Adam Davies returned Saturday, November 20th from his expedition in search of India’s famed apeman, the Mande Burung (Wild Jungle People). After two weeks in the jungles of the West Garo Hills district of the state of Meghalaya, Adam and his team of researchers came away with some very compelling evidence of the creature’s existence. Having just returned, Adam was understandably jet-lagged and exhausted, but he was kind enough to send me a brief email in which he offered to allow me to reprint some of the initial notes he made on his blog concerning his findings. I hope to speak with Adam soon (once he’s rested and recovered) to gather some further information about this latest expedition, but in the meanwhile, here is what he has to say:
Mande Burung “Ape Man” Expedition Yields Evidence
I just arrived home a few hours ago. As you no doubt appreciate, I am a tired tonight, but I had an amazing time, and felt that I, and the rest of the team, met with some great success. I will post more detail about the expedition over the next few weeks, but here are some headlines.
I am convinced the Mande-Burung exists. Dave Archer found what appears to be an MB footprint, at a site where an eyewitness confirmed he had seen the creature. He and John McGowan, went on to find a trail of them. I found an MB footprint in Nokrek national Park. What I found particularly interesting about this one, was that you could see a boulder in the stream which had been tossed aside, followed by some debris of a freshwater crab. The locals had told me on previous occasions that the MB was fond of eating these particular types of crab. Whilst I can’t be certain it was an MB print, the size and shape were certainly consistent with eyewitness reports. The casting at site failed due to the very wet conditions.
We collected a number of very consistent eyewitness reports, which described a large black bipdeal ape, which built ground nests and ate bamboo. Nothing on the camera traps so far, but we haven’t finished going through them all yet. We have collected hair and bone samples which just MAY come from the MB, but of course we need to test them. Quite by chance, and very significantly indeed, John McGowan may well have discovered a completley new species. I can’t say anything more about this though, until he has conducted a thorough analysis.
The area has some amazing , vast, and largely untraversed, jungle. Beautiful. The perfect place for a relic gigantopithicus….
I was contacted recently by Australian journalist Rebecca Lang, who co-authored a new book called Australian Big Cats: An Unnatural History of Panthers, along with writer/photographer Michael Williams. The book delves into the mysterious killing of livestock in rural areas of Australia. These killings have often coincided with sightings of mysterious black panthers in the same vicinity.
I’ve always found sightings of mysterious, out-of-place animals interesting, particularly big cats, which I discussed a bit in my post Cryptids in Suburbia — Part 1. The so-called “Alien Big Cats” (or ABCs as they’re sometimes referred) are a phenomena known in England, as well as in the United States. However, I am less familiar with the history of these sightings in Australia. The fact that these creatures have been reported there is perhaps that much more surprising, because Australia has no known record of an indigenous species of big cat having inhabited the continent.
What then, is the origin behind these sightings? Are they simply a case of misidentifying feral cats? Are these reports primarily hoaxes? Or does a species of panther dwell in the forests and rural Australian back-country? Ms. Lang and Mr. Mitchell have kindly allowed me to post an extract of their book, and I look forward to reading it and learning more about the subject. Their website is www.australianbigcats.com.au and book may be purchased on their site. Please enjoy the following from Australian Big Cats: An Unnatural History of Panthers:
An Unnatural History of Panthers
Helicopters hover noisily overhead, the occupants scanning the sheep-filled paddocks, undulating grassy terrain fringed with dark, forbidding bush.
On the ground, rangers comb the property, deep in the Victorian countryside. Their hand-held radios briefly crackle into life, sounding hard and scratchy amid the dull “thwock, thwock, thwock” of the helicopter blades above. State-of-the-art thermal imaging equipment throws up heat signatures of wildlife and livestock, transforming flesh and blood into blobby splashes of red with yellow-green halos as the rangers scan the land for something large and out-of-place. Something alien and deadly. Something on a killing spree.
Hollywood couldn’t have done it better. But this isn’t an action sequence from some creature feature; these events actually took place in 1997 on a farm near Woodside, a small town in Victoria’s Gippsland, part of an effort by the state’s Department of Sustainability and the Environment (DSE) to deal with an unknown predator that had slaughtered more than 400 sheep in two years, each victim expertly dispatched (and devoured) with the efficiency of a butcher.
DSE officials were stumped, and they were pulling out all stops to try to solve the mystery that had so far cost a Victorian farmer thousands of dollars in lost stock — and threatened the credibility of the department. Trapping, snaring and fur traps had all failed to reveal the true nature of the beast, so thermal imaging equipment was employed in an eleventh-hour bid to halt the stock losses. There was talk of wild dogs at the time, but none of the corpses bore the hallmarks of dog attacks. There was no mess and little blood, and most of the corpses were devoid of flesh with only head, hide and hooves left behind. It was, for the most part, a clean, clinical kill every time.
Just as unusual — and even more disturbing — was the discovery early one morning of several sheep standing in a field, their faces mauled beyond recognition. They were still alive — just — but where a snout should have protruded from each woolly face there was now just a mass of red, shredded flesh and broken cartilage and bone.
The woman at the centre of the drama, sheep farmer Elizabeth Balderstone, was mystified as to what had attacked and killed hundreds of her sheep. “Over the two and a half years we’ve lost over 400 sheep,” Ms Balderstone told ABC Radio in July 1999. “We have them badly mauled around the tail and still alive but will die within a couple of days, or mauled around the face when whole jawbones have been removed. Other times the sheep are killed and partially or totally eaten out, when there’s just the fleece and bone skeleton left, and very little else.”
