What are the large winged creatures terrorizing the skies of Illinois?
Small Town Monsters, who recently brought us The Bray Road Beast, The Mothman of Point Pleasant, and other documentaries about local legends and lore, released a trailer for their next project. Terror in the Skies, the second film in their “Mothman trilogy” (The Mothman Legacy is coming in 2020), unearths strange reports of Mothman and thunderbirds in Illinois.
“Illinois is known for its miles of prairie, and for being a state rich in history,” the press release says, “but what if that rich history isn’t quite what you’ve been told? In this new film, from award-winning production company, Small Town Monsters, and director, Seth Breedlove, explore hundreds of years of terrifying reports of encounters with massive, winged creatures around the “land of Lincoln”. From Alton’s man-eating Piasa Bird legends, to recent sightings in Chicago of a creature said to resemble Point Pleasant, West Virginia’s infamous “Mothman”, Terror in the Skies unlocks a centuries-old mystery.”
Terror in the Skies includes interviews with Loren Coleman of the International Cryptozoology Museum, Illinois paranormal author Troy Taylor, and more.
DNA testing needed to help identify mystery animal that attacked and killed NC teacher
The Charlotte Observer
A 77-year-old North Carolina teacher has died of injuries suffered in a mysterious animal attack Friday in the small Beaufort County town of Pantego, according to a Monday Facebook post from the school where she worked.
Investigators with the Beaufort County Sheriff’s Office are still trying to determine what kind of animal was involved in the attack.
Beaufort County is home to bears, alligators and coyotes, but “preliminary DNA testing facilitated by NC Wildlife Biologist has eliminated any wild animals indigenous to the area,” said a statement issued by the Beaufort County Sheriff’s Office.
The victim was identified by the sheriff’s office as Brenda Hamilton, a high school teacher at Pungo Christian Academy in Bellhaven.
School officials announced in a Facebook post at 11 a.m. Monday that Hamilton died of her injuries at Vidant Pitt Hospital.
A 911 call at 5:47 a.m. Friday reported someone had been attacked by an animal on Indian Run Road in Pantego, said the sheriff’s office. The town of about 200 people is not far from the Pamlico Sound in coastal North Carolina.
“Beaufort County EMS and Paramedics arrived to find 77-year-old Brenda Hamilton of Pantego suffering from severe injuries as a result of the attack,” said a sheriff’s office release.
Biologists with the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission have joined the investigation, officials said.
“Beaufort County Sheriff’s Investigators are continuing to investigate to determine which, if any domestic canines in the area may have attacked Hamilton,” said a release.
Hamilton was an East Carolina University grad who had been a teacher at Pungo Christian Academy since 1968, according to the school’s website. She taught high school English and literature classes, said the school.
It Turns Out the Yeti Is Probably Just a Rare Bear
The word “yeti” conjures up a specific image in the folklore of Nepal and Tibet — a massive, shaggy, distinctly ape-like beast that wanders the frigid and desolate Himalayan snowscape. It certainly doesn’t evoke anything that looks like it’s about to impart wisdom about stopping forest fires.
But, according to a recent study published in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B, the latter description may be more accurate. Scientists have tested the DNA of purported Yeti remains and confirmed that yetis do exist — they’re just bears.
Researchers analyzed DNA from nine different samples, all collected in the Himalayas and Tibetan Plateau and supposedly from yetis. It was a macabre, mixed bag of parts — some hair, some bone, a bit of feces, and even some teeth. They also included fifteen other samples from various Asian bears, since a smaller study from a few years ago suggested that the yeti may be a rogue, polar-brown bear hybrid.
Every sample matched a known animal. No mysterious, unplaceable DNA. With the exception of the tooth, which was from a dog, all of the so-called Yeti samples were from bears. One came from an Asiatic black bear (Ursus thibetanus), and the others came from two rare, local species — Tibetan and Himalayan brown bears.
The new, detailed DNA evidence provides a real-world, biological origin for the Yeti, suggesting that local bears may have been the inspiration for stories of the terrifying creature. And while the DNA analysis doesn’t reveal anything “abominable,” the study does provide some coveted data on an understudied and critically-endangered group of brown bears.
Brown bears (Ursus arctos) range broadly across northern Eurasia and North America, and can be broken up into many distinct subspecies, each with minor physical and genetic differences. The two subspecies that turned up in the genetic analysis are quite rare, suffering from overhunting.
By comparing the bear DNA, the scientists determined that the Himalayan brown bear (Ursus arctos isabellinus) is a strange and old branch in the brown bear family tree, splitting off from all other brown bears about 650,000 years ago. Even though the Tibetan brown bear (Ursus arctos pruinosus) is a close neighbor, it’s far more closely related to other brown bears.
Looking at the Himalayan population, it’s easy to see how this weird and ancient brown bear offshoot could inspire the yeti’s mythology. It has a paler, sandier coat than most subspecies. Many Himalayan bears have a light mask of fur on the face that can make their faces appear shorter and more ape-like. Combine these features with the fact that the Himalayan bear is the largest animal in the mountains, and that their own extreme rarity matches the infrequency of contemporary yeti sightings, the animal seems like a solid candidate.
Genetic tools similar to those used in this debunking can easily be employed to test the remains of other purportedly undiscovered species. So, hear that, Sasquatch and Nessie? Your secret identities’ days may be numbered.
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