Jersey Devil on MQ

Posted by: Loren Coleman on February 25th, 2009

Wednesday February 25th 2008 at 9PM Eastern / 8PM Central on HISTORY

For over 250 years a frightening winged beast has been menacing the residents of New Jersey. The Jersey Devil is described as a winged half-bird half-horse, with hoofed feet and reptilian tail and a penetrating scream that echoes through the forests of New Jersey’s Pine Barrens. During one phenomenal week, over a thousand individuals were terrorized: a trolley car was attacked, schools were closed and panic gripped the area. Wildlife experts claim however, that misidentification with a known animal may be responsible for the encounters, but recent witnesses who see the beast are scared for their lives–and say the scientific evidence will prove there is a monster. MonsterQuest launches an unprecedented expedition for the Jersey Devil and sends sixty men into the forbidding forest while detectives meet the witnesses to discover the truth behind the Jersey Devil.

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.

31 Responses to “Jersey Devil on MQ”

  1. MichaelCraig responds:

    Wow, there description of the Jersey devil is nothing like I have read before and doesn’t correspond with some of the accounts in Cryptozoology A to Z which describe an almost typical little gray man alien. Will the real Jersey Devil please stand up?

  2. Averagefoot responds:

    MichaelCraig, that is the correct description. I believe you might be confusing the Jersey Devil with the Dover Demon.

  3. MichaelCraig responds:

    You are absolutely correct Averagefoot. I apologize, perhaps I should take better notes. I am sorry.

  4. Shelley responds:

    Well, that was a hodgepodge. Did they have to get in all of their leftover footage from last year? The Montauk whatever-it-was clearly had nothing to do with the Jersey Devil, a creature that had been seen for nearly three centuries, and was noted for *FLYING* which the MM was not equipped to do.

    Having lived in NJ for 23 years, including half a mile from one of the cluster of sightings, I think I know what an owl looks like, even a big one. Anyone who lives in the Pine Barrens has seen large flying birds of all kinds, and should not have been describing a monster even when an owl makes a dead set against them. I’ve had a barn owl come at me [admittedly a smaller bird] and it was scary but no monster. And there was no explanation of the tracks, which clearly are not those of an owl.

    MQ could have done a very compelling story just on the historical record alone, with a few contemporary sightings thrown in. It’s one of the few classic monsters that have that many reputable sightings and no real explanation. I liked the giant African bat–if it needs fruit and humidity, then South Jersey is the right place, at least in the summer!

  5. steele79 responds:

    could the jersey devil be a hammerhead bat? i dunno but it kinda looks like the description i dunno maybe someone released them in NJ ?

  6. Dj Plasmic Nebula responds:

    well the Jersey Devil looked like a dinosaur. or at least an unknown bat with a beak….

    i was assuming the jersey devil would be a giant unknown owl.

    i think it’s reptile, cause of the tail (reptillian). if it has scales it’s reptile.. but then it can be an unknown scale that’s not affliliated with a reptile.

    my new theory is it’s a Dinosaur or Large Unknown Bat.

  7. swnoel responds:

    This is easy…Great Horned Owl, but it’s alot more fun thinking it’s a monster. 🙂

  8. MichaelCraig responds:

    Like always they wasted their time with a lie detector test. Not to mention a ridiculous “search” from an expert “tracker.” That guy couldn’t track an elephant in the snow.

  9. NickShev responds:

    New guy to Cryptomundo. I agree with Shelley that this episode would have been a great improvement if it was a story on the historical record and some modern sightings. I knew I was watching filler material when MQ has such old news that has been debunked numerous times by numerous people like the Montauk Monster. The Hammer-Headed bat theory was very interesting and eerie, especially when compared to the Philadelphia Evening Bulletin drawing, but is easily discredited due to Jersey’s temperature. MQ even got kinda “shady” in this episode. There was one gentleman who was talking about possibilities for the Jersey Devil and it was painfully obvious that his segment was edited and cut in a way to sound more supportive about it’s existence. And finally to top it all off I feel the credibility of the witnesses and the other people involved in this episode was up for question. The sketch artist drew the witness’s description and the model maker made what the witness said “looked exactly like it” but the sketch and the model looked NOTHING alike. Which one is it?!? Being a NJ resident for 23 years I felt the Jersey Devil deserved a better documentary than the one he did, the one filled with mixed testimony, a dead dog, and cheap suits.

