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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.

"...it 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


Find out more about other Littlefolk in my audiobook: 





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.

Literature:

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.

Sightings

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. . https://youtu.be/PI3V0qn3I5M

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:  https://youtu.be/RnogZWf76ik https://youtu.be/mX9CEOKRAZs https://youtu.be/3QSDhSpG_Jw https://youtu.be/mVOTPxPzvcU

Written by Andy McGrath


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




Nimbinjee Close Encounter

In a recent interview with my colleague, Gary Opit - renowned Australian naturalist, biologist and botanist and host (for the last 2 decades) of a live-to-air wildlife identification segment for ABC North Coast NSW radio station on 94.5 FM - I was astonished to hear him talk of a strange encounter his daughter and her partner had with a strange ape-like creature, at his home, on 20th December, 2020,.

Gary, who has been researching these unknown primates for many years believes that he and his family may have had several encounters with them.

Sighting, Christmas, 2020

"Our daughter and her partner when staying with us over Christmas saw a Nimbinjee or little hairy man jump up onto our roof at 2am and from their description was exactly like a gibbon in all respects. Of course there are no gibbons here and there have never been nocturnal and terrestrial gibbons known. They said that there were two of them calling quietly to one another. We have an audio recording of the calls and a coloured illustration of what they saw.”

Eyewitness sketch of  the1 metre high bipedal primate witnessed by Mateo Camelo on the roof of Gary Opit’s property, in Nimbin, New South Wales.


Gary’s own encounters with the Nimbinjee:

“I encountered what may have been this smaller species in bushland behind a house that we were renting on the slopes of the Koonyum Range at an elevation of 200 metres (656 feet) at Main Arm in north-eastern NSW. Twice at dusk I heard within 100 m of the house a loud and powerful call "ruuff" of an animal that I could not identify. Then at 3-30 a.m. on 1 June 1996 just before retiring for the night, after working on a report, I had another encounter. I did not observe the animal but was fortunate enough to hear what I believe was its territorial call.”

“I had walked outside for a view of the stars and walked as far from the house as the chicken enclosure. There was a full moon illuminating a clear night with no air movement so that sounds, like the crowing of a rooster, were heard for some kilometres. Approximately 50 metres away near a dry creek bed, in eucalypt forest, a series of some 90-loud bark-like calls rent the air. The calls were usually in a series of three, the first was a start up call, which was not as loud as the middle call which was climactic, and which was followed by softer call “arroo-ARROO-arroo.””

“In the same locality, I have had an animal approach to within a few metres of me through dense vegetation cracking two sticks together over several minutes, even as my dog barked at it and then it silently disappeared. Something has barked an alarm call “reff-reff, reff-reff”. Could these be evidence of a Hobbit living in my locality? “

“On Saturday 9th August 2008 Ray Westrap & I found small child-sized footprints that led from a wallaby track on our property onto the Jones Road track where it had walked through shallow water in the large depression & I photographed them. On the same track adjacent to our home I found a small stick structure or tepee right in the middle of a track. Beside the stick tepee were little footprints in the mud of a wheel rut to the east of the tepee. Three lumps of mud had been scooped out of the rut and thrown onto the ground. Two of these lay directly adjacent the mud-filled rut on the western side & another had been thrown a metre away on the eastern side. “

“Small child-like footprints for 3 metres were visible along the rut and on the two lumps of mud that had been scooped out & thrown down. This showed lots of activity of little feet walking back & forth along the rut pushing mud onto previous footprints. “



Stick Structure, stripped bark and footprints/fingerprints found by Gary Opit in 2008


This, as yet unclassified animal, known locally as ‘Nimbinjee’ and in other parts of NSW as ‘Junjadee’ is described as being 3 – 4 feet in height with brown skin and is covered with dark brown or red hair. It is bipedal, standing upright and makes strange barks that sound like “arroo, ARROO, arroo”, interspersed with a gurgling, “gu-gu-gu-gu.” The creature also, very oddly, is reported to cackle like a chicken and has been encountered throughout the Great Dividing Range of New South Wales and Queensland, Eastern Victoria; North of the Roper River, and around the Western Australia coast, between Shark Bay and Broome.

There have been many reports of small bipedal primates from various parts of Australia. Aboriginal people have many stories of the little hairy man; and how they will on occasion interact with people, brazenly tapping one on the shoulder or grasping one’s hand, or even wresting with you before running away.

