Posted by: Loren Coleman on August 29th, 2006
I’ve been on the road for two weeks, but have to stop off here to share this August 29, 2006, editorial in the Portland, Maine Press Herald with you. Surprisingly, I discovered it was mostly written by Theo Stein, a former Denver Post reporter who has penned some of the most thoughtful, intelligent articles examining the science of hominology (the sincere study of Bigfoot and other unknown hairy hominoids) of recent note.
Tuesday, August 29, 2006
Stinging ocean blobs, sharks and, of course, the mutant Beast of Turner.
It’s been a good month for Maine among America’s fans of the weird. Maine’s weirdness potential is high to begin with, jammed, as we are, like a thumb into Canada – itself an inscrutable bastion of weirdness in the eyes of many Americans.
Then, there’s author Stephen King, who’s made millions burnishing Maine’s image as a place far-flung and anachronistic enough to harbor all manner of anomalies and plain strangeness.
The jellyfish and sharks recently seen along Maine’s southern coast fall into the anomaly category: well-known ocean critters, just out of place.
But the weirdometer was pegged by the Beast of Turner, a doglike creature whose presumptive depredations and nocturnal vocalizations spawned little interest until an untimely encounter with a car bumper turned it into vulture bait. And a posthumous celebrity.
DNA tests have since proved it to be a dog, but this anticlimactic result came after eyewitness Michelle O’Donnell’s description of a “hybrid mutant of something” galloped around the Internet for more than a week.
The news erupted in the cryptosphere with a prominent Maine dateline. Notwithstanding cryptozooloist Loren Coleman’s immediate dismissal of the beast as a dog, a spicy Web bouillabaisse of speculation and pronouncement was served up to all who Googled.
And despite its reduction to Canis, the Beast will take its place among Maine things Fortean, a word that describes followers of researcher and writer Charles Hoy Fort. Fort felt that people with a need to believe in the marvelous were no more prejudiced or gullible than those who need to deny that marvels exist.
So the Beast of Turner’s hold on us may be less, it turns out, about Maine’s being a repository for the unexplained as it is about our timeless appetite for things that howl in the night.
Here I examine the carcass of the “Maine Mutant” or more correctly, what is left of it. This is a Sun Journal photograph by Douglas Van Reeth. Used by permission. Click to enlarge.
Loren Coleman is one of the world’s leading cryptozoologists, some say “the” leading living cryptozoologist. Certainly, he is acknowledged as the current living American researcher and writer who has most popularized cryptozoology in the late 20th and early 21st centuries. Starting his fieldwork and investigations in 1960, after traveling and trekking extensively in pursuit of cryptozoological mysteries, Coleman began writing to share his experiences in 1969. An honorary member of Ivan T. Sanderson’s Society for the Investigation of the Unexplained in the 1970s, Coleman has been bestowed with similar honorary memberships of the North Idaho College Cryptozoology Club in 1983, and in subsequent years, that of the British Columbia Scientific Cryptozoology Club, CryptoSafari International, and other international organizations. He was also a Life Member and Benefactor of the International Society of Cryptozoology (now-defunct). Loren Coleman’s daily blog, as a member of the Cryptomundo Team, served as an ongoing avenue of communication for the ever-growing body of cryptozoo news from 2005 through 2013. He returned as an infrequent contributor beginning Halloween week of 2015. Coleman is the founder in 2003, and current director of the International Cryptozoology Museum in Portland, Maine.