Saturday, February 16, 2013

The Mongolian Death Worm - A Shocking Surprise in the Gobi? By Dr. Karl Shuker

The Mongolian death worm - shocking and spraying! (Philippa Foster)
It's not every day – or every expedition – that begins with a request from a country's head of government formally requesting that a specimen be captured of a creature so elusive, and deadly, that western science does not even recognise its existence. Nevertheless, that is precisely what happened in 1922 when eminent American palaeontologist Prof. Roy Chapman Andrews met the Mongolian premier in order to obtain the necessary permits for the American Museum of Natural History's Central Asiatic Expedition to search for dinosaur fossils in the Gobi Desert. And the creature that the Mongolian premier instructed him to procure? None other than the lethal allghoi khorkhoi – or, as it is nowadays commonly referred to throughout the world, the Mongolian death worm.
Ivan Mackerle (Ivan Mackerle)
Although in the 1920s, this extraordinary mystery beast was totally unheard of outside Mongolia, today it is one of the most (in)famous of all cryptozoological creatures – thanks to the series of pioneering expeditions to its southern Gobi homeland launched by Czech explorer Ivan Mackerle, the first of which took place during June and July 1990, and which subsequently attracted considerable interest internationally. During his searches, Ivan collected a very impressive dossier of information concerning the death worm, based upon eyewitness reports and other anecdotal evidence, which he subsequently made freely available to me to use as I wished in my own writings, and which can be summarised as follows.

Its local names – allghoi khorkhoi and allergorhai horhai – translate as 'intestine worm', because according to eyewitness testimony, this mysterious sausage-shaped creature resembles a living intestine. Red in colour with darker blotches, it measures 1-1.6 m long and is as thick as a man's arm, but has no discernable scales, mouth, nor even any eyes or other recognisable sensory organs. It is said to be truncated at both ends, but according to some accounts at least one end also bears a series of long pointed structures at its tip.

Illustration of Mongolian death worm based upon eyewitness descriptions (Ivan Mackerle)
For much of the year, the death worm remains concealed beneath the Gobi's sands, but during the two hottest months – June and July – it can sometimes be encountered lying on the surface, particularly after a downpour of rain.

Black saxaul

Locals claim that it can also be found in association with the black saxaul Haloxylon ammodendron, a yellow-flowered desert shrub, whose roots are parasitized by the goyo Cynomorium songaricum – a strange, cigar-shaped plant of uncertain taxonomic affinities.

Goyo plants (Ivan Mackerle)

According once again to local lore, the death worm is deadly for two very different reasons. If approached too closely, it is said to raise one end of its body upwards (as portrayed on the front cover of my book The Beasts That Hide From Man, 2003), and then squirt with unerring accuracy at its victim a stream of extremely poisonous, acidic fluid that burns the victim's flesh, turning it yellow, before rapidly inducing death. It is claimed that the death worm derives this highly toxic substance externally - either from the saxaul's roots or from the goyo attached to them (and thereby reminiscent of how South America's deadly arrow-poison frogs derive their skin toxins from certain small arthropods that they devour). During my own researches, however, I have uncovered no evidence to suggest that the saxaul's roots are poisonous, and I have revealed that the goyo is definitely not poisonous (it is eaten as famine food, and used widely in Chinese herbalism). So if the death worm truly emits a venomous fluid, it presumably manufactures it internally, rather than deriving it externally.

Model of Mongolian death worm emerging from sand (Markus Bühler)Even more shocking – in every sense! – is the death worm's second alleged mode of attack. Nomadic herders inhabiting the southern Gobi tell of how entire herds of camels have been killed instantly merely by walking over a patch of sand concealing a death worm beneath the surface. Moreover, one of Ivan Mackerle's local guides recalled how, many years earlier, a geologist visiting the Gobi as part of a field trip was killed when he began idly poking some sand one night with an iron rod – as he did so, he abruptly dropped to the ground, dead, for apparently no reason, but when his horrified colleagues rushed up to him, they saw the sand where he had been poking the rod suddenly begin to churn violently, and from out of it emerged a huge, fat death worm.

