Thursday, December 27, 2012

The "Leaping Yeti" Video: A Closer Look

As posted here a week or so ago, there is an interesting video clip making the rounds on the internet that seems to have captured the imagination of not just cryptozoology enthusiasts but the public at large. The video, allegedly shot somewhere in the Ural Mountains of Russia, shows what appears to be a large hair-covered creature bounding through the woods away from the camera bearing witnesses. Many have been quick to dismiss the video outright; as much for the fact that it was first posted to YouTube as because of anything related to its content. I actually find the video more intriguing than any other clip or photo I’ve seen in quite some time. I think it is worth taking a closer look.

I find the “leaping yeti” video, as it has been dubbed, intriguing for many of the very reasons some people are attacking it. The subject is moving and bounding in an odd manner. Why would a yeti or sasquatch be bouncing around like that? I’ll be the first to say that I have no idea. It could have something to do with the terrain it was negotiating though that is speculation. If so, it could be that the creature decided this mode of locomotion was the quickest way to escape. What I do know is that I’ve seen video of young chimps and gorillas at play that bounded and jumped about in very similar ways. In addition, this odd leaping behavior has been observed by alleged sasquatch witnesses before. A very good friend of mine, and fellow TBRC member, had a sighting near the Trinity River in southeast Texas back in May of 2004. The report can be read here. Following is a snippet from his account describing a leaping wood ape:

“It leapt across the trail much like a long jumper, landed on the right side of the trail and leapt again into the woods…”

My friend has been asked many times why he thought the creature he saw would jump in such a manner rather than just run. His answer has varied little over the years. He simply says that he has no idea and only knows that is what he saw.

Another thing that I see in the video that makes me want to give it a second look is the presence of what appears to be a gluteal cleft. To put in laymen’s terms, and more crudely, there seems to be a butt crack present. Costumes, especially the cheaper ones which normal folks might be able to rent or buy, do not feature gluteal clefts. Even high-end suits used in big budget movies do not correctly portray this anatomical feature. Take, for example, 2001: A Space Odyssey. The creatures shown look like they are wearing furry pants when seen from the rear. This movie featured state of the art special effects and they got it wrong. 2001: A Space Odyssey was released in 1968. What about more recent films featuring ape costumes? Did any of them get it right? King Kong (1976)? Nope. Greystoke: The Legend of Tarzan (1984)? Nope. I’ve yet to see a movie or television show featuring a man in a suit that incorporated this feature. Recent high-end movies, like the 2005 remake of King Kong and Rise of the Planet of the Apes, have shown at least a hint of a gluteal cleft on their apes. The key here is that these special effects are generated completely through computer animation using real apes as their models. There is no costume involved. I do not believe a truly convincing ape suit, featuring a gluteal cleft, exists; at least not one that is available and that would be affordable to the general public.

Another thing about the subject in the video is the length and width of the arms. They clearly appear in the best still frame to be proportionately much longer and more muscular than the arms of a human in a costume would be. In addition, the arms appear to be at least as long, and longer to my eye, than the legs of the subject. This is a very ape-like characteristic. Many descriptions of the Asian yeti seem to point to it being more ape-like in appearance than the North American sasquatch. This video could be evidence of that.

The coloration of the subject in the video also caused me to raise my eyebrows a bit. The Asian yeti is almost always described as being reddish-colored, almost orangutan-like. The subject in this video is colored very much like a silverback gorilla. In addition, the hair/fur, assuming it is hair/fur, appears to be somewhat short, as you would see on a gorilla, and not long and shaggy as has often been reported by people claiming to have seen a yeti. Granted, the distance and lack of definition in the video could be playing into what I am seeing when it comes to the length of the hair/fur but there is no arguing the coloration. A hoaxer would likely, in my opinion, give the public what it expects to see. In the case of a yeti that would be a reddish-colored suit.

The thing that gives me the greatest pause in regard to the possible legitimacy of the video is the conversation and tone of the two witnesses. Below is the video, this time, complete with subtitles. The narrator has more or less put his two cents in on the video but try to look past the spin he's putting on the whole thing and make up your own mind based on the translation provided. I mentioned in a previous post that I have a friend who was a Russian linguist/translator in the Air Force. He has verified that the translated subtitles provided are pretty much spot on.

The fact that the pair is already discussing posting the video on YouTube turns some folks off and has led many to assume this is a hoax. Why aren’t they more rattled by what they are seeing? Why aren’t they more agitated? I do not have answers to these questions. It is possible cultural differences play into the seeming lack of agitation expressed by the witnesses. I admit the reference to YouTube bothers me. I do think it is important to remember, though, that this is a different world than the one in which many of us grew up. YouTube is a daily part of younger people’s lives worldwide. Maybe it is only natural that this is the first thought the pair had. What else would someone, who is not concerned with scientific documentation, do with what they think is just a cool video?

Obviously, I can’t say for sure whether the video is genuine or not. It very well could be a hoax. I can only say that there are some things in this video that warrant a closer look. It is definitely a step beyond the typical YouTube fodder out there. In the end, I’m afraid this video sums up the problem with all photographic evidence. It isn’t good enough to be definitive. I truly don’t feel any video or photograph ever will be enough to document something as controversial as the sasquatch or yeti. You can bet even video of a higher quality would be dissected seven ways to Sunday and, given the technology available to the general public in the form of Photoshop and other programs, declared a hoax. That being the case, as unpalatable as it is to many people, I believe only a type specimen will definitively prove the existence of these creatures.

I would like to be wrong about that but I don’t think that I am.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Merry Christmas

I would like to wish all of you out there a Merry Christmas.

May we all pause a moment and remember our many blessings. I am convinced that no matter what our individual circumstances, we all have things for which to be thankful.

My best to each of you.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Rare Tropical Bird Spotted in Austin

The fork-tailed flycatcher, native to Central and South America, was spotted by birder Shelia Hargis Saturday near McKinney Falls State Park during Travis County Audubon’s annual Christmas Bird Count.

Texas Parks and Wildlife biologist Mark Klym attributes the bird sighting so far North as a product of a confused migration path.

“The fork-tailed flycatcher usually comes from Argentina to Mexico at this time of year,” Klym said. “Every once and a while one of them seems to overfly that northbound migration and end up in Texas.”

Females are usually around 12 inches and males are larger at around 15 inches long. Though the bird is around a foot long it only weighs about an ounce making it ideal for gliding through thousands of miles of airspace.

On Monday it was reported there were two fork-tailed flycatchers in the area, yet upon inspection of the image it was determined to be the flycatcher sitting with one of its relatives, the scissor-tailed flycatcher.

“We have so many people coming from all over Texas and the U.S. to see this bird,” said park ranger Amber Conrad. “This bird is relatively small, it’s like a little cotton ball with some black string hanging off of it for its head and its tail.”

Interest in the bird has brought visitors out in droves to the park with high-powered binoculars and professional video and photography equipment to capture the rare traveler. Groups of photographers seem to resemble the paparazzi as they work to get the perfect shot of the rare birds.

“A lot of people think it’s funny, and I do to sometimes, that people have this kind of obsession about seeing birds,” said Austin birder Chris Layten. “For me, it’s getting the chance to be out and to have a more intimate connection with the natural world.”

Layten and other birders flocked to the park and the surrounding area upon hearing of the flycatcher sighting. State birders have only documented 25 sightings of the fork-tailed flycatcher in Texas over the past 150 years, making this week’s discovery sensational to bird enthusiasts across the nation.

McKinney Falls will have a special program at the Smith Visitor Center at 10 a.m. Dec. 22 showcasing the bird with wildlife viewing from the center’s scenic overlook. This program is free and open to the public after park admission.

For more information and to get involved in birding visit

*This press release was originally published on the Texas Parks & Wildlife website and is reprinted here with permission.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Leaping Yeti Filmed in Russia?

Below is a video supposedly shot somewhere in Russia that shows an odd bounding creature that many feel may be a yeti. The video is, like so many others, inconclusive. However, I must say it is the first video to come along in a very long time that I've found intriguing at all.

A friend of mine, and fellow TBRC member, was a Russian linguist/translator while he was in the Air Force. He is going to try to translate some of the conversation going on in the video. That conversation could provide some insight on just how seriously we should take this video.

In the meantime, what do you think?

Sunday, December 16, 2012

The Wisdom of Dr. George Gill

"Either the most complex and sophisticated hoax in the history of anthropology has continued for centuries without being exposed, or the most manlike and largest non-human primate on Earth has managed to survive in parts of North America and remains undiscovered by modern science."

- George Gill, PhD.

Something to keep in mind before scoffing too quickly at the possible existence of a large North American primate.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Catfish Come Ashore To Hunt Pigeons

Here is something you don’t see every day…

European catfish living in the River Tarn in southwestern France have learned to hunt pigeons by lunging up and out of the water and onto dry land. The fish grab a pigeon and then manage to wriggle back into the water with their avian prey in tow. The behavior is very similar to that of killer whales hurling themselves onto land or ice packs to feed on seals. Dolphins, too, have been observed using the technique to hunt. The big difference here is that both killer whales and dolphins are mammals. As true air breathers, both of these species are better equipped to spend time out of the water than a fish. The hunting technique is bold and risky as it requires the catfish to beach themselves on land for a time. The danger of becoming stranded would seem very real.

Check out the rather amazing footage of these catfish in action below:

An abstract on the behavior published in the scientific journal Plos One speculated that the behavior is a result of an introduced species that finds itself in unfamiliar surroundings with prey different from that it is used to pursuing.

“Since this extreme behavior has not been reported in the native range of the species, our results suggest that some individuals in introduced predator populations may adapt their behavior to forage on novel prey in new environments, leading to behavioral and trophic specialization to actively cross the water-land interface,” notes one passage in the abstract.

