Thursday, September 30, 2010

Argentina: Victoria Receives a Visit from Space

Source: Diario de Victoria (
Date: 09.30.2010

Argentina: Victoria Receives a Visit from Space

The city of Victoria continues to grow in matters pertaining to tourism, and one of the most frequent visitors for many years have been UFOs.

In Victoria's cool evening, after 23:00 hours, Nicolás Traverso, 20, a tireless correspondent for Diario Victoria, recorded an unidentified flying object (UFO) after completing his studies at BAPA, located on Rocamora and Yrigoyen streets.

Taken with a photo camera pointing to the northeast, the photo shows the object that flew over the city of the Seven Hills.


(Translation (c) 2010, S. Corrales, IHU. Special thanks to Grupo GABIE)

Argentina: Report Suggests UFO Flew Over Tandil

Source: La Voz de Tandil (newspaper)
Date: September 30, 2010

Argentina: Report Suggests UFO Flew Over Tandil

The photo was taken during the month of August.

An unknown element was detected in photos taken from the "El Centinela" mountain. These images were subjected to analysis by Fundación Argentina de Ovnilogía (FAO), concluding that it indeed showed an unidentified flying object (UFO). The event repeated itself in the city of Balcarce in recent days.

"Seeing is believing", goes the old saw, applicable on this occasion in which the Fundación Argentina de Ovnilogía confirmed through a report sent to La Voz de Tandil that the object seen in the photo is "definitely a UFO"

The snapshot, taken by a private person in August 2010 from "El Centinela", was analyzed by the Fundación, presided by renowned researcher Luis Burgos, stating that Tandil "was an area prone to sightings" of strange elements in the sky. "Whether it was made on earth or in other worlds, it is definitely a UFO," concludes the document.

Burgos' blog further reports sightings of unidentified objects over Balcarce having similar characteristics to the ones detected from the images taken in Tandil.

(Translation (c)2010, S. Corrales, IHU. Special thanks to Grupo GABIE and FAO)

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Mexico: UFOs at the Military Parade

Contributing Editor Prof. Ana Luisa Cid has sent us impressive images of unidentified flying objects reported during Mexico's military parade conmemorating our southern neighbor's bicentennial. On 15 September 1810, Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla proclaimed Mexico's independence from Spain -- a goal not achieved until 1821.

South America's Procession of the Damned

South America’s Procession of the Damned
By Scott Corrales
(c) 2010

The recent news stories surrounding the “Hopping Phantom of Calchín” led us to remember other similar experiences involving improbable transient creatures that appear in our midst out of nowhere. These apparitions are sometimes bestial, sometimes quite normal, and at others completely otherworldly.

Raul Núñez of the Instituto de Investigacion y Estudios Exobiologicos (IIEE) in Chile has drawn our attention to a case featured on his website ( The lengthy report bears the title “¿Qué Pasó en Cutún en 1976?” (What Happened in Cutún in 1976?) and is written by Sergio Alcaya, a systems engineer who has taken it upon himself to re-open the case, which is one of the strangest I’ve heard of, and straddles the “high-strangeness” no-man’s land of UFO, paranormal and parapsychological investigation.

Cutún is a community in northern Chile’s Valle de Elqui, a tourist destination favored by the country’s contactee groups as they endeavor to make contact with the ever-present “kindly space brothers”, a South American Sedona, if you will. But it appears that a particularly virulent poltergeist event also occurred here, one that draws our attention due to the presence of a Man-in-Black with a singular characteristic not reported in other cases.

In February 1976, a man named Nicasio Torres, the protagonist of the story, barged into the home of his neighbors, Angel and Gabriel Orrego to ask for help. The brothers did their best to calm him down and asked him to tell them what was going on. Gasping for breath, Torres told them that absolutely impossible events were taking place inside his modest home: stones were raining on his roof, but out of thin air. Assuring him that a childish prank was probably involved, the Orregos send Torres on his way, only to have him return the next day asking for assistance – the stones were now falling into his house, through the roof. Another person interviewed for the story recalled that whenever Nicasio Torres came looking for help, “all the dogs in the area would start to howl.”

Neighbors who lent their assistance in the case reported seeing doors and windows that wouldn’t close despite their best efforts, showers of rocks and human bones (including bones that came through windows without shattering the glass panes), intense whistling noises within the Torres home that drove every one out, and a rag doll – used as a pin cushion by the lady of the house – that would leap about, chasing Nicasio Torres’s small daughter, and was seen to jump out of one of the open, uncloseable windows.

“Many parapsychologists and mentalists,” writes Alcaya, “tried to find solutions to the phenomena taking place in Cutún, but none of them was truly effective. Neither the crosses made of Palquí, which were destroyed by invisible hands only minutes after having been placed, nor holy water were powerful enough against the phenomenon.” A pair of Argentinean parapsychologists urged the Torres family to place an altar in honor of Our Lady of Andacollo within the house, but on three separate occasions the same angry force toppled the plaster image. “When the parapsychologist learned that the force present within the home was too powerful to face, he decided to leave the area quickly, never to reappear.”

So far we have the makings of a poltergeist account that could sprung from the pages of Hereward Carrington’s Haunted People or a similar text devoted to the more frightening aspects of parapsychological research. The case received considerable media coverage and Alcaya’s interviews include newspaper clippings from 1976 describing the grisly events at Cutún. But there is an aspect that brings the incidents surrounding Nicasio Torres and his family into UFO/paranormal arena: the presence of a Man-in-Black (MIB), and a very different one at that.

Haydé Carvajal, one of the witnesses and a friend of Nicasio’s wife Rosa, had a fascinating story to tell. One evening, both women were startled by the sudden appearance of “a pale, black-haired man of average height, who asked if Nicasio was home.” When told that Mr. Torres was at work, the strange figure said that “he would wait for Nicasio at five minutes before midnight over there,” pointing at the summit of Cerro Cutún, a hundred meters distant from the house. This strange character “had red eyes”.

Gabriel Orrego also remembered the strange figure, telling the interviewer: “I was never so frightened in my life as when I had to face that man. He came around three times looking to Nicasio, always saying the same thing to [Mrs. Torres]: “Tell him I’m waiting for him – he knows where to find me.”

“The conclusion reached by several parapsychologists looking into the case,” recalls Orrego in the interview, was that the MIB represented “an agglomeration of negative forces.” Orrego had the chance to run into the character in broad daylight elsewhere in the community. “I noticed the man’s presence and I went out to challenge him, however, when I came to within four meters of this character, I was able to see that [he was] a pale man wearing a brown blazer, impeccably clean shoes and black hair, passing in front of the gate to my property. I saw him and was paralyzed. To my surprise, this man was floating some 50 centimeters off the ground, and made a sudden, ninety degree turn to look at me fixedly and deeply. For the first time ever, I knew what fear really was, and I broke into a sweat. The man made another ninety-degree turn and continued on his way before vanishing down the road.”

Other people also saw the bizarre apparition. Cab driver Nelson Alcayaga and his wife Ruthy Chelme saw a man “wearing a brown or green three-piece suit” drifting in the air toward them, as they drove along in their car. “The impression we had was that this man was floating toward us only centimeters off the ground, and Nelson hit the brakes, nearly flinging us against the windshield. When we looked again, he was gone.”

This blend of supernatural factors appears to be a constant in cases emerging from South America. On the other side of the Andean Range, Argentina has supernatural beliefs that combine native lore and European ceremonial magic. For those who believe that magic comes in two colors only, “red magic” can be obtained only through blood sacrifices, such as through Santería rituals. Red magic, it is believed, can be an offshoot of black magic if the blood employed in the ritual comes from someone else or through a sacrifice, and can come from white magic if it is one’s own blood. The belief in this third variant of occult lore is widespread, far from sophisticated urban centers like Buenos Aires or Mendoza, and it is a source of fear for the small farmer or landowner. This fear was exacerbated in the summer of 2002 by the high-strangeness events accompanying the wave of cattle mutilations that swept over Argentina and spilled over into neighboring countries.

On the night of June 20, 2002 personnel at the Puente Dique bridge over the Rio Colorado saw an object "giving off a powerful red light" whose intensity waxed and waned as it moved in bursts. Jorge Martinez, an operator at the bridge, added: "some say the lights are connected to the dead animals."

The lights were now appearing elsewhere in the country and causing physical effects in humans and machinery alike. Argentina's TELAM news agency reported that two young girls--Gabriela and Miriam del Valle Salto, ages 7 and 13 respectively, had been hospitalized in Santiago del Estero (northern Argentina) after having witnessed "multicolored lights". Other locals attested having seen potent violet lights in the sky: one woman said that an intense light shone outside the windows to her home while the internal lighting system dimmed. The mysterious lights seen over the town of Fernandez Robles between June 11-14, for example, were able to interrupt television signals, cause TV sets to shut down "without any interruption to power supply" or even change channels on the receivers.

The strange lights gave rise to much paranormal speculation. Residents of La Chiquita in northern Argentina blamed the mutilations on "red magic", an appellation possibly derived from the color of the strange lights that were seen hovering at treetop level over darkened fields. Daniel Acuña, crossing the darkened fields of La Chiquita on his way to work, saw the lights, which prompted him to remark "it was like an evil light, which I was told was those who practice red magic." The luminous presences had been seen prior to the mutilation of a horse (tongue ripped out, anus and eyes missing) in the vicinity--a death which deprived a local widow of her only means of earning a living, since the animal was used to haul coal and firewood for sale. Strange lights in the wilderness had been a factor decades earlier: In August 1968, disturbing luminous forms were reported over Santa Fé, Argentina, in the dark winter nights of the Southern Hemisphere. Farmers setting out on their chores were greeted by the surprising sight of circular burn marks on their properties following these sightings. Livestock losses mounted as a “sort of radiation” in the region was blamed as the cause. During these troubled times (as Argentina was experiencing political unrest as well ) a local family witnessed a jeep carrying four men in black coveralls drive up to their home. One of the men asked the owner what was the best way to get off the property. UFO sightings over the region ceased shortly after the incident involving these jeep-riding MIB.

