Archive for November, 2015

Our Weird World: Dinosaurs

A spiked, breathing, living thing you didn’t expect to ever see is glimpsed for a moment in the foliage…

We’re branching out this post with accounts of creatures thought long dead.

I’ll admit, my title is misleading. Dinosaurs are hardly cryptids. We know they were alive at some point in the past. We find bones and nests and plenty of evidence that dinosaurs were animals that once walked the earth and have long been gone.

Maybe.

Dinosaurs, probably because we don’t see them anymore, offer a chance to imagine a different world than the one here. While most predators (bears, big cats, wolves, etc.) can certainly be quite fearsome, dinosaurs seem to be on another level. Traditionally, they’ve been depicted as completely reptilian creatures with claws and teeth and massive feet and tough, leathery hides. Somehow, in not being able to be photographed, dinosaurs seem tougher, something just a little bit alien.

So what if you saw one, or thought you did?

This appears to be the case in parts of Africa.

Sightings of Mokele-Mbembe (which is herbivorous), Kongamato (something like a pterosaur), and other unexpected creatures invite speculation and legends. It’s exciting to imagine that something we thought we might not get the opportunity to see might still be alive.

Except for the difficult part.

Not being able to find these dinosaurs and conclusively prove that they are hanging out in different parts of the world, left alone and simply undiscovered. Maybe they were seen at one time. Maybe now they’re really gone.

Could they have simply died out? Possibly, since being so rarely sighted might mean that numbers are few and not rising.

Could Mokele-Mbembe be real, or real at one time recently?

Maybe.

But where are these creatures? Are they in hiding? Is there someone hiding them? Maybe they’re just shy.

Maybe they’re just legends.

But it’s awfully fun to think they’re real.


Black Creek and the Mysterious Light

A light on the tracks, where there shouldn’t be one…

Staying local this week with a tale straight from the town of Black Creek, North Carolina.

When I was a child, my dad told me the spooky story of a mysterious light that seemed to haunt the train tracks in the small town of Black Creek, in Wilson County. As the story goes, a man met with an unfortunate end on those tracks. The culprit?

A train, of course.

In the story my dad told me, the owner of the head still wanders the tracks, looking for his lost head, armed with a lantern, the only evidence that observers can see. I’ve never seen the sight myself.

The Maco Light in Wilmington is another tale of a tragic railroad death, and the never-ending unrest of the victim. I first read of the Maco Light in a book by Nancy Roberts, but the location was wrong. The Black Creek version, of course, had to come from somewhere. Recently, an article appeared in the Wilson Times (the Wilson NC newspaper) featuring some residents recounting the legend.

Are there really ghosts? I’ve shared some of my thoughts on haunted places before, more than once. I still hold that view.

I think that for every ghost light we see, there are many perfectly logical explanations. Of course, logical does not have to mean anything less than extraordinary. There are reasons for things, but those reasons might catch us off guard. How much of the unexplained is just stuff that’s always been there, just without us knowing?

What would happen if we got a full explanation that we weren’t prepared for?

Certainly something to think about.


Southern Weird: Altamaha-ha

The more you look, the more it appears that good old Nessie seems to have a very large family.

Headed south this time to the waterways of southern Georgia.

It might be the fact that people tend to find dinosaurs fascinating that leads to the numerous sightings of lake and water monsters around the world. Ultimately, dinosaurs are mysterious. We don’t know exactly what they looked like, so it would be pretty cool to see one, for instance, a Tyrannosaurus Rex still around. At least I think so.

Perhaps that’s why people are eager to claim that something unexpected might be living in the waters, shy and only glimpsed by the locals, never seen up close or clearly. Altamaha-ha, Georgia’s own mysterious aquatic inhabitant, is no different.

Altie, as it’s also called, sounds like what might be called a sea serpent, one that only lets a little of itself be seen, if at all, and maybe that’s by accident. It makes its home in McIntosh County, Georgia. Altie is said to be somewhere in the neighborhood of 30 feet long, though some reports do allow for a shorter distance. If Altie is prowling around in the waters of Georgia, a green hide might let it stay hidden.

What might Altamaha-ha be? Is it an alligator? Is it, perhaps, an alligator gar, as Hank Bart of Tulane University believes? The possibility always exists that it’s a known animal, but how would that account for the size?

Are the dinosaurs of our imaginations just shy, and is Altamaha-ha one of them?

Could there be more than one of Altie?

And, if there is, where did they come from?