  10. bray_beast responds:

    Didn’t catch all of the ep, but the recent sighting was pretty awesome. I agree with Shelley whole-heartedly. The Montauk Monster has nothing to do with the Jersey Devil.
    The Jersey Devil is interesting for appearing to actually be a MONSTER, and it straddles the Fortean/Cryptozoological line, and it’s got the most sightings and best backstory.

    There are very few plausible MONSTERS out there as far as I know. What do we have? Dover Demon. Mothman. Not sure Wendigo counts, as it’s more of a spirit. My namesake, The Beast of Bray Road (which is probably a sasquatch). What else is there?

  11. bray_beast responds:

    I guess I should add an “In the U.S.” caveat to that list. I am woefully ill informed about foreign monsters, unless you count shape-shifting wizards of the Congo.

  12. Sergio responds:

    I have liked every episode this season. I enjoy MQ quite a bit, and enjoy UFO Hunters right after it. I rarely watch any other TV. Good stuff.

    I find both (MQ and UFO Hunters) shows fascinating, and I liked the MQ Jersey Devil episode, even though before I watched it, I did not think I would find it interesting.

  13. Delawhere responds:

    Living right across the river, I was looking forward to this episode quite a bit; however, as others have pointed out, MQ wasted time/manpower trying to flush the NJD out in the daytime and gave lie detector tests to eyewitnesses.

  14. GCPickle responds:

    Last nights MQ was interesting until they sent the guys into the woods during the day, and tried to “rev up the excitment” with scary music. Dumb. Also as previously stated the MM had nothing to do with it.

    Just my 2 cents. 🙂

  15. cryptidsrus responds:


    Welcome to the Cryptomundo!

    I was somewhat surprised (to say the least) by the inclusion of the Montauk Monster. I agree with you, basically filler material. And I don’t care how big horned owls get. None of them could be as big as thing apparently is. Or weigh 300-400 pounds, like that woman was told the thing on her roof probably weighed. Whatever this creature is, it is not an owl.

    On the other hand, I found the witnesses (mother and son) extremely credible. I did not get a good look at what the sculptor drew from their description so I cannot absolutely say it did not match what the actual sculpture looked like, but the attitude and demeanor of the two made it believable to me. I know that that is not “scientific,” but that’s my two cents.

  16. swnoel responds:

    And I don’t care how big horned owls get. None of them could be as big as thing apparently is. Or weigh 300-400 pounds, like that woman was told the thing on her roof probably weighed. Whatever this creature is, it is not an owl.cryptidsrus

    Apparently you weren’t paying attention, there is no way those trees could support a 300-400 pound animal as the witness attested. 🙂

  17. mfs responds:

    Not too much enlightening about this weeks program with the exception of “what” created the prints on the snow covered roof. I’ve been to the Pine Barrens on a couple of occasions years back knowing that it was ‘The Jersy Devils’ stomping ground. It did make it spooky.

  18. Gothic_Thylacine responds:

    I am rather annoyed that they even bothered to mention the MM! I mean it had NOTHING to do with the JD, and was an old story that has been explained. It’s over and done with!

    (I kinda felt the same with the Chupacabra episode. Hairless canines are pretty obviously not what they should be looking for)

    I’ll still continue watching because I’m happy these cryptid shows exist. 🙂 But I really hope they improve a bit (I enjoyed the first season greatly!)

  19. Viergacht responds:

    What a shame to do a show on something as interesting as the Jersey Devil and most of it be filled up with unrelated material, like that rotting raccoon carcass “monster”. It’s like doing a show about bigfoot and half of it interviewing Peter Jackson about filming King Kong. Cripes! I doubt I’m going to bother watching this show any more, they’ve continually fumbled the ball.

