Archive for the ‘mysteries’ category

Of Blood Rain and Star Jelly…

October 6, 2016



Every day, about 100 metric tons of material rains down on Earth’ s surface.  Episode 11 of Season 1 of Monsters and Mysteries Unsolved ventured into the sticky, perhaps revolting question of what exactly was “star jelly” and “blood rain.”  Please be advised that frog spawn will probably be discussed in the post, so if this offends or disgusts you, read no further.– You have been duly warned!

Now references to star jelly and blood rain date back to medieval times, with an account presented as far back as the year 1176.  Modern references are numerous; in November of 2001, for example, a gelatinous blob was found in Manchester, England that emanated a smell of rotten eggs, and dissolved when touched.  In 1950 in southern Philadelphia, two police officers saw a “dissolving UFO” that gave off a purplish glow, and inspired the 1958 Steve McQueen movie, “The Blob.

In Oakville, Washington in 1994, a gelatinous rain fell during a meteor shower that covered tree branches and made some individuals sick.  Two bacteria were found in samples tested by the Washington Dept. of Health that were capable of causing urinary tract infections and septicemia.  Conspiracy theories then blossomed as black planes and helicopters were later seen over the area. – –  Was Oakville chosen as a military test site? – – Was Fox Mulder summoned?  Alas, the remaining samples disappeared, and department scientists reported being told not to say anything about it.  Fortunately, an area resident kept a sample in her refrigerator (“Don’t eat the jelly, Honey!“), and it was taken to an independent lab that found bacteria present and a eukaryotic cell.  This sample then also disintegrated.

Now in India in 2001, a blood red rain fell to Earth, freaking out the residents.  Originally told that the rain was colored red by dust, it was later disclosed that the rain contained biological cells that strangely matched no known DNA.  The question was raised if these unknown cells were possibly of extraterrestrial origin.

Now Scotland has had numerous reports logged of luminous jelly falling from the sky.  Clarkson University specialist Dr. Langen feels that many of these samples are of terrestrial origin, did not fall from the sky, but are in reality…frog spawn (remember, you were warned)!  Langen exposed frog spawn to freezing and heating, and found that it could dehydrate and rehydrate in a manner similar to “star jelly.” Other creatures such as tardigrades can also survive extreme conditions of heat, cold, and even the vacuum of space.

The panspermia theory holds that life originated someplace other than Earth, and was seeded here by meteorites and comets.  While some scientists and researchers believe that Earth was “pollinated” by outer space, others do not.  At any rate, should you find any star jelly lying around, don’t eat it…you don’t know where it’s been!

“The Haunted” on Monsters & Mysteries Unsolved

September 14, 2016

Ghosts and hauntings are not my usual stomping ground in this blog, and I have no intention of making such topics a routine consideration…but Halloween came a bit early to Monsters and Mysteries Unsolved in their S1/Ep08 installment called “The Haunted,” an investigation of ghostly phenomena that likely comes under the broad category of mysteries, so we’ll cover it as we have other considerations of the series.  I’ll try to organize the key segments presented, as the series usually bounces back and forth between one incident and another without presenting each to conclusion in a linear fashion, which I find frustrating.
A cornerstone of the hour was an investigation of a haunting in Mansfield, Connecticut where a woman called Amy Moore in 1989 got a bargain buy on a run-down house.  It turned out not to be such a bargain as there were reports of the walls vibrating, doors slamming, unexplained footsteps, and a door with a hook and latch leading to a third floor opening by itself.  House guests also reported unexplained sights and sounds such as growling and a flying water bottle.  When these incidents intensified over time, paranormal investigator Joe Gallant was called in.  Using multiple cameras and an EVP detector, the investigating team captured some EVP’s, but they were of poor quality.  

A second segment involved an investigation of a supposedly haunted “island of the dolls” in Xochimilco, Mexico.  The original owner of the island collected dolls to ward off spirits.  Following the drowning of a girl there, the haunting is said to have started with the dolls moving and emanating sounds.  An investigation was made by paranormal researchers, with their EMF detector showing that some of the dolls registered magnetism. While the dolls hanging everywhere were creepy, it was felt that their movements were more due to thermal changes and changes in water and moisture.  Beyond that, the power of suggestion takes over.  Sounds could come from intermittent battery operation of voice units still operative in the dolls, or be misinterpreted cries of passing cats and other animals in the environment.