The discovery of the metre-high skeletons of the Hobbit (Homo Floresiensis) in a cave on Flores, a large island north of Australia in the eastern Indonesian archipelago, estimated to have weighed about 25 kg when alive, forces us to consider that perhaps these reports of little hairy men observed in our forests by many people over many decades might even represent a population of Hobbit, (Homo Floresiensis) surviving, undetected, in Australia!

Written by Andy McGrath (Based heavily on source material and interviews provided by Gary Opit. – used with permission).

Gary can be found here: http://garyopit.com/


Hear more about the Nimbinjee and other Littefoot in my new audiobook:
















Monday, 19 September 2022

Ergo, ergot?

 


Monkey Monsters?
Ancient and modern reports from around the world indicate that a species, reportedly 5 – 8 feet tall with a mix of canine and humanoid features, was once widespread throughout the world. As a flesh and blood creature, the werewolf or Dogman makes little biological sense. Canines, when standing, are incapable of continued bipedal locomotion and the likelihood of such a species existing in our present-day without appearing anywhere in the fossil record is slim. However, if we assume that the werewolf sightings of the old world were folk'ish interpretations given by superstitious witnesses upon encountering a species of large, unknown monkey with a dog-like muzzle and a long tail; then they begin to make sense. Perhaps, our ancestors were some of the last people to see in Europe, a species of giant monkey that may have inhabited many areas of the world, including Europe, up until the medieval period, a species that is now functionally extinct, although it still sporadically witnessed in remote regions in the present day?

Shamanic Shape-Shifters and Cults of the Wolf!
There is some evidence that a Greco-Roman cult of the wolf existed and was even present in Britain in the first century AD. The roman emperor Nero, too, was reputed to carry out the most brutal atrocities against sacrificial victims in the skin of a wolf, likely in part, as an offering to this abominable religion! There are rumoured to be, modern cults that carry out similar practices and whose devotees believe themselves to be the embodiment of or possessed by a wolf! In literature, accounts of lycanthropy – humans transforming into werewolves – can be traced back to the epic of Gilgamesh in 2100BC, whereas wolf fables begin with Aesop’s The Boy Who Cried Wolf, which was written at some point between 620 and 520 BC. Voluntary lycanthropy does appear from time to time – Virgil’s Eclogues are thought to be the first such account (42-39 BC), but becoming a werewolf is more commonly seen as “a curse” or a sign of bestiality, or at worst of cannibalism Most people have heard of witchcraft trials but werewolf trials are less well known – and those who were executed in werewolf trials in 16th and 17th-century France were believed to have a taste for human flesh. But these cannibalistic fears died down with the rise of psychoanalysis in the 19th century when lycanthropy came to more commonly represent the “beast within” or everything animal that we have repressed in terms of our human nature.

Lycaon. From Ovid's Metamorphoses Book I, 209 ff

Lycanthropy Delirium
Lycanthropy is recognised as a psychopathological disease, in which the sufferer imagines that he or she is a wild beast and may even develop a taste for raw flesh or rancid meat. They may howl like a wolf, run naked through the woods, and even become violent, nay, homicidal, if left untreated. The causes of this illness are not well understood but have been attributed to drug abuse, plague, and war, in the past. However, what causes this illness is not readily understood.

“Ergo, Ergot!”
In the not so distant past, entire towns were accidentally intoxicated with hallucinogenic bread, that had been tainted by ergot fungus in tainted rye (and other grains)... but if you’re thinking that this unfortunate experience was akin maybe to a church aunt getting half-baked, after accidentally imbibing one too many of your special brownies at the family cookout, then think again... Ergot fungus caused those who consumed it to suffer psychotic episodes, which included: uncontrollable rage, constriction of the vocal cords – causing barking or howling, a feeling of tremendous excitement, a burning sensation in the skin and transformational (shape-shifting) hallucinations! This strange phenomenon named: ignis sacer (Holy Fire) or St. Anthony’s Fire, after the holy order formed to care for ergot victims, would have been an extremely traumatising experience on those towns affected by it, and would certainly go a long way to explain past werewolf hysterias and perceived encounters!

In my book – Beasts of the World (vol.1) I investigate the fantastical facts and theories behind these mysterious Dogmen and other Hairy Humanoids, around the world!

Written by Andy McGrath


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The Apes of Indiana (Testimonial)

                          

“I was in Indiana when Bigfoot revealed himself to me in November, 2018. My girlfriend and I were camping in a place I grew up in, a National forest wilderness area in Monroe County, in southern Indiana. “  

“We weren't way out, but were tent camping in a horse camp that sees a fair amount of use. It got dark around 7pm and all the wood was too wet to start a fire; so we we’re lying in the tent enjoying the quiet, when I heard footsteps around the back side of our tent. “  

“At any other time, I would've dismissed it as a wolf or coyote, because they're everywhere around there. However, that night 2 fellow campers had gotten into a fight, which end in one of them leaving the site and as the one who remained was very intoxicated and antagonistic, I became worried that he was sneaking around our camp.”

