So What Did You Think Of MQ’s Flatwoods Monster?

Posted by: Loren Coleman on March 11th, 2010

So what did you think of MQ’s Flatwoods Monster? Sound off.

Joe Nickell, Homo sapiens skepticsiensis

eagle owl
Bubo bubo

Why didn’t they let Joe Nickell mention his “everything is an owl” theory, as he had done on the Mothman episode?

Nickell thinks that every lake monster is an otter; well, almost. However, if something unusual is seen on land and near trees, well, he likes the owl explanation theory to debunk: (1) Mothman sightings; (2) the Flatwoods Monster sightings; and, most recently, (3) the Kelly creatures sightings. Perhaps the producers at MQ saw how worn out that tired old bird would appear, if they used it on two shows broadcast so soon after each other?

As to MQ placing the verdict of “hoax” on the Myakka photographs (shown in the Skunk Ape program right before the Flatwoods episode), based on the mere opinion of one wildlife expert who didn’t like the lay of the hair, well, don’t even get me started!

Loren Coleman About Loren Coleman
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.

24 Responses to “So What Did You Think Of MQ’s Flatwoods Monster?”

  1. Ulysses responds:

    The problem is we’ll never know. As time wears on the facts, like Roswell, become mixed into the fabric of mythology and they have a life of their own. All we can do now is speculate and come up with ” new” theories. Personally, i think it was a Sleezak or Billy Barty.

  2. Artist responds:

    Can’t resist it:

    “Perhaps the producers at MQ saw how worn out that tired old bird would appear, if they used it on two shows broadcast so soon after each other?”

    Are we referring here to the full-fledged “Bubo bubo”…
    …or to “Joe Nickell, Homo sapiens skepticsiensis” ?

  3. billgreen2010 responds:

    hey everyone i thought last night new monsterquest segment was very interesting very skeptical but done very well i give it A++ 🙂

  4. WoodlakeJake responds:

    The problem with MQ is that it is not done well and it makes all of us itch. We want the program to be good but…Frankly, any show using Joe Nickell has very little credibility left anyway.

    Move beyond cheap speculative themes and really go after the “monsters” make an attempt to contribute to the truth about these little or unknown animals and we all get more interested and watch. This would also appeal to the average to casual viewer interested in unknown animals. Unfortunately that would be a bit more work for the producers.

    I think this episode is another nail in the coffin of MQ as it loafs off to cancellation.

  5. Valen responds:

    Yeah, Joe Nickell needs to be selling pictures of owls on the Grassy Knoll.

    As for the rest of the episode, a few things that I’d like to comment on.

    1) The linking of the Flatwoods monster to the Star Child skull was weak at least.
    2) The revelation (to me at least) that there have been more sightings of similar creatures in other parts of the country. This is the first I have heard of this and would like more details.
    3) There have been recent sightings. Again, the first I have heard of this.
    If Frank Feschino or Stanton Friedman could provide more details, that would be great.

    I think they could have spent more time on the Flatwoods case itself and left the whole Star Child part out.

  6. Weezy responds:

    Joe Nickell’s theory about glowing eyes making people see things is a joke. People aren’t stupid to that degree, nobody is mistaking an owl or a deer for what the people in this episode are describing. I’d have an easier time believing the made the story up, or were on drugs and seeing things than they misidentified a deer or owl. That being said, I have a real hard time believing there are lizard-men out there hovering around in flying pods. Bigfoot and Loch Ness Monster are one thing, they’re supposed to be animals, this is a bit of a stretch.

  7. corrick responds:

    I read Joe Nickell’s full piece on the Flatwood’s sighting when it was originally published in The Skeptical Inquirer about six years ago. I found his research and his ensuing theory to be very plausible.
    As for his theories on the Mothman or Kelly creatures sightings, I would add:
    The only habitually bipedal vertebrates on earth are humans and birds, and the overwhelming majority of nocturnal birds are either owls or nightjars. Yes, there are also a number of species of diurnal birds as well. Still, any skeptical or critically thinking person must automatically think of owls when researching reports of reported sub-five foot, bipedal creatures. And especially those reported at night.
    I’m certainly not lock-stock in-step with all of Joe Nickell’s theories, nor do I think many of his “demonstrations” are even close to slam-dunks. But Joe Nickell as well as Ben Bradford provide much needed (imho) thoughts and theories. Not every reported cryptid can exist, no matter how “believable” the sources are.
    When everyone is on the same page, that page never gets turned.