England is reputed to have considerable hauntings, and so Muncaster Castle was profiled, reputed to be known for door handles inexplicably turning, and the cries of unseen children audible.  A team led by cognitive psychologist Dr. Jason Braithwaite positioned volunteers for a night in separate bedrooms of the castle, only one of which was reputedly haunted.  The volunteers, however, didn’t know which of their number was assigned to the “haunted” bedroom.  Only a third of the sample subjects reported feeling uneasy during their nocturnal stay.  Dr. Braithwaite expressed his belief that haunted experiences are all in the mind, and that the physical environment can trigger bodily reactions.

The overall tone taken by the hour was skeptical, with researcher Dr. Christopher French offering scientific explanations of paranormal experiences.  According to Dr. French, expectation is all, and ghostly experiences are essentially hallucinations, although they appear real to people having them.  The perspectives of Dr. Braithwaite were similar to this, holding that the power of suggestion can predispose haunting or ghostly experiences in the susceptible.

So there you have it…but you may want to keep the Ghostbusters in mind, just in case…

Giants, or Big Hoax?

November 23, 2014


There’s always been interest in giants, and we’re not referring to sports teams here! A History Channel series, Search for the Lost Giants: Unraveling the Mystery (S1/Ep01) investigates the myths and legends about giants that exist in every culture.

Leading the search are an unlikely duo, Jim and Bill Vieira, two brothers and stone masons from a Massachusetts town. The scrapbook of George Sheldon, a local historian, had clippings about the findings of “giant” remains, with about 1,400 – 1,500 reports supposedly in existence. One 1895 report spurring their investigation detailed the discovery of a skeleton supposedly 8′ tall that boasted a double row of teeth. Their investigation then went to the town of Deerfield, Massachusetts where the use of ground penetrating radar found impressions of a flat rectangle 12′ long that they felt might have been a burial site. As the site was protected, excavation of it was not possible.

In the nearby town of Goshen, Massachusetts there was, however, an underground tunnel 15′ deep that had received some prior study in 1980 with speculation made that it might have been a burial chamber for the ruler of a race of giants. The tunnel was covered by a 6,000 lb. rock sitting atop a 6″ thick rock slab, and nearby was an inscription in stone later determined to be in Latin. Removing the obstructing stone and rock slab, the team penetrated the tunnel to a distance of sixty feet beyond which further penetration was impossible due to a cave-in at that juncture.

Feeling that a concealed burial chamber resided beyond that point, the investigators brought in a core drill to penetrate beyond a “zipper” in the stone wall which suggested that such a secret chamber might exist beyond that point. The drill penetrated to a depth of 11′, bringing up sand from that depth which might have been conducive to the preservation of a burial. Beyond this, there was no hard evidence and no remains were produced.

At one point in the hour-long show, the amateur investigators consulted with a paleoanthropologist who termed it unlikely that giants existed in the absence of physical evidence. If a race of giants did exist, the question abides, where are the bones? Rather far-fetched explanations presented as possibilities included the thoughts that such remains were either deliberately concealed by scientists, or quietly repatriated in North America to native Americans. There are more unanswered than answered questions here, but it will be interesting to see in what additional directions this show goes…



Revenge of the Grassman!

July 28, 2014


In the two-hour season finale of Mountain Monsters, our heroes (?) battle a pack of Grassmen and nearly run afoul of trigger-happy moonshiners in Perry County, Ohio. Buck gets taken out of action by his quarry, and Wild Bill manages to set his pants on fire! Yes, it’s heart-stopping action and low comedy in S2/Ep14 of this “guilty pleasure” type show…one you may watch, but hate yourself for afterwards!

Anyways, the Ohio Grassman is the biggest of the Bigfoot-clones, standing 8′ to 10′ tall, and weighing in at about 1,000 lbs. He has shaggy reddish-brown hair, and appears to be expanding his habitat, bugging the heck out of area farmers by messing with their stuff and in some cases, causing them to live in fear.

