Nessie, Area 51, Roswell: names like this define UFO and paranormal lore. This is not a series about them. In Distant Encounters, we tour the strangest, most isolated tales of encounters with the unknown.
About.com was a sprawling lifestyle site, divided into nearly 1,000 pages for any interest under the sun: whether you were a gardener, knitter, or occultist, it was all there. This year, it shut down, rebranded as a more-modern lifestyle brand called Dotdash. Much of its content was lost, and that’s not terribly sad or remarkable, except for the day its Paranormal site spawned a report of a strange creature living in a dump.
A poll asking if readers had seen a cryptid spawned a unique response:
Paula M. had one such sighting. But it wasn’t of a Bigfoot, a sea serpent, or even a chupacabras. In many ways it was much stranger. And try as she might and after diligent research, she has yet to come up with an explanation for what she saw.
1999, Oregon. Paula M.’s hobby is searching junkyards for vintage bottles and glass which, you do you, Oregon. Heading into a off-the-beaten-path dump she had never visited before, Paula M. noticed something unusual:
“As I was staking out the area,” she said. “I happened across some tunnel-like holes in the ground. The holes were of a peculiar size, which made me wonder what kind of animal possibly could have dug them.”
Paula noticed six or seven of the holes, each about two inches in diameter and partially camouflaged by the sparse growth of the recess.
Finding an inviting spot, Paula M. dug in the dirt for nearly an hour in search of vintage bottles with embossed letters which, okay.
Paula decided to take a break from her excavation and stretch her legs. She stood and walked around a bit. “While I was moving about at the bottom of the recess, I thought I saw, from the corner of my eye, a clump of dirt move. It was about the size of my fist”…about 10 feet away from her, the clump of dirt moved, like it was pushed out of the ground from beneath, and rolled down the hill. Paula began to get a little nervous. Whatever had made those tunnel-like holes was apparently making another one. And she wasn’t particularly keen on watching a rat, a snake, or some other potentially dangerous animal come slithering out.
Then she saw it. Something living began to poke itself out of the ground!
The creature emerges, and it’s like nothing Paula M. has seen before:
She stopped about four to five feet away from the creature. What she could see of it was poking out of the ground about five inches. “At this point, I wasn’t sure what end of the animal I was looking at,” Paula said. “It was about two inches in diameter, and the end of it was perfectly smooth and round – like a cue ball. It was light-brown in color, very much like the surrounding earth. It had a worm-like shape, but didn’t taper down at the end as worms do, and was firmer around looking. It had no distinguishing or familiar features to indicate to me what it was.”
Its size made it obvious that this was not a worm – at least not any kind of worm Paula had ever heard of. And she could not see its entire body, only what was poking out of the ground, so who knows what the rest of this thing really looked like…she could not detect any eyes, mouth, nose or ears. It had no fur, scales or worm-like ripples on its skin. What it did have was patches of peach-like fuzz – very fine and spaced apart like the hair on a young human’s arm – covering what looked like soft, dusty skin about the texture of a person’s. It was not wet, slimy or tough looking.
As she studied at the strange, featureless creature, it gave her a startling surprise:
“All of a sudden,” she said, “while I was examining it, two big beautiful crystal blue eyes popped open! Now I knew what end of the animal I was looking at.”
All thoughts of this being some kind of giant worm were immediately dismissed. Worms don’t have eyes – not like that! More curious than frightened of this remarkable animal, Paula began to wonder how big the body was and what its arms, legs, and tail looked like – or if it even had any such parts. “The white of the eye surrounding its blue iris was the whitest I’d ever seen – a pure virgin white. The size of the eyes were quite big in proportion to its body size. I wondered if it were a juvenile.”
The creature remained gentle, undisturbed by Paula’s presence.
“My presence didn’t seem to bother it because it studied me for only a short period of time. Then it ignored me. It appeared content and relaxed while it exposed itself to the sun…Paula was startled when the creature began to move, and she instinctively stepped back. The animal slowly began to sway the top of its body back and forth as it stretched itself upward toward the sky, all the while slowly blinking.
“I tried to get it to look at me again by clapping my hands and yelling, but it continued to ignore me.” Since it had no discernable ears, Paula wondered if perhaps it couldn’t hear sound. So she tried waving her arms and hands about to draw its attention to her. But all it did was stare at the sky, continuing to sway its head back and forth, stretching upward while blinking slowly. It was as if it were hypnotized by the light of the sun.”
