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Strange Days: Cryptozoology


Dartmoor Mystery Beast

Some very intriguing photos of an unidentified ambling creature on Dartmoor

Dartmoor Mystery Beast

UPDATE! - 06-08-2007

The owner of a Newfoundland dog called Troy has contacted the press as she is sure that the 'Beast of Dartmoor' pictures actually show Troy going for a stroll.  The family live very close to the spot where the photos (see right hand coloumn) were taken, and the dog often walks around there of its own accord. Take a look for yourself here.


This enig­matic beast was seen by Martin Whit­ley, a pro­fess­ional fal­coner, Devon born and bred. On 9 June, he con­tacted the nat­ional re­search net­work Big Cats In Brit­ain to relate the foll­ow­ing experi­ence:

"I was flying a hawk on Dart­moor with some Amer­ican clients, when one of them pointed out this creat­ure. It was walk­ing along a path about 200 yards [180m] away from us. It was black and grey and com­par­able in size to a minia­ture pony. It had very thick should­ers, a long, thick tail with a blunt end, and small round ears. Its move­ment app­eared feline; then ‘bear-like’ sprang to mind. There was a party climb­ing on the tor opp­os­ite, making a racket, but this it ignored com­pletely."

Martin’s Amer­ican clients took a series of photos. They show the Dart­moor land­scape, the school party on the tor, and in the middle dist­ance an animal which seems to change shape in each frame, from cat, to bear, to pony, to boar, to vari­ous breeds of dog. Indeed, mem­bers of the BCIB group in­voked nearly the whole of Crufts in att­empt­ing to give the creat­ure a ‘rat­ional’ explan­at­ion, while the prox­imity of Hound Tor sugg­ested to some a poss­ible kin­ship to Devon’s spect­ral Wisht Hounds.

Martin, how­ever, is adam­ant that the animal was not a dog: "I have worked with dogs all my life and it was def­in­itely not canine. I have also seen a collie-sized black cat in the area, about 10 years ago, and it was not that – this was a lot bigger."

While he does not claim to know what the creat­ure was, his impress­ion through­out was that it was more feline than any­thing else, a ver­dict con­firmed by the experi­ences of his neigh­bours. "I am about as local as it gets and liaise very closely with all the land­owners in the area and have dis­cussed my sight­ing with sev­eral of them. You would be sur­prised at the number of people who have seen black big cats (and some­thing resembl­ing a small bear) in the area, over the course of the years. Of course, being Dart­moor farm­ers they would only ment­ion it when some­one else says they have seen one…" (BCIB)

In crypto­zoo­log­ical circles, the ‘grail quest’ is for good photos or film of myst­ery ani­mals: only these, it is gen­er­ally thought, will pro­vide reli­able ‘proof’. How grat­ify­ingly para­dox­ical it is, then, that when such photos do turn up, far from clar­ify­ing the myst­ery they app­ar­ently
com­pound it more deeply, frame by frame.

More ABC sightings are in the latest issue of the mag

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Dartmoor Mystery Beast
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Dartmoor Mystery Beast


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