  8. Weezy responds:

    I also forgot to say that I thought UFO Hunters analysis of the Starchild skull was better. They tested to see how much mass fit in the brain cavity compared to an average adult human skull using beans, and I think something like twice as much beans fit in the Starchild skull. It’s definitely an odd thing that warrants a lot of attention IMO.

  9. Redrose999 responds:

    I just visited Joe Nickell’s website. What are his degrees? He claims to be a cryptozoologist, don’t you have to have a degree in it? It seems to me he’s as caught up in being a skeptic as true believers are caught up being true believers. Every time I’ve seen him he’s failed to look at the entire story told by the witnesses. Rather, he latches onto one part and blames their observations on either mistaken identity, group hysteria, the inaccuracy of eyewitness accounts, just to name a few. Does he have a degree in Zoology or Psychology? Every time I see him, he fails to convince me of his argument. He seems to fall back on the idea the audience agrees with him anyway, and that he’s right, rather than actually taking what he does seriously, looking at all the evidence and performing an experiment that duplicates the exact conditions of said sighting. Mind you, I’m not a believer, and I tend to look at these things skeptically and he fails to convince me of his theory every time with botched experiments and explanations that are stretched or poorly thought of. I’d like to see him do some really science rather come on with this smug full of himself “I’m right” and only fools are interested in crypo-monsters approach to things.

    Now with that said, I enjoyed the episode, though I wish they would have stuck to the Flatwoods sighting, rather than drag in this Star Child skull. MQ is stretching now, and it keeps drawing in unrelated information when their story doesn’t seem to have enough information to make a full episode. If they don’t have enough information, I’d rather them not make the episode than stretching it with unrelated “evidence”.

  10. cryptidsrus responds:


    I agree with you about the “glowing eyes” theory of Nickell. Total joke, indeed.

    Ultimately, we’ll never know. As Ulysses said.

  11. deadfoot responds:

    I follow Lloyd Pye’s work with the Starchild skull. The show was originally supposed to be an exclusive on the skull itself, but once the handlers got a hold of it, they shuffled it in with the flatwoods monster. It didn’t make any sense, wasn’t even a stretch. Just ridiculous of course. Which was the point of whoever it is that doesn’t want it to be taken seriously.

    Despite the controlling of it, it was still a miracle that it made it to TV land at all. It’s an anomalous skull that is 100% “not” the product of any genetic defect. Some more DNA testing is underway, stay tuned:

    Btw, for those that don’t know, Lloyd is quite an expert on Bigfoot as well.

  12. Peter77 responds:

    I love that picture of the owl. Beautiful animals.

  13. buhmony responds:

    What are the details on that Flatwoods figure in the first picture?

  14. Robotik responds:

    The Flatwoods Figure in the the first picture were at one time available in Flatwoods at the Sunoco gas station at the Flatwoods Outlet Center. It was priced in the $20 range it is ceramic/chalk and stands 13 inches tall with holes through out I guess so it could be used as a lamp. At the base it reads Braxton County Monster. My last trip through Flatwoods this past December they did not have it sitting on the counter/shelf behind the cash register as in the past.

  15. B.U.M.P. responds:

    The figure wasn’t there as of mid-Feb either. I’ve only DVR’d the episode, I haven’t sat down to watch it yet. Sounds like I’ll be disappointed again. I am, however, thrilled at the focus on cryptids from WV lately! Mothman and Flatwoods Monster, makes me proud. 😀

  16. jerrywayne responds:

    I read about the Flatwoods Monster when I was a youngster, way back in the 50’s and 60’s. The story was intriguing because it was so innately creepy, weird and original.

