Things that (probably) aren’t there

17 Aug

A collection of unlikely eyewitness reports, collected in June 1961:

  • The Mongrel That Wasn’t

In Argentina in 1926 Lorenz Hagenbeck bought the skin of a large wolf with a mane, an Andean wolf. Because the canine world (wolves, dogs) has the reputation of producing offpring whose ancestry can’t be traced, zoologists yawned. But in 1947 Hagenbeck told Dr. Ingo Krumbiegel that he’d seen three other such skins. This made the creature more than a one-time canine accident. In 1949 Krumbiegel gave it a name: Hagenbeck’s mountain dog. It is still uncaptured.

  • Nandi Bear: The Great Scalper

Sixty years of mystery began around the turn of the century in Africa, which has no known bears. There Geoffrey Williams saw an animal “sitting on its haunches … its attitude that of a bear at the zoo asking for buns.” After he missed a shot, it looked at him. “The head was exactly like that of a bear.” By 1961, natives and many Europeans claimed to have seen a bear in Africa. Besides, something unknown kills men there by clawing their heads as a bear might.

  • Kangaroo Killer

Tales of a tiger cat in Australia have been so many and so detailed that the animal is already included in Australian zoology textbooks, even though it’s never been caught. Reported Ian Idriess of a tiger cat’s attack on a kangaroo: “I saw a full-grown kangaroo backed up against a tree … A streak of black and gray shot toward the ‘roo’s throat, then seemed to twist in the air, and the kangaroo slid to earth with its entrails literally torn out of its body.”

  • A Fairy Tale?

Two Europeans – Cuthbert Burgoyne and Bill Hichens – on separate occasions saw men tinier than pygmies omong herds of baboons. They
were “two small, brown, furry creatures about four feet high,” said lion-hunter Hichens. In 1946 and 1947, similar little men were observed on the Ivory Coast. Bones of tiny men have been dug up in Switzerland. Africa’s little men and the Swiss bones suggest that elves and gnomes are not, perhaps, just phantom figures in fairy tales.

  • Leaping Lizard

Although most unknown animals are in wildernesses, some are near crowded cities. In the Alps, people report they are frequently hissed at by Europe’s best-known unknown animal, the tatzelworm, which hundreds claim to have seen but no one has caught. In the 1930s, a newspaper survey produced no fewer than 60 who claimed they’d seen a tatzelwurm. It’s, described as a fat, three-foot-long worm, with short legs that barely touch ground, like a skink’s.

  • Mngwa: Great Gray Ghost

West African natives tell of a gray, pony-sized lion (proounced moong-wah) that has, they say, clawed men to death – they were found clutching gray catlike fur. A rush of such killings occured in the 1920s and 1930s, when tracks like a giant leopard’s were found. In Kenya today, some tribes still stoutly insist on the existence of a ferocious gray-necked lion. White hunters are skeptical. They say the Mngwa is just on albino lion – rare but not unknown.

  • American Anthropoid

Late in the 1950s, howls from the South American jungle (reported by prospectors) and 21-inch footprints (found along rivers) revived reports of a large ape in South America, where none is known. A few years ago, cattle were found dead in Peru, their tongues torn out – as though grasped by a hand. As long ago as 1917, a geologist named Francois de Loys photographed a monkey with a stature exceding five feet in South America. But its species was never identified.

  • Giant Squid

One day in 1895, near the Azores, Prince Albert of Monaco was collecting oceanographic data. A whaling crew chased a sperm whale under his yacht. The whale surfaced, died vomiting up its last meal: undigested parts of a giant squid – enough to prove there really was a monster with 10 tentacles, some perhaps 50 feet long. To this day the squid has not been caught alive, possibly because, like the Loch Ness monster, it may dwell far below the surface.

Over in Wikipedia (of course) there’s more info:

And a HUGE list of creatures:


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