“I said in a loud enough voice ‘if you don't get away from my tent and stop messing with me, I'm going to kill you!’ I'm not real proud of that but we were out far enough that help wouldn't come soon, so I was really just trying to intimidate him. “

“A couple more minutes go by and I hear more steps and this time I hear the door handle on my Nissan (Car) get pulled in. It's a really distinct sound and by this time I was really paying attention because I thought our intoxicated neighbour was already in my camp.”

“So, I come out of tent pretty quickly and pretty aggressively, but there’s nobody there. Not only that, but the guy I think is messing with us is 50 yards away by a fire with his girlfriend. So I shine a light around, don't really see anything & tell myself that maybe I’m hearing a deer we’d seen walking around in the treeline, before sundown.”

“This has been going on for just 15-20 minutes now and I'm starting to feel a little nervous. So, I go back in the tent, but this time I adjust the rainfly a bit, so I can see outside and try to catch a glimpse of whatever it is that I keep hearing.”

“Within a couple minutes, I hear more steps. There's a really bright moon in the sky. I roll over and look out of the opening I made in the rainfly and I see I don't know what? It didn't look or move like anything I'd ever seen before. I continue to watch from inside until it moves out of sight and I bolt back out of the tent to try and see what it is?”

“I ran in the general direction I saw it go, it but it's gone. As I'm standing next to the tent shining the light in the woods, I realise I'm looking at a large figure and it's walking straight to me. I did not believe in Bigfoot until that exact moment in time! “

“So, this horse camp is essentially an opening into thousands of acres of woods and there's nowhere to run. I spin around in a panic and dive back into the tent and zip it up.  The figure was roughly 30 feet away when I saw it and I can hear his footsteps smashing the frozen ground, as he’s coming right to the tent!”

“He, I believe the creature was male, walked up to the back corner of the tent, stood over it, grunted, hit his chest and growled at me. I was frozen! This thing was massive! I'm confident at least nine to ten feet tall and a thousand pounds. “

“As he's intimidating me and I'm lying there frozen; the juvenile (smaller figure) that started all of this was sniffing me, right next to my head. Their silhouettes were clear in the moon light as they stood over the tent, the big male’s shoulders seemed as wide as I am tall. I'm not a small man, but next to this thing I was tiny.” 

“This was when he started making strange noises at the juvenile. It was a very parenting tone. There was a lot of body language involved and he spoke in a series of clicks and pops with his tongue. It wasn't just nonsense because the juvenile was responding back with sounds too, which sounded more like a squealing noise. There were a couple of back and forth communications like this between them and then the juvenile headed into the woods with the adult right behind him.”

“Shortly after this, I heard a loud cry or scream and a real loud whoop noise, followed by over a half dozen different calls in reply coming from all around the woods.” 

“Previous to this experience, I believed that people who talked about creatures like Bigfoot were just engaged in wishful thinking and that if such things existed then we'd surely have evidence?”

“I can tell you that I was so scared to death that my fight or flight instinct chose freeze, that night. I'm 6'2" tall and a healthy 200 pounds, so I've never really been intimidated just by the size of something. However, this "being" just radiated power that I've never felt or seen before. He was there the entire time and I had no clue until he came up out of the woods and I immediately went into ‘timid mode’. “

“I knew he was the superior being between us and that he could crush my spine with minimal effort. That said, he decided not to. He felt that my cowering in the tent was enough. I'm glad they are intelligent enough to make decisions like that...”

I hear so many amazing Bigfoot encounters and this one is not as unusual as one might think. A curious juvenile being shadowed or watched over by an adult who stays hidden, but watching at a respectful distance, while the juvenile explores. The protective actions of a big male that intimidates anything that poses a threat to the ‘child’ and yet stops short of inflicting any harm.

Also, the witness’s claim to witness a rarely observed behaviour...Sasquatch speech, is very intriguing! There are very few accounts of this and I would theorise that it was possibly revealed possibly due to the parental situation of having to instruct ‘a child’.

The reported curiosity and restraint of these creatures does seem to show a remarkably intelligent animal and judging by the physical power they seem to possess, we're quite fortunate that they are not quick to use it.

Written by Andy McGrath


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The Tornit

Inuit Legends of the arctic tell of large 'Bigfoot-like creatures, known as the Tornit or Alaskan Bushman; that inhabit Alaska's North Slope.

