Sunday, October 31, 2010


MOST RELIGIONS AGREE that when we die, we are going to face some kind of reckoning or judgement. However, so much of our lives are spent dealing with trivial day-to-day distractions that we often forget this. For some people, a truly amazing phenomenon reasserts their priorities. It is a phenomenon that takes them beyond the shroud of life, to the very edges of the next dimension where they leave their mortal bodies and are shown the error of their ways. It is a phenomenon characterised by a dark tunnel, a shining light at the end, and extreme feelings of serendipity or fear. These are Near Death Experiences.

Near death experiences are reported by people who have been, at some stage, physically and medically dead – that is to say, they show no vital signs of life. It is normally experienced by heart attack sufferers, overdosed drug users, and people who have attempted suicide. Some estimates suggest that over ten million people in the United States have had personal experiences of near death experiences, so it is hardly a select phenomenon.

Although no two near death experiences are the same, they do share some common qualities. Many people report that they feel as if they have risen out of their body. Often they look down upon the medical teams trying to bring them back to life. Indeed, many people who have had near death experiences can even state exactly what happened, who said what, and which instruments were used to resuscitate them. Other experiences involve the person hovering above members of their family at the time of death.

Sometimes seeing their close relations is enough to force them to return to their mortal frames. But if they continue their near death experience, it is often reported that a feeling of sublime peace and joy sweeps over them. They find themselves in a dark tunnel with a beautiful white or golden light at the end of it. Sometimes they hear the voices of deceased loved ones, or even God, telling them to return to Earth. Some near death experiences involve an overview of the person’s life, showing where things have gone wrong or need completing, and sometimes the person feels as though they have gained knowledge about the meaning of life. Whether by voluntary or involuntary means, they return to their bodies.

Not all near death experiences are so enjoyable, for there are some people who suffer horrific fear during their near death experience and see monsters or devils. What is largely universal is the effect of the experience on the person; they often instigate massive, life-changing decisions as a result. People review what is important in their life, and find new happiness from simple things. Many do voluntary work, or become teachers or lecturers. Those who do not chose to show their commitment to serving people publicly frequently reveal a new approach to life, and often become more pleasant, sympathetic and understanding.

In 2001, The Lancet medical journal published a report of a 13-year study into near death experiences that occurred in Dutch hospitals. The investigation was conducted by cardiologist Pim van Lommel, and was unique in that it questioned 344 patients immediately after they had been resuscitated. It was established that the patients’ brains had no flow of blood, and so would have ceased to operate, yet 18% of those questioned had some memory of events during the time they were technically dead.

The researchers also found that 12% had a deep experience – that is, an out-of-body, bright light, or meeting of dead relatives type of phenomenon. The most impressive part was that the details of their experiences stayed precisely exact, even when they were re-interviewed two and eight years later. It was also seen that those who had near death experiences reprioritised, and became noticeably more appreciative of life, when compared to non- near death experience flatliners. Near death experience sufferers also had a radically declined fear of death.

Some in the medical profession considerthe accounts to be products of fantasy, false memory or confused consciousness. This view does a disservice to the huge numbers of people who genuinely feel they have had these moments; their reported near death experiences are just a sample – it has to be pointed out that many who had near death experiences in the past failed to come forward for fear of ridicule.

Do these experiences mean there really is an after-life? There is no scientific proof, although many near death experience sufferers will slip into death without fear when the time comes again. For them, it is not a step into the unknown.

*) Matt Lamy


WATERWORKS VALLEY, in the parish of St Lawrence in the Channel Island of Jersey, is named after the great number of reservoirs and pumping stations found along it. Even in the daytime, it is a brooding, haunting place, overcast as it is by a thick layer of trees and foliage. It is damp and dark, and people are often forgiven for seeing or hearing things. Sometimes there is no mistaking the ghostly sights and sounds that occur. Countless people have seen it pass by, and even more have run away after hearing it approach. This, they say, is the ‘Phantom Carriage’.

The stories often follow a similar pattern. Usually the events occur in the evening and begin with the muffled ringing of bells – the unearthly music is said to sound more like wedding bells than anything sombre. Gradually, mixed with ringing, another noise becomes discernible. It is the sound of horses trotting along the valley, accompanied by the spinning, bumping rattles of a carriage. Emerging from the gloom, witnesses spot the procession which is clothed in eighteenth century costume. They see that the coach’s passenger is a bride in her wedding dress, but as it rolls past witnesses see the face behind the veil. It is the haggard skull of a corpse.

