Wildmen pounced upon two paleontologists and struggled with them briefly before running away.

Beastly Evidence:

Art and Archaeology:

Isturitz Cave Art: The Isturitz and Oxocelhaya caves in the Arberoue Valley in the foothills of Pyrenees, in Lower Navarre, southwestern France, are a site of Paleolithic significance and contain the physical, material, and artistic remnants of both Neanderthal and Homo sapiens societies that have been deposited within their insides, between 60,000 and 600 BC. In the cave of Isturitz, one can even see a rupestrian engraving of what appears to be hairy, of a wildman, in profile.

Isturitz carved bone: Another possible representation of the wildman was found in the same cave and features two hairy hominoids that are not Homo sapiens. One of the hominoids has an arrow in its leg and links around its neck and leg, possibly indicating that these creatures were killed by hunters.

Wildmen grew in popularity during the medieval period, where they are depicted as wild, hair-covered men, upon the architectural adornments of cathedrals, tapestries, and in the heraldic coats of arms of prominent European families.


Basa-Jauna, The Wild Man: A folk tale from the Basque region tells the story of a Basque farmer’s wife with 3 sons and a daughter. Her sons leave home to seek their fortune and become enslaved by a Basajaun and Basandere (husband and wife) in exchange for not being eaten, after seeking shelter at their castle, one night. Years later, their sister, finding out that she had once had three brothers who disappeared, goes in search of them, and, seeking shelter at the same castle, also becomes enslaved by the Basajaunak, who vampirically drains her life force by sucking on her finger. After several twists and turns, including her brothers becoming oxen for a while, she threatens to roast the Basandere who sends her away to find some hazel sticks, and in a characteristically predictable old-world tale of family misfortune turned unlikely happy ending, she and her brothers, end up living happily alongside the Basajaun in their castle… This somewhat mediocre tale is too long to include in full here and ends rather abruptly, yet nevertheless, testifies to the folkloric antiquity of the Basajaun and remarkably, is the only case where it is represented with vampiric qualities.

Beastly Theories:

Relict Neanderthal: It is now known that the Iberian Neanderthals persisted around the area of the Ebro River in the Pyrenees (which encompasses much of the modern Basque region) until relatively recent times. Do the hairy portrayals that both Neanderthals and Bajaunak share prove human and Neanderthal coexistence in the Basque region? Could modern-day reports be those of a surviving Neanderthal? Sadly, I think not. The average Neanderthal man, stood at an unimpressive 5 ft. 5 inches tall; which sits right at the lowest height range for the Basajaun. Furthermore, Neanderthal is now known to have been skilled in stone tool use, as well as weaving, fire, art, seafaring, music, and so on; which doesn’t make it a particularly good fit for the modern wildman type, that eyewitnesses usually describe seeing; but does constitute a closer fit with the fabled megalithic builder and protector of flocks, that the folkloric Basajaun was reputed to be.

Neolithic Migrants: Some authors have suggested that the Basajaun myth is a folk memory of early human contact with migrating Neolithic settlers? These peoples, clad in furs and skins, and accompanied by flocks of domesticated animals, were megalith builders, who would have brought agriculture, domesticated animals, and new tools to the region. Indeed, there is a Basque myth that speaks of Saint Martinico (Martin Txiki) who through trickery and ingenuity, stole these technologies from the Basajaunak and imparted them to ‘mankind’.

Unknown Ape Species: Could an extant form of ancient ape, like Paranthropus robustus an extinct australopithecine, from South Africa or Dryopithecus, an extinct Miocene ape from east Africa and Eurasia, be responsible for historical encounters with creatures like the Basajaun and other European Wildmen? Besides their hairy appearance and gracile nature, the Basajaun and other European Wildmen seem to be more man than ‘monkey’, as is evident from their multitudinous depictions, which adorn European cathedrals and noble heraldry throughout the medieval period.

The god Pan (pictured here with Daphnis) an ancient embodiment of the Wildman?

