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Things Could Be Worse – Crocodiles Once Ran Upright On Two Legs

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Things Could Be Worse – Crocodiles Once Ran Upright on Two Legs
Photo Credit: Anthony Romilio/The University of Queensland

Paul SeaburnGuest Writer

Welcome to another edition of “Things Could Be Worse!” Today’s subject: crocodiles. These leftovers from the age of dinosaurs are already feared across Africa and India, in northern Australia, parts of the southern U.S. and other swampy areas. With saltwater crocodiles reaching lengths over 23 feet and well known for attacking and killing humans – sometimes in teams — they’ve earned their fearsome reputation. But, as the title suggests, things could be worse.

“We can see all the digits, all the ridges in the skin – just as if you were looking at your hands. They put one foot in front of another; they could pass a sobriety test walking on a straight line. And there are no front footprints.”

Martin Lockley, an emeritus professor at the University of Colorado, was interviewed by BBC News about his new study (with photos and illustrations),  published in Scientific Reports, on prehistoric crocodylomorph footprints discovered in southeast South Korea. Crocodylomorphs are the extinct ancestors of modern crocs and were much more numerous and diverse than their descendants. And yet, the South Korean fossil tracks from the Early Cretaceous, 110-120 million years ago, were something archeologists had never seen before.

“Our trackways are very narrow-looking – more like a crocodile balancing on a tight-rope,” he remarked. When combined with the lack of any tail-drag marks, it became clear that these creatures were moving bipedally.”

Preserved in the rock: The smaller toes are actually the inside digits of the feet

Bipedal crocodiles! Professor Kyung Soo Kim from South Korea’s Chinju National University of Education, team leader and co-author, says the most telling point was that the prints were deep, indicating all of the creature’s weight was pressing down on them. Add that to no front footprints and you have a new species of crocodylomorph that is now named Batrachopus grandis. A bipedal crocodile – imagine that. And then … it gets worse.

South Korea has a huge diversity of fossils trackways - but relatively few fossil bones
South Korea has a huge diversity of fossils trackways – but relatively few fossil bones

“They were giants. Nobody expected such large bipedal crocs. But, like a carnivorous dinosaur, they could also have hunted in shallow water. They likely ate whatever was available.”

Fortunately, humans weren’t available at the time because crocodylomorphs grew up to 12 meters (39 feet) in length. The ability to run on two legs may have given them more speed and range, and this new information has caused other researchers to question other tracks that were assumed to be from bird-like raptors. Now they must consider croc-like raptors – a much scarier movie premise. Being good scientists, Lockley and the team admit that this is a lot to assume based on just tracks and that more could be learned – or disproven – with bones and other remains.

Thirty-nine foot bipedal crocodiles. Working at home or wearing a mask doesn’t seem to bad now, does it?

Recommended Articles by Paul Seaburn
About the Author

Paul Seaburn is the editor at Mysterious Universe and its most prolific writer. He’s written for TV shows such as “The Tonight Show”, “Politically Incorrect” and an award-winning children’s program. He’s been published in “The New York Times” and “Huffington Post” and has co-authored numerous collections of trivia, puzzles and humour. His “What in the World!” podcast is a fun look at the latest weird and paranormal news, strange sports stories and odd trivia. Paul likes to add a bit of humour to each MU post he crafts. After all, the mysterious doesn’t always have to be serious.

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History

Shadows Of The Dead: Anglo-Saxon Burials Are Spooky Sand Silhouettes

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Shadows of the Dead: Anglo-Saxon Burials are Spooky Sand Silhouettes
Photo Credit: Suffolk County Council

Archaeologists in Britain have uncovered a remarkable Anglo-Saxon burial ground that dates back to the 6th or 7th century AD. This Anglo-Saxon burial site is rather unusual as it consists of spooky silhouettes of the deceased in the sandy soil. The skeletons have long since disappeared. It is believed that this eerie site can help historians to better understand the early Anglo-Saxons and the world-famous burials at Sutton Hoo.

The Anglo-Saxon cemetery was found in Oulton, near Lowestoft, in Suffolk, in southern England. Some land was being cleared for agricultural use when it was uncovered. Experts working with Archaeological Solutions Ltd began to investigate the site and what they found was astonishing. They uncovered an intact Anglo-Saxon burial that is at least 1400 years old.

Shadows of the Dead in the Earth

Some 200 graves were found and they included both cremations and burials. The Daily Mail reports that ‘due to the acidity of the soil and the poor preservation methods used upon entombment, no bones remain, just shadow-like ‘sand silhouettes’ of the skeletons.’