In cases like the Cutún “poltergeist” – to find a convenient drawer to place it in – research or accident usually provide an answer in the end: the accursed property was built over a burial ground or something similar. But random manifestations of strange and unsavory figures, who remain for a brief period in our midst before disappearing and becoming part of the Fortean menagerie, often lack a provenance. In April 2004, the Argentinean town of Justo Daract was disturbed by a strange entity dubbed El uñudo (the clawed one) by the local media. Newspapers like Diario de la República ran the story of a child who had been attacked by the unknown entity. Multiple witness cases soon emerged, such as the group of young women who encountered the creature – a frightening, black-masked entity with taloned fingers -- as they left their night school classes at 23:00 hours.

Local radio reporter Maura Avila spoke to several local witnesses. "I was informed that there was a great deal of movement in Barrio Norte, near the hospital, and we headed there just as the police arrived. We learned that El uñudo had appeared -- a character who has gained notoriety in Justo Daract because he/it has been appearing for several days now, and has now terrified an 11 year-old on the corner of Liniers and Los Andes [...] Those who claim having seen El uñudo [say] that it doesn't have human form, rather an animal one, adding that it walks on four legs and hops, being capable of very swift movements." Avila added that the locals had discussed the existence of “black magic cults” in the area and feared that El uñudo could have been an entity summoned during the course of some unspeakable ritual – especially as the timing of these manifestations coincided with Easter Week.

As has occurred only recently with the “Hopping Phantom” in 2010, the good people of Justo Daract formed search parties aimed at tracking down El uñudo: aided by the local police and members of the neighborhood watch, found themselves walking along the train tracks in the dark due to a report that claimed the creature had climbed to the very top of the grain silos by the rails. The dangerous climb to the top of these structures revealed nothing of interest.

On 8 April 2004, another young woman returning home at 03:00 on her bicycle reportedly saw the strange character jumping from one rooftop to the next at the 331 Viviendas neighborhood of Justo Daract. Terrified beyond words, the girl pedaled furiously back to the local bus station – ten city blocks away – in order to take the bus home. Drivers and workers at the terminal attested to her distraught condition. Something strange – whether human or not – was scaring the hell out of the locals. Descriptions of El uñudo now ranged from “large and with a mask and horns; small and apelike, black or brown, with a nude upper torso and covered with tattoos; walking upright or on four legs; leaving goat-shaped hoof prints; climbing trees, pipelines or metal silos; jumping over wire fences and large lagoons, swift and elusive,” according to El Diario de la República.

Other sources reported that despite their failure to locate the supernatural intruder at the grain silos, officers had managed to apprehend the creature at some point, but that it eluded capture in a display of inhuman strength and “the slippery nature of its body” – a quality it shared with the Malaysian orang minyak or “oily man” who became a focus of mass hysteria in the 1960s.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Mystery Animals: Yesterday and Today

Mystery Animals: Yesterday and Today
By Scott Corrales

A curious news item made its way to the Reuters World Service in October 1996: Elements of the Egyptian police had allegedly shot and captured two strange savage animals of a pack that had terrorized the small Egyptian town of Armant, a community in the Nile Valley some three hundred miles south of Cairo, killing three villagers and wounding dozens in a series of nocturnal raids against the population.

The news item went on to say that the bloodthirsty creatures resembled "large hyenas or wild dogs." Known to the locals as salaawwa, the beasts allegdly belong to no known species of canids. Egypt's Ministry of the Interior offered the theory that the animals had been driven northward from the Sudan in search of new hunting grounds. Armed villagers joined the gendarmes in efforts to ensnare the bizarre animals, ultimately managing to wound a specimen as it emerged from the farmland bent on attacking individual homes. Another such creature had been shot dead, and no further information was available on the beasts.

In a world in which new species are added to the roster every year, the news of hyena offshoots attacking humans in the Nile should simply be chalked up to animal reactions resulting from changes in the environment. But the Egyptian news story has a curious ring of familiarity to it.

In the year 774 A.D., during the reign of Emperor Leo IV, called "the Khazar", the Eastern Roman Empire was swept by a plague of quasi-biblical proportions which was followed by the appearance of bizarre carnivorous animals which could be dead-ringers for the one in the Reuters item. A Syriac priest and chronicler of the time, Denys de Tell-Mahre, describes the creatures as having no fear of humans and resembling wolves, but with smaller and narrower muzzles and horse-like ears. "The skin on their dorsal spine resembled the bristles of pigs," adds the medieval chronicler.

Swarms of these strange canids fanned out across Anatolia, devouring dozens of farmers and villagers. The animals fought their human attackers fiercely, unafraid of weapons, brazenly carrying off children out of homes and fields.

Soon, however, we begin to encounter clearly paranormal overtones emerging from this Syriac chronicle: the nameless beasts were able to "abduct children from their beds" and dogs refused to bark at their appearance. Entire herds of cattle were destroyed, and "when one of them attacked a herad of goats, or flock of sheep, it took away several at a time," adds the chronicle.

In a medieval fairy-tale of the same period, a paladin would doubtlessly have appeared to redress the situation, but what happened in real life was far more prosaic: the monstrous creatures simply moved on to a new hunting ground, apparently what is today northern Iraq. No mention of the creatures is made in subsequent Middle Eastern annals.

Paranormal creatures of every shape and size conceivable appear and disappear around the world, causing physical damage and preying on domesticated animals. The same pattern has repeated itself over the centuries well into the twentieth century.

The Moca Vampire -- Deja Vu All Over Again

On Februrary 25, 1975, a Puerto Rican newspaper ran one of the very first headlines concerning the wave of mysterious animal deaths to occur in the vicinity of the small town of Moca, on the island's western side.

The creature, christened "The Moca Vampire" by the press, began its activities in Moca's Barrio Rocha, where it killed a number of animals in a grisly fashion never seen before. Fifteen cows, three goats, two geese and a pig were found dead with strange puncture marks on their hides, indicating that some sharp object --natural or artificial-- had been inserted into the hapless bovines. Autopsy reports invariably showed that not a single drop of blood remained within the animals, as if it had been consumed by some predator. Police officers were adamant about ascribing the deaths to dogs, since they correctly believed that not even the wildest of feral dogs could climb some of the fences surrounding the dead animals' pens.

On March 7, 1975, a cow belonging to Rey Jim‚nez was found dead in Moca's Barrio Cruz, presenting deep, penetrating wounds on its skull and a number of scratches around the wounds on its body. Jim‚nez's cow was added to the growing list of victims, which now totalled well over thirty.

As the number of victims grew exponentially, the Moca Vampire acquired an identity of its own, much in the same way that the Chupacabras would twenty years later. Speculation as to its nature was rife: many believed it was a supernatural "bird", like the one seen by Mar¡a Acevedo, a Moca resident who noticed that a strange animal had landed on her home's zinc rooftop in the middle of the night. According to Acevedo's testimony, the bird pecked at the rusty rooftop and at the windows before taking flight, issuing a terrifying scream.

The UFO phenomenon did not wait excessively long before manifesting itself in the dark skies over Moca: on March 12, 1975, Luis Torres, together with his son and daughter-in-law, witnessed an object which resembled "the lights on a police cruiser" spinning in the night on the outskirts of town. Torres and his family estimated that the object had been engaged in an overflight of the fields in which mutilated animals were being found. A few days later, on March 15, farmer Cecilio Hern ndez notified authorities that the elusive Moca Vampire had slain thirty-four chickens on his property at some point during the night. The supernatural entity was by now responsible for ninety animal deaths in a two week period.

A false moment of hope marked this critical period in the Moca crisis: Luis Torres, the same farmer who had reported seeing a UFO over Moca's outlying regions, became the man of the hour after slaying two enormous snakes (Puerto Rican boas) measuring an unheard-of six-foot length. Torres had captured the creatures as they stood ready to attack a 600-pound heifer. The media hailed this act of heroism as the "solution to the mutilation riddle"; citizens could finally issue a collective sigh of relief.

However, the Moca Vampire had its own agenda. On March 18, 1975, two goats belonging to Hector Vega, a resident of Moca's Barrio Pueblo, were found drained of blood. Puncture marks on the goats' necks were the unmistakable sign that the strange creature causing the deaths was still at large and hungrier than ever: it returned to Vega's farm the following night to finish off ten more goats and wound another seven. The horrified farmer also discovered that ten additional goats had gone missing.

It was this last spree of vampiristic activity that finally prompted official action in the form of a visit from the Senate Agricultural Commission, led by Senator Miguel A. Deynes, Police colonel Samuel L¢pez and a number of functionaries. After talking to the affected parties and to local law enforcement officials, Senator Deynes requested that Astol Toledo, the Superintendent of Police "redouble his efforts in getting to the bottom of the situation," as there was no doubt in his mind that no animal could cause so many deaths. (In yet another curious parallel between the Moca Vampire and the Chupacabras of the nineties, the Superintendent of Police 20 years later would be Pedro Toledo).

Supporters of the "killer snake" theory which had gained adherents in the wake of Luis Torres' exploits had their hopes dashed yet again by Dr. Juan Rivero, a Mayagez-based herpetologist who stated in no uncertain terms that the Puerto Rican boa, a non-poisonous reptile, was physically incapable of killing animals as large as a goat, much less a cow. The herpetologist added that snakes' mouths were not adapted to suck blood.