    The MQ episode seemed to rely in part on Frank C. Feschino’s interpretation (or should I say reinterpretation) of the original events. Having read of the Flatwoods events many times over the years, I was surprised MQ promoted Feschino’s lizard monster thesis.

    To make things more confusing (to me, at least), even though none of the eyewitnesses mentioned “lizard” in their descriptions of the odd creature, Feschino assumes they didn’t see a creature at all. He has them seeing a machine (admittedly, the “monster’s” machine
    or craft).

    I can only guess that Feschino’s imaginative portrayal of his “lizard monster”, looking like a malnourished version of DC’s Martian Manhunter, was conceived from other encounter reports and linked to the Flatwoods event by conflation.

    Since I think Joe Nickell is a very sober investigator, I’m always amazed at the contempt he creates in UFOologists, paranormalists, Forteans, and even cryptomundians. It is a puzzle to me. (Funny, in a program that includes Stanton Friedman, it is Nickell that upsets some people! What a world; what a world!)

    As always, I think the fault line between paranormalists and skeptics is found located a the point of eyewitness claims. The paranormalist sees the anomalous eyewitness event as conforming as closely as possible to the events REMEMBERED. The skeptic, on the other hand, thinks that the anomalous event is in reality much fuzzier as it happened than as it is RECALLED later. Perhaps, then, this is why there seems to be such animosity in the different approaches, one against the other, because we are not understanding, or accepting, these differences.

    And of course, belief engines heat up the discourse too. It depends on whether you find an owl or a Martian Manhunter more plausible at the outset, and that outset is colored by your own personal worldview.

  17. Lehmberg responds:

    Folks — I was the bearded fellow (the only one, I think, associated with the Flatwoods segment exclusively) in the UFO Magazine hat working with the Balloon and assisting Feschino vis a vis the sighting at the hunter’s camp in deep forest beside the spring fed stream. My one line was, used apart from where I actually said it was, “Frank, there’s a hot spot up there… all that said:

    Folks? You can quote me!

    I have no idea what that program was about or who was involved in it. …

    This is real irony given I was at Flatwoods for a week during the shooting —and I do mean shooting— of this program, have an appropriate intimacy with all the principals shown on it, and have better than a layman’s understanding of what occurred in and around Flatwoods that Indian summer night in 1952.

    Ladies and Gentleman, THIS is what occurred on that one night in Flatwoods:

    I remind the HONEST reader that this map data is supported by Bluebook, Newspaper reportage, and first person witnesses in that order of numeracy.

    What the History channel has done is contrive to manufacture a senseless mash-up of two entirely unrelated cases from what could be most easily be “faux-discredited” in either.

    None but those honest with themselves dare call this very poor telling of the Flatwoods story incompetence, cluelessness, or a lying propaganda!

    Moreover, the witnesses at Flatwoods presupposed a “plane crash” or “meteor.” Nickell _lied_ when he said they expected “monsters”… I was sickened by the entire program. The Flatwoods story was not told.

    See? Flatwoods was the tail end of the biggest UFO Flap in US History: The 1952 “Summer Of Saucers” It was not about Lizard Monsters lurking the Woods for 60 plus years.

    And this! They wrongly called the more honest Stanton Friedman a “doctor” and made the dissembling (to be kind) Nickell look “reasonable” in contrived comparison! How could they have got things so wrong?!

    I’m sick at heart and really pissed off… Feschino deserves better than this. He’s telling the culture changing story. Nickell shills for the guys insulting your intelligence and obscuring real history. “Mass Hysteria” is a clueless and largely discredited dodge.

    Tune in to tune up, sincerely.

  18. loopstheloop responds:

    Does anybody perhaps know where online I might be able to watch Season 4 episodes for free?

    Recession, and all that! Thanks

  19. tropicalwolf responds:

    Anyone willing to “write off” the Flatwoods monster as a common owl is a simpleton. Their opinion should be dismissed as without research merit.