Overshadowing the gruesome discoveries were sightings of two enormous cats on the property — one brown, the other black — by a local dogger and the property’s manager. Could these monster-sized moggies have been responsible for the carnage?
Just over 40km away, Binginwarri dairy farmer Ron Jones was also starting to lose livestock to a mystery predator, as was his 82-year-old mother who lives on a nearby farm. Today the skulls of bovine victims dangle from a tree on his property, a grim reminder of a predator that attacks under cover of darkness. Jones has seen the cat(s) countless times, even shooting at it with his .22 caliber magnum rifle — a weapon he believes lacks the firepower to bring down an animal “the size of a golden retriever”.
“I’ve had cattle taken within a hundred metres of the house,” he said. “I’ve seen one at about 70 yards [64m] … It was a big, fawny-coloured cat, which was nearly as high as a strainer post which was three foot six [1m] high — it would have been about nine or 10 inches [23-25cm] wide across the chest.”
Jones has assembled a grisly photo album of dead livestock from properties around the area to build a case for the existence of the large cats, which he believes are responsible for the strange stock deaths. The scale of predation on his and neighbouring properties has raised eyebrows in government departments, and prompted some investigation. In nearby Yarram, DSE employees filmed other strangely wounded livestock around the same period — cattle with their flanks raked by claws, their hides scarred.
So who, or what, was responsible for the carnage? And why have the experiences of three Victorian farmers been echoed all over the country? For almost 150 years, sightings of strange, cat-like creatures have been reported and documented across Australia. While predominantly described as resembling jet-black panthers or sandy-coloured pumas and lions, spotted and striped large cats have also been reported since white settlement.
In their wake they have left a trail of destruction. Mutilated cattle, sheep and family pets are a testament to the ruthless efficiency of these mystery predators, which occasionally leave behind large, felid-like prints that further tantalise and torment their trackers. Where do they come from? And how did they get here?
Australia has never had an indigenous cat species — unless you count one prehistoric marsupial cousin. Tens of thousands of years ago a deadly animal stalked the wilds of the Australian bush. Thylacoleo carnifex, “the flesh-eating pouched lion”, was christened in 1859 by respected paleontologist Professor Richard Owen, who declared it a carnivorous marsupial cat, a judgment that set him at odds with the paleontology establishment.
Sporting blade-like teeth, Thylacoleo measured 1.5m in length and weighed about 120kg. Its incredibly strong jaws and presumably feline stealth would have made it a formidable hunter during the Pleistocene era (about 1.6 million years ago). The creature became extinct about 40,000 years ago, leaving the Australian bush — and the nomadic Aboriginal tribes who inhabited the country at about the same time — relatively predator-free. But many wonder: did it truly die out?
Another strong contender in the debate is an animal that once ranged from the wilds of Indonesia and Papua New Guinea right across the Australian mainland down to Tasmania – the Tasmanian Tiger (Thylacinus cynocephalus). There are certainly some aspects of the witness descriptions that resonate with this species, now officially extinct. However, in the case of the so-called Queensland Tiger, the aboreal nature of this creature cited in many reports would appear to rule the Thylacinus out of contention — and if the sightings are to be given any credence at all, they may raise the spectre of an altogether new and hitherto unidentified marsupial species.
Call of the wild
There are a rash of other theories about what these big cats are, and how they might have got here. In 1788, the first British colonists set foot on Australian soil. These resourceful men, women and children quickly established themselves and introduced a range of animals once foreign to these shores, including rabbits, foxes and the first domestic — and soon-to-be-feral — cats. Could descendants of these small British cats (and perhaps those from Dutch shipwrecks) have morphed into the super-sized cats first spotted in the bush about 100 years later?
Fast-forward to 1876, and the mega circus of Cooper, Bailey & Co (precursor to the famous Barnum and Bailey’s Circus) comes to Australian shores. The dazzling spectacle toured NSW and Victoria and featured a swag of “alien” animals including jaguars, leopards, bears, tigers, hyenas, elephants, zebras, a hippopotamus, monkeys and camels. The presence of the large American circus with its extensive exotic menagerie no doubt inspired Australia’s St Leon circus to add big cats to its line-up in 1882 — the first traveling circus troupe in Australia to do so — enthralling audiences and becoming a major draw card. However, circuses were not without problems, including frequent crashes en route and careless handling, often resulting in escapes. Are the descendants of circus escapees living and breeding in the bush?
In the 1850s and 1860s, gold fever gripped the nation. Prospectors flocked from as far away as China and America to the Victorian and NSW goldfields in pursuit of instant wealth, some of them so intent on guarding their claims they often took extraordinary precautions — including, it is believed, chaining pumas to their diggings. Are relations of those gold-rush pumas on the loose in Australia’s wilderness?
The 1940s were a period of great disruption in Australia, with American servicemen thick on the ground. When they weren’t being dispatched to war zones or romancing Australian women in crowded dance halls, if folklore is to be believed it seems they were busy caring for exotic unit mascots — namely, “black panthers”. Did servicemen really keep wild cats as unit mascots? And if so, once they got their marching orders and realised they couldn’t take them into battle, did they release these same “panthers” into the wilderness rather than humanely put them down?
And, finally, we have the growing menace of feral cats in the Australian bush. Domestic cats quickly got their claws into this country, rapidly spreading and establishing themselves across the continent. But are they now changing, mutating and growing to sizes far larger than has previously been expected of Felis catus, the domestic house cat? Could an evolutionary quirk be responsible for the hundreds of big-cat sightings around Australia? Or might feral cats have crossed with Indonesian jungle cats from earlier Aboriginal-Indonesian interactions over thousands of years, creating genetically superior “monster cats” through hybrid vigour?
