|Posted on July 4, 2011 at 2:59 PM|
SKUNK APES: HAIRY HUMANOIDS OF NORTH AMERICA'S SOUTHERN SWAMPS AND ELSEWHERE - PART 3
Has the Momo Creature Returned?
Sunday, April 20, 2008
Tidbits of Truth (T.O.T.'s) is an investigative team lead by Dr. Allen York, PHD. Their assignment is to seek out the unknown facts about history, science and the great mysteries surrounding mankind. Their Web site is: http://tidbitsoftruth.blogspot.com/
Mrs. Laurie Samuel of Mill Spring, Missouri contacted us about a creature she tells us carried off her 70-pound hound dog last fall. Mrs. Samuel went on to say that her husband fired two barrels of buckshot into the backside of the creature that seemed to have little effect. Mrs. Samuel's requested our research team, the T.O.T.'s (Tidbits Of Truth), to look into the question: Has the Momo creature returned?
Momo is short for the Missouri Monster. Similar in nature to Bigfoot, the creature has been reported in the woods and swamps of Missouri and Louisiana since the 1940's. In 1972, two young boys were playing in there backyard in a small town in Missouri when a Momo appeared. This sighting repeated itself around the area for two full weeks causing a national media frenzy before the creature disappeared once again. A few sightings are reported each year, but Tidbits has learned that the number in southeastern Missouri has more than doubled in the last three years.
Although similar to Bigfoot, the Momo is not a Bigfoot. Momo tracks show only three toes as opposed to Bigfoot's five. Momo's coat is also reported to be thicker and darker and some have even reported a tail. The Momo too is known as a carnivore. The swamps in the area provide plenty of game, but many encounters have been caused by the Momo's hunting of domestic dogs, cats and small farm animals. Another common characteristic listed in nearly every report is the foul stench the Momo carries. Some compare it to rotting flesh, but most say the odor is so unique and disturbing that is causes almost instant nausea.
Soon the T.O.T.'s team was on it's way to St. Louis which is about 150 miles north of Mill Spring. Before long we were cruising down Interstate 55 in a rented minivan and a old Dodge Colt that our Producer Brad borrowed from his cousin. Once you exit the freeway at Jackson, it's another 75 miles down highway 34 into the heart of the Missouri swamps and the land many think is home to the Momo.
We pulled into the Samuel home about 4pm to be greeted by Mrs. Samuel and four hound dogs. Our scout, Scooter, wasted little time before diving into the thick brush that the home backs into hoping to find any hints to go on. Norma and I set about interviewing the Samuel's, while Jake and Bran dodged the dogs and unloaded the gear. Brad enjoyed the homemade peanut brittle Mrs. Samuel offered and spent some quality time annoying a parrot they kept in the parlor.
The Samuel's seemed sincere in their story of how they heard the dogs barking and came outside just as the creature struck and killed a dog named "Banjo". Laurie ran for her camera while her husband, Ben, ran for the shotgun. When they returned the creature was heading into the woods. Ben gave chase and fired both barrels into the creature, but lost track when it began to rain. Neither had seen it again, but Ben had found Banjo's body by a pond about three quarters of a mile deep into the wooded swamp.
We were an hour away from sunset when Scooter returned from his look around. He hadn't found anything, but had seen the pond Ben spoke of. We decided to set up base camp next to the pond, and with a lot of complaining from Brad, we begin the hike though the damp Missouri woods.
The thick brush made it seem darker than it really was. It was easy to understand how something could hide here without being seen, and I was grateful Scooter was with us so we could find our way back. The sky broke open when we reached the pond, and the first stars were becoming visable as we rushed to set up base camp. Bran and Scooter set up several perimeter cameras and Jacob rigged microphones in two different areas of the brush. Since the Momo is not known to eat carrion, Norma had brought along a chicken which we placed in a cage just outside the camp. If Momo was here, we were ready.
With all the equipment set up, we decided to work in teams. Bran, Jake and Brad would remain in base camp to watch the monitors and keep an eye on the chicken. Scooter and Norma would make their way around one side of the pond and I would go around the other side. A quick radio check and we were off.
