When one thinks of the Sunshine State three things typically come to mind: Disney World, spring-breakers and elderly retirees. Yet most vacationers never set foot outside the infamous amusement parks or pristine beaches. Just beyond major tourist destinations are millions of undeveloped wetland acres. Gators, Burmese pythons, wild boar and endangered panthers call the region home. Some individuals claim that there is another species inhabiting Florida’s swampy terrain, an unaccounted Bigfoot-like creature called Skunk Ape. Native tribespeople were familiar with this beast long before European explorers arrived. According to Seminole legend, a monstrous being referred to as ‘hairy man’ roamed the encompassing bush. Supposedly, in the early 1800s, one particularly violent battle between early settlers and a Skunk Ape resulted in several men’s fatalities. Encounters with the elusive cryptid continued for centuries but gained notoriety after a series of sightings occurred over sixty years ago. On December 22, 2000, Sarasota County Sheriff’s department received two mysterious photographs from an anonymous source. Dubbed the “Myakka Skunk Ape Photos,” these unnerving images depict a large bipedal hominid. Accompanying the peculiar portraits was a letter from the photographer. She identified herself as a senior citizen who snapped several pictures in her backyard and had concerns for the safety of her young grandchildren. Witnesses describe the bog-inhabitants as having muscular bodies covered with red-tinged fur. They are estimated to reach heights of over seven feet tall and weigh a staggering four hundred and fifty pounds. Many who have experienced firsthand nocturnal confrontations recount glowing red eyes. Skunk Ape’s name derives from its unpleasant scent. Those within close proximity frequently report a strong foul-smelling odor, similar to methane gas or rotten eggs. Over three hundred and twenty observational reports have been filed with the Bigfoot Field Researchers Organization. Washington, California and Florida, respectively, comprise the top three states where Sasquatch sightings most frequently occur.My partner, Clint, and I traveled to an undisclosed rural Southwestern location in search of the reclusive animal. Our tightly packed truck more closely resembled a circus clown car than an expedition vehicle. With enough supplies to survive post-apocalypse, the journey away from civilization began. Idly peering out the passenger-side window, I realized this landscape was a stark contrast from my days on the Jersey Turnpike. A seemingly infinite mosaic of picturesque farmland and grazing cattle sprawled hypnotically. As the miles progressed, my mind drifted into daydreams of Skunk Ape. If this revered brute truly exists then it most certainly could thrive in such a remote place. Suddenly my cryptozoological musings abruptly halted as we made a sharp righthand turn. Completely covering the bumpy dirt road was a thick oak hammock canopy. Spanish moss hung from twisted tree limbs and created a hauntingly beautiful scene. In the distance we could see a quaint lakeside cabin; we finally reached the destination. Our fearsome protectors, two toothless senior chihuahuas, curiously inspected their new territory. While we unstrapped our canoe from the roof racks a back-woodsy looking woman slowly approached us. “Y’all taking that thang out on the water?”, she asked through her thick southern drawl. Confused, Clint replied we were planning to, and asked her if there was problem. The woman laughed and said, “Naw, it’s fine but I seen gators here bigger than that dingy”. It wouldn’t be long before we realized this lady wasn’t exaggerating.Later that night I sat alone on the front porch serenaded by a symphony of crickets, tree frogs and howling coyotes. Thousands of stars shimmered above casting an ethereal glow atop the water’s rhythmic surface. Despite the balmy and tropical evening temperatures, there was a deep chill which I could not ignore. An unshakeable sensation washed over me: something had been closely watching. Leering from the abysmal darkness a sentient presence could be sensed. Unexpectedly, a tree branch snapped from deep within the shadows. With my heart racing, I hastily gazed towards the tree line ahead. Dead dried leaves and palm fronts crunched beneath what sounded like two heavy feet. Frozen by a state of apprehensive excitement, I remained still and listened intently. The swift movements traveled further away until they eventually became inaudible.On the following morning we ventured to a National State Park. Many bizarre and unexplained disappearances take place within these sites each year. Below the sun’s pleasant rays, we briskly walked towards a nearby thicket. With each step the scenery became more wild and dense. After hours of hiking whilst scouring for prints or hair samples, a popup thunderstorm quickly developed. Towering nimbus clouds shaded the area and cool gusts of wind provided much-needed relief from overly persistent misquotes. Onwards we noticed an unusual structure erected amongst the trees. In the middle of nowhere, miles away from any designated trails, stood a massive cage. Galvanized steel beams supported the peculiar enclosure. Weaved wire paneling wrapped around all four sides creating a barrier from the outside world. Standing about fourteen feet tall, this industrial cell starkly contrasted against the surrounding greenery. Lush foliage consumed