Whatever the origin, the sightings of large, cat-like animals appear to be on the rise in Australia’s western and eastern states. In Western Australia in the late 1970s the state government initiated an inquiry into spiraling reports of strange predation in the Cordering district; NSW has experienced a profusion of big-cat sightings in the Blue Mountains and Hawkesbury areas, so much so that the state government initiated two inquiries into the matter in 1999-2001 and 2008.
The wilderness of the Blue Mountains stretches over 1 million hectares. It is a vast landscape of sheer cliffs, swamps, rugged tablelands and deep, impenetrable valleys that harbour many secrets — including, in the Wollemi National Park, the recently rediscovered “living fossil”, the Wollemi Pine. It is not unreasonable to suggest that something more than ancient trees might be lurking within that rugged landscape, some parts of which have yet to be explored by man.
On the western side of the Blue Mountains lies the small coal-mining town of Lithgow. On the morning of May 9, 2001, residents Gail and Wayne Pound were at home getting ready to go to work. It was about 7am; Gail was getting dressed while Wayne was in the shower. Looking up, she spied a large feral cat in the scrub outside her bedroom window. However, it was the cat’s much larger feline companion that caused her to do a double-take.
“We were quite mesmerised,” she told Channel Nine’s A Current Affair.
Added Wayne: “I got the binoculars and had a good look at it. And I was still looking at it and all of a sudden it got up and I said, ‘No, hang on … that’s a giant cat’ and Gail yelled out, ‘That’s a leopard!’ I said, ‘No, hang on, that’s a panther!'”
Luckily for the Pounds they had a video camera handy and managed to capture evidence of the cats’ visitation, with a naked Wayne filming the feline pair for 15 minutes before the cats moved on. The footage caused a sensation after it was sold to Channel Nine, which broadcast the images nationwide.
Upon viewing the video, the NSW Department of Agriculture’s exotic animal expert, Bill Atkinson, lent further weight to the footage: “That’s a very big cat — I would say, by the size of it, it could be a panther.” Strangely, nobody thought to re-shoot footage in the same location, from the same distance with the same zoom to provide a proper comparison and give some idea of scale. Another thing forgotten in the frenzy was that the video actually showed two cats — a large cat described as a “panther” and a smaller, domestic-looking cat. In the wild, a true big cat would likely eat its much smaller domesticated cousin.
Perhaps fittingly, given its suspected big-cat status, what happened next was nothing short of a circus. Amateur researchers and government employees descended on Lithgow to hunt for further evidence of the animal. Atkinson was the only one to conduct a conventional investigation by laying hair traps and examining scratch marks on an acacia tree and large droppings left nearby. Unfortunately, he came up empty-handed.
“The scratchings and ripped bark were about 1.5m high on the tree,” Atkinson said at the time. “It is hard to believe a possum could have done that.” Perhaps aware of how his remarks might be interpreted, he later qualified them in a statement to The Sydney Morning Herald: “[They] are interesting, considering where they are, but they may have been made with a blunt penknife.”
Pile of bones
The government investigation yielded nothing, but media coverage of the events in Lithgow triggered a wave of anecdotal reports from the public. The Pounds’ sighting was by no means the first for the tiny township, and most likely not the last. For the past 20 years, big cat reports have been something of a fixture in The Lithgow Mercury, according to editor Len Ashworth, who has recorded many of the yarns himself. He’s been with the newspaper more than 50 years, starting as a cadet reporter in 1956.
“I remember back when I was a young graded journalist I was at the police station one morning when a person who was traveling through town came in in a state of distress and said he and his family had been frightened by a strange animal on a section of the highway near South Bowenfels,” Ashworth recalls. “He said he had turned off into a sidetrack off the highway below the Hassans Walls escarpment to answer a call of nature. When he got out of the car he heard a loud, growling noise and saw a large, cat-like animal … That was about 40 years ago. The police went down there with him and he pointed out the area. The track led up to the vicinity of a small mining operation. The police noted a strange smell there and found a pile of animal bones.”
Police have logged their own sightings, with two officers relating how they nearly ran over large black cats the size of dogs in the early hours of the morning on local roads. Senior constable Paul Semmut remembers his sighting in August 2004 vividly. “It was on Scenic Hill, on Chifley Road, on the eastern side of the War Memorial [about 2am]. I was driving by myself and I almost ran over the thing, it was pretty close. It was about a metre long and had black, silky fur… the way it ran off it looked like a cat.
“My first reaction was it was a damn big cat.”
“We have had call-outs in the same area — I’ve heard of three myself, mostly shift-workers coming home from work. It’s nothing of a police nature so we don’t really worry about it, there’s just the interest factor. If we did go out we would probably get in touch with the council ranger of the National Parks and Wildlife Service and report it. I’ve always been a real sceptic about these reports, but now I’m a believer.”
Back in Gippsland, the mystery of the slaughtered livestock remains unsolved. Big black and brown cats are still seen slipping between the shadows near roads and across paddocks. And animals are still dying in savage and unusual circumstances.
This extract first appeared in The Weekend Australian magazine on June 26, 2010. Please respect the authors’ copyright. You are welcome to re-post this content – all we ask is that you acknowledge the authors and provide a link back to this site so that interested parties can procure the book for themselves.
Hi all. Word of this may already have gone out, as I neglected to post this information when Adam Davies contacted me last week, but here it is anyway:
Cryptozoologist Adam Davies recently met with members of his team of fellow cryptid researchers who will accompany him on his latest expedition to the West Garo Hills district of the state of Meghalaya in India, which is in the northeastern part of the country, bordering Bangladesh.
