The latest round of End-of-the-Year Polls just arrived at the appropriate time. You see them on line or in the news: The Top Songs of 2004, the Grossest Fear Factor Stunt of 2004, The Best Dressed, blah blah blah.
Loren Coleman just penned the Top Cryptozoology Stories of 2004. If you haven’t heard of Loren Coleman, he is the man that wrote the book (literally, books) on hairy things that go bump in the night. He doesn’t own an Encyclopedia Britannica, because he doesn’t need it. This guy knows freaking everything. (By the way, "Cryptozoology" is a new sub-discipline of zoology that studies “ yet-to-be-discovered” large animals. People like us hear the word and think: Bigfoot, Loch Ness, Chupacabra.)
So if he’s going to write a Top Cryptozoology Stories of 2004, I’ll read it and unabashedly tell you I read it. I also may have read the Top Dressed Females of 2004, but I’m not about to tell you that.
Here they are:
1. The Discovery of Homo floresiensis
65 million year old half-human, half-yeti, missing link. Anthropolgists are giddy.
2. The Bili Ape
The Congo … evidence in the form of fecal droppings. Let’s move on.
3. Ogopogo Resurfaces
Nessie’s forgotten cousin in British Columbia. 9 sightings this year.
4. Nicolas Cage in National Treasure Brings Attention to Yeti
Did I give away the plot?
5. Yukon Bigfoot
Marion Sheldon and Gus Jules saw a human-shaped thing "completely covered in hair". Hello? It’s Bigfoot.
Did you really tell the cops you saw, “a human-shaped thing "completely covered in hair"? Just say you saw Bigfoot.
6. Mystery Cats in England
8 – 10. Let’s move on.
Where is Maryland? It wasn’t mentioned once.
2004 was the Year of the "Maryland Mystery Animal". Something has been prowling around the Unites States that looks like a big, blue dog with a wicked case of mange. Department of Natural Resources officials believe it to be a fox. E-mails from around the world have flooded WBAL in Baltimore with claims of the animal being a razorback hog, a hyena, an aardwolf, a coyote, a capybara, a Mexican hairless dog, a warthog, a wolf, or an African wild dog. Some people say the animal is an extinct Tasmanian wolf. The creature has also been spotted in Florida, North Carolina, Virginia, New Jersey, Texas and even England. That is a story!
2004 was the year that marked the return of the Chinese "Snake Head Fish": the fish that kills and cannot die! It’s the cockroach of the nation’s fresh water supply. That’s a story!
For over twenty years, 2004 included! Maryland has been home to an animal swimming in the Chesapeake. Nicknamed "Chessie" by locals, it’s been described as serpentine, about twenty-five to forty feet in length, eight to ten inches in diameter, and possessing an elliptical or football-shaped head. Read that description and try to tell me it’s just another manatee. It’s not. It’s a story. Homo Floreiensis hasn’t been a story since 65,002,004 BC.
Driving through Maryland in 2005? Take a camera. Because you will see some very banged-up example of an ecosystem gone totally awry: Snake Head Fish, Hairless African Wild Dogs and a Sea Monster!
Gene Fitzpatrick, co-founder of Hometown Tales, you lived there; spent 4 years at the University of Maryland. You were a Terrapin (figures, let’s name the college mascot after another cryptozoological phenomenon: a ferocious biting turtle … really, if you’re that slow to get a finger gnawed off by turtle then you deserved it.) Gene, why is Maryland the scratching post for every four-legged mystery in our country?