Home Articles Cryptozoology Cryptids in Suburbia – Part 1

Cryptids in Suburbia – Part 1

Even for those who are skeptical about the existence of an upright-walking ape or hominid, or other species of undiscovered animal, the idea that such mysterious creatures could inhabit the remote areas of the globe shouldn’t be that much of a stretch of the imagination. There are still vast regions of sparsely populated and densely forested land on this earth, and to consider the likelihood of undiscovered species of animals inhabiting such areas — even a fairly large creature such as sasquatch — is something that cannot be completely discounted except by the most close-minded of individuals.

Patterson-Gimlin bigfoot film capture
Patterson-Gimlin bigfoot film capture

I find the subject of cryptozoology, as a whole, fascinating, but I’ve always been particularly intrigued by reports of cryptids, mystery creatures, and out-of-place animals in more populated areas of the world. I wrote about one such experience had by my wife while accompanying her students at their annual seventh-grade class outing, in Stokes State Forest in northwestern NJ. While not a face-to-face bigfoot encounter, my wife did hear bloodcurdling screams and yowls late one night, and when she inquired about them to a local police officer, she was told in a very serious tone that there had been numerous reports of bigfoot sightings in the area and that these screams that she’d described were associated with them.

This occurred a few years ago, and at the time I’d honestly never heard of bigfoot sightings here in my home state of New Jersey. However, I was raised and live in the highly populated northeastern part of the NJ, only a few miles outside of New York City, so the idea of a Garden State Sasquatch seemed, frankly, preposterous. However, upon further research I learned that bigfoot sightings and encounters had been happening for many years in the rural, northwestern part of the state known as the Highlands, as well as in the New Jersey Pine Barrens (not just a place for mafiosa to bury their victims, you know). These Bigfoot sightings were commonplace enough to have earned the creature the name Big Red Eye, because of the fact that most reports describe the entity as having glowing red eyes.

Highlands, New Jersey has the highest elevation along the entire eastern seaboard, from Maine to Florida. It is a ruggedly beautiful part of the state, and having camped there many times, I can tell you that it is quite thickly wooded. Nevertheless, I still had (have) difficulty in accepting the possibility of a large hominid living in the state with highest population per square mile. To my mind, bigfoot — if it exists — is a creature that inhabits the remote mountains and forests of the Pacific Northwest, British Columbia, and the Canadian Rockies, and would certainly not inhabit even the most wooded areas of NJ, or anyplace along the eastern seaboard of the USA, for that matter. However, I’m not a wildlife biologist or an expert in any such matters, so I imagine that it may be feasible that a large, unclassified species of animal could inhabit the more remote areas of even a very populated section of our country. That’s a question that would best be posed to someone with the credentials to give a more authoritative answer than I, however.

Photo of a big cat taken in England
Photo of a large, panther-like cat taken in England

Still, reports of strange creatures sighted in highly populated suburban and urban areas continue to pour in unabated from developed nations across the globe. Should we dismiss them all as hoaxes or misidentifications? Let’s consider for a moment a creature less exotic, perhaps, than sasquatch: big cats.

Alien Big Cats (ABCs)

Sightings of big cats in areas where they have thought to be long extinct have been going on for at least the past decade and seem to be on the rise, particularly in Britain, and more recently in the USA. Big cat sightings in Britain have become so commonplace as to earn them the name ABCs, an acronym for Alien Big Catsalien, I presume to mean “not native to Britain”, and not implying that their origins are otherworldly.

These British cats are typically described as being large and panther-like with glossy, almost “oil-slick black” coats, and at least the size of medium-large to large dogs. These beasts have been spotted not only on the British Isles, but throughout western Europe in countries such as France, Belgium, Luxembourg, and Spain. The photo above right was taken of the so-called Beast of Bodmin, one of several large cats seen in the area of Bodmin Moor, Cornwall, UK. This a rugged, rural area of Britain, but it does not encompass a particularly large area, geographically.

Liger, pretty much favorite animal - bred for its skills and magic
The Liger – Artist’s rendering by N. Dynamite

Big cats have been sighted throughout rural England by many reliable witnesses, and any population that may exist of these felines have generally been attributed to wild animal collectors having released their pets into the woods and fields of the English countryside.

