Dr KARL SHUKER

Zoologist, media consultant, and science writer, Dr Karl Shuker is also one of the best known cryptozoologists in the world. Author of such seminal works as Mystery Cats of the World (1989), The Lost Ark: New and Rediscovered Animals of the 20th Century (1993; greatly expanded in 2012 as The Encyclopaedia of New and Rediscovered Animals), In Search of Prehistoric Survivors (1995), and more recently Extraordinary Animals Revisited (2007), Dr Shuker's Casebook (2008), Karl Shuker's Alien Zoo: From the Pages of Fortean Times (2010), Cats of Magic, Mythology, and Mystery (2012), and Mirabilis: A Carnival of Cryptozoology and Unnatural History (2013), his many fans have been badgering him to join the blogosphere for years. The CFZ Blog Network is proud to have finally persuaded him to do so.

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Sunday, 12 April 2009

NORTH AMERICA'S ELUSIVE BABYFEET – Part 2.

Reward poster for the missing Wyoming mini-mummy


Herewith the second part of my survey of North America’s mysterious babyfeet and other littlefeet. If anyone out there has details of further examples, or additional information regarding any of those documented here (especially news regarding the Wyoming mini-mummy’s current whereabouts), I’d be very interested in receiving them.

THE GEOW-LUD-MO-SIS-EG OF NEW BRUNSWICK

Proving that Little People are not a Northwest idiosyncrasy, however, Amerindian traditions regarding such entities are also on file from the Northeast, notably New York State. Here, as revealed in Edmond Wilson's book Apologies to the Iroquois, at least two tribes of dwarves supposedly lived among the Tuscaroras. One of these tribes possessed extraordinary powers of healing and would sometimes treat injured or ailing Iroquois in exchange for gifts of tobacco, but the other tribe preferred to play tricks instead, unless appeased with tobacco.

Much further south, within Louisiana's Mississippi Delta, reports have periodically emerged concerning a race of 'little red men', according to Peter Haining, writing in Ancient Mysteries (1977). About the size of ten-year-old children, they allegedly inhabit the secluded depths of the bayous, where they are as adept at climbing trees as monkeys.

And even further south, in New Mexico, there is an ancient Cochiti legend telling of how the Pueblo tribe of the Stone Lions was attacked by a fierce race of pygmies. Full details are preserved in the 29th Annual Report of the Bureau of American Ethnology (1907-1908).

Nor are mystery mini-humanoids confined exclusively to the United States within the North American continent. Moving northwards across the 49th Parallel, southeastern Canada can also lay claim to a version - the Geow-lud-mo-sis-eg. These entities are commonly met with in the vicinity of water, such as marshy ground, riverbanks, brooksides, or lake shores. Fond of playing tricks on humans, they display a particular delight in finely braiding (with consummate skill) strands of hair on the tails of horses, cows, and other domestic animals.

Their lore has been extensively researched by writer Pat Paul, of the Maliseet Nation, who lives on the Tobique Indian Reserve in New Brunswick. Once frequently spied, nowadays the Geow-lud-mo-sis-eg are rarely reported, but they do not appear to have entirely vanished.

Several years ago, one of the Tobique elders and his wife looked out of their home's window one night during a heavy downpour of rain and saw three of these dwarves sitting around an outdoor fireplace. In keeping with the ancient lore concerning these strange beings, the fire burning in this open-air fireplace remained fully lit and blazing, in spite of the torrential rain pouring down upon it. Moreover, minute stone beads supposedly manufactured by the Geow-lud-mo-sis-eg have been found at the Passammaquoddy Nation (Sebayik) Reservation in Maine. Measuring 0.04-1 inch long, each of these beads is composed of a shale-like material, and contains a hole enabling the thread to pass through.

Far more remarkable, however, but tragically lost (or at least mislaid) are the pygmy coffins and corpses found on an unidentified island by Captain Luke Foxe during the early 1630s while exploring the Hudson Bay/Baffin Island region of northeastern Canada. In 1635, Foxe recorded his extraordinary find in his journal as follows:

"The newes from the land was that this Iland was a Sepulchre, for that the Salvages [sic] had laid their dead (I cannot say interred), for it is all stone, as they cannot dig therein, but lay the Corpes upon the stones, and well them about with the same, coffining them also by laying the sides of old sleddes above, which have been artificially made. The boards are some 9 or 10 ft long, 4 inches thicke. In what manner the tree they have bin made out of was cloven or sawen, it was so smooth as we could not discerne, the burials had been so old. And, as in other places of those countries, they bury all their Vtensels [utensils], as bowes, arrowes, strings, darts, lances, and other implements carved in bone. The longest Corpes was not above 4 foot long, with their heads laid to the West...their Corpes were wrapped in Deare [deer] skinnes...They seem to be people of small stature."

