The Cryptid Zoo: Winged Men in Cryptozoology

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Winged men of many different types have been reported as supposedly real beings throughout history. Most of the older reports clearly belong in the realm of mythology, but the modern reports are a different matter. Unlike the reports found in mythology, these are first-person accounts, sometimes even with multiple witnesses. Even as bizarre as winged men are, a few of these creatures have been the subject of so many claims that they have drawn some serious interest from researchers anyway. The most notable winged humanoid of modern legend is probably Mothman, but there are many others.

Winged men of modern sightings vary enormously in the details of how they look. There are seemingly endless variations on this theme. Winged men tend to get lumped together simply because nobody knows how else to classify these urban legends. But the breadth of variation in the different sightings mean that winged humanoids, regardless of whether they are wholly hallucinations or based on some grain of truth, are divided into many distinct kinds.

One noticable type of winged humanoid is described as looking like an ordinary human with mechanical wings. Oddly enough, these guys are often dressed in vintage aviation suits. Obviously, anything that sounds too much like a machine is not of interest to cryptozoologists, because cryptozoology is the science of finding new creatures, not ferreting out hypothetical reclusive secret inventors of flying machines. These particular urban legends have much in common with the early twentieth-century craze where secret inventors were supposed to be everywhere and were held responsible, in the popular imagination, for many things that were unexplained. For example, the UFO fad started as a collection of urban legends about "phantom airships" (airship is an old word for blimps or dirigibles) that had technology more advanced than any known at the time, or, for that matter, in our time either. We still don't have the technology to make dirigibles that can act like the "phantom airships" from the legends. These airships were ascribed either to secretive inventors or to hostile foreign governments (often the Chinese). This craze holding secret inventors responsible for many unexplained events and sightings has had a great influence on our fiction, especially the mad scientist archetype and b-movies of the 1950s to 1970s.

Other reports of winged men are decidedly organic in appearance, sounding like living creatures. One of the best documented of these is the frog/bat man that was reported by many residents of New York City in 1880. It was described as having a man's body attached to a bat's wings and a frog's legs. Obviously, it was biologically absurd. This kind of biological absurdity is quite common in reports of winged men, even apart from the facts that a humanoid shape doesn't fit with aerodynamics very well and that anything weighing close to an adult human's weight should have great difficulty getting off the ground. A good example of how bizarre things can get is the winged man called "batsquatch" that is reported from Washington State. It is supposed to look like a Bigfoot with bat wings, blue fur, yellow eyes and bird feet. It is hard to imagine something more ridiculous.

There are a number of reports that sound like creatures that are halfway between man and bird or man and bat. When cryptozoologists investigate these reports, they usually lean towards explanations that involve thunderbirds or giant bats. Winged men in general usually don't draw a great deal of interest in the cryptozoology community, because they usually seem too bizarre or even supernatural.

You can find out more about Winged Men from the following sources:

Benjamin, R.W. Flying Humanoids

Brookesmith, Peter, ed. Creatures from Elsewhere. London, Chartwell Books, 1989. Pages 28-31

Clark, Jerome. Unexplained!. Detroit: Visible Ink Press, 1999. Pages 40-46

Coleman, Loren. Mysterious America: The Revised Edition. New York: Paraview Press, 2001. Pages 25, 260-261

Half Man, Half Bird

Keel, John A. The Complete Guide to Mysterious Beings. New York: Doubleday, 1994. Pages 234-244
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Mendham, Trevor. The Owlman of Cornwall

McEwan, Graham J. Mystery Animals of Britain and Ireland. London: Robert Hale, 1986. Page 153

Newton, Michael. Encyclopedia of Cryptozoology: A Global Guide to Hidden Animals and Their Pursuers. Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland & Company, 2005. Page 39

Steiger, Brad. Out of the Dark: The Complete Guide to Beings from Beyond. New York: Kensington Books, 2001. Pages 68-69

Wikipedia, The. Icarus

Wikipedia, The. Mothman

Wikipedia, The. Popo Bawa

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The text on this page is copyright 2007 by Jamie Hall. Please use proper citation if you are using this website for research.