The camels presumably died from coming into direct physical contact with the death worm hidden beneath their feet, but the geologist only touched it indirectly, via the metal rod. Consequently, the only conceivable way that this action could have caused his death is by electrocution – which would obviously explain the camels' instant deaths too. Although there are several different taxonomic groups of fish containing species that can generate electricity – including the famous electric eel and gymnotids, as well as the electric catfish, electric rays, mormyrids, rajid skates, and electric stargazers – no known species of terrestrial creature possesses this ability. So if the native claims concerning the camels and the geologist are correct, and always assuming of course that it really does exist, the death worm must be a very special animal indeed. But what precisely could it be?

Mongolian death worm ( its English name and superficially similar external appearance, it is highly unlikely that the death worm could be a bona fide earthworm or related invertebrate. For although some earthworms do grow to prodigious lengths, and certain species known aptly as squirters even spurt streams of fluid from various body orifices, none exhibits a water-retentive cuticle, which would be imperative for survival in desert conditions to avoid drying out. Of course, there may be a highly-specialised earthworm in the Gobi that has indeed evolved such a modification, but with no precedent currently known, the chances of this seem slim. In addition, if the death worm's powers of electrocution are real, this would require even more modification and specialisation for an earthworm to fit the bill.

Caecilians constitute a taxonomic order of limbless amphibians that are deceptively worm-like in appearance and predominantly subterranean in lifestyle. Certain species can also attain a total length matching the dimensions reported for the death worm. As with true worms, however, caecilians' skin is water-permeable, so once again even a giant caecilian would soon dry out in the arid Gobi, unless, uniquely among these particular amphibians, it had evolved a water-retentive skin.

19th-Century engraving of a caecilian, SiphonopsIf the death worm is genuine, it is almost certainly some form of reptile. To my mind, the likeliest solution is an unusually large species of amphisbaenian. On account of their vermiform appearance (most species are limbless), these little-known reptiles are also called worm-lizards, even though, taxonomically speaking, they are neither. As with caecilians, they spend much of their lives underground, rarely coming to the surface except after a heavy fall of rain. This all corresponds well with the death worm's reported behaviour. Furthermore, unlike real worms and caecilians the skin of amphisbaenians is water-retentive, so a giant species would not dry out in the Gobi.

Two Iberian amphisbaenians Blanus cinereus (Richard Avery/Wikipedia)Conversely, whereas the death worm is said to be smooth externally, amphisbaenians are very visibly scaly, and they also have a readily-observed mouth. In addition, they are all completely harmless, which wholly contradicts the twin death-dealing talents attributed to the Gobi's moat greatly-feared denizen. Naturally, it is conceivable that these abilities are entirely apocryphal, nothing more substantial than superstitious fancy. After all, several known species of amphisbaenian, and also caecilian, are fervently believed by their local human neighbours to be deadly poisonous even though in reality they are wholly innocuous.

19th-Century engraving of an amphisbaenian

Much of what has been proposed for and against an amphisbaenian identity for the Mongolian death worm applies equally to the possibility of its being an unknown species of very large legless true lizard - akin perhaps to the familiar slow worm and glass snake, or even to the skinks, some species of which are limbless. However, these lizards are much less worm-like and subterranean than amphisbaenians, so overall the latter provide a more satisfactory match with the death worm.

Mexican ajolote - possessing a pair of extremely small forelegs, this is the only type of amphisbaenian with any limbs at all (picture source unknown to me)
Last, but by no means least, is the thought-provoking prospect that the death worm may be a highly specialised species of snake. Not only do most of the above-noted physical and behavioural similarities between the death worm and the amphisbaenians and legless lizards apply here too, but spitting cobras also offer a famous precedent for an elongate creature that can eject a stream of corrosive venom with deadly accuracy at a potential aggressor. Moreover, the spine-bearing tip described for the death worm recalls a genus of cobra-related species known as death adders Acanthophis spp., which possess a spiny worm-like projection at the tip of their tail that acts as a lure for potential prey.