Some 200 Anglo-Saxon graves have been found, including cremations and burials. (Suffolk County Council)

Anything organic has disappeared, but the impression of many of the deceased has been preserved in the sandy soil. Andrew Peachey, who led the dig, is quoted by Archaeology saying that “Due to the highly acidic soil the skeletons had mostly vanished and were luckily preserved as fragile shapes and shadows in the sand.”

This is a phenomenon that isn’t found elsewhere. Peachey is quoted by the Smithsonian as saying that “These shadows also revealed traces of the wooden coffins that some of the individuals were buried in.” The impression, or shadows, have been studied in-situ.

The graves once contained some of the earliest Anglo-Saxons who lived in England. They were a Germanic tribe who originated in Germany or Denmark and who settled on the island after the fall of the Western Roman Empire, and eventually laid the foundation for the modern English nation.

Carefully excavating the Anglo-Saxon burial ground. (Suffolk County Counci)
Remarkable Anglo-Saxon Burial Goods

Among the objects found were personal decorations including brooches, wrist clasps, and amber and glass beads. A number of knives, coins, weapons, and a shield, were also found. Remarkably, some organic remains such as leather and textiles were also discovered. Peachey is quoted by the Daily Mail as saying that “Unusually, many of the graves also included fragments of pottery and decorated pots.”

Many of the graves included fragments of pottery and decorated pots. (Suffolk County Council)

These finds were very fragile and if removed they could disintegrate. So, the archaeologists took them out of the earth in the block of earth. The Smithsonian reports Peachey as saying that “Many of the artefacts were so fragile they had to be block lifted for micro-excavation in the labs at Norfolk Museum Service for analysis and conservation.”

The Anglo-Saxon Community

The Anglo-Saxon burial ground had contained the remains of men, women, and children. It is believed that they all came from several generations of a farming community. This discovery is a wonderful opportunity to understand the lives of ordinary people in Anglo-Saxon times. The BBC quoted a Suffolk Archaeological Service statement that “studies would help establish the graveyard’s links to other local sites.” There are several other significant Anglo-Saxon sites in this part of England.

Studying the artifacts found in the Anglo-Saxon burials provides a wonderful opportunity to understand the lives of ordinary people who lived during that time. (Suffolk County Council)

The BBC reports Suffolk Archaeology Service as stating that the site “lies within the Kingdom of the East Angles, made famous by the royal burial ground at nearby Sutton Hoo.” This Anglo-Saxon site is located near Woodbridge, Suffolk. In 1939, archaeologists excavated two burial mounds from the 6th and 7th century AD and found an intact ship burial.

Treasures of Sutton Hoo

It is believed that King Rædwald of East Anglia was laid to rest in the vessel found in the mound. Most of the ship’s wood has long since decayed in the acidic soil, but its outline was found. As a result, according to the Daily Mail the vessel found in the mound is often called a ‘ghost ship.’

Many treasures were found in the royal burial and they included an ornately decorated full-faced helmet, a shield, a sword, and many precious examples of metalwork. These are now all on exhibit in the British Museum. There has been some controversy over who should be credited with the amazing discoveries at Sutton Hoo, and this was the subject of a 2020 movie called The Dig.

Studies are ongoing at the Suffolk site, with the ghostly graves and the results will be compared with other Anglo-Saxon burial sites. A Suffolk county council spokesman is quoted by the Daily Mail as saying that “This is a nationally significant discovery and continues to show what a historic place Suffolk is.” It is hoped that many of the grave goods retrieved from the sandy soil will eventually go on display in a local museum.

This article (Shadows of the Dead: Anglo-Saxon Burials are Spooky Sand Silhouettes) was originally created for Ancient Origins and is published here under Creative Commons.

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History

The Legendary Isle Of Es Vedra: Atlantis, The Odyssey And A Magnetic Attraction For UFO Sightings

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Collective Spark The Legendary Isle Of Es Vedra
Photo Credit: Getty

Es Vedra is a small island situated off the Spanish island of Ibiza. Unlike Ibiza, which is a popular tourist destination, Es Vedra is uninhabited. This is one of the factors contributing to the island’s rich wildlife. Apart from being notable for its flora and fauna, Es Vedra is also the subject of many legends. Most famously, the island has been associated with the legendary sunken civilisation of Atlantis. In addition, Es Vedra has been connected with Homer’s Odyssey, and sightings of UFOs hovering over the island have been claimed by many.

