Pterodactyl-Like Cryptid Witnessed Near The Pine Barrens
I received the following information today. Could it be the 'Jersey Devil'?:
Hey, I stumbled upon your site cause I been searching for what I just seen for like 2 hours and have no luck. I live in South Jersey in a somewhat wooded area, very calm and normal small town. Anyway, today in the car on the way to the store I was looking at the sky. It was about 7 or 8 at night and I seen this strange thing in the sky. It had huge wings like a bat, it was like a dark brown color. There was no feathers at ALL. The body was black, with short or no hair. It had a very slim body and a small tail. The thing about this bat creature was it's size. It was bigger then a hawk. And in my town, we always see hawks so I'm used to seeing them. I'm also used to seeing bats. This creature flapped it's wings slowly but the bats here usually flap their wings fast? That's the strange part for me. I could've sworn it was pterodactyl! No one believes me! I just need to know what the hell I seen! Please help!
I contacted the witness for more specific information...and received the following:
Thanks for responding! And I live in Voorhees, New Jersey. 15 minutes from Cherry Hill. Not too far from The Pine Barrens, isn't that where the Jersey Devil is considered to be? And from what I heard, the Jersey Devil has like hooves and I this creature didn't have any. Maybe I'm wrong. But anyway, this thing flew pretty low and I didn't get to see its face. I know it's wings had no feathers or anything. It flew at a fast speed even it's wings were flapping slow. That's all the details I can get for seeing it before it flew away.
So...what did the witness see? Here are a few tidbits in reference to the Jersey Devil:
It prowls desolate, forested parts of southern New Jersey, killing livestock, leaving behind odd footprints and filling the night air with chilling sounds.
At least that's how legend and folklore describe the creature known as the Jersey Devil. (Not to be confused, by the way, with the New Jersey Devils, the professional hockey franchise named after the legendary creature.)
At the Paranormal Museum in Asbury Park, N.J., a recently opened exhibit features a variety of artifacts, including reproductions of a Jersey Devil skull, drawings and relics.
Museum owner Kathy Kelly says the story most associated with the Jersey Devil involved a woman who, in the 1700s, prayed for her 13th child to be born a devil. "Shortly after the child was born," says Kelly, "he transformed into a creature that was twice the size of a full-grown man, with cloven feet, wings and talons for hands, and he killed the midwife and then flew off into the Pinelands, where he has terrorized people ever since," according to the story.
The Pinelands area of New Jersey, according to the National Park Service, was established in 1978 as the country's first national reserve, covering more than a million acres of farms, forests and wetlands -- a perfect environment for an unknown animal to hide in.
Archaeologist Paula Perrault has seen alleged Jersey Devil skulls with both straight and curved horns, and says the Pinelands has a history of "genetic malformations, even in mammals, serpents and humans. A lot of the portrayals in any culture seem to define evil as a serpent crossed with something else -- it's never just a serpent."
Some animals of this Garden State location have been found with abnormalities, including odd colorations, extra appendages and even lizards with extra heads.
From an archaeological perspective, Perrault speculates that there is "some kind of mineral deposit in the area, made up of heavy metal that could be one thing that might cause genetic differences."
Later this year, Perrault plans to trace the various trails along New Jersey's Route 30, where "supposedly there are many petroglyphs [rock carvings dating back thousands of years], and some of them lost over time, where Native Americans depicted an entity that has reptilian features."
"There may or may not be a Jersey Devil creature," says Angus Gillespie, a professor of American studies at Rutgers University in New Jersey. "But from a folkloristic standpoint, it's a fact that the story exists -- this story has been in oral circulation in south Jersey ever since 1735," making it possibly the oldest reported "monster" in America.
Gillespie says many people are reluctant to step forward with their belief for fear of ridicule. He cites a 1909 episode of a number of sightings in the Camden County area.
"Strange tracks were found in the snow, and as a result of these sightings, teams of illustrators and reporters were sent out from various Philadelphia newspapers -- no photographers, just illustrators.