Death adder
Their name recognises the fact that although, like cobras, they are elapids, the death adders have evolved to occupy the ecological role filled elsewhere by true vipers. Could there be a specialised, unknown species of death adder that has evolved the venom-spitting ability of its spitting cobra relatives? If so, this would vindicate the locals' testimony concerning the death worm's emissions. But what about its alleged powers of electrocution?

Remarkably, this too may be more than just a myth. For if the death worm were indeed a snake and perhaps sported such smooth, fine, tiny scales that they were not readily discernable, when it was crawling through sand these scales may be able to generate a weak electrical current via friction – a process known as triboelectricity, which has already been documented from certain sand-dwelling snake species. If this in turn gave rise to exaggerated descriptions of its potency, it is easy to see how, over the course of several generations of ever more fanciful retellings, the entirely false belief in a creature that kills by electrocution could ultimately arise.

Mongolian death worm as visualised by renowned graphics artist Andy Paciorek (Andy Paciorek)
So could it be that in spite of the death worm's initially unlikely form and behavioural proclivities, there actually could be a real, scientifically-undescribed species at the heart of this longstanding mystery, albeit one far less flamboyant and formidable than the version described in local testimony? Or is the entire death worm scenario nothing more than native folklore?

Science-fiction devotees reading about the Mongolian death worm will undoubtedly recall Frank Herbert’s celebrated series of 'Dune' novels. These were set on a desert planet called Arrakis – home to an enormous species of vibration-sensitive sand worm called the shai-hulud, which could be ‘called’ to the surface when the planet’s human inhabitants used a vibration-engendering device known as a thumper.

The shai-hulud or giant sand worm of Arrakis in Frank Herbert's 'Dune' novels (picture source unknown to me)In a classic scenario of transforming science-fiction into science fact, and directly inspired by the 'Dune' stories, during his first Gobi expedition Mackerle and his team tested out their very own specially-constructed thumper, but to no effect. During their second Gobi expedition, clearly favouring a more emphatic approach this time, they set off a number of controlled explosions in areas said by the locals to harbour subterranean death worms, in the hope that the massive vibrations elicited by these explosions would stimulate the worms to surface. Sadly, however, their summoning again went unheeded, as no worms appeared.

Model of the Mongolian death worm (Takeshi Yamada)Moreover, in recent times several expeditions other than those of Ivan Mackerle have also searched the southern Gobi's vast terrain in search of its purported 'monster', but once again none has met with any success so far.

These include an expedition led by English cryptozoological field researcher Adam Davies in 2003, a team sent out by the Centre for Fortean Zoology in 2005, and more recently a two-man expedition led by New Zealand journalist David Farrier in August 2009. Unfortunately, none succeeded even in seeing, let alone capturing, a death worm (a local man informed the CFZ team that on one occasion a killed specimen had been taken away by Russian zoologists, but he did not provide any names or details that could be pursued). Nevertheless, some informative anecdotal evidence has been gathered, and both the Adam Davies-led team and the CFZ team observed and photographed a carving of a supposed death worm (although it sported eyes) on exhibition at the remote Gobi Museum.

'Mongolian Death Worm' - an action-packed made-for-television sci-fi film from 2010, in which the heroes battle gigantic specimens far bigger than anything reported in real life by the Gobi nomads (Syfy)

Most telling of all, however, as some of these later expeditions were startled to discover, the newest generation of Gobi nomads are as likely to be riding desert motorbikes as camels, and some even carry mobile phones inside the folds of their traditional desert robes. So perhaps they are also heeding less and less the traditional stories and beliefs of their elders.