The island of Es Vedra is located in the Western Mediterranean, about 32 km (2 miles) off the western coast of Ibiza. Consisting primarily of limestone, the highest point of this small island is just over 400 meters (1310 feet) above sea level. Es Vedra is part of the Cala d’Hort Natural Reserve, and boasts an abundance of wildlife. The island is home to a sub-species of Ibiza wall lizard, in addition to several species of endangered birds, and up to 166 rare plant species.

Es Vedra’s Atlantis Legend

Whilst Es Vedra is renowned for its wildlife, it is even more noteworthy for being a site of great mystery. Although many legends have been connected with the island, arguably the best-known of all is that of Atlantis. It has been claimed that Es Vedra is in fact the tip of this lost civilisation, the only part that remained above the water after the island sank into the sea. One possible explanation for this connection is that the island is located close to the sandstone quarry of Sa Pedrera (on Ibiza), which had been given the name Atlantis by hippies living in a huge natural cave there during the 1960s.

View from Sa Pedrera to Es Vedra. (CC BY-SA 3.0)
Origin of the Sirens

Es Vedra is also linked to ancient Greek mythology through Homer’s Odyssey. The island is believed to be the home of the sirens, mythical creatures that lured sailors to their death with their song. In the Greek epic, Odysseus wanted to hear the song of the sirens, and so, as his ship approached the home of the sirens, the Greek hero ordered his shipmates to tie him tightly to the mast, and had their ears plugged with beeswax. By this means, Odysseus was able to hear the song of the sirens, and lived to tell the tale.

Ulysses Odysseus and the Sirens by Herbert James Draper. (Public Domain)

It may be added that Es Vedra was regarded as the sacred island of Tanit, a lunar goddess of the Phoenicians. Statues of the goddess have been found all over Ibiza, and sacrifices are said to have been made to the goddess during full moon.

Bust of the goddess Tanit found in the necropolis of Puig des Molins. 4th century B.C. Museum of Puig des Molins in Ibiza, Spain. (Public Domain)
An Island of Unexplained Energy

Apart from its association with the ancient mythology, Es Vedra is also said to be a place of high energy concentration. It has been claimed that the island is the third most magnetic place in the world, after the North Pole and the Bermuda Triangle. This concentration of energy has led some to speculate that the limestone rock of the island was used for the construction of the pyramids in Egypt, which is also claimed to have phenomenal energy-accumulating properties. Some visitors report feeling a surge of energy after visiting the island and some maintain that Es Vedra possesses positive healing energy.

Last but not least, sightings of UFOs over the island have been reported over the years. The famous Manises UFO incident, for example, took place in 1979, when a commercial flight was forced to divert its course due to the appearance of a set of red lights whilst flying over Ibiza. Local fishermen have also reported spotting mysterious lights emerging form under the sea. Some believe that there is a link between these two strange phenomena, suggesting that there is an underwater UFO base beneath the island.      

 This article (The Legendary Isle of Es Vedra: Atlantis, The Odyssey and a Magnetic Attraction for UFO Sightings) was originally created for Ancient Origins and is published here under Creative Commons.

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Esoteric/Occult

Inside The 18th-Century ‘Compendium Of Demonology And Magic,’ An Illustrated Guide To Hell

Whether it’s ghastly demons or grisly execution scenes, this occultists’ tome and witchcraft manual remains as haunting today as it was in 1775.

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Compendium Of Demonology And Magic
Photo Credit: Ancient Origins

Hybrid demons, cabalistic symbols, dancing skeletons, and dark spells of magic — these are only some of the occult elements that fill the pages of the mysterious 18th-century manuscript entitled Compendium Of Demonology And Magic. Though we may never know who created the book and why, there’s one thing we do know for certain: this book is not for the faint of heart.

The Compendium Of Demonology And Magic

In 1775, someone — likely a worshipper of the occult — made it their business to compile a collection of astonishingly detailed illustrations of demons and magical rituals into one book. That book is now known as the Compendium Of Demonology And Magic.

Its original title was actually Compendium Rarissimum Totius Artis Magicae Sistematisatae Per Celeberrimos Artis Hujus Magistros, which roughly translates to “A Rare Summary Of The Entire Magical Art By The Most Famous Masters Of This Art.”

Written in a mixture of German and Latin, the 18th-century demonic guide opens with an eerie page adorned by skeletons and a warning that reads “noli me tangere,” meaning “do not touch me.”