Once there, Adam and his team will search for evidence of the Mande Burung, a legendary man-like ape (or perhaps ape-like man) that has long been reported as having been seen and encountered in this heavily forested and remote region.
Here are the plans for the expedition, as conveyed to me by Mr. Davies:
The Team will be on expedition for approx three weeks. They will depart on Halloween, 31st October, from London, and return on 19/20 November.
The team will be headed by Adam Davies. He will be joined by Dave Archer and John McGowan, who will be bringing their tracking expertise to the Team, whilst Dr. Chris Clark and Richard Freeman will be providing Technical and Zoological expertise, respectively.
Dipu Marak, will head up the Indian Team, which includes both trackers and porters.
They will be deploying both traditional tracking techniques, as well as using hi-tech equipment such as infra-red, camera traps, thermal imaging and filed microscopes as well as a helicam, if appropriate. They will use Silicon Moulding should they find any prints.
The team will be engaging in both arduous physical treks, and night stake outs.
They have already arranged a series of appointments with alleged Mande-Burung eyewitnesses.
The expedition will be filmed for a forthcoming documentary.
In a personal aside, Adam told me, “I would love to see one, but at the end of the day, it’s all about the science. Getting pictures on the camera traps would be amazing. What the expedition really hopes to do though is obtain tangible physical evidence of the creature, should it exist, which can then be analyzed by independent scientific experts (e.g. to extract D.N.A.). I also hope to have a great adventure when we are there, and chill with the locals!”
And in a personal aside of my own, I apologize to Adam (and the readers of this blog) for not posting this last week as I’d planned and told him I would. I sincerely appreciate the updates and I’m always eager to post them on The Paranomalist. Just been dealing with a lot of personal issues, centered around my ailing dad and busy work schedule of late. It’s been a lot to juggle, and I’m afraid I’ve been rather neglectful of my writing duties. I’ll try to get back on track this month. Thanks again, Adam, for staying in touch and letting me know about your plans.
According to a press release just sent to me from cryptid researcher Adam Davies:
A team of Danish scientists who have been analysing hair samples brought back from Indonesia by a British expedition last autumn have found some potentially world-shattering results. The expedition was looking for the fabled orang pendek, an upright walking ape from Sumatra which is only known from eyewitness reports.
Expedition leader ADAM DAVIES has been to Sumatra five times since 1999, to look for the orang pendek. Over the years, there has been a gradual refinement in his search technique. He is certain that it exists, and when he first went to Sumatra he was struck as to how authentic the first-hand accounts seemed to be. On a previous expedition in 2001, prints and hair were found, and subsequently examined by world famous hair analysis expert Professor Hans Brunner and by Dr. David Chivers of Cambridge University. They independently concluded that they were from an unknown primate closely related to the two species of orang-utan.
Last weekend at the annual conference of the Centre for Fortean Zoology (CFZ), the world’s largest mystery animal research group, Danish scientist Lars Thomas announced the results so far. The preliminary DNA analysis of the hairs appears to resemble that of an orang-utan. He says:
“… the significance is quite enormous no matter what the result is basically, because if it turns out to be orang-utan this proves that there is orang-utan in a part of Sumatra several hundred kilometres from the nearest population of orang-utan. If it turns out to be a primate that looks like an orang-utan but isn’t, it’s an even greater discovery because that proves that there is another great ape living in Indonesia”.
A morphological analysis of the hair samples also corroborated Professor Brunner’s findings.
RICHARD FREEMAN, the zoological director of the CFZ has been to Sumatra on three occasions, the hairs in question being found on the last expedition in September 2009. On this particular trip were Adam Davies (leader), Richard Freeman, Chris Clark, Dave Archer plus their guides Sahar, John, Dally and Doni. It was the brother – John Didmus – of their main guide Sahar, who found the hairs on a small sapling about 3 feet off the ground. He said that:
“if the hair turns out to be from a new species, it would be the first confirmed upright walking ape which then throws an interesting light upon other reported bipedals like the yeti, etc. It may also help tell us how bipedalism in humans first developed. Also, the fact that such a large animal was found on an island roughly the same size as Britain could be significant as it may also mean that there could be other large animals still to be found across the world.”
Film of Lars Thomas carrying out a morphological hair analysis of the samples for CFZ Director Jon Downes, and an interview with Lars Thomas can be found at:
Adam Davies can be contacted on 07952 381110 Richard Freeman can be contacted on 07900 642781. To arrange an interview with Lars Thomas, or to get pictures, please telephone Corinna Downes on 01237 431413
Adam also told me that one of his team members had an eyewitness sighting of the orang pendek during their last research expedition.
Congratulations to Adam and his fellow cryptid researchers on obtaining this evidence. I’m sure the impact of this discovery will become increasingly evident in the weeks and months to come.
On May 30th of this year I received a comment on my post titled Missing Time Experience? about the time slip and memory loss incident that I experienced in my early teens. The comment came from a woman named Linda Smith who, as I later learned, was an American and a frequent visitor to the British Isles.
Linda related to me two very fascinating unexplained events that she endured while traveling to the England and Scotland. Last week I wrote of the first experience in Missing Time Inside a Stone Circle.
Linda’s second episode of high strangeness, however, was even more bizarre. This incident took place a decade or so after the Stone Circle incident, in 2004.