After five minutes, the creature retreated back into the ground, leaving more questions than answers:
Paula isn’t quite sure what to make of this peculiar encounter, but it haunts her. “I haven’t been able to erase it from my mind, and it’s driving me crazy! I’ve asked many people about it and have spent countless hours searching the Internet for answers to any known or unknown animal fitting the description of the animal.”
Paula returned to the dump site the following Spring in hopes of getting another glimpse of the mysterious creature. No such luck. Some of the hole openings were there, however. “I am convinced that this animal still exists and lives there. It’s possible that it hibernates, so I will go back again in early to mid-summer and try and get another glimpse of it – and possibly capture it on film.”
No such evidence ever presented itself, but readers eagerly wrote in with their own theories. Someone suggests a misidentified rubber boa, which Paula M. rejects. “Scott” proposes the legendary tatzelwurm. Another says a friend reports seeing a similar creature:
“I have not seen this creature myself, but I know of someone in California who has. It was about more than 30 years ago and the people who saw it were little children at the time. They said they were playing in the backyard in the dirt when all of a sudden this ‘thing’ came sprouting out the the dirt. The brother and sister just watched in horror, holding their breath. The brother described it as a tall, worm-looking thing about 8 feet tall. Up to this day, if the sister asks the brother, ‘Do you remember…?’ he cuts her off and says he doesn’t want to talk about it. I believe in what they saw.” – Natalie W.
The responses contain their own mystery: a suggestion of the “ingots” of Indochina as a solution is complicated by the fact that every result for “ingots” seems to be discussion of this very comment. This e-mail to a defunct website’s coverage of a obscure cryptid is itself the only account of an obscure cryptid.
“I probably won’t be the first or only to inform you that what Paula saw at the dump may indeed be an unidentified Southeastern Asian creature known as an ingot [possibly lingot]. Check with Agence France-Press for stories about ingots during the final years of French involvement in Indochina. They were seen burrowing everywhere, and the descriptions of the bodies and eyes match those of Paula’s story. Old Indochina veterans in the French army could never explain them or where they came from, and there is no record of American sightings during this country’s involvement later. General Jean de Lattre de Tassigny, supreme commander of French forces in Indochina, was so unnerved by sighting of burrowing ingots and the lack of information about them that he brought in a special team of researchers, who apparently found nothing.
“The ingot is like no other creature reported on earth, and it contributed to the general weirdness of the French experience in Indochina. Ingots were reported in large numbers in 1953 around the North Vietnamese site where an entire French regiment vanished without a trace. This disappearance may have had nothing to do with ingots, but there are still old veterans in the cafes of Paris, Bordeaux and Marseilles who swear there was a connection. Incidentally, the reality of the disappearing regiment is well-documented. For a few years in the 1950s, burrowing ingots made big news in France. But France, like the US later, hid its Indochinese veterans and paid little attention to their stories… about anything. Such is defeat.” – Loic C.
Anton B. suggests that the gentle creature was in fact a vicious predator, sizing up its prey:
“I read the article about that weird creature of the dump that Paula M saw. I just think that she ought to be careful going back to look for the creature. Its behavior seems to me to suggest that it is a predator of some sort…his creature obviously showed no sign of fear from the account that was given. This creature even came out of the ground when it was likely that it would have had some sign that there was a large being somewhere in the vicinity. I assume that it had this knowledge as a creature that lived underground would likely be sensitive to vibrations, and be able to determine that something large was around.
“The next thing that makes this creature seem predatory is how it extended itself and waved in the air in a very obvious manner…Of course, I am not a professional in the field of animal behavior, but…I’d just suggest that she doesn’t approach the creature and that she does not go to look for it alone. Perhaps the reason that the creature is unknown is that no one has ever survived an experience with it before.”
Anton B. isn’t a professional in animal behavior, BUT…Paula M did never report back, as far as I can tell, beyond one interview with Jeff Rense that I can’t find any trace of, so yep she was absolutely eaten by it. That’s just science. And if she did ever report back, I couldn’t find a trace of it either, since all the proof is buried deep in the Wayback Machine. This story about a weird cryptid, who defied categorization and explanation, is itself now a kind of internet cryptid.