Tuesday, December 11, 2012
Just the Facts?: Monsters on the 'Rez' -- The Other 'Alien Mountain' -- Indiana Jones Crystal Skull Lawsuit
Monsters on the 'Rez'
A smashed watermelon is spread out in the middle of a dirt road in Upper Fruitland, a community where everything from giant pterodactyls to walking lizards to furry children have been reported.
The watermelon happens to be for Bigfoot, another one of the inhabitants of the bucolic town on the outskirts of the Navajo reservation.
"My grandma left it for him," says Felicia Frank, who lives nearby. "I said, "Grandma, you're feeding Bigfoot?'"
Down the road, Frank points out where several people have sighted the legendary, hairy being, along with other odd species.
"Things like this happen all the time on the rez," she says, noting that it is not just in Upper Fruitland that these extraordinary sightings occur.
It's just a matter of getting people to talk about it.
By driving though the Navajo reservation, no one would know that the vast tribal land is thought by cryptozoologists to be home to so many outlandish species.
"Navajo stories go way back, for years," said Leonard Dan, a self-proclaimed cryptozoologist, someone who studies animals thought to be extinct.
"There have been sightings of Pegasus, and of Griffins," Dan said, referring to two creatures thought by most to come from Greek mythology.
Lately, an unusual number of people on the reservation also have spotted Centaurs, another animal of Greek mythology that is human on top and equine on the bottom.
"I had more reports of Centaurs than Bigfoot this spring," said J.C. Johnson, Dan's partner and fellow self-proclaimed cryptozoologist.
Many people, however, fear talking about what they see because of the traditional taboos that surround many creatures.
Just as many common animals have meaning in Navajo spirituality, so too do some of the atypical ones, Johnson said.
Some believe that if a person sees Bigfoot, they will die a year later. If a person sees a miniature tyrannosaurus rex, also believed by some to be alive on the reservation, they might turn to stone.
Even those who don't believe in such superstitions struggle to bring up the topic.
Brenda Harris, also of Upper Fruitland, said it took her a while to talk about her sightings of a pterodactyl, a winged Jurassic dinosaur, in the late 1990s because she was wary of the humiliation.
After talking about it, though, she found many of her neighbors had similar experiences.
"A lot of people are opening up," she said.
So many people, in fact, have opened up that nationwide media have zeroed in on many of the strange events that have occurred on the reservation.
National Geographic's show "Navajo Cops" featured an episode in which the police tried tracking the Newcomb "Howler," thought perhaps to be a lonely Bigfoot or a skinwalker, an evil Navajo witch that changes form.
Still, not all law enforcement are very responsive when reports involve sightings of weird creatures, according to the people that have called on the police to investigate sightings.
"Different folks, different strokes," said one Navajo police criminal investigator from Shiprock. He did not want to be named.
"As far as looking for the Lochness monster in the San Juan River, we're not going to do that," he said, adding that he respected people's beliefs but did not often have time to entertain them.
While some residents have grown used to the idea of the bizarre assortment of species on the reservation, others truly fear certain types.
Just recently, one Upper Fruitland family spotted a red-eyed, three-clawed, winged creature comparable to the demonic being in the 2001 American horror film "Jeepers Creepers." The family named it the "Night Stalker."
It has left claw marks on their home, on their car, and even has managed to scratch their daughter during her sleep.
Johnson has made it his mission to document these cases, especially when law enforcement fails to.
Johnson has independently researched all kinds of cases, from behemoth snakes to werewolves to upright hooded lizards that will shoot poison into a person's legs and then eat them. Not to mention skin walkers, the evil Navajo spirits that are known to take the shape of a wolf, among other animals.
"The locals out there all know about it," says Johnson.
While he works independently for the most part, he sometimes calls the Navajo criminal investigators in to give his research an added credibility that is, if they will come.
Oftentimes, the Navajo police do not want to respond because of their own superstitions, or simply because they do not find the matters important.
On a reservation that is steeped and crime and short on resources, only a few officers find the time to make it out to cases that sound a little bit "out of this world."
And, if they do find valuable evidence, they confiscate it immediately.
"They just show up in a black van," said Harris, who has heard of several instances when the police have told people to repeat nothing of what they saw and forget the sighting ever happened.
As Johnson and Dan walk near the river with a few of the Upper Fruitland residents that have seen some of the odd species that the two local cryptozoologists are so interested in, Johnson picks up the watermelon on the ground.
Johnson looks at it, places his hand around it as he imagines Bigfoot might have and inspects some of the markings, which look like they are from some kind of animal.
"This might have been Squatchie," says Johnson, who also affectionately refers to Bigfoot as a "furry bastard."
Still, he says, it may not have been. No track marks. No broken branches.
"I'm not trying to convince anyone of anything," Johnson says, noting that it is important not to have an agenda when pursuing evidence of the unknown.
"It's just the truth," says Harris. - Daily Times
Phantoms & Monsters: Cryptid Encounters
Real Monsters, Gruesome Critters, and Beasts from the Darkside
The other 'alien mountain'
With ten days to go before the Mayan apocalypse supposedly casts Earth into oblivion, time is running out for believers to find alien salvation.
But for those who have failed to book their spot in the shadow of France's Pic de Bugarach - apparently home to an extra-terrestrial mothership that will pluck believers to safety - there is another peak with similar powers.
Nestled deep within Serbia's Carpathian mountain range, Mount Rtanj is thought to house a 'pyramidal' structure left behind by alien visitors thousands of years ago that will emit a powerful force field at the moment of Armageddon, protecting those in its vicinity.
'The navel of the world'? Mount Rtanj, in Serbia, is thought to house a 'pyramidal' structure left behind by alien visitors thousands of years ago. New Agers believe it will emit a powerful force field that will protect them from Apocalypse
Now, hotels in the area are overflowing with doomsday cultists hoping to live past Christmas.
'In one day we had 500 people trying to book rooms. People want to bring their whole families,' Obrad Blecic, a local hotel manager, told The Telegraph.
Popular British science fiction writer Arthur C Clarke reportedly believed the peak contained a 'special energy' and labelled it 'the navel of the world'.
Mount Rtanj has long been believed to have mystical powers.
According to legend, a wizard lived in a great castle at its summit, guarding a hoard of buried treasure.
The castle is now gone, replaced by a small chapel to Patron Saint of England Saint George. The chapel, however, was destroyed by treasure hunters in the trying to unearth the hidden gold.
The mountain is also famed for its 'Rtanj tea', made from the savory herb and lauded as a powerful aphrodisiac and cure for chronic flatulence.
Ancient Mayans believed that a 5,125-year cycle known as the Long Count would come to a close on December 21 2012.
Experts estimate the system, which is made up of 394-year periods called baktuns, started counting at 3114 BC, and will have run through 13 baktuns, or 5,125 years, around December 21.
They say 13 was a significant number for the Maya, and the end of that cycle would be a milestone — but they have been keen to stress that it does not mark an end.
Conspiracy theorists nonetheless believe the Maya may have been privy to impending astronomical disasters that would coincide with 2012, ranging from explosive storms on the surface of the sun that could knock out power grids to a galactic alignment that could trigger a reversal in Earth's magnetic field.
The end-of-days prophesy is based on an interpretation of the ancient Mayan calendar which claims an intergalactic planet is on a crash course with Earth and will impact on December 21 2012.
As 'zero hour' approaches, various theories have been posed as to how Planet Earth will meet its doom.
One claims that Nibiru, a rogue planet discovered by the ancient Sumerians, will crash into Earth on December 21, killing everyone.
The origins of those rumors have been linked to the works of the late Azerbaijani-born author Zecharia Sitchin, who wrote in 1976 that he had found and translated Sumerian documents identifying the rogue planet. Sitchin died in 2010 at the age of 90.
Scientists, however, say there is no such planet.
Another theory claims that the earth's magnetic field will reverse producing dire consequences such as violent hurricanes and the loss of all electronic communication systems.
Some believe the earth is unwittingly hurtling headlong towards a black hole at the centre of the Milky Way that will suck humanity into oblivion.
As a result, panic-buying of candles and other essentials has been reported in China and Russia, while in the United States the sale of survival shelters is booming.
News of Mount Rtanj's mystic powers follows claims that aliens will emerge from their 'spaceship garage' hidden deep within Pic de Bugarach mountain, in France's Pyrenees, and pluck anyone in the vicinity to safety.
Armageddon tourists and UFO spotters hoping for salvation have swarmed to the two-street hamlet where 'authentic Bugarach stones' are on sale for €1.50 (£1.20) a gram, a bottle of water from the local spring costs €15 (£12).
One landowner is even offering up his four-bedroom home with close up views of the mysterious peak for £1,200 a night, while tourists can also pop to the local Italian restaurant for an 'Apocalypse pizza', washed down with a local vintner's 'End Of The World' vintage.
But not everyone is taking the forecast so seriously.
Tourists have already flocked to archaeological sites in Mexico and Central America where 'Apocalypse parties' are being held to mark a new Mayan era on December 21.
Mexico is one of five countries preparing to observe the date, which marks the end of a more than 5,000-year era, according to the Mayan 'Long Count' calendar, which began in 3114 BC.
The start of the new Mayan calendar also is big business in this region, with tourism offices in no fewer than five countries aggressively promoting the date.
Millions of tourists are expected to flood into the region for celebrations that will include fireworks, concerts and other spectacles held at more than three dozen archaeological sites.
In addition to Mexico, celebrations will be held in Belize, Guatemala, El Salvador or Honduras, and at least two heads of state - President Otto Perez of Guatemala and President Porfirio Lobo of Honduras - have confirmed that they will take part in festivities in their respective countries. - Daily Mail
Lloyd Pye: Where Did We Come From?
Video: Lloyd Pye: Where Did We Come From?
The Starchild Skull -- Genetic Enigma or Human-Alien Hybrid?
Indiana Jones Crystal Skull Lawsuit Raises Questions of Hoax
An archaeologist in Belize has filed a lawsuit against the makers of the film "Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull," alleging that the movie profits off references to an artifact illegally stolen from the country.