Faunic Folklore: The European Wildman’s behaviour and appearance are closely related to and possibly inspired by other mythical entities of Europe, such as the Satyr, Faun, Ogre, and Leshy; which are similarly described as shy, forest-dwelling, hair covered beings; who are not beyond carrying off the occasional maiden, from time to time! One would also be remiss, to overlook the similarity it bears to the pagan hero, Heracles. This enigmatic fellow is regularly depicted as a powerful, hair-covered, club-wielding man, whose recycled origins and myriad names transverse most of pagan history. Therefore, it could be contended that the image of Heracles (or Hercules) is ingrained upon the cultural memory of the peoples of Europe and the near east and that the Wildman is but a watered-down amalgamation of this deified character and that of Pan, (Silvanus) the ancient Greek god of the wilds, and protector of shepherds flocks, who is thus represented as a hairy bearded man with the legs of a goat and carrying a shepherd’s staff.

Note: Some ancient representations of Balkan shepherds depict bearded men, carrying staffs, and wearing fleece trousers made from goat’s hair.

Written by Andy McGrath

The Basajaun is an excerpt from Beasts of the World: Hairy Humanoids

Listen to the audiobook here: 

Colonial Cryptid Footprint

What is a Duende?

Duende is a Spanish word for “goblin or “dwarf” and is etymologically derived from dueno de casa (lord of the house), referring to a Spanish household spirit. Duendes feature in written and oral traditions in Latin America, Spain, and Europe and are described as being of a small stature, 1.5 to 4.5 feet in height, broad shouldered and covered in thick hair. They have large teeth and pointed ears and their faces are wrinkled. They have long beards and are reputed in some regions to wear a big hat. The Duende is reputed to whistle a mystical song, while walking in the forest.

Spanish and Portuguese folklore is replete with tales and legends about various types of duendes which sport numerous regional names and behaviours. In these countries we see again that Duende is often a coverall term for elf like creatures that are described as small hairy gnome like beings, clothed in red or green that can help around the farm/home or hinder, depending on the mood or relationship one has formed with the creature. 

They are often said to dwell in mountains, underground hollows, near ponds, and, not unlike the Irish leprechaun and other legendary little people – they can be found guarding great treasure. They also have a disposition for stealing possessions or children and a love of milk or cream that is observed in many other members of the European fae family. They are also described as beautiful and benevolent nymphs or fair faced human sized faeries.

Conversely, in some Latin American cultures, duendes are believed to come to the aid of people who get lost in the forest, helping them to find their way home. These gnome-like creatures who live inside the walls of homes, especially in the bedroom walls of young children, allegedly attempt to clip the toenails of unkempt children, occasionally leading to the erroneous removal of entire toes! 

Belief in duendes still exists among the Mixtecs and Zapotecs of Oaxaca and it is said that they are most commonly found in the mossy cloud forests of the state's mountain ranges. In the jungles of Belize, for example, there is a superstition of a repulsive gnome, called Tata Duende; that punishes those who do not respect the forest.

Digital Folklore Revival

There have been a rash of ‘alleged' encounters posted online since the noughties; usually featuring teenagers, or children; or families with children who whilst casually filming their own activities, manage to capture a Duende on film scuttling into view. Of course, as might be expected with such inconclusive forms of evidence, most clips cut short shortly after the creature is spotted, and are annotated by the uproarious and terrified screams of the witnesses; who rush to post their encounters online... Whatever conclusion one comes away with after viewing some of this footage, what cannot be doubted is, that the Duende superstition is still alive and well in Central & South America.


One of the most well-known Duende sightings by far happened in 2008 in the town of General Guemes, in the province of Salta, Argentina, a country steeped in stories of the creatures. The sighting was made by a group of teenagers who were hanging out one evening after a fishing trip when they saw a tiny man dressed in a wide, pointed hat emerge from the dark to do a strange sideways shuffle across the road. One of the teenagers, a Jose Alvarez, actually managed to capture the strange being on his cellphone camera, and said of the bizarre encounter:

“We were chatting about our last fishing trip. It was one in the morning. I began to film a bit with my mobile phone while the others were chatting and joking. Suddenly we heard something — a weird noise as if someone was throwing stones. We looked to one side and saw that the grass was moving. To begin with, we thought it was a dog, but when we saw this gnome-like figure begin to emerge we were really afraid. This is no joke.  We are still afraid to go out, just like everyone in the neighbourhood is now. One of my friends was so scared after seeing that thing that we had to take him to the hospital.”