"Apparently, these urbanized city-slicker reporters took a satirical and patronizing attitude and wrote disparagingly of it and illustrated it with cartoon-like characters," Gillespie says. "The New Jersey residents reacted, saying, 'Well, if we're going to be ridiculed, we're just not going to talk about it to outsiders.'"
So what exactly are we dealing with here? It kind of depends on a combination of legendary stories, science and your personal point of view.
Kelly, who also owns Paranormal Books & Curiosities in Asbury Park, says there are two schools of thought about the creature. "You have the kind of paranormal, supernatural idea, which suggests that this is actually the son of the devil. And the other possibility is that this is some sort of mutated animal that has not yet been identified by science."
Perrault agrees, saying, "I think it's an animal that's been deformed in some way. There's a lot of things we haven't seen -- just because you don't see it doesn't mean it's not there."
As she tries to piece together the puzzle of what this particular animal may turn out to be, Perrault doesn't rule out the possibility that it could be an aberration of a quite normal animal.
"From the size, and from the reported physical appearances throughout the ages, I would say it might be a deer, based on the reported skulls, the hooves and the bone structure," she says.
The archaeologist adds that if the Jersey Devil is, in fact, a family of deformed deer that has terrorized New Jersey citizens for centuries, there's a simple answer to why it's been reported as standing up to 8 feet tall on two legs.
"If you go into the woods and come across deer and startle them, they'll stand up on their back feet and get ready to run, and if you find a deer that's injured, he will paw at you and try to attack you," Perrault says.
So if you happen to see a deer in the dark and are frightened by its curved or spiked horns, you may just be misinterpreting something in the shadows or moonlight.
Folklorist Gillespie acknowledges that one of the problems of trying to prove the existence of the Jersey Devil is the lack of any photographic evidence.
"We don't have a photograph, bones, fur, droppings -- there's an absence of hard data," he says. "But the absence of positive proof does not prove the lack of existence of the creature, philosophically. It's just that we may have missed him."
The Mystery of the Pine Barrens
Previously posted 1/29/2013
On January 21, 2013, I appeared as a guest on Unknown Origins Radio with hosts Mark Johnson & Loren DePinto. The show concentrated on Bigfoot and cryptids...but there was a brief discussion on the Pine Barrens, NJ and the Jersey Devil. I was asked for my opinion of the creature and if I had received sighting reports related to the beast. Most of the reports I have received were confidential, though I have received reports of other phenomena in the Pine Barrens. There is a stigma attached to the Jersey Devil...people are wary of reporting sightings of this creature (though I think it may be more supernatural than flesh & blood). I'm not sure if the reluctance is because of the fear of ridicule or that the legend has some ominous bearing to it. Anyway, I'm going to offer a brief synopsis of the legend then add a few reports from the area.
According to the legend, Mrs. Jane Leeds came from a poor family who stretched out an existence in the Pine Barrens, a rugged place with vast forests, sandy soil and patches of swamp. In 1735, Mrs. Leeds discovered that she was pregnant with her 13th child. She complained to her friends and relatives that the “Devil can take the next one”, and he did. When the baby was born, he was simply described as a monster. He immediately took on a grotesque appearance and grew to more than 20 feet long, with a reptilian body, a horse’s head, bat wings and a long, forked tail. He thrashed about the Leeds home for a bit and then vanished up the chimney. The creature, or the 'Jersey Devil' as he was dubbed, began haunting the Pine Barrens.
As the legend spread, even grown men declined to venture out at night. It was said that the beast carried off large dogs, geese, cats, small livestock and even occasional children. The children were never seen again, but the animal remains were often found. The Devil was also said to dry up the milk of cows by breathing on them and to kill off the fish in the streams, threatening the livelihood of the entire region.