In simpler terms, necessity is the mother of invention. The catfish, apparently stocked, or introduced in some other way, in this particular environment might have been having a hard time finding whatever food stuff they subsisted on in their native habitat. This, the theory goes, would lead them to try other methods, even risky ones, to capture new prey.

The ability of animals to adapt to new and changing situations is quite amazing. I never cease to be amazed by nature and the many surprises it holds. There is literally no telling what you might see out there. This story should also remind us that we don’t know nearly as much as we think we do.

Source: Yahoo News

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

More Texas Black Panthers and Other Mystery Cats

When I started this blog I figured the most popular topic I would discuss would be bigfoot. That really has not turned out to be the case. Don’t misunderstand me. There is plenty of interest in all things sasquatch but sightings are rare and most people, even if they are open-minded on the subject, don’t know what to think about it all. I think the fact that my theories and ideas on the subject of wood apes don’t appeal much to the lunatic fringe plays into this a bit as well.

All that aside, by far the topic that has generated the most interest and reader feedback is that of black panthers, which aren’t supposed to exist at all, and mountain lions in places they are not thought to inhabit. The reports just roll in on a weekly basis. I figure there are many more sightings that are reported to other agencies and/or sites and many more that are not reported at all. In the area of east Texas where I grew up black panthers were not considered anything particularly special. To the folks living in the swamps and bottomlands, “long-tailed cats” of both the black and tawny varieties were just another animal that lived in the woods. They were not considered any more unusual than coyotes or bobcats though they weren’t seen as often.

Following are some of the latest emails I’ve received from readers reporting encounters with mysterious and large black cats. I’ve not spoken directly to these folks as 99% of these reports have come via comments to posts on the subject, which leaves me with no contact information. That being the case, I can’t speak to the veracity of the reports. Having said that, the reports are pretty typical of what I receive on a regular basis and, other than the fact theses folks are seeing an animal that is not supposed to exist, are not fantastic in their claims. While a hoax claim may get in below, I believe that most of these folks are being honest and have seen just what they say they have.

The italicized passages are the unedited, unless otherwise noted, words sent in to me by readers. My comments will follow each passage.


“My grandfather went on one of his regular trips through the East Ranch with the ranch foreman, a close friend of our family and former DEA agent and Texas Ranger. This was about 7 years ago in Willacy County, part of the old King Ranch. A large black cat crossed a ranch road in front of their truck, and both men returned visibly shaken, saying "There's black cats out there." It was clearly large. I have since learned the Florida panther and jaguar of the Amazon are the same cat and their range once connected both areas. I suspect it was one of these. Neither of these men would be frightened by a bobcat or jaguarundi. The jaguar is the third largest cat in the world, behind the lion and the tiger.”


This report comes from an area where large black cats have been reported more than just a few times. I even have been able to view a couple of game camera photos showing what might be a large black cat (The owner of the photo did not want them published or I would have posted them on the site). I do need to point out that the jaguar (Panthera onca) and the Florida panther (Puma concolor coryi) are not the same cat. Having said that, it is possible that what the reader’s grandfather saw was a melanistic jaguar. Jags are crossing into the U.S., mainly in Arizona, more often these days so a sighting in south Texas would not be shocking to me.


“Irvine,Ca. I am a hunter and I see about 5 to ten bobcats a year a mountain lion every five years. I know what I saw was abnormal. There is a huge black and grey striped bob tailed cat that lives in my neighborhood which dwarfs my 95 pound yellow lab. This cat is easily as large or larger than a very large doberman pincher, long legged and lean torso. I saw the cat and my dog at the same time as to make a startling comparison. Now I know what sliced up my dogs face. My friend saw him up the canyon while he was grading a lot for a custom house in 2011. It just stood there looking at him in front of the tractor. I saw him a year ago in 2011 in front of my house in the street and my mother just saw it in the backyard when our dog tried to attack it but ran into the sliding glass door at 7:13 this morning 10-29-2012. She thought it was a mountain lion, she said the head was huge!”


Robert’s report is puzzling in that the color and markings of the cat described are classic bobcat while the extremely large size of the animal would seem to rule that species out. My guess is that a larger than normal bobcat is prowling the neighborhood and that is what was seen. Male bobs average about 40 lbs. but larger specimens have been recorded. The largest ever officially documented weighed 60 lbs. It is possible that bobcats can grow larger than that. The fact that this cat is haunting a somewhat suburban area is interesting. If it is finding easy meals here it could explain the larger than average size.


“In 1988 my sister had a sighting of a big black panther mom with 2 cubs while she was driving on county road 426 to Thorndale,Tx She lived off of county road 426 near Hare and Sandoval,Tx. This is approximately 10-12 miles south east of Lake Granger.”


I’ve heard several reports of mountain lions roaming through this area. This would be the first black panther report I recall from this vicinity. The area is mostly farms and ranches and there is certainly a lot of room for a big cat to roam. In addition , the area has a very healthy deer and rabbit population which could provide the beginnings of a prey base. There are a lot of goats being raised in the area as well and I know that a number of them are lost yearly to predators. Most of the time coyotes are blamed and, no doubt, they are responsible most of the time. It is certainly possible, however, that a big cat might supplement its diet with the occasional goat from time to time.


“I have a place off of RR-165 between Blanco and Henly,Tx in the Hill country. When leaving my north gate one evening back in Sept. I spotted a very tall all-black cat of some kind walking straight and slow across the distance of my headlights shining back into the property while I was locking the gate. Judging the distance from where I saw it walk, It appeared to be about 4-5 feet long and maybe a couple of feet or more in height. No markings and just walking straight and slow between some groups of trees. Never had seen anything like it before. Recently my neighbor had mentioned about something finding about a slain animal and that all of his goats were staying close to house. Animals are good about sensing danger from 'certain predators.”


The Texas Hill Country has become a real hot bed for black cat sightings. It is more populated than it used to be just a few years ago but there are still vast expanses where there aren’t many people. Like much of Texas, the deer population is very healthy. A population of big cats could make it just fine. Add the fact that one of the few areas of Texas with a recognized population of mountain lions is in the Big Bend area just a couple of hundred miles to the west and it is plausible to think some big cats, likely young adults looking to establish their own territory, might have moved east. The black coloration reported adds a whole different dimension to this sighting, however.


“I grew up in Sabine county in east Texas. When I was a kid, my mom, my sister and I stood on our front porch and watched a very large, sleek black cat with a tail as long as it's body drink from the stock tank. It then slowly walked to a tree, stretched up and scratched on it. Over the years, I have seen large cats a number of time in the area, numerous times on the road between Yellowpine and Newton and in the bottoms of Sabine county. Nobody will ever convince me there aren't large cats in east Texas as I've seen them.”


I grew up in E-SE Texas and have always heard stories like this. In fact, Orange and Newton Counties have long been among the top counties in Texas for cougar and black panther reports. Folks in these areas, as well as those living in the Big Thicket area a bit farther to the west, will tell you these cats are, and always have been, there. If you try telling them there are no cougars in east Texas and there is no such thing as black panthers they, if you are lucky, will tell you they don’t care what you think and they know they are there and, if you are not so lucky, be willing to “defend their opinions” strongly.


“I saw a cat outside of a neighbors house when walking my dog. It was a young cougar. We have seen a pair over several years chasing down deer across the back of our property here in Marion county. I backed slowly away while it ran into the heavy trees! Awesome encounter but don't really want to have that close of one again soon. :D”


If you look at mountain lion distribution maps you will see that officials do not recognize the presence of these large predators in Marion County or any other part of east Texas. Again, many locals living in the more rural areas of E-NE Texas will disagree. I have not seen a cougar this far north but have had one stroll by near my campsite in SE Oklahoma just last summer. If these cats are present in the Oachitas there is really no reason to believe they, like black bears, are not crossing over into Texas on, at least, a periodic basis.


“I live and hunt in east Tx and this morning I heard something coming up behind me it stopped right behind my box stand, must have caught my scent and took off running saw it plain as day looked exactly like a black panther it was as close as 10 ft from me it was aprox. 6 to 7 feet long from nose to tip of tail I still can’t believe what I saw.”


I’d like to hear some more about this encounter. What was the nearest town? Did it take place on National Forest land? What were the light conditions at the time? Any additional details would be welcome. Contact me at


"Hello! Last night my Grandfather shot at what he described as a "cougar sized black cat" on our deer lease in Livingston Texas. Various hunters on the lease had reported seeing other large cats roaming around, including a regular tan cougar in the very same location that the black one was supposedly shot in. We've had a steep decline in deer and squirrel on this side of our lease this year. Also, we've found where deer carcasses that were thrown in our road by poachers, will suddenly vanish. My mother walked past the full carcass and less than 20 minutes later, she walked back and the carcass was gone. It can be smelled further back in the woods. Nothing at all was left in the woods. This was in the road directly in front of the stand the black cat was seen in. We are putting up game cameras in the area. I just saw you post about these cats and decided to let you know about this sighting! I hope that we will have photographic evidence of it soon. When the area was searched we could not find any blood, so my grandfather must have missed.

Hope it turns back up."

Name Withheld

I've had several reports of black panther sightings come in from SE Texas in the last month including another from the Livingston area (see below). Please keep me up to date on any new sightings and if you capture any images on the game cameras. If you need additional cameras let me know. I KNOW for a fact that there are cougars in the SHNF. I saw one myself in May of 2005 near Stubblefield Lake on the west side of Lake Conroe. They are there so the reported sighting of a tawny colored cat does not surprise me in the least. Thanks for the report and do let me know how your camera trapping goes.


“I have an image what may be a Black Panther taken by a game cam about 25 minutes south of Houston. Is there a way to upload an image?”


Wade, yes. Please attach the photo to an email and send it to me at I am looking forward to seeing it.


