Zoologist, media consultant, and science writer, Dr Karl Shuker is also one of the best known cryptozoologists in the world. He is the 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), Dragons: A Natural History (1995), In Search of Prehistoric Survivors (1995), The Unexplained (1996), From Flying Toads To Snakes With Wings (1997), Mysteries of Planet Earth (1999), The Hidden Powers of Animals (2001), The Beasts That Hide From Man (2003), 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), Mirabilis: A Carnival of Cryptozoology and Unnatural History (2013), Dragons in Zoology, Cryptozoology, and Culture (2013), The Menagerie of Marvels (2014), A Manifestation of Monsters (2015), Here's Nessie! (2016), and what is widely considered to be his cryptozoological magnum opus, Still In Search Of Prehistoric Survivors (2016) - plus, very excitingly, his first two long-awaited, much-requested ShukerNature blog books (2019, 2020).

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Tuesday 17 June 2014


Spectacular rendition of batsquatch by tattoo artist and friend Gary Stanley aka Stigmata, originally prepared by him specifically for a magazine article of mine during the late 1990s – cheers, Gaz! (© Gary Stanley/Stigmata)

Twenty years ago this year, one of the most bizarre winged entities ever reported made its first – and seemingly only – appearance, at least as far as the media headlines were concerned, but do any ShukerNature readers have additional information? As revealed, here, moreover, it may not have been entirely unprecedented.

It was 9.30 am on 19 April 1994, and 18-year-old high school student Brian Canfield was driving a truck from Buckley to his home at Camp One in the foothills of Mount Rainier, above Lake Kapowsin in Washington State, USA, when for no apparent reason his truck abruptly came to a halt. Then, about 30 ft ahead, descending onto the road with a sizeable thud, appeared a creature of nightmare!

Standing perfectly still on its hind legs, at least 9 ft tall, and covered in bluish fur, it had a wolf-like face, yellow eyes with half-moon pupils, tufted ears, a large mouth well supplied with sharp white teeth (but no fangs), bird-like feet, powerful arms, and fingered hands. It also had a pair of huge wings, which lay folded behind its broad shoulders as this monstrous being gazed at the unbelieving trucker for several minutes in a terrifying face-off.

A second wonderful illustration of batsquatch by another very talented friend of mine, Swedish artist/film-maker Richard Svensson (© Richard Svensson)

Canfield's macabre confrontation finally ended when his astonishing visitor began twitching its fingers, then unfolded its wings, which were so enormous that they spanned the entire width of the road, and slowly took off into the air - stirring up such extensive turbulence before soaring away towards Mount Rainier that Canfield's truck rocked and swayed. Once it had departed, his truck inexplicably came alive again, enabling him to drive home.

Later that day, still greatly frightened but this time accompanied by his mother and a neighbour, Canfield returned to the location of his incredible encounter. He hoped to find something that could provide physical proof of his story's veracity, but was unable to do so. Notwithstanding this, his reputation for honesty and abstemious lifestyle were such that no-one acquainted with him had any doubt that he was telling the truth. Even newspaper columnist C.R. Roberts, who interviewed him in the Tacoma News Tribune on 1 May (following an earlier article regarding batsquatch in that same newspaper on 24 April), was convinced of his sincerity.

As for the amazing creature seen by him, its surrealistic similarity to a bigfoot (sasquatch) incongruously sprouting a pair of bat-like wings was sufficient for the media to dub it 'batsquatch' - a memorable name for a truly unforgettable entity.

Sketch of batsquatch by artist Dave Kiele, based upon Brian Canfield's description, which appeared in the Tacoma News Tribune on 24 April 1994 (© Dave Kiele/Tacoma News Tribune)

Although no further reports of batsquatch appear to have emerged, when first reading Canfield's description of it I thought of another remarkable encounter on file, which Geoffrey Hodson claimed to have experienced while visiting England's Lake District in June 1922. He later documented it in his book Fairies at Work and at Play (1925):

"My first impression was of a huge, brilliant crimson, bat-like thing, which fixed a pair of burning eyes upon me. The form was not concentrated into the true human shape, but was somehow spread out like a bat with a human face and eyes, and with wings outstretched over the mountainside. As soon as it felt itself to be observed it flashed into its proper shape, as if to confront us, fixed its piercing eyes upon us, and then sank into the hillside and disappeared. When first seen its aura must have covered several hundred feet of space, but in a later appearance, in which it again showed itself, the actual form was probably ten to twelve feet high."

Hodson was a Theosophist, and believed that the above entity was a deva - an elemental nature spirit. Devas advising and assisting the human workers at Findhorn in Scotland and Perelandra in the U.S.A. were deemed to be responsible for the astonishingly successful cultivation of extra-large vegetables and flowers in the gardens of these experimental spiritual communities, despite the poor quality of the soil and the adverse climate.

Abstract deva

Could batsquatch have been a deva? In spite of its daunting appearance, it made no attempt to harm or even threaten Canfield, merely observing him for a time before disappearing, just like the being observed by Hodson in the Lake District.

Also worth recalling here is an episode recounted to me on 9 October 2010 by New Zealand colleague Mark Phillipps, but whose source he was unable to recollect (click here for more details regarding this and also another strange entity mentioned to me by Mark):

"If I remember correctly, there were two men walking along some rough coastal cliffs (it may have been in Britain but I cannot be sure) when they came over a rise and saw a very large orange bat-like creature sunning itself on the rocks just above the water line.

"I believe they described it as being a good thirty or forty feet across."

If this account is familiar to anyone, I'd greatly appreciate receiving details of its source, which I will also pass on to Mark – thanks very much.

This ShukerNature post is excerpted and expanded from my book Mysteries of Planet Earth (1999).


  1. I'm going for a supernatural or psychological explanation for these accounts.

    To begin with, a vertebrate possessing arms, legs and wings is essentially a six limbed vertebrate, which is unheard of. A thick set creature nine feet tall would need a vast wingspan (even greater than the, what, twenty-four feet or so across a road from Canfield's account), and the muscles required to use such wings would be massive.

    To comment on the 'wolf-like face', as the dog-like illustrations accompanying this article demonstrate, what we consider 'wolf-like' is not necessarily like that of a wolf. Many bats have canine, lupine or vulpine faces, as do colugos for that matter. I'm not suggesting a giant flying lemur was responsible for this sighting. I'm merely saying that some elements of a description mean less than is immediately apparent.

  2. Thank you, Karl, for these fascinating accounts. Any eyewitness account with the word "bat" as part of the description of a strange flying creature—that catches my attention as a potential ropen. Of course that interpretation does not explain why a car engine would turn itself off. But I wonder how accurate the artist's sketch may be, when the eyewitness does not provide much detailed instruction while the sketch is being drawn.

    Related to this, here is a page with what some of us consider a general "ropen" description: http://www.livepterosaur.com/LP_Blog/archives/6418

  3. here is a white humpback whale recent sighting.