  20. darkhb responds:

    Someone please buy Joe Nickell a new outfit. Every time he shows up on one of these shows he’s wearing his standard uniform of black pants, black shirt and that tan vest.

  21. cryptidsrus responds:

    Thank you for gracing us with your presence, Mr. Lehmberg. I read your articles all the time over at UFO Magazine.

    And I basically agree with your assesment.

    As to Darkhb’s comment about Nickell’s clothes: I definitely agree. There’s only one “Man In Black” and it ain’t Nickell. 🙂

  22. Lehmberg responds:

    Wow — what grace? Huge respect for LC! I’m as honored to be allowed to post here as anybody, sincerely. And thanks for reading, yea and verily.

  23. Lehmberg responds:

    Coal to Newcastle, I know… but it took on a life of its own…


    Folks, regarding the recent History Channel MonsterQuest episode of March 10th featuring Fred May, Frank Feschino, Stanton Friedman, and other witnesses from the town of Flatwoods, West Virginia: I was the bearded fellow, the only one, I think, associated with the Flatwoods segment exclusively. I wore the UFO Magazine hat. I was working with the Helium Balloon and assisting Feschino vis a vis the sighting at the hunter’s camp in deep forest beside the spring fed stream. My one spoken line, used apart from where I actually said it was, “Frank, there’s a hot spot up there…,” or some such… all that said:

    Folks? You can quote me!

    I have no idea what that program was about! Why, apart from Joe Nickell who was true to form, I didn’t even recognize who was involved in it!

    This is _real_ irony, reader, given I was at Flatwoods for a week during the shooting -and I do mean shooting- of the MQ program. Moreover, I have an appropriate intimacy with all the principals shown on the Flatwoods segment, and have better than a layman’s understanding of just what occurred in and around Flatwoods that Indian summer night in 1952.

    Ladies and Gentleman, let me digress to say that, entirely apart from what the Reader saw on a “flawed” MonsterQuest, this is what occurred on that one night in Flatwoods in Flatwoods.

    I remind the honest reader that this referenced map data is supported by Project Bluebook, named Newspaper reportage, and first person witnesses in that order of numeracy.

    The History Channel, one finds, had the time, opportunity, and all the requisite data to produce a stunning program about the infamous Flatwoods affair. What the History channel did instead, reader, was to contrive to manufacture a senseless “mash-up” of two entirely unrelated cases from what could be most easily be “faux-discredited” in either of them. Suggesting this bogus relationship, one not even remotely tenuous, is the program’s kiss of less-than-mediocre death.

    Sincerely, none but those entirely honest with themselves dare call this very poor, contrived, and inauspicious telling of the Flatwoods story a blithering incompetence, a fatuous cluelessness, or a distorted propaganda! More irony is revealed given Feschino, Friedman, and I had to sign sworn statements indicating our contribution to the program was true as we knew it to be true. The History Channel reportage of same, paradoxically, was not.

    See? Flatwoods was the tail end of the biggest UFO Flap in US History: The 1952 “Summer Of Saucers” chronicled by Frank Feschino, Wendy Connors, various other authors, and an un-sifted Project Bluebook. Reader! It was _not_ about “Lizard Monsters” allegedly lurking the woods for 60 plus years, and to this day. This is the distortion prosecuted by the History Channel.

    And this! The intrepid MonsterQuest documentarians wrongly called the more honest Stanton Friedman a “doctor” and made the dissembling (to be kind) Dr. (degree immaterial) Nickell look “reasonable” in contrived comparison! Glowing eyes? Not before or since. Ground miasma? Not before or since! Mass hysteria? Not before or since! Noxious weeds? Not before or since! Roc sized barn owls? Not before or since! How could they have got things so canted and wrong!

    I’m sick at heart and really ticked off… Feschino, who deserves better than this, was fit to be tied. See, he’s telling the culture changing real story. Nickell and company shill for the guys insulting the reader’s intelligence and obscuring real history. Case in point “Mass Hysteria” as touted by Dr. Nickell… is a clueless dodge.