“I have to say I just saw today a big black cat NW Austin in back of my fence in private green belt. It was dark almost black about 3 feet tall, long tail.”


I live only an hour or so north of you in Temple. If you would like to discuss your sighting further just contact me at Have you seen the cat again? Have any others in the area seen the animal? If possible, please provide the exact location of the sighting. I’d like to get out and explore the greenbelt you mentioned myself. Who knows? We might get lucky.


“I saw one of these "legendary" Black Mountain Lions last week on Thanksgiving Day, around 10 am in the morning, in rural Oroville, Butte County, CA. The weather was bright and sunny and the critter was well out into the open. I was just under 66 feet away from him.

He was moving through a small orchard of dwarf citrus trees that was a part of a fenced-off ranch-style property which runs along a roadside. I'd never seen anything like this before and was very excited but not frightened. One of the first things that passed through my mind was, "This must be someone's pet leopard, or something." He didn't have on a collar or leash, or anything. I was right at the fence a good deal of the at least 7 minutes I watched him. I know I surprised him, because when he saw me, he dropped down and crouched into the grass.

He was black, and looked long and lanky, and just like mountain lions I had seen in documentaries. He had quite a long tail which was uniformly thick, carried off the ground, and curved upward. He moved with a characteristically feline grace--but not like a little kitty cat. He was about the size of a small Labrador. When he was crouched in the grass and watching me, I could see that his ears were rounded and not pointy.

He seemed content to stay crouched in the grass, so I decided to move to the southward edge of the orchard fence and see if I could get a sideways view of him. When I did that he took the opportunity to start moving north again, through a fence into the dwelling house part of the property. Since I had no luck in seeing him from the south side, I went back to my original vantage point, and when I got there, he dropped back into the grass again and watched me. He seemed very patient.

A few moments after I started watching this guy, a friend called me on my cell--which had a camera, but I never even thought of using it to get a pic...What a mistake! Oh well, such is life.

This creature was patiently crouched and I decided to try to get another sidelong view of him from the orchard. Having had no luck again, I returned and he was gone....

But now I KNOW that Black Lions do exist. I just can't prove it.”

Matt K.

This sighting is unusual due to how long the witness was able to observe the cat. It would seem the chances of misidentification are pretty slim considering the amount of time it was in view. There are really only two explanations for this sighting. Either the witness is attempting to perpetrate a hoax or he is telling the truth. I have no reason not to believe him. I only wish he had remembered that cell phone!


“Last evening, my wife and I left the home of relatives off C Taylor Rd in Argyle. We turned left onto Crawford Rd heading toward IH 35. About half way to IH 35 a black cat with a bob tail came out of the woods on the north side of the road and crossed to the south side. Right behind this cat was another slightly larger cat, but identical in description. The tail of these cats looked to be about 4-6 inches long. The heads were large and rounded. They looked like bobcats but were black.”


I’m guessing you did, indeed, see a pair of bobcats. I would be curious to know what time of evening it was when you saw the cats. Is it possible low light conditions made the cats appear darker than they really were? Having mentioned that possibility, melanistic bobs have been documented in Florida. Certainly, black bobcats are rare, and I’ve never heard of one being seen in Texas, but if they can occur in Florida I see no reason they could not occur here as well.


“I would like to send you a photo of a large black cat taken 12/02/2012 in Livingston TX. This cat is thought to be a black panther which I am told does not exist here. This type of cat has been spotted in the area over the last couple of years. It was in our neighbors yard about 2 weeks ago and then my sister managed to grab a camera and get a shot of it in her drive way going to a pipeline. She is concerned about her horses and her dog. Should she be? I cant locate your email address.”

Name withheld

I would really like to see this photo. Please attach a digital copy of it to an email and send to If this isn’t possible, let me know and I’ll send you a mailing address where a hard copy of the photo can be sent. I’ll even spring for postage, haha. I’ll greatly look forward to hearing from you.


“Me and two buddies along with one of my buddies son saw a black cat December 2nd in George West Texas. It was about 30 yards downwind of an ice chest with a deer quartered in it. We saw the cat laying down at first, then went a got a bigger light to see it better. We watched the cat for about 60 yards. It was black, about 25 to 35 #. Had a long tail. I have seen many bobcats and other wild animals but have never seen anything like this.”


Ah, George West, Texas. Birthplace of legendary folklorist J. Frank Dobie and the storytelling capital of Texas. Mountain lion sightings are not unheard of in this part of south Texas but, as with other sightings, it is the apparent melanism of the big cat witnessed that makes this incident even more unique. Of late, south Texas and the Hill Country seem to be the hot spots for black panther sightings. Many feel that jaguars are crossing the Rio Grande, as has been taking place in Arizona, and are responsible for these black cat sightings. While this is possible, I suppose, I don’t tend to buy it as an explanation for black panther sightings. If these big cats were jaguars I would think more of the normally colored and spotted animals would be reported. This is simply not the case. Jaguars do exhibit melanism but black cats are much more rare than normally colored jags. I simply do not know what type of big cat folks are seeing.

Please keep the sighting reports coming. Make sure and include as many details as possible in regards to location, time of day, light conditions, size of the cat, etc. The more detail the better. If there is anyone out there who is interested in having cameras placed on their property in an effort to document black panthers or out of place mountain lions please feel free to contact me. Getting a black panther photo is high on my bucket list.

Keep in mind the best way to effectively communicate with me is via email. I appreciate comments but am not able to reply privately unless you include your email or phone number in the body of the comment. Email is also the best way to send in any photos.

I’ll look forward to hearing from more of you who have seen these elusive big cats.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Back On My Feet

Sorry I've been MIA for a while. I've been flat on my back with the flu for a week now but am finally back on my feet. I haven't been that sick in a very long time.

I'll have some new content up before too long and maybe an announcement or two. Until then...

My best.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Sasquatch Classics Series: The 'Bear King' of Marble Falls

Texas is renowned for its tall tales, myths, and legends. It is one of the things I love the most about the state. While there are the classic folkloric tales, common to all regions of the country, such as those told about the mythical Pecos Bill, there are an awful lot of stories telling of the exploits of real people who lived and died in the Lone Star State. Exaggeration and hyperbole have infiltrated many a story of actual events to be sure; the key, however, is that many, if not most, of the better known tall tales of Texas contain seeds of truth. The events may have been romanticized over the years but, in most cases, they did occur. The trick is figuring out where the truth ends and the “yarn stretching” begins. The story of Miss Ramie Arland of Marble Falls is one such tale.

Around 1900, the story goes, Ramie Arland was unquestionably the most eligible female in Marble Falls, Texas. She was said to be quite beautiful and was considered the “belle” of the town. According to newspaper accounts of the day, Ramie went out late one afternoon to pen up her flock of goats (some accounts say it was a flock of sheep). This was one of Ramie’s daily chores and nothing out of the ordinary. It was only upon hearing Ramie scream in terror that family members realized something was wrong. Ramie’s mother grabbed a gun and rushed toward the spot from which Ramie continued to scream wildly. To her horror, other screams joined and intermingled with those of her daughter. Mrs. Arland thought they likely were the womanish-sounding screams of a mountain lion and picked up her pace in an effort to save her daughter. According to an account in the Washington Bee, “The mother could find no trace of her daughter. She returned to the house and, after collecting a hunting party, searched the woods all night.”

The search party reconvened at the Arland place at daybreak, tired, discouraged and distraught. Not only had they not found the girl, they had failed to turn up even a trace of her. If Ramie had been attacked by a cougar there should have been some sign of the event. Blood, a scrap of her dress, disturbed ground…something. Yet nothing had been found. Everyone, no doubt, feared the worst.

The mood would change shortly, however, as news came in that Ramie had been found. A man hunting several miles from the Arland home had come across Ramie as she was, according to him, “aimlessly walking about in the woods.” The hunter delivered Ramie, who seemed none the worse for wear, home to her family shortly thereafter. It was only then that she related the odd tale of what had happened to her. What follows are the words of Ramie Arland as related in the pages of the San Francisco Chronicle:

“I was walking along a narrow trail when a large black bear suddenly appeared in front of me. He quickly turned to run away when a curious looking animal, running on four feet, sprang out of the chaparral into the trail. I saw at a glance that the monster in some way resembled a human being and it flashed across my mind that I was being confronted by the ‘bear king’ of the Kickapoos. The beast threw one of its long arms about my neck, glared into my eyes, and uttered a horrible sound. I expected to be torn to fragments. The creature seized me and ran toward the mountains.”

Ramie’s account continued as she told of how the creature toted her to a cave and threw her down on the ground. She claimed that she tried to escape several times but was struck about the head and shoulders by the creature upon each attempt. Finally, resigned that her life would soon be over, she sat down on the floor of the cave and awaited the inevitable. The odd hair-covered creature with the human-like face became more relaxed once Ramie settled down and, according to her telling, actually lay down and went to sleep. Ramie waited about an hour to make sure the beast was in a deep slumber and then slipped out of the cave and escaped.

Once the story of her abduction had been related to the search party, it was decided that this beast had to be done away with as it posed a threat to them all. According to the article in the Washington Bee, “They (townsfolk) at once set out in the direction of the Moon Mountains for the purpose of destroying the monster.”

The men, following Ramie’s directions, quickly made their way to the lair of the beast where a frightening confrontation ensued. According to the article, “It ground its teeth together, and, while pounding its breast, it would roar and scream like a panther. It was now so apparent to the hunters that the thing was at least human in shape that they hesitated to fire upon it.”

The hunters were perplexed at exactly what should be done at this point. The creature was obviously a menace and a danger but they didn’t want to shoot what might turn out to be a human being if it wasn’t necessary. Yet, they were not sure what they were looking at actually was a human being at all. The decision on what to do was made for them, however, when the beast, “suddenly bounded with rage straight toward the astounded hunters. They were compelled to kill it in self-defense.”