Its pages contain remarkably vivid drawings depicting over 30 kinds of beastly creatures from Hell as shown in the gallery above.

Evidence of the occult has been found throughout history in different parts of the world.

The illustrations appear to be watercolour and are mostly drawn on white, brown, and grey-green paper. The figures themselves are extremely dark and disturbing in nature but nonetheless fascinating to look at.

Among the bizarre demons, you’ll find a giant red figure with black wings, large eyes, and snakes jutting out from its forehead. It’s caught mid-spring, coming out of the ground with smoke and fire as it feeds on a bloody meal of what appear to be human limbs.

Another graphic demon depicted among the book’s artwork is a creature so grotesque and mismatched in its anatomy that it resembles a Frankenstein experiment from Hell.

This demon has fire jutting out of its ears, large fangs, a misshapen abdomen covered in spots, and hooved feet. But the most disturbing thing about this figure is what it is doing: birthing small dragon-like creatures.

In addition to the demonic drawings, the author also drew what appear to be visual instructions that may be used as a reference in performing the mystic rituals written in the book.

Some of these scenes could be related to necromancy, which is the act of communicating with the dead to read, and possibly control, the future. There are also a few pages of cabalistic symbols.

The book’s origins are obscure and its author remains unknown. But the misdated “year 1057” written on its cover suggests that whoever created the compendium was likely trying to pass it off as an ancient manuscript of sorts. The physical book is under the custody of the Wellcome Library in London, United Kingdom.

Historic Manuscripts Of The Occult
The Codex Gigas, otherwise known as the “Devil’s Bible.”

The Compendium Of Demonology And Magic, though entirely gripping in its vivid illustrations of satanic creatures, is not the only manuscript relating to witchcraft from earlier centuries.

In the 16th century, a Dutch doctor-turned-occult-practitioner named Johann Weyer published Pseudomonarchia Daemonum — known by its English title as the False Hierarchy of Demons — which was a similar compendium written in Latin. Its pages contained the names of 69 demons.

According to Weyer himself, he created the mystic book based on an earlier text about spirits and demons written by another practitioner, though it’s unclear what work he was referring to.

Weyer’s Pseudomonarchia Daemonum, which was not his first work on demonology, was declared by Sigmund Freud as “one of the ten most significant books of all time.”

Even older still is the Codex Gigas, the largest medieval manuscript in the world, measuring at a whopping 36 inches tall, 20 inches wide, and nearly nine inches thick. Historians believe it likely took over 20 years to complete the book.

Could it be any smaller when the entirety of its pages contains a multitude of texts from the Old Testament and New Testament to the Chronicle of Bohemia by Cosmas?

Illustration of the demon Buer, by Luis Breton. According to Weyer’s book, Buer is the president of Hell.

But most striking is perhaps the large demonic illustration that inexplicably sits in the middle of the massive book.

Due to its old age and the effects of war, the true origin of the Codex Gigas has been lost to history. But legend has it that the entire manuscript was written in a fortnight by a monk named Herman the Recluse who was nearly buried alive for breaking his vows.

To win back his freedom, the monk obliged to write a book containing all the world’s knowledge overnight.

Ironically, the monk summoned the devil to help him with the herculean task in exchange for his soul, which is how the odd drawing inside the book allegedly came to be. The historic relic, now called the “Devil’s Bible,” sits on display at the National Library of Sweden in Stockholm.

Unfortunately, the real stories behind some of these curious manuscripts will forever remain untold.

This article (Inside The 18th-Century ‘Compendium Of Demonology And Magic,’ An Illustrated Guide To Hell) was originally created for All That Interesting and is published here under Creative Commons.

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History

Strange Tales Of Giants In Arizona

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Giants
Photo Credit: www.smithsonianmag.com

Brent SwancerGuest Writer

Throughout history and cultures, one pervasive myth that infuses a great many is that of the idea of giants walking amongst us. It seems to be a common theme in the lore of many peoples, taking many shapes and forms, and there have at times even been supposed reports of finding the remains of these lumbering hulks. One such area of this phenomena has apparently popped up in the wilds of the U.S. state of Arizona, where there have been reports of uncovering remains and even having sighted living specimens of real giants for centuries.