First interviewed by the team was “Legman,” a mechanic who heard loud noises close to his house and captured an audio recording, which in team leader Trapper’s opinion sounded like a dying raccoon’s screams. The first night’s hunt took place near “Moonshine Hollow,” where a Grassman heel print and scat were found. The AIMS team did not call it scat, having colorful terms for many things that are not repeatable in polite company. The team then entered a ruined “shine house” used by area moonshiners to concoct their brew. A suspected abandoned Grassman nest was found in the house, but the moonshiners did not take the intrusion kindly, firing off a warning shot and driving the AIMS team out.

Meanwhile, Willy and “Wild Bill” sought to gather materials for trap construction from the salvage yard of “Wild Bill’s” Uncle LeRoy, who was not at home, his nephew speculating that said uncle may have had to go see his parole officer! The absence did not stop Willy and Wild Bill from claiming a junk van, and fabricating it as a trap by modifications such as putting plate steel over the van windows.

Trapper and the rest of the team interviewed “Bernie and Linda,” who had taken and shared a video of something with considerable height going past their window. Also interviewed was “Patrick,” a land owner who saw a huge, hairy being, and produced a video of the same near their cabin. On the final night’s hunt, the team received a call from a nearby farmer, who claimed that the Grassman was in his hay barn. The team hurried there, and while in the upper barn loft saw a hole in the floor. Willy poked around in that hole with his shotgun barrel, and had the weapon ripped from his hands by something in the lower barn. The team then bumbled around the unfamiliar farm complex, separating at times to better survey things. During this time, team member “Buck” got bowled over and battered by a door violently propelled inward, presumably by the Grassman. You might say that Buck got smoked by the Grassman, who seemed to be on a roll at that point. Buck was evacuated with shoulder injuries and apparent superficial bleeding. Returning to their van trap, the remaining team members found that it had been ripped apart, with all bait removed. – – You go, Grassman! Things had apparently gotten personal for most of the team members at this point, who decided to persevere despite getting their collective backsides kicked.

Falling back and seeking to gain more information, the team the next day interviewed “Erik,” a hunter, who had heard and recorded a sound that the team felt was that of the Yahoo from West Virginia. Most of the team then took the risk of going to see the moonshiners again, who met them with guns but agreed to send the team to a clandestine meeting with one of their number who, talking out of a truck, claimed that there were a pack of Grassmen, and that one was their leader. The moonshiners had apparently placated the Grassmen for some time with fermented corn left out for them, but such tributes were no longer working as the Grassmen were beginning to tear up stills and otherwise intrude on moonshiner territory. The moonshiners agreed to let the AIMS team continue their pursuit of the Grassman so as to be rid of him, but also issued thinly-veiled threats to the team if they overstepped their boundaries; these guys play for keeps, and have itchy trigger fingers.

Back at their camp at night, the team was under siege by Grassmen, and sought to chase them from the area in one of their ATV’s when the vehicle was nearly tipped over by a large rock thrown at it! They beat a hasty but awkward exit from the disabled vehicle, finding themselves encircled by multiple Grassmen, who threw multiple rocks and limbs at them, one of which hit team leader “Trapper” in the head and knocked him to the ground! Warning shots were fired which drove the attacking creatures off.

The next day, Willy and “Wild Bill” set up a “mine field” of leg hold traps buried in the ground, with the field baited by fermented corn left unannounced by the moonshiners. They also had been left a crude note of advice guiding them to a “North Point” where something existed that the Grassmen supposedly didn’t want seen. Going to a barn in that location, something pulled at Trapper’s leg, causing him to loose his balance and fall. Numerous footprints were seen outside in the snow, and Grassman “nests” were seen in the barn. Impacts were heard against the barn walls, and a “mash stash” was found in the barn where the Grassmen had stored it. The AIMS team confiscated the fermented corn, thinking that this would drive the Grassmen in search of it into their leg traps. Driving back to their camps, something thrown again impacted with the ATV, forcing the team into a defensive posture with Willy and Wild Bill going back on foot to the camp to fetch the other vehicle and finding the camp trashed. The team returned in the other ATV to go to the trap area when something yet again impacted with the ATV, that object turning out to be one of the leg hold traps that had been ripped from the ground!