Felix Badillo could not believe his eyes when, on the morning of March 23, 1975, he found a ten pound piglet dead in it pen. The tiny porker was missing an ear and had a sizeable hole on the side of its head. Badillo was haunted by the fact that such a thing could have happened to one of his animals, since his fierce watchdog had neither barked nor growled during the night and there was no sign of a struggle. The pig farmer was hardly comforted by the expert opinion of Dr. Angel de la Sierra, a specialist with the University of Puerto Rico, who noted that the cut on the piglet's ear stump was similar to certain incisions made in experimental surgery to study deafness.

The Moca Vampire had apparently tired of its diet and was ready for a new treat. At ten o'clock at night on March 25, laborer Juan Mu¤iz was allegedly attacked by a "horrible creature covered in feathers," as he would later describe it. Mu¤iz was returning home to Moca's Barrio Pulido when he saw the unsightly entity. The laborer threw stones at the creature to frighten it away, but only managed to provoke its anger: the creature flew toward him, prompting Mu¤iz to seek shelter behind some bushes before running to a neighbor's house. An armed group of locals sought to find the strange being, but no trace was found.

By April 1975, the "vampire" had transcended the narrow confines of Moca, embarking on an island-wide spree of animal killings. Among its first depredations outside the San Juan metropolitan area was the slaying of a pig on a farm belonging to one Benigno Lozada in Guaynabo, P.R.. Meanwhile, an all-out effort to apprehend the suspected human element behind the mutilations had been set into motion by the police, while on the other hand, the media bent over backward to find a "rational" or "scientific" explanation that would dismiss the strong supernatural air surrounding the unknown predator. When some "odd bats" were discovered in a limestone cave near Moca, hope welled in newsrooms throughout the island. However, it was soon pointed out that the bats were in fact of the ordinary kind, who live on fruit and do not attack animals.

On April 2, the predator paid a visit to a farm owned by Isauro Melgar in Corozal's Barrio Negro. The Moca Vampire killed eight goats and a dozen rabbits on the property. This loss was particularly painful for the small farmer, since the breeding rabbits had been quite valuable.

Fearing that the unknown creature would stage a return on the following evening, Melgar mounted a watch all night, spreading poison on the ground to eliminate whatever it was seemed interested in his bunnies. Joined by a group of armed neighbors, Melgar kept watch until three in the morning. The moment the men disbanded, whatever it was returned with a vengeance to slay more animals. This only strengthened the farmers' determination to remain awake all night, if need be.

At half past midnight on April 5th, Isauro Melgar and his companions were startled by a deafening sound which suddenly blanketed the otherwise silent countryside. Amid the unearthly din, the farmers saw a shadowy figure running swiftly through the trees, away from an open pasture. They would later discover that four more goats had been slain. Stoical despite of his losses, Melgar told the press that "whatever killed my goats was definitely not human. I don't believe in vampires, of course, but I really can't say what kind of creature killed my animals."

Two months into the Moca Vampire scare, official declarations began appearing in the media and in government communiqu‚s. Dr. Benedicto Negr¢n, a veterinarian for the Puerto Rico Department of Agriculture, noted that "the situation was a concern" to his agency, expressing a fear that the uncanny events might unleash hysteria among the population. In an April 9th editorial, the now-defunct El Mundo ran an editorial requesting greater leadership from the government in solving the bizarre mutilations.

As was the case during the Chupacabras events in 1995, it would take more than an exhortation from the media to prompt official action, so the killing spree continued. A variety of ducks, chickens and other poultry were drained of blood at locations as disparate as Aguadilla (on the island's western shore) and Guaynabo (a suburb of San Juan). Heavy UFO activity was reported over the metropolitan suburbs of Santa Rosa and Cerro Gordo, while a massive cigar-shaped UFO, emitting strong yellow lights through rectangular portholes, hovered some 1500 feet over a family home in the suburb of Cupey, giving the homeowners and their neighbors a leisurely, 45 minute-long look. Researchers found scorched vegetation the following morning, presumably at the location where the unknown vehicle had made a furtive landing.

On May 13, 1975, Jos‚ Santos, of Corozal's Palo Blanco sector, reportedly encountered a round-headed, hairy-tailed and large-eyed creature which issued growls similar to those made by a small dog. Santos believed that whatever the small creature was, it was definitely not native to the island. Back in Moca, however, three roosters, a rabbit and five goats belonging to the municipal treasurer met untimely ends at the hands (fangs?) of an unknown intruder.

UFO activity had increased to a record high during May 1975, paralleling the rise in animal mutilations. A group of three objects, two of them resembling stars, flew over Fajardo, P.R. with impunity. Among the witnesses were an astronomer and a Ph.D in psychology, who were absolutely positive in classifying the objects as neither natural nor of human manufacture.

At nine thirty p.m. on May 17th, a UFO flew low over a home in Park Gardens, Rio Piedras. Three women who had been engaged in conversation on the front porch were startled to see a large ball of powerful yellow light engage in a series of complex maneuvers overhead. Simultaneous sightings were taking place elswhere over San Juan: three witnesses were surprised to see a house-sized luminous craft spinning in the night skies over a historic landmark -- Fort San Crist¢bal -- in the city's old section. An object surmounted by a red light flew in front of an apartment building facing the Condado Lagoon. According to the professional couple who witnessed its maneuvers, the object turned its light off as it flew by, remaining a dark mass against the sky.

The Moca Vampire's activity persisted well into the summer: On June 25th, it killed 25 farm animals outside of Isabela, P.R.. Fourteen fighting cocks were later exanguinated by the same predator, this time in Yauco, P.R.. As the summer wore on, the "vampire", its appetite seemingly sated, diminished its activity before vanishing altogether in August 1975.

UFO researcher and journalist John Keel, in his landmark book The Eighth Tower (Dutton, 1975), makes several observations which can be applied to the paranormal events which occured in the Caribbean during the '70s and which would repeat themselves years later. One of the reasons for the apparent imperviousness of these so-called monsters to bladed weapons or bullets (the reader will recall the number of Bigfoot cases in the U.S. in which high-power rifles apparently have no effect on these entities) is due to the fact that they are composed of "highly condensed atoms" such as those in plutonium.

Keel goes on to theorize that if dense, probably radioactive, atoms account for these creature's composition, it would explain why these manifestations have such brief existences in our material world. When first materialized, Keel suggests, these creatures pose no threat to humans, but as their atomic integrity deteriorates, they might easily project lethal radiation. Investigators following the trail of the Chupacabras in 1995, both in Puerto Rico and Central America, reportedly found considerably high radiation readings at the locations in which the entity staged its attacks.

Across the Mona Passage

Another puzzling streak of animal mutilations occurred in the Dominican Republic -- separated from Puerto Rico by the narrow body of water known as the Mona Passage -- three years after the Moca Vampire entered into legend. The killings took place on the Dominican Republic's border with Haiti, near the sugar-producing region on the Bay of Ocoa, between late 1977 and early 1978. The grisly events were almost a replay of the Puerto Rican scenario: mutilations, accompanied by strange lights and bizarre creatures, tormented the cane-cutters of the town of Barahona, who claimed that a "gigantic dog" was slaying and eating domestic animals in the dead of the night. This monstrous canine possessed above average intelligence, being apparently able to enter locked pens and cages to extract the last drop of blood from its victims, which consisted largely of cats, hens and rabbits. Dominican officials scorned any extraterrestrial or paranormal suggestions, stating that the mutilations were merely "a joke in the poorest of taste" perpetrated by the poor inhabitants of this agricultural area. The fact that the locals could ill afford sacrificing their animals for the sake of a prank was deemed irrelevant.

The Dominican newspaper El Caribe reported in its December 18, 1978 issue that a strange animal with canine characteristics was devouring chickens, roosters, rabbits and other domestic animals: "According to the locals' beliefs, the baca or dundun (Voodoo entities) of some local merchant is responsible for the carnage. They say that it might also be an "evil spirit" sent by a rural warlock, or a witch who broke her covenant with the Dark Powers and is roaming through the night."

A ghostly entity was in fact reported in the wake of the Barahona mutilations. Eyewitnesses to its activities described it as having the body of a long-haired woman clad in black, but with her mouth, eyes and nose appeared to be covered "by something resembling cotton" (ectoplasm?).

The mutilations were closely followed by a number of "occupant" sightings as the flap reached its peak: Cone-shaped beings were seen in November 1978 by five women in Santo Domingo, the island-nation's capital. Three creatures,twice the height of the tallest human, carrying lanterns on their abdomens, descended a steep hillside to surround an automobile that braked to a screeching halt. The automobile's headlights died as the witnesses heard sounds which they assumed were blows being inflicted upon the vehicle by the conical trio. Their terrified screams attracted the attention of neighbors, who came to their aid. Not a trace was found of the bizarre creatures, nor of the automobile they had apparently surrounded.

Wings over Miami

The city of Miami is generally associated with events of a worldlier nature. After all, we hardly need to be reminded of "Miami Vice" and its attendant fashion statements. But even the Sunshine State's largest city has not been immune to paranormal events involving strange creatures.

One such event took place on January 9, 1976: Sergio Cervera and his teenage daughter Mercedes had been driving along Miami's 9th Street at two o'clock in the afternoon when a shadow fell over their car. Thinking at first that it was merely another cloud, Cervera suddenly became aware that the shadow had a distinctly bird-like configuration, measuring between 16 and 20 feet across. Experiencing a moment of confusion, he turned to his daughter and asked her if she had noticed anything unusual. Mercedes, rather frightened, said that she'd noticed the ghostly form of an enormous bird flying over their vehicle, and even heard the beating of its unearthly wings.