Although Foxe's sailors took away the wooden boards to be used as firewood, they did not disturb the pygmy corpses, but the island in question has never been satisfactorily identified, thereby ruling out the possibility of launching any modern search for further relics here.

WYOMING'S MINI-MUMMY

In contrast, there is at least one corpse of an incredible North America mini-humanoid on record that has been formally examined by scientists - but all to no avail, as it turned out.

Its extraordinary history began one day in October 1932, when gold-prospectors Cecil Main and Frank Carr blasted a hole through the wall of a ravine in the San Pedro Mountains, about 65 miles southwest of Casper, Wyoming - and made a momentous discovery. The wall had been hiding a cavern, which contained a small ledge. And sitting on the ledge, in cross-legged pixie-like pose, with its arms folded across its chest, was the mummy of a diminutive humanoid figure, with a sitting height of less than 7 in and a total height of only 14 in.

Sporting a tanned if wrinkled bronze-coloured skin, barrel-shaped body, large hands, long fingers, low brow, very wide mouth with large lips, and broad flat nose, this strange figure resembled a smirking old man, who seemed almost to be winking at its two amazed discoverers, as one of its large eyes was half-closed. Nevertheless, it was evident that it had been dead for a very long time, and its death did not appear to have been a pleasant one. Its head was abnormally flat, and was covered with a dark gelatinous substance - later examinations by scientists revealed that its skull had been smashed by an extremely heavy blow, and the gelatinous substance was congealed blood and exposed brain tissue.

The most detailed examination, including x-ray analysis, was conducted by anthropologist Dr Henry Shapiro from the American Museum of Natural History, which confirmed that the mummy (subsequently dubbed Pedro, after its provenance) was not a fake but did indeed contain a complete if minuscule skeleton, a fully-fused skull (verifying that it was an adult humanoid, and not an infant - not even an anencephalous one), and also a full set of teeth.

The Casper midget mummy's current whereabouts are unknown (it was last seen publicly in 1955, and even a $10,000 reward for its discovery offered in February 2005 by Bibleland Studios founder John Adolfi failed to uncover it), but its x-ray plates are still on file. Moreover, not long after its initial discovery by the two prospectors, a Mexican shepherd called Jos‚ Martinez reputedly found another mummy and six separate skulls on a ranch in the same vicinity. After soon suffering a number of mishaps, however, he considered them to be jinxed, so he swiftly replaced them where he had found them.

Other mini-mummies have also been reported over the years from elsewhere in the U.S.A. One of the most noteworthy of these was a 3-ft-tall, red-haired specimen discovered during the 1920s on a ledge in Kentucky's famous Mammoth Cave, and which seemed to be only a few centuries old. During 1922, sheep-herder Bill Street claimed to have found several small skulls and whole mummies in Montana's Beartooth Mountains, but their present whereabouts are unclear. Two young men on a day off from the Civilian Conservation Corps came upon a dead pygmy with sharp teeth in Wyoming's Wind River Mountains during 1933 (was it a Ninnimbe?); both died soon afterwards, and others who saw it died from severe illnesses.

In 1969, author John 'Ace' Bonar visited orthopaedic specialist Richard Phelps in Casper to see the preserved head of a mysterious tiny humanoid that he was displaying at that time in his shop. Bonar learnt that the head had originally been taken from a cliff near Wyoming's Muddy Gap. After Phelps's death in 1980, his daughter donated the preserved pygmy head to the University of Wyoming in Laramie, where it is still said to be today.

According to Bonar, the husband of Winnie Cardell from Alcova, Wyoming, also owned a mini-mummy - until he loaned it to a college professor, who never returned it. A specimen closely resembling the famous Casper mini-mummy attracted media attention in January 1979 when it was loaned to Californian antique appraiser Kent Diehl of San Anselmo for examination. Just under 1 ft long, with an indentation at the back of the head indicating brain injury as the cause of death, the mummy was supposedly found in Central America during 1919, but Diehl would not publicly identify the Marin family that presently owns it.

