At the beginning of the 21st Century monsters still roam the remote, and sometimes not so remote, corners of our planet. It is our job to search for them. The Centre for Fortean Zoology [CFZ] is - we believe - the largest professional, scientific and full-time organisation in the world dedicated to cryptozoology - the study of unknown animals. Since 1992 the CFZ has carried out an unparalleled programme of research and investigation all over the world. Since 2009 we have been running the increasingly popular CFZ Blog Network, and although there has been an American branch of the CFZ for over ten years now, it is only now that it has a dedicated blog.

Wednesday, 30 April 2014

ZACHARY MANN ON THE SHEEPSQUATCH

Look out, its Sheepsquatch!
          Point Pleasant, West Virginia, is world famous for being the home to one of the most (in)famous Cryptid creatures of all time, the Mothman. First seen in 1966, this flying creature has been the talk of the small town for decades since. Every year there is the annual Mothman Festival each fall and the town is now synonymous for the weird, unusual, and paranormal. But did you know that in the very same TNT area where Mothman was causing such an uproar in the skies, something totally different, but no less weird was roaming around on the forest floor?
In November 1966, the same time that Mothman was buzzing around the skies of Point Pleasant, Cecil Lucas, a farmer in Point Pleasant, saw three bear-like creatures sniffing around an oil drum in his field one night. It was too dark to make out color or exact details, but he did say they moved on all fours at first, but they stood on two legs before making off into the night. Over the next several years people around the TNT area, especially Jericho Road, had encounters with large bear-like or ape-like monsters. Yet one of if not the most detailed and interesting tales of a strange semi-bipedal creature living in the now (in) famous little West Virginia town came years after the flap of Mothman mania had settled down.
Ever since he was a young man, Edward Rollins had a fascination with the unexplained. And how could you not be when you grow up in a town just a few miles away from a place that is world famous for the paranormal and the bizarre, Point Pleasant, WVA? As a young man Edward had found a scrapbook his mother had kept while the Mothman sightings of the 60’s were taking place. He then started spending some of his spare time as an amateur investigator in all things paranormal. In 1994, after a seven year stent in the Navy, Rollins returned home to Gallipolis, Ohio, just across the river from Point Pleasant. One afternoon he decided to spend the rest of the day exploring in and around the old TNT Power Plant facilities to see if he could possibly find any kind of evidence of the area’s most famous supposed resident. What he ended up finding was unlike anything he could have ever expected.
While just north of Bethel Church Road, Rollins was walking the creek bank when he heard large brush breaking nearby. He froze, unsure of what he was about to encounter, a cow, a dog, a bear, as it turned out none of the above. Instead out of the bushes came a huge brownish-white colored beast. The fur was also matted and looked as if it was shedding. It was late in the year and Rollins speculated that maybe the creature was getting a winter coat. The animal stunk awfully. Rollins said it was like sulfur. It moved on all fours, the front feet where the only ones Rollins got a clear look at, and he described them as paw-like hands.
The head he described, was long and pointed, kind of like a canid’s. However, the most distinguished feature was on top of the creature’s head there appeared to be a set of horns. That’s right, large single point horns. He watched the creature drink for a few minutes and he didn’t move until it had left the creek and he was sure it was gone. But this was not the first or last time such a creature would be reported. Seen frequently in both West Virginia and its neighboring states Virginia, Kentucky and Ohio this creature has even been given its own local name in recent years, Sheepsquatch.
The name is a combination of sheep and the famous Sasquatch. I suspect this name was given because of its pseudo-sheep like appearance and the fact that, at least according to mainstream pop culture, anything big, hairy and mysterious can be attributed to the famous Sasquatch. I must say I’ve never liked this name or any name that tries to take recognition from other Cryptids. This includes things like Batsquatch or any of the well over a dozen different lake or river monsters that have had “issie” attached to them after the media sensation of the Loch Ness Monster in the thirties. But aside from the names the bigger question is, if these eyewitnesses are not misidentifying known animals (frankly what they could mistake for something like this is beyond me) or hoaxers, the question remains what is it? An albino Bigfoot? Well again the creatures tend to move normally on two legs, only standing erect for a brief moment or two.
Now over all this kind of creature looks very similar to another group of strange mystery creatures I have written about before, the creatures from across the Southern USA collectively known now as White Things. But there is one important difference, the horns. So what do we have to make of these horns? Could they be optical illusions? You know, like seeing the creature through thick brush of having it partially obscured by branches. Well, Rollins saw his creature in an open area, the creek bank. And a lot of other witnesses saw their creatures in relatively open areas. Could the horns be natural? Yes, assuming the creatures are real, they could. However, this begs the question of what kind of animals could they be as nothing known from modern nature or the fossil record really matches as being big and bulky like a bear crossed with an ape and yet still having horns.
Now what would this mean regarding the possible identity of such a creature? If you read my previous articles, one possible identity I think might be worth some consideration is a small population of relict Ground Sloths. These animals did live in the areas where such creatures where reported, but they have been officially extinct for 10,000 years. Also none of the many diverse kinds of Ground Sloths known from the fossil record have horns or horn like structures. So does that mean we need to throw out this proposed identity? Not just yet.
Maybe there is another explanation for these horn like growths, and we could find the explanation in another obscure Cryptid, the Horned Jackal. The Horned Jackal is a Cryptid from the island of Sri Lanka in the Indian Ocean said to be a kind of jackal with a small “horn” on the back of its head. It is believed by some shamans to have magical powers or word off spirits. Now there are a couple of preserved skulls of these kind of jackals preserved in various museums. But they weren’t a new species. Just deformed specimens of the known species. So then how did they get these horn like growths?
Well they are most likely the results of either a skin disorder or resulted growths from injures. This idea is supported by the observed fact that sometimes animals like deer and cows have been observed in the wild and on farms as growing “horns” as a result of injures from fights or other natural accidents. So it would seem this kind of thing is cross species in a wide range of animals. The “horns” are a very rarely reported feature in these kind of Cryptids. Could they be injured individuals? It is certainly possible. Until a good photo, video, or hard evidence is collected these mystery “horns” of the Sheepsquatch will be just one more piece to an already strange puzzle.

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