Now this was pretty slick, indicating that the Grassmen had both figured out where and what the concealed traps were, and demonstrating their considerable strength in tearing them from the ground. Repeatedly under attack and thwarted at every turn and with their camp trashed, the AIMS team abandoned their pursuit at that point, but resolved to be back in the future. This looked like an end-of-season “cliffhanger” to me, intended to draw viewers back for yet another season and a potential grudge match with the Grassmen…

Death Cat of Cherokee County…

June 9, 2014


It was another case of a ferocious feline on a recent episode of Mountain Monsters (S2/Ep10, 2014).  The Death Cat in question weighs in at 500 pounds, measures 6′ long without his tail, and has a shaggy coat.  He was first spotted in the early 1800’s in Cherokee County, North Carolina so that was the location to which the AIMS team made haste.  An interesting wrinkle was the fact that this cat was not your ordinary Death Cat, having mythical qualities.  His initial appearances clocked in at about the time of the infamous “Trail of Tears” death march on which Native Americans were sent in the early 19th century, and this feline is supposedly kind of a payback for that injustice.  Supposedly, if you see the Death Cat, you will die…this is the kinda cat that not only gets your tongue, but the rest of you as well!

First interviewed was a beef cattle farmer by the name of “Herbal,” whose cattle were being killed in the classic big cat style, namely bitten by the throat and suffocated.  A 10″ paw print was found in the area.  During their first night’s investigation, the team found claw marks on a downed tree, and saw a thermal image in the brush.  Team rookie “Buck” got a bit carried away at that point, rushing ahead to pursue the beast but only catching a glimpse.  

The next day, a trip-string drop trap was constructed out of locust wood.  Interviewed was “Boone,” a farmer whose horse had been attacked, mutilated, and partially eaten.  He had a trail camera image supposedly showing part of the beast as seen from the side.  “David,” another farmer interviewed, had lost sheep killed in his barn, and also had a trail camera image taken in his tool shed.  This suggested that the creature had lost its fear of man, and was becoming bolder in invading human habitations.  

The trap was baited with a mixture of goat, pork, and urine provided by team member “Buck.”  Team leader “Trapper” was not informed of the urine component nor its origin, and low comedy hilarity ensued as Trapper put out the bait bare-handed and then stroked his beard as he was prone to do.  On their final night’s hunt, the team sought to flush the Death Cat from high country to farm country in a pincher movement executed by the split team moving towards their trap.  They found another large print, and entered an old barn where a goat leg was found.  Thinking that they had interrupted the cat in his meal, the team advanced closer to the barn loft where it was assumed that the beast had fled.  Blood dripped from above onto “Buck” at that point, soon to be followed by a goat carcass crashing to the floor.  The creature was fleetingly seen by team members running out of the barn door, and was pursued to another farm building from which he again escaped, returning to the previous building to claim his goat and make off with it…

This cat was slick!- – Although flushed towards the trap pursued by multiple armed men, he knew better than to enter the trap, avoiding it and making good his getaway.  The team did capture a number of images from a trail camera that they had posted near the site, one of which showed what appeared to be a large predacious-type feline captured in side view.  The Mountain Monsters team seemed to be awfully pleased with themselves for getting that, and considered their work well-done…and long may the Death Cat continue to confound its pursuers!

The Russian Yeti…

June 7, 2014


The Discovery Channel recently presented a two hour investigation on the mysterious deaths of nine Russian students who perished horribly while hiking in the Ural Mountains in January of 1959…the Dyatlov Pass Incident. The deaths were horrendous, involving injuries so severe that Russian investigators later ruled that they could only have been inflicted by something more powerful than a human; there were skull fractures, ribs broken, and damages to internal organs.  Injuries were compared to those which might be suffered in automobile accidents. Bodily mutilations  were also seen; one victim had their eyes gouged out, and their tongue and lips missing. The show inferred that the students were viciously slaughtered by a Yeti, investigating the history and other reported sightings of the creature in that area, and speculating on the last days of the ill-fated hiking party.  It made for compelling if disturbing viewing…

Now reports of the Yeti are numerous in the Northern Ural Mountains of Siberia, with over 5,000 eyewitness testimonies on record.  Yeti/Bigfoot creatures go by many different names dependent on the area, with those in the area of the incident often calling the cryptid the Menk or more simply, the Russian Yeti.  The creature is described as being about 8-1/2 feet high, to have little in the way of a neck, to be hairy, and walk in a bipedal fashion with somewhat of a hunched posture.  They are also reported to make whistling-type sounds that carry and reverberate.  Yeti attacks while rare are alleged to have occurred in 1925, 1945, and 1953, possibly when the Yeti feel cornered or threatened.

