The Mysterious "Mothman" Has Been Spotted Flying Over Chicago. Here's What It Really Is


Dr. Alfredo Carpineti

Senior Staff Writer & Space Correspondent

clockJan 18 2018, 17:09 UTC

Talking about cryptids, you know what really gets my goat? El chupacabra. Image Credit: Mothman by Tim Bertelink via Wikicommons, Chicago: Ian Dikhtiar/Shutterstock

It's been a while since we've had a good cryptid story, but at last, we have one that focuses on everyone’s fourth favorite cryptid, the Mothman. The supernatural creature's notoriety has risen and waned over the years, but as VICE reports, there have been 55 eye-witness reports of it in the sky over Chicago since last February. It’s time for a Mothman resurgence. 

So first a bit of background. The tale of the Mothman begins back in the 1960s in Point Pleasant, West Virginia, where over the course of 13 months it allegedly appeared to multiple people and even heralded the fatal collapse of the city's Silver Bridge in 1967. The story's paranormal connections were popularized in a book called The Mothman Prophecies. This was later turned into a terrible movie starring Richard Gere and if the creature truly was a herald of doom, it should have appeared to anyone about to buy a ticket.


Scientists believe that the most likely explanation for the Mothman is a sandhill crane. Its impressive wingspan, between 1.65 and 2.3 meters (5.4 and 7.6 feet), and red coloration around the eyes make it a great candidate to explain the cryptid. 

So is this what people have been seeing? Good question. Despite the number of sightings, there is very little photographic evidence online, which is perplexing given that we live in a world where everyone has a high-quality camera on them at all times. A few images can be found on the website of Lon Strickler, who collects evidence on Chicago's winged humanoid. Now, even if we don't agree that we are looking at a kite and at a bird, I think we can be sure that these pictures depict two different “creatures”.

John Amitrano, one of the eye-witnesses interviewed by VICE said his phone was charging when he saw something flying awkwardly under a plane. "It didn't look like a bat so much as what illustrations of pterodactyls look like, with the slenderness of its head and its wing shape," he said. "I know what birds and what bats look like. This thing didn't have any feathers or fur, and it didn't fly like anything I've ever seen.”


VICE also interviewed Dr David A. Gallo, a memory expert from the University of Chicago, who gave his own explanation for the surge in sightings. “There's a phenomenon where there's basically some real witnessed experience, but if there are holes or gaps in that original experience, sometimes the mind is unable to fill in the gaps," he said. "If something is suggested to them subsequently as a plausible scenario – like a Mothman or whatever – that person might be inclined to fill in the gaps with that.”


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