'Tremors' - one of my all-time favourite monster movies, this is a wonderfully tongue-in-cheek sci-fi film from 1990 featuring gigantic desert-concealed worms in the USA

Having said that, there may be another, very different reason why these expeditions have returned empty-handed. Some locals claim that death worms have been seen far less frequently in recent years than in the past. Who knows - perhaps, just as the rest of the world has finally started to learn about and become interested in it, the Mongolian death worm has begun slipping inexorably into extinction.

Mongolian death worm (Alex Tomlinson)
How ironic that would be – almost as ironic, in fact, as Prof. Roy Chapman Andrews's straight-faced promise to the Mongolian premier back in 1922 that if his expedition did indeed encounter a death worm during their search for dinosaur fossils in the Gobi, they would do their best to secure its capture using a pair of long steel collecting forceps. In view of what reputedly happened to the hapless geologist who poked one of these fearful creatures with a metal rod, it's probably just as well that Prof. Andrews and his team never did find any!

For the most detailed, comprehensive coverage of the Mongolian death worm ever published, see my book The Beasts That Hide From Man (Paraview: New York, 2003).

The Beasts That Hide From Man, featuring one of Ivan Mackerle's Mongolian death worm illustrations on its front cover (Dr Karl Shuker)


I would like to take this opportunity to thank my good friend and world-famous cryptozoologist, Dr. Karl P.N. Shuker, for allowing me to repost his groundbreaking work on the notorious Mongolian Death Worm on my blog. Karl, I owe you one.

Karl's personal blog may be found here at ShukerNature.

The Mannegishi

In their folklore, the Cree Indians speak of a race of trickster spirits that they call the Mannegishi (the name is singular as well). These creatures are described as being three to four feet in height, and appear as hairless, sexdactylous semi-humanoids with gray, rough-looking skin, long and very thin lanky arms and legs (having two hands with six fingers each), large heads with no nose or mouth, and large eyes that are said to glow in the dark. According to Cree mythology, there are two humanoid races on this earth: the familiar humans, and the “little people,” of which the Mannegishi can be considered one. They are an aquatic race, as they dwell between the rocks in river rapids. These creatures possess neither gills nor lungs, but instead take oxygen from the water or the air around them directly through their skin. The Cree also believe that these lanky beings do not speak to each other or other people, but instead communicate with telepathy. While they are known for playing pranks and jokes, the Mannegishi’s greatest pleasure is to crawl out from under the rocks and capsize the canoes or boats of people rowing through the rapids, causing injury and death. The Mannegishi are thought to be responsible for pictographs found on rocks in the vicinity of rivers.

Friday, February 15, 2013

The Bat out of Hell (Chupabat): A Guest Entry by Dale Drinnon

There is a tradition of bat-winged vampires and winged bloodsucking demons in Latin America which covers a wide area and goes back to Pre-Columbian times. In more recent times the winged bloodsuckers are identified as Chupacabras or more specifically, the subtype of Chupacabras that I have nicknamed the Chupabat and Robert Kline calls the Gargoyle bat. This type is a winged creature that most commonly attacks livestock and drinks their blood, often flying over walls of enclosures that are too high for normal animals to leap over. Traditionally the creatures are called simply Vampires or Devils (more properly Devil Bats) and specifically, "The Bat out of Hell." Reports are rare enough to cause considerable consternation when a raid is discovered, so they are not common, which is reasonable given that they are fairly large animals. Reports are most common between Mexico and the southern borders of Brazil and Paraguay, but exceptional reports are found in the Southern United States, the Mid-Atlantic States and down South into Chile and Argentina. I first became aware of the matter because of some reports coming out of Central America about 2005 were specifying that Chupacabras were specifically giant Vampire bats that were seen to attack sheep in numbers but were each individually the size of smallish dogs with wings, but Folklore in Central America goes back to the 1700s and 1800s, with some reports called "First Chupacabras" reports in the Spanish-speaking press going back to the 1930s and 1940s. (In such reports the name "Chupacabras" was not used; however its alternate "Comelingas" meaning something-which-is-responsible-for-cattle-mutilations was used. The name means literally "tongue-stealer") After some deliberation, I believe it is quite possible some reports of "The Jersey Devil" plus other comparable "Devils" down as far as Florida are also descriptions of such bats. In Chile one of the Traditional creatures said by the Wikipedia to be like the Chupacabras is the Peuchen, and the type living around New Orleans most like it is called a Gunch: Texas is also an area where reports continue to the present day and also have a long traditional background (as Vampires or Devils).