A visit to Scotland, a journey to the past
Once again, with Linda’s consent, I’ll recount her story verbatim as she emailed it to me:
“In 2004 I had grown absurdly fond of a PBS series, ‘Monarch of the Glen’, which was set in the highlands of Scotland. When I discovered that most of it was filmed in and around the village of Newtonmore and that Newtonmore was a regular stop on the main rail line to the North and Inverness, I simply had to go myself.
After a totally sleepless red-eye flight to London and another one to Glasgow, I finally got on the afternoon train for Inverness. Happily chatting with a group of friendly Scots, I nearly missed the stop. But I did swing off, the only passenger alighting. John, in spite of advancing age, I’m quite travel-oriented and love to travel solo where I can do and see entirely what I like. I have traveled extensively in England and Scotland, Wales, and Ireland. But I have always encountered a rail station where I could ask directions if necessary.
So, suitcase and carry-on in hand, I disembarked from the train at the Newtonmore station in Scotland. I swung onto the platform to meet absolutely nothing except a giant transformer in the center, surrounded by chain link fence with the polite British notice saying, ‘Do not touch equipment. Danger of Death.’ I sidled carefully around that and found myself looking out on open countryside. With the exception of a two-story Victorian style house that I took to the the stationmaster’s — rather like a lighthouse keeper — there was simply nothing except open moorland. As I stood there in shock, a young man rode up on a bicycle.
Of course, I asked, ‘Sir, can you tell me which way the town is?’ He stared silently at me for so long I had just concluded he was either a deaf mute or what the country people call ‘a simple’ and prepared to walk to the stationmaster’s house. Just then he said vaguely, having looked around in every direction, ‘…it’s not THAT way,’ and pointed south in the exact direction I had come from. Rather than pointing this out, though, I asked, ‘Could you tell me where the Glen Hotel is?’ I had booked a room over the Internet, as it was seemingly the town’s most popular. More confidently, he replied, ‘No…no, there’s no place like that around here’ and promptly and swiftly rode away.
Frustrated, I dragged my luggage down the road to the ‘station’. I was thrilled to see that the front door was open. As I approached the front yard, that door was suddenly and violently slammed shut from behind! I didn’t know what to do — there was no other sign of civilization, but on the other hand I was so isolated I had no idea what I might encounter if I tried to pursue my information quest. I decided safety dictated that I should head up the only road there was, in the direction the man on the bike had gone. There were trees on the horizon, so there must be someone. And I couldn’t see any other choice.
Accordingly, I set off. The train had arrived in typical British punctuality, at 6:32 p.m. Everything was unbelievably quiet, but I thought to myself, ‘Lovely peaceful Scotland with its wonderfully kind people!’ (all the more strange about the slamming door — not at all like the Scots I remember). Just then, at the first road to the right, a lorry came to the main road and turned right. I stopped and put on my best forlorn lost-tourist expression. To my shock, he looked right through me with no sign of recognition, let alone the expected query as to whether he could help me find directions!
I was astounded and started to hail him back, but just then I spied a young-looking woman about a block ahead of me. Thinking she would be more approachable, I hurried toward her. She was pushing what looked like an old-fashioned baby carriage (‘pram’ to the Brits) and, even with my wheeled suitcase, I hoped I could overtake her. I was horrified to see her look back, see me, and start hurrying away. I increased my pace the best I could, but the faster I walked the faster she did, and she got away from me, I suppose. I say ‘I suppose’ because that’s the last thing I remember — after wondering why she acted scared of a little old lady dragging two suitcases! — until I found myself at the dead end of Station Road on the Main Street of Newtonmore.
I remember well thinking that the lights of the petrol station just ahead of me and the shops and buildings on down the road were the most welcome sight I had ever laid eyes on! So I followed the hotel’s website direction and directly found myself in the hotel lobby. I had to knock loudly on the kitchen door before locating someone to check me in. Inquiring about dinner in the hotel restaurant, I was told the dining room was closed for the night but that I could probably pick up something at the local grocery just down the street. I did just that, purchasing a packet of lovely farmhouse veg soup, pate, crackers, fruit, and a badly needed wee dram of local Scotch! I say all those details in the hope of convincing you that I do not customarily suffer from memory lapses…
Anyway, after a couple of days in the tiny village I decided to take an unexpected detour to Inverness for a couple of days; a local bus could take me from Main Street in front of the hotel straight into central Inverness. So I did not have to go back to that rail ‘station’.
Now for the Twilight Zone part. I was in France (Rennes le Chateau area!) last year and had decided I didn’t want to return to the US immediately), so I took the overnight sleeper to Scotland for a few days. After a lovely night in my tiny compartment, I woke early for our expected 8:30 Inverness arrival.
With a jolt I suddenly realized we would be going past Newtonmore; it’s not only the main line to the North but the only one. I was thrilled to think of the Danger of Death transformer and the stationmaster’s house again! We pulled to the station. It was in the middle of a bunch of buildings — residential-looking, for the most part. The station was a long, low building that obviously resembled what it was, an old Victorian rail station. Since no one boarded the train, we set off almost immediately while I sat frozen with shock. No transformer, no stationmaster’s dwelling, and plenty of buildings where I would have certainly stopped for help had they been there!
I was weekending on the coast at Plockton, an atmospheric fishing village, and I wanted desperately to ask someone — anyone, about Newtonmore. Of course, they would have thought I was senile or worse, I assumed. Also, I rationalized that the station I saw was one further along and that we just didn’t stop at Newtonmore since it might be only a Requet stop. But after I got home, I carefully counted the stops betwen Dalwhinnie and Inverness; there’s less than half a dozen. So we had made the Newtonmore stop.