Attempts have been made by some researchers to dismiss the Casper specimen as a grossly-malformed human child or foetus, but its adult characteristics conflict with this identity. Also, there are many Amerindian traditions of mysterious races of dwarves or pygmies, as we have seen, and some of these allegedly kill their own kind when they become old or infirm by beheading them or smashing their skulls - in precisely the way that Casper's mummified midget and its Central American lookalike met their deaths. Just a coincidence?

DOVER DEMON

Sceptics claim that North American mystery dwarves, pygmies, and other littlefeet exist only in native American folklore and legends, and that white Westerners never report such beings. In reality, however, this is far from true, as exemplified by the Dover demon.

At around 10.30 pm on 21 April 1977, 17-year-old Bill Bartlett was driving home with two friends through Dover in Massachusetts when his headlights illuminated a bizarre entity picking its way along a stone wall at the side of the road. Standing 3-4 ft high with hairless but rough-textured, peach-coloured skin, the creature had a disproportionately large melon-shaped head whose face was wholly featureless except for a big pair of protruding eyes that glowed orange. Its body was slight, but its arms and legs were very long and thin, terminating in slender, supple fingers and toes. Bill Bartlett later produced a sketch of this entity, which became known as the Dover demon - a sketch that was almost identical to the drawing prepared independently by a separate eyewitness, 15-year-old John Baxter, who had seen the being less than two hours after Bartlett's encounter.

Baxter had been walking home close to the location of Bartlett's sighting when he spied the 'demon', and chased it down a gully. Two other sightings were made within the next 24 hours, after which it was never reported again. On account of its truly unearthly appearance, wholly unlike any type of creature known to science, some researchers have deemed the Dover demon to be an extraterrestrial, or, at the very least, an interdimensional, visitor. All of which makes it all the more intriguing that like so many other littlefeet on record, this mystifying entity does have a traditional, terrestrial precedent.

The Cree Nation of eastern Canada speak of a mysterious, elusive race of pygmies known to them as the Mannegishi, which live between rocks in the rapids. Their morphological description corresponds almost exactly with that of the Dover demon.

So what are we to make of North America's littlefeet? Quite evidently, they are more than just a myth, and have been in existence here for a very long time. But what are they, and where did they originally come from?

Are they native New Worlders that have retreated in historic times to remote localities away from modern humanity's conquering reach? Interestingly, in his absorbing book on the huge extinct ape Gigantopithecus, entitled Other Origins: The Search For the Giant Ape in Human Prehistory (1990), American anthropologist Dr Russell Ciochon briefly referred to a native American tradition concerning a tiny human entity referred to as the ‘little cat man’, and he speculated that this may refer to an extinct North American prosimian.

Or could the littlefeet actually constitute beings from a very different, parallel world that can and do enter ours at will, in the best traditions of Little People everywhere? And where, in the infinitely subtle continuum of reports, do Little People end and extraterrestrials begin, anyway? After all, entities like the Dover demon and other littlefeet documented here effortlessly if confusingly embrace both ends of this vast spectrum of sightings instantaneously.

Documenting the Wyoming mini-mummy in his book Stranger Than Science (1959), veteran mysteries investigator Frank Edwards made the following pertinent comment:

"Scientists from far and near have examined this tiny fellow and have gone away amazed. He is unlike anything they ever saw before. Sitting there on the shelf in Casper, visible, disturbing evidence that science may have overlooked him and his kind much too long."

This is certainly true. However, just as there are two sides to every coin, in his own book The Monster Trap (1976), Peter Haining offered an equally disturbing, obverse view:

"For as some of the more serious-minded of the old people of Casper who were alive at the time of the discovery will tell you, they believe the little man was one of a whole race of barbaric dwarf people who once lived in the region in ancient times. And they get the distinct impression from looking at him that he had been sitting there behind the stone wall for thousands of years waiting for someone - or something - to return.

"Now just suppose, they go on with the merest hesitation, that the long-awaited return of what-ever-it-might-be has taken place - and it has found nothing there..."

A chilling little vignette, if true. And who knows - perhaps it really would have been best in this instance to have let sleeping dogs lie, or dormant dwarves dream on?