    They could have gotten a whole good show out of Plum Island alone. Odds are West Nile and Lyme disease both “escaped” there, there’s a history of poor containment of infectious diseases. I guess that’s not scary enough for MQ, though.

  20. wolfatrest responds:

    To me this was one of the more disappointing episodes of MQ. What seemed obvious to me was that there were two people in the woods at night that weren’t comfortable being there. If the woman WAS comfortable she wouldn’t have insisted her 11 year old son accompany her outside to turn off those lights. So you have a woman out in the dark, in the woods, with an impressionable child with her probably already made nervous by his mother’s anxiety. A Great Horned Owl swoops out of the tree probably not coming that close to them and then lands on the house. Of course they were scared, those owls are huge and if there were any lights on, the eyes were probably glowing like the gates of Hell. The police officers estimate of the weight was ridiculous, you can’t estimate weight from tracks on a hard surface with a two inch covering of snow. Even something that weighs only a few pounds will sink to the roof. Snow makes a great insulator, until it is compressed. The compressed snow could have let enough heat from the roof through to melt the depressions causing them to look much bigger than they were originally. They looked exactly like what you’d expect to see from a bird hopping down the roof in order to take off from the edge. Alternatively, perhaps there was a possum on the roof and the owl was actually attacking it and didn’t even notice the people. Their description seemed to match a Great Horned Owl fairly well, as for the size, people tend to see things as bigger than they are, especially if they think they’re being attacked and in the dark. The model made even resembled an owl, all you had to do was replace the bat wings with normal bird wings and you’d have a close match to the owl. I was amazed how much attention was given to this incident when they’re is so much more out there to look at. As for the attempt to photograph an animal during the drive, that was fairly laughable. I’d be willing to bet that there were more deer still in the woods once those guys went through, that simply hunkered down and let them pass. I’ve hunted deer for years and seen them do it many times, especially wily old bucks. So anything that’s been able to hide from man for all these years like the Jersey Devil would certainly have easily avoided the drivers or the guys with the cameras.

  21. springheeledjack responds:

    Like so many of the MQ shows…there is promise, but then they do something goofy…like the Montauk monster thing…sheesh…

    and while I like that they got innovative with the 60 man team, the chances of them actually scaring something out was about a million to one–I mean they were covering like a 4 mile area in the Pine Barrens which is thousands of acres (correct me if I’m wrong…forgot the numbers:)–and so the chances of them getting a creature like that in a small area at that time in order to herd it was about like getting a winning lottery ticket.

    Still, I found the mother/son story convincing and personally, I do not believe it was an owl…both said it was as big as a man, which owls–while they have a pretty good wingspan, do not get the size of a human–and they also described it as dark and having a longer neck, which owls certainly don’t fit the bill on.

    I wish they would have spent more time with their individual sketches instead of the special effects monster guy…as for the rest, I think I knew most of the early history and the early encounters.

    As for the tracks, now it could have been an owl gliding across the top, maybe still in flight, BUT doesn’t prove that it was either.

    Like I have said, I am a harsh critic of this show oftentimes, but at the same time, I am still watching.

  22. tropicalwolf responds:

    Did anyone else notice that the “Artists Rendition” looked almost exactly like a great horned owl? Mutated in the minds of the of witnesses, but a great horned owl all the same. I believe they saw something, but they were admittedly not “outdoor” or “woodsy” folks before moving to the area. Their confusion is understandable.

  23. Dj Plasmic Nebula responds:


    i understand you alot. 🙂

    i have to be on Tropicalwolf side.. if it attacks like an owl, it’s an owl.

    but look, it can be a giant owl. that maybe be from any of the Great Horned Owl species… (unknown owls)… or just a giant owl that’s ancestors are so differen’t then owls known to science.

    like moas, ostriages and flamingos, their fowls but look differen’t.

    Owls can be the same categories as unique owl. cause of it’s features……it can be one of the originators of the great horned owl or a subspeices…

    it can be a bat with a beak.

