Cryptozoology and Ivan T. Sanderson

Ivan T. Sanderson is credited with coining the term “cryptozoology,” the study of unknown creatures, as we all know very well. Sanderson was born in Scotland but immigrated to the United States and became a US citizen after WWII. He did a lot of traveling in his life, including with his family, and, sadly, his father was killed in Kenya by a rhinoceros in 1925.

Sanderson himself got his bachelor’s degree in zoology and two master’s degrees in botany and ethnology. So, he wasn’t some crackpot pseudo-scientist. He was the real deal. It is worth noting that he was interested in Charles Fort (this guy is super interesting and I would highly recommend looking into him! He wrote four books in his lifetime and all of them are considered nonfiction, though they dealt with topics ranging from teleportation to poltergeists and out-of-place artifacts. Interestingly enough, the collective of these various phenomena is called “Fortean phenomena” or “Forteana.”).

During his lifetime, he was known as a scientist to bring in for weird and unexplained animal cases (particularly the giant penguin incident that occurred in the St. Petersburg area of Florida in the late 1940s). On top of that, Sanderson had a healthy interest in lake monsters, sea serpents, Mokèlé-mbèmbéYeti, and Sasquatch.

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Windover Archaeological Site and the Bog Bodies

Bog bodies have been found the world over and are a very eerie look into human lives from the past, given the smooth and “freshly dead” look of the bodies that are the best preserved despite being millennia and millennia old. Though, not all bog bodies are the fully formed (some are mostly skeletons, though well-preserved and articulated in the joints), the thing they all have in common is that the peat found in these wetlands and bogs along with several other conditions (temperature, pH levels, etc) create this natural effect of mummification. Which is to say, it was not done intentionally by those who put the bodies there. Depending on the area, archaeologists believe some of the bodies were either discarded criminals or ritual sacrifices.

Despite most of the bog bodies being discovered in such a wide range of places across the globe, we do have our very own site right here in the United States in sunny Florida at Windover in Titusville.

The discovery of this site, as with many archaeological sites, came when land development had begun in the area. Instead of doing an archaeological survey first, the developers already had heavy machinery operating in the area and several skulls were subsequently discovered by the backhoe operator. It was then revealed that there were at least 168 individuals buried there, most of the bodies dating around 7000 BCE. Unfortunately, these bodies weren’t as preserved as some of the ones in the pictures on this post (being mostly skeletons due to the warmer climate of Florida as compared to Denmark or the Netherlands) but many were found to have brain matter preserved as well as offering a very good insight into the diet of these people found in the gut area (mostly fruit—grapes, prickly pear fruits).

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Duval County’s Public School Number Four

Duval County’s Public School Number Four is often referred to by residents of Jacksonville as the “Devil’s School.” It is surrounded by tragic, unconfirmed rumors.

Here are the facts: The school was built in 1891 and closed in 1960 with the construction of two interstates, I-95 and I-10, which isolated the school. The building was condemned as a fire hazard in 1971. In 1995, a fire did break out and destroyed the ceiling of the auditorium. Fortunately, there was no one there at the time!

However, locals who completely unaware of the school closing in 1960, created some rumors about the school–all of which occurred after the school had been completely closed and empty for several years.

Of these local legends, the first is of a furnace exploding in the 1960s that killed half the student body along with a handful of school employees. After the damage was fixed, class resumed as normal and a priest was brought in to exorcise the place so teachers could teach class without being interrupted by ghost children!

The second is of a school principal being a cannibal and eating children who fell asleep in class. This same principal was also rumored to have gone on a killing spree across the campus.

And finally, the story of a janitor snapping and going on a killing spree, taking care of the overpopulation problem in the (then closed-down) school (that had no enrolled children).

The creepiest part of this entire story is the locals who dreamed all of this up! Where did they get this stuff?

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Do you know where the Wakulla Volcano was?

Reports of an column of smoke coming from  Jefferson County, Florida were once common, with the first recorded claims made by Seminole Native Americans and then others all the way until the Charleston Earthquake of 1886, when the smoke disappeared entirely. Its source was never found, though the leading scientific assumption is that it was the result of a peat fire.

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Is there a mysterious, dormant volcano lurking beneath swampland in North Florida?

Tate’s Hell National Forest

Tate’s Hell National Forest, near Carrabelle, Florida is home to 200,000+ acres of forest, dense scrub, and swampland.

It’s colorful name is said to come from a farmer named Cebe Tate, who in 1875 allegedly became lost in the swamp for a week. There he was bitten by a venomous snake and drank unclean water. When he finally emerged from the forest, his hair had turned completely white. After announcing his name and proclaiming he had just seen Hell, Cebe fell down dead.

Since then, the area has been referred to as Tate’s Hell.

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Sunland Hospital

Sunland Hospital, initially named W. T. Edwards Hospital in Tallahassee, FL. It was used as a tuberculosis quarantine until an antibiotic for the disease was discovered in the early sixties. From there, it was closed for several years and then reopened in 1967 as The Sunland Center at Tallahassee. The center endured massive under-funding, over-crowding, and scandal and was closed in 1983. It stood empty (and haunted?) until demolition in 2006 and now is the site of some nice apartments.

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