11 comments:

  1. I go for the "extradimensional creatures" angle, Karl. Particularly Bigfoot.
    There's an interview with an Indian Medicine woman who claims she has been in contact with these beings for years. According to her, there are neither animal nor human. http://www.mysterious-america.net/hansenint.html from Blogsquatcher. One can take of it what one will.

    Anyway---

    It's too bad that science only looks for a strictly material angle to the sightings (as in "It's a walking ape.") No consideration is given to the "paranormal" evidence for this. Until science adopt a more "spiritually-based" type of science, I guess considerations like that will not be posible.

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  2. The "Littlefoot" from Indiana is probably a member of the the Puk-wud-jies, you can read The Puk-wud-jies of Indiana by Paul Startzman for more detail. These little people inhabit the area of Mounds State Park and were seen often in the area until the park was created in 1930 which led to increased human traffic. I find it interesting that this area was selected by the Adena and Hopewell peoples as a religious and ceremonial center, but that may just be a coincidence.

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  3. Do you have any thoughts about Homo floresiensis as a possible explanation? Could they or others related to them have crossed the ice age land bridge connecting Asia and America?

    Here is a link to the AFP article posted today about Homo floresiensis:
    http://news.yahoo.com/s/afp/20090507/ts_afp/scienceanthropologyindonesiahobbits;_ylt=Asv7ll8oswIKm5UkVne7CWoPLBIF

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  4. I'm not sure whether H. floresiensis could explain the American sightings. However, the very fact that we now know that miniature humans did indeed once exist in one locality, yet their former physical presence remained undiscovered by science until as recently as this decade, must surely give hope that similar scenarios may await unfurling elsewhere.

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  5. There is a photo of"Pedro the Mountain Mummy "on the LostWorldMuseum site.The accompanying story claims there were 5 X-rays which are also missing, the mummy having been stolen in 1950.

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  6. Forget the thunderbird photo- look for little old man Pedro!

    I can't believe that science has not accepted the existence of littlefeet, despite all the evidence!! Oh well, at least there are cryptozoologists like you, Dr. Shuker. Say, do you think that "Homo Floriensis" could actually be a type of Little Person? Thanks for bringing littlefeet attention!

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  7. Who knows what unseen wonders are out there waiting for discovery? I don't now about hobbits - I think Littlefeet aren't human at all...

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  8. Hi.
    The thing about braiding hair on horses reminds me of a belief closer to home. In Sweden there existed (and still exists in some places) beliefs in a "little people" called Vättar. They often lives under houses and in general keeps to themselves, but sometimes they can form friendships with their human neigbours. And of course if insulted they can become a pest, doing stuff like suck blood from children during the night. But they too have a fondness for braiding tails on horses.
    This is also typical of the Tomte, the domestic spirit that helps out on farms and is described as a small elderly man with a temper.
    Funny that little people so far away from each other both have this particular "hobby".

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  9. Your description of the Geow-lud-mo-sis-eg, in particular, their skillful braiding of strands of hair on the tails of horses and cows, and a recent report from a reader in Sweden, reminded me of a story my mother told me as she had heard it as a young girl from her grandfather, of Polish origin, in the early 1950s. Not sure where this actually took place, probably in southern Russia or Ukraine, where he lived with his family after the revolution. Anyway, horses in his stable next to his house would be found with finely braided tails in the morning. The great-grandfather believed that it was the work of a domovoy - a house spirit protecting the house, who reportedly looks after household animals such as cows and horses and - suprisingly - likes mice. By the way, it would be fascinating to look at the subject of a benevolent house spirit in more detail as numerous accounts of the domovoy seem to suggest that it is indeed a physical being but with interdimensional abilities, heard and even occasionally seen by numerous witnesses, and definitely not a ghost. He looks like a tiny old man, but according to some reports has a head of a cat, and can hypnotize people and animals with his stare. He still plays an important role in the traditional Russian household!

    Best -

    Gloria
    Burnaby, B.C., Canada

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  10. Fascinating article Dr. Shuker. I, too, have been intrigued by what little amount of information I have personally found on the internet. Thank you for expanding the number of tales I have been able to learn of by reading your articles.

    Best,

    Kennan

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  11. Thank you Dr. Shuker for expanding the amount of information I have on a subject I, too, find fascinating. Excellent articles!

    Best,

    Kennan

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