Unfortunately, the story ends there. Nothing more is mentioned as to what became of the body of the ‘bear king’ or Ramie Arland. Such is often the case with fantastic stories such as this one. We are simply left to wonder.

There are numerous problems with the entire story. Marble Falls sits in the Texas Hill Country, but no geological formation in that area could remotely be considered a mountain range. Add the fact that there is not a range called the “Moon Mountains” anywhere in Texas and you have a pretty big issue that casts doubt on the entire episode. Another problem skeptics point to is that the Kickapoo Indians were not native to Texas. That being the case, how would a girl from Marble Falls know anything of the tribe’s legendary ‘bear king?’ Yet another reason many feel the tale is likely just a yarn created by yellow journalists to fill space in their papers, a practice not uncommon back in the mid to late 1800’s, is that Ramie Arland claimed the creature that she encountered “sprang out of the chapparal and onto the trail.” Many a botanist will tell you that there is no chaparral in Texas. It is found only in California and the Baja Peninsula. All of these inconsistencies would seem to ensure that the tale of the ‘bear king’ is nothing but another Texas tall tale.


It is true that the Kickapoo Indians were not native to Texas. The tribe was living in the Great Lakes region of the continent when they were first encountered by Europeans. Nobody seems to be able to say for sure when the tribe migrated to Texas. What is known is that after the War of 1812, two Kickapoo bands settled in Missouri. By 1833, the tribe had moved again. Most, but not all, of the remaining Kickapoo moved to Kansas. The remainder? They migrated to Texas. This might not have been the first time the Kickapoo had been present in the Lone Star State. According to some documents, the Kickapoo were given a land grant by the King of Spain in 1775. The land they were given was in the northern portion of the Spanish Territory of Mexico. This part of the Spanish Empire, north of the Rio Grande, would later become Texas. Today there are three federally recognized Kickapoo tribes remaining in the United States. One tribe resides on the Kickapoo Reservation in Kansas, another has made Oklahoma their home. The third? They are known as the Traditional Kickapoo Tribe of…Texas. It seems pretty obvious that the Kickapoo did get around. According to some scholars, even the tribal name means “stands here and there” in reference to the group’s nomadic ways, though this is disputed by some. In any case, we do know that a number of Kickapoo did come to Texas in 1833. This predates the story of Ramie Arland and makes it possible that she, and others in the Texas Hill Country, had heard various tribal legends and myths that might have included descriptions of a creature similar to that encountered by the people of Marble Falls.

It could also be debated as to whether or not there is chaparral in the Hill Country. Chaparral is, by definition, a plant community that thrives in “Mediterranean style” climates and not necessarily an individual species. It features hardy, drought tolerant plants that thrive in mild winters and hot, dry summers such as buckbrush, Cleveland sage, black sage, coast live oak, canyon live oak, and scrub oak, from which the name is derived. Technically, the chaparral ecosystem is found only on the west coast. It covers 5% of California and parts of the northern Baja Peninsula. Now, having gotten all of that out of the way, we need to address the term scrub oak. Scrub oak is a very general name that is used to describe many different types of small shrubby oaks. It is a name used frequently to this very day to describe the flora in the Texas Hill Country. All one has to do is type “Hill Country Scrub” into a Google search and this fact becomes apparent. The land where such shrubby oaks are found is often called scrub land. The term chaparral has become interchangeable with the term scrub land. It wouldn’t be too much of a stretch to think that might have been the case back in the early 1900’s as well. If so, Ramie’s description of the type of cover from which the creature sprang might not be so inaccurate after all.

What interests me most about this story is the description of the creature that allegedly abducted Ramie Arland. There is no known animal that matches the description given by the people of Marble Falls. Arland claimed that, while the creature bounded out of the brush on four feet, it “in some way resembled a human being.” She then claimed it threw a “long arm” around her neck, gathered her up, and ran off with her. It is also pointed out by two different parties just how human-looking the face of the beast was. Ramie stated it in her description of the animal and it is also pointed out in the Washington Bee article that the hunters who went after the creature were so taken aback by its human-like appearance that they hesitated to fire upon it. This all sounds very familiar to me as it is a description hundreds of people have given who claim to have seen a wood ape or sasquatch.

Equally fascinating is the description of the beast’s behavior. The idea that a sasquatch would kidnap a person is not new. This is a scenario described, fearfully, by many Native American tribes in their folklore. Of later vintage are the abduction claims of Albert Ostman and Muchalat Harry. The circumstances of these alleged abductions vary a bit from those surrounding that of Ramie Arland but, at their heart, all of them center around a hair-covered, human-like creature that nabs a human and carries them off to its lair. The description of the animal’s behavior upon being confronted by the hunters is something that should not be overlooked either. The hunters said the beast ground and snapped its teeth at them, pounded its chest, and roared/screamed at them. All of this is classic great ape intimidation behavior. While we will never know, it is interesting to speculate on whether the bounding attack described by the hunters might not have been a bluff charge; another great ape intimidation tactic. Every single one of these documented great ape behaviors, as well as many others not included in this tale, have been described by people claiming to have had an encounter with the ever elusive sasquatch.

So, it would seem, many of the holes in the story of Ramie Arland might not be so gaping after all. Mix in the fact that many of the characteristics and behaviors of the animal in question have been described both before and since by alleged sasquatch witnesses and one begins to wonder. In fact, the strange goings-on in Marble Falls at the turn of the 20th century closely mirror the nearly decade-long experiences of settlers living along the Navidad River in the years between 1837-1845. The description of the legendary wild woman of the Navidad, who was pursued across the Texas prairie by a lasso-wielding cowboy, closely matches that of the ‘bear king’ of Marble Falls. Texas was a much wilder and wide-open place during the time period in question. Is it possible that, like many other animals, the North American wood ape was more common and far-flung in those days?

I have no idea whether there is any truth to the strange tale of Ramie Arland. Most of the “problems” pointed to by those skeptical of the story can be intelligently debated. The one exception is the portion of the story involving the cave in the mountains. The mention of a cave doesn’t bother me, as the entire Hill Country region is riddled with them, but the “Moon Mountains” reference is a tough one for me to get past. There are no mountains near Marble Falls and there is no mountain range by that name anywhere in Texas.

You would be hard pressed to find anyone in the area that is even familiar with the tale of Ramie Arland these days; yet, the story is still whispered around the fires of Central Texas campgrounds by a few old-timers to this day. It is likely that the next generation of Texans will never hear the story at all. That being the case, the truth about what, if anything, actually happened in the Texas Hill Country back around 1900 will remain elusive. With every passing day, the facts retreat farther and farther into the mists of time. There they will remain; forever out of our reach.

Additional Source:

Friday, October 26, 2012

The Wisdom of Alfred Wallace

Alfred Wallace (1823-1913) was a man of many talents. The Englishman was a naturalist, explorer, geographer, anthropologist, and field biologist of great renown. While he discovered and documented many species previously unknown to science, he is probably best known for his ideas on evolution and natural selection. Wallace is one of the scientists with whom Charles Darwin corresponded and whose observations he cited when he published On the Origin of Species, which outlined his own theories on evolution, and The Descent of Man, in which he applies evolutionary theory to human evolution and sexual selection.

As an early proponent of evolution and natural selection, Wallace faced much resistance and criticism from the more conservative corners of society and religious institutions. Whether you believe in evolution or not is not the point right now. What is relevant is that Alfred Wallace knew what it was like to present something new and different to a scientific establishment and public that were dogmatic in their beliefs and strongly resistant to new ideas and theories.

Wallace said, "Truth is born into this world only with pangs and tribulations and every fresh truth is received unwillingly. To expect the world to receive a new truth, or even an old truth, without challenging it, is to look for one of those miracles which do not occur."

This is a quote that I keep in mind when I argue for the existence of a large, unknown primate on the North American continent. There is enough evidence out there to support the theory that the North American wood ape, or sasquatch, does likely exist.

Maybe one day, mainstream science will be open-minded enough to take the good hard look that the evidence warrants. If that were to occur, I think this whole mystery could be solved in fairly short order.

Hopefully, the idea of mainstream science considering the possibility that the sasquatch exists is not just, “one of those miracles which do not occur.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Critical Habitat Set Aside in Texas for Endangered Subterranean Insects and Amphipods

First it was spiders, now it is beetles and amphipods. It seems some of the smallest "Texans" are finally getting their due.

Last week the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service proposed setting aside 169 acres in the Texas Hill Country in an effort to protect the habitat of the Comal Springs riffle beetle (Heterelmis comalensis), Comal Springs dryopid beetle (Stygoparnus comalensis), and Peck’s Cave amphipod (Stygobromus pecki). The area, which includes parts of Comal and Hays Counties, has been identified as “critical habitat” for the species in question. As far as anyone knows, these three freshwater species exist only in four springs, which are all found in this part of the Hill Country.

Tierra Curry, of the Center for Biological Diversity stated, “These unique Texas creatures need protection of both their surface water and the underground recharge area and I’m so pleased they are getting the protected critical habitat they need to survive.”

This is a move that has been a long time coming. The Center for Biological Diversity along with several citizen conservation groups filed suit against the Fish and Wildlife Service in an effort to force them to designate critical habitat for these species once they were listed under the Endangered Species Act in 1997. While some critical habitat was designated in 2007, these groups deemed it insufficient as the protection only extended to surface water and did not include any of the underground recharge areas of the Edward’s Aquifer, which are also vital to the survival of these species. Another suit was filed which led to this proposal.