A summary of several sightings ascribed to Giant Vampire bats comes from and selected passages follow:

According to mainstream science, the world’s biggest bat is the Bismark flying fox, an animal that never gets larger than six feet from wingtip to wingtip. According to cryptozoology, mainstream scientists might be wrong. Many sightings from seemingly reliable people suggest that this might not be the case.
Giant vampire bat reports are generally kept separate from giant bat reports, mainly because the giant vampire bat is large for a vampire bat, but still medium-sized when compared to bats in general.

In Mexico, an ancient Mayan cult worshiped the "Death Bat.” Around 100 B.C., a peculiar religious cult grew up among the Zapotec Indians of Oaxaca, Mexico. The cult venerated an anthropomorphic monster with the head of a bat, an animal associated with night, death, and sacrifice. This monster soon found its way into the pantheon of the Quiché, a tribe of Maya who made their home in the jungles of what is now Guatemala. The Quiché identified the bat-deity with their god Zotzilaha Chamalcan, the god of fire.

The Popol Vuh, a sacred Mayan text, identifies Zotzilaha as not a god, but a cavern, "The House of Bats". Zotzilaha was home to a type of bat called Camazotz; one of these monsters decapitated the hero Hunahpú. Camazotz has been translated as "death bat" and "snatch bat". It is recorded in chapter 10 of this book that the Camazotz’s call was similar to eek, eek. A vastly different story appears in Chapter 3. Here a demon called Camalotz, or "Sudden Bloodletter", clearly a single entity, is identified as one of four animal demons which slew the impious first race of men.

In the Latin American region, it seems that the ancient belief in the "death bat" survives even to the present day. Several cultures have traditions of bat-demons or winged monsters; for example, legends of the hik’al, or Black-Man, still circulate among the Zotzil people of Chiapas, Mexico. Perhaps revealingly, the Hik’al is sometimes referred to as a "neckcutter". Other bat-demons include the soucouyant of Trinidad and the tin tin of Ecuador.

Yet another similar creature appears in the folklore of rural Peru and Chile. The chonchon is a vampire-type monster; and it is truly bizarre, even for a legendary creature. It is said that after a person’s death, the head will sometimes sprout enormous ears and lift off from the shoulders. This flying head is the Chonchon; its sound, as recorded by Jorge Luis Borges, was like tui-tui-tui. Could the legends of the Chonchon have sprung from the same source as the Camazotz legends?

But what exactly was the basis for the Camazotz legend? Most archaeologists believe that the monster was based on the common vampire bat (Desmodus rotundus), a bat traditionally associated with bloodletting and sacrifice. Another suspect is the false vampire bat (Vampyrum spectrum), due to its large size and habit of attacking prey around the head or neck.
In 1988, a species of fossil bat related to Desmodus rotundus, but 25 percent larger, was described as D. draculae. It was described on the basis of two specimens from Monagas State, Venezuela. A third specimen from São Paulo State, Brazil, was described in a 1991 article by E. Trajano and M. de Vivo. The Brazilian specimen had not yet been dated when the article was written, but the two biologists suggest a "relatively recent age" for the skeleton. They refer to reports circulating among local natives of large bats which attack cattle and horses; these reports may suggest that the bat still lives. Its recent age and large range suggest that the bat could have co-existed with the Quiché, giving rise to the legends of the Camazotz. Trajano and de Vivo also speculate that Desmodus draculae may have fed on larger prey than did normal-sized vampire bats, possibly even humans?

