THREE MONSTER STORY

AMERICAN BLACK PANTHER ARTWORK
Ghost in previous Alien Zoo reports and FT featurelength articles, I’ve documented several
fascinating examples of apparent cryptids depicted by famous artists. Here’s another such example, one that may not have attracted any cryptozoological publicity before. I am grateful to American correspondent David McAvoy for bringing to my attention a remarkable painting on display at the Memphis Brooks Museum of Art in Tennessee. Entitled ‘Story Told By My Mother’, it was produced in 1955 by highly acclaimed Arkansas-born artist Carroll Cloar (1913-1993), and depicts a snow scene in which a woman is stepping briskly away from a very large black panther-like cat standing at the edge of some trees. David informed me that it was inspired by tales that Cloar had heard from his mother concerning black panthers that had once roamed Arkansas.

Moreover, David himself hails from Arkansas, and he mentioned that he has heard such stories for as long as he can remember. Indeed, mysterious, unidentified big cats of black panther-like appearance (i.e. resembling melanistic leopards) have been reported all over North America for centuries. Leopards of course are not native to the New World, so if such beasts are indeed roaming the wilds here, they can only be escapee or released individuals from captivity. However, their eyewitnesses often claim that these cats are not black leopards anyway, but are instead black pumas. Yet no such cat form has ever been scientifically confirmed from North America, only two such specimens have been procured in tropical Latin America, and no captive individuals are currently known to exist anywhere. (I have documented elsewhere one possible example exhibited at London Zoo during the 19th century.)

In short, even if they do occur, black pumas are exceptionally rare as far as physical evidence for their reality is concerned. Countless normal-coloured (tawny or grey) pumas have been shot in North America, and there are numerous reports of black panther-like cats on file from this continent, so whatever this cat form is it does not appear to be especially rare; ผี so why have no specimens been found if it is indeed a melanistic version (morph) of the puma? This apparent paradox remains a major riddle for American cryptozoology – but at least we do now have an additional and most interesting, unexpected piece of evidence supporting the existence of black panther-like cats in North America, regardless of their identity. David McAvoy, pers. comm., 9 Aug 2015.

WHERE TO GO FOR WEREWOLVES
A three-day conference devoted to werewolves and the fascinating, albeit highly controversial, subject of lycanthropy took place on 3-5 September 2015 at the University of Hertfordshire in Hatfield. Entitled ‘The Company of Wolves’, its eclectic offerings included workshops, walks with real wolves, picnics alongside the Berkhamsted grave of Peter the Wild Boy from the 18th century [FT161:36], a keynote speaker, and an international array of papers featuring such memorable titles as ‘I’m Hairy on the Inside’, ‘Rabid Bitches and Fanged Whores’, and ‘Barebacking Werewolves in Rural America’. Interest in the UK’S only werewolf conference was considerable.

TEARING APART A PTEROSAUR
For decades, cryptozoologists, creationists and iconography researchers have been discussing the likely identity of the tantalisingly pterosaurlike creature, bright red in colour, depicted in ancient artwork decorating Black Dragon Canyon in Utah. True, there is indeed a resemblance to a pterodactyl with outstretched wings and even a possible crest on its head like some latter-day Pteranodon, which had led some ผี cryptozoologists to suggest that it offered proof of modern-day pterosaur survival in North America.

However, new research has effectively torn apart this visual testimony. Dating back to the agrarian Fremont culture (c. AD 1-1100) but remaining undiscovered in modern times until 1928, this ambiguous artwork has been revealed by researchers co-led by freelance archæologist Paul Bahn to be a composite pictograph, not a single one as previously
assumed. In fact, the ‘pterosaur’ is actually a combination of no less than five separate
pictographs, respectively depicting a sheep, a dog, a tall person with protruding eyes, a
smaller person, and a snake-like entity.

เรื่องผี In 1947, a certain John Simonson traced over what he believed to be the outline of the
one, single pictograph with red chalk, yielding the pseudo-pterodactyl image, but this artefact was recently exposed by Bahn and company using a portable X-ray fluorescence device and a special program/tool called DStretch. This enables researchers to photograph a
pictograph, upload it onto a computer, and then highlight its original pigments (even if invisible to the naked eye) while also distinguishing pigments that have been added later. So when DStretch removed the confusing effect caused by Simonson’s red chalk, the true, five-piece artwork was duly revealed, with the pterodactyl of Black Dragon Canyon unceremoniously jettisoned into the dustbin of historical howlers.

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