The Cryptid Zoo: Jersey Devil

There are at least two Jersey Devils: the variety found in folklore dating at least over the range of years 1735 to 1909, and the Jersey Devil of modern sightings. The Jersey Devil of folklore is a creature that may or may not be vaguely human-shaped. It has hooves, a snake's tail, bat-wings and a head that looks something like a horse. Altogether, except for being hairy in some reports, it roughly resembles a dragon.

In fact, it was described as a dragon by many of the early witnesses.
The classic Jersey Devil looks much like this painting. This is copyrighted by those who own the copyright to the book cover art of 'Monsters of New Jersey' by Loren Coleman and Bruce G. Hallenbeck.
This Jersey devil often glows, and it can breathe fire or poison the water with its breath, both classic dragon characteristics.

The Jersey Devil of folklore is also known as the Leeds Devil. Local residents trace its origin to a woman named Leeds, a mistress of a British soldier who was suspected of being a witch. When she gave birth to her thirteenth child, she cursed it. The babe was born a demon-dragon and soon took to terrorizing the populace and eating children.

The Jersey Devil of modern sightings is a bunch of different things. The name has been applied to cryptids that more or less resemble the original Jersey Devil, but it is also applied to nearly every New Jersey cryptid imaginable, such as hairy humanoids that resemble Bigfoot, mystery birds, and even Eastern cougars. One "Jersey Devil" sighting described a hairy humanoid with a deer's head and glowing red eyes. A number of well-publicized but not very convincing hoaxes have managed to confuse the matter even more, scaring researchers away from whatever real Jersey Devil might or might not exist behind the hoopla.

The Jersey Devil is a popular creature in New Jersey, with its image on quite a number of products. It is also popular outside the state. The Jersey Devil is one of those major American monsters that gets mentioned rather frequently in books about the strange, the paranormal and the unexplained. Two fictional movies have been made about the Jersey Devil, The Last Broadcast and 13th Child: Legend of the Jersey Devil.

In cryptozoology, the Jersey Devil is one of those weird creatures that many investigators prefer to ignore because it seems more supernatural than biological. When it is thought to be an undiscovered species of animal, it is generally classified as a living pterodactyl.

You can find out more about the Jersey Devil from the following sources:

Benjamin, R.W. Jersey Devil

Blackman, W. Haden. The Field Guide to North American Monsters New York: Three Rivers Press, 1998. Pages 83-87

Brookesmith, Peter, ed. Creatures from Elsewhere. London, Chartwell Books, 1989. Pages 25-27

Clark, Jerome and Coleman, Loren. Cryptozoology A-Z. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1999. Pages 120-121

Clark, Jerome. Unexplained!. Detroit: Visible Ink Press, 1999. Pages 561-564

Coleman, Jerry D. Strange Highways: A Guidebook to American Mysteries & the Unexplained. Alton, Illinois: Whitechapel Productions Press, 2003. Pages 20, 71-72, 120-124, 157

Coleman, Loren. Charles Fort and Cryptozoology

Coleman, Loren. Mysterious America: The Revised Edition. New York: Paraview Press, 2001. Pages 164-165, 169, 232-244

The Devil Hunters: The Official Researchers of the Jersey Devil

Digest Ezine. Jersey Devil

Gale, Thomson. Creatures of the Night
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Girard, Geoffrey. Tales of the Jersey Devil.

Harple, Doug. Jersey Devil

The Jersey Devil Club

Juliano, Dave. The Jersey Devil

Kilmartin, Brendan. The Jersey Devil

McCloy, James F. & Miller, Ray. The Jersey Devil: 13th Child.

McCloy, James F. & Miller, Ray. Phantom of the Pines: More Tales of the Jersey Devil.

Moran, Mark & Sceurman, Mark. Weird N.J.: Your Travel Guide to New Jersey's Local Legends and Best Kept Secrets. New York: Barnes & Noble, 2004. Pages 43, 96-97, 102-107, 203

Newton, Michael. Encyclopedia of Cryptozoology: A Global Guide to Hidden Animals and Their Pursuers. Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland & Company, 2005. Pages 217-218

New Jersey Devil

Perticaro, Anthony. The Jersey Devil of the Pine Barrens

Weidensaul, Scott. The Ghost with Trembling Wings: Science, Wishful Thinking and the Search for Lost Species. New York: North Point Press, 2002. Pages 153

Wikipedia, The. Jersey Devil

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