Wednesday, May 3, 2017

A 2015 Jersey Devil Hoax?

A friend of mine tagged me in a story about a man who claimed to have photographed the elusive Jersey Devil. At first, I decided it wasn't really timely enough to post here because it happened back in 2015. But today, I came across this article from Cryptozoology News with some analysis of the 2015 photo. It's from a couple months ago, so I figured that was at least fairly recent.

At any rate, the photo, which I include above, looks pretty good at first glance. As usual, I considered all sorts of possible explanations involving misidentification of some normal object, and the best I could come up with was a kite. But you also don't see a string or anything like that in the photo, or anybody standing on the right side of the road where they would have to be standing to fly it. So that's probably not it, which puts it in the category of photos that have to be either hoaxes or the real thing.

The image, submitted to Cryptozoology News and seemingly taken from inside the vehicle, shows a blurry and rainy highway with a few blurred cars and a dark flying animal on the top left. The alleged animal appears to be less blurry than the elements in the rest of the elements present in the photograph.

The man said the creature was very large and had “bat-like wings and goat features”. “It was extremely creepy, but we figured we must have just seen it wrong, because of the rain and darkness, but upon looking at the picture it looks like no bird or bat I have seen before,” he said about the alleged November 26th 2015 late evening encounter.

Image analysts tell Cryptozoology News that based on compression characteristics and EXIF metadata, the image initially appears to have been processed or edited with a photo editor software.

Cryptozoologists get a bad rap sometimes for being too credible about sightings and the like, but there you go. The photo is probably a fake that was edited to include the image. It just goes to show that even in some of these fringe communities, there's some real investigation and analysis going on. Interestingly enough, in October of 2015 another Jersey Devil photo was circulated on the Internet, and that story can be found here.

This is the image from October of 2015. The photographer claims that he saw this creature run out of the woods and then leap into the air and fly away. He claims that at first he thought it was a llama, but then realized that it had wings and was flying... and that's not very much time to pull out a camera and snap a picture. I miss getting pictures of stuff that lasts longer than that all the time. But here's the photo, so you can judge for yourself.

This one looks fake to me, not nearly as good as the November photo. Proportionally, the body is very large and the wings are very small, which means there's no way something built like that could actually fly. And maybe it's just me, but the way it hangs in the air reminds me of a pinata. So I'm thinking it could be suspended from a tree branch above with monofilament or something like that, which wouldn't necessarily show up in a photo.

So in the fall of 2015, was there an organized effort to hoax Jersey Devil sightings and photos? It makes me wonder, since both of these photos came out within a month of each other and there haven't been any like them since. Also, they clearly are not of the same creature. The November image shows something much better proportioned for flying, especially since the body itself is not very clear.

And in fact, if I were looking at my own criticisms of the October photo and trying to address them, I would most likely come up with something that has larger wings and is further away from the camera - which is exactly what the November photo looks like. I probably would also have to use some sort of photo editing software, because I couldn't set it up nearly as easily with a physical object.

There's a mystery here, all right, it's just not the one the papers are talking about. Are these two photos part of a larger effort? Or is the second photo a "copycat" who saw the press coverage that the first picture got? We may never know the answer, but something was clearly going on in the New Jersey area back in 2015. I just don't think there anything paranormal about it.

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