  24. zwink responds:

    As a member of the family featured on MQ, I wanted to share more of their story. As you all can imagine, only a minute portion of their actual experience made it to air, which is a shame, as there was a lot more to tell. As for the mother not being an outdoorsy person, she most certainly is. She has spent many a night camping in woods in North Jersey, having even lived for years in an insanely remote log cabin in the woods surrounding Greenwood Lake, New York, and has amused us for years with her tales of coming home from work at night around 3 a.m. and hiking thru a trail to her house – no real roads, and encountering bears – trying to discern whether black or brown. Her only inexperience was with the creature she encountered that night. She found it amusing that one theory was an owl. She has always respectfully disagreed with that theory and that biologist, while realizing that most folk prefer to believe women will run shrieking in terror at the site of a mouse. She is humble and never wanted to tell her story. She reluctantly agreed, as she is convinced of the existence of something unknown in the pine barrens. As for the trees not supporting the weight of anything larger than an owl, that too was ruled out by opposite views that the creature was not on a branch. It was in the fork of a huge oak, which most certainly would support substantial weight. Again, all those details and footage were omitted for expediency’s sake, which was this family’s only fear on doing the show – that both sides would be presented fairly, and with counterarguments offered for the viewer. So, the creature was not on a tiny branch. The mother has vast exposure to the outdoors and animals and flora all over New Jersey and back woods of Pennsylvania and New York state. That was why this family moved to this desolate barren area – to be in the middle of the woods. As for her being hysterical and passing anxiety to her son, that is beyond ridiculous. Again, yes, they live in the heart of the pine barrens, and also 5 minutes from the ghettos of Atlantic City. There are animals and there are humans who are far more dangerous than animals. As any true outdoorsman would know, you don’t go dashing into the woods in the middle of the night by yourself – that’s why the family still to this day uses the buddy system. Nobody goes outside, day or night, without someone along. If you ever saw the woods they live in, you wouldn’t find it hysterical. The film crews did not find her hysterical. They hated the place. Its creepy. You’d be in awe that a woman would even care to live there. Yes, the family also believes inserting the MM story was beyond a bad decision by MQ. And the hunt for the creature in broad daylight speaks for itself. So, they came upon request to share their story, and that is all. They only wished more details had been shared which would have validated their experience to the viewers. They certainly shared all details with MQ and a shame they were not included. The family recognized and hoped that the show would have a base of intelligent viewers and were hoping the show would aim its sights on that fan base rather than -whatever. Oh, yes, and the ones who question the beak on the beast. Right, the woman and her son always said they never saw the end of the snout – that was up for interpretation by whoever was interpreting. Its a great story, and I’m glad they shared it though again there was so much more involved. We certainly know now from making this show to viewing it, how much shows can be manipulated or edited, if you will, and will never view any TV shows in the same manner. Take two!

  25. Sissy976 responds:

    Well I’m sorry, but I agree with most of you. I was all excited to see them do a show on the Jersey devil. I couldn’t wait to see it. But it WAS a real let down. I first asked my self why would you look for a creature who normally comes out at night during the day…Come on it’s MONSTER Quest. But maybe most of those people who went was too scared to go out at night. But that was really disappointing. Second, anyone who believe they saw something will always pass a lie detector test. Because THEY BELIEVE they saw something. They don’t know what but but they saw it. That to me doesn’t prove anything. Third yes the MM has nothing to do with the JD. It was just something to waist time. Please don’t tell me that Monster Quest is slipping???? It’s one of my fav shows

  26. swnoel responds:

    The replica made looks like an owl, the animal acts like an owl , sounds like and owl(clicking beak), and flys like an owl… it just maybe an owl.

    I believe both of them really believe they saw something other than an owl, I just believe they’re mistaken.

