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Lair of the Beasts: Freaks of Nature
Monsters or Malformations?
By Nick Redfern
August 21, 2010
Close Encounters of the Mutant Kind.
Well, last week’s post about the so-called Houston, Texas Batman resulted in nearly 20 emails being sent to me by people either commenting on the article or, in two cases, reporting on hitherto-unknown sightings of the beast and its nighttime flights around Houston.
But, asked one writer, is this the strangest creature ever reported from within the confines of the Lone Star State? Well, I can say with absolute certainty that, no, it’s not! For example, some very strange creatures, far stranger than the Houston Batman, were described in a number of Texas newspapers way back in the 19th Century.
First, we have this memorable, yet very odd, tale from the Galveston Daily News of May 17, 1883: “A reporter observed a photographer this morning, with his battery planted in front of Mr. Baldwin’s City Livery stable, on Fannin Street, and immediately went for an item, and got what he went for. The artist was taking the counterfeit presentment of a mule, or jennet that presents a freak of nature, as strange as we ever saw in a menagerie or a museum.
“It is natural enough in its general build, proportions, and appearances, but its two fore feet are shaped like human feet or rather like a pair of India rubber slippers, and its hind feet are about eighteen inches long, and project in a spiral coil, and look like a compromise between a ram’s horn and an elephant’s trunk. While the reporter was there, Dr. D.F. Stuart came up and examined the animal, and joined in the general idea that it is a strange freak of nature. We understand that the proprietors of several northern museums have written to Mr. Baldwin to know what he will take for his remarkable mule.”
Then we have this one, extracted from the pages of the March 24, 1884 edition of the Galveston Daily News: “Eagle Pass, ‘human deformity’, local physician – This curiosity is three days old, weighs five and a half pounds, has a well developed head, but no sign of hair, and when viewing it in a dark room with a lighted lamp it seems to be perfectly transparent, an object on the opposite side of the head being easily distinguished, and what appears to be the brain is constantly moving, not even ceasing when the child appears to be sleeping.
“The body, as low down to the hips is well developed and symmetrically formed, but the legs, feet, arms and hands have the exact counterparts of the centipede, the fingers and toes resembling the claws of one of those reptiles, and are of a fleshy substance, but have been growing harder ever since birth. The toes and fingers are also transparent, being of a light reddish color, and are ever and often on the move. Should this nondescript live, it will prove to be the greatest curiosity ever known to anatomy.”
Also from the very same newspaper, but of May 31, 1884 – comes this unusual story: “A natural monstrosity, in the shape of a young calf with seven legs and eight feet, was being exhibited today as a natural curiosity. The animal was born dead several miles from the city.”
And then we have yet another from, yep, you guessed it, the Galveston Daily News; but dated June 7, 1885: “Mr. W.H. Bailey, of the Herald, has brought to light a strange specimen of malformation. This is his description of it: A most wonderful curiosity in the shape of a pig with a head something like a dog’s and a tail resembling that of a horse, was thrown to a reporter of the Herald this morning. This strange monstrosity is about a week old and is in a healthy condition. It belongs to an old colored woman named Martha Simpson, living in the Fourth Ward, south. A number of people visited her house yesterday to get a glimpse of the animal.”
And, from the San Antonio Light of March 20, 1888, we get the following account from Weatherford: “A monstrosity was born in Parker County a few days ago, that seemed to be part pig, part elephant and part human. It only lived a few minutes, but is preserved in alcohol, and can be seen in Weatherford.”
Of course, in reality, most of these cases can probably be explained as tragic, albeit very strange, human mutations. But, they do serve to demonstrate that some very strange creatures have been reported in Texas – and, no, I don’t just mean me!
Nick Redfern is the author of many books, including the forthcoming Final Events and The NASA Conspiracies.