Neither Cervera nor his daughter ever saw the phenomenon again, but the former was suddenly reminded of a series of strange experiences he had undergone earlier that same week: he had been followed everywhere he went by a strange-looking man dressed in black, whom he at first thought to be a priest but without the white clerical collar. The mysterious MIB kept his distance, and quit following him precisely the day before the phantom bird incident.


In many respects, apparitions of unknown predatory creatures appear to follow a sort of pattern which defies our understanding. As exemplified by the enigmatic hyena-like beasts seen in Egypt, it appears to be a slightly modified replay of events which can be traced as far back as medieval times. The points of contact between the Moca Vampire and the Chupacabras are too numerous to mention, but foremost among them are the unknown predator's dietary habits and the almost identical response to it by officialdom and the press. Not only were there curious coincidences (such as the similarity of surnames among the police superintendents), but the very cyclical nature of the mutilations appeared to repeat itself twenty years later.

Both in the 1970s and 1990s, the phenomenon transcended the island of Puerto Rico to manifest itself in other countries (although descriptions of the entity, always contradictory, varied from one nation to the other) before extinguishing itself altogether. Does it then follow that in as the vernal equinox of 2015 rolls around, we will be treated to another "bout" of strange bloodsucking mutilators?

Sunday, September 19, 2010

UFO MATRIX Magazine Issue #2

Philip Mantle has kindly sent us the cover to the forthcoming issue of UFO MATRIX, available from W.H. Smith as from September 30th, 2010. Features include articles by Nick Pope, Yvonne Smith, Chuck Zukowski and our very own Carlos Iurchuk weighing in on the 1978 Puerto Belgrano incident!

Argentina: The Los Cerrillos CE-3 (1996)

Argentina: The Los Cerrilos CE-3 (1996)
By Oscar Raul Mendoza

(Translated by Scott Corrales)

Mr. Juan Coronel, 35, is a married man with children, an expert in farm duties, with primary studies, average height and robust build. He works as a “puestero” (farm overseer) caring for cattle, horses and sheep in a field belonging to the Favaro Brothers. He lives in a comfortable home on the premises with his family. The property, covering some 2000 hectares, is located 60 km NE of the city of Santa Fe along provincial road No. 1. Access from the east is 4.4 km. along a long dirt road that extends from a westward cattle gate on the road, called “Entre Campos”, as it serves as the access route to other neighboring fields. As from the first 3.7 kilometers, and along a 670 km stretch, it crosses a pond, flooded by recent rains, that has a sort of sewer to drain water away. It is necessary to go two kilometers along the dirt road – flooded in parts-- beyond the Favaro’s cattle gate, to finally reach the home of Juan Coronel, the farm overseer. We went there with Antonio Pino, a friend and colleague, aside from being an expert photographer, in the company of Mr. Francisco Favaro, one of the field’s proprietors.

At that time, Mr. Coronel was engaged in looking after a flock of sheep in a nearby pen. Seeing us arrived, he approached to greet us courteously. We were introduced by Mr. Favaro, who advised him of the motive and interest of our visit, to which he was more than receptive.

The Story

“...That night I was on horseback, riding through the entrance road, the “entre campos” around 21:30 hours when upon reaching the sewer, I looked toward the woods, toward the left, and saw a light emerging from the pond. It looked like a flashlight. I thought it might by hunters, since they tend to frequent this area. But the light rose a few meters, became larger, lighting up the woods, almost like daylight, and it started moving to the right over the treeline to stop on the road on which I traveled. It was some 300 meters away, very near the entrance of the field I look after, and through which I had to enter.”

“The light’s brightness allowed me to see a man walking along the road, some 40 meters ahead of me. Must be a hunter, I told myself, and I moved the horse sideways to let him through, but with the intention of asking him about that disquieting light. As if to start a conversation, I asked, “Are you hunting, sir?” Not only did he not answer – he left the road to avoid me, moving into the marsh, on the road’s shoulder.

“I saw all this from horseback, telling myself: “this fellow’s going to be up to his waist in mud” and was surprised to see him pass over it without sinking. Then I paid closer attention to him, although somewhat from behind. The man chubby, short and with a short neck. He was dressed in dark green, with his waistline divided as if by a belt. One of his arms was close to the body, as if carrying something. For that reason I though at first he was a hunter and was carrying a shotgun.

“On his head, he had something like a helmet or hat. It was square, with a square brim as well. It looked transparent or glassy, and it some sort of tips on its top. And that’s when I got scared, and I galloped toward the field’s entrance, which was some 250 kilometers ahead. As I rode, I saw that the light was suspended in the air over the road, beyond where I had to go in. At that moment I felt a deafening sound, like 50 swarms of bees, and I saw about six or seven blue lights, flying along and leaving a short luminous wake behind them. They came from the south, over and behind the woods, and headed toward the light in the road. When they came together, they sort of blended, but the first light remained. I kept galloping, looking for the cattle gate, but the light blinded me. It was always ahead of me, some 100 meters away, but I could never reach it. Every so often I would close my eyes and lower my head, because it hurt my eyes.

“Suddenly I came to a curve in the road and found a carob tree, and I stopped in amazement. I was nearly at the end of the road! I can’t explain how I could’ve gone more than 3 kilometers from the entrance to the field. Then I made the turn and kept galloping. I thought the light would go away, following its own trajectory, but when I looked sideways, I saw it was following me some 70 meters behind me. I’m not going to exhaust the horse, I said to myself. If it wants to catch up to me, let it catch me!

“So that’s how it went. Every so often, I would look at it sideways, until I came to the spot where it had met with the other lights, and it vanished. Never saw it again. When I came to the entrance, the horse went all by himself. I was worried by my family, because the lights that went with the other came from the direction of my home. Upon arriving, I asked my wife if everything was well, and she said yes. And well, it was only a few days ago that I told her what had happened to me. I didn’t tell anyone until much later, and I told the bosses.”


This case could be divided into two classifications. On the one hand, it’s an encounter with nocturnal lights (obviously strange ones), as the shining light was maneuvering the air at one point less than 150 meters from the witness. The other would make it a nocturnal close encounter of the 3rd kind, unassociated (E.N. 3./N., in Spanish)

What makes it a CE-3 is the fact that the witness saw an alleged UFO occupant, given its characteristics and behavior. Basically, that is to say, walking without sinking into the mire (a particular characteristic recorded in other CE-3s) and “unassociated” because the vehicle was not seen in the vicinity. A further detail also splits the case into these two classifications: the completely different direction followed by the alleged occupant with regard to the position of the shining light, and other situations.


In analyzing this case, both the behavior and characteristics of the lights seen by the witness, make it very similar to those presented by what I call “probes”. The following hypothesis emerges with regard to these: What Mr. Coronel saw at first was possibly one of them: a small blue light emerging from the pond, rising to become intensely luminous, to then move horizontally toward the road. This behavior would not be casual; rather it would be part of a preventive or monitoring action upon detecting the witness’s presence, who heading in the direction that the alleged entity was coming from. The safety measures taken by UFO occupants are well known, when it comes to their safety, the safety of their craft, and assuring the highest degree of secrecy in their tasks. The technological devices they employ to achieve this are often incredible.

This leads one to believe that the maneuver was transmitted and directed from the probe’s carrier, presumably operating in the place it emerged from. The carrier craft, unseen by the witness, would have been somewhere in the area, supposedly in the direction the being was heading for, totally opposite that of the light. Other probes operating in the area subsequently met up with the first one. Based on experience, up to nine lights or probes have been seen to emerge from these intermediate craft, it is likely that this situation is somewhat similar. The witness states that the lights “joined up with the one casting the light” when in fact this light did not change, and remained the same throughout the event. It can then be assumed that they “didn’t merge”, but dimmed their light, remaining concealed and expectant while the object casting the light exercised “a certain influence” upon the witness. It must be noted that he acknowledged feeling “disoriented”

Finally, in corroborating the behavior and actions of these alleged probes, the fact is that “the light” did not continue along its route; rather, it turned around to follow the witness on his return trip. When Mr. Coronel finally reached the cattle gate, taking the road home, the light turned itself off, bringing its actions to an end, perhaps because the human no longer represented any danger or interference in the affairs of the strange visitors.

Moreover, it can be supposed that the horse was not “affected” for the simple reason that it was necessary means for getting the intruder away from the scene.

(Special thanks to Carlos Iurchuk of “El Dragón Invisible – -- and Guillermo Gimenez of Planeta UFO)

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Argentina: The Hopping Phantom of Calchín

The Hopping Phantom of Calchín
By Scott Corrales and Christián Quintero

Reports of strange humanoids resembling the legendary “Springheel Jack” came out of Argentina in the mid-Aughts (2004-2007) and were widely circulated in the local and foreign press, as readers beyond Argentina became acquainted with all manner of “petizos” and “pomberos” and other improbable parahuman creatures.

Our friend and colleague Christian Quintero (co-founder of Planeta UFO with Guillermo Gimenez) has drawn our attention to the reappearance of one of these bizarre humanoids in the town of Calchín, Cordoba Province (pop. 2000). Sightings appear to have commenced in August 2010 and have attracted considerable attention in the print media and on Argentinean radio (Christian has kindly sent us mp3 files of local radio shows featuring witness accounts)

The first of the journalistic sources dates from August 17, 2010 and reads: “Alarm in Calchín Over the Mysterious Apparitions of a Ghost”. This report, written by staff writer Ignacio Martino, notes that local residents have spoken of nothing but the “tall skinny guy” who covers his face with a balaclava and is terrorizing their communities. As occurred in Puerto Rico during the early days of the Chupacabras sightings, bands of citizens have formed to catch the mysterious personage. In the lyrics of the old song by TOTO: “You better watch out / there’s a stranger in town.”