    Why? The witnesses at Flatwoods, a gang of playing children and a couple of young adults, presupposed a meteor, predominantly, on the Fisher farm in the hills above the school that evening. They’d heard about them recently in school. Nickell _dissembled_ when he reported they expected “monsters”… They did not run up a hill armed with only with a flashlight to look for “monsters,” Reader! That only happens in the movies and Joe Nickell’s facile imagination! They went up the hill to pick up pieces of a meteorite!

    No, the Flatwoods story was not remotely told. The historical facts regarding the “Flatwoods Monster” incident are distorted, once again, by a soap-selling TV show.

    Tune in to the actual story, cited above, to tune _up_, sincerely. See, it’s not a story about a giant lizard in a “hover round” “attacking” a group of Flatwoods residents with a harmful gas. The gas, remember, was actually an exhaust emitted from pipes surrounding the lower torso of the body. The lower torso was part of the propulsion system of this giant “metallic” structure propelling it and causing it to hover. Moreover, apart from the gas, the “Flatwoods Monster” never made any aggressive or threatening maneuvers towards the witnesses during the encounter!

    More crass inaccuracies?

    The nearly 60-years of “sightings” reported by the MQ show were not all “monster” sightings, as the over-edited Feschino and Friedman footage seemed to intimate, but were UFO sightings! This is what the two researchers reported on. _UFOs_, reader! Not _monsters_!

    The “Flatwoods Monster” incident, the Snitowsky “Frametown Monster” incident and the Frametown Hunter incident are the documented entity sightings, reader. These, and other “monster” sightings… never occurred again! It’s UFO sightings that are ongoing! This was the actual report and testimony of Friedman and Feschino!

    Other “real” entities documented on record in the Flatwoods area are as follows:

    Dec. 30, 1960. Hickory Flats, WV, Located in Webster County and just across the southern Braxton County border – Witness Charles Slover, 35 years-old, was driving a delivery truck and sighted a 6-foot tall hairy biped, man-like creature near the road. This was _unreported_ by the History Channel.

    Dec. 7, 2005. Braxton County, 7-8 miles from Flatwoods. A wildlife trap camera took a photograph of an unknown entity that has been called the “Braxton Beast.” This was _unreported_ by the History Channel. Meager and unrepeated stuff!

    UFO sightings _abound_, reader, on the other hand… not “monster” sightings! A UFO sighting that occurred in Holly, Braxton County on Nov. 8, 1957 was documented by Jacques Vallee in his book “Passport To Magonia.”

    Holly is located near Flatwoods. In Case #437, Vallee reports that Hank Mollohan and eight other local witnesses saw an elongated object that was 12-metres long.

    More UFOs! Frametown Area, 1990: A Frametown couple saw several UFOs over the area of the Middle Ridge area southeast of Frametown. When one of the witnesses walked outside of the house to get a closer look, one of the UFOs flew into the back-yard and shot a bright beam of light down towards the witness. This Frametown incident was documented and broadcast in 1990 by a national TV show of the time, Current Affair With Maury Povich.

    In 1991, Feschino documented crop circle rings in Frametown, WV., which were recorded by Colin Andrews. Throughout the early 1990s, Feschino also photographed and videotaped UFOs in the same area of Middle Ridge southeast of James Knob.

    Other MonsterQuest Deglected Points

    The Sept. 12, 1952 “Master Map” of UFO locations was not shown. The flight-path trajectory of the “Flatwoods Monster” UFO was not shown or mentioned. This was the Washington DC. to Flatwoods, WV UFO flight-path. Check the included link for same.

    The Colonel Leavitt Interview was not shown or mentioned, nor was there any mention of the sizable West Virginia National Guard involvement in and around Flatwoods.

    There was no reference that the USAF had heavily documented the Flatwoods incident.

    The First person witness-journalist John Barker interview was not mentioned.

    Well respected reporter and first person responder A. Lee Stewart, Jr., who broke the national story, was not mentioned. The drawings of the metal piece that he found on the farm were not shown.

    There was no mention or reference that there were strange metal and black plastic-like pieces found on the Fisher Farm by the locals, shortly after the incident.