In 1740, the frightened residents begged a local minister to exorcize the creature and the stories stated that the exorcism would last 100 years, however the Devil returned to the Pine Barrens on at least two occasions before the century was over. It is said that naval hero Commodore Stephen Decatur visited the Hanover Iron Works in the Barrens in 1800 to test the plant’s cannonballs. One day on the firing range, he noticed a strange creature winging overhead. Taking aim, he fired at the monster and while some say that his shot struck it, the Devil continued on its path.
The second sighting took place a few years later and this time the Devil was seen by another respected witness. Joseph Bonaparte, the former king of Spain and the brother of Napoleon, leased a country house near Bordertown from 1816 to 1839. He reported seeing the Jersey Devil while hunting game one day in the Pine Barrens.
In 1840, as the minister warned, the Devil returned and brought terror to the region once again. It snatched sheep from their pens and preyed on children who lingered outside after sunset. People all across South Jersey locked their doors and hung a lantern on the doorstep, hoping to keep the creature away.
The stories continued to be told and the lore of the Devil was recalled throughout the 1800’s, although actual sightings of the creature were few. Then, in 1909, the Jersey Devil returned again and literally thousands of people spotted the monster or saw his footprints. It became so bad that schools closed and people refused to go outside.
A police officer named James Sackville spotted the monster while walking his beat one night. He was passing along a dark alley when a winged creature hopped into the street and let out a horrific scream. Sackville fired his revolver at the beast but it spread its wings and vanished into the air.
On January 19, 1909, Mr. and Mrs. Nelson Evans were awakened in the early morning by the sound of a large animal on the roof of their shed. They described it as: “about three and a half feet high, with a face like a collie and a head like a horse. It had a long neck, wings about two feet long and its back legs were like those of a crane and it had horse’s hooves. It walked on its back legs and held up two short front legs with paws on them.”
One afternoon of that same week, a Mrs. J.H, White was taking clothes off her line when she noticed a strange creature huddled in the corner of her yard. She screamed and fainted and her husband rushed out the back door to find his wife on the ground and the Devil close by, “spurting flames”. She chased the monster with a clothesline prop and it leapt over the fence and vanished.
A short time later, the creature struck again. This time, it attacked a dog belonging to Mrs. Mary Sorbinski in south Camden. When she heard the cry of her pet in the darkness, she dashed outside and drove the Devil away with a broom. The creature fled, but not before tearing a chunk of flesh from the dog. Mrs. Sorbinski carried her wounded pet inside and immediately called the police.
By the time that patrolmen arrived, a crowd of more than 100 people were gathered at the house. The crowd was witness to the piercing screams that suddenly erupted from nearby. The police officers emptied their revolvers at the shadow that loomed against the night sky, but the Devil escaped once again.
Eyewitness accounts of the Devil filled the newspapers, as well as photos and reports of cloven footprints that had been found in yards, woods and parking lots. The Philadelphia Zoo offered a $10,000 reward for the capture of the Devil, but there were no takers.
Then, as suddenly as it had come, the Devil vanished again.
The creature did not return again until 1927. A cab driver was changing a tire one night while headed for Salem. He had just finished when his car began shaking violently. He looked up to see a gigantic, winged figure pounding on the roof of his car. The driver, leaving his jack and flat tire behind, jumped into the car and quickly drove away. He reported the encounter to the Salem police.
In August 1930, berry pickers at Leeds Point and Mays Landing reported seeing the Devil, crashing through the fields and devouring blueberries and cranberries. It was reported again two weeks later to the north and then it disappeared again.
In November 1951, a group of children were allegedly cornered by the Devil at the Duport Clubhouse in Gibbstown. The creature bounded away without hurting anyone but reports claimed that it was spotted by dozens of witnesses before finally vanishing again.