The creatures are reported as being bipedal, reaching 10 feet in height and being either black, brown or greyish, in colour. Large human-like footprints are found in areas where the creatures are reported to live.

The Alaska Bushman is said to love the tundra, unlike its cousin, the Sasquatch, which is usually reported in the vast forests of the Pacific Northwest and is also reputed to have a taste for meat, preying on caribou and other animals. One family who hunt Caribou each fall, from their cabin, between the towns of Barrow and the community of Atqasuk, claim to have had several encounters with the creatures; even claiming to have witnessed a Tornit/Bushman chasing a herd of Caribou about a mile from their cabin, reporting that they saw - 'A big herd of caribou coming towards them, when suddenly a big black creature started chasing them.'

On another occasion the family observed 3 tall black figures watching them from the hill near their cabin.

Another witness claimed to have been followed by one of the creatures, while sailing. The creature, which ran along the shore, followed his boat downriver, before disappearing into the undergrowth.

Whether this animal is the figment of overactive imaginations or the fireside embellishment of a hunter’s tale; what remains is a startling correlation between behaviours and descriptions of Bigfoot-like creatures that have been consistently reported around the world for decades.

It should not be overlooked that Polar bears do frequent the North Slope near Barrow Alaska and if a bear were to lose its fur to mange, then the dark skin beneath would possibly match some of the descriptions given here.

Alaska is a largely unexplored land comprising 663,268 square miles, with a population density of 1.2 people per square mile. The relative isolation in this pristine wilderness, making an ideal hideaway for our hairy friends.

 Written by Andrew McGrath 


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Sunday, 18 September 2022

Standing Alone, All on his Todd!

In my latest book, Beasts of the World: Hairy Humanoids, I had wanted to investigate the footage of the alleged Bigfoot', that appear in the Todd Standing documentary - Discovering Bigfoot.



My own (poor) attempt at faking some Bigfoot evidence! 
Photo By Andy McGrath

The claim is that Todd has faked his footage either with CGI, animatronic puppets or make up and prosthetics. His claims and the remarkable footage he has produced have divided opinions in the Bigfoot community for many years, culminating with the release of his long awaited documentary. The argument sadly, is no closer to being resolved.


Shortly after the release of Discovering Bigfoot, I posted a summary of the film, stating that I believed that the film vindicated the reputation of Todd and that unless those who doubted his voracity could prove how the creatures depicted within had been faked, then they should accept the footage as genuine.

As you might imagine, the feedback I received regarding this challenge was less than pleasant, but within that considerable trolling, there were some, who pointed out quite correctly that lack of available evidence does not in itself recuse the defendant from standing trial at some point in the future.

Having heard a rumour that Todd Standing's sister was a make-up artist (it is not in fact his sister, but his wife and rumour has it, she's a beautician and not an FX makeup artist.) I thought it prudent to consult someone in the special effects industry, to evaluate the footage and especially to give an opinion on whether or not the creatures depicted in Standing's film, could possibly be created using modern CGI and make up techniques.

Michal Finegold is a Senior CG Technical Director with experience in feature films, television shows and commercials. With an extensive background in both computer programming and traditional art, she has worked on films like - The Hobbit, Noah, Captain America, Happy Feet Two and many others.

Michal examined the footage of all 3 purported Bigfoot close ups, in Todd's documentary (Teddy Squatch, Blinky and The Devil Face.)

Here is her report:

"In my opinion, based on viewing the scenes and based on my experience as a professional visual effects artist, these scenes of Bigfoot could easily be faked by people with professional CG and compositing skills, as well people skilled in creating practical effects - makeup, masks, puppets etc.

'Blinky', looks a lot like a person with makeup and various practical effects. The shot we see of him in the film at 1:01:08 onwards, might seem difficult to manipulate digitally because of the foreground leaves. But what I think is that if any additional comp work was necessary - perhaps to hide any parts of skin not covered well enough by makeup and fur pieces - that could easily be done if the blurry foreground leaves weren't actually there in the original shot. If I were working on this, I'd shoot the man in the makeup without any leaves obscuring him, and then after I do any touch-ups on the computer, I'd composite some leaves on top and blur them like mad, to give the impression that this is shot through leaves, and to make it look like something harder to mess with digitally.

The second one, 'Teddy', with lighter fur and black eyes, first and foremost looks like it could be just a mask or a puppet of some sort. It wouldn't have to be animatronic, there's so little movement. Somebody could just be holding it off camera.