Then I went to Google Earth and looked on all those buildings along Station Road. I then checked the time of sunset in northern Scotland. I was stunned to find that it’s around nine p.m. at the time of year, early May, that I was there. I had gotten off the train at 6:32. The trusty Internet tells me that village shops and pubs are a five- to ten-minute walk away. I found this from the Old Station’s website, among others. That long, one story railway station had been closed awhile back and has been turned into a bed and breakfast, replacing a Victorian structure that burned down when a passing steam engine’s spark sent it up in flames!
Somewhere, over three hours had vanished from my life. But that pales beside the contrast in the behavior of those four people as opposed to the normally hospitable, courteous behavior of the Scots! My next day in the village, in contrast, was absolutely filled with beautifully friendly and charming people. I simply can’t help wondering: Could they have thought I was a ghost? I really think the truck driver, from his behavior, just didn’t see me.”
A simple mistake, or a train stop to a different time?
As I mentioned Missing Time Inside a Stone Circle, there’s much more to this experience than Linda’s missing time episode at Stanton Moor in Derbyshire, although that doesn’t necessarily make it any more or less significant.
I understand that those skeptics who read this are likely to dismiss this as a matter of simply getting off at the wrong station, but if you carefully at the facts, there seems to be a number of aspects to this story that are hard to explain away. For example:
Linda is a very experienced traveler, and particularly knowledgeable and experienced in traveling to England, Ireland, Wales, and Scotland; this makes it less likely that she simply became confused and went to the wrong station.
As she stated, there is less than a dozen stops between Dalwhinnie and Inverness, including Newtonmore where her experience took place;
After Linda’s memory lapse and three hours of missing time, she did find herself again in Newtonmore, or Newtonmore as it exists today;
Could it be that Linda Smith indeed disembarked from the train at the Newtonmore station, but in an earlier period of its history? The lack of buildings, the Victorian “stationmaster’s” house that reportedly burned down years before, the odd behavior of normally friendly Scots — could it mean that Linda was experiencing an echo of the past? Or as the intruder into this lost era, was she looked upon by its residents as ghost or spectral entity?
Time slips: not an uncommon phenomena
Like most people fascinated with the paranormal and esoteric, I’ve heard of these time slip incidents. Upon researching it, I’ve found a number of references to the phenomena, one of the better ones coming from Emmy-Award winning television producer and videographer Tim Swartz’s, He covers the the topic in depth on the Conspiracy Journal website.
Mr. Swartz is the author of several books, including Time Travel: A How-To Insiders Guide. He defines the phenomenon known as time slips as “…an event where it appears that some other era has briefly intruded on the present. A time slip seems to be spontaneous in nature and localization, but there are places on the planet that seem to be more prone than others to time slip events. As well, some people may be more inclined to experience time slips than others.” He goes on to give quite a few examples of peoples accounts of time slips.
Does time exist? The Universe as an endless field of potential
Through research into quantum physics by such scientific luminaries as Hal Puthoff, Russell Targ, Robert Jahn and Dean Radin (among others) we move ever further away from the Newtonian model of our universe, and even from Einstein’s view of relative space-time. As we begin to learn of and embrace the Quantum Model of the Universe, these “missing time” and “time slip” phenomena begin to make some sense.
In Lynne McTaggart’s excellent book The Field, she distills these complex ideas down to the point in which the non-scientific public can begin to grasp them (still a lot to get one’s head around, I’ll admit — but fascinating stuff). Based on McTaggart’s research and interviews she’s conducted with the aforementioned scientists and many others, she describes the Universe as an endless field of potential, where there is no set or fixed outcome or points in time.
Because subatomic particles are capable of moving between and interacting across all points of space and time, all possible outcomes in what we think of as the past, present and future may exist in a vast, omnipresent field. It is through this field in which we may occasionally, accidentally, traverse.
The manner and means in which we stumble into other periods of time or parallel dimensions is unknown, of course. Perhaps some people are more prone to this phenomena for some reason, as Mr. Swartz suggests. It has also been proposed that there are regions of the world where the veil between space and time and parallel dimensions is thinner and we may inadvertently pass between or into them every so often.
If this view of the Universe is correct, it may be at the core of many — if not all — supernatural and paranormal phenomena, including missing time and time slips.
I was in touch with cryptozoologist Adam Davies today and he informed me that he’ll be leading an expedition to India in search of legendary ape men known locally as the Mande Burung (forest man). The date for expedition has been confirmed for the last week of October, 2010.
The Mande Burung is described as a bipedal apelike creature similar to North America’s Bigfoot or Sasquatch, Australia’s Yowie, and the Yeti of the Himalayas. The cryptid is most commonly seen in the West Garo Hills district of the state of Meghalaya in India.
This remote region of India borders Bangladesh, and sightings of these strange, upright-walking hominoids have been reported by many of the local villagers.
I’m sure the hilly jungle terrain that these creatures are said to inhabit will prove to be challenging, but Adam Davies and his team of cryptid researchers are experienced at overcoming such difficult territory, having endured the Congolese jungles and swamps, the dizzying heights of the Himalayas, and the searing heat of the Gobi Desert — among other demanding and dangerous locales.
For further information regarding the adventures of cryptid researcher Adam Davies, I highly recommend that you read his book Extreme Expeditions, which I’ve reviewed in the Book Review section of this website. Extreme Expeditions is published by Anomalist Books.
No word just yet from Adam as to whether the Mande Burung expedition to India will be filmed and shown on History Channel’s MonsterQuest program, but I’ll update this post and let everyone know just as soon as I have a confirmation either way.