Martino’s article quotes the experience of Gustavo, a youth who has thrown his lot in with the vigilantes who hope to catch the stranger. “20 days ago, a character started going around town between 21:00 and 23:00 hours every night. He bangs on doors, tries kicking them down, runs across backyards screaming and laughing, and no one has been able to identify him. This is happening very often, all weekend, for example. He appeared in various parts of town and always turns up in places from which he can make a quick getaway.” Gustavo (no surname given) was also interviewed on 08.17.10 by a radio program on which he added further details. There are abandoned houses in the Calchín area where inverted cross graffiti can be found, and which appear to have been partly burned down during the course of what we might loosely term “cult activity”.

“I did not see them,” he stresses. “But it is said that there are crosses, that there were names scrawled on the wall, the name of the town among them. What I did see, because I approached the areas, were the remains of fires, several piles of ash.”

Nor is the stranger afraid of the police. He (she? it?) has taken to prowling around the police barracks, and despite sharp commands to halt, officers have only seen him running off into the eucalyptus groves. The vicinity of Calchín has become filled with cars and curiosity-seekers armed with flashlights, but all their efforts have been fruitless.

The next article that Christian has sent us reads: “Police Looks Into Apparitions of Calchín’s “Hopping Phantom” and is dated 08.22.10 with the skyline: “An Unusual Event in Córdoba”. The moniker “hopping phantom” may not have the same ring as “Springheel” or even “Mothman”, but it describes perfectly the agility of a figure allegedly able to leap in excess of two meters in the air, according to those who have seen it. Flooded with phone calls reporting the antics of this unknown entity, the police have had no choice but to open a formal investigation into the matter.

A band of vigilantes perhaps came closer to catching the “hopping phantom” than it may have bargained for. The article reads thus: “ Tired of living in fear, a group of local residents decided to go after it one night. Upon reaching the place (sic) they saw an immense bonfire on a stretch of empty ground. When they approached, the saw a person kneeling before the fire. Perceiving their approach, the figure took off running at incredible speed. There were many candles in the shape of a circle around the bonfire.”

An anonymous witness made a concerned statement to Cadena 3 radio. “Everyone is afraid. It gets into backyards, bangs on doors and windows. Its yells are overwhelming. It has shown up in different parts of town.”

What is interesting about this article is that the authorities “have not discarded the possibility that black magic could be involved” as it is “a customary practice in the area.” This hearkens back to the summer of 2002 and the Argentinean cattle mutilation epidemic, when the presence of “red magic” – blood sorcery – was suggested as the cause for the slaughter. Law enforcement, regardless of the country, tends not to make such candid assertions. Candles and bottles were reported in an Argentinean UFO case in the early ‘00s that suggested that the source of light had been “summoned” through sorcerous means.

On 08.21.10, a woman named Daniela made the following statement on one of the Cadena 3 broadcasts: “Look, all I can say is that I haven’t seen it, but people are truly appears between nine and eleven at night, it has scared a lot people...people who are credible, whom you wouldn’t laugh at. Yes, it gets into back yards, bangs on windows, screams in a way that truly frightens people.” She goes on to tell the host that the subject has become the subject of conversation “at school, at the grocery store, everywhere you go” although no one directly affected by the phenomenon had spoken to her.”

When asked by the radio show host if the creature (whom he refers to as “el sátiro”, the Satyr) has chosen a particular lurking ground, she replies that the mystery figure does not appear to have any predilections, although the eucalyptus groves have been the area where most of the civilian searches have taken place.

Walter – another caller – states that the police has been forced to look into the “fantasma saltarín” as a result of the volume of calls received from the citizenry. “This person,” says the caller, “he hops beside you as your car is driving into Calchín...he appears out of nowhere in front of you, and according to some, he can jump two meters in the air.” At this point in the exchange, the show host pours the proverbial pitcher of cold water over the subject, saying that when similar things have occurred in other towns, it always turns out to be “someone who isn’t well, let’s say, someone with an imbalance” and that doing such things “occurs often in small towns.”

One wonders if people in small towns leaping two meters in the air are a tribute to clean rural lifestyles.

A trucker driving his vehicle in the middle of the night through the area, twenty five kilometers south of Calchín, told Cadena 3 in San Francisco that a figure made a sudden appearance in front of his truck, dressed all in black and hopping alongside the road. It stopped to look at the driver, who nearly drove the vehicle off the road in fright.

Mass hysteria in the dead of the southern hemisphere coldest recorded winter? An entity summoned by sorcery for some unknown purpose, feeding off the fear of a small, terrified community? The latest manifestation of Springheel Jack, whatever he/she/it was? Perhaps the arrival of warmer weather will allow for further investigation. For the time being, there’s an involuntary curfew going on in Calchín as of nine o’clock at night, when mystery comes banging on the door...

Monday, September 13, 2010

Argentina: The El Macón UFO and the Abominable Snowmen of La Puna

The Mystery of the El Macon UFO and the Abominable Men of La Puna
By Fabio Picasso
(Translated by Scott Corrales (c) 2010)

This series of events constitutes one of the darkest and examined pages of Argentinean ufology. It is not my intention to clarify these points. However, as a kick-off point for a subsequent compilation, I have considered it opportune to expand on the events that occurred in those inhospitable regions of Salta in detail and in chronological order. To do this, I have employed the original articles appearing in the La Razon newspaper and some less relevant sources. Everything apparently began in 1955 when “from Tolar Grande, a community close to the El Macon mountain, a tremendous commotion was seen to occur on one of the slopes, as though an aerolith had impacted against it. This event was not investigated and there were those who said that the object that crashed against El Macon was an airship of unusual configuration, later specifying that it was cigar-shaped (1). One year later, an explorer tried to research these events and the mountain was climbed yet again in 1957: the first case involved a geologist and the second was for presumably archaeological purposes. It is curious to note that this case may have been the conclusion of a hitherto unknown wave that in a way continued the 1954 flap, which extended into the first months of 1955. But as I have said, the alleged accident at El Macon occurred at an unspecified date in 1955, and would have almost certainly been forgotten had it not been for the UFOs photographed in the vicinity of Salar de Arizaro. “According to a group of citizens from Salar de Arizaro, Department of Los Andes, strange objects were seen to cross the skies at high on the 15th of the month.

One of the residents, the foreman of a National Highway Service squad, stated that they had seen such strange bodies in the sky before, but never like today. He added that they flew low enough to allow their shapes to be clearly seen, despite their prodigious speed. He added that members of his squad were stunned to see elongated, silvery structures, cigar-shaped, appear in a NE to SW direction, making quick changes in trajectory. In a matter of seconds, the objects were on the far side of the salt desert. They made no noise whatsoever as they traveled and each one of them expelled a wake of white smoke that practically covered the skies in that location. The devices continued toward their Arita Mine before passing over the Achibarca Mountains and then to the Antofalla Volcano.” (2)

Journalistic sources would experience a silence of nearly one month, as the photographs were apparently kept secret, since it was said that the National Gendarmerie had intervened in the case. This circumstance arises from the article I now transcribe: “Despite officialdom’s silence regarding the appearance of the flying cigars in the region known as Salar de Arizaro, it can affirm that the National Gendarmerie has been investigating the case since last March 15th (April, n.a), the date of the strange incident which has stirred public opinion throughout the country. It can also be ascertained that photos obtained of the flying saucers by the National Highways staff in the overflown region are now in the possession of the same official agency. Readers will recall that the strange objects crossed space at high speed, appearing to stand still at a given moment, which was employed to take photographs. Casual observers of the unknown travelers determined that they were cigar-shaped and that their movement was absolutely silent, thus discarding the possibility that they were jet aircraft from Chile or Bolivia. Moreover, known jet aircraft do not have a great autonomy of flight, nor are there any bases near the Salar de Arizaro.” (3)

Another month went by in silence until the National Gendarmerie finally issued, in early June 1956, a communiqué trying to explain the events. “Expanding on what was made known before, it has been confirmed that on April 13, personnel of the Tolar Grande Section of the National Gendarmerie, attached to the San Antonio de los Cobres barracks in Salta Province, a strange cigar-shaped flying object, 300 meters long, which gave off silver flashes, giving the impression of being made of aluminum, progressed at high speed over the Salar de Arizaro in a NW direction toward Socompa, leaving a white wake in its path. Given the object’s high speed, its characteristics could not be specified. With regard to the photograph, the same report states that it was taken by Mr. Maximo Chilo, a worker with National Highways, who was in the vicinity and managed to photograph the flying body.” (4)

As a curious note, a gigantic “cloud-cigar” – to use the terminology adopted by Aime Michel – appeared in the late afternoon in the center of Buenos Aires on June 29th, seen by many people (5). Oddly enough, on July 10th, La Razon published statements by the photographer who, paradoxically, wanted to remain anonymous, when the Gendarmerie report identified him a month earlier. It is impossible to know if it was the same person or if there were two photographers. In any event, it is interesting to note these statements: “...Now there is also debate over the strange object that flew over Salar de Arizaro on April 15th on the Salar de Arizaro plateau. In recent days, two men –Esteban Bossy and Diego Alfonso – stated that these cigars or flying objects were no more than jet engines that the army flies between Quito and Chile over this region. But a response to this statement did not take long to emerge. A witness and author of the photos of the object published in Buenos Aires with the authorization of the National Gendarmerie reiterates that we are in the presence of foreign objects – perhaps foreign to the planet itself – whose “atomic irradiation” produced a precipitation of the sensitive emulsion of the photo film. Supporting this theory, the reporter notes the fact that three of the instant film rolls taken of the objects were completely or partly clouded, despite the proper shutter speed and camera usage. According to the witness, who requests anonymity, these were not jet aircraft nor any other aircraft of conventional design known by civil or military aeronautical authorities in the world. These were strange objects. He added: “The machines or objects observed, aside from their size, did not have any wings or rudders. Their structure – smooth and spindle-shaped – made them look like huge, extraordinarily maneuverable blimps, making sharp and steep turns at high speed. Finally, the witness, who supports statements made by many others from the National Highway Service and the Gendarmerie itself, says that the train of smoke left in their wake surpassed in volume the possible condensation of gases that could be expelled from any jet’s engines.” (6)

