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Exposing online fakes and frauds of the Cryptozoological kind

The internet is the natural home of some very unnatural creatures – fakes, frauds, and the falsely identified. Many of them attract only fleeting, transient attention before being soundly exposed and permanently discredited. However, there is also a hardcore set whose members simply refuse to die – being revived time and time again by unsuspecting novice researchers who are bewitched by their superficial strangeness and fail to realise that their faux nature has been unveiled on numerous previous occasions. So here, in no particular order, are ten of the most noteworthy (and notorious) examples, all of which I have investigated at one time or another and have either personally exposed the truth behind them or have discovered who else has done so.


(© Crawley Creatures)

And where better to begin than with this extremely striking photograph? As can be seen, it portrays someone holding what appears on first sight to be a recently-dead eurypterid or sea scorpion, which, if genuine, would be an astonishing discovery, bearing in mind that the most recent confirmed specimens died out during the Permian-Triassic mass extinction approximately 252 million years ago. I have seen the following report accompanying this photo on several Facebook group and individual pages, but its earliest online appearance seems to be on the Paranormal Geeks Radio website on 13 April 2013. Here’s the report:

“In 1971 farmer Ted Litton caught this weird animal alive in his artificial pond in Lilac, TX, & got his pic in the paper. 8 hours later his farm was besieged by Army soldiers wearing decontamination suits. They drained the pond, leaving an odd, spheroid cavity in the bottom. Litton says the Army dismissed his beast as a freak of nature yet they confiscated it, promising him 5 grand (which never materialized).”

Needless to say, however, as I discovered when subjecting this photograph to a Google Image search, the reality soon proved to be very different. In fact, the eurypterid was a prop, an animatronic model, to be precise, produced for the BBC television series Sea Monsters (2003) by the award-winning special-effects design company Crawley Creatures, based in the UK. Here is a link to their website that shows this exact-same photograph:

As for the eurypterid model, it represents the Ordovician genus Megalograptus, which is one of the earliest eurypterids on record.


(© Kevin Richardson)

Since the beginning of October 2013, the above photograph has been circulating widely online, appearing not only in a number of Facebook groups but also on a wide variety of websites, many of which claim that the black panther (i.e. melanistic leopard) that it depicts was recently photographed in the wild somewhere in North America. It is precisely where that has incited controversy, with a number of different States variously cited, including Oklahoma, Louisiana, Georgia, Tennessee, and Texas. Once again, however, after subjecting the photo to a Google Image search I swiftly uncovered its true provenance, which proved to be South Africa. Indeed, as I discovered from the following online article, dated 20 March 2013, which contains and originated this photo:

the animal in question is a black panther named Coal, one of two (both born in 2003) present in captivity and in the care of conservationist Kevin Richardson at the Dinokeng Nature Reserve in Gauteng, South Africa. Clearly, therefore, person(s) unknown had subsequently utilised the photo in fake reports claiming that it had been snapped in North America.


(© Patricia Piccinini)

This extraordinary photograph has been the subject of much online speculation since as far back as 2005, and has even featured in various YouTube videos. Lurid claims that its subjects were bona fide human-canine hybrids are widespread, and also that it is a skilfully-produced Photoshop creation. In reality, neither of these is correct, because what it really is…is a very remarkable sculpture, as revealed in the following link:

As explained there, the sculpture is entitled ‘The Young Family’, and was created by Australian artist Patricia Piccinini in 2002. It was manufactured from silicone, polyurethane, leather, plywood, and human hair, measures 80 x 150 x 110 cm, and is part of a larger work entitled ‘We Are Family’.


(© Kadokawa Pictures)

This memorable photograph recently re-appeared in the following online article, dated 18 December 2013:

but it has been circulating online in similar accounts for quite a while prior to that (I have found web reports of it dating back as far as August 2012). The article claims that this mega-tortoise had been discovered in a Brazilian river in 1892, but was around 529 years old. As anyone familiar with Japanese ‘monster’ films would soon confirm, however, the photo is merely a still from the popular movie Gamera the Brave, produced in Japan by Kadowara Pictures in 2006 – as verified by the following French website page:


(?© martincito1/

Four separate photographs of alleged black lions have been circulating online for more than 2 years, and as I have documented in my books Mystery Cats of the World (1989) and Cats of Magic, Mythology, and Mystery (2012), several unconfirmed sightings of such animals have been reported from various regions of Africa, but no verified specimen has ever been documented. So what were the animals in the online photos? As I revealed in two exclusive ShukerNature investigations:


three of these four black lion photographs were photoshopped versions of original images depicting normal, tawny-coloured lions. And the fourth black lion photo was a photoshopped version of an original image of a rare white lion – I successfully tracked down all four of the original images online.