One tale of explanation claims that in the early eighteenth century a girl who was due to be married at St Lawrence parish church was disappointed at the altar. It is said she committed suicide that evening, and the apparition is a representation of her timeless sorrow. Another variation of the story is that she committed suicide on the eve of the wedding, but her ghostly figure appeared at the church the next day anyway. It was only as the groom lifted the veil that he noticed the pale lifeless face of a corpse underneath. Many people believe the phenomenon happens only once a year at a specific time. But there are so many sightings, and such vivid recollections, that perhaps this poor girl’s misery is constant and never-ending.

*) Matt Lamy


SOME PEOPLE BELIEVE the earth has a natural source of energy that manifests itself as a magnetic field or electrical current. This unseen power is thought to have the ability to affect human bodily conditions and create biochemical reactions when people are near a prime spot of Earth Energy. Particularly potent areas are known as vortices, and many enthusiasts are of the opinion that these points help provide Man with rejuvenating or beneficial energy. As a sign of proof, they point to the idea that ancient races were more in tune with natural powers, and built important structures on sites emanating large amounts of energy. They claim Stonehenge, the Great Pyramid at Giza and Nazca are all points of strong natural forces.

As the idea of quantifiable, geophysical Earth power or natural energy has developed, the subject of ley-lines has very much caught the public’s imagination. Although leys have significance based on historical and archaeological fact, the theory of Earth Energy was popularised by New Age philosophies. Many enthusiasts have examined the subject with a scientific approach, despite it originating alongside many of the ‘hippy’ theories of the 1960s and 70s. Certainly, many people do connect Earth Energy with ley-lines and mystical qualities, but there is also some scientific substance to the idea.

Actual hard evidence is scarce, despite enthusiasts’ opinions. Dowsers suggest they can pick up strong sources of energy at many sacred sites, but that is a fact only as believable as dowsing itself. Earth Energy researchers often suggest that power centres are all areas heavily charged with negative ions, and there is an unusual state of electrical, magnetic or electromagnetic flux. They term the whole phenomenon ‘geophysical anomalies’, and whilst it seems superficially impressive, the technological community is less convinced. Although many scientists are happy to entertain the possibility of untapped natural energy sources, they do not agree that many of these qualities attributed to Earth Energy have yet been proven.

*) Matt Lamy


ONE OF THE FIRST ENCOUNTERS between a civilian aircraft and a UFO happened at 2.45am on 24th July 1948. Captain Clarence S. Chiles and Pilot John B. Whitted, both former US Air Force pilots, were flying an Eastern Airlines DC-3 flight from Atlanta, Georgia to Montgomery, Alabama. The plane was travelling at an altitude of 5,000 feet when both men noticed a strange aerial vehicle approaching their aircraft. They said it appeared to be cigarshaped, 400 feet long, and travelling at around 600 miles an hour. They managed to make out two rows of windows along its side, which glowed bright white, and a blue light underneath. It had no wings and its trail rocked the DC-3 as it blasted off. For the rest of the 1940s and 1950s many aeroplanes were ‘buzzed’ by UFOs, and the phenomenon grew to such an extent that military officials brought in a code that gagged US commercial pilots from talking about their experiences.

On the other side of the border, in Canada, pilots did not have to follow such regulations. In 1966 a Canadian Pacific DC-8 was flying at a height of 35,000 feet from Peru to Mexico City when the crew witnessed something very odd. The Captain, Roger Millbank, was so certain of what he and his staff had seen that he filed an official report with Mexican authorities. He said that he and the co-pilot had seen two bright white lights to the left, which gradually separated and approached the DC-8. The lights seemed to change in colour and intensity, and they turned into two distinct beams, pointing in a V-shape. They came nearer still, and finally levelled off by the airliner’s left wing-tip. Millbank said that in the light of the full moon they could ‘see a shape between the two lights, a structure which appeared to have been thicker in the middle’. It remained close to the DC-8 for a couple more minutes, and then disappeared behind.

