Posted by: Loren Coleman on July 23rd, 2007
For those readers who are keen observers, you will note that archival material is posted ahead of time to be published days later to Cryptomundo when I travel on short trips or long ones. Over the weekend, I was up the Coast of Maine, far from broadband internet access. Here’s part of what happened…
Cryptozoologist speaks at Fort Knox fair
Prospect [Maine] – Loren Coleman is not the typical hunter you might find stalking prey in the Maine woods.
He’s not out to shoot anything, at least not with a gun. He’s a cryptozoologist who tries to determine the validity of mysterious animal sightings, so if he’s armed with anything, it’s likely to be a camera.
On Sunday, however, he wasn’t stalking anything, with the possible exception of a few extra sales of books he has written about Bigfoot sightings and other creatures of legend. He was a featured speaker at Fort Knox, which was host to a weekend fair for paranormal practices and disciplines such as cryptozoology, dowsing and psychic mediums.
Coleman, a Portland resident, is recognized as an expert in cryptozoology and has taught a course on the subject at the University of Southern Maine. For Mainers who may not know much about the field, which some say is more mythology than science, Coleman’s name might be familiar from a Maine story that made headlines last year.
His name appeared in news stories worldwide when he was consulted by reporters who wanted to know what he thought of a black, doglike beast that was found dead in Turner last August.
Coleman said he went to Turner to see the remains of the animal after it had been hacked at by other animals and human treasure hunters.
“I immediately said, ‘This is a dog,’” Coleman said outside the fort’s visitors center. The long hair that had been photographed on its tail and its uncut claws helped disguise the fact that it likely was a feral chow, he said. Later DNA testing confirmed the animal was indeed a dog.
But Coleman’s skepticism does not extend to reports of sightings of some sort of black predator that has mauled dogs in rural Maine. He said obvious differences between the dead animal and physical descriptions given of the sightings support the case that there is something out there in the Maine woods.
“I thought it reinforced them,” he said.
Coleman said there have been several reported mystery-beast sightings in Maine that can be grouped into three categories.
One is reports of black panthers or mountain lions, which he thinks helped fuel speculation about the dog in Turner. People, some as far east as Waldo County, have reported that some sort of black beast has killed dogs and sheep, but scurried away before it could be seen clearly.
Another is his specialty, which is Bigfoot sightings. He knows a man in Sidney who sends him plaster casts of supposed Bigfoot footprints, but he is [somewhat] skeptical of them, he said. [Nevertheless, there is a long tradition of Native traditions of Bigfoot-like encounters with the Windigo.]
. . .
The third is reports of sea serpents. Dating back 10 years or more, there have been sightings of such creatures in the Mount Desert Island area, in Penobscot Bay, and even within the past few decades in Casco Bay, he said.
He said one person reported seeing a creature in Casco Bay in the 1960s that was about 40 feet long that turned its head every time a nearby fog horn sounded.
“If someone’s making up a tale, you don’t think in that kind of detail,” he said.
Coleman said the sea creatures likely are intelligent and keep away from major shipping lanes.
“Nowadays. they are like highways out there,” he said. “You don’t get as many sightings as you used to.”
Leon Seymour, executive director of Friends of Fort Knox, said Sunday that there is nothing about the historic fort that is believed to have any psychic or paranormal significance. The reason for the fair, he said, is simply to give people extra incentive to visit the fort so they can learn a little about local history. It’s really no different from the Scottish festival held at the fort last weekend or the Civil War re-enactment coming up next weekend, he said.