Several other stories supporting the idea of a large bat-like creature have come out of Latin America in the last century. A 1947 report of a creature presumed to have been a living pterosaur may in fact have been of a large bat. J. Harrison saw five "birds" with a wingspan of about 12 feet. Harrison’s birds were brown and featherless.

The next report of a bat-like monster from the area is a story told by a Brazilian couple, the Reals. One night in the early 1950s, they were walking through a forest outside of Pelotas, Brazil, when they saw two large "birds" in a tree, both of which alighted on the ground. Although reported as winged humanoids, the proximity of the sighting area to the Ribeira Valley, where the Brazilian specimen of D. draculae was found, forces one to wonder whether the Reals’"birds" were actually bats.

In March, 1975, a series of animal mutilations swept the countryside near the Puerto Rican town of Moca, and during the incident a man named Juan Muñiz Feliciano claimed that he was attacked by a large, gray-feathered creature. These bird-like creatures were seen numerous times during the outbreak. There was also talk of older reports from the same area.

These reports didn’t gain real notoriety until the mid-1970s, when a number of sightings of large birds or bats surfaced in Rio Grande Valley, Texas. The first report came from the town of San Benito, where three people reputedly had encounters with a bald-headed creature. But rumors had long circulated among the Mexican inhabitants of the town about a large bird-like creature, believed to make tch-tch-tch sounds.

On New Year’s Day, 1976, two girls near Harlingen watched a large, birdlike creature with a "gorilla-like" face, a bald head, and a short snout or beak. The next day, a number of three-toed tracks were found in the field where the creature had stood. On January 14, Armando Grimaldo said he was attacked by the creature at Raymondville. He said it was black, with a monkey’s face and large eyes. Further reports surfaced from Laredo and Olmito, with a final sighting reported from Eagle Pass on January 21 (similar reports have continued sporadically throughout the Southwest and the most recent case recorded here was from Southern California in 2010).

The reports cited above, as well as countless others which await careful researchers, support a conclusion that a mysterious winged creature exists in the deserts and jungles of Mesoamerica. The prominence of the bat in Latin American mythology and the discovery of the recently-extinct Desmodus draculae in South America point to the possible identity of the creature as a large, as-of-yet unknown bat, rather than a living pterosaur, as is generally supposed.

The Ahool is the latest addition to the InCryptid Field Guide!


After more reports starting coming in, it was quite apparent that although cryptozoologists spoke of the Giant Vampire bats as a separate category from the (presumably fish-catching) giant bats like the Ahool, supposedly being smaller and with different habits, the reports in their collections spanned all sizes from fairly small bats with a wingspan of a foot or two, to bats as large as the largest known bats with a wingspan of six or seven feet, and then to monstrously large bats that could stand upright three feet tall or more and have wingspans estimated as 12 feet or more across, or at least as much as the biggest eagles. My determination was that the largest sized reports belonged to a different creature, the New World version of the Ahool, although some of my colleagues do not make that distinction. This one would be the inspiration for Camazotz (Kamazotz) although it would not be the giant vampire. The true Giant vampire bat is the smallest category and those would most reasonably be survivals of the fossil form. But the Chupacabras form of bat is a much larger bat and this is what is known as the Chonchon or Devil Bat. It is just about the same size as the larger flying foxes and its plump round body is just about the size of a human head. This is the reason the story grew up about it that it was only a vampiric human head, flying around with the aid of wings: the wingspan is once again said to be six or seven feet (the arm span of a big man or perhaps a little more) On the ground it scrambles around on four legs or leaps weakly with the hind legs (however, it launches itself into flight from the leaping posture, so the length of the leaps may be confused with short flights made by the bat).

