Paranormal State’s ‘Jersey Devil’: Deer, Devil Or Hoax?

OK, so I swore that I wouldn’t do any more ‘Paranormal State’ posts here on GhostTheory; but this was too good to pass up.

‘Paranormal State’ wrapped up their season finale with an episode that dealt with Cryptozoology. The PRS team decided to investigate the well known legend of the “Jersey Devil”. Emphasis on legend.
Now what was so interesting about this episode that I broke a promise to you guys and wrote about it? Well, the team supposedly filmed (with a thermal camera) a strange creature that appears to have hooves and wings. No, really.

See…here is a still from the thermal film:


And here is the video:

Let’s talk about the Jersey Devil for a bit. From Wikipedia, this is what is widely known to be the tale of the Jersey Devil:

“It was said that Mother Leeds had 12 children and, after giving birth to her 12th child, stated that if she had another, it would be the Devil. In 1735, Mother Leeds was in labor on a stormy night. Gathered around her were her friends. Mother Leeds was supposedly a witch and the child’s father was the Devil himself. The child was born normal, but then changed form. It changed from a normal baby to a creature with hooves, a horse’s head, bat wings and a forked tail. It growled and screamed, then killed the midwife before flying up the chimney. It circled the villages and headed toward the pines. In 1740 a clergy exorcised the demon for 100 years and it wasn’t seen again until 1890.”

Sounds like a good B movie right? Well there have been a lot of witnesses who over the years have come forward and claimed to have seen this god forsaken creature. Most of the eyewitness descriptions consist of a horse faced bipedal creature with wings.

The Jersey Devil, Philadelphia Evening Bulletin, January 1909

The Jersey Devil, Philadelphia Evening Bulletin, January 1909

MonsterQuest, the famous television show, had made an episode dedicated to the Jersey Devil in which they presented the history and current evidence and eyewitness reports of the creature. It was a well put together show that was focused on facts. An interesting tidbit of information was learning that Napoleon Bonaparte’s brother, Joseph, had reported to have encountered the creature in the early 1800s during a hunt in the Pine Barrens.

Much of the MonsterQuest show focused on eyewitness accounts, like that of the Winkelmann family.

The Winkelmann’s claim that they had encountered a terrifying creature that resembled the known description of the Jersey Devil. One night, the mother and her son were out in the yard when they had spotted a very big and foreign looking creature perched up in a tree looking at them. It wasn’t until they ran for it that the creature spread its wings and swooped down attempting to scare them off. Or worse.

Once inside their home, they could hear it walking about on the roof and then quickly leaving their property to never come back. It so happened that it had snowed earlier in the day so they were able to see the prints that this creature had left in the snow on the roof.

Credit Winkelmann family

Credit Winkelmann family

The tracks do present interesting evidence, but not evidence of the creature from Hell. These could have easily been done by a deer. Yes, deers can jump on roofs. They’re agile like that.

Going back to the ‘Paranormal State’ show…

So the team claimed that they captured an anomalous creature with wings that resembles the Jersey Devil. Now, given the sketchy past that the PRS team has had with thermal imaging such as the ‘Beer Can Incident‘ or the ghostly hand print (which is thought to be that of a crew member) we can only assume that this last season finale was just another example of the team jumping to conclusions. Or much worse, an attempt at trickery.

Let me explain.

If the thermal image is supposed to show a winged creature, then why do the wings show on the thermal device as not generating any heat? They are not even close to looking as heat radiant. If they were attached to such a large creature, wouldn’t it make sense that they would appear at least a bit warm in the thermal readings? Take a look at the thermal images of bats.

The description of the Jersey Devil is that it has wings like a bat. The thermal image captured by the PRS shows a deer like creature with bat like wings. Now, the wings of a bat are mostly made up of a thin skin membrane (patagium) and is very heat radiant when shown on a thermal camera. Here is a video shot by the Discovery Channel of bats under a thermal camera:

The patagium clearly is a heat radiant membrane. Even with bats it produces a highly visible radiant glow, so one can assume that with a larger creature like said Jersey Devil, the glow of the generated heat would be clearly visible. In the case of the PRS team, it’s not. The “wings” appear to be cold, or barely reflecting the body heat of the creature (deer).

We can then assume that either this is just a tree branch that is reflecting the deer’s body heat, some false wings put on a domesticated deer for the purpose of a hoax, or the Jersey Devil itself.

Given that this is their season finale, my guess is that the producers wanted to go out with a bang!