Everything seemed to end with these statements and I believe that very little may have emerged from those desert regions, had it not been for a geologist named Spitch, who added a further condiment to the area’s altered tranquility. “Now comes the most sensation, if it were possible. The Abominable Snowman, whose exploits caused us to smile, has sobered the people of Salta. This is to be expected. Yeti, the strange Himalayan being, has appeared at Nevado El Macon, in La Puna. This is the story that is spreading from mouth to mouth. Only days ago, engineer Claudio Level Spitch, an unquestionable authority in radioactive minerals, returned from El Macón after carrying out a mission involving his specialization. But his findings have surpassed all expectations, since aside from determining the existence the type of mineral sought, he has found human footprints at an elevation in excess of 5700 meters. But aside from this, the prints are over 40 centimeters long and Engineer Sptich himself, making statements to the El Tribuno de Salta newspaper, compared the strange similarity of his find with those of the Abominable Snowman in legendary Tibet. The footprints found at the summit of majestic El Macón exceed all human possibilities, said Spitch.” (7)

It should be noted that national newspapers had been publishing, on a rather regular basis, stories about the Yeti and other hairy Asian creatures, including those of Malaysia. It will suffice to scan the pages of La Razón between 1951 and 1956, from which I have gathered at least 13 articles alluding to Wild Men or yetis. (8) Two days after some additional details on Spitch’s remarks appeared in the press.

“After the first sensational statements made by mining engineer Claudio Spitch about the presence of strange beings in the vicinity of El Macón, which stands 6600 meters over the wilderness of La Puna de Atacama, other stories have been received to confirm the news provided by the aforementioned technical minor. In fact, official sources have ascertained the existence of footprints with human characteristics, but of gigantic proportions, in the frozen sands of El Macón as well as in its ice fields. These footprints, according to these sources, were found with greater clarity in two occasions. The first was around a year ago, when from Tolar Grande, a community near El Macón, a colossal explosion was witnessed. The second in which the footprints that have caused concern among the population were reported is now, that is to say, a few weeks after having noticed the strange manifestation of aerial artifacts in the skies of Salar de Arizaro, described in some cases as “flying cigars” with scattered photo evidence obtained. Popular imagination, growing by leaps and bounds, is weaving the possibility that we are facing sensational events that indicate the landing of extraterrestrial beings in this part of the planet. Mention is made of the coincidence of similar reports in the so-called Rooftop of the World, the Himalayas, where the Yeti or Abominable Snowman has disturbed laymen and scientists alike. These otherworldly beings would seem to chose the highest elevations, and perhaps the coldest climates, as best suited to conduct their first incursions to our planet. Sidereal space, unexplored by humans, is the best-suited means for enabling all manner of navigation (sic) and La Puna de Atacama is too, given the enormous surface extension of its frozen reaches, making it the best place for landing spacecraft of unheard-of sizes. It should be remembered that casual observers of the objects crossing the skies of Salr de Arizaro on April 14th stated that these could have easily been 300 meters long. Personnel from the Gendarmerie became involved immediately, ordering the confiscation of the photos taken. Subsequently, copies of the photos taken were distributed to metropolitan papers, documenting the transit of the strange objects.” (9)

Up to here, the elements leaned toward the presence of strange beings. But beyond the footprints, no one had really seen these creatures. However, a muleteer ran into the beast. “Ernesto Sanitolay, 35, a muleteer, told authorities of the police station at Quebrada de Agua de Chuya – hesitantly and with clear signs of agitation – that while leading cattle through a gorge, he was startled by a strange creature covered in dense fur, wailing as it tried to spook his animals. After the initial confusion, the muleteer was able to see that the being was somewhat larger than a monkey, covered in frosted hair and very agile, capable of eluding the shots fired by a shotgun. The police, certain of the story’s authenticity, has commenced the pertinent investigation.” (10)

The same newspaper would subsequently publish more details on the encounter, although confusing the witnesses name and age. “With the arrival of muleteer Ciriaco Taritolay (sic) in Chicoana, who lived through the harrowing experience of seeing the Yeti or Abominable Snowman, new details on the unique event are becoming known. On July 23rd, while heading toward this community at the entrance of Quebrada de Agua Chuya, he was taken by surprise by a supernatural apparition that it considered completely real and not a hallucination. The apparition was a gigantic creature, seemingly covered in frosted hair. The area is covered in snow and snow-capped mountains, explained the muleteer. This being, whose feet, as I was able to calculate, were greater than 45 centimeters long, traveled before me by leaps and bounds and with startling agility. It shape was more human than simian. Having overcome my initial surprise and fear, and seeing that the creature was trying to flee rather than approach, I chased with my shotgun, but not before it vanished into the hillside.” This is the story told by the witness, a native of Quebrada de Esocipe, currently 65 years old (sic) and who knows the mountain ranges and snow-capped mountains of Chañí very well. The story by the Chicoana muleteer confirms earlier information about prints of a large creature found in the mountains of La Puna, and which were widely reported in the national press.” (11)

On the next day, we found new information provided by La Razon’s correspondent in Tolar Grande, a correspondent probably attached to Diario El Tribuno, whose report was transcribed without citing sources. “A correspondent returning to Salta states that he is in a position to supply numerous details about the strange creature that would have appeared in El Macón. After a visit to Tolar Grande, a rail station near the place where the events occurred, there are new stories and details that confirm the adventures of Polish mining technician C.L. Spitch, and later by the Chicoana muleteer. According the new sources, humble residents of La Puna, for some 3 years now, since the strange collision against El Macón, attributed to an aerolith at the time, there have been statements suggesting the presence of one or several strange beings in the snow-capped mountains of la Puna. One source, requesting anonymity, explained that on several occasions it has been able to hear powerful, resonant screams clearly at twilight, and particularly as the streams begin to frost over in the early hours of the evening. Furthermore – also attested by several persons – mountain birds, such as condors and Puna eagles, have been found dead and torn to shreds, with their nests ransacked. Added to these fantastic accounts is that in all cases, large footprints have been found next to the destroyed nests. Given their characteristics, the prints have not been associated with bear prints, animals initially believed responsible. (Keep in mind that the only known bear in the Andes is the so called spectacled bear or Tremarctus Ornatus, which lives at elevations far lower than those of the Puna). All agree that these reports suggest the presence of the infamous Abominable Snowman from far-off Tibet, which has been noted for some time but has been kept confidential due to a fear of mockery. Now, people are encouraged to speak after Spitch’s statements, who mentioned the existence of traces of unknown creatures at the end of one of his customary excursions through the Puna, searching for radioactive minerals. Regarding the collision against Cerro El Macon 3 years ago (keep in mind that other reports placed it in 1955), new details have also been gleaned. While at the time the loud report was attributed to the collision of an aerolith against the mountain, local residents now claim that it was a strange object of tremendous size, which broke up when it rammed the mountain, with unknown materials being subsequently found in the area. It is correct to suppose that the appearance of possible supernatural creatures in La Puna is the talk of the day not only in this city, but in the rest of the province.” (12)

Nothing further appeared in the press until November, when a brief report mentioned the activities of an expedition made to the Puna. “A recent expedition by the Club Andino del Norte and the Centro de Estudios Libres of the School of Natural Sciences has made interesting discoveries that would determine the existence of strange animals in the frozen regions of the Puna de Atacama. The expedition occurred in the region of the Salar de Arizaro to the north, trying to locate means of accessing the Nevado de Aracar, Guanaqueros, El Macon and Incahuasi mountains, and coming within 3 kilometers of the Chilean border. Upon returning, members of the expedition turned over the remains of animals having curious characteristics to the School. Among them is a goat with strange horn formations, half-eaten by foxes, which are numerous in the area. These remains consist of hide, head and extremities. Another animal found, and whose species remains undetermined, is a sort of lizard measuring 70 centimeters long and, with a 40 cm. body and 30 cm. tail, powerful extremities and a head resembling that of a toad. The head has a formation similar to a chicken’s breast. This specimen is completely desiccated by the cold and salinity of the Puna.” (13)

Shortly a after, another expedition went to those inhospitable regions, showing an unusual interest, possibly by the event developed in these pages. “Upon returning from an expedition that managed to climb El Macón for the first time ever, Dr. Jose Cerato of the city of Cordoba has made statements to the press. Through the expedition, he has said, it was possible to collect information regarding the presence of strange aerial artifacts flying over the frozen reaches of the Puna – continuously and since 1955. At the top of the mountain, says the scholar, the existence of ancient indigenous structures was ascertained, as well as curious traces similar to what would be produced by the high speed descent of a sufficiently heavy object. The structures are a timbered dome, suggesting an Incan lookout point. Moreover, numerous people consulted along the rout agree in having seen circular and spindle-shaped objects flying at high speed on repeated occasions, far different from aeroliths or asteroid fragments.” (14)

The final chapter of this extraordinary saga occurred in 1957, and consisted in a new discovery of foot prints and hair samples. “Muleteers reaching Chicoana from the NW end of the Argentinean-Bolivian border have told strange stories about the presence of odd creatures in the wilderness of La Puna. Thoroughly knowledgeable about these regions, known for their intense cold and nearly-constant strong winds, the muleteers, Tránsito Corregidor among them, agree that some strange creature or animal is living in the area, as they have seen imprints resembling the footsteps of a giant man. Furthermore, among the brambles and bushes of the area, they found hairs whose characteristics do not match those of the animals that customarily occupy the rough and inhospitable country. There have been those who say that at night, when the cold and wind are at their harshest, they can hear human wails and screams that can cause the bravest man to quake. The new stories by the muleteers have resurrected the belief among many locals that the Puna de Atacama is inhabited by a “creole” version, or better yet, a kolla version, of the Abominable Snowman, known to the natives as Ukumar Zupai or Koquena, a figure of native mythology.” (15)

This brings to a close the extensive chronicle of the mysterious apparitions in La Puna between 1955-1957. Unfortunately, I have not yet had access to regional sources and for this reason, this project endeavors to be an approximation to a much more exhaustive study. In any event, all of these references have been gathered into a single work for the first time, and despite their possibly tedious reading, given the repetition of events and the confused writing style of the correspondents, I thought to keep the text as written.