the weathered metal and produced a dilapidated appearance. I couldn’t help but wonder what purpose the holding pen might provide. Perplexed, we cautiously turned to look at each other. At that precise moment we noticed an eerie silence radiating throughout the forest. Instead of chirping birds, rustling branches and buzzing insects, an ominous stillness engulfed us. It felt as if someone had pressed a universal mute button. Intense feelings of dread formed in the pit of my stomach.Hastily we checked the time only to realize several hours had somehow passed. Both of us felt extremely disorientated and pulled out a trusted compass for guidance. Instantaneously, the device spun erratically in every direction when attempting to relocate our main route. By this point the dreary skies completely opened and colossal raindrops started plummeting down. For a lengthy period it seemed we were merely running in muddy circles. Thankfully, the distant parking lot slowly came into view. Relief ran through my veins once I spotted the truck: we were not going to be a chapter in one of David Paulides’ latest Missing 411 installments.During my week-long expedition I searched for Skunk Ape by foot, car and boat. Although I was unable to find definitive proof of such a creature, I am more confident than ever about its existence. Take Florida’s cougar population for example. Millions of people reside here but few residents have ever set eyes on the rare felines. An animal with intelligence that parallels or surpasses humans’ could most certainly choose to remain undetected. After all, they inhabit inaccessible areas teeming with gators, poisonous snakes and deadly insects. Perhaps on a future voyage my luck may change. This quest for Swampsquatch is far from over and I hope to one day come face-to-face with these enigmatic jungle-dwellers.Do you believe in Skunk Ape or have an experience you’d like to share? Let me know in the comments!
For more than a century people have had supposed encounters with unidentified species of bipedal hominids. Cultures around the world all share similar legends about these mysterious creatures. While many believe in Bigfoot’s existence others disagree and argue that if such a beast existed then one would have been captured by now. However, studies show that in an average person’s lifetime they will only see about three percent of the surrounding wildlife. It may be possible that intelligent species could be living in rural areas and remaining unseen by the general public. There are several pieces of evidence that have yet to be disputed.
Patterson/ Gimlin Film
Perhaps the most famous and iconic footage is a film that supposedly captures a Sasquatch in motion. In 1967 friends Roger Patterson and Robert Gimlin were traveling throughout Northern California on a remote logging road located roughly 38 miles south of Oregon and 18 miles east of the Pacific Ocean. At the time Patterson was shooting both he and Gimlin were riding on horseback. Indigenous tribesmen, hunters and forest rangers all suggest to remain elevated when tracking animals as it eliminates the human scent to provide better odds of a close encounter. The 16mm clip lasts about a minute while an unknown creature is seen walking upright across the frame.
Over the past five decades countless scientists have relentlessly reviewed the footage and none have been able to disprove its authenticity. Firstly, the way the creature moves is very different from a man or woman’s gait. Much of this has to due with the limb ratios. Whatever was recorded in the film has proportionately longer limbs and shorter arms than a human. Every attempt to create a costume and reproduce the same results has failed. Part of this is due to the apparent developed muscles and fat deposits, including breasts which appear to move naturally. If someone were wearing a fur suit it would be impossible to see these subtle physical traits. Patterson died of cancer in 1972 at the young age of thirty-nine. Even through his final days he maintained that what he and Gimlin saw was real.
During the 1970s Al Berry and Ron Morehead went camping in the mountains of Sierra Navada, California. That night, surrounded by vast wilderness, the pair began to hear extremely bizarre and bone-chilling noises. When they returned to the location a second time they decided to string a microphone from a tree branch and record whatever was producing these strange sounds. What followed was a haunting and compelling collection of mysterious vocalizations, which is often called “Samurai Chatter.” These creatures seemed to be conversing with one another and even interacted with Berry and Morehead when they tried to mimic their calls.
Experts were fascinated by the recordings, particularly R. Scott Nelson who was a retired Navy linguist with over 30 years of experience in speech studies. Nelson remains convinced that the audio clearly captured an intelligent conversation of a currently undocumented language. A year-long investigation performed by academic experts at the University of Wyoming concluded that whatever produced the sounds was an unknown species of primate. According to their research, it would be impossible for a human to produce similar results due to our lung capacity limits and restricted vocal rages. Other scientists, audio engineers and linguistic specialists have stated that the recording is genuine and shows no signs of being tampered with or edited in any way.