    The five known drawings made by five of the boy witnesses who saw the “Flatwoods Monster” were not shown.” Despite being separated by Stewart the drawings are astonishingly similar!

    The “Flatwoods Monster” color illustrations painted by Feschino from eyewitness descriptions were not shown.

    The 1996 Fred May pencil drawing of the “Monster” was not shown. It depicted the figure as “mechanical.” This was a point errantly avoided by MonsterQuest!

    The Flatwoods reenactment segment did not show the actual “mechanical” figure as described by Mrs. May and Fred May. The incorrect 1952 “We The People” mock-up, which depicted the arms and claws was shown instead… and then senselessly compared to the “Frametown Monster.”

    Finally, the Star child skull and the entities in Flatwoods/Frametown were errantly compared. These cases have no relationship to each other, what so ever, all respect to Lloyd Pye! I’m sure he would agree.

    I’d hoped for the best regarding the History Channel. What happened?

    “Hollywood” happened, reader… corporate manipulations apart from, and not interested in, telling the real story… These contrive a mash-up between two unrelated cases and, “highlighting” what was “explainable,” work to “faux-discredit” both… actually. We were sand-bagged, imo.

    The only good thing… the Flatwoods story was broached, at all, in a no-nonsense manner by Frank Feschino, Freddy May, John Barker, and Stanton Friedman! People are eventually going to wonder where the “lizard monster” (sheesh!) came from and how it came to be in Flatwoods at all. That story? (See “story” above.)

    I personally apologize to the people of Braxton County, Frametown, and the town of Flatwoods specifically, that the story was not portrayed as it was related to the production company. We regret their time was wasted. It’s not Frank Feschino’s fault that the creative control was well out of his capable hands… as it will be on _all_ these programs. You pays yer money and takes yer chances. We all got burned. All the credible stuff went to the cutting room floor.

    Rest assured, though, MonsterQuest at least showed enough to get interest kindled in _other_ quarters. There’s a lot of life left to tell the story, still! You can bet Frank Feschino will be banging the Flatwoods drum, verily!

    I remain firmly in his corner! There are many rounds left in this fight. Frank is strong and as focused as he ever was!

    Closing, Flatwoods and Frametown residents write to tell me that the James Knob site east of Frametown is still ufologically active. Right _now_ reader.

    Well, I suspect that if ET had swooped in and landed on the pasture that night while Friedman, Feschino, and myself were all up there on James Knob – and the Monster Quest people had shot miles of film of it? THAT footage would have languished on the cutting room floor with all the other pertinent material, too.

    Tha MonsterQuest program regarding Flatwoods was a dissembling hypocrisy… and a shame!

    One last point, in the dodgy MonsterQuest “cooked” portrayal, Fred May, Stanton Friedman, and Frank Feschino seem to indicate that Big Lizards in “hover-rounds,” plus other monsters, still lurk dangerously in the West Virginia mountains around Flatwoods. No reader. They are not. Nothing these men actually reported to the film crew made that indication.

    Sincerely, be disabused of the notion that dangerous monsters haunt your hills and forests! Fred, Frank, and Stan made _no_ such intimation. I was _there_. I _know_.

  24. MrStumpy responds:

    ^^Logically sound.

    My thoughts were “same-old, same-old.” As much as I love MonsterQuest, they wasted time and money searching for something that hasn’t been seen in Flatwoods for over 55 years. I believe in the Flatwoods Monster, but if it did exist, it is most likely no longer lurking in Braxton County’s woods.

    Joe Nickell has always prodded the plausibility of the Mothman and Flatwoods Monster with the same typical theories of “delusional misinterpretation.” I understand that there will always be skeptics, but why come up with such boneheaded conclusions to mysteries when there is so much depth to them? For example, there were over 100 sightings of Mothman in Point Pleasant alone. The creature resembles figures in religions and mythologies around the world, and there have been numerous other monsters that bear the same characteristics and traits as the Mothman. To dismiss it as “mass hysteria” is an act made by a person who is either in denial, or close-minded.

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