In 1911, heavy rains flew through the wilds of Yavapai County, Arizona, and one of those hit was a farmer by the name of Peter Marx, who lived along Walnut Creek, at a place called Juniper. The rains were fierce, causing heavy floods that wrecked large portions of the area, and when Marx went out to survey the damage when it was all over, he found something very strange, indeed. There, poking up through the earth was what appeared to be an enormous bone, and as Marx dug it out it soon became apparent that it was what seemed to be a human leg bone. The thing was, it was reportedly far larger than that of any known human being, and things got even stranger as he continued to dig. He would soon find an array of other outsized bones, as well as an immense human skull far larger that the size of that of a normal man, and Marx would say of this skull and the accompanying bones.

The skull is of such an abnormal size that if the average man of this day placed it over his head, he still could find room to move it backwards and forwards or up and down with ease, without disturbing his natural position. From measurements taken from the skull, a number 10 hat would be required to fit it. The teeth, several of which are still imbedded in the jawbone, substantiate the immense size of the head. They are fully one third larger than those of the men today and present more the appearance of tusks than molars of the human family. As to the bones, there is no disputing the fact that the owner was symmetrically formed, of immense size and herculean strength. The thigh and lower limbs indicate at least twice the size of the average man of today. The bones of this monstrous human may have represented a race of men or a single individual. At any rate, the skeleton of the man in my possession is sufficiently complete so that the dimensions, which are astounding, may be accurately ascertained.

Marx continued his impromptu dig of the site, and would curiously unearth a wide range of ancient artifacts as well, including stone hooks to hold garments together, stone axes and butcher knives, pottery, and most oddly what appeared to be metal arrowheads and spears. This was considered to be very odd, as the Natives of the region would have used stone, and would not have had metallic weaponry. At the time, this remarkable discovery was featured heavily in the newspapers, curiosity seekers poured in to see the giant remains, and there was purportedly interest shown by the Smithsonian Institute. However, in the end, Marx would not let anyone take away the remains to be analysed, and stalled any attempt by the Smithsonian to appraise them because he said he was still deciding what to do with the skull and bones. After this, the whereabouts of these alleged bones become unknown, and frustratingly no one knows what happened to them in the end.

Interestingly, a very similar set of remains was allegedly found in 1913 at Sycamore Creek, Arizona, where road construction workers dug up the remains of a humanoid that would have stood over 8 feet tall in life, surrounded by ancient beads that were thought to date back to the Toltec Period. The report even makes a direct comparison between these and those found by Marx. Once again, the remains just seem to have sort of disappeared, leaving us with nothing to go on other than some news reports from the era, and we are left to wonder if such giant humanoids once roamed the wilds of Arizona. One very interesting point worth considering is that there are apparently historical sightings of actual living giants coming from in the region. According to PrescottAZHistory, one report of this came from the expedition of the great New World explorer Coronado, who was on a voyage up the coast past Sonora, Mexico, which borders Arizona. The record of this, written by a chronicler of the voyage, Pedro de Castaneda, which tells of a captain Hemando de Alarcon, who went off to bring supplies for soldiers up the coast, but soon contact with Alarcon’s ships was lost and a Don Rodrigo Maldonado was sent out to find out what had happened to Alarcon. Although he was unable to find the ships he sought, he apparently came back with a captive Indian who was so tall that the tallest explorer only came up to his chest. The report continues:

Soon after this, while still trying to establish contact with Alarcon, Captain Melchior Diaz came across another tribe of giants. Taking twenty-five of his most efficient men and some guides, Diaz struck out toward the north and west in search of the seacoast and the ships. After going about 150 leagues they came to a province of exceedingly tall and strong men–like giants. They live in large straw cabins built underground like smoke houses, with only the straw roof above ground. They enter these at one end and come out at the other. More than a hundred persons, old and young, sleep in one cabin. When they carry anything, they can take a load of more than three or four hundredweight on their heads. Once when our men wished to fetch a log for the fire, and six men were unable to carry it, one of these Indians is reported to have come and raised it in his arms, put it on his head alone, and carried it very easily.

In the end we are left with only historical reports and very little in the way of actual physical evidence, so we are left to ask ourselves. Did giants ever roam the wilds of Arizona? It all fits into other similar reports from all over the world, so what are we dealing with here? Were these just misunderstandings and hoaxes. Or did giants truly once roam the earth? We may never know for sure.

Recommended Articles by Brent Swancer
About the Author

Is an author and crypto expert living in Japan. Biology, nature, and cryptozoology still remain Brent Swancer’s first intellectual loves. He’s written articles for MU and Daily Grail and has been a guest on Coast to Coast AM and Binnal of America.

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