(original source/copyright holder unknown to me)

Another popular, perennial subject represented online by a wide variety of fake images is the multi-hooded (and –headed) cobra. Claimed in some reports to constitute living nagas or Indian snake deities, they were, as I soon revealed in another ShukerNature investigation:

to be nothing more than clever Photoshop creations. Indeed, there is even a video on YouTube that provides a step-by-step guide on how to create your very own multi-hooded cobra ‘faux-tograph’.


(© Dr Takeshi Yamada)

This very spectacular photo has incited much discussion online in recent years – which is very strange, bearing in mind that even the most cursory Google Image search will rapidly reveal that the 32-ft-long sea serpent depicted in it is in reality a very adept creation of master monster-maker Dr Takeshi Yamada. Indeed, as I revealed in the following ShukerNature article:

it is just one of many fascinating examples of so-called rogue taxidermy produced over the years by Yamada. Others include a chupacabra snail, a vampire monkey, a Mongolian death worm, a whip-tailed tree octopus, and an eight-legged spider dog!


(© Alan Friswell)

In stark contrast to Yamada’s example, this eyecatching sea serpent photograph has greatly perplexed many people (and continues to do so), judging from the contradictory claims and comments concerning it that have appeared in online discussions and even in YouTube videos. Its portrayed location has been variously stated to be a beach in Hawaii, South Australia, and the Philippines. Moreover, no-one has been able to identify the creature that the photo depicts, but some bizarre suggestions have been offered, including an oarfish – which looks nothing like it! Happily, however, this photo poses no such problems for me – because, as now exclusively revealed here on ShukerNature, I just so happen to know who created it! None other than a good friend of mine, expert monster/dinosaur model-maker Alan Friswell, as he revealed to me in October 2013:

“I drew this sea serpent in photoshop in 2009, to accompany an article that I wrote for the CFZ [Centre for Fortean Zoology] blog page.”

Evidently, therefore, it had subsequently been lifted by person(s) unknown and passed off by them as a real, unidentified creature. This is exactly how so many online cryptozoological hoaxes arise. Someone like Alan innocently creates a fictitious beast as artwork, but then other persons deliberately pass it off as a genuine animal. Indeed, this is precisely what happened with some of the black lion photos too, and also with the next case in our listing.


(© Paul Santa Maria)

This dramatic photograph must have sent shivers down the spine of many an arachnophobic viewer since it first appeared online more than 2 years ago. It often appeared with an account describing it as an Angolan witch spider. Here’s one version of that account:

“It’s a new spider called the Angolan witch spider. They migrated from South America [very odd, since Angola is in Africa!]. They primarily eat dogs and cats. In Texas this abnormally large spider was found on the side of this home. It took several gun shots to kill it.”

When I first saw the photo a year or so ago, I readily identified its subject as a wolf spider, albeit one of wholly implausible size. And sure enough, a little online detective work on my part soon traced the truth behind the terror, as fully documented in the following website account:

It reveals that the photograph was produced via Photoshop as a joke by artist-musician Paul Santa Maria, who uploaded it onto his Facebook page, where it remained for just a few hours before he took it down again. But that was still sufficient time for it to be copied by someone onto their own page, from where it soon went viral. The bogus account of it being an Angolan witch spider was attached to it by person(s) unknown – and the rest, as they say, is history.


(copyright holder unknown to me)

A year ago, several correspondents alerted me to the above photograph and an accompanying report, circulating on Facebook and elsewhere online, concerning what was claimed to be a rare but remarkable species of owl. It is known as the rainbow owl on account of its gaudy, multicoloured plumage, and according to the report it is native to the USA and China (an oddly discontinuous zoogeographical distribution, to say the least!) but was hunted into near-extinction during the early 20th Century due to coveters of its beautiful feathers. Moreover, it has an unusually melodious call, and is so attracted to music and human singing that researchers seeking it in the field know that they will greatly increase their chances of finding specimens if they bring along a portable stereo. The author of this intriguing report was one Dr Claudia Weatherfield of the University of Toldeo.

Needless to say, as someone with a longstanding ornithological interest yet who had no prior knowledge whatsoever of any such species, I was instantly suspicious. And rightly so, as it turned out, because some online investigations soon led me to the following webpages contained on two websites devoted to exposing hoaxes, and which fully justified my concern:

They revealed that there is no University of Toldeo; nor any Claudia Weatherfield working even at the similarly-named University of Toledo. The photograph was clearly a computer-modified version of some other image, and sure enough the original photo proved to be of a barred owl Strix varia – a common North American species unadorned by any rainbow-hued plumage.