On one flight in the 1970s the passengers on a British Airways jet had a very lighthearted encounter with a UFO. The plane was flying just south of the Portuguese capital, Lisbon, when the Captain heard air traffic control issuing a warning about a strange object in the skies near their flightpath. The crew of the BA flight saw a bright light in the distance, and a cigar-shaped craft soon appeared close-by. Realising this was too good an opportunity to miss, the British pilot issued an announcement over the passenger address system, ‘Ladies and gentlemen, if you look on the starboard side of the plane, you will see what we believe to be a UFO.’ The airliner reached its destination safely.

In November 1979, a rather more unpleasant episode befell the pilot flying a Spanish charter plane from Ibiza to the Spanish mainland. At an altitude of 24,000 feet a strange subject almost collided with the airliner. The pilot saw a bright red object, seemingly on a collision course with his vessel, and began an emergency dive to avoid it. The UFO continued to buzz round the airliner, and in the end two fighter jets were sent to intercept the object. The whole incident was witnessed on radar screens and by countless people watching from the earth below. A similar occurrence happened in the same area exactly one year later. The pilot of an Iberian Airways jet flying at 31,000 feet suddenly saw an immense green bubble in his flight-path. The phenomenon was witnessed by six other commercial airlines in the vicinity, and some reports said it even swooped down on Barcelona Airport.

In recent years, other similar incidents have occurred. A British Airways 737 was arriving at Manchester Airport in 1995 when a UFO buzzed near to the side of the plane. An even closer event happened on 12th June 1998 when an Oslo-bound jet took off from London’s Heathrow Airport. The plane’s captain reported to air traffic controllers that they had almost been hit by a small aircraft. Later the co-pilot said he had seen a very clear bright light and the captain filed an official report claiming a fighter-sized aeroplane had passed within a 50 metre distance of the aircraft. Aviation, military and police authorities found no explanation for the incident, however they say that no matter how safe air travel is, accidents sometimes do happen. With this level of unexplained aerial activity, perhaps it’s surprising they do not occur more often.

*) Matt Lamy


Men in Black: Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones prepare to save the Earth in a still from the film of the same name.
THE FIRST KNOWN ENCOUNTER with two ‘Men in Black’ happened in 1947. Two US harbour patrolmen, Harold A. Dahl and Fred L. Crisman, had spotted a UFO over the water of Puget Sound, Washington. Dahl said that a man dressed in black visited him shortly after the sighting and forcefully advised him not to discuss the incident further. A similar meeting happened to Carlo Rossi, from the area near San Pietro a Vico in Italy. In the early hours of 25th July, 1952, Rossi was fishing in the River Serchio when he witnessed a strange circular craft hovering over the river. Rossi hid, watching the craft as it passed over him, and then sped away. In the following weeks he told no-one about what he had seen, but on 15th September he found a stranger dressed in a dark blue suit waiting for him by the river. The stranger spoke Italian, but with an odd Scandinavian accent, and had very strange facial features. The man forcefully asked Rossi about what he had seen, but Rossi denied everything.

A bizarre Men in Black case happened on 18th May 1968, when UFO witnesses started contacting researchers. George Smyth was one of those who had seen a strange object in the skies above Elizabeth, New Jersey, USA. He began to receive visits from strange men, and received phone calls warning him not to attend upcoming UFO conventions or speak to independent investigators. A bizarre aspect of this case was that the three visitors Smyth described were apparently the men he had been told to avoid – the UFO enthusiasts John Keel, Gray Barker and James Moseley. What made this even more odd was that these three men were actually miles away from Smyth’s house at the time of the visits.

Other UFO investigators in the area, John Robinson and his wife Mary, also noticed strange things happening to them. A large dark car seemed to be parked outside their house in New Jersey City, with a strange man inside constantly watching them. One day Mary went out and noticed their friend James Moseley making a spectacle of himself further up the street. She thought this was very strange, but went inside to make a drink for him, thinking he was there to visit them. But then the phone rang. To her surprise it was Moseley, not on a street corner in New Jersey City, but at his home in Manhattan. In recent years, more incidents have been reported. On 15th January 1997 William Shearer experienced a UFO encounter in Essex, southern England. Four days later he had a knock at the door and outside stood two strange men, dressed in dark grey suits and long coats. One man stood on guard by a large imposing saloon car, the other stood at Shearer’s threshold. This man was said to be very tall, deathly pale but with bright red lips, and spoke in a very unusual, almost automated, way. He repeatedly asked to come in but Shearer refused and the men finally said they would come back later.