Hair Samples & Castings
Across the United States many fur samples have been collected which some claim belong to Bigfoot. It appears that the structure of Sasquatch’s medulla, essentially the solid core running down the center of the hair, is so fragmented that DNA cannot be obtained. For this reason the only testable samples are those which still have a follicle attached. Luckily several successful DNA extractions have been performed on these follicles by Doctor Melba Ketchum, a veterinary laboratory professional. She a conducted an intensive five-year-long study with a team of scientists. Their conclusion based on the DNA sequencing was that Bigfoot is “a human relative that arose approximately 15,000 years ago as a hybrid cross of modern Homo sapiens with an unknown primate species”.
Castings are another crucial piece of physical evidence. Jimmy Chilcutt, a fingerprint technician who worked with the Texas police force, was highly regarded by the FBI and DEA for cracking the toughest cases. Not only is he an expert of human prints but also those of primates. After investigating over 150 castings of potential Bigfoots, Chilcutt was shocked by what he found. The dermal ridges, the foot’s version of a fingerprint, were completely abnormal. Rather than running horizontally (as humans’ do), they ran vertically. Additionally, the ridges were twice the thickness of that of a man. Within the same set of prints was a toe splay with variations that could not be recreated by someone wearing plaster molds strapped to their feet. Both Chilcutt and zoology experts all stated that these castings were authentic and North America is home to an unknown primate.
Each year an astounding 15,000 to 18,000 new species are discovered. Might it be plausible that this sentient creature is simply choosing to remain hidden from mankind’s barbaric ways? What do you think is the best piece of evidence supporting the existence of Bigfoot? Share your thoughts in the comments!
Each year 240,000 people around the world are struck by lightning and 10% will lose their lives as a result. Thunderstorms cause more deaths than hurricanes and tornados combined. Those lucky enough to survive are often plagued with debilitating side effects. Burns, amnesia, memory problems and nerve pain are commonly experienced. Some will incur damage to their vision and hearing. Others, however, report something even stranger: an increase in psychic abilities.
In 1960 a pregnant woman by the name of Greta Alexander was living in Illinois with her husband and four children. One night during a severe summer storm her young daughter became frightened and went into her parent’s bedroom. Since Alexander wanted to get a decent night’s sleep she decided to move into the guest room. As she drifted into slumber she watched the sky flash and admired mother nature’s powerful beauty. After that Alexander can only recall waking up to her bed engulfed in flames. She noticed that all the windows were shattered and her venetian blinds were wrapped around the metal bed frame.
A cold bolt of lightning had struck Alexander and she was rushed to the hospital. Luckily both she and her baby survived. Soon after this incident, Alexander began to notice that things were different. Suddenly she could see images and hear sounds that were not physically present. She knew when the phone would ring or when her parents were coming over for an unexpected visit. Within a few years she began working with police officers across the country on missing persons cases. Alexander was able to lead authorities to a number of bodies including a three year old who had fallen into an abandoned well, a young woman who was murdered by her boyfriend and an elderly couple that had drown.
An Australian man named Brian Skinner had similar experiences after an electric shock. While taking photos of a passing storm, a phantom strike passed through his hand and melted his gold wedding ring. When the bolt hit there was a sensation of time slowing down. Like Alexander, Skinner gained the ability to see and hear things. When he would look at someone he would know exactly what they were going to say before they uttered a word. These heightened sensory capabilities also included “superhuman powers”. Skinner could now lift objects three times heavier than he could before. People whispering were audible from over a half mile away. Ever since the strike he could predict approaching storms. Involuntarily, Skinner’s arm would aim upwards and there was a strong surge of energy felt surging through his veins.
Many experience other bizarre after-effects which remain unexplainable. Orthopedic doctor, Tony Cicoria, is described as an acquired savant. At the age of 42 he nearly died as a result of a lightning injury that occurred while he was using a public phone. After going through cardiac arrest he was resuscitated by a bystander who happened to be a nurse. Only a few weeks later, Cicoria developed an obsession with playing piano despite having no prior interest. In his dreams complex arrangements of music began to appear and during waking hours he could hear elaborate musical pieces in his mind. Cicoria went on to become a renown composer and master pianist.
Industrial shocks received from man-made equipment have a voltage level of 20-60kV while lightning generates an astounding 300kV. As a result, its impact on the body is truly astounding. Some experts theorize that the energy transmitted supercharges the human system. Only a portion of our brains is actually utilized on a daily basis. Might it be possible that a strong enough electrical current could activate previously dormant lobes? Or perhaps a near-death experience opens doorways between unseen realms. Whatever the case may be this phenomena remains a perplexing mystery. Until an answer is discovered we can only continue to study those lucky enough to survive a lightning strike.