Many of these creatures were probably released in and after 1976, when the Dangerous Wild Animals Act was instituted in the UK, making the unlicensed keeping of certain types of wild animals a criminal offense.

The big cats seen in the U.S. are most likely animals that were once native to the area that have expanded their territories. Jaguars, once native to the U.S., are being spotted once again in the southwestern states, presumably having migrated north from Mexico.

There have also been numerous but unconfirmed reports of large puma-like cats in the woods and mountains of upstate New York, primarily in the Adirondack region. To a lesser extent, reports of some type of mountain lion/puma have also come from further south in NY state, in the region of the Catskill Mountains. The Eastern Puma is thought to have been entirely killed off or driven out of the New York and the northeastern states more than a century ago, prior to the 1900’s.

With more stringent wildlife protection laws now in place, the idea of animals once thought to be extinct having maintained a small breeding population and making a return to their original habitat is no longer unworthy of consideration. However, what do we make of sightings of more bizarre creatures, such as the purported Bigfoot sightings in populated areas of the world, such as New Jersey and the other eastern states? Can they all be attributed to outright lies or the misidentification of known fauna?

Flying monsters and big birds

Big Bird - Modern Sightings of Flying Monsters,
ย Modern Sightings of Flying Monsters

In 2008, while co-hosting the old Paranomalists podcast, I had the pleasure of interviewing cryptozoologist Ken Gerhard, author of the excellent Big Bird! Modern Sightings of Flying Monsters. In it, Mr. Gerhard describes a series of reports that took place in 1970s Texas of a pterosaur-type creature that had been seen by numerous witnesses. This winged beast was described as very definitely not having feathers, but rather leathery wings, as well as a crested head, and a long, serpentine tail ending in a diamond shape. Very pterosaur-like indeed, and not a description that fits any known type of bird.

There have been numerous other incidents concerning huge birds or flying creatures, notably in the midwest, and particularly in central Illinois. Most famously, there was purportedly an attack on a boy in November of 1977 by two gigantic birds. The victim, nine year Marlon Lowe, was playing in his backyard in Lawndale, Illinois when two huge, vulture-like birds swooped down upon him. One grabbed him in its talons and proceeded to carry the boy off the ground and into the air for several feet, in plain sight of the boy’s mother and several other witnesses. Struggling and thrashing to save himself, Marlon was released and fell to ground, unharmed (physically, at least).

Can the teratorn, a huge species of raptor that supposedly went extinct at the end of the Pleistocene, still be in existence? Is this what attacked young Marlon Lowe? There were a number of subspecies of teratorn, the largest of which was Argentavis magnificens, a massive bird that weighed in between 158 to 172 lbs (72 – 78 kg) and had a wingspan of 21 to 24 feet (6.5 – 7.5 meters). Argentavis magnificens occupied modern-day Argentina from the Miocene Era to the Pleistocene, and became extinct along with the other species of teratorns, about 10,000 years ago. Are memories of these massive birds what the Native Americans refer to in their legends of the Thunderbird? And is there any way such creatures could survive, undiscovered, into the modern era?

Moving again to the more bizarre end of the spectrum, what are we to make of the reports of the most famous of flying, bird-like entities: Mothman? Here we have another well-documented case of a strange, flying creature — which, interestingly, shares a commonality with the NJ Bigfoot, in that it is described as having glowing red eyes — being seen by multiple, reliable witnesses. The residents of Point Pleasant, West Virginia claimed to have seen this man-sized, winged creature in and around the area from November 1966 to December 1967. Were the people who reported this delusional? Was it possibly a form of mass-hysteria? Or was this a creature that was an existing, legitimate species of bird that was being mistaken for something more unearthly or sinister?

Ken Gerhard tells us in Big Bird! that several leading cryptozoologists, including Bernard Heuvelmans, Ivan Sanderson, Mark Hall and Loren Coleman, believe that some of these sightings may be attributed to an undiscovered species of giant bat. Unfortunately, there is no evidence that such a species exists. Another explanation for some big bird and mothman-type sighting could be the misidentification of North American Great Horned Owls, which can attain wingspans of five feet. Loren Coleman confirmed to Ken Gerhard that he believes that these exceptionally large owls may account for some of the reports of West Virginia’s Mothman. Yet, in the case of the Mothman sightings, the entity was consistently described as being upright and standing between six and seven feet tall. Again, a simple mistake or trick of the mind by the witnesses, or perhaps an intentional lie? Or were the citizens of Point Pleasant bearing witness to something unearthly?