A month later, Shearer was at work when two men appeared. One was the visitor who had stood by the car at the housecall, the other was a different man. They were both dressed in suits with hats, and they told him they wanted to talk about his UFO experience. They gave him exact details of the incident, details that Shearer felt only he should know, and were forceful in their requests. Shearer asked to see their ID, but the men just kept repeating a formulaic set of questions. In the end, Shearer refused to let them into his place of work and the two men disappeared. However, since then, he has reported blatant tapping activity when using his telephone.

Although no one can be absolutely certain, one theory is that these strange visitors are UFO investigators who belong to a research group that has standardised their visiting uniform. Others say they are actually aliens trying to cover their tracks. Sceptics believe they are pranksters or simply figments of witness’s imaginations. In most cases, they claim to be from the CIA or intelligence agencies, and there is a theory that these organisations have been happy to assume such identities in recent years as a readymade method of intimidation. The other option is, of course, that they are from a secret department of government intelligence, trying to control UFO and alienrelated sightings.

*) Matt Lamy
Saturday, October 30, 2010


Loch Ness, Scotland. Could this be the home of a plesiosaur?
OF ALL THE MYTHICAL BEASTS in the world, the most famous, most hunted for, and most talked about must be ‘Nessie’ the Loch Ness Monster. She, for the Scottish monster is always seen as a not-so-wee lassie, is often the first phenomenon thought about when the subject of unexplained mysteries is raised. She is an internationally-known celebrity, who has probably done more for her native tourist industry than any other famous Scot. There have been Nessie documentaries, programmes, films and even cartoons. But although she appears each year to a select few, she has been too shy to debut in a major scientific investigation. So is Nessie really a strange creature, lost in time, and lurking at the bottom of Loch Ness?

Loch Ness is a 24-mile-long freshwater lake found in the Great Glenn, a massive crevice that cuts the Scottish Highlands in two. The loch is up to a thousand feet deep and, at some points, a mile-and-a-half wide. The first tale of a monster living in the water originates in AD 565 and features Saint Columba, who rescued a swimmer from the beast’s advances. Experts now generally feel that Saint Columba actually encountered a known, normal, marine animal that had ended up outside its natural environment. Although the loch continued to be the focus of strange sightings, it was not until the 20th century that the phenomenon really flourished.

In 1933 the Loch Ness Lakeshore road was built. This initiated a flood of sightings and created the Nessie legend. In April that year, a local couple spotted an enormous animal rolling and playing in the water. They reported what they had seen to the man in charge of salmon stocks in the loch who then saw the monster himself, describing it as having a six-feet-long neck, a serpentine head and a huge hump. He suggested the creature was a total of 30 feet in length. In the July a family from London were driving along when they almost crashed into a massive dark, long-necked animal that strolled across their path and then
disappeared into the water. Similarly, early the next year a young veterinary student was riding his motorcycle along the road when he almost struck a creature. He said what he saw had a large bulky body, with flippers, a long neck and a small head.

Over the years, many people have tried to capture the creature on film. One Nessie witness managed to take a rather inconclusive photograph of something appearing from the water in 1933. In 1934 a London doctor released a most mysterious photograph of the monster to the public. It showed a strange head and neck appearing from the water; 60 years later it was revealed to be a fake. In April 1960 an aeronautical engineer used a 16mm movie camera to film something moving through the loch’s waves. Although it has never been established exactly what is captured on the film, experts at the Royal Air Force’s photographic department have verified that the footage is not a fake and has not been tampered with. Dinsdale himself devoted the rest of his life to finding Nessie.

Recent years have also provided new sightings. In June 1993, a couple were on the bank of the loch when they saw a huge, strange creature lolling about in the water. They said it must have been about 40-feetlong, with a giraffe-like neck and very light brown flesh. Later that same evening, a father and son were on their way home when they spotted something odd in the water. They later told reporters they saw an animal with a neck like a giraffe swimming swiftly
away from the shore. Because of the evidence accrued during these two episodes, bookmakers William Hill slashed the odds of there really being a Loch Ness Monster from 500-1 to 100-1.

