Bigfoot, Mothman and Nessie
Have a New Feathered Friend
By Buck Wolf
— Look! Up in the sky! Bigfoot has sprouted wings, and
he's coming your way.
A bird the size of a small airplane, with a 14-foot wingspan — twice
the size of an eagle's — mesmerized several witnesses last week in
southwest Alaska, who compared it to a creature from Jurassic Park.
Pilot John Bouker told the Anchorage Daily News he spotted the
huge creature in the sky. "The people in the plane saw him," he said.
At first he discounted the sighting, until he saw the huge creature
with his own eyes, just 1,000 feet from his plane.
"He's huge," Bouker said. "He's really, really big. You wouldn't want
to have your children out."
After another big bird sighting, a heavy equipment operator radioed the
nearby town of Togiak, warning residents to protect their children, and
causing more than a bit of unrest.
Monkeyman’s Biting Reputation
The incident only underscored an important fact: Monster reports are
not always a joke. A mysterious "monkeyman" menaced India last year,
biting and robbing 60 people on the outskirts of New Delhi.
In one 10-day period, police received 328 calls about the half-man,
half monkey. They dispatched about 1,000 officers and imposed a curfew in
one area. After an investigation, officials later declared the entire
event was a hoax perpetuated by mass hysteria.
In Alaska, local officials suspect that well-meaning witnesses may have
overestimated the bird's size, and say that it may have been a Steller's
eagle — a rare, fish-eating bird that's harmless to humans.
Still, it's time to wonder, have we seen the last of Big Bird? Or do
Bigfoot, Mothman, and the Loch Ness Monster have a new friend?
With that in mind, let's check in some of our favorite monsters.
Bigfoot Convention: Eric
Altman says he won't rest until Bigfoot is protected under the Endangered
"I've seen the evidence — the footprints, the hair, the eyewitnesses.
It's too much to discount," says the 32-year-old software designer and
director of the Pennsylvania Bigfoot Society — one of some 40 groups
dedicated to finding the mysterious beast.
"Right now, I think it's critical that we get DNA tests on some of the
hair we've collected."
Bigfoot sighting are largely associated with the Pacific Northwest. But
Altman said Pennsylvania ranks fourth among states, with more than 500
sightings dating to the 1800s — and his group has investigated more than
"Even if 85 percent of the reports are hoaxes or easily explainable, 15
percent can't be explained," he says. "This is a worldwide phenomenon."
Bigfoot is a bit like Elvis. He's an ongoing national obsession. He's
large. And he gets around.
In the last five years, a Bigfoot has been sighted munching on pinot
noir grapes at a vineyard in Salem, Ore.; swiping lingerie from a trailer
park in Ochopee, Fla; and menacing revelers on New Year's Eve 1999, in
Perhaps "Mr. Bigfoot" is just a big hairy guy who gets drunk and wears
women's underwear — the ultimate party animal. Certainly, much of the
purported evidence turned out to be fabricated by pranksters in monkey
However, Altman is among those who believe there are unknown species of
giant primates all over the world — known to us as "Sasquatch," "Yeti" and
"the Abominable Snowman."
About 120 attendees showed up last month for the fourth annual East
Coast Bigfoot Conference and Expo, just outside Pittsburgh. Sale items
included T-shirts, key chains and plaster casts of footprints — some with
five toes, some with three.
"You see souvenirs at any convention. That's just one way to raise
money," Altman says. "But we're serious."
Altman says he's never seen the beast. But he's heard mysterious sounds
in the forest, and he knows it's out there.
Loch Ness Web Cam: You can
now hunt for the world-famous Loch Ness Monster right in your own bedroom,
with the 24-hour Loch Ness Web Camera (see link in right column).
The folks at Scotland Online might be milking the mysterious underwater
creature for every tourist dollar imaginable. With a camera 750 feet below
the water and another on the surface, you can try to confirm Nessie's
status as "Lady of the Lake."
Scotland's Loch Ness Monster — a major tourist attraction — is honored
with a stamp. (Paraview Press)
But, if you can't, there are always the souvenir salt-and-pepper
"Come on up May 2 for International Loch Ness Monster Day," says Nessie
Club President Gary Campbell, a 32-year-old accountant. "Does Bigfoot have
his own holiday? I think not."
Canada's Lake Okanagan and North Carolina's Lake Norman are just two
other bodies of water inhabited by sea monsters — or at least that's what
local tourist boards are telling adventure-starved visitors.
Scape Ore Swamp in Bishopville, S.C., is even said to be populated by
green, scaly Lizard Men who walk on two legs, much like the monster in the
1954 movie Creature From the Black Lagoon.
But, as least when it comes to notoriety, Nessie is still Queen of the
Mothman: This year,
Mothman, the red-eyed, 7-foot flying man-bird, got what every monster
wants for everlasting fame — a major motion picture.
The Mothman Prophecies, starring Richard Gere, told the story of
the car-chasing, animal-mutilating critter that menaced the Appalachian
town of Point Pleasant, W.Va., between 1966 and 1967.
Several Point Pleasant residents say that when the town's Silver Bridge
collapsed on Dec. 15, 1967, and 46 people died, Mothman's eerie squeal
residents of Point Pleasant, W.Va., complained of a flying, 7-foot
monster, a local newspaper dubbed the beast "Mothman." (William
With a movie finally released, Point Pleasant had hoped to cash in on
its infamy. The town prepared with cheap souvenirs (including Mothman
Christmas ornaments), improved hotel accommodations, and tours.
But the movie bombed. And even worse, Mothman may have returned.
On Jan. 25, when the movie opened, the town suffered a blackout.
Within the next six days, eight people died in traffic accidents — the
most in 40 years, according to Loren Coleman, author of Mothman and
Other Curious Encounters (Paraview Press).
"The timing was not lost on the local town folks," Coleman says. "It
was as if Mothman returned. Folks there are hesitant to talk about it."
Of course, if Mothman has returned, he might have a cousin in Alaska's
Big Bird. And of course there have been dozens of other reports in recent
years of monsters — even a flying Bigfoot reported on Washington state's
Mount Rainier that's been dubbed "Batsquatch."