The new critical habitat areas overlap and include 39 acres of surface habitat and 139 acres of subterranean habitat for the Comal Springs dryopid beetle. Also included are 38 surface acres and 138 subterranean acres for the Peck’s Cave amphipod. Finally, 54 surface acres are included for the Comal Springs riffle beetle.

All three of these species are in imminent danger of disappearing. The Peck’s Cave amphipod is dependent on a clean and steady flow of water. While recent droughts in Texas have been hard on this species it has shown more resiliency than initially expected in the dry conditions the last few years. Even so, as the water level in the Edward’s Aquifer dwindles, so do the number of Peck’s Cave amphipods.

The Comal Springs riffle beetle is an aquatic insect with some pretty amazing abilities. For example, on its underside, it has a large mass of small and unwettable hairs. The species can use the hairs to form an air bubble which it uses to breathe underwater. This beetle, too, needs clean, flowing water that has a high content of dissolved oxygen to survive.

The Comal Springs dryopid beetle is a blind aquatic insect that, surprisingly, cannot swim at all. It lives in air-filled underground caves and cavities near flowing water.

Most Texans likely have never laid eyes on any of these species. Most have probably never heard of them either; however, it is small species like these that often give us much insight into the health of a particular ecosystem. They are a barometer of sorts, if you will. If we can save these small creatures we may end up saving larger, more familiar, species as well.

Besides that, it is simply the right thing to do.


Thursday, October 18, 2012

Endangered Spider Halts Highway Project in San Antonio

What some are calling the eight-legged discovery of the millennium occurred last month in NW San Antonio. An endangered species of spider, not seen in more than three decades, was found in a natural hole in, of all places, a highway median.

A biologist discovered the presence of a Braken Bat Cave meshweaver (Cicurina venii) after a heavy rain exposed a six-foot deep hole in the median area near the intersection of Texas State Hwy 151 and Loop 1604 where the Texas Department of Transportation is building an underpass. Biologists from a company called Zara Environmental have been working side by side with TxDOT construction workers on the project since April as the area where the project is located is known for its abundant wildlife that includes songbirds and rare cave animals. After the eyeless spider, no larger than a dime, was positively identified the project was halted. Just how long the $15.1 million project will remain on hold is anyone’s guess but it doesn’t look like it will restart anytime soon.

The Braken Bat Cave meshweaver was added to the federal government’s endangered species list in 2000 along with eight other “karst invertebrates” that, as far as anyone knows, are found only in Bexar County, Texas. The specimen was collected in a bottle and dissected; a step necessary to ensure proper identification. The collection and dissection of endangered species is allowed for the purpose of identification if done by someone with a federal permit. Zara Environmental biologists meet that criteria. While some, no doubt, will be angered by this development, it was necessary. It seems that this species is identical in appearance to another spider that lives in the region. The differences are all internal and there was simply no other way to know for sure if this was indeed the endangered Braken Bat Cave meshweaver. Now that taxonomists have confirmed that this specimen was the endangered spider, steps will be taken to protect the habitat and the species in the area. Losing even a single endangered creature, like this arachnid, is unfortunate but the sacrifice of this one specimen could mean survival for its species.

Make no mistake, this discovery is a very big deal. Zara Environmental’s president, Jean Krejca, said it was akin to “stumbling on a new Galapagos Island in terms of the biological significance of the region.” Stirling J. Robertson, the team leader for TxDOT’s environmental affairs division, said, “From a conservation standpoint this is an amazing coup.”

The Braken Bat Cave meshweaver was first identified by George Veni, a hydrogeologist, back in 1980 in NW Bexar County only about five miles from the current construction site. The cave where Veni found the rare arachnid was later filled in and a residential development was built on top of it. The species was not seen again until last month. The species is literally back from the dead.

There are likely to be some legal fireworks to come. The underpass project was meant to ease traffic congestion on this stretch of highway that sees about 80,000 vehicles per day. Bypassing the area may not be an option. The entire area is riddled with small cave-like holes that could be spider habitat. What happens next is anyone’s guess but it is likely a judge, and not a biologist, will make the final call.

It is a decision that could decide the final fate of the Braken Bat Cave meshweaver.


Sunday, October 14, 2012

Sasquatch Sighting Reported in Panola County, TX

Hit the link here to read a brief story out of Panola County, TX detailing a reported wood ape sighting.

Make sure and check the links at the end of the story which lead directly to TBRC investigation reports from the same area.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Endangered Jaguars Granted Critical Habitat in the American Southwest

The news sure can be depressing. For the most part, all you hear about are the ills of the world. War, terrorism, droughts, and famine rule the 6:00 p.m. time slot. Every now and then, however, you actually hear something encouraging. This would be one of those times. After years of legal wrangling, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has finally granted jaguars protected territory within the borders of the United States. To say this has been a long time coming would be an understatement.

Jaguars (Panthera onca) once roamed freely about much of the American South and Southwest. The largest cats in the Western Hemisphere, and third biggest in the world behind only tigers and lions, jaguars inhabited parts of Arizona, New Mexico, California, and Texas. The cats sometimes wandered even farther north and east as there were documented sightings of jaguars in Colorado and North Carolina in the late 1800’s.

As the population boomed and Manifest Destiny took a firm hold on the collective American mind, more and more humans began invading jaguar territory. Farmers began cultivating the land for agriculture, which rendered it useless as jaguar habitat. Ranchers, hostile to the jaguar due to potential predation of their livestock, would shoot the big cats on site. The growth of urban centers and the development that followed swallowed even more habitat. It wasn’t long before jaguars became scarce and rarely seen. In fact, they all but disappeared north of the Rio Grande. They became little more than ghostly memories in the United States as the surviving cats were limited to Central and South America and Mexico.

Somehow, some way, that began to change in the 1980’s. Jaguars began to be reported north of the border in Arizona. Many of these reports were not taken seriously by wildlife officials at the time; however, and nothing was done about them. Then, in 1996, a southern Arizona hunter photographed a jaguar near the border. This prompted jaguar advocates to jump into action and soon groups began petitioning the government for official protection for the species and its habitat. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service resisted, however. The FWS came to the conclusion that jaguars didn’t need special protection in the U.S. to survive. One of the strongest jaguar advocate groups, the Center of Biological Diversity, filed suit to fight this ruling in 2007. The predictable legal wrangling ensued with neither side budging or gaining ground until 2009 when something remarkable took place.

On February 18, 2009 a male jaguar was captured inadvertently in a trap set by the Arizona Game and Fish Department. The trap was intended for black bear and/or mountain lions and was being used to survey the population of these two species south of Tucson. The jaguar was identified as Macho B, a cat that had been photographed via trail cam before. The jaguar was evaluated and, though very old at an estimated 15-16 years, given a clean bill of health. The big cat was fitted with a lightweight satellite tracking collar in the hopes that the data gained would reveal more about jaguar habits in Arizona. This was not to be, however, as the data soon revealed Macho B was anything but healthy. Tracking information revealed a continuously diminishing range. The decision was made to recapture Macho B and try to determine what was wrong. To make a long story a bit shorter, the jaguar was recaptured, found to have terminal kidney failure, and euthanized.

The death of this jaguar was quite controversial. Euthenasia always is, I suppose. Many thought Macho B should have been released to live out his few remaining days in the wild while others felt putting him down was doing the cat a favor by ending his suffering. Regardless, the death of this jaguar was a disappointment to all. It did serve, however, as a rallying point for conservationists who picked up the pace in their efforts to gain protection for the jaguar, and its habitat, in Arizona.

The fight was far from over though. Jaguar advocates argued that jaguars belonged in the American Southwest as they were part of the region’s historical fauna and would have inherent value to the ecosystem. Others added that the government actually owed the jaguar critical habitat as the original extirpation of the big cats in the region came mainly at the hands of the feds via a predator extermination program that ran from 1918-1964. In addition, it was argued, the government initially failed to list jaguars under the Endangered Species Act, an oversight that took the federal government more than 25 years to correct. Other prominent conservationists disagreed and claimed it would be a monumental waste of time, money, and resources to focus on jaguar recovery in the American Southwest as it was marginal habitat at best and was more than 200 kilometers away from the nearest breeding population in Mexico’s state of Sonora.

The arguments, for the moment, have come to an end with the government’s move to designate 1,309 square miles across southern Arizona and a small piece of southern New Mexico as prime habitat that is essential for the survival of the endangered jaguar. The designated land includes mountain ranges in rural Pima, Cochise, and Santa Cruz counties in Arizona and portions of Hidalgo County in New Mexico. These are areas that are known to have been occupied by jaguars, at least periodically, since 1962 and meet the government’s criteria of having rugged terrain, expansive open spaces, availability of surface water, an adequate prey base, minimal human presence, relatively easy access to northern Mexico, and be 3-40% covered by Madrean woodlands including oak, juniper, and pine or by semi-desert grasslands.

Whether the American Southwest can support a breeding population of jaguars remains to be seen. The one thing both sides of the jaguar argument agree on is that, for there to be any hope at all for the species to bounce back in the region, substantial conservation efforts will have to be extended into northern Mexico. Regardless, the jaguar now has a fighting chance.

I think that is cause to be hopeful.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Ancient Wisdom

"Nature is wont to hide herself."

- Heraclitus (540 BC - 480 BC)

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Jane Goodall To Speak At University of Arkansas

Renowned primatologist Dr. Jane Goodall will be speaking at the University of Arkansas on Friday, October 5th. She will be giving a lecture entitled “Making a Difference: An Evening with Jane Goodall.”

Goodall is the founder of the Jane Goodall Institute and a United Nations Messenger of Peace who became well known in the 1960’s for her work studying wild chimpanzees on the eastern shore of Lake Tanganyika at the Gombe Stream Reserve. Her book, The Chimpanzees of Gombe: Patterns of Behavior is considered the seminal work on the subject of chimpanzee behavior.