Despite over 3,000 similar sightings by private individuals, Nessie has always been coy about exposing herself to dedicated, scientific research teams. The Academy of Applied Science from Boston, Massachusetts operated the first extensive expedition in the early 1970s. Using underwater cameras and sonar equipment, the project captured images of what looked like an eight-foot-long flipper, an unusual 20-foot-long aquatic body, and even a hazy photo of a creature’s face. However, an organised, structured sonar sweep of the loch in 1987, named ‘Operation Deepscan’, revealed the earlier portrait picture of Nessie was actually a tree stump. That said, Deepscan did report various, unaccounted-for, large sonar echoes moving about in the extreme depths of the loch.
The first photo of the Loch Ness Monster, which sparked the current ‘Nessiemania’.

Although these hunts have proved inconclusive, other recent scientific evidence has been more hopeful. In March 2000, a team of Norwegian scientists, the Global Underwater Search Team, picked up bizarre noises in the loch’s water. At one point whatever was making the sounds even crashed into the team’s underwater microphone. This group had already recorded unusual sounds from another mythically monster-infested lake in Norway. The strange noises found in Loch Ness are described as a cross between a snorting horse and a pig eating, closely matching the experiences in Norway. Not only does this suggest there are unknown creatures in both lakes, but they might actually be related. In recent years, sonar equipment has also discovered huge underwater caverns opening onto the bottom of the loch. These structures have been termed ‘Nessie’s Lair’, and may well be large enough to house and hide a whole family of monsters.

It is agreed that a breeding colony of beasts would be needed to continue its existence, and some witness accounts have reported more than one Nessie appearing on the water’s surface. Nessie’s actual species is still unknown although experts have suggested it may be a manatee or type of primitive whale. It my also be a large otter, a long-necked seal, a huge eel, or even a giant walrus. However, Nessie seems to bear a much stronger resemblance to a creature now thought to be extinct. This is called the plesiosaur, a marine dinosaur that has not been found on Earth for over 60 million years. It had large flippers, a small head and a large body, and some experts believe a few of these animals were stranded in the loch after the last Ice Age.
Monster hunters: the search for Nessie goes on.

None of these suggestions are completely plausible. Even if the plesiosaur did survive the disaster that wiped out the rest of its fellow prehistoric creatures, it is generally believed to be a cold-blooded animal, and would find the chilly environment of a Scottish lake too cold to survive. If Nessie is really a modern day aquatic mammal like a whale or a seal, then it would constantly have to come to the surface for air, resulting in many more sightings. One cannot help but feel there might actually be something in the murky depths of Loch Ness. With a continued interest that actually grows with each unsuccessful scientific study, this loch remains the home of the world’s most mysterious, unexplainable monster.

*) Matt Lamy


Tarn in the foothills of the mountain of Ben MacDhui.IN THE SCOTTISH HIGHLANDS lies a mountain where many have felt a dread quite unlike anything else they have ever experienced. As the fogs and mists roll across the cairns, they say there lurks a creature huge and terrifying. They call it ‘Am Fear Liath Mor’, or the ‘Big Grey Man’. Some see him as an old figure in robes, a giant, or even a devil. The creature does not just threaten with a force of physical power, this beast also causes an almost suicidal sense of depression and panic in all who come near it.

Ben MacDhui is the second highest mountain in Scotland, standing at over 4,000 feet. It is an imposing sight and a substantial test for experienced climbers. Many of the witnesses who see, or feel the presence of, the Grey Man are serious, hardened mountaineers, not prone to flights of fancy. The first person to reveal he had met the mountain’s strange tenant was Professor Norman Collie. Collie was a respected and well known climber, but when he gave his speech to the Cairngorm Club in 1925, the audience was truly stunned.

Collie explained that he had been coming down from the peak of Ben MacDhui in 1891 when he heard footsteps behind him. At first, shrouded in mist, he rationalised that it must just have been an echo of his own footfalls. But eventually he realised the noises he heard were not corresponding to the movements he was making. It sounded like a giant was following him. He said it was

as if someone was walking after me, but taking steps three or four times the length of my own.

Terrified, Collie blindly ran for four or five miles down the mountainside until he could no longer hear the noise. Collie never returned to the mountain, and to his dying day resolutely believed there was, ‘something very queer about Ben MacDhui.’

