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Happy St. John’s Day

Posted by: Loren Coleman on June 24th, 2008

St. John’s Day

The date June 24 is one tied to some of the weirdest happenings. Enjoy the day, and keep a watch out for the unusual to occur. What’s that behind you?

Here is a rundown of some previous events on this day:

Knights Templars display “Mysterious Head” at Poitiers (1308). Founding of the Order of the Garter (1348). John Cabot discovers North America (1497). Galileo released (1633). “Woman of the Wilderness” utopian community arrives in America (1694). “W of W” angelic visions (1701). Grand Lodge of Freemasons inaugurated (1717). Ambrose Bierce born (1842). Red rain, Italy (1877). Ice fall, Ft. Lyon, Colorado (1877). Fall of jelly-like mass, Eton (1911). Fred Hoyle born (1915). Mick Fleetwood (1942) and Jeff Beck (1944) born.

First day of “flying saucer” history, Mt. Rainier & Mt. Adams, Washington State – Kenneth Arnold sighting (1947). Filmstock fire kills seventeen people, Brussels (1947). Movie theaters evaluated during huge fire, Perth Amboy, NJ (1947). United Airlines plane struck by lightning over Cleveland (1947). Invasion of grasshoppers battled with flame-throwers, Guatemala/El Salvador (1947). Woman attacked and killed by bees or wasps, Seattle (1947). Bizarre aerial sightings near Daggett, California (1950) and on Iwo Jima (1953).

The deaths of various aerial and related phenomena researchers, writers, and fans (Frank Scully, June 24, 1964; Frank Edwards, near the coming midnight of the 24th, still on June 23, 1967; Arthur Bryant, June 24, 1967; Richard Church June 24, 1967; Willy Ley, June 24, 1969; Jackie Gleason, June 24, 1987).

June 24, 2006 saw the death of renegade publisher Lyle Stuart who published anomalist writer Frank Edwards’ Fortean book, in 1959, Stranger than Science, a paperbook full of information on cryptozoology as well as ufology.

Two Inuits kill a huge, yellow-furred bear at Rendezvous Lake, Barren Ground, Canada, June 24, 1864. The bear was similar to Arctodus simus, which died out in the Pleistocene. Naturalist Robert MacFarlane acquired the bear’s skin and skull, and shipped the remains to the Smithsonian Institution, where they were placed in storage and soon forgotten. Eventually, Dr. Clinton Hart Merriam uncovered the remains, and in 1918, he described the specimen as a new species and genus, calling it the “patriarchal bear,” with the scientific name Vetularctos inopinatus. Today, it is often recognized as a new species, Ursus inopinatus. (Thanks to Matt Bille and Mnynames.)

On other June 24ths, locals have Bigfoot sightings, Logan and Union counties, Ohio (1980). Chupacabras encountered outside disco, Maria Elena, Argentina (2000). Moose hunters see Bigfoot, near Fort Simpson, NWT, Canada (2002). Mysterious fire erupts in Gallipolis, Ohio resident’s car on bridge from Ohio to Point Pleasant, West Virginia (2003). Massive unusual aerial phenomena, Xalapa, Mexico (2005). “Aren’t You Chupacabra to See Me?” airs for first time on Cartoon Network (2005). Nestle uses Bigfoot-costumed marchers to launch Kit Kat Limited Edition – Cappuccino at the Giant Mahkota Parade, Malacca, and Jusco Tebrau City, Johor (2005).

June 24 was the grand opening date of Bates College Museum of Art’s “Cryptozoology: Out of Time Place Scale” exhibition (2006).

St. John’s Day (”Jaanipäev”) is a major traditional holiday in Estonia, celebrated by singing around bonfires, in Estonian communities in the United States and Canada as well as in Estonia itself. The glow-worm, because it usually starts appearing around St. John’s Day, is called “Jaaniuss”–”St. John’s Worm”–in Estonian. (Thanks to T. Peter Park, who is Estonian.)

Unexplained events. Mysterious fiery outbursts. Strange cryptid sightings. Beltane fires. Little people. Miracles. Bathing. Round dances. Collecting of glowworms. Folkloric incidents. Weird encounters. Cryptozoological openings. Mystery deaths.

