Saturday, May 22, 2010
...Throughout the 1800s, the Jersey Devil was blamed for livestock killings, strange tracks, and reported sounds. In the early 1900s, a number of people in New Jersey and neighboring states claimed to witness the Jersey Devil or see its tracks. Claims of a corpse matching the Jersey Devil's description arose in 1957[Generallysaid to be a hoax]. In 1960, the merchants around Camden offered a $10,000 reward for the capture of the Jersey Devil, even offering to build a private zoo to house the creature if captured.
[1,3] McCrann, Grace-Ellen (26 October 2000). "Legend of the New Jersey Devil". The New Jersey Historical Society. http://www.jerseyhistory.org/legend_jerseydevil.html. Retrieved 16 February 2010.
As many readers might know, I was at one time a major contributor to the SITU and had full access to Ivan Sanderson's library and archives before they were broken up and sent away to various other institutions (I am currently in contact with an organisation that has retrieved most of the files).
After an initial survey of Jersey Devil reports subitted by Loren Coleman and Jerome Clark in the early 1970s, Ivan Sanderson sent them a letter (which I have seen) explaining that he considered the Jersey Devil sightings to be based on a large condor-like bird or 'Thunderbird' and he explained why. He also said that there was a secret society at work in New Jersey that would attack undesirable neighbours with acts of terrorism, framing the Jersey Devil as the cause (something out of Scooby Doo, but more deadly serious: the perpetrators would destroy livestock and leave faked tracks among other things). This secret society had been in existance since colonial times and was largely perpetrated by certain member families, operating along similar lines to the Ku Klux Klan.
However, once the obvious hoaxes and mistakes are sorted out, there are still any number of alleged Jersey Devil sightings, particularly in the 'Flying Horrible' category. There is something generally like a huge eagle that leaves large three-toed footprints and then again assorted other 'devils', which include trails of 'Devil's Footprints' such as seen in Devonshire in 1855 and 2009 (these would seem to have a natural origin not requiring the invention of a 'devil' to explain them). It seems that anything out of the ordinary in New Jersey gets slapped with the 'Jersey Devil' tag, and this includes sightings of bears, pumas, kangaroos and even a possible 'Mothman' or two, and unfortunately the inevitable bald dogs more recently. But most of the sightings are 'Jabberwocks' seen just once apiece for any sort of detailed description given.
In January 1909 came the most impressive series of Jersey Devil sightings when about a hundred individuals in Northern New Jersey and Eastern Pennsylvania claimed to have seen it. The only scientific opinion advanced was that it could have been a relic pterodactyl that people were describing. Any or all of the sightings during this 'flap' period could be lies or hallucinations based on fear aroused by the 'Devil's Hoofprints' that were appearing at the same time. No single blanket explanation would cover all of the 'Devil' experiences at the time, unless it really was an outbreak of amorphous demons, since all the sightings described something different.
The following is a sampler of the reported traits: large crane-like bird; glowing head (eyes?); ram-like horns curling around the back of the head (this may have been an appearance caused by wrinkled and warty skin rather than actual horns); long thin legs and long thin wings; short useless forelegs pressed to the chest (which might be imaginary); squawking and whistling; red glowing eyes; bird legs and horse's head; bat wings; long tail with barb at the end; forked tail; alligator skin; breathed fire; one horn on the head; tail like an ostrich; monkey-like face; dogface; 3 feet high; 11 foot wingspan; winged kangaroo; head like (the size of?) a collie dog and face like a horse; long neck; 3 1/2 feet high; legs like a crane; horse's hoofs (probably to match the alleged footprints); split hoofs; human-like feet; 3-toed bird-like feet; wings about 2 feet long folded up (which meant possibly about a 10-12 foot wingspan with wings spread); 6 feet tall; 6-foot-long bird (beak to tail); feet hanging down as it flew; hopping on the ground; awkward flight close to the ground; effortless soaring high in the sky; hair and feathers; scales; red head; black, brown or grey colour on the rest of the body-occasionally reported as green or some other colour.
Some of the traits are possibly only imaginary or remembered incorrectly and exaggerated in the retelling. But there is no internal sorting criteria by which it could be guessed, which traits are more likely to be real and which ones might be false, as measured by the consensus of opinion. There is very little consensus of opinion.
This being in January with snow-covered ground, the 'fire-breathing' probably means no more than its breath made condensation or 'steam.' If it actually was a large condor-like bird, many of the reported traits would fit. These include the regularly-reported bird legs, feathers on the body and scales on the legs but a bald head and a ruff that looks like hair around the neck, the tail like an ostrich's, and even the different flight patters at different altitudes, even including the feet hanging down when it is flying at low level (this was a bird report but it was also the one that said 'human-like feet').
The comparison of the head to that of a horse or collie dog means that the head is an elongated oval, but the hooked beak is only very rarely mentioned. The size is also consistent if we take 3 to 3 and a half feet as the height and about ten feet as the wingspan: stretched out head to tail might be estimated as six feet long but probably that would be exaggerated.
This is, however, only after digging out the details. The reports as they stand sound nothing like condors at face value. Perhaps witnesses were so unnerved at seeing THE DEVIL at night that they all freaked out and were all confused about it afterwards. Perhaps some journalists took liberties with recording the reports afterwards
But basically all that can be said in summary is that if most of the witnesses are describing the same thing and that thing is a sort of a condor, then most of the reports that we have on record are remarkably bad reports.