Other possible explanations…

What possible explanations can there be for the numerous reports of mystery animals that are seen in the more populated regions of the many industrialized nations of the western world? Hoaxes? Misidentifying existing animal species? Or are there other answers? We’ll explore these questions in Part Two of Cryptids in Suburbia (online this week, so check back or subscribe to our RSS feed on the upper right of the page). Thanks for reading!

15 thoughts on “Cryptids in Suburbia – Part 1

  1. hey researcher & everyone wow this is very informative new article about cryptids to be continued indeed. ty bill green connecticut sasquatch researcher & updated ok ๐Ÿ™‚

  2. Come on now, if you’re willing to consider such an outlandish idea as thinking that some of these animals could live in such crowded places, then why not go a step further and think of another solution, one that to me actually seems more plausible: These sightings are of some sort of transiently corporeal phantasmal entities, disguised to look like various odd animals. John Keel talks about this frequently in his books, explains his theories on it well, Jacques Vallee refers to the idea constantly albeit in the context of UFO encounters. Its the only way I can bring myself to take seriously sightings of a bigfoot type animal in places like Arkansas and Oklahoma, or New Jersey. Are you kidding me? New Jersey?! there is no rational way to think that an actual natural animals the size and nature of a bigfoot could live there undetected.

    1. Hey man, don’t spoil part two! I was actually going to bring up that idea in the second part of the post. Dang, now I gave it away. Couple interesting articles about just such a possibility, which you can read here: http://www.theheavystuff.com and Nick Redfern’s article about a guy who claimed to have seen a furry gnome in Central Park, NYC. Also, the post that I wrote about Hunt for the Skinwalker suggests the same.

      That’s not to say that there aren’t real, undiscovered animals living here on earth, in the same physical plane or dimension as us. And as far as the big cats in Britain, I think those may actually be animals that were kept as pets and released into the wild and not anything otherworldly or ethereal. I do think Keel and Vallee were on the right track about a lot of these types of entities, though. If there are flesh-and-blood bigfoot inhabiting NJ, I have no doubt that one of them would have been splattered on the Turnpike or Parkway by now.

      Thanks for the input!

  3. I think an animal with a brain at least the size of ours and that’s
    been avoiding us for this long would have an easy time avoiding
    interstates and turnpikes. I mean, they are really loud roadways! Lol!
    I also think people seem to forget about the extensive cave system all
    over the Appalachian mountain range and that it’s extremely plausible
    for larger animals to utilize these caves, even in more humanly
    populated areas. Most of the caves are unknown and few have ever been
    explored. Duh! Lol.
    Also, take into consideration that it’s easy to hide when no one
    believes you exist. Their minds are not able to let their eyes see
    something that doesn’t ‘exist’ to them. There is a good example in the
    movie “What the Bleep Do We Know?!”.
    People tend to not look down or up much. They tend to stare at their
    phones mostly now a days. Most people do not go into the woods,
    either. Most people don’t even know how to recognize a small mammal
    burrow, like a chipmunk, or a squirrel drey in a tree, let alone a
    hidden cave.
    I think it’s totally plausible and more likely than one might think at
    first. There could be shapeshifters from other dimensions and our own,
    granted. Regular people can shapeshift if they teach themselves. So,
    that’s plausible. To me, it seems more fitting that there is another
    species altogether, like BigFoot.
    Have you seen this site, http://www.bfro.net/ ?
    I would love to go on an expedition with them one weekend. Pretty cool
    stuff.

    1. Those are good points, Nicole. You often here the same thing about paranormal phenomena (which Bigfoot might fall under): often people don’t see what they don’t believe in or their minds can’t conceive of. A famous non-paranormal example of this is the Native Americans that couldn’t see the great Spanish sailing ships as they approached the shores of the New World. Their minds couldn’t comprehend that such great ships could exist, so they simply didn’t see them.

      BFRO.net is a great site. Just looking at the NJ sightings, and not surprisingly most of them are in Sussex County and Burlington County. Sussex is in northwest Jersey near PA, and it’s very mountainous and wooded. Burlington County is where the heart of Pine Barrens are located, and that’s a very densely forested area.