This is a rare opportunity to hear one of the foremost primatologists in the world speak. The lecture will be held inside Barnhill Arena and is part of the University of Arkansas’ 10th birthday celebration for the school’s Honors College.

The event is free and open to the public. If you have the opportunity to go and hear Dr. Goodall speak I highly recommend that you do so.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Cryptids in the Bible Series: Leviathan

Normally, I keep things on this site pretty regional in nature. I concentrate on the goings on here in Texas and the surrounding states of Louisiana, Arkansas, Oklahoma, and New Mexico with the occasional glimpse into interesting happenings south of the border in Old Mexico. However, I’m going to widen things out a bit for this particular entry to discuss a question that has interested me for a long time; are cryptid creatures mentioned in the Bible?

A few weeks ago, I was reading in the book of Job. I’ve always found this Old Testament book very interesting. Whether you believe the book of Job to be a true historical account of events that really took place or just an allegory meant to make a point really makes no difference for our purposes here. What I’m interested in is a creature mentioned and described in great detail in the book. This creature has been the subject of much debate for centuries and may have inspired stories of a terrible monster that is found in the mythology of nearly every ancient culture the world over: the Leviathan.

The Leviathan is actually mentioned several times in the Old Testament. Psalm 74:14 and Psalm 104:26 reference the Leviathan. Of particular interest to me is Isaiah 27:1 which reads:

“In that day the Lord will take his terrible, swift sword and punish Leviathan, the swiftly moving serpent, the coiling, writhing serpent. He will kill the dragon of the sea.” (New Living Translation)

The books referenced above all describe a creature of great strength that lives in the sea: a classic sea serpent in every sense. Leviathan sounds like an animal for which a great amount of respect should be afforded. Most biblical scholars believe that, in Isaiah, the term Leviathan is being used symbolically as a term for Pharaoh, the king of Egypt. While this may be true, the writer of the passage is comparing the Egyptian ruler to what seems to be an animal known to the people of the time; a “coiling, writhing serpent” of great power. The “dragon of the sea.”

While the Old Testament books above make brief mention of the Leviathan, the book that actually goes into the greatest detail about the beast is the book of Job. It gives a very clear picture of the appearance, size, and abilities of the Leviathan.

For those unfamiliar with the story of Job allow me to provide a bit of context. Job is generally believed to be the oldest book of the Bible and has a little bit of everything. Job rises to a position of importance and prosperity only to lose everything (wealth, family, friends, and health) but gathers himself and rises again. The book centers around the eternal conflict between good and evil as Satan spars with God over whether or not Job will turn his back on his Creator if his life suddenly, and without warning, goes awry. Satan does everything in his power to get Job to curse God but ultimately fails, as Job remains faithful. The purpose of the book seems to be to address the age-old question of why bad things happen to good people. It is widely considered to be one of the greatest books in the history of world literature. It is during Job’s low period when he begins to question God as to why these terrible things have befallen him that God answers him sternly. It is during this exchange that the Leviathan is described in great detail. You can read the entire passage in Job: 41 but I’ll hit some of the highlights below.

Job 41: 1 – “Can you catch Leviathan with a hook or put a noose around its jaw?” (New Living Translation)

Job 41: 7 – “Will its hide be hurt by spears or its head by harpoons?” (New Living Translation)

Job 41: 9 – “No it is useless to try to capture it. The hunter who attempts it will be knocked down.” (New Living Translation)

In the passage God is making a point to Job. He is basically saying, “Who are you to question me?” He emphasizes his strength and omnipotence by asking if Job, or any human, can capture, kill, or tame the mighty Leviathan. Whatever Leviathan was it was obviously quite powerful and dangerous. Also, it was clearly a creature of the water. Other more descriptive passages follow:

Job 41: 12-17 – “I want to emphasize Leviathan’s enormous strength and graceful form. Who can strip off its hide and who can penetrate its double layer of armor? Who could pry open its jaws? For its teeth are terrible. Its scales are like rows of shields so tightly sealed together that no air can get between them. Each scale sticks so tight to the next. They interlock and cannot be penetrated.” (New Living Translation)

Now things are getting really interesting. The physical description above is pretty detailed. Based on these passages, most scholars believe that the creature being described is a Nile crocodile. I feel confident most people out there know that the Nile crocodile is a deadly predator. It is a known man-eater. Certainly the assumption that the Leviathan is a Nile crocodile is an understandable and logical assumption based only on Job 41: 12-17. The problem is that the descriptions of the Leviathan do not stop after verse 17. They continue and the features and abilities ascribed to the Leviathan are really quite fantastic.

Job 41: 18-21 – “When it sneezes, it flashes light. Its eyes are like the red of dawn. Lightning leaps from its mouth; flames of fire flash out. Smoke streams from its nostrils like steam from a pot of heated over burning rushes. Its breath would kindle coals, for flames shoot from its mouth.” (New Living Translation)

THAT is pretty wild stuff. It gets more incredible still as the strength of the Leviathan is described.

Job 41: 22-34 – “The tremendous strength in Leviathan’s neck strikes terror wherever it goes. Its flesh is hard and firm and cannot be penetrated. Its heart is hard as rock, hard as millstone. When it rises, the mighty are afraid, gripped by terror. No sword can stop it, no spear, dart, or javelin. Iron is nothing but straw to that creature, and bronze is like rotten wood. Arrows cannot make it flee. Stones shot from a sling are like bits of grass and it laughs at the swish of javelins. Its belly is covered with scales as sharp as glass. It plows up the ground as it plows through the mud. Leviathan makes the water boil with its commotion. It stirs the depths like a pot of ointment. The water glistens in its wake, making the sea look white. Nothing on earth is its equal, no other creature so fearless. Of all the creatures, it is the proudest. It is the king of beasts.” (New Living Translation)

Here is where I feel the Nile crocodile theory loses some steam. The crocodile was widely known even in ancient times and, while a predator worthy of inspiring terror, it was a far cry from the beast described in Job 41. Why would the author of Job ascribe fire-breathing abilities to a crocodile? What crocodile, fearsome though it might be, could ever “kindle coals” with the breath from its mouth? In addition to the fire-breathing qualities ascribed to the Leviathan, the animal is described as all but invulnerable. Again, crocodiles are big and dangerous reptiles and are well armored; however, the statement, “No sword can stop it, no spear, dart, or javelin,” certainly is not, nor has it ever been accurate when it comes to these animals. Crocodiles have been hunted and killed by men since ancient times. Certainly, the phrases “Iron is nothing but straw to that creature,” and “bronze is like rotten wood” do not apply to the crocodile.

It is possible that the writer of the book of Job engaged in a bit of hyperbole when describing the beast known as Leviathan. His point, after all, was to show how powerful and strong God was compared to his follower Job. He certainly makes his point. Still, this doesn’t ring completely true to me. If the writer was describing a crocodile, why would he describe abilities and characteristics that his audience would know this reptile did not possess? Wouldn’t that have hurt his credibility?

I want to ask those of you reading this a favor at this point. I would like any of you who have young children to read the description of Leviathan found in Job: 41 to them and ask them what animal they think is being described. I’d say chances are good they would come up with a candidate within moments:

A dragon.

I must admit that dragon myths have always interested me. How can ancient civilizations in Europe, China, Japan, Central America, and South America, and other locales around the globe all have stories of the same type of creatures? These cultures had little to no contact with one another. What was the basis for these similar legends? Was there an animal, found around the world, now long extinct that is the basis for the dragon myth? If so, is this mystery animal the creature described in the book of Job?

I suppose we’ll never know.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

New Mexico Hunters Attacked by Marijuana Growers

I ran across this disturbing story yesterday and thought I would pass it along.

Two brothers were out hunting earlier this week near Tajique*, New Mexico when they got a bit turned around. They pair were out hunting just before dawn and stumbled onto private land in the low light conditions. It was then that the trouble began.

Torrance County Sheriff Heath White said, “They said they ran right into large marijuana plants and, as they were looking around, four male subjects started shooting at them with assault rifles.”

The brothers, understandably so, panicked and bolted in two different directions. Fortunately, both hunters were able to make their way to safety.

“They are still very scared and very shaken up about the whole deal,” said Sheriff White.

I imagine so.

Authorities moved in shortly after the incident and pulled up about 200 large marijuana plants from the property valued at several million dollars. Police are now on the hunt for at least four men who fled from officers as they raided the property.

Sheriff White warned, “They are heavily armed and very dangerous. They’ve already displayed they will not go down without a fight. That’s very obvious.”

This incident should serve as a reminder to all of us who enjoy visiting remote spots off the beaten path to always be aware of your surroundings. Many are good about making sure they have enough water, food, fire making materials, and a flashlight but how many of us actually consider the possibility of running into hostiles like these two brothers did? Unfortunately, it is something we had better all start to consider.

There are all sorts of bad guys out there. Pot farms are all over the place and not just on private property. These growing operations are popping up in remote areas on government property like National Forests. Here in Texas, I’ve been told such operations exist in the Sam Houston and Sabine National Forests. I’ve also heard to steer very wide of any barges tied up or anchored on the Neches River as there has been a problem with floating meth labs. If all of that isn’t enough, there are still moonshiners out there too. Many would scoff at this notion and say ‘shiners disappeared when prohibition ended. I assure you nothing could be further from the truth. All of these people are committing serious crimes and stumbling upon them could prove to be a fatal mistake.

So, what are we to do? Staying home is not an option. I refuse to cede the most beautiful and wild parts of our country to criminals. That being said, some common sense goes a long way.

Make sure someone knows where you are going and when you expect to be back. Something more specific than, “I’m going camping in the Angelina National Forest,” is going to be needed. What campground? Going into the back country? Leave GPS coordinates. Authorities should know where to start looking should you get lost, hurt, or run into trouble.