UPDATE: I was in contact with Adam again this morning, and he informed me that no further episodes of History Channel’s MonsterQuest will be made — i.e., they’re done, except in reruns. I don’t know if that’s news to most of the readers of this blog, but it was news to me! Shame, because it was a good program. Hopefully, some other similar show will make its way to television and Adam will be a part of it.
Adam did go on to say that there was some discussion with the BBC about filming this latest expedition in October, but they were unable to work out the date. Davies and his team are already committed to the late October start date and could not change their arrangements in order to accommodate the BBC. Encouraging, however, that they BBC has expressed interest, and I’m hoping that they’ll cover some of Adam’s future cryptozoological research expeditions.
On May 30th of this year I received a comment on my post titled Missing Time Experience? about the time slip and memory loss incident that I experienced in my early teens. The comment came from a woman named Linda Smith who, as I later learned, was an American and a frequent visitor to England, Scotland and Ireland. In fact, Linda went on to tell me that she visited the UK twenty-one times and is planning her twenty-second trip in September.
Linda complimented me on my article and then urged me to visit Great Britain, saying that that’s where she experienced her own episodes of “high strangeness”, including a missing time incident in Derbyshire, England and a very odd experience in Scotland. She also asked me to email her for details of both occurrences, as they were too lengthy to write of in the comments area of this blog. I’m always happy to hear from my readers, and I gladly emailed her as requested. I found both accounts fascinating.
With Linda’s permission, I’m going to recount each of these anomalous events as she described them to me. But rather than going into them both, I’ve decided to write about them in two separate posts. The Scotland episode is even stranger and more complex than her experience at the Nine Ladies stone circle, so I’ll cover that one in another article later this month.
Of ancient megaliths and magical objects
It was in the mid-1990s, and Linda and her husband (since deceased) were traveling in northern England. One day, they decided to visit Stanton Moor in the northwest part of Derbyshire and several miles southwest of Manchester. The Smith’s strange experience took place at a Bronze Age stone circle known as the Nine Ladies, an ancient megalithic structure consisting of nine stones, each of which stand a little less than 1 meter high and are arranged in a rough circle. The Nine Ladies megaliths are situated in a woodland of birches, ash, and beech trees in Stanton Moor’s Peak District National Park.
Here is the story, as Linda tells it:
“We set out from Bakewell immediately after breakfast, around nine a.m. Finding the path off a country road, I set out to investigate because the path forked; my husband, with complications from diabetes, decided to wait. I soon discovered I had taken the wrong fork and retraced my way, only to find that my husband had elected to follow and try to catch up with me. We then took the left fork into the woods and without much delay came to the lovely Nine Ladies stone circle. A couple of other tourists were browsing. We really didn’t notice when they left, but we found ourselves in the center of the circle — alone in that beautiful wood.
My husband leaned down and picked up an object, saying, ‘Someone has lost a lens to their glasses’ and handed the object to me. On closer inspection I saw that it was a round clear glass like a monocle, with an old-fashioned gold rim and a hanger. In the very center was a brilliant green triangle, about 1/3 inch in diameter.
Intrigued, I pocketed it and we returned to the car, thinking it would be lunchtime before too long. Can you imagine our shock to find the rental car’s clock indicating the time was 3:45 p.m.? We thought that it was, of course, completely wrong. But it wasn’t. Somehow, we had spent nearly seven hours in what would have taken no more than two at most.
And the ‘monocle’? When I got home with it, I was quite puzzled that the beautiful green triangle in the center was no longer there! It simply disappeared and never came back.”
Surprisingly, Linda described this story as being “ho-hum”, and perhaps in comparison with her other experience in Scotland, it was. I honestly can’t see how finding a mysterious object inside an ancient structure and then losing five hours or more can be described as “ho-hum”, even if this experience was less dramatic than her second. Frankly, I think I’d be rather perplexed and perturbed — but then Linda Smith may be made of sterner stuff than John Carlson!
What I found particularly interesting about this account was the finding of the strange monocle or lens. It made me wonder how (or if) it fits into the time and memory lapse Linda and her husband experienced after discovering it. Prior to this, I’d never heard of mysterious or magical objects being associated with missing time anomalies, and thus far I’ve been unable to locate other such reports.
And of course, the significance of the “brilliant green triangle” at the center of the monocle and its subsequent disappearance is also highly intriguing. If readers of this post have knowledge of similar reports or can direct me to any useful resources, I’d be very appreciative.
Missing Time — an anomalous event of many flavors
The subject of Missing Time is without a doubt the most-commented-on topic that I’ve discussed on the Paranomalist blog. In addition to the many blog comments, I’ve received dozens of emails from individuals across the USA and throughout the world who have been subjected to these strange occurrences. And with each account I’m struck by the sincerity of the people who have been so kind and courageous as to share their experiences with me.
The other aspect that I’ve found striking with regard to these tales of time lapse or missing time is that, while they generally share some basic commonalities, the variety of circumstances under which they occur is simply staggering. The significance of this phenomenon eludes me, and I realize that its cause may never be found. However, having personally experienced an episode of missing time, I’m very reluctant to dismiss these reports.
As always, please do not hesitate to comment on this blog post or to email me if have a question or any information that you’d be willing to share.