      Thanks for the input. I’ll finish up part two of the article tonight.

  4. Is John Carlson still alive?? I heard he was having some issues and may have had to go away for awhile. Get well John, miss you!!!

    SOB

    1. Yep, still alive ๐Ÿ™‚ Thanks for asking! I’ve been a little overwhelmed with work and family issues the past three months, but I’ve really missed blogging and I’m getting back to doing it again regularly. Working on finishing the second part of Cryptids in Suburbia today, and I’ve got a few other ideas for blog posts.

      I was contacted this past week by writer and director Bruce G. Hallenbeck, who is co-authoring a book about New Jersey Monsters. Mr. Hallenbeck asked if he could include some of the information on the Paranomalist blog and ask me a few questions. Very flattering!

      Thanks again for asking. I’ve been receiving a number of emails recently, asking where I’ve been. It’s been nice to hear from people and very gratifying. I truly appreciate the concern, and as of today I’ll be back to writing consistently.

  5. hi once again John. i find these articles fascinating. think about how many stories people don’t get to hear, and i know first hand often people tell no one of the most strange incidences. The red eyes, that’s not normal right? i know my friends were certain they saw something with red eyes that could be seen in the dark. I was thinking skinwalker, like that movie, jeepers creepers. That’s the kind of thing i think of. Supernatural demon thing. I’ll mention this too, when i told you the story of the friend on the snowmobile, it was right near an old abandoned house in the middle of nowhere. The house must have been part of something like an old mineing area or something. It’s in the mountains. And that’s where i think these things live, in old mines and caves. where it flew, (they one they heard flying with a wail.) it flew to a place called ‘the cobble’ which is near an old abandon mine. I meditated on it and i thought it was in an old mine where it would tuck away in a small crack. That was before they told me where this thing flew to.

    It seems there is a connection with the red eyes. that’s not something you throw in for nothing.the people who saw this thing attest to it definitely having glowing red eyes. i’d like to show that picture Bill Green sketched out to those people to see if it fits what they think they saw. i think we’re dealing with the supernatural. Hence it probably has supernatural senses . it could probably predict danger, sense the future, super hearing, smell, vision, it could probably read minds and probabilities. Not easy to find. But it has rules. I don’t think you can meet it without making a personal pact or agreement. You would have to agree to be exposed to the supernatural. And that’s probably dangerous. that’s what i think. We could also probobly capture it and have it sent out of here.

  6. I personally never seen a cryptid. But I’ve heard numerous reports from different people about gargoyle-like flying ‘monsters’, with leathery wings and all that. I do believe them (most of them) but kinda makes me wonder, where do they come from? and where do they hide? What if they pop up from an alternate dimension?

  7. Hi Mr. Carlson,

    I know that this comment is a little late, but I have just discovered your website and I must admit that I find your blogs absolutely fascinating. ๐Ÿ™‚
    Anyway, I am commenting about the Cryptids in Suburbia pt. 1 blog, about the ‘alien cats’. I know a lot of scientists deny the existence of what we here in Mississippi refer to as ‘black panthers’. However, I am shocked by this as I know of no one here that has not seen first hand these alien black cats (my mom, grandmother, other family members) or have heard second or third hand stories of others that have seen them here. Unfortunately, I’m the only one that has failed to see this felines but perhaps one day I shall.
    Black panthers here in the United States do exist.

    Sincerely,

    Myra

    1. Hi Myra – Thanks, I appreciate it! Hope you visit the site again regularly. I have some new articles coming out soon.

      Regarding the big cats, it doesn’t sound to me like much of a stretch of the imagination that panthers or mountain lions could have made their way back to parts of the country where they once existed, or perhaps migrated up from the south or from other areas outside of their native regions. To me, England sounds like a less likely place to see big cats than does Mississippi, but I’m inclined to think that the British big cats might have been released there by the owners of exotic pets and eventually adapted to the environment.

  8. When I was younger, one of my best friends swore she saw a black panther in her yard. She lived right up against Wawayanda State Park, in Sussex County, NJ. We see all kinds of wildlife up here, so I’m almost positive she didn’t misidentify something else. We had heard of an old Zoo in West Milford and there were stories of them releasing animals (or so we had heard) and figured that was where it came from.

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