The nearly full moon that night proved to be most valuable. I wanted to keep lights to a minimum, and with all the moonlight I was able to make my way using only my Flir Infrared Camera. Across the pond I could not see Scooter and Norma, and the glow of base camp quickly disappeared into the Missouri wilderness. It was one of those moments when you feel totally alone.
Making my way around the pond proved more difficult than I thought. The ground was swampy and deep with mud. My progress was slow at best. The Flir was working, but all it picked up was an occasional rabbit or bird. When I hooked up with Scooter and Norma, they told the same story. Since we didn't enjoy the thought of wrestling the mud on the return trip, we radioed base camp that we would find another way back through the woods. Base camp responded and said the only excitement they had were some giant mosquitoes that had taken a liking to Brad.
While Norma and I searched the woods for the Momo, Scooter searched for a trail back. Each turn ended in thick swamp mud, and the only big wildlife we saw were three deer who seem to be searching for a trail as much as we were.
Suddenly off to our right we could hear something large moving through the woods. Our Flir cameras were useless in the thick brush and when I fired up my flashlight, whatever was moving simply began moving faster. Quickly we searched to find it's trail and finally did. Much to our surprise and shock, there was no trail. Whatever was out there was making it's own trail without being slowed down by brush or mud. Scooter realized it's path was in the direction of base camp, so we radioed ahead to the team to be on the lookout and then gave chase down the freshly torn trail.
The radio from base camp was going crazy. This strange trailblazer was now near the camp and the chicken was going nuts. As we got closer we began to pick up a disgusting odor. I pulled a handkerchief from my pocket to cover my nose and mouth and continued on. Brad was now reporting the odor and movement in the bushes near the chicken. Against my wishes, Jake and Bran decided to grab a camera and head for the disturbance.
When we arrived a few minutes later the drama was over. Jake had a few scratches from something brushing by him and knocking him down, but Bran's cameras had not gotten a clear picture. The odor in the area was terrible, but the chicken was safe. Brad was sitting calmly at the monitors eating some more brittle. We remained at the camp until sunrise, but the odor faded away and nothing returned.
Did we have an encounter with a Momo? Although my eyes did not clearly see what was in the woods that night, it was something big and strong enough to clear a trail a grown man could not have cleared in two days using a chain saw. A bear? Perhaps, but bears rarely risk encounters with humans. Whatever this was, its aggression was unlike any I have ever seen in a Bigfoot encounter. This creature was truly unique, and we will have to return here soon and make a thorough search for the Missouri Monster also known as Momo.
MURPHYSBORO MUD MONSTER
THE STRANGE BEAST THAT PROWLED A SOUTHERN ILLINOIS TOWN
The vast reaches of forest and open fields of southern Illinois, combined with the sparse population in some areas, seem to invite weirdness that might not occur in cities and more crowded locales. In the most southern portions of the region, the Shawnee National Forest covers miles and miles of territory. The acres of forest seem almost untouched by man and some believe that strange things occasionally pass through here, unseen by human eyes.
In the summer of 1973, the town of Murphysboro in southwestern Illinois was the site of a bizarre series of monster sightings. The enigmatic creature, now recalled as the "Murphysboro Mud Monster" appeared without warning and then suddenly disappeared just two weeks later, seemingly without a trace. In its wake, the monster left a number of confused and frightened witnesses, baffled law enforcement officials and of course, an enduring legend.
The monster was first seen around midnight on June 25, 1973. A young couple, Randy Needham and Judy Johnson, were parked near a boat ramp into the Big Muddy River near Murphysboro when they heard a strange, roaring cry that shattered the stillness of the night. It came from the nearby woods and both of them looked up to see a huge shape lumbering toward them. Whatever it was, it continued to make the horrible sound and they later described the noise as "something not human".
According to their account, the monster was about seven feet tall and covered with a matted, whitish hair. The "fur" was streaked liberally with mud from the river. By the time the creature approached to within 20 feet of them, they quickly left the scene. They went directly to the Murphysboro police station.
A short time later, Officers Meryl Lindsay and Jimmie Nash returned to the area and surveyed the scene. Although skeptical, they were surprised to find that a number of footprints had been left in the mud. The footprints were "approximately 10-12 inches long and approximately three inches wide". At 2:00 AM, Nash, Lindsay, another officer named Bob Scott, and Randy Needham returned to the scene again. This time, they discovered more tracks and Lindsay left to go and get a camera. The others followed the new footprints, tracing their path along the river.
Suddenly, from the woods about 100 yards away, came the creature's terrifying scream. They didn't wait to see if they could spot the monster and instead, made a quick retreat for the patrol car. After waiting in the darkness for a little while, they got back out again and spent the rest of the night trying to track down a splashing sound they heard in the distance. Things quieted down after daylight, but the next night, the creature was back!
The first to see the monster this time was a four-year old boy named Christian Baril, who told his parents that he saw a "big white ghost in the yard". They didn't believe him, but when Randy Creath and Cheryl Ray saw an identical monster in a neighboring yard just ten minutes later, Christian's parents, and the police, quickly reconsidered the little boy's statement.
Randy and Cheryl spotted the monster at about 10:30 PM, while sitting on the back porch of the Ray house. They heard the sound of something moving in the woods near the river and then spotted the muddy, white creature staring at them with glowing pink eyes. Cheryl would insist that the eyes were actually glowing and were not reflecting light from some other source. They estimated that it weighed at least 350 pounds, stood seven feet tall, had a roundish head and long, ape-like arms. Cheryl turned on the porch light and Randy went for a closer look. The creature seemed unconcerned and finally ambled off into the woods. Investigators would later find a trail of broken tree branches and crushed undergrowth, along with a number of large footprints. They also noticed a strong odor left in the monster's wake, but it didn't last for very long.
The officers who arrived on the scene, Jimmie Nash and Ronald Manwaring, quickly summoned a local man named Jerry Nellis, who had a trained German Shepherd that was often used by the police department as an attack dog and to search buildings and track suspects. The dog immediately was sent in pursuit of the monster. He managed to track the creature through the woods and down a hill to a small pond. Eventually, the trees and undergrowth became too thick for the dog to continue and it was pulled off the track just moments after almost pulling its handler down a steep embankment. The officers began searching the area with flashlights and the dog began sniffing near the trees, hoping to pick up the scent again. He then set off toward an abandoned barn, but refused to go inside. In fact, the animal began shaking with fear and barking.
Nellis called the two officers over and they opened the barn and went inside. After a few moments, they realized that it was empty. The three men were puzzled. The dog had been trained to search buildings and Nellis could not explain why it had refused to enter the barn. A short time later, the search was called off for the night.
The Mud Monster was reported two more times that summer. On the night of July 4, traveling carnival workers stated that they spotted the creature looking at some Shetland ponies that were being used for the holiday celebration. Then, on July 7, Mrs. Nedra Green heard a screaming sound coming from a shed on her rural farm. She did not go out to investigate.
So what was the Murphysboro Mud Monster? Local authorities admitted that they didn't know. "A lot of things in life are unexplained," Police Chief Toby Berger admitted at the time, "and this is another one. We don't know what the creature is, but we do believe what these people saw was real."
According to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch newspaper, the Mud Monster emerged again as a possible culprit to an attack that allegedly occurred at the Rend Lake campground near Benton in August 1989. During the attack, gaping holes were left in a tent and animal blood was left behind at the scene. The attack was later determined to have been from dogs, but that didn’t stop local residents from speculating about the Murphysboro Mud Monster again!
In the 1989 newspaper reports, Jerry Nellis, the dog handler in the original case stated his own theories on the famous case, which left he and the other witnesses to the events as "hunted" as the Mud Monster itself. Reporters and "monster hunters" came from everywhere asking questions about the case but Nellis maintained that "in my opinion ... we were tracking a bear."
But for the rest of Southern Illinois (the news story continued) and for every outdoorsman who has, as Nellis suggests, "seen something we can't make out just beyond the headlights," that original vision reported to police on June 25, 1973, is all we need to imagine.
CAMPBELL COUNTY SKUNK APE
Is a Skunk Ape Loose in Campbell County?
October 22, 2003
By Vince Lennon
Chanel 6 News Reporter
CAMPBELL COUNTY, TN (WATE) — A new theory emerged Wednesday as a crypto-zoologist weighed in on sightings of a possible primate in Campbell County. A Crypto-zoologist, someone who studies uncataloged animals such as skunk apes, accompanied a Chanel 6 News crew in Campbell County Wednesday.
Myakka "skunk apes" have been spotted in the southeastern United States since the 1940's.
Local crypto-zoologist Chris Dotson contacted Chanel 6 News after seeing the stories on Campbell County primate sightings. "The animal people reported seeing is not a pet."
Dotson took the skunk ape photographs Wednesday to people who've claimed to have seen the primate in the LaFollette area. Dotson's convinced that what people are seeing is a skunk ape.
"We need to capture this thing the best we can," Dotson said. "People need to stay away from it, allow experts to come in who have some knowledge of large primates like this and trap this animal."
Monkey owner Jerome Love answered a summons at the Campbell County Sheriff's Department with his Macaque monkey "Mugway." Love wanted to prove it's not his animal that's loose. "If it's a monkey that's killing these cats, it's not this one and I'm tired of it."
Chanel 6 News is hearing more accounts from Campbell County residents who say they've seen the creature. Some date back 35 years. However, many people are hesitant to talk, for fear of being labeled as crazy.
In all, six cats and one dog have been killed in the last three days. And there have been a number of sightings within the last 48 hours. The warning still stands though for people not to try approaching the animal, but to report it to local authorities.
Cryptozoologists believe there could be hundreds of skunk apes across the Southeast.
THE FLORIDA SKUNK APES, STINK APES OR SWAMP MONKEYS:
Abominable Swamp Slob
Myakka Skunk Ape
The SKUNK APE is a supposed type of Bigfoot from Florida, USA, named so because it carries with it the odor of rotten sewage. The term "skunk-ape" was coined by David Shealy who heads the Skunk-Ape Research Headquarters in Ochopee, Florida. Most alleged sightings have been in and around the Big Cypress National Preserve.
However, there is also the unsettling possibility that there might actually be small populations (or a few lone individuals) of orangutans in remote areas of Florida that are descended from orangutans who escaped from international airports or from captivity as exotic pets. Note that orangutans in captivity test higher on cognitive skills tests than all other hominids save humans; the high intelligence and natural intuitive powers of an orangutan would not preclude an ability to evade capture or detection in a remote or inaccessible region of swamp land.
In August 2004, Jennifer Ward was driving on a rural road in Southern Florida. She had just been visiting a friend and, as the sun was setting, she was now on her way home with her two daughters asleep in the back seat.
Something on the side of the road caught her attention. She suspected it was an animal of some kind, but could not tell what. She slowed the car to a crawl to get a better look. It appeared to be crouched in a ditch on the roadside. It was something large. Something she had never seen before.
As she neared it, the creature noticed her and stood to its full height—on two legs. It was the last thing Jennifer expected to see. "When he saw me, he was as surprised as I was," she told the Sun-Sentinal. "I didn't stop because I was scared. It was almost dark, but I could see it and get a good look."
What Jennifer described was a mysterious creature that has been seen in virtually every state of the Union, but has never been scientifically classified. It stood six to eight feet tall, she reported, and was covered in dark hair about two inches long. The area around its eyes was whitish and its full lips had the color and texture of the pad on a dog’s paw.
Jennifer Ward had a chance encounter with Florida’s version of Bigfoot—the SKUNK APE, a name it earned because of its powerfully foul odor, which is said to be a cross between a skunk, rotten eggs and cow manure. Her highly credible sighting is one of the latest in a long list of Skunk Ape sightings that date back more than 200 years. In the past 20 years, there have been about 75 reported sightings. Several photos and even videos alleged to be of the elusive creature have also been taken.
Jennifer Ward’s account of her sighting is also highly compelling, and adds yet another piece in the hairy hominid puzzle.
The Skunk Ape or STINK APE or SWAMP MONKEY is a hominid cryptid said to inhabit the Southeastern United States, from places such as Oklahoma, North Carolina, and Arkansas, although reports from the Florida Everglades are particularly common. It is named for its appearance and for the unpleasant odor that is said to accompany it. According to the United States National Park Service, the skunk ape exists only as a local myth. Reports of the Skunk ape were particularly common in the 1960s and 1970s.
The Skunk Ape is thought to dwell in Florida’s swamps and Everglades. Researchers suspect that the individual Jennifer encountered may have been displaced by Hurricane Charley, which had recently ravaged the area.
Despite the number of sightings—the largest number of Bigfoot-type sightings outside the Pacific Northwest, where Sasquatch resides—the rangers who regularly patrol the large nature preserves are skeptical about the existence of the Skunk Ape. So far, no rangers have officially reported any sightings.
David Shealy, a Skunk Ape researcher and lifetime resident of the Everglades thinks otherwise. He believes he has evidence in the form of a plaster cast of a large Skunk Ape footprint and a reddish hair sample that was found in a broken branch seven feet above the ground. Shealy also runs a small roadside "zoo" and a gift shop stocked with Skunk Ape memorabilia, so he may have a vested interest in keeping the creature alive in the minds of the public.
SKUNK APE SIGHTINGS
There was a wave of sightings in the 1970s, all consistently describing the animal as reaching about seven feet tall, weighing about 300 pounds or more, and being foul-smelling. (Although Bigfoot or Sasquatch is also said to be bad-smelling, the Skunk Ape’s odor is particularly offensive.) Sightings became scarcer over the following 30 years and then escalated again in the 2000s, with most sightings coming out of the Ochopee area. A group of people taking a guided tour of a swamp area claimed to have seen a large, hairy ape-like creature walking along the banks of the swamp. Soon after, a local fire chief named Vince Doerr said he saw it crossing a road near his home, and before it disappeared into the swamp, he managed to snap a photo of it. Because the creature is some distance away in the photo, it is considered interesting but not conclusive evidence. In fact, Doerr himself later stated that he suspected it was just someone in a gorilla suit.
One highly doubtful bit of lore about the Skunk Ape is that one was captured alive by the U.S. Army and held captive (for unknown reasons) in a secret vault at Everglades National Park. According to the story, the powerful Skunk Ape smashed its way out of its concrete prison and escaped back into the wild. This time it’s the story that stinks; not even avid Skunk Ape advocates put much credence in this tale.
Many photos taken of the skunk ape look suspiciously like orangutans that inhabit primate enclosures of the more lavish zoos of Miami and Orlando, perhaps conveniently for their photographers. For instance, if one were to take a picture of an orangutan in its habitat enclosure and simply make sure that one did not capture structures such as bars or windows in the photo, one would have an excellent picture of a Skunk Ape that would be difficult to refute.
The most famous such photographs were taken anonymously and mailed to the Sarasota Sheriff's Department in Florida in the year 2000. These photos are known as the Myakka Skunk-Ape photos. Some claim that the photos are fakes, others that they show a man in a suit made of yak hair with a mask, and still others claim that the subject is an orangutan. Few people believe that they are photos of a Bigfoot. Known as the "THE MYAKKA SKUNK APE photographs," they clearly show a large ape-like creature.
It was later determined that the pictures were snapped by a woman in Sarasota, Florida who was concerned over an ape-like being that had been visiting her family's property regularly for several nights. One night she heard 'whoomp' sounds coming from outside, and she stepped out and snapped a picture of the yard. She claims she had no idea the Ape (or animal) was that close. According to the woman (who remains nameless to this day) she completely surprised the animal, and the first picture reflects this.
The next picture was snapped a split second later, and the ape is obviously aware of her presence. Surprised, it stands up before moving away. She said at the second flash she realized how tall it was (it was over 6 or 7 feet crouching) and she hurried back inside.
She took the photos and sent them to the police department asking them to look into this case of a missing orangutan. She wanted to inform them that there was some kind of ape on the loose, and she was worried about her safety. The photos were passed around the police department as a joke for a while, and nobody looked into it seriously. She then sent the photo to Loren Coleman (cryptozoologist/author) who pretty much made the photo famous. To this day he is the one who has carried out the most extensive investigation/examination of the picture, together with other professionals.
1) In the first picture, the animal is startled, and there is extreme flashback (reflection) from the eyes. Coleman and a researcher, who was in contact with him during the time he was doing this research, theorized that the pupils in the animals eyes were dilated in the first pic and...
2) The pupils shrink in the second photo. They refract only half as much light, and the creature stands up in this photo to reveal its teeth. Another researcher phoned Coleman to talk about this feature. It is common among apes to reveal both sets of teeth this way when in "extreme fear or anger".
To this day the Myakka Ape photos are controversial and well known. Almost everyone dismisses them as a hoax, but considering how the case was investigated, that seems somewhat unlikely. One of the characteristics that makes the photos appear to be a hoax is that the creature is so incredibly close. It is a stereotypical "moneyshot" of a Sasquatch, except this is a Florida Skunk Ape variety, and the "money shot" was never sold, only reported to the police!
If it hadn't been for the research of others into this photo, there would be no reason to believe it was a valid print. Now it appears that the reason this picture looks too good to be true is because it may be a real Florida Skunk Ape.
Is this really what Floridians see when they sight a skunk ape? Another researcher, who goes by the name of "creekfreak," claimed to have had a daylight sighting of a skunk-ape, which he described as having long brown hair and giving him a "face" of surprise when he saw it.
The photographer still has not been identified. So although the photos are compelling, and Coleman does not think they are part of a hoax, they still are not proof positive.
We've seen some of the history of sightings and descriptions of footprints; the following is a brief report on a foot print found in Georgia, that fits the descriptions of tracks that are thought to be of the Skunk Ape. The difference with this track is that it displays dermal ridges. Dermal ridges are like fingerprints.
Jimmy Chilcutt is with the Conroe, Texas police department, he is one of the leading fingerprint experts in the world, who has studied dermal ridges on both apes and man. He has publicly staked his reputation on the fact the track casts he has examined point to the existence of an unknown primate. When track casts show fine detail, Chilcutt has found that the dermatoglyphs are so unique and so detailed that it seems impossible to fake them. The dermal ridges are too widely spaced to be human and also too fine and too consistent to be faked. Only primates have dermal ridges on the hands and feet.
On November 15, 1999 Jimmy Chilcutt received from Dr. Jeff Meldrum a plaster cast footprint. The cast was made by Deputy James P. Akin of the Pike County Sheriff's Office in Pike County, Georgia in 1997 from an impression found in the Elkins Creek flood plain. The cast was 15.5" long and 8.5" wide. The Elkins Creek casting was examined over a period of several months and several areas were observed on the cast where primate dermal ridges appeared.
THE APE FILES
Before "The X-Files," there were the Skunk Ape files: two fat folders at the state's Wildlife Commission offices in Tallahassee. Not surprisingly, the files (which go back to the 1960s) are full of strange accounts and requests.
One man wrote to say he'd lived with a family of Skunk Apes for six months. Others asked whether they needed special permits to bag one. (The official answer: No, because they don't EXIST! And surely if they did, some wildlife officer would've slapped a radio collar around one's neck by now.)
Scott Marlowe—a manly man, unafraid to hike into the swamps during the wee hours, when alligators bellow and owls cry—says he has had two close encounters with Skunk Apes, said to be 7 feet tall and outrageously stinky.
"I was actually beaned by one," he said of an encounter he had in June 2005.
It happened while he and two Discovery Channel filmmakers were tracking a family of Skunk Apes. (A film about the Skunk Ape later aired as "Animal X" on Discovery.) Marlowe says one of the creatures threw a stick and whopped him on the head, drawing blood. Such are the perils of monster hunting—or, to use a gentler term, cryptozoology: the study of, and search for, creatures such as Bigfoot and the Loch Ness Monster. Marlowe—who has held various jobs, including schoolteacher and computer technician, and was working on a bachelor's degree in computer science—taught a cryptozoology class at the Florida Keys Community College. Anyone with an Internet connection could take the class, which included a deep-woods expedition.
Perhaps the saddest story in the file, though, is the saga of the GREEN SWAMP creature. A wild man was spotted in the swamps of Sumter County in 1990 and 1991. He was finally tracked down and caught by Sheriff Don Page. The swamp man's name was Hu Tu Mei. He was a 39-year-old Taiwanese mariner. He had wandered off unnoticed from Tampa General Hospital's psychiatric ward eight months before his capture in the swamps. According to news reports, he'd apparently survived by eating small wild animals raw and occasionally stealing food and other items from barns and mobile homes. After they treated him to plates of food at the jail, the deputies told the man he'd soon be able to go home to Taiwan. Later that evening, he killed himself by wrapping a belt around his neck. Such is the sad ending to the tale of the Green Swamp creature. But it's the only tale in the files that has an ending. The story of the Skunk Ape goes on and on. Why?
"That's one of those things that's always going to be around. I think people need those myths and legends," said Robert Daniels, a recently retired Florida wildlife officer of 27 years. He's seen some strange things in the Panhandle woods, the 52-year-old said, but never a Skunk Ape (also called a Swamp Ape).
Bill Arnold says he has gotten a good, unexpected look at a Skunk Ape. The longtime owner of Arnold Bicycle Sales & Service Shop in Columbus, Georgia, has property in Wakulla County, Florida, and plans to retire here. So he's often in the area and enjoys going to the beach on St. George Island. He saw the Skunk Ape, he said, on his way to St. George. (And no, he said, he had not been drinking or doing anything else to impair his faculties.)
He was on County Road 67, a long, lonely stretch of road that winds near Tate's Hell and cuts through acres of undeveloped land. It was one day about this time last summer, he said, around 6:30 p.m., when he spotted something large and dark crossing the road on two legs.
"When I first saw it, I thought it must be a bear," the 52-year-old said. "As I got closer and closer, ... I thought it might be a hunter. A big, hairy hunter."
But then he realized it couldn't be a human, either. It was too big—"probably 8 feet tall"—and it had furry hair "pretty much from top to bottom." He couldn't tell if it was male or female. It had no neck. When it turned to look at his approaching truck, its upper torso turned rather than just its head.
It was a big, hairy ape, he said. And then it was gone, disappearing into the woods on the other side. And although he's willing to have his name in the newspaper, he said, "I don't tell a lot of people." He learned quickly it was best not to.
"I got a kind of guarded reaction. 'Oh yeah, sure, uh-huh.'"
He'd heard the story of the Florida Skunk Ape before his sighting, he said, but never thought much of it. But now, "I believe it more because I feel like I really did see it."
Whenever he takes that same road, he's always on the lookout. He keeps a camera ready, just in case. (Which may not help, even if he snaps one. Photos of Skunk Apes abound, from blurry snapshots in grocery tabloids to clear photos of what looks suspiciously like Chewbacca, the Wookiee in the "Star Wars" movies.
In January 1967, four teenagers were parked in a Lovers' Lane near Elfers, Florida, when one of the girls complained, "There's a terrible smell around here. Can't you smell it?" As the others took deep breaths, "an animal about the size of a large chimpanzee" sprang onto the hood of the car
"Then we panicked!" the driver later told investigator Joan Whritenour. The thing looked like a big chimp, but it was greenish in color with glowing green eyes. I started the motor and the thing jumped off and ran back into the woods. We tore like blazes back to the dance we were supposed to be attending.
A police officer from New Port Richey later visited the site and found a sticky green substance which remains unidentified.
A BRIEF HISTORY OF FLORIDA SKUNK APE SIGHTINGS
It's entirely possible that what's being seen in Florida is different than in the Pacific North West. Until hard evidence is discovered to verify the existence we can only speculate.
Most people are skeptical of Skunk Ape or Swamp Ape reports because of a number of misconceptions. One of the biggest misconceptions is there is no place to hide. Florida has thousands of square miles of forest and bottom lands spotted with areas that are difficult to traverse if not impossible. Unbelievable as it may seem with all the development and destruction of natural habitat that has taken place, there are still plenty of wild areas to support an unknown creature such as the Skunk Ape. The Skunk Ape can easily avoid man and his settlements—with its nocturnally keen senses and physical abilities—in these large areas of closed-canopied, subtropical jungles, and swamps with dense undergrowth.
Florida's history of sightings and footprints are not unlike that of the Pacific North West. People who are reputable and of sound, sober mind have reported seeing such creatures while driving on the roadways, hunting, camping, or just strolling through the woods. Those submitting reports range from average citizens to professional people, including law officers, forest rangers, teachers and scientists themselves—people with impeccable reputations describing these legendary creatures.
The history and unexplained sighting reports strongly suggest that these creatures are real. The Florida Skunk Ape is an ongoing mystery in need of explanation. The name Skunk Ape, originated to identify these creatures, is of fairly recent origin and gives the impression that this phenomena surfaced within the last sixty years or so. In reality, sightings have been reported for over two hundred years, beginning with the Indians of Florida. The name SHAAWANOKI is an Indian name to describe these creatures long before the name Skunk Ape came about. Though reports go back two hundred years, it is true that the vast majority have only surfaced within the last sixty years. This is probably due to the fact that more people are willing to come forward, knowing that other people have witnessed the same sort of thing they have. Increased populations, decreased wild lands, and better communication has undoubtedly contributed to more sighting reports.
Here are a few of the many reports of Skunk Ape sightings beginning with a published report about an encounter in northern Florida in 1829. A giant story.
[Cryptozoologist's Note: The following list of sightings is presented with minimal corrections for spelling, punctuation or typographical errors, just as they were originally recorded.]
"A Giant Story" first appeared in the Milledgeville (Georgia) Statesman and was reprinted in the Vincennes Western Sun & General Advertiser for June 6, 1829. The story began with a Creek Indian legend about an enchanted island in the Okefenokee Swamp. The island was supposed to be inhabited by "mortals of super-human dimensions and incomparable beauty."
The story (in the language of the period) is as follows:
L. Frank Hudson, St. Petersburg; article in St. Pete Times Floridian, Mar. 26, '72.
Man named Isac, south of Branford, Florida 1942. Skunk Ape supposed to have leaped on running board for half a mile, looking in the window. Was very heavy, nearly turned car over, Jumped off and ran into the woods, about 8 feet tall.
R.D. Silkett, Lakeland, Florida 1947.
Then only three or four, playing near house in orange grove, woods behind. Looked up and saw strange upright animal with very nearly human face watching him from about 10 feet away. Gray colored. Large. Ran away, screaming into house. Little sister was with him but does not remember incident. Mother warned them to stay close to house as some animal had been seen.
Driving home from Palatka at night, truck started rattling and shaking, thought was flat tire, got out, nothing wrong. "Something behind me kind of squatted and came at me, like a gorilla it was huge, it was above the cab of the truck. All I remember clearly is its arm, with dark reddish brown hair, to me it resembled a big old man's hairy arm. That thing grunted and stunk. They took off, but not before it left huge scratches on the door from top to bottom. Children were with them.
Doug Tarrant, Robert Webb and "Pug" Big Cypress Swamp. April 1957.
About 8 miles past Tamiami Ranger Station on Hwy 41, group slung hammocks from cypress trees on small island. About 3 a.m. heard heavy foot steps. Saw about 30 feet away dark silhouette, like large man. Too big for a man, dark color, no sign of clothing. Pub said he saw eyes glowing, it walked away after about two minutes. Made very heavy crashing and splashing.
Mrs. Eulah Lewis, near Brooksville, Florida.
Outside trailer home, heard noise like crackling paper, looked up and saw thing standing there. About 6 foot, 300 pounds, dark hair about 3 inches long, no neck, huge shoulders. She ran for house, it ran too, from other side. She got there first. Heard heavy footfalls, next day found footprints back in woods. Thought they were hanging around at that period. Would call to each other, starting low then screeching very high. Sighting was at dusk.
Holopaw, H.C. "Buz" Osbun.
On ranch outside Holopaw, saw apelike creature running across a field. Prominent cattleman and citrus grower claimed he was in a group that had been within a few feet of it, and it was definitely an ape of some kind.
Holopaw, Florida, November.
Five feet tall, very broad,walked on two feet. Other stories described a six foot "ape" attacking two hunters on the Desert (Mormon) Ranch. They were supposed to have shot at it, and it went screaming into the darkness.
Romona Hibner confirms Warren Smith account. James Pakerton, near Brooksville, Florida.
Driving truck, sleeping in cab, almost in Brooksville. Heard someone approaching , opened door, 8' hairy creature grabbed his feet. He hit air horn and scared it off. He reported to Sheriff's office.
Robert Goble, from Miami near Fort Pierce, Florida.
Driving near swamp, saw ape-like creature grabbing for roots in a creek, was about 8' tall. Later saw creature's footprints, 18" long by 6" wide.
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