Arrange a time to contact someone once you are out of wilderness areas. Be responsible about this and make it a concrete rule. Let your contact person know in no uncertain terms that if they don’t hear from you at x time something is wrong and to send help.

Some will not like this suggestion but I strongly advise you to arm yourself. I do not advocate breaking any laws. Do what you need to do in order to legally carry a firearm so that you can defend yourself should trouble arise. Being anti-gun is fine, I suppose, as long as you don’t run into a drug cartel thug who has no such bias. I would be willing to bet many would change their minds on the subject pretty fast if they or their family were in mortal danger. I do NOT advocate engaging criminals if it can possibly be avoided. Extricate yourself quickly and quietly if it is possible.

Finally, it would be good to know what a marijuana plant actually looks like. That way, if you happen to come across any of these illegal plants you will recognize it immediately and know to get out of the area as fast as possible.

Be careful out there folks.

*I've also seen this town's name spelled Taijique. Not being from New Mexico, I have no idea which is the correct spelling.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Red-Bellied Pacu Caught in Concho River

Another red-bellied pacu (Piaractus brachyomushas) been pulled out of Texas waters.

Two men catfishing in the Concho River near San Angelo hauled in the 8-pound exotic fish this past weekend. The pacu was 21 inches in length.

Often mistaken for their well-known cousin, the piranha, red-bellied pacu are turning up more and more often in Texas waters. Though pacu pack a powerful bite, their teeth are very different in appearance from those of their more voracious cousins. The teeth of the red-bellied pacu are flatter and straighter than those of piranha and used for crushing seeds and nuts and cutting through aquatic vegetation. The teeth of the red-bellied pacu are actually quite human-like in appearance.

Texas Parks and Wildlife Department officials stated the obvious when they said the red-bellied pacu had likely been a pet that grew too large for its tank and was released into the river by its owner.

Michael Price, of the San Angelo Nature Center, is quoted in the San Angelo Standard-Times as saying, “People who buy these fish don’t realize how big they can get."

Indeed, red-bellied pacu can grow up to 35 inches in length and weigh as much as 55-pounds. These fish grow quickly and it doesn’t take long for them to get too large for most aquarium enthusiasts to handle. Many, thinking they are being humane, release the fish into the wild rather than euthanizing them. This is a big mistake as red-bellied pacu have no natural enemies in Texas and can cause real problems for local ecosystems. In addition, releasing any kind of exotic animal into the wild is illegal. Violators are subject to stiff fines and possible jail time.

Please report any illegal dumping of exotic animals to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department immediately. If you have an exotic pet that you no longer want or can care for do not just release it. Contact TPWD instead. They should be able to direct you to someone who will take the unwanted animal off your hands.


Monday, September 10, 2012

The Beast of Bear Creek


The term conjures images of howling bloodthirsty monsters prowling the moors in search of human prey. Thoughts of silver bullets, the full moon, and the painful and horrific transformation of a man into an inhuman beast may come to mind. Many people consider the werewolf to be a European myth that has become part of Western popular culture only via television, comics, and movies. They would be wrong.

Texas and Louisiana actually have quite a rich tradition of werewolf, and other shape-shifting creature, legends. While I believe many have an element of truth to them, it is often impossible to separate what is fact from what is myth and hyperbole. One of the Texas legends that has fascinated me is the tale of the beast of Bear Creek.

Older residents of the Texas Hill Country may be familiar with the story of the beast of Bear Creek. It was widely believed among the early settlers of Kimble County that an old Native American shaman, among the last survivors of his tribe, had the ability to change from his normal human form into that of a large wolf. The old medicine man, it is said, would seek revenge on the white men who had decimated his tribe by transforming into his wolf persona and roaming the countryside at night killing everything from livestock to unfortunate settlers caught outside after dark. Tales of shape-shifters and skin-walkers permeate the folklore of many Native American tribes but what makes this particular example unusual is that many of the white settlers of Kimble County, in particular those near the old town of Cleo, believed the story to be true. So much so, that the image of the beast of Bear Creek, as the monster became known, was immortalized in solid rock.

N.Q. Patterson, who lived in Kimble County during the time when the beast of Bear Creek allegedly roamed the countryside, was a man of many talents. At one time or another he served as the county treasurer, county judge, and tombstone carver. It was his skill as a stone cutter and sculptor for which he is remembered to this day. Patterson, apparently, was unable to satisfy his artistic bent by carving tombstones so he took to carving figures into the limestone cliffs and bluffs near and around Bear Creek. Of the many images created by Patterson, one in particular, has become quite well known. Dubbed the “Cleo face,” due to its proximity to the small town of the same name, the large carving depicted a strange and fierce creature. The figure seemed part human and part animal. The nose was broad and protruded more than that of a person. The lips of the creature were curled back in a vicious snarl that revealed terrible fangs with which it could, no doubt, do terrible harm. The carving was quite large and became very well known in the region. Many came to the conclusion that this was a representation of the old shaman in his wolf guise; the beast of Bear Creek. Had Patterson seen the monster himself? Was he merely basing his carving on the legends he had heard or was the “Cleo face” merely a manifestation of Patterson’s fertile imagination? If N.Q. Patterson ever revealed the answer to these questions I was unable to find documentation of it.

The Kimble County area continues to be a source of some strange creature reports. These days they typically do not involve werewolves and/or shape-shifters; rather, modern day witnesses are reporting out of place mountain lions, black panthers, and the odd-looking hairless bluish-gray canines often dubbed chupacabras by the media. Lost livestock is blamed on one of these culprits more often than not. Odd screams and howls, still heard by the rural residents of the area more often than outsiders would guess, are simply dismissed as coyotes. To my knowledge, no one has reported a sighting of the beast of Bear Creek for a very long time. This is not surprising considering that the town of Cleo is now all but a ghost town. All that remains of the settlement is the rickety structure that was once the Cleo General Store and, directly across highway 2291, a building that, according to the sign over the door, once served as the Bear Creek Community Center. The people are all gone now. Whatever the beast of Bear Creek was, if it was real at all, will never be known.

Patterson’s creation has been a topic of conversation and debate for well over a century now. The “Cleo face” is said to survive, though in a badly eroded state due to years of exposure to the elements, to this very day but sits on private property to which the public has no legal access. Exactly what the carving depicts will remain a mystery. Somehow, I suspect that is exactly the way N.Q. Patterson would have liked it.

*Addendum: I searched long and hard for a photo of the “Cleo face” but came up empty. If anyone knows of or possesses a photo of this carving I would really enjoy seeing it.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Possible Sasquatch Hair Collected by TBRC

The Texas Bigfoot Research Conservancy (TBRC) has recently concluded a long-term continuous field research study called “Operation Persistence.” The goal of the operation was to observe and document the local wood ape population. Spanning ninety days and involving more than thirty TBRC investigators, the operation took place in an area located in the Ouachita Mountains in the region near the Arkansas-Oklahoma border. Members of the TBRC have operated in this area for more than a decade, including during 2011’s long-term research study, Operation Endurance.

Over the course of Persistence, investigators collected a large amount of digital and physical evidence. While the digital evidence (in the form of unattended trail-cam photography and audio recordings) is still being analyzed, several hairs collected near the group’s research facility have been inspected microscopically.

Please click here to read the details on the possible wood ape hairs collected by the TBRC.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

More Black Panther Reports From Texas

No subject I discuss on this blog generates responses from readers like the topic of large black cats. The term black panther is almost universally used to describe these large cats. As has been discussed here before, the term panther is sort of a catch-all word used to describe any number of large cats but most often is used as another name for a mountain lion or cougar. Melanism has never been observed in mountain lions so science does not recognize the existence of black panthers (the “black panthers” seen in movies, zoos, and photos are either melanistic jaguars or leopards). That means little to those who say they’ve seen them, however. Simply put, they don’t care if these cats are escaped leopards, jaguars, or an unrecognized species. All they know is what they have seen.

Following are just some of the emails and/or comments I’ve received over the last few months. Honestly, they have come in so quickly that I’ve had a hard time keeping up with them. I have not spoken to these folks directly and can’t speak to the veracity of these accounts. Having said that, these reports are very typical of what I hear on an almost weekly basis. While it is possible a reader or two might be pulling my leg, I truly believe that the vast majority of these people are telling the truth. They’ve seen something. The only question is what?

The italicized passages are the unedited, unless otherwise noted, words sent in by readers. My comments will follow each passage.

“I have a new RV campground on the Llano River near Kingsland and last night we saw a black cat, a large one, meandering through our campground. Bring you cameras here and catch a photo.”

- Anonymous

TCH Comment: I may just take you up on that if you feel the cat is still in the area. Contact me via email at with your name and address.

“My wife and son both saw a medium sized black cat just behind our back fence. We live in a rural neighborhood near Aledo, TX. I saw only the tail in the shadows and could not see detail. They had a much better look at it and described it as about the size of our black lab. At first they thought it was a bobcat but the tail was long and this animal was solid black. It was clearly stalking something on the hill behind the house. We have many deer back there and of course the fawns have just been born. Several birds were raising a ruckus for a few minutes afterwards. Time of day was about 4pm.”


TCH Comment: This account is interesting in that a long tail was specifically noted. This absolutely would rule out a bobcat as the culprit. The witness notes the cat was in shadow so it is possible it wasn’t as dark as it appeared but, even so, a cat the size of a lab in this part of the state is big news.