The episodes in La Puna were continued by events in Chile (1958) which aroused similar interest and whose characteristics were strikingly similar, as I could determine through the excellent material provided by Chilean researcher Liliana Núñez Orellana. Later, in 1960, we had new apparitions of hairy humanoids in the northeastern area of Salta, specifically in the forests of Yariguarenda, cases that will appear in a new article – Fabio Picasso, 1999-2002.

[Fabio Picasso is the director of Archivos Forteanos Latinoamericanos (AFLA) and a contributor to the defunct STRANGE Magazine.]

[1] La Razón(Buenos Aires) 23 July 1956
[2] La Razón (Buenos Aires) 18 April 1956
[4] La Razón (Buenos Aires) 4 June 1956,pg.6
[5] La Razón (Buenos Aires) 30 June 1956.
[6] La Razón (Buenos Aires) 10 July1956.
[7] La Razón (Buenos Aires) 21 July 1956.
[8] Megatac Database 2001, Author’s file
[9] La Razón (Buenos Aires) 23 July 1956
[10] La Razón (Buenos Aires) 27 July 1956.
[11] La Razón (Buenos Aires) 30 July 1956.
[12] La Razón (Buenos Aires) 1 August 1956.
[13] La Razón (Buenos Aires) 2 November1956.
[14] La Razón (Buenos Aires) 2 Noember1957
[15] La Razón (Buenos Aires) 24 April 1957. Source: OVNI

Friday, September 10, 2010

Background Report: Gargoyles Unbound

[Reports of a "gargoyle" creature emerging from Puerto Rico in recent weeks evoke memories of the pre-Chupacabras winged oddities that were seen on that island (1994-1995) and prior to that. Researcher Greg Bishop was kind enough to post this article to the site a few years ago, but given the rekindling of interest in the subject, I'm taking the liberty of posting it once again on INEXPLICATA as background information--SC]

By Scott Corrales © 2004

The ever-enigmatic deserts of northern Chile – a combination of equal parts Chryse Planitia and H.P. Lovecraft’s Plains of Leng – had never seen anything like it, not even in the days when these red sands known as Pampa Acha formed a barrier between the Inca Empire and the fierce Araucanian tribespeople whose forebears had found a way to live in this beautiful wasteland. A set of five, 9 meter tall monoliths carved of red sandstone-- a South American Stonehenge, as some have described it-- was erected in 1991 by Chilean artist and sculptor Juan Diaz Fleming, who gave them the rather ominous name of “Presencias Tutelares” (the tutelary presences) as an homage to the long vanished Aymara culture that thrived in the area in ages past, representing sacred and cosmic symbols Aside from the Pan-American Highway, wending its way through the desert sands, there was nothing else but the “Presencias Tutelares” to cause Pampa Acha to stand out from the surrounding desert landscape.

That is, until the gargoyles came…

A family drive is stressful enough without having to face the paranormal. In the close confines of the family vehicle, sibling rivalry can reach critical proportions and the monotony of the landscape can drive even the most patient passenger to ask if the intended destination is any closer. Carlos Abett and his wife Teresa, riding in a pickup truck between the family home in Pozo Almonte, a military community attached to the Fort Baquedano facility, to visit relatives in the city of Arica, were almost surely accustomed to these flare-ups and worse, but nothing, not even many years of driving the same road under a variety of conditions, could have prepared them for the event they experienced in July 2004.

At 9:00 p.m., some twenty kilometers south of Arica, in a wilderness known as Pampa Acha, the Abett family’s vehicle, containing the couple, their three children and a nephew who had come along for the ride, came across what they would later describe to news reporters as four “dog-faced kangaroos” that floated slowly in the night air.
Carmen Abett, the family’s eldest daughter, offered the most vivid description from her vantage point at the backseat window. "I was riding the backseat with my brothers, talking, and suddenly everything went dark. Then I told my brother what I was seeing and he told me to keep quiet, because Mom gets nervous. Later I looked through the window and saw some things that looked like birds, with dogs' heads and backswept wings. My father said they were like gargoyles. We were speechless for some 10 minutes and my Mom told us to react, and then we started discussing what we'd seen," she explained.

The flying entities were quite large, an estimated two meters (6 feet) long although it was impossible to estimate their wingspan, since these were “moved toward the back” as the eyewitness described them. Two of the entities classified as gargoyles by Carlos Abett flew over the car, while another two would later “leap” in front of the moving vehicle only minutes later.

But it was Abett’s wife Teresa, riding shotgun, who would get the best view of the flying oddities through the windshield. The creatures, she explained, appeared to be moving slowly over the car at first, but somehow matching the vehicle’s 100 kilometer per hour (65 mph) speed perfectly – a characteristic shared by West Virginia’s Mothman.

Nervous beyond words, the Abett family simply prayed that they could make it to Arica before long and see their relatives, putting the whole incredible ordeal behind them. Upon arrival, they promptly shared the experience with other family members, and were later considerably nervous about having to make the return trip to the Fort Baquedano area, forcibly traversing the area where the encounter occurred. Carlos Abett, an Army subofficer at the military facility, wisely kept quiet about the incident, not wishing to become the butt of jokes among his fellow men in uniform. The family would break its silence a few weeks later, however, when two men – coincidentally, another Army subofficer – would have an encounter with “dinosaur-like” creatures on the same stretch of road.

In an uncharacteristic move, the Chilean press put aside its normally impartial coverage to reach for an unlikely explanation: ostriches. The sighting by Diego Riquelme was described as a misinterpretation of wild ostriches that may have escaped from a local breeder, while the facts of the more mystifying Abett case were completely overlooked. Explanations were circulated as to how in the desert darkness it would be possible to confuse ostriches for prehistoric reptiles. Local biologists and other “experts” added their voices to the naysaying chorus.

Is there something about Chile that attracts these winged entities we have come to identify with medieval gargoyles, perhaps because there is something comforting about being able to give them a name?

On May 3, 2000 college instructor Liliana Romero, a resident of the city of Concepción and usually a sound sleeper, was wakened by the howling of a number of stray puppies she had picked up from the street a few days earlier. The five puppies shared a space in her building’s courtyard with Romero’s large mastiff. Checking the time, Romero saw it was one thirty in the morning and feared that a break-in might be taking place. Crouching by the window, she looked outside. What she saw made her wish that it had indeed been a burglar…

“The puppies were whining and Black [the mastiff] had huddled against the wall and was motionless. I could see the back of what appeared to be an immense man, standing some 2 meters tall. Its shoulder blades were split, as though with wings. Its attitude resembled that of a person choking another...that was my impression.”
Romero, horrified, was convinced that an improbable creature was murdering someone – some kind of animal she had never even dreamed could exist. She tried to get her husband to wake up and witness the event to no avail. “In a matter of seconds, I went back to the living room to look at it, but it was gone. It had vanished, " she adds. The next day, the Romero family’s children returned home through a shortcut that brought them across the courtyard where the strange entity had been seen. They promptly told their mother that there was “a dead dog in the place where the gentleman was being attacked.”

Liliana asked her husband to check, and he returned saying that a wooly beige﷓colored dog was lying on the floor with two puncture marks on its throat. "I don't know if I might be in a suggestive state, but it had two deep holes in its jugular, about as wide as a BIC pen, separated by 5 centimeters between them. What impressed me the most was that it was completely bloodless and was as light as a feather. The dog was incredibly wooly and in fact, I had to move its fur to see the wounds."

Only a few nights before Liliana Romero’s sighting, two farmhands from the town of Tucapel, Jorge Venegas and José Pino, were taking advantage of the bright full moon to fetch a bucket of water from a local creek. Walking cautiously out of concern for a stray bull that was roaming the fields, Pino saw a dark shape moving among the moonlit vegetation, which he took for the stray bovine. Only later did he realize that it wasn’t the bull, but a nightmare creature he described as “a big monkey with long, clawed arms and enormous fangs protruding from its mouth, as well as pair of wings.” In terror, the farmhand ran back toward the farmhouse to unleash the mastiffs. One of them, Cachorro, came back with a bloody neck, testimony to the encounter with the unknown figure. From that night onward, Pino never ventured into the darkness without a shotgun slung from his shoulder.

But what happens when a firearm isn’t available, and one must venture into the darkness? For that is exactly what happened on Tuesday, July 23, 2003, when the Calama UFO Center informed the world of a mind-bending case involving still another gargoyle-like entity.