The video clip certainly shows a rather unsettling and creepy gnome-like being doing a strange sideways walk, but it is very short and not particularly clear, leading many to say that it is likely a hoax. Other speculation has been that it is an actual human with dwarfism playing a prank on the boys or even that it is a genuine Duende. The odd sighting came amongst some other sightings of the creatures in the area at around the same time, and there have been commenters on various paranormal sites who have analysed the video and come to the conclusion that whatever it is, it is not CGI. .

Argentina has been the source of quite a few rather frightening encounters with evil gnomes. In 2011 the area of Suncho Corral, Argentina experienced a wave of sightings and encounters with a Duende that seems by all accounts to have been quite malevolent. The creature in question was said to have the typical big, pointy hat, as well as large, elfin ears, and was blamed for a series of at least a dozen vicious, unprovoked attacks on children and the elderly walking alone at night, which the entity purportedly shoved, kicked, and punched. In some cases it was reported that the mystery creature actually knocked kids off of their bicycles, and some people were reportedly beaten into unconsciousness by the fierce gnome. The police were allegedly received so many complaints from terrified residents that they declared a state of emergency and implored people not to go out at night.

One of the most bizarre cases of all in recent years of Duendes is a 2016 account from Nicaragua in which a woman made the incredibly odd and dramatic claim that she was kidnapped by the creatures and kept captive for 5 days and 6 nights. The woman, known only as Jasmina, claims that she was out playing near her home in Monte Oscuro, Nicaragua, when a group of the menacing little entities appeared and lured her up a hill, where they abducted her and put her in the cave. According to the report, her family sought advice from a local witch and were finally able to locate her. The original report says that 15 years earlier another girl had been kidnapped by the creatures and held captive in the very same cave. Apparently these gnomes or goblins are a serious problem in the area, with one local saying:

“Currently there are many of these creatures living in San Silvestre and in Peor Dicho, in Monte Oscuro and in La Gualapa. There are a lot that live in San Silvestre and around it, they stay away from the church and they also exist in other areas nearby. In San Jose they live in another hill there, and they communicate from hill to hill.”

Beastly Theories

Colonial Cryptid Footprint:  It is quite obvious to any objective observer that Duende tradition and superstition is rooted in Europe, particularly in Spain and Portugal and that its dissemination throughout the Spanish and Portuguese speaking countries in central and South America, and as far away as the Philippines, is proof positive of the cultural and superstitious assimilation, or melding, of colonised populations with the folklore of their colonisers. In Central and South America, these traditions are thought to be a mix of European elven folktales and Indian trickster myths. Though, I think it more likely that these Indian trickster myths were replaced by Duende folklore and have over the subsequent generations taken on more of the character of their European replacements.

Allopatric Speciation: Allopatric speciation, also referred to as geographic speciation, vicariant speciation, or its earlier name, the dumbbell model, is a mode of speciation that occurs when biological populations become geographically isolated from each other to an extent that prevents or interferes with gene flow. Darwin’s finches are one well known example of this. Another, obvious example would be the 8 extant species of bear that we know of. Could the Duende in Central and South America simply be another species of a diminutive bipedal primate or proto pygmy, once ethno-known throughout Europe and now hanging on to existence in less industrialised areas of the world? Did Europeans encounter little people legends in the Americas that were so close to their own, that they simply replaced local Indian names with their own cultural cognomens for these cryptid creatures?

Other alleged Duende clips, photos and eyewitness accounts can be found below:

Written by Andy McGrath

Hear more about the Duende and other Littefolk in my new audiobook: