Myth Monday: Night of the Octosquatch (Aliens & UFOs)

Myth Monday: Night of the Octosquatch (Aliens & UFOs)

By Kara Newcastle

C2E2_2015_-_Yip_Yip_(17306143315) Chicago Comic Con 2015 by GabboT wikimedia commons

Driving at home late at night after a long, hard day of work is crappy enough; you’re exhausted, you’re hungry, you’re probably still stewing over something your idiot boss forgot to do and you’re getting the blame for it yet again …

Now imagine finding something blocking your usual way home. A weird something. Something weird and hairy.

Something that looks like a furry octopus with glowing eyes. Walking on land.

Suddenly your boss’s B.S. seems kinda minor.

That’s what happen one summer night in Spain in 1961. Around 11 p.m., a trucker named Arquimedes Sanchez and his partner (who refused to be identified following the sighting) were en route from the Basque Mountains in the province of Vizcaya to deliver a shipment of jackhammers to Puerto de Barazar. They took the same road they had every night for years. They knew every twist and turn, and never had an issue getting home.

Until that night. (Well, yeah. … otherwise, we wouldn’t be talking about it.)

Basque_Country_August_2016 by Tiia Monto wikimedia commons

According to Sanchez and his partner, they were turning a bend in the road when their headlights illuminated something at the base of a steep embankment in front of them. To the men, it looked like a fuzzy octopus! Shocked, Sanchez braked hard in front of it, catching it in the middle of his headlights. The thing flinched back, as if startled, then raises a tentacle up to cover its glowing eyes … that’s when Sanchez and his partner realized that the thing they were staring at was standing there, reaching a height of 3 to 4 feet tall and covered with rust-colored fur.

The men said they stared at the mini-Cthulhu and it stared back at them, unmoving, for what seemed like several minutes. At some point, Sanchez was so frightened that he decided they had to rid the world of this furry cephalopod. Sanchez devised a brilliant idea to get the monster out the way: he ordered his partner to go after it with one of the jackhammers. His terrified partner probably responded with, “¡Que te den!” and refused to move from his seat.

Likely fighting off panic, Sanchez went with Plan B and threw the truck in reverse. He backed up a way, put the truck in drive, and gunned it towards the creature, coming to a screeching halt just a few feet from it.

The beast scooted back but didn’t get out of the way.

Sanchez tried this a few more times, succeeding in eventually making the Cousin It creature so nervous that it backed up against the embankment, but still wouldn’t move off the road. Sanchez did report that at some point during this one-sided game of chicken another truck rolled past them. If the driver saw anything, he didn’t react and just kept on going.

By now not only was Sanchez nearly out of his mind with fear, but it also dawned on him and his buddy that they still had a delivery to make, and this thing in the road was going to make them late. Perhaps summoning up the last ounce of his courage with a cry of, “Screw this!”, Sanchez floored it. The mustachioed mollusk reacted, shuffling out of the way and into the darkness, permitting the two practically hysterical men to careen their way back into town.

Since this sighting, paranormal researchers have taken to dubbing the hirsute bipedal octopus Octosquatch, since its physical description resembles that of a Sasquatch-like entity (sort of, I’ll explain in a minute) and, well, was an octopus.

Spain, as with every other country on the planet, does have legends and reports of Bigfoot-type creatures tramping around their forests and mountains, but none of them have taken to wearing an octopus on their head. However, while the story is recounted in numerous books and blogs, the actual description of how the Octosquatch was standing is never fully described (it’s possible the original report in Spanish has more detail,) but illustrations of the Octosquatch show what looks like a hairy octopus standing straight up on its tentacles.

We don’t know for certain if this truly was an extra-terrestrial being—though admittedly it does bear more than a passing resemblance to the Yip-Yips from Sesame Street—but when it is discussed, you’ll frequently find it in chapters and books about aliens and UFOs. Generally, the Octosquatch is listed as an alien encounter because it really doesn’t look like anything … and it’s so weird to write it this way … “naturally unnatural” from our world, if that makes any sense. As far as I can tell at this point, there were no reported sightings of UFOs in the area before or soon after the encounter.

This is why we have to flash forward seven years to find a connection between the hairy Squidward and aliens.

Seven years later on August 16, 1968, a farmer by the name of John Mateu woke up at 6 a.m. to begin his work on his farm four miles outside of Tivissa, in the province of Tarragona. As he got the feed ready for his cattle, he noticed a bright light reflecting in the distance. Thinking that maybe it was a car that had gotten stuck, Mateu told his wife that he was going to see if the driver needed any help. He trekked over a half-mile to the site, trailed by his lovable dog.

Upon reaching the spot, Mateu has startled and confused by what he found there; it wasn’t a car, but some kind of hovering, glowing, metal device that he said looked like “half a watermelon.” It hung suspended in the air, about four feet above the ground.

Hang on, it gets weirder.

As Mateu studied the craft, he became aware of movement on the other side of the vehicle. The two apparent owners of the ship were hauling their way through the field back towards him, running as fast as they could on their tentacle-like legs.

Yup, the octopus aliens were back. Again, they seemed to have tentacles for limbs, but they were moving so quickly Mateu wasn’t sure if they had four or five legs. They were light in color, but this time they seemed to be hairless. Mateu later said they were “disgusting.”

Long_arm_octopus_(Octopus_minor) by Ulrich Walder wikimedia commons

Possibly fearing that the human farmer was going to hijack their metallic space melon, the octoaliens jumped in and sped off into the sky. Mateu was so freaked out by what he saw that he fainted right there in the field, and laid there most of the day, as his wife had assumed that he had gone back to work after helping the stalled “car” and didn’t think to look for him. His dog was unharmed.

After Mateu recovered and made it home, he and his brother Sebastian examined the area where Mateu had seen the craft and the hairless octopi. They discovered that the grass beneath where the flying ship had been was burnt in a perfect circle. Mateu later found two more older scorch circles of the same size nearby. No scientific tests were made of the sites, but both men reported that their watches stopped in the vicinity of the circles. A similar claim was made by a Hungarian couple who came to investigate.

Okay, so there’s the possible UFO/alien octopus connection right there. That doesn’t definitively prove that the Octosquatch was an alien, but it lends some credence. Both events happened in the summer, both featured land octopuses, and the two locations are about four hours away from each other (plus there’s an incident from 1967 when a woman from Barcelona claimed to have seen a “cactus creature” with “four limbs,” but that was the extent of the report I found), so maybe the Octosquatch and his bald cousins were making regular trips there.

Even so, I wouldn’t be doing my due diligence if I didn’t point out that all these stories could be a load of crap. In the truckers’ case, it was late, it was dark, they were likely tired, and they could have run into something or someone that they mistook for a monster—a dreadlocked backpacker maybe? And who knows, they could have been wasted on Patxaran at the time, which would have altered their perceptions.

As for John Mateu, it was his brother Sebastian who wrote a letter to the Barcelona Tele-Express detailing the incident, and though he sent it without a return address, he still signed it with his name. UFOlogists flocked to the area to investigate it, and after a combination of local pressure plus a published plea from the Center for Interplanetary Studies, Sebastian reluctantly came forward. Worried that he would lose his job as an accountant over the mess, Sebastian stated that he wouldn’t elaborate any more on the encounter to any reporters, though he did respond to the Center for Interplanetary Studies via letter (no, I don’t know what the letters said.) As for John Mateu, he was apparently cornered in a tavern by reporter Alex Boots. Whatever story Mateu told Boots—plus the absolute lack of any concrete findings—caused a boatload of investigators to decide the whole thing was a hoax.

So, what are we left with? As usual, a wacky story with no clear answers. Meanwhile, I’m just sitting over here wondering if cooked Octosquatch pairs well with marinara sauce.

Montreal_Comiccon_2015_-_Yip-Yip_Martian_(19267534189) day one by Pikawil wikimedia commons
Yiiiiip yip yip yip yip … ooooh! Hoax! Uh-huh uh-huh uh-huh

Myth Monday: Metal Man, or The Aluminum Alien of Alabama (Aliens & UFOs)

Myth Monday: Metal Man, or The Aluminum Alien of Alabama (Aliens & UFOs)

By Kara Newcastle

The Metal Man as photographed by Chief Jeff Greenhaw, 1973
The Metal Man as photographed by Chief Jeff Greenhaw, 1973

Generally speaking, when people think of “UFOs” and “tinfoil,” they usually think of those sketchy guys who make tinfoil hats to block out the telepathic rays of the hovering extra terrestrials overhead … because, you know, tinfoil was designed for that sort of thing. However, there was an incident where an alleged alien seemed to have found an alternate use for our beloved crinkly leftover wrap.

Dateline: October 17, 1973, Falkville, Alabama, around 10 pm. While the rest of America was glued to their TV sets watching the Watergate scandal unfold, 26-year-old (another article said he was 23) chief of police Jeff Greenhaw received a call from a frantic, unnamed woman who reported that a spaceship had landed in a field by her house. And if that wasn’t odd enough, she also stated that a large entity had departed the ship and was now roaming around in the woods.

Alien or not, the woman was frightened enough that Chief Greenhaw decided that it was probably worth a look. Taking his gun, flashlight and handcuffs, Greenhaw hesitated, then took his Polaroid camera as an afterthought. Whether he believed in aliens prior to this I never found out, but there had been many UFO reports prior to this event—the Pascagoula, Mississippi abductions happened not quite a week prior, remember this—so maybe the chief thought on the off-chance that aliens were real, maybe he’d get a picture.

Arriving at the house in question, Greenshaw (from what I read, he was alone the entire time) didn’t see any flying saucers parked in the field, but he did notice the figure the woman reported in the woods, now standing in a gravel road. Driving slowly forward, Greenhaw approached what he probably assumed was a prowler or peeping Tom, then got out of his truck …

And once he saw what it was, Greenhaw really wished it had been an ordinary human pervert.

Standing in the beam of Greenhaw’s flashlight was a human-like thing, appearing to be clad entirely in a suit made from extra-shiny aluminum foil. It had no discernible neck and wore what appeared to be a faceless helmet with an antenna sticking straight out of the top. It walked and moved its arms, but Greenhaw said the motions were all wrong; the movement was clunky, almost robotic, and yet it had the physical mannerisms of a young child, or maybe something more akin to a monkey.

Startled, Greenhaw yelled, “Howdy, stranger!” at it. The thing didn’t respond, but just toddled along in its robotic way. Greenhaw tried to speak to again, asking if it was a foreigner (you don’t get more foreign than outer space, may I point out), but again, it would not answer.

Greenhaw had the presence of mind to jump back into his truck and grab his Polaroid camera. He managed to snap at some good pictures of Robbie the Robot before turning the truck back on to use the headlights to better illuminate the being. The chief also turned on his red and blue flashing lights (I don’t know why—looked cool reflecting off the foil spacesuit maybe?)

That’s when the metal monstrosity ran for it.

Shocked, Greenhaw put pedal to the metal, but even his truck, going at 35 miles an hour (as fast as he could safely go in that uneven area), had a hard time keeping up with this alien Usain Bolt. Greenhaw said that the alien-robot-whatever-it-was ran faster than any human being possibly could, and would make impossibly long bounding leaps, causing Greenhaw to wonder if it had springs in its feet or some kind of propulsion system. He never mentioned if it went “clank-clank-clank” or “crinkle-crinkle-crinkle” as it fled. This is something I would like to know.

Unfortunately, as Greenhaw pursued the entity, his truck hit a bump in the field, causing him to careen into a ditch. By the time he extricated himself, the tinfoil terror was long gone, and never seen by anyone again.

Chief Jeff Greenhaw at the site, no copyright infringement intended
Chief Jeff Greenhaw at the site for reporters.

With little else he could do, Chief Greenhaw returned to the police station and dutifully filed his report. It should come as little surprise that the report was made public, and soon journalists from all over the country descended on Falkville to interview Chief Greenhaw. People were particularly interested in the case because, as I mentioned earlier, about six days before this event two men in Pascagoula, Mississippi reported that they had been abducted by three humanoid creatures that appeared to be wearing—get this—shiny, crinkly, aluminum foil-like suits and moved in a robot-like manner. Could there be a connection? Pascagoula is about 350 miles away from Falkville—maybe the aliens traveled in that direction.