“I saw something while riding in a car a couple of years ago in south Fort Worth. This is a heavily residential area with a large creek running within plain view of the major road we were on. I have lived in this area for 8 years now, and frequently glance that way as it has declined and become overgrown; hard not to notice. This was late fall, everything was yellow. When I glanced to my left, I saw a black as midnight, low crouching, very large sized animal. At first I thought large black labrador, but it was much too wide and too still! The head a face were short. It was pressed into the ground making it flatten out so I couldn’t tell . I gasped so loudly the driver was stunned. I exclaimed, “Turn around!!" I've never been one to be irrational so the driver was shocked. As we passed back by the same location 60 seconds later there was nothing. I asked if we could pass one more time - nothing. I wanted to call authorities but my friend assured me nothing like that would be around here. I felt like I was crazy but I still look when I go by. Something was there, way too big to be a dog, even a great dane is somewhat skinny. This animal was solid and wide. Like black velvet, not dog fur. Its the only time I have ever seen anything like that.”

- Anonymous

TCH Comment: This report is interesting due to the location. I’ve received numerous reports of large black cats from the D-FW Metroplex. It doesn’t seem to be the kind of place a large cat of any kind could stay hidden for very long. Another detail that caught my eye was the way the animal remained in a crouched, low to the ground, position. This is very cat-like behavior and not something I would expect from any sort of canid. The only question I would anticipate skeptics asking, since the witness never mentions any movement whatsoever, is whether it is possible he/she saw an inanimate object of some sort in low light conditions. The witness never says what time of day it was when the animal was sighted but the mention of everything "being yellow" implies, to me at least, that it was during daylight hours. The witness also states that whatever was seen was no longer there after turning around and going back for a second look. This would seem to indicate that the witness saw a living creature and not a dark stump or other inanimate object.

“May 7th, 2012 @ 4:30 am in Haltom City, TX near Big Fossil Creek area off Hwy. 121 there was a large, long-tailed cat, tan in color and taller than a bumper on a mid sized car that strolled across the driveway and was caught on our outside camera. I didn’t say anything when people said we were crazy. In the past, one of our dogs was cut very bad on its hind foot and had puncture wounds on its side and back. I was with some people and they mentioned that their neighbor had told them their was a big cat in their yard one morning about 6:00 am that seemed to be exactly what we had seen and she told Texas Parks & Wildlife and local animal control but both agencies blew it off and said they needed a photo to pursue. Who is expecting to take photos of this type to accumulate evidence for them?? Don’t know if you can help or give your thoughts of sightings like this. Could this have some valid reason for me to have some concern? We only live 4 or 5 miles out of downtown.”

- Anonymous

TCH Comment: The reader mentions the big cat was caught on camera. Is the photo/footage still available? If so, it would likely be enough to get the attention of TPWD officials. In addition, I’d love to see it and possibly post it here on this site. If the sightings persist in the area let me know and we can work together to try to get the photo officials need to muster their resources. Do you have reason to be concerned? Possibly, but it is likely, assuming the big cat is not still being seen in the area, the animal was just passing through. You might keep a closer eye than usual on pets and small children for a little while but it is unlikely you have too much to worry about. Just keep your eyes and ears open and apply common sense and you should be fine.

“My wife and I were leaving a friends property in Tarpley, Texas (about 9:30 PM) on July 28, we were slowly traveling down the gravel road and there was an animal (frozen by the vehicles headlights) that at first appeared to look like a fox, but had the face of a cat. It had very long upright ears, a tail like a cat not a fox, was about 2 1/2 ft tall and about 3 1/2 ft long (without the tail) we were about 10 ft away from it and it was not spooked by my vehicle. It was a very light color of grey with darker grey on its face, the ears like I mentioned were very large. The fur colors were solid (no spots or stripes) and was way too large to be a house cat.”

- Anonymous

TCH Comment: Hmmm, this one is interesting. The witness initially thought the animal was a fox; however, the size described, if accurate, would rule this out. The animal would be too large to be a fox. Bobcats don’t always have distinct markings and do have prominent ears but the tail described seems to eliminate this species as a suspect. The grey coloration would likely eliminate a cougar as a possibility as they are tawny-colored 99% of the time. The animal sounds a lot like a jaguarundi except for the description of the large ears that were observed. Jaguarundis have small ears that are not prominent at all. Honestly, the coloration, size, and description of the ears matches the appearance of a coyote better than that of any wild cat; however, the witness mentions the tail was “like a cat, not a fox.” I assume this means it was long and thin and not bushy in appearance. If so, honestly, I don’t know what animal this witness observed.

“My husband and I just moved back to Texas June 11, 2012, and friends whom we were staying with told us about reports of a black panther in the area. Yesterday, July 18, on his way home from work about 4:00 in the afternoon, my husband saw what he described as a big, black cat crossing the road. The area was two miles past Kovar Road on the 535 outside of Smithville, Texas.”

- Txmarshall

TCH Comment: Please let me know if sightings persist in the area. You are not located too far from me and it would be possible for me to get down there and do a bit of looking around. If I had access to the areas where sightings were taking place I might be able to place some cameras in the hopes of getting a photo.

“I thought I was crazy but glad there are more like me. I was walking my small dog in a small wooded area near Kline High School in Kline, TX. Down a small dirt road I saw a large black cat. It stopped and faced me and just looked at us. It looked pretty large and, having raised domestic cats of all breeds, I know this was not a domestic. It was very intimidating. I walked behind a large fence and looked back and he was still in the same position. I tried to hurry back to get my phone and he was gone.”

- Anonymous

TCH Comment: I assume the reader is referring to Kleine, TX. If so, this is just south and west of the Sam Houston National Forest. Several big cats have been reported in the Spring/Conroe area. I know there are mountain lions in the SHNF as I saw one myself back in May of 2005. The cat I saw was a typical tawny-colored mountain lion and not black but does reinforce the notion that big cats live in or pass through the area on at least an occasional basis.

“We have a hunting ranch just outside of Tarpley, TX and this past weekend we were doing some prep work for the upcoming deer season. About 3:00 AM Sunday I had to get up to relieve myself and looked out the window and saw a large black cat (about the size of a large bobcat). He was near an outside light about 100 yards away and soon as I touched the doorknob to get a better look he was gone like a bolt of lightning! While I would hate to kill a cat like this I would sure like to ID this cat. I'll try baiting the area and setup a game camera next trip to the ranch.”

- Greg

TCH Comment: Greg, please let me know if you manage to get a photo. I’d love to take a look at it. The Hill Country State Natural Area is located near Tarpley. The TPWD describes this area as follows: “An undeveloped and secluded retreat that features grassy valleys, spring-fed streams, and steep limestone hills.” The Natural Area consists of 5,369 acres and sounds like very good habitat for a large cat. I’ve never visited this spot but do know there are a lot of deer and hogs running around down there. Mountain lion sightings are not unheard of in this area of the state.

“We live just north of Lindale Texas and noticed that our neighbors chickens, geese and ducks have all vanished. Another neighbor said her three small dogs ended up missing just the other day. She found one of her dog’s collars in her yard with blood drips by it. She also saw large cat/dog like paws by the back fence where her dog’s blood was. Do black cats normally hunt at night? What would you do if you saw one in the woods? Will they attack small kids because I have three? One neighbor also said she saw a black cat with 4 cubs in this same area about 5 years ago.”

- Anonymous

TCH Comment: It sounds like you live in close proximity to several areas that feature suitable habitat for a large predator. The Mineola Nature Preserve, Old Sabine Bottom Wildlife Management Area, Little Sandy National Wildlife Refuge, and Tyler State Park are all close by and feature abundant areas where a predator, like a big cat, could hunt and live. Having said that, I don’t feel comfortable attributing the loss of your neighbor’s animals to a big cat based solely on what has been shared above. Coyotes are much more common and could easily be responsible for the lost birds and small dogs. The sighting your neighbor had of a black cat with young is certainly enough to make one wonder but, unless there have been other sightings of big cats in the more recent past, the culprit here is probably something more common. The big paw prints you mentioned could provide some insight. Were photos taken? If so, would you mind sending them to me for inspection? I might be able to tell you if the maker of the prints was a big cat or a canid of some kind.

“Wow! This is a confirmation to my own witness and hearings about cougar and other small wild cats in Brownsville, Texas' near the Rio Grande River and previous testimonies at local bike trail.”


TCH Comment: Yes, the deep south and west regions of Texas are the only places where it is generally accepted by state officials that cougars still live and breed. I would be interested in hearing about your visual and about the sightings of these “small wild cats.”

“Up until the mid 80s there was a family of large black cats living near Thicket, TX (southeast Texas). I was a young child when these sightings were taking place so I do not have a clear memory of seeing one. However, both my parents and grandparents as well as aunt and uncle saw the cats on numerous occasions. My father hit one with his car one evening on his way home. He did not stop because he did not have a gun in the car with him. So he went home to get a gun and then returned to where he had hit the cat. When he got there the cat was gone. The location was only about a 1/2 mile from our house. The cats would even come up close to the house. I can clearly remember the sound it makes. It sounds like a woman screaming.”

- Wayne

TCH Comment: Wayne, I grew up in southeast Texas not too far from this location. The tales that came out of that area fascinated me. Stories of the “Wild Man” or “Ol’ Mossyback” (bigfoot-like creatures), the ghost lights of Bragg Road in Saratoga, and the screaming black panthers that haunted the bottoms of Village Creek and the bayous, swamps, and marshes of the Big Thicket National Preserve are burned into my mind. The folks that live in the bottoms and other remote and heavily wooded areas don’t think much about the existence of black “long-tailed” cats. They don’t know that they are not supposed to exist. These people just accept them as a natural part of the local fauna.

I will be publishing more reports sent to me by readers who have had encounters with the mysterious black panthers of Texas soon. In the meantime, if anyone would like to report a sighting or, for that matter, discuss anything at all please make sure and send me an email. I appreciate comments left on posts but cannot reply to the person leaving the comment directly. An email will allow me to reply and have a private conversation. This is also the best way to forward me any photos.

I will look forward to hearing from more of you who have seen these elusive cats.