- Bord, Janet and Bord, Colin. Alien Animals. Harrisburg, PA, Stackpoole books, 1981
- Clark, Jerome. UNEXPLAINED! Washington, DC, Visible Ink,1993
- MacDougall, Curtis D. Hoaxes. New York, Dover Books, 1958
DIVINING THE WHITE HORSE & THE UFFINGTON COMPLEX
SAT JUNE 12th 10.30 - 3.30
Meet at the White Horse car park, Uffington. Only £25 per person. Dowse the ceremonial landscape and discover its secrets with authors and expert dowsers Maria Wheatley.
Wayland Smithy long barrow
The White Horse and The Older White Horse
The long lost fertility mare
St Mary’s Church
Interacting with spiral energy, vortex energy on the summit of Dragon Hill, the Belinus and Elen earth energy currents. The large Dragon Ley of Dragon Hill that courses through the countryside as if charging the entire complex with unseen energy. Track lines, power points and auric dowsing at St Marys.
Come along and meet likeminded people for a fascinating day out. Do something different this weekend!
email@example.com 01672 511427
A few months ago we had three eels, which had been getting along very happily together in their large tank in the office since last year: Eel-i Jenkins, Dan-eel Defoe and Ben Eel-ton (I bet you can’t guess who named them). When I came downstairs to feed and check on the animals, though, I noticed that Ben had been attacked. On inspection I saw that a chunk had been bitten out of his mid-section, removing the skin. Needless to say the prognosis did not look good and I removed him to another tank that I had set up for his recovery. As one of the two smaller eels in the tank, the other being Dan-eel, I had my suspicions that he had been attacked by Eel-i who was much larger than the other two in girth. I watched the tank and didn’t have to wait long for my suspicions to be confirmed, when Eel-i started trying to nip at Dan-eel. Needless to say I moved Dan-eel to another tank as well.
It looked for a while that Ben Eel-ton might survive against the odds and his wounds even started to heal before he eventually died about a fortnight after his ordeal, but the pre-emptive action has saved Dan-eel Defoe from a similar fate.
Since his separation from the other eels, Eel-i Jenkins has grown much larger and has a girth of perhaps three times that of Dan-eel. He struts around his tank confidently (or rather engages in the eel equivalent of strutting) and will eat anything. Although I have never tried him on anything more adventurous than meat, earthworms and fish pellets (and never will), I’m fairly sure that if something fell into his tank and he could get his jaws around it, he’d probably have a go at eating it within half an hour or so. Dan-eel, however, has hardly grown at all, remains rather thin and is a very fussy and picky eater. Dan-eel will eat nothing but earthworms and even then will approach them with caution, eat one or two and leave the rest. He is a lot more confident then he was when he was housed with Eel-i and stretches out around his tank more than he used to, which shows that he is aware that there are no competing eels around, but he seems to just eat the bare minimum he needs to survive out of fear that a bigger eel might turn up and demand the lion's share. Hopefully with time he will realise that this is not going to happen and start eating more and bulk up like Eel-i has.
Another reason for the differences between the two eels might be age: they were all the same size when we got them, but that does not necessarily mean they were the same age. Eel-i may well be a year or two older than Dan-eel and maybe getting ready to go off to spawn. Indeed, after finding Eel-i happily slithering around on the office floor about a fortnight ago I had to make a much more secure lid for his tank and change his lighting system to accommodate the new lid. From his general colouration, however, Eel-i is certainly not a silver eel yet, so could grow much larger. It is even possible that Eel-i could be a eunuch eel, which if so would give us a unique opportunity to observe the growth and size of a creature that could be responsible for a large number of lake monster sightings, including those of the Loch Ness monster. Even if Eel-i is just a regular eel it is fascinating to see how remarkably different Eel-i and Dan-eel are both physically and psychologically and to see just how much of the differences are due to environmental factors.
On this day in 1701 Captain William Kidd was executed for piracy. Kidd thought of himself not as a pirate but as a privateer working for the British and may well have singed the king of Spain’s beard. Kidd was, if anything, pretty small fry as far as piracy was concerned but because of the showy nature of his trial and execution, legends have sprung up about him being possessed of enormous amounts of pirate booty, which he would bury on treasure islands. In reality Kidd buried a very small amount of treasure once in such a haphazard half-arsed manner that it was easily unearthed and used as evidence against him during his trial. This hasn’t stopped his name being linked to the Oak Island Money Pit, which was, depending on who you believe, either a fabulously intricate way to hide a pirate treasure horde of more than £2,000,000 or an investor scam (or possibly both).
And now, the news:
UK report on failure to halt wildlife decline is burried
Minnesota: Rare birth of twin foals
Ohio: Oak Harbor residents spot large feline
UK: Gloucestershire 'panther' chase
Review of Bigfoot Evidence in Minnesota
MoD blew up 119 live pigs in explosive tests
That’s a ‘pig’ case of animal abuse.
I am guilty (slightly) of misleading you good folks out in bloggoland, because although I told you all that we had spent Paul's generous donation on a battery-operated electric strimmer; we actually decided in the end to buy a petrol one and I completely forgot about the change in plans.
That is anno domini for ya!
In the meantime, Graham has been musing on the subject of Biggles here