It may come as something of a surprise to learn that the small town of Falkville was not happy about the whole affair. In fact, the people of Falkville made Greenhaw’s life a living hell almost immediately after he reported his sighting; he was openly mocked in public, his wife divorced him, his trailer home burned down under suspicious circumstances, and within a month of the sighting, the town council fired him as police chief.

Falkville first uploaded by Seth_Ilys, wikimedia commons
That red dot is Falkville … a little town with metal man problems.

The whole story is too weird … maybe not the weirdest I’ve documented here so far, but weird. On the surface, the encounter is remarkable in the fact that Chief Greenhaw met something that didn’t look alien; nearly all sightings of extra terrestrials up to this point feature something that is described as biological—in other words, clearly a living creature. In Chief Greenhaw’s case, he saw something that could either be a robot (based on its mechanical-like movements), or possibly an alien in a spacesuit (which would make sense if there was something on this planet that could harm an E.T. and it needed protection … or its mother was just overly protective, that’s a possibility too.)

But I mean … seriously, look at the pictures again. That thing looks like a rejected early design for the Michelin Man, and I’m not saying that to be mean. True, I don’t know what an alien’s spacesuit would look like, but this setup here looks homemade, and kind of cliched with the antenna sticking out of the top.

Metal man jeff greenhaw 1973
Klaatu barada nikto

Sooo … what? Was this hoaxed then? If it was, I doubt that Chief Greenhaw was behind it; as you read above, his life was destroyed by this encounter. If he hoaxed this and thought he would get something out of it like money and fame, then he miscalculated badly.

Furthermore, based on what I’ve read, Chief Greenhaw is still alive as of this writing and maintaining that he saw an alien or robot that night. The encounter happened nearly fifty years ago. That’s a long time to be clinging to a hoax that most people don’t even remember.

The other possibility was that somebody pulled an impressive prank. Like I said, to me that suit looks homemade, and it has been suggested that it was actually a fireproof asbestos suit. Stick a fast runner inside the suit (someone suggested that a high school track athlete could have pulled off the high-speed run, while others claim that it was a child in the suit based on its size compared to its surroundings), act all mechanical and creepy, lurch around in a wooded, unpopulated area late at night, mix in a likely stressed and tired police chief, just a few days after a terrifying UFO abduction featuring creatures with metallic skin, and you might just convince even the most skeptical of people that there’s a metal-coated alien sprinting around out there.

Do I think it’s a hoax? I have to lean towards “yes” right now; I think Chief Greenhaw was the victim of an elaborate prank. I think somebody cobbled together a cumbersome suit and started tramping around the woods to scare the neighbors for kicks. When the chief of police showed up, the fraudster likely panicked (which is why it lingered on the road and wouldn’t speak), then hauled it out of there. I doubt they were able to outrun any kind of vehicle, but Greenhaw might have been so confused that he thought it was moving that fast. They didn’t come forward later because, well, they had been trespassing at night scaring the locals and caused a police officer to drive into a ditch—not to mention all the media attention the town was getting—they were afraid of getting in major trouble.

Or they might have been thrilled by all the chaos and just decided to sit back and watch it unfold.

Oh, and what about the lady reporting the UFO in the field? It’s possible she was in on the hoax. It’s also possible that she was bat-crap crazy with fear over alien invasions that she thought she saw something in the field. For all we know it was a hippie bus dropping off our Threepio-wannabe. Greenhaw never saw a UFO, never reported any kind of strange markings in the field, and the woman was listed as anonymous, so if someone did call in a UFO sighting to the police, we currently have no way of tracking her down and asking her.

Unless SHE was actually the alien! Dun, dun, duuuuuun!

To my knowledge, there haven’t been any more sightings of the Tinfoilien or anything resembling it since then. If any of them show up in plastic wrap, zippered baggies or Tupperware containers, let me know.