I wrote this article over eight years ago. In June of 2014, four years after writing this article, I had encounter with the very same beings from my childhood that I describe here: short, squat, black entities with glowing eyes. This time, I had two other adult witnesses who saw and described these beings exactly as I perceived them. These encounters, which I will soon write of, happened between 2:30 AM and dawn on two consecutive nights. They were very clear and close by, not brief, fleeting glimpses of some kind of forest critters that we might have misconstrued to be humanoid entities. Personally, I am convinced that these beings are demonic. The larger implication of why they reappeared to me 40 years after I last saw them in my childhood is what I am contemplating…
I’ve been reluctant to share the following story. Although I created this blog about the paranormal, it’s been easier to be the objective outsider than to write about one’s own experiences. And like many with tales of bizarre experiences, the thought of being labeled a crackpot, nutcase or liar is disconcerting.
However, in the interest of laying everything out on the table to my readers — many of whom have been kind enough to have shared their own weird experiences with me — I’m going to relate the story of my early childhood experiences. It’s my belief that these experiences are at the heart of my lifelong interest in the paranormal and tales of high strangeness. So, here it is:
I was born on Long Island, New York, where my family lived from 1961 to 1968. My father was a salesman for a large paper company, and Long Island was one of the many places my family lived due to the periodic transfers that my father’s employer required of him. Prior to Long Island, my family lived in Baltimore, MD and Brooklyn, NY (both my parents were born and raised in Brooklyn).
On my fourth birthday, August 27, 1968, our family moved out of our Long Island home in Baldwin, NY and relocated to Wellesley, Massachusetts where we resided for almost five years before finally settling in Ridgewood, New Jersey.
When we moved to the house in Massachusetts my sister was in high school and my brother just entering his freshman year at Boston College. Being that I was only four years old and the youngest by far, I was given the smallest bedroom, which was located on the second floor, as were the other three bedrooms. It was in fact a very small room, with the bed actually taking about half its width. However, the room had a relatively large walk-in closet with a window at the back of it. The closet was almost as big as the bedroom itself, and I recall that I’d often play on the floor inside of it. It was out of that closet which the nightmarish figures of my childhood issued.
Shortly after moving into the house in Wellesley, I began to have startlingly vivid and absolutely terrifying “dreams” — if dreams they were, for they were as real as any memory I’ve ever had in my life. These dreams always followed a similar scenario: at some point during the middle of the night I’d awaken to find several small figures walking through my closet and into my room. At first sight of these beings my horror was so intense that I simply could not move. My mouth would move wordlessly as I tried to scream, but no sound would escape my throat.
These creatures would proceed to gather around at the side of my bed and peer intensely at me, often reaching out and touching me lightly as if they were giving me some kind of examination. I don’t recall the examination as being invasive or painful, only terrifying. They would often touch my head and face as well, communicating with me without words. What they were saying to me I cannot recall, only that I was terrified.
The beings would either gather around me as I lay in bed and then depart (or I’d lose consciousness and have no further memory), or at other times when they put their hands on me, I would rise off of my covers and float from my bed. Walking beside me and continuing to lay their hands lightly on my body, they would float me along into the large, walk-in closet and through the window at the back end. As I passed through the window to the outside of the house (remember, I was on the second floor) I’d have the sensation of floating and I’d feel the wind and the night air around me. At this point in the experience my memory would always fail.
It was also around this time that I recall getting up in the middle of the night and walking to the bathroom in our upstairs hallway that was near the top of the stairs. After coming out of the bathroom and returning to my bedroom, I bumped straight into one the creatures and saw a look of surprise on his face, as if I’d startled him as much as he did to me. He quickly skirted around me and disappeared down the stairs. The clarity of this experience was so powerful that for years I insisted to my parents that it had actually happened.
The details of the entities physical appearance were always somewhat vague to me, although certain impressions remained clear and consistent each time. One physical attribute that stood out was their height. They were short, not more than my height at a the age of four or five years old, and stockily built with thick necks — if they even had necks. I had the impression that they were physically powerful, despite their stature.
The other prominent feature was their eyes. I recall their eyes seeming to be like those of animals, in that they glittered in the dark and were reflective and shiny. They also were either dark-skinned or covered in dark fur or hair, although I generally felt that it was the latter. And while I had the impression that these beings were very intelligent, I always sensed an “animal-like” quality about them. They also had squat noses, almost more like apelike nares. In retrospect, they were perhaps a bit like the creature sitting atop the sleeping maiden in John Henry Fuseli’s The Nightmare. Although the beasts that haunted my nightmares were darker, blacker and just different than the furry, gnome-ish entity in Fuseli’s painting.
These episodes happened frequently, at least several times every month from the ages of four to seven. After the age of seven they occurred less often, but continued until we moved out of Massachusetts in July of 1973, about six weeks before my ninth birthday. Some time after moving from Massachusetts to New Jersey, I had another of these nighttime visitations (or nightmares, if you prefer), about a six months or a year later at around the age of nine-and-half or ten. The experience was very similar, and interestingly, my bedroom also contained a closet with a window at the back of it. The entities came forth from this closet, just as they had done at our home in Wellesley, MA. That was the final visitation that I can recollect, and the message I believe they were conveying to me was “we can find you anywhere”. No other incident that I’d call strange or paranormal happened to me until my missing time episode several years later in 1978 when I was in my early teens.
I fully realize that most people will point out that “night terrors” and sleep paralysis are common among both children and adults, and that is probably what I’d experienced. I myself am not discounting this possibility, and I’m not suggesting anything as exotic as alien abduction. To the contrary, the creatures that visited me were distinctly unlike reports of the typical gray alien beings that are usually described in association with alien abduction phenomena. I suppose I’ll have to chalk this up to simply one more of my strange, unresolved childhood experiences. Yet, despite the fact that many years have passed, to this day I recall the absolute naked terror and clarity of these nightmares. If nightmares they were.