Note, that we don't see eye movement, and in particular, blinking. Wouldn't these creatures blink more? We don't see the face changing expression either - the mouth, the cheeks? Facial animation, and especially blinking and eye movement, are very difficult to do well, and their absence doesn't make sense biologically, but does make a lot of sense if these are fake.

This looks like it could easily be a combination of somebody with makeup and practical effects, and some computer graphics work compositing in those dark eyeballs and perhaps the areas where the fur comes very close to the eyes. Or honestly, it could even just be a very well made puppet.

The last one, the Devil-face, really looks like it could just be a person with black make-up on his skin. I see absolutely no reason to see otherwise.

Also overall, with all of these, they don't move much, and neither does the camera. This makes it particularly easy to composite all sorts of things - images of various animals - as long as they are similarly lit. When the camera doesn't change angles, and the character doesn't, then even pieces of still images can be used and tracked onto the scene. Even if we did see it with more movement and from many different directions, it would still be possible to fake it, but harder. It would require very high quality, full CG modelling and animation, and photo real rendering, in addition to compositing.

The fact that the footage is so short, low resolution and low frame rate, also makes it easier to fake. It means the amount of work is a lot less than if there were, say, several minutes of this at high resolution. That would mean more work to perfect many frames, and more work on each of those frames. Any little digital touch ups are way easier if you only have to do them on a few frames, and even easier when those frames are low resolution and details get lost.

I think an expert compositor would be the most important factor in achieving this footage - because even simple CG work can be made to fit in a scene like this by a good compositor. (Compositor is somebody who works in 2d, using 2d footage and images and putting them together or combining computer generated 3D stuff with 2d footage)

It wouldn’t be too costly, because these are such short clips, and angles that don't change much. The fact that they are short make it easier and less expensive. The fact that they are without a lot of movement or change in angle means you can actually get away with little 3D computer generated work and just have a compositor do everything - or even NO 3D computer generated work and have it all be faked in 2D with footage and makeup or props. (i.e. - you can take a frame from footage of a non-moving Bigfoot mask that somebody is holding, and you can manipulate it even just in 2D to make it seem like it’s moving a tad or even blinking! If you’re an expert compositor and the angles don’t change, that is!)

The compositor services are not cheap, but it can just be one person, not a whole team and just one license for compositing software . And if you do 3D computer generated elements, again it’s just one person and one software license and not a lot of render time since it’s not that many frames and it’s low res, so somebody can do it on their home computer, they don’t need a big expensive render farm like we use at work for big projects.

I would definitely say the images are of a high quality. They look good, the creatures blend into their surroundings nicely, although they would be more impressive if they showed more angles and facial movement, but if they are fake - it’s a smart choice not to show much movement because then it’s easier to make it feel real! Part of good vfx work is sometimes making those smart choices so you can get what you need on a budget

Finally and again, the fact that they barely move, means they could just be some puppet heads someone worked hard on to make look realistic - many people have these skills and do these things every day for films and other projects

So there we have it, Todd's work could be faked (with some effort and expertise I might add!) But does this mean that they are fake? There is so much about Todd Standing's actions that do not make sense to me.

If this is a hoax, then it is one 10 years in the making, (hardly a financial get rich quick scheme!) That has drawn in professionals like, Jeff Meldrum and the now deceased, John Bindernagel. Two seasoned scientists that would not be easily fooled!

Not to mention, of course, that Todd is a skilled and seasoned outdoorsmen, who even took on and impressed, Survivorman presenter, Les Stroud, with his knowledge and skill in the Canadian wilderness.

There has recently been some talk around the campfire, of anonymous actors who have signed non-disclosure agreements with Todd, and are claiming to have been involved in his hoax. But, until names are given and copies of these 'alleged' agreements are brought in to the public realm, I would suggest that these accusations are no more provable at present than any other accusation about Todd Standing, his ethics or his evidence.

For my part, I have always been of the opinion that some of the footage is genuine and some is fake. A strange line to take, I'm sure you'll agree, but it's where I'm currently comfortable to stand. My door always being open, of course, to a greater reveal of any confirming or condemning evidence!

Whether or not you believe in the authenticity of Todd Standing's work, it must be admitted that what he has created, or captured, is of an extraordinary nature and worthy of a little personal investigation.

I would highly recommend watching Discovering Bigfoot, to anyone who is interested in this phenomenon, as an enjoyable and informative bit of telly!

Written by Andrew McGrath

Excerpt for my book - Beasts of the World (Vol.1) Hairy Humanoids

For my: Books; Merch; Podcasts; Conferences & Expeditions, check out - https://linktr.ee/beastsof