My best candidate for the Chupabat, Chonchon, Jersey Devil or Devil bat is that it is very much like the false vampire bat, Vampyrum spectrum, but twice the length and wingspan, making it about comparable in weight to a large barnyard fowl. The known bats often feed on birds, often killing and carrying off birds equal to their own weight. The known species is commonly reputed to be a blood-drinker and that might even be true because large bats are known to consume liquids in preference to solids to cut down on the additional weight they have taken aboard while feeding and which otherwise might interfere with their flying ability. The larger bat is said to have a short or monkey-like face whereas this bat has an elongated snout with a leaf-shaped structure on the end. Its fangs would be an inch long. The ordinary false vampire bat kills birds by biting though their skulls and necks: in one twice the dimensions, the fangs would be fearsome enough to do real damage to dogs and sheep. In recent times, there is at least one human victim who claimed to have been bitten by one.

The Wikipedia describes the appearance of the known spectral Bat, Vampyrum spectrum, as follows:

This species is the largest bat (Chiroptera) native to the New World and the largest carnivorous bat in the world. The wingspan typically ranges from 60 to 91.4 cm (24 to 36.0 in), with the largest specimens attaining just over 100 cm (39 in). The length is 12.5–13.5 cm (4.9–5.3 in) (there is no tail) and body mass is 145–190 g (5.1–6.7 oz). The fur on the upper parts of the bat is normally dark brown, chestnut brown or rust-orange and quite short and fine. The ears are very long and rounded. There is no discernible tail, but the tail membrane is long and broad. The large feet are robust, with long curved claws. The muzzle is long and narrow, and the teeth are long and strong. The noseleaf, averaging 1.7 cm (0.67 in) long, is medium-sized, lance-shaped, horseshoe and spear with continuous rim raised to form a hollow cup around the nostrils. Underparts are usually pale, dirty gray-brown to yellow-brown—the fur is much shorter than on the back.”

According to the Chupabat reports, the longer hair on the back can be tousled and stuck together in locks which look "spiky." Coloration is much the same, but the yellowish-brown may look greenish in some kinds of artificial lighting at night. There are many depictions of this larger false vampire or Devil Bat, both in traditional arts (and in archaeological finds) and as depicted by modern witnesses, and the most reliable ones bear a close resemblance to the known spectral bat, although the scale indicates that it is much larger. It would appear to have a range that overlaps the range of the known species, but the larger bat has a wider range and also (on top of that) wanders over a wider area more often. This is consistent with the rare reports in the Southern United States and down into Chile and Argentina.

Two things about their predations should be noted: individually they prefer to raid henhouses and such, but gangs of them will attack larger animals such as sheep and dogs. In attacks where large numbers of animals are killed, we might be dealing with rabid bats killing indiscriminately or we might have mobs of them going kill-crazy, but sometimes individuals of known predators such as cats seem to go on killing sprees and wipe out all of the livestock on a farm, for example. Secondly, the Chupabats do not actually suck blood, but they will drink it. And most of the blood that an animal has remains behind when the creature is done eating; it simply settles in the dead body to the lowest point by the force of gravity and is no longer noticed because the bleeding has stopped and the blood coagulates.

A determination would be needed to see if the Chupabat deserves a new genus and species of its own, but I am inclined to think it is a larger species of the genus Vampyrum on the strength of the evidence.


Chupabats in Texas, and More on Big Bats

More on ChupaBats, Jersey Devils, False Vampires and Real Chupacabras

ChupaBats, SuperBats

Dale's blog may be found at


I'd like to take this opportunity to thank my good friend and cryptozoologist Dale Drinnon for putting this essay together for me. I'm personally fascinated by the notion that the Chupacabra may, in fact, be a Giant Vampire Bat. Of course, all of my blog's readers know that I never rule out any supernatural theories. Could this creature be a manifestation of Camazotz in our modern times? The Mayans described Camazotz as being a god, but I disagree. This creature's traits are more in keeping with either a Vampire or a demon. So instead of being a god, perhaps Camazotz is a demon with vampirelike tendencies? None of my research seems to indicate that the Death Bat (as Camazotz is called) is a benevolent deity.

