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About Mysterious America

This column, hosted by our own Dr. Seymour O'life, goes out of its way to bring you the bizarre, strange, uncanny, and just plain mysterious places that dot this fair land. Perhaps it is a huge Buddha statue in New York or a state park in Pennsylvania, where the stones ring like bells - each month is always a peculiar jewel when it comes to Mysterious America.

International Cryptozoology Museum

4 Thompsons Point #106, Portland, ME 04101

ICMBrianFrontWe have been here before – but at another time and another place.

We first introduced the International Cryptozoology Museum to our readers a number of years back. It was even a feature stop at a Fall Fiesta that found itself along the rocky Maine coast.

Back then you would have found the museum stuffed into a space that never could do it justice. But on July 1, 2016 the ICM moved from downtown Portland to its new and larger home at Portland, Maine’s Thompson’s Point – conveniently next door to Bissel Brothers Brewing Company.

My last time in the area I made it a point to drop by probably the most famous Cryptozoologist of our time, our friend Loren Coleman’s museum to see the new place and we were more than impressed.

For those who do not know what Cryptozoology is, let me explain. Cryptozoology is a science that aims to prove the existence of entities from the folklore record, such as Bigfoot or chupacabras, as well as animals otherwise considered extinct, such as non-avian dinosaurs. Cryptozoologists refer to these entities as cryptids.ICMMaineCrypto

Please don’t think we’re just talking the Loch Ness monster here – as new creatures are discovered, or re-discovered, all the time.

In the early 20th century there were rumors of an enormous prehistoric lizard roaming a remote Indonesian island that were just that – rumors - until 1910. It was then that Lt. Steyn van Hensbroek, a Dutch colonial official, put together an expedition and headed to Komodo Island, where he caught and killed a 6-foot beast. Van Hensbroek then sent the proof back to the Zoological Museum and Botanical Garden at Bogor, Java, which dubbed the species Varanus komodensis.

We know it as the Komodo Dragon.

Other creatures that are familiar were once believed to be about as real as a Sqounk’s tear. Creatures like the Okapi, Platypus and the Gorilla all were considered myths and fabrications of local legend and folklore.

Maybe the Sqounk will show up too.

The new museum includes exhibits about cryptids (beyond Bigfoot & Nessie). They feature displays about the finds of “living fossils” and other classic animals of discovery — the successful cryptozoological stories. One of the most famous, of course, is the coelacanth, as featured in the ICM logo. They have a 5.5 foot long, lifesize model of the first one taken off Africa in 1938 in the museum. I have a picture of the actual specimen taken while I was on tour in Africa with Notso Happy.ICMCoelacanth

The International Cryptozoology Museum has·many rare and unique pieces of remarkable evidence. Some of the items on exhibit are actual hair samples of Abominable Snowmen, Bigfoot, Yowie, and Orang Pendek. Fecal matter from a small Yeti was collected by the Tom Slick-F Kirk Johnson Snowman Expedition of 1959, and the ICM’s sample has been featured on three television series:·In Search Of,·MonsterQuest, and·Mysteries at the Museum. A footprint cast taken in 2001, during an alleged Thylacine encounter, is among the over 10,000 items on exhibit.

But there is one other small item that links back to another story…

ICMBigFootBoysAlso to be seen at the International Cryptozoology Museum is a letter from the actor Jimmy Stewart. It is on display as he is linked to the Pangboche Yeti hand mystery. Was Jimmy Stewart not the man that was said to have handed the Minnesota Ice Man to Frank Hansen back in the 60’s- as we discussed in May 2018’s Mysterious America?

It seems that in Nepal a monastery had relics of the past – two being the skull and hand of a purported Yeti. It is said that Texas oilman Tom Slick (really his name, I swear), after visiting the monks, stole part of the hand. In Calcutta he then ran into his friend, the actor Jimmy Stewart, who, just thinking he was helping a friend out, smuggled part of the hand to England, right under the nose of customs officials in his wife Gloria’s lingerie case. In those days’ British customs officers had a strict rule against touching women’s underwear, so the Stewarts stashed the finger in Gloria’s bras and went right through with no problems.

After testing back in London the Zoological Society said the finger was indeed from a hominid, possibly from a Neanderthal.

Hmmm, things get more and more interesting all the time in Mysterious America.

Speaking of Mysterious America – Loren Coleman has a most excellent book with the same title (yes, Loren – you did have it first). It is well worth the read, and Coleman’s International Cryptozoology Museum in Portland, Maine is too.

If you love the unusual, the odd and the truly enigmatic you must visit the new museum - it puts Mysterious America on the map.

O’Life out!