On January 5, DN noted this piece in the Strange Remains – Strange creature reported in Carmel area – The Highland County Press – Hillsboro, Ohio.
Ron McGlone, an investigator with Mutual UFO Network (MUFON), said “The witness was driving near Carmel on Dec. 12, 2014, came up over a hill and saw a 7′ tall slim, gray creature with muscular legs that walked like its knees were backwards.
The thing was described as an “alien”: Alien Encounter in Cincinnati, Ohio, United States on December 12th 2014.
There was little to go on but it was interesting and started some speculation. Upon discussion in Group of Fort, a Fortean/strange news discussion list I started on Facebook, wildlife biologist Kurt Broz provided Doubtful News with an educated guess on what this “alien” might have been. We are very pleased to welcome his contribution.
By Kurt Broz
While the description of the thing does sound like a hideous creature from the game Silent Hill, I propose a very normal explanation. Assuming that the witness actually saw something, and that the description matches what the witness saw, my educated guess is that the witness saw a very real animal acting in a way that, while not peculiar, isn’t something most people commonly observe. It was a white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) walking on its rear legs.
Deer are extremely common across all of Ohio. The US has about 30 million white-tailed deer and around 152,000 deer were taken by hunters last year in Ohio. Scaling up, Ohio might have one million deer. But the key issue here, is how it was moving. I have only ever seen a wild deer walk on its hind legs once and a few times in captive animals.
Darren Naish, of the Tetzoo blog and podcast, recently had a great article summarizing bipedality in deer. Deer will rear up and even walk on two legs for a few reasons, mostly relating to male competition or reaching food. They don’t normally walk that far but there’s no reason to assume a male couldn’t at least appear to have walked upright as far as the witness claims.
If you look at any picture of a deer rearing up, you’ll notice a few crucial details that match the claims of the witness. It would appear lean from the side, would be about 7 ft. tall or so, could appear grayish, and would appear to be walking on “reversed” legs. To really get an idea of how strange this can look, check out this picture of an antelope called the gerenuk (Litocranius walleri), a related even-toed ungulate that has adapted to spend much of its feeding time on two legs.
A few people have proposed the creature may have been some kind of bird. The most obvious answer would be a great blue heron (Ardea herodias) or an egret. Both walk in a similar fashion to the “creature” seen by the witness but egrets do not normally overwinter in Ohio and are small, whitish birds. A great blue heron would certainly match the color of asphalt gray mentioned by the wife of the witness but would not be anywhere near 7 ft. tall. Based on what I know of their behavior, I would also assume you wouldn’t find one running across a field quickly. They tend to walk slowly in a bobbing manner or to fly. The great blue heron might be responsible for some mysterious flying creature sightings, but that’s another story…
Maybe it was an emu, rhea, or ostrich? They could certainly match the color, general height, and weird leg hinging, but they are a bit bulkier. The nearest farm I could find that might raise any of these species (Willow Springs Ostrich Farm) is about 174 miles away. Any escapees would have to pass through Columbus and the freeways around it, and I couldn’t find any recent ostrich sightings. There are quite a few zoos in Ohio, but none appear to have lost a large ratite.
Many people aren’t familiar with wildlife and the sometimes bizarre behavior they exhibit. Even some familiar species have amazing behaviors that even people who spend their lives researching them may be unaware of and that may go against their general appearance. The classic example of this is that your regular domestic goat is an excellent climber and in some areas may spend significant time doing that. By simply not being familiar with the natural world, many regular animals and normal behaviors become strange and seemingly supernatural. A great place to start your skepticism on a bizarre claim, such as the sighting of an alien creature, is by asking simply what animals are going to be found where the sighting took place and what behavior might match what the witness saw.
In this case, I don’t think alien was the best conclusion.