Who knows – perhaps now, finally, all of these tenacious phoneys will be laid to rest forever…but with their exceptional history and capacity for resurrection, I wouldn’t bet on it!

Another photograph of Dr Takeshi Yamada’s incredible 32-ft sea serpent (© Dr Takeshi Yamada)




A creature assembling a Mermaid discovered in Antarctica: Google Earth user provides evidence

A Google Earth user spoke about the incredible discovery that he managed to make in Antarctica. Thanks to the rather rapid melting of the ice, he managed to consider a strange creature in one of the images received.

He claims to have found a frozen mermaid in the ice, or a “sea creature resembling a mermaid.” YouTube user Florida Maquis claims that the mermaid is by no means a natural geological formation. 

The man believes that either a mermaid or some obscure sea creature froze in the ice, which very much resembles a popular mythical creature. At the same time, the user is trying to prove that his find has absolutely nothing to do with natural formations of a geological nature. The user is sure that this is some unusual creature from mythical stories. He says:

“I found in Antarctica many different things that seem to be sea creatures. I think that due to the melting of snow and ice, the mermaid became visible, its shape simply cannot be explained by ice crumbs or snow.” The coordinates of the mermaid-like object are 76 ° 52’51.92 “S 145 ° 42’4.27” W.

The video above was posted online with confirmation of the man’s words. It was watched by several thousand people who commented on what they saw. Most users are sure that the video does not contain a mermaid, but, for example, a walrus. Some believe that this may turn out to be a dolphin of a sufficiently large size. Some say it could be a Ningen. The author also found support from some users who have no doubt that the mermaid is depicted in the frames.

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Ningen: A Humanoid Monster Hiding in the Antarctic

Since the early 2000s, there have been rumors of a creature allegedly spotted by Japanese researchers in the Antarctic. Since the appearance of the first messages, interest in this mysterious creature has grown, fueled on the Internet by alleged photos and videos. The creature was named Ningen, a Japanese term meaning “man.”

First observation

It is unclear when the Ningen was first seen, but the most popular version of this appears to come from a 2chan blog post. The blogger claimed to have collaborated with a whale-owned state research institute. He was allegedly told the story of a meeting with a mysterious creature. The crew initially suggested that it was a foreign submarine. However, when an unknown large object approached, the sailors realized that it was a living creature.

This topic gained great popularity, which only increased when an article about Ningen was published in 2007 in the Japanese magazine MU, devoted to paranormal phenomena. The article deserves attention not only because of the growing interest in Ningens in Japan, but also because it contained an image of Google Maps, which, presumably, was this creature.

After the article was published, numerous photos and videos began to appear on the Internet, which allegedly depict the creature. Some photos of Ningen can be traced at least until 2006, which suggests that these images may have preceded the creature’s popularity.

Photo published in MU magazine. Ningen off the coast of Namibia. A source:
Photo published in MU magazine. Ningen off the coast of Namibia. source:Google Earth


Judging by eyewitnesses, the length of the Ningen is estimated at 20-30 meters. It is completely white and has a human shape. Messages diverge depending on whether he has legs, five-fingered hands or even fins, a tail, like a mermaid or tentacle. Eyewitnesses seem to agree that Ningen does not have any distinctive features that could be spoken of, although he has a mouth and eyes. In a article, the creature, in particular, is described as “with a small slit-like mouth and two empty eyes .”


There is no convincing evidence to support the existence of Ningen. However, since in most cases an unidentified creature may be mentioned, this did not stop the rampant speculation on the Internet.

The most popular rumor spreading about the Ningen is that the Japanese government actually took messages about the creature seriously, but hid all the real evidence. But why should the Japanese government do this?

One theory is that Ningen, whatever it may be, is capable of producing a rare chemical compound that has healing properties, or that it is very toxic, and the government intends to investigate this creature.