But the item in question, a real-life crystal skull, may not be a Belizean artifact carved by the ancient Maya people at all, but rather a hoax perpetrated by a self-styled 20th-century adventurer.
The story starts in the 1930s, when explorer Frederick A. Mitchell-Hedges claims to have found the skull somewhere in Central America. Or maybe it starts in the 1920s: That's when Mitchell-Hedges' daughter, Anna, now deceased, recalled finding the skull in the ancient Maya city of Lubaantún in Belize, though the exact date varied with the telling of the story.
The skull is smaller than the life-size ones seen in the Indiana Jones film (which are also, spoiler alert, alien in origin). It stands about 5 inches (12.7 centimeters) high, 7 inches tall (17.8 cm) and 5 inches (12.7 cm) wide. The skull is made of beautifully clear polished quartz, with a lower jaw that detaches.
Since it surfaced, the skull has been the subject of many legends. It's said to get its glassy sheen from the efforts of five generations of ancient polishers. It's also been attributed magical powers, from the ability to repel witchcraft to the ability to kill on command. [Full Coverage: The Myth of the Mayan Apocalypse]
Some have contested the truth of the Mitchell-Hedges tale, however: Smithsonian anthropologist Jane MacLaren Walsh has examined the Mitchell-Hedges skull and finds that it was carved with high-speed, diamond-coated tools from the 20th century.
"The Mitchell-Hedges crystal skull is not ancient; not even very old. It was probably made in Europe in the 20th century, and was not polished for five generations. It is not powerful, not scary and not at all what it purports to be," Walsh wrote in 2010 in Archaeology, the magazine of the Archaeological Institute of America.
Walsh's investigations of Frederick and Anna Mitchell-Hedges' claims about the skull's discovery also turned up many inconsistencies, she reported. It was likely purchased from an antiquities dealer in London in 1943, Walsh wrote.
The Maya did leave other amazing artistry behind, including a carved limestone monkey skull and elaborate painted murals.
The lawsuit of the crystal skull
The new lawsuit, however, takes the Mitchell-Hedges' claims as truth and argues that by removing this alleged artifact from Belize, Frederick and Anna broke the country's laws. Archaeologist Jaime Awe, the director of the Institute of Archaeology of Belize, filed the lawsuit on behalf of his country.
"The primary goal of the litigation is to: (a) preserve and return the artifact to the people of Belize; (b) to enforce the nation's rights to the artifact and the profits derived therefrom; and (c) to make known to the global community that while a relatively small, yet vibrant and growing nation, Belize will take whatever action necessary to preserve, and prevent the exploitation of its culture and cultural artifacts/landmarks," Awe's lawyer Adam Tracy wrote in an email to LiveScience.
"Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull" name-checks the skull, with Indy talking about how he and fellow archaeologist Harold Oxley were obsessed with the find. [10 Modern Tools for Indiana Jones]
"As the epicenter of Mayan culture, combined with the fact that the known crystal skulls were pilfered from the country, Belize is of the position that the physical artifacts, together with the nomenclature tied thereto, are properties of the people of the Belize," Tracy said.
As such, Awe is suing Paramount Pictures, Lucasfilms and Lucasfilms' new owner Disney for illegally profiting from the skull's likeness. He is also suing the Mitchell-Hedges family for the return of the skull, which is now in possession of Anna's widower, William Homann, in Indiana.
Many mystical skulls
The Mitchell-Hedges' skull is not the only mystical skull out there. There's a Mitchell-Hedges lookalike in the British Museum in London. (Walsh suspects that the Mitchell-Hedges' skull was a copy of the British Museum version). The Musee du Quai Branly in Paris holds another large skull, and a third is in the catalog at the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History. That Smithsonian skull is approximately life-size at 15 inches (38 cm) tall.
Unfortunately for believers in the Central American occult, not a single one of these skulls has been found to be authentic. The British Museum skull was likely made in the 1800s, according to the museum, based on tool marks left behind from the carving. Likewise, tests carried out on the Paris skull in 2007 and 2008 found it to be a late-1800s forgery. The Smithsonian skull, which happens to be the artifact that got anthropologist Jane MacLaren Walsh interested in investigating crystal skulls, was also carved with modern jewel-cutting equipment.
To test the authenticity of the Mitchell-Hedges' skull, Walsh used high-powered microscopy, ultraviolet light, computerized tomography (CT) and scanning electron microscopy (SEM). A real artifact from Central America, created before the arrival of Christopher Columbus would have been carved by stone implements and abrasive sand, Walsh wrote. These tools leave marks that look rough under the microscope. But the Mitchell-Hedges' skull revealed microscopic cut marks that were unmistakably smooth and straight, the telltale signature of a metal tool augmented by diamond.
It remains to be seen whether the skull's veracity will play a role in the Indiana Jones lawsuit.
"The government of Belize does not believe the skull is fake," Tracy told LiveScience. "As such, I do not foresee any further testing of the artifact." - Live Science
The Mystery of the Crystal Skulls: Unlocking the Secrets of the Past, Present, and Future
Crystal Skulls & the Enigma of Time: A Spiritual Adventure into the Mayan World of Prophecy and Discovery
Crystal Skulls: Emissaries of Healing and Sacred Wisdom