  27. wolfatrest responds:

    To zwink,
    I don’t doubt for a minute that they are both responsible, honest people. However in the dark, in an environment that is apparently “creepy” it can be easy to panic and make a case of mistaken identity. I personally almost shot a shirt hanging from a door hinge one night because it looked just like 7 foot tall person standing there (long story). Thank goodness no breeze moved it. So in the dark, in the woods, and some unexpected, unknown creature swooping down at you could make even the most unflappable person panic. My brother had a buzzard come swooping down the other day and swears it was dive bombing him, I’m sure it was simply coming down for a closer look at something but he’s convinced it was after him. This was in the middle of the day, imagine if it had happened at night.

  28. zwink responds:

    Hello! Well, certainly the owl theory sounds plausible and when delivered with respect, its easier to accept, but… Its hard for me, as its my relative, so when the criticism sounds harsh and personalized, like this lady is some hysterical housewife, then it hurts and is hurtful. The part that mystifies our family regarding the owl theory – so much was cut from the story, but my mom – oh heck that’s easier, right? Now you know. My mom took the photos of the tracks everywhere to all parks and rangers and game dept people, who were really nice and really wanted to help ID the tracks. My mom never thought JD – she thought some local animal that she had never seen and wanted to identify so she knew how cautious we needed to be, or not at all. Not one ranger in our region or anywhere on the internet ever ID’d owl. The rangers also asked her permission to send the tracks out via internet nationwide for help. So many did help, but not 1 person ever ID’d owl. Actually, 75% of the ID was that of a cougar, or a pair of hunting cougars. That was actually the majority opinion with the other 25% implying you-know-what. Never bird. The tracks were pristine, they weren’t melting for days as implied. So, even if it was an owl and hopped, do owls really hop 4 foot strides? If they do, that’s great. Again, my mom just wants to know what it was, and the owl theory does have points that fit, but what size owl? The biologist had a little horned owl stuffed, and he was a tiny bird in comparison. Another police officer came out to the house on other occasions, as this thing does land on our roof now and again. Not often, and it only happens during certain weather patterns, but when this certain animal lands on the roof, our entire house shakes or settles when it lands. We have a mid-size ranch house, granted not anything grand, but what could be heavy enough to make the house shake when it hits? This one policeman felt that it was a huge owl – he used a term that we forgot – something like a barn owl but a capital B, like a name, like Burn owl. He said it has easily a 6 foot wing span, is native to our area, and can actually really do damage when striking a human in the head. He advised us never to bring our garbage cans to the street at night, as it could easily mistake us as prey and do a lot of damage. But we were never able to find any info on this owl. We’ve even seen local owls at night, and they’re cute. They’re owls. So, owl theory is fine. My mom is accepting of anything, but I guess I’m not when people try to analyze something from a belittling perspective. Obviously it was something big enough to warrant interest and pass the test of lots of officials who still deemed it unidentifiable. Guess for now we’ll never know.

  29. swnoel responds:

    If you saw this animal , at night , with shadows and the such…

    It might just look alot ominous than it is.

    These birds are night feeders and could it be possible, that you have opossums , skunks, and racoons raiding you garbage at night.

    I’m not attempting to belittle anyone, just attempting to make some sense out of this experience.

  30. Sissy976 responds:

    Trust me Zwink you can tell a difference from an owl or a unidentified monster. I believe you guys , that you saw something. And I would assume that being out in the country like that you would know animals that are native to your area. Have you tried to put out camera traps? Night camera? I think that would be cool. I wish I live where you did!! I just don’t like how monster quest went about your story it could have been done better. Much better. The JD is just something that will never be explain. Everyone needs to remember the discovery of the mountain gorillas. Nobody believed the tribes that there was a ape that large or the stories they had. Until someone documented it. Oh and look at all the new species they are finding in the ocean. Not even far out in the ocean but right under our noses. We’ll never run out of finding new species( sadly just lose the ones) You never know what we can find out there. good luck!!!

  31. CryptidHuntr responds:

    Hey steele79,

    The devil jersey couldn’t possibly be a hammerhead bat. It’s way too cold for them and the survive on fruit and there aren’t any natural fruit-bearing trees in New Jersey.

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