Top (?) 10 Explanations For Mothman

Top (?) 10 Explanations For Mothman

In an article at ListVerse.Com I came across an article about possible explanations for the Mothman that is almost as absurd as Mothman itself.
First a little history because there are always a few uninitiated who trip across our pages.

From Wikipedia

Mothman is a legendary creature first reportedly seen in the Point Pleasant area of West Virginia from 15 November 1966 to 15 December 1967. The first newspaper report was published in the Point Pleasant Register dated 16 November 1966, titled “Couples See Man-Sized Bird…Creature…Something”

On Nov. 12, 1966, five men who were digging a grave at a cemetery near Clendenin, WV claimed to see a man-like figure fly low from the trees over their heads. This is often attributed as the first known sighting of what would become known as the Mothman.

Shortly thereafter, on Nov. 15, 1966, two young couples from Point Pleasant, Roger and Linda Scarberry, and Steve and Mary Mallette told police they saw a large white creature whose eyes “glowed red” when the car headlights picked it up. They described it as a ” large flying man with ten-foot wings’ following their car while they were driving in an area of town known as ‘the TNT area’, the site of a former World War II munitions plant.

During the next few days, other people reported similar sightings. Two volunteer firemen who sighted it said it was a “large bird with red eyes”. Mason County Sheriff George Johnson commented that he believed the sightings were due to an unusually large heron he termed a “shitepoke”. Contractor Newell Partridge told Johnson that when he aimed a flashlight at a creature in a nearby field its eyes glowed “like bicycle reflectors”, and blamed buzzing noises from his television set and the disappearance of his German Shepherd dog on the creature. Wildlife biologist Dr. Robert L. Smith at West Virginia University told reporters that descriptions and sightings all fit the Sandhill Crane, a large American crane almost as high as a man with a seven foot wingspan featuring circles of reddish coloring around the eyes, and that the bird may have wandered out of its migration route.

There were no Mothman reports in the immediate aftermath of the December 15, 1967 collapse of the Silver Bridge and the death of 46 people, giving rise to legends that the Mothman sightings and the bridge collapse were connected.

Let’s have a look at the “possible” explanations.


10: Barn Owl

Sure, an owl has large eyes in a face that could be mistaken for human-like in the dark and confusion caused by fear, and a barn owl is one of the leading contenders for rational explanations.

A definite maybe. Next up


9 Aliens

Well, because we seek to inject a bit of rationality here, first you have to actually demonstrate that aliens exist here on earth BEFORE you can use them as an explanation for being misidentified as the Mothman. That being said, there is a connection in reported sightings of UFOs around the time of the Mothman sightings, and then there is the mysterious appearance of the character Indrid Cold.

From Monster Digest

When famed paranormal researcher John Keel went to West Virginia to investigate the now famous Mothman case, he found far more strange activity in the area than just the 7 ft flying bat creature. While there, Keel received a phone call from a man who identified himself as Indrid Cold. Keel said that the Indrid Cold call was, cryptic and prophetic.

So who was Indrid Cold. Some say that Indrid Cold was, in fact the Mothman himself. I’m not really sure why. Maybe just because they seemed to appear and disappear at about the same time. After all, Mothman was a bizarre creature and anything but human in appearance. I think Woodrow Derenberger saw something very strange, told the story, and it has now become an urban legend. There is that strange phone call that John Keel received though. I don’t know if that was the “real” Indrid Cold or someone who had heard the story and decided to prank Keel. Whatever the case may be, Indrid Cold is here to stay, under the name Grinning Man.

Still, show me proof of alien visitors before you claim them as a possible explanation of any other unexplained sighting. I am going to call this a No.

Moving on.


8 Thunderbird

Again we have the problem of one unproven and unexplained thing being used as an explanation for another. Beyond that at least we know birds like Argentavis magnificens (shown) and Harpagornis moorei once existed. Though Harpagornis moorei is only known to have lived in New Zealand, so that sort of rules him out, and Argentavis magnificens very likely could not take off from standing on the ground, as Mothman is reported to have done, especially impossible to do so without flapping its wings as is also in the lore.

So another No vote


7 Mutant Bird

The location of one of the first sightings of Mothman was an old WWII munitions dump that had been turned into a bird sanctuary. Beyond those two facts, there is less cause to believe this than the Alien option. We are only at number seven and they are already struggling for ideas.


6 Angel

Really? Everything from bigfoot to…well, aliens have been identified at one time or another as the appearance of one variety of angels or other on Earth. It seems just as likely that Mothman is a winged variety of Bigfoot, and I am only a little surprised THAT does not appear on this list.

But hey, congratulations, we have made it to the halfway point in this list and finally found the second actual possible explanation…

Really not even worth consideration.


5 A Hoax

During a brief period in 1837 there were sightings of a figure called Spring Heeled Jack:

Spring-heeled Jack was described by people who claimed to have seen him as having a terrifying and frightful appearance, with diabolical physiognomy, clawed hands, and eyes that “resembled red balls of fire”. One report claimed that, beneath a black cloak, he wore a helmet and a tight-fitting white garment like an oilskin. Many stories also mention a “Devil-like” aspect. Others said he was tall and thin, with the appearance of a gentleman. Several reports mention that he could breathe out blue and white flames and that he wore sharp metallic claws at his fingertips. At least two people claimed that he was able to speak comprehensible English.

Not entirely unlike Mothman

A leading explanation for “Jack” in his own day was misogynistic purveyor of cruel jokes and drunken brawls, Henry de La Poer Beresford, 3rd Marquess of Waterford (who died in 1840) and reports of a W prominently displayed upon the creature’s chest tend to support that idea. Over the decades since, there have been several copycat reports around the world. If a prank like this could be pulled in the 1830’s, it could certainly be copied in the 1960’s.

A definite Maybe!


4 Faulty Perception

Well, sure, that pretty much sums up probably 99.9 percent of the unexplained. It certainly covers all the options like Angels and Aliens.

Pretty much a given in that this is a list about alternative explanations.

Moving on.


3 A Man With Wings

Now why didn’t I think of that. I should quit this business right now.

Don’t say it, just don’t.

Still, another No.


2 Plane or Flying Machine

What sort of flying machine would that be? I mean this is another one pretty much already covered by “Faulty Perception,” but really, the Mothman has been reported to have been seen standing, taking off from the ground or on someone’s roof, and diving at cars or people at night. It even follows one car for a considerable distance, according tot he story. That is a pretty bold pilot, and the vehicle in the picture did not exist in 1966.



Finally we are at number 1

And the winner is:


Wow. I think we have a winner, ’cause if it WERE known we would not be looking for explanations, would we?

I don’t know about you guys but I really love it when we get right to the heart of an explanation.

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Henry Paterson