During the Second World War, Peter Densham was a mountain rescue worker, locating and saving pilots who had crashed in the Cairngorms. One day he was at the top of Ben MacDhui when a heavy mist started to fall. He sat and waited for conditions to improve. After a while he began to hear strange crunching noises and suddenly felt a presence close by. He stood up to investigate, but was immediately seized by a feeling of panic. Before he realised what was happening,
he was running down the mountain, dangerously close to the sheer cliff edge. He said afterwards ‘I tried to stop myself and found this extremely difficult to do. It was as if someone was pushing me. I managed to deflect my course, but with a great deal of difficulty.’

Since then, many people have spotted a strange being, or felt an overpowering sense of impending doom in the area. One of the most recent encounters occurred in the early 1990s. Three men were walking in a forest just outside Aberdeen. One of the party spotted a human-shaped figure running across the track a little way ahead of them. He told his friends, and when they all looked in the same direction they saw a strange, not-quite-human face. A few weeks later, the same group were driving in the area when they realised they were being followed by the same tall, dark being. The creature kept pace, even at speeds of 45 miles an hour, but eventually tired and stopped. Again, these men felt a distinct sense of terror and foreboding.

Monster enthusiasts have plenty of ideas about the beast’s origin. Some say he could be an alien, or the ghost of an old Highland race, or even a mystical, wise religious figure. One interesting theory is that atop Ben MacDhui there is a gateway to another dimension, and this creature is the gatekeeper. If this really is his role, then he is doing a good job. After an experience with the Big Grey Man, very few people have dared to venture up Ben MacDhui again.

*) Matt Lamy


A larger-than-life (we hope!) model of Bigfoot on display outside a US museum.
In the Wilds of North America a mystical ape-like creature hides in the shadows. Standing over seven feet tall and having an immense, muscled body, it should be hard to stay concealed. Many that see him say he just disappears into the background. Like a man, he walks upright, but the short black hair covering his entire body indicates he is no homo-sapien. No bodies, bones or remains have ever been found despite more than two centuries of searching. The only evidence we have of this mythical beast is its huge tracks. That is why the creature is named ‘Bigfoot’.

Like many legendary Native American monsters, Bigfoot is a central part of indigenous traditional tales. They call him ‘Sasquatch’, the ‘hairy giant of the woods’. But it was his early personal introduction to European settlers that sparked off real interest. In 1811, David Thompson, a white trader, was in the north Rocky Mountains when he spotted a set of massive 14 by 8-inch footprints. Over many years, the tales of Sasquatch spread and on 4th July 1884, the Daily Colonist newspaper in British Columbia was proud to announce that a train crew had caught a strange beast. In reality, the stocky, black-haired primate that they trapped was probably just a chimpanzee

The American and Canadian mountains gradually grew awash with stories of Sasquatch appearances; there were even reports of gangs of strange creatures attacking people in the forests. The Sasquatch phenomenon was never solely focused on the idea of a single creature, and people have always considered there might be a breeding colony. At that time, the mystical beasts were primarily of interest to lumberjacks, miners and those who lived or worked in areas where it had been sighted.

That changed in 1958 when Jerry Crew, a bulldozer operator working in Humboldt County, California, made casts of the bizarre footprints he had found. A local newspaper photographed Crew, and his picture was syndicated across the United States. The sight of a man holding a plaster cast record of the tracks of a mysterious beast started the modern Bigfoot legend. But if Crew’s discovery helped to launch the myth, it was an episode nine years later that sealed Bigfoot’s place in the American consciousness.

In October 1967, Roger Patterson and Bob Gimlin were riding on horseback through Bluff Creek, north California. They were in the area specifically looking for Bigfoot. Suddenly one appeared in their path, and Patterson was thrown from his horse. Whilst Gimlin kept a rifle trained on the beast, Patterson quickly regained his footing and ran towards the creature, filming all the time with a cine camera they had taken with them. The result is perhaps the most enigmatic evidence yet. The footage shows a large hairy biped slowly strolling into the undergrowth. Experts who have closely studied the film suggest it is a female Bigfoot, as two mammary glands are just discernible on its front.

Although the evidence is startling, many have questioned its authenticity. A still taken from Roger Patterson’s film of Bigfoot. Some experts believe, if the film is played at a slightly faster speed, it could easily be a human in a costume. However, aspects of the footage are quite amazing. For example, biotechnology scientists have said that for a creature like Bigfoot to walk upright it would need an extended heel. The creature on the film has an extended heel.