Respect the wonder and adventure of the 24th of June.

What’s in the mix on this day in 2008?

About Loren Coleman
Loren Coleman is one of the world’s leading cryptozoologists, some say “the” leading. 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.


12 Responses to “Happy St. John’s Day”

  1. Ceroill responds:

    Interesting, Loren, thanks! Hey, any idea where I can find out more about the ‘Patriarchal Bear’? That sounds fascinating.

  2. MattBille responds:

    If I remember correctly, Merriam used Vetularctos inopinatus (Ancient, or patriarchal, unexpected bear) describing a new genus, in 1918. This rested solely on the skin and skull of the 1864 specimen, although a couple of other reports of odd bears that might have been of this type eventually surfaced.

    Merriam later “demoted” the animal to a new species in the genus Ursus, Ursus inopinatus (which later authorities usally either did not list or marked as “disputed” or some such qualifier). I don’t have my file on that handy.

    When I talked to the MonsterQuest guys earlier this month, they had requested to have the remains of this 600-lb yellowish critter taken out of storage at the Smithsonian so they could pay for DNA testing. I do not know how this effort came out: when I was interviewed for the upcoming Mystery Bear program, they wanted me to set the background without knowing of any new findings they might have made.

    So stay tuned….

  3. Ceroill responds:

    Matt, thanks for the further info. I’ve long had a bit of a fascination with bears in general. A few years back there was a bit of a to do about ‘giant’ bears in Sibera, I think. Was there ever any determination of what they actually are?

  4. chupachups responds:

    I ued to have a cat whose birthday was June 24th– he was a major presence and I always told people he was a boddhisattva.

  5. red_pill_junkie responds:

    What a fortean date this is! Thanks for that Loren :-)

  6. cryptidsrus responds:

    Great day, indeed.

    Spent the day partially at Borders reading a book on fabulous beasts. Great reading. Happy 24th!!!

  7. MattBille responds:

    Ceroill,
    There are a couple of giant bear mysteries from the Siberia region. One is reports of odd-looking white bears of polar bear size, and one Russian zoologist made so bold as to suggest it was a surviving giant short-faced bear. The other concerned a giant black form of the Kamchatakan brown bear. No good resolution on either one of these.

  8. Ceroill responds:

    Matt, thanks. It was the latter that I was thinking of. For that matter, has it been decided that the Kamchatkan brown bear is a species unto itself? I seem to recall there being claims it was just a regular brown bear or perhaps a grizzly of unusual size.

  9. MattBille responds:

    Sten Bergman, the zoologist who wrote in 1936 about seeing the Kamchata giant bear’s pelt around 1920, suggested it might merit its own classifcation, but he did not offer a suggested name. No one ever pursued that. It was lumped with the Kamchatkan brown bear, called U. a. piscator.

    (Many references, including my first crypto book, reflect the misunderstanding that piscator was a new name proposed by Bergman. It’s still on Wikipedia that way.)

    Bergman thought the animal distinct based on the combination of sheer size, a solid black coat (though that is not unheard of in brown bears), and the animal’s uniformly short fur (which characteristic is really odd for a brown bear).

    Secondhand reports from the 1980s are the last thing we have on this animal. If it was a distinct race, it may be extinct. Alternatively, it may be an occasional oddity, as with the king cheetah.

    (One note on an oft-asked question – Bergman is not the same man who authored Bergmann’s Rule about the size of animals in high latitudes.)

  10. Ceroill responds:

    Matt: thanks again! You pretty much confirmed what I suspected about the current state of information on that bear. I appreciate your time.

  11. TaishaMcGee responds:

    For some reason, I replaced “battled” with “armed”. Flame-throwing grasshoppers would be something to remember, all right.

  12. Artist responds:

    TaishaMcGee — “The very existence of flamethrowers proves that some time, somewhere, someone said to themselves, ‘You know, I want to set those people over there on fire, but I’m just not close enough to get the job done…’” ~ George Carlin



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