Anyways, none of the students returned from what was supposed to have been a two-week hiking trip. Perceiving themselves to being followed several days into the journey, tensions and concerns heightened until on their final night alive, something so frightened the hikers that they abandoned their tent, fleeing only partly dressed into the frigid night to a point almost a mile away where they split into smaller groups, all the individuals in which met with violent ends; some may have been trying to climb a tree to escape, others were found lying face down as if fleeing a pursuit from behind, and still others were found in a group intertwined together as if in hiding.  Their frozen bodies were discovered some time later, and in their abandoned and ruined camp a short note was found bearing the haunting message, “Now we know the snowman exists.”  

Film was also recovered from the doomed expedition, one image of which showed a blurry image of a large, hulking creature (see picture) that was perhaps taken on the run.  The last photo showed distorted bright lights in the sky, which it was speculated may have been some kind of secret Soviet munitions test; this was a remote location in Siberia, after all.  Thinking that this may have scared the Yeti into an attack, the investigative duo and their camera team fired off flares seeking to provoke any Yeti in the area; only one armed hunter had accompanied the group for protection.  An eerie sound was heard from the forest, with the solitary armed man suggesting that they needed to leave at that point, and wisely they did.  The team left with no hard evidence of the Yeti, but a general belief that something unknown was out there, and may well have decimated the Russian hikers in 1959.

The Soviets had closed their investigation of the incident after only several weeks, officially maintaining that overwhelming natural forces such as an avalanche had killed the hikers or caused them to freeze to death.  A surviving member of the Russian investigative team was interviewed, however, saying that a military boot cover was found at the site of the abandoned camp, suggesting that the Soviet military had been there prior to their arrival and orchestrated a cover-up.  UFO theorists also offer the explanation that perhaps the hikers were offed by aliens, with the lights in the skies that fateful evening coming from extraterrestrial craft.  High levels of radioactivity were reported to have been detected in the area, with the skin of the victims reported by one who attended their funerals to have been deeply tanned, perhaps radiation burned.  

Whatever we may choose to believe, the Dyatlov Pass Incident continues to horrify and fascinate over half a century since the event, with many unanswered questions posed that may never find resolution…


The Wampus Beast…

May 14, 2014


The Wampus Beast sounds almost made-up; if memory serves, there was even an early video game called, “Hunt the Wampus.”  The Wampus Beast in question, however, is a massive feline about five to six feet long that weighs in at five to six hundred pounds. The big cat is muscular, has eyes that are fiery in appearance, and has excellent night vision.  The pursuit of said beast became personal for the Mountain Monsters crew because their trap builder, Willy, had suffered the loss of pigs to the creature in Pleasants County, West Virginia.  Willy had also reportedly seen the Wampus Cat at the age of nine, the memory lingering with him since. 

On their first night’s hunt, the AIMS crew found scratch marks and urine high on a tree.  Team member Willy left the hunt convinced that his pigs were in danger, and sure enough three young pigs were taken and later found slaughtered.  In kind of a neighborhood interview, Nettie, a bus driver, described having a huge black beast jump in front of her vehicle on the road.  Fred, a handyman, described feeling a sensation of being watched.  A dark video supposedly showing the big cat was submitted by a cattle farmer, Nolan, who had reportedly lost cattle to the creature.

It then became “Hunt the Wampus” time! 

On their final hunt, the team found skeletal carcasses and clawed trees.  They used an animal distress call in an effort to lure the beast, and heard a growl in response.  Cows on Nolan’s farm were spooked.  A snare trap had earlier been constructed, and returning to it the team found that it had been sprung and shredded.  Large tracks were found in the immediate area.  Team leader Trapper, his group again defeated, commented of the Wampus that “I underestimated his strength.”  I guess it’s hard to keep a good big cat down…so until all this is sorted out, keep your pigs safe, hold them close, and tell them what they mean to you! Tomorrow, it may be too late…