Monday, February 4, 2013

The Lamia

The Lamia (plural Lamiae) is an ancient Greek demon with the upper body of a gorgeous woman and the lower body of a serpent. Perceived by others as an archaic predecessor of the Vampire, she was originally the Queen of Libya (some say a princess), the daughter of Belus and Libya, and was said to be extremely beautiful. This did not go unnoticed by Zeus, the king of the Greek pantheon. He went to her, seduced her, and made love to her. Eventually, Lamia gave birth to Zeus’s children. Zeus’s wife, Hera, soon found out about her husband’s one-night tryst with the Queen. Notorious for being jealous of Zeus’s sexual escapades, she exacted a grisly revenge on Lamia. Some accounts say that she forced the Queen to devour her own children, while others say that Hera herself killed the children. In some versions of the legend, Hera spared only one child: Scylla, whom she transformed into a vicious six-headed reptilian monster. This act of jealous, wanton cruelty drove Lamia absolutely insane. In a fit of vengeful torment, Lamia swore to take her revenge on children, their mothers, and men alike by slaughtering them and consuming their warm blood. Eventually, the former Queen began to change in shocking ways. Her actions caused her body to twist and warp itself, gradually becoming a blood-drinking monster, half snake and half woman. Other myths say that when Zeus took Lamia as his mistress, he hid her away in a remote cave in Africa. Still, Hera eventually found her and not only murdered her children, but transformed Lamia into her monstrous form. In her embitterment, she formed an alliance with the evil children of Hecate (the goddess of witches and the crossroads), the Empusae. The Empusae are hideous nocturnal hags that take the form of beautiful women to seduce young men. Once an Empusa had her victim, she would suck the lifeforce from him until he died and naught but a withered corpse remained. But regardless of how it happened, Lamia has hated the human race with a passion ever since that fateful day.

The Lamia is a unique species of demon. She has the long tail of a serpent, fingers tipped with wickedly sharp talons, and a mouthful of long, daggerlike teeth. She is a shapeshifter, able to assume the forms of various types of birds, which enables her to soar through the air while hunting for suitable prey. Stories also tell of her being able to take a wholly human form, usually that of a voluptuous and beautiful woman. She has a supernatural degree of strength and speed, and the reptilian scales covering her body make it difficult to wound her. Since she is part snake, it is likely that her bite carries a potent venom (although this is purely speculation). None of the ancient texts relate as to how this demoness may be slain (although decapitation and burning the body are good bets). It is said that, as a gift for her favors, Zeus granted her the ability to remove and replace her own eyes at will (which is said to be symbolic of prophecy, or “second sight”). When she sleeps, Lamia removes her eyes so that she may see any attempt at an ambush or attack and react accordingly. However, she is truly vulnerable in this state. As for a dwelling place, the Lamia favors dark, dank places (like caves). By night, she prowls human settlements in search of her favorite prey: sleeping babies. Once she found them, she would steal them from their cradles and take them back to her lair, where she would drink their blood.

The Lamia’s favored method of attack is to tear out the intestines, consume the flesh, and drain the victim’s blood. If her prey is a woman, she will suck out any milk. To that end, she often seeks out pregnant victims so that she may kill both the mother and her unborn child at the same time. Lamia’s voracious appetite justified her name, which is derived from the Greek word lamyros, which means “gluttonous.” However, women and children aren’t the only ones at risk. The Lamia loves to lure men into a lonely place for a tryst, seduce them, and make love with them. Then, just when her victim reaches orgasm, she tears out his throat and gulps down the spurting blood. She is a sexual predator as well as being a cannibal and a Vampire, and is an extremely dangerous foe. To this day, it is said that children still greatly fear her as a sort of bogeywoman. The Lamia is most definitely not a monster to be trifled with.


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