Cryptid of the Week: The Mothman

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Cryptid of the Week: The Mothman

Wikimedia Commons

Wikimedia Commons

Wikimedia Commons

By Marshall Falkner

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In the spirit of Halloween, I’ll be going over some of the best monsters and unexplained mysteries of our world — more specifically, cryptids — once every week. 

The pseudoscience known as cryptozoology is not an actual branch of zoology. Instead, it is a belief in folkloric entities such as the Yeti, chupacabras and even Paul Bunyan. So with that in mind, let’s talk about one of my favorites, just for the sheer mystery and destruction that follows — the Mothman.

The Mothman, generally seen in the Point Pleasant area of West Virginia, is described as a tall man cloaked in a fuzzy darkness, with glowing red eyes and a 10-foot wingspan, debated to be either feathered like a bird or made of flesh like a bat’s wings. Its large red eyes are likely to not be glowing, as several witnesses have noted that its eyes would only glow when a light was shined on it, whether it be a flashlight or the high beams of a car. John A. Keel, the author of the 1975 book “The Mothman Prophecies,” noted its eyes “looked like bicycle reflectors.”

Sadly, the harbinger of doom we have come to know as the Mothman is most likely a large barn owl. This is the most plausible theory, but one I disagree with. The common barn owl only gets to between a 31 and 37-inch wingspan, not the 10 feet we need to match Mothman. That’s reserved for 12-foot wingspan of the albatross.

The Mothman is famous thanks to the Silver Bridge incident. Silver Bridge was a massive suspension bridge that crossed the Ohio River, connecting Genopolise, Ohio and The Mothman’s hometown of Point Pleasant, West Virginia. On Dec. 15, 1967, the bridge collapsed — 46 lives were lost, and two people were never found. A number of people allegedly saw the Mothman just before the bridges collapsed. Two theories spawned from this. Some wondered if the Mothman was a seer coming to warn us of soon-to-come disasters. (Hence stories like “The Mothman Prophecies”). Others guessed he was an angel of death, coming to shepherd off the damned.

The Mothman has not had much exposure in popular media the past decade or so, since the 2002 movie “The Mothman Prophecies,” named after the book of the same name. But I’m glad to be seeing more of the Mothman in media today, specifically in the newest campaign of “The Adventure Zone,” as well as in the upcoming video game “Fallout 76.”

Also, if you ever visit Point Pleasant during mid-September, the Mothman Musem holds a festival and 5k run to celebrate the elusive winged beast that put them on the map.

If you have any questions or like this “Cryptid of the Week Series,” let me know in the comments. Now that I’m contractually obligated to use Twitter, why not use the hashtag #makecryptidscoolagain.

See you next week.

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@FalknerMarshall