Diego, a young student from the city of Calama in the Chilean high desert, had gone to visit his grandfather in the town of San Pedro de Atacama, accompanied by two close friends. The three young men enjoyed visiting this wilderness area during their school recess and helped Diego’s uncle herd his goats. On the fateful evening in question, the three youths were getting ready to sit down to a meal of bread and tea in the rural home, which lacked electricity. At around nine o’clock at night, they heard the odd wheedling and howls made by the dogs on the property; fifteen minutes later, a series of violent raps were heard on the door, followed by scratching sounds that filled the three visitors with fear – enough that the three friends huddled against a wall and shielded themselves with a mattress and blankets against the unknown quantity.

A few minutes later, the rattling and scratching ceased. Regaining confidence, Diego and his companions decided to step out into the cold night air for a look—something they might have preferred, in retrospect, not to have done.

For there it was: amid a stand of pear trees some fifteen meters away from the door was a creature they described as “horrifying”, standing a meter and a half tall and with outstretched wings measuring an incredible three and a half meters.

The description of the creature offered by the three witnesses to the Calama UFO Center was a detailed one: “It was covered by glossy black skin, very clean and hairless,” reads the report by Jaime Ferrer. “It appeared as though it had recently emerged from the water, but without being wet. It had a large head and a small beak, presenting a sort of crest that was apparently missing a piece from a fight. Its eyes were immense and completely black, but sparkled brilliantly. They thought it was a prehistoric being, since its wings had a strong resemblance to those of pterodactyls or bats, featuring bone-like protuberances that form the skeletal frame of the wings. Its legs were sturdy and had powerful claws
like those of a carrion bird, but much stronger.”

But this gargoyle of the Chilean wilderness had no interest in the three youths. Instead, it shook its enormous wings and flew off into the darkness.

There have been other occasions on which the gargoyles have taken a violent interest in hapless humans intent on their own business. One such case occurred during Chilean creature sightings in the summer of 2000, but is no less impressive or terrifying than the more recent event mentioned above.

Walking home at midnight on the 7th of May of that year, Guido Canales was possibly more concerned about catching pneumonia from the fall chill (the seasons being inverted in the southern hemisphere) than worrying about supernatural terrors. Far from the mysterious northern deserts of his country, Canales dwelt in the verdant, wooded part of Chile known for its near-European beauty and climate. His town of Codao, south of the nation’s capital, was a peaceful rural community among massive, fairy-tale quality trees.

Within sight of his home, Guido Canales was attacked by a massive bird-like creature whose strength toppled him to the ground. Stunned, he realized that far from being a condor or any other raptor known to him, his assailant was a creature best described as a gorilla with wings, golden eyes and emitting a nauseating, rotting stench. Fearing for his life, the young man managed to recover the flashlight – fallen to the ground during the attack – to shed light on the creature. The entity, either harmed by the flashlight’s beam or repelled by it, took an enraged swipe at Canales, clawing his back. In desperation, Canales screamed for his neighbors to help him. One good samaritan responded to his call and turned on the front porch light before going outside to render aid. The porch light sufficed to cause the winged aberration to fly off into the dark. The victim would later tell his family that judging from the way the creature had grabbed him during the struggle, it was trying to exsanguinate him.

His skin scratched, dazed and unable to speak, Canales’ relatives took him off to the doctor. The five scratches, running from his left shoulder to his neck, were treated with antibiotics and anti-rabies vaccinations.

But the Canales story does not end there.

Ramón Nava Osorio of Spain’s IIEE group, author of La Verdad Oculta (Madrid: IEEE, 2003) visited Chile and managed to interview members of the family who were quite willing to discuss the ordeal. After the attack on Guido, his brother Luchito and other friends decided to venture into the darkness and avenge the victim, armed with shotguns. Their valor and righteous rage was rewarded by an encounter with the winged “ape”, which was sitting on a high tree limb. Luchito pointed at its chest and fired the twelve-gauge shotgun, which should have brought down a horse easily. Seemingly unaffected, the creature merely flew away into the cold night

Gargoyles in Spain

Leaving the Andean region and its many mysteries behind, we follow the gargoyle’s flight to Spain, where aeronautics researcher Francisco J. Máñez describes a strange story that befell a close coworker. The co-worker, who knew of Máñez’s interest in the unknown and was aware of his stature as a writer and radio personality, agreed to recount his childhood experience only if he could remain anonymous.

The witness in this case was a 5 or 6-year-old boy living in Barrio del Carmen, a neighborhood of the city of Valencia on the Mediterranean Sea. The event would have taken place in the late Sixties, and even with the passing of decades, he claims that his recollection of the high-strangeness occurrence is still crystal clear.

One cold November morning, the young protagonist of the event asked his mother for permission to go out and play on the sidewalk with his toys as he did every weekend. For some unknown reason, his mother refused and told him to go to the house’s upstairs terrace and play there. Obediently, the boy picked up his toys and headed up the staircase.

The terrace was a broad and uncovered area from which the rooftops of neighboring buildings could be seen. Upon opening the door leading to this expanse, the boy was surprised by a strange “bird” perched silently on the terrace railing, quietly surveying the city from his vantage point. Fascinated by the large bird, the boy approached it quietly. It was about the size of an eagle, he told Máñez, with wings like a bat and completely featherless.

At some point, the “bird” must have heard the boy’s footsteps and turned its face around to look. What the boy saw was completely incredible and it caused him to freeze in his tracks: the bat-winged entity had a nearly human face. Its body was also manlike, ending in sharp talons. The creature immediately leaped into the air, soaring away gracefully on its outspread wings, vanishing somewhere over the city.

The boy was too young to have ever heard of gargoyles, and it wasn’t until years later, when he saw one sculpted high above a church, that the memories of his strange event flooded his brain. “That bird,” he told Francisco Máñez without any hesitation, had a human face and body, and no one can make me think otherwise.”

The Kitchen Gargoyle’s Story

It isn’t often that researchers of the paranormal get to have a close look at their subject of interest, and whenever there are exceptions, these tend to be significant. One such case involves the director Mexico’s Fundación Cosmos, A.C., Ing. Marco Reynoso, a distinguished UFO researcher and MUFON state director for Nuevo León. In the fall of 1979, Reynoso was a harried engineering student trying his best to deal with a heavy course load and work on his dissertation. One night, leaving the university earlier than usual, he arrived at his parents’ house – a rambling, high-ceilinged old manse of the kind common in Mexico – whose kitchen can be clearly seen from the main entrance.

All was dark; Reynoso’s father never got back from work before ten o’clock and his mother was out visiting neighbors. The only light came from a single bulb in the kitchen, casting enough light to show the kitchen table, which was located next to a window covered by a curtain.

Making his way to the kitchen to grab a bite to eat, the future ufologist noticed movement behind the curtain, but thought it was the normal action of the wind blowing through the open window. Then suddenly, a figure stepped out from behind the curtain: it was a humanoid figure, covered in glossy black hair and standing some thirty centimeters tall with outstretched bat wings. The curtain partly covered its face, so Reynoso was unable to make out any features. Fearlessly, he thought to use the curtain as a means to ensnare the strange apparition and pin it down, but the cloth drapes were suddenly sucked toward the open window, toppling objects on the table surface, and the bizarre creature vanished. Running out to the courtyard, he tried to see if he could find the intruder to no avail.

That’s when fear crept in: “I was completely certain that it was no optical illusion,” says Reynoso, “nor any known animal. The contrast between the kitchen and its contents, which were all white, and the blackness of the creature, left no mistake as to what I had seen. That event changed my life completely, since it highlighted the interest for the unknown I’d had since age 8.” The experience prompted him to join his first UFO research group, in whose files he found another case similar to his own, witnessed by a woman from another Monterrey neighborhood.


First of all, it is necessary to understand what is meant by “gargoyle”. Anyone who grew up watching repeated showings of the movie The Gargoyles on television during the 1970s doesn’t need an explanation as to what these creatures look like—or at least what the human mind has imagined them to be. Parents of younger children have probably also seen Saturday-morning cartoon depictions of these entities in a heroic setting. But what are gargoyles? Why is there so little information on them, and why do we speak of their existence so naturally?

Stemming from the medieval French word gargouille or “throat”, a clear indication of their nature. The Gargoyle was fearsome human or animal figure projecting from roof gutters to drain water at a distance from buildings. Cathedrals made prominent use of them not only as spouters of rainwater, but also to protect the structures against evil (fighting fire with fire, to a certain extent). Some particular gargoyles have become world famous, like Notre Dame’s pensive “vampire” who looks over the city from his vantage point over Ile de la Cité. No one, however, seems to have a convincing explanation as to what inspired their creation, although it is universally agreed that they are protective spirits, perhaps “denizens of the lower airs” who were placed in bondage by a medieval cleric-magician, their evil natures subverted to the purpose of Good.

But this is only speculation: gargoyles existed long before the first medieval mason ever cut a stone to lay the foundations of the cathedrals at Chatres or Reims. Greek and Roman temples were protected by similar figures that served the dual purpose of warding off unseen evil spirits and reminding the faithful that they were entering a sacred spot protected by unimaginable forces at the service of the respective deity. Known to antiquarians as apotropaic figures, they suggest the existence of a force that is considerable and often hard to control. “The ancient gods,” writes one source, “are turned into demons, acknowledged for their power and admirable respect, yet tamed and relegated to servitude at the temples of the new religion. These spiritual forces, able to induce either fear or reverence, are confined to the perimeter of the holy site, forever frozen and protecting a place which they themselves can never enter.”

And on that poetic note, we put the ancient texts behind us to face the unfettered gargoyles that continue to appear in our midst…