Sightings continued here and there for years and then peaked once more in 1960 when bloodcurdling cries terrorized a group of people near Mays Landing. State officials tried to calm the nervous residents but no explanation could be found for the weird sounds. Policemen nailed signs and posters everywhere stating that the Jersey Devil was a hoax, but curiosity-seekers flooded into the area anyway. Harry Hunt, who owned the Hunt Brothers Circus, offered $100,000 for the capture of the beast, hoping to add it to his sideshow attractions. Needless to say, the monster was never snared.
The most recent sighting of the creature was said to have been in 1993 when a forest ranger named John Irwin was driving along the Mullica River in southern New Jersey. He was startled to find the road ahead of him blocked by the Jersey Devil. He described it as being about six-feet tall with horns and matted black fur. Could this have been the reported Jersey Devil - or some other creature altogether? Irwin stated that he and the creature stared at one another for several minutes before the monster finally turned and ran into the forest.
The lack of proof of the monster’s existence in these modern times leads many to believe the Devil was nothing more than a creation of New Jersey folklore.
If it was merely a myth, then how do we explain the sightings of the creature and the witness accounts from reliable persons like businessmen, police officers and even public officials? They are not easy to dismiss as hearsay or the result of heavy drinking. Could the Jersey Devil have been real after all? And if so, is it still out there in the remote regions of the Pine Barrens - just waiting to be found? - Weird N.J.: Your Travel Guide to New Jersey's Local Legends and Best Kept Secrets / prairieghosts.com / americanfolklore.net
In Freehold, New Jersey, in 2007, a woman supposedly saw a huge creature with bat-like wings near her home. In August of the same year, a young man driving home near the border of Mount Laurel and Moorestown, New Jersey reported a similar sighting. He claimed that he spotted a "a creature resembling a gargoyle with enormous bat-like wings" perched in some trees near the road.
On January 23, 2008 the Jersey Devil was spotted again this time in Litchfield, Pennsylvania by a local resident that claims to have seen the creature come barreling out of the roof of his barn.
On January 19th, 2009, nearly 100 years after the frequent Jersey Devil sightings, a local New Jersey citizen from Swedesboro claimed to have seen the Jersey Devil. He was driving towards Woodstown at night and saw a large creature fly in front of his car. At first he thought it was a deer, so he slammed on the brakes, then he realized that the creature was flying and was much larger than a deer. The shape of the creature was unclear. The creature swiftly flew across the street and disappeared into the darkness of the woods.
In September 2009, a young man driving home on Interstate 80 near Parsippany, NJ claims spotting what he saw as "a black long-necked creature with a long tail" run across the road, and disappear into the darkness on the other side of the road. - The Jersey DevilJERSEY DEVIL?
Location/Date: Near Trenton, New Jersey - March 4, 2002 - near midnight
Several witnesses were camping outside of town and late at night one of them was attempting to put out the bonfire when he heard the most awful and horrifying scream. It resembled that of an injured dog crossed with a scream of a woman. The witness dropped the flashlight and was joined by another witness.
Suddenly out of the woods a hideous and gruesome creature appeared. It did not look human, somewhat satyr-like in appearance and walked on two legs. It had a long tail like a dragon and wings like those unicorns in fantasy books. The beast took several steps towards the witnesses. One of them picked up and yelled at it and then shone his flashlight at it. The creature then turned towards the bushes and ran away from the area.
Source: Mystical Universe
NOTE: this report is similar to other 'Jersey Devil' reports though, Trenton is quite a distance from the Pine Barrens area where most sightings have been reported.
Tales Of The Jersey DevilPhantom of the Pines: More Tales of the Jersey DevilThe Pine BarrensGhost Towns And Other Quirky Places in the New Jersey Pine BarrensVoices in the Pines: True Stories from the New Jersey Pine Barrens
ADDENDUM: The last time I was in New Jersey for an extended period attached to the SITU, in the mid-1980s, there were a couple of reports of specifically giant bats, specifically at least the size of flying fox bats, then in circulation. These would have originated from the area immediately north of the Pine Barrens. Although witnesses were frightened there was no talk of creatures killing any livestock or pets at the time.-DD