Experts in the industry initially expected the film merely to be special effects, but they have been unable to find any tell-tale signs that it is a hoax. Similarly, a group of Russian scientists who attempted to determine the correct speed of the film came to the conclusion that the creature really did have a long, lumbering gait. However, Gimlin himself has entertained the possibility that he might have been an unwitting participant in a hoax orchestrated by his friend. This we shall never know as Patterson died of cancer in 1972.
A still taken from Roger Patterson’s film of Bigfoot.

More recent sightings of the ape-man have taken on a new and bizarre twist. People have reported seeing UFOs in the regions of Bigfoot appearances. Also, the creatures are now said to have bright red eyes and be carrying glowing orbs. This may seem a strange development, but Sasquatches were always reported as having a quality beyond the physical, and it has always been suggested that when they die, Bigfoot bodies vanish into the ether. This is a shame, because to really accept Bigfoot’s presence, the world needs to see some hard, physical evidence.

*) Matt Lamy


Tracks of the Beast? The ten pence coin shows the scale of this paw-print.Whether it is a native cat, previously thought extinct, or an escaped exotic pet, the Beast of Bodmin is a creature that refuses to disappear. Indeed, sightings of the panther-like creature continue apace and, unlike other mysterious beasts, modern technology is actually helping to prove its existence. Bodmin Moor is an area of National Park land in Cornwall, southwest England. Since 1983 there have been over sixty sightings of big cats in the area, and some experts suggest there may be a whole breeding population on the moors. In fact, one recent sighting was of a mother cat and her cub together. Despite wide-ranging testimonials from reliable witnesses, a British government report in 1995 concluded that there was no evidence of big cats on the moors.

However, since 1995 some quite startling, tangible evidence has been produced. A 20-second video released in July 1998 clearly shows a large black animal roaming the moor. Experts believe the footage is the best evidence yet to support the idea that big cats are living in the area. Many also suggest the beasts may be a native species of cat which was thought to have become extinct over a hundred years ago. Around the time of the video release, Maurice Jenkins, a quarry weighbridge worker was driving near Exmoor, near Bodmin, when he spotted an odd beast at the side of the road. He trained his car headlights on the creature. Jenkins said afterwards:

It was a big black pussycat. His eyes reflected in my headlights and I slowed down so I could get a better look and it sat watching me. It was the size of a collie dog with jet-black head and tail. He leapt away and made off into the fields.

Real biological evidence has also been found in recent years. A large skull with huge fangs was found near the River Fowey on Bodmin Moor. The bones were sent to mammal specialists at the British Natural History Museum who, when they examined it, quickly realised that the skull did not belong to a creature normally found in the English countryside. Because of the size and position of the teeth, they also deduced that it was the head of a large cat.

In November 1999 a spate of farm animal mutilations on Bodmin Moor caused a hightech option to be introduced in finding the beast. When a calf and two sheep were attacked and torn apart by an unknown creature, a motion-activated infrared video camera was installed on the moor. Similarly, in January 2001, reserve volunteers from a nearby Royal Air Force base used state-ofthe-art night-vision military equipment to hunt for the creature. Rather than practise exercises against an imaginary foe, RAF commanders thought that it would be more interesting for the troops to look for the fabled Beast of Bodmin. Whether the RAF found any trace of the Beast is not known.

Certainly, the idea of strange big cats roaming Britain is not totally bizarre. In May 2001, a peculiar, vicious-looking wild animal was found in the garden of a house in Barnet, north London. A huge team of armed police, RSPCA inspectors and vets were needed to capture what turned out to be a lynx. A similar event happened in September 1998 when people living close by, in Potters Bar and South Mimms, were told to stay indoors whilst police looked for a large cat sighted there. Generally, however, such animals pose little threat to the human population.

Farmers in southwest England do not agree that these creatures are so benign, and manyThe Beast strikes again; or is it in fact a fox with a rabbit? sceptics believe the Beast of Bodmin is, if anything, an escaped foreign cat. A number go missing from zoos and wildlife parks each year, and Britain’s 1976 Dangerous Wild Animals Act made ownership of exotic big cats illegal. Some people believe that if such a pet were to escape from a private collection, its owner would be hesitant to report it missing. Whatever the truth about its origin, there is growing, indisputable evidence that a large, black, feral cat is stalking the land of Bodmin Moor.

*) Matt Lamy

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