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Possible photograph of the mythical Antarctic-dwelling cryptid, Ningen. I do not have the source of this image, so I have no idea wether or not it was forged. However, it is most likely a fake. ❗️FOLLOW FOR MORE CRYPTID POSTS!❗️ If you have a cryptid photo or story you would like to share, DM or Email me at [email protected] and your contribution may be posted on here. – – – – – #cryptids #ningen #Antarctica #monster #cryptid #encounter #mothman #bigfoot #sasquatch #chupacabra #chicagomothman #owlman #pointpleasant #bigfootencounter #sighting #monstersighting #creatures #spotted #monsterspotted #cryptidspotted #realcryptids #reallifecryptids #monstercryptid #yeti #lochnessmonster #flatwoodsmonster #nessie #everythingcryptids

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Some went even further with this conspiracy theory , suggesting that numerous low-quality photos and videos are in fact a government disinformation campaign in an attempt to discredit factual evidence of Ningen.

However, the lack of high-quality photographs was also explained by the fact that the observations appear to occur most often at night, which complicates their documentation.

There were also rumors that men in black came to eyewitnessesThis, of course, is not confirmed (because “men in black” would not be true professionals if there was convincing evidence of their visits), and it is unclear whether this implies that the Ningen is of alien origin?


Due to the alleged elusiveness of Ningen, cryptozoologists were not able to directly study the creature. Because of this, all information comes from eyewitnesses and photo and video evidence, often of poor quality, such as the following:

Based on available data, some suggest that Ningen cannot be a living creature at all, as many photos of the creature look more like blocks of ice. Those who think that Ningen is a living creature consider him a giant albino stingray, white whale or beluga whale. Some explanations have gone so far as to suggest that it could be a water sloth or even a mermaid, an alien, or some previously unknown species of aquatic humanoids.

Those who do not believe in the existence of Ningen have been suggested that the stories of this creature are just a modern embodiment of old tales of sea monsters.


Some experts made a connection between the stories of Ningen and Ningyo, a creature from Japanese folklore.

Ningyo is a term meaning “human fish”, although it is often translated as “mermaid”. This fish-like creature is described as having a monkey mouth, small teeth, golden scales and a quiet, flute-like voice.

It is very tasty, and the use of its meat in food significantly increases a person’s life span. However, they say that catching a ningyo brings storms and misfortunes, so if a fisherman ever caught a ningyo, he usually released it back into the sea to avoid possible consequences. Seeing a ningyo ashore is considered an omen of war or some other great calamity.

Perhaps, given that rumors about Ningen originate on a Japanese site and are further popularized by a Japanese magazine, they may turn out to be a modern interpretation of folklore about Ningyo.

Ninge with fish body and human head.
Ninge with fish body and human head. ( CC BY SA) 

So what (or who) is Ningen? Well, that could be pretty much anything. Personally, we are inclined to believe that this is a natural evolution of ancient folklore, adapted to modern times. But, true, this is not as interesting as a giant monster hiding somewhere in the waters of the Antarctic.

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Orang Ikan – Mermaids from Indonesia

Mermaids live in the folklore of most peoples. Indonesians call their mermaids, orang ikan. The orang in translation from the local language is “man”, and Ikan is “fish”.

Where do Orang Ikan live?

They chose for themselves the Kai Islands in the province of Maluku. These islands are famous for their white sandy beaches, amazingly clear water and are a real gem.

In 1943, when the Japanese landed there, the soldiers immediately began reporting that they were observing some strange creatures. Those were seen in coastal waters, looked like a man, especially the face and hands.Their mouth was described as very wide and similar to the mouth of a carp.

They barely reached one and a half meters, their skin was pink, and on their head were some spikes. At the same time, unlike the classic mermaids, they had ordinary human legs, not fish tails.

These creatures swam in shallow water near the beaches. It happened that they were selected on land.

The style of their swimming seemed to the Japanese like a breaststroke. One night, one of the soldiers went swimming and saw a creature in the sand, which he at first mistook for a child.

But when it turned to face him, he saw that his features were not like human ones. Immediately after this, the creature scooted into the water and disappeared. The soldier peered into the water for a while, but the creature never surfaced.

Fishermen said that sometimes these creatures get on their nets, and the Japanese asked if this happens again, to deliver Orang Ikan to them.

Real story

One day, Sergeant Taro Horibu was called to the village, where, as it turned out, a dead fish man was found on the shore. The creature was picked up and brought to the elders’ house, where Horibu was able to examine it.

“It was 160 centimeters tall, had long dark hair with a reddish tinge. His neck was covered with spikes, his face seemed to the Japanese like a monkey face with a wide fish mouth, in which there were a lot of small sharp teeth. Between the fingers and toes the fishman’s membranes were stretched, and the body was dotted with strange growths that looked like algae ”
– Horibu said.

Sergeant Horibu said the creature was not like anything known to him. Unable to photograph or sketch the creature, he limited himself to oral stories, but many considered him a liar or an inventor.

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