woods creatures

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UNKNOWN ANIMALS in the woods? Yes, amazingly, there still are creatures in the North American woods that no one has identified. Science has not classified them. No one has written about them. Yet a walk in the woods with a discerning eye easily confirms the existence of these exotic species. I’ve been pursuing them for years and have discovered many animals in the woods of Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and even Quebec. Each species is different, but I can offer a few generalizations about them as a group. They are almost always found in wooded areas, or at least near or among trees. They can suddenly appear to melt into the surrounding woods, almost like a cham- eleon, a trait that probably evolved as a way to hide from predators and photographers. Woods Creatures Species I have discovered Richard Higgins

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A report on the unknown animal species that tree photographer Richard Higgins has found in the woods of New England over the last several years. Remarkably, none of the creatures are found in the scientific literature, Higgins found, so he named them "to the best of my ability." Fourteen woods creatures are presented here, with photographs and brief descriptions by the author. While hardly "On the Origin of Species," this zoologically ground-breaking provides a fascinating, and credible, look at animals that exist in the woods that remain unknown to those who live near them. The proceeds of any donations made through PayPal on the author's site will go to the Foundation for Woods Creatures, a 501C3. A fundraising benefit, The Concert for the Woods Animals, is being planned for spring 2015 in London. Details to be announced. All material herein is the property of the author. © Richard Higgins 2014. All rights reserved.

TRANSCRIPT

Page 1: Woods Creatures

UNKNOWN ANIMALS in the woods? Yes, amazingly, there still are creatures in the North American woods that no one has identified. Science has not classified them. No one has written about them. Yet a walk in the woods with a discerning eye easily confirms the existence of these exotic species. I’ve been pursuing them for years and have discovered many animals in the woods of Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and even Quebec.

Each species is different, but I can offer a few generalizations about them as a group.

They are almost always found in wooded areas, or at least near or among trees.

They can suddenly appear to melt into the surrounding woods, almost like a cham-eleon, a trait that probably evolved as a way to hide from predators and photographers.

Woods CreaturesSpecies I have discovered

Richard Higgins

Page 2: Woods Creatures

I’d be pleased to hear from anyone who’s heard of any of these animals. But if they are indeed unknown, as I believe, I would like to introduce 14 of them here.

As a novice at classification, I can only hope the scientific names I propose will be ratified and accepted. I’m not even sure if a few of them belong to the kingdom Ani-malia or Vegetabilia. They have qualities of both. Most appear to be a hybrid of a tall woody plant and a mammal, while others suggest a mix of a woody plant and a bird or reptile.

But I can at least prove the existence of these species with my photographs. I’ll also say a little of what I’ve gleaned about their appearance, habitats or diet.

Turn your head the slightest, and they vanish into the woods. Turn it back, and you lock eyes with them.

They become still upon being approach-ed—as motionless as a tree. I used to think I could wait them out and capture video of them as soon as they moved. But my cam-era invariably became too heavy to hold, and I gave up with a nod to their patience.

They are grey, brown or black in color and tend to have rough, furrowed skin, often with rutted or wavy lines.

They are not carnivorous, or at least I have never been attacked by them.

I’ve caught sight of these arresting critters to my delight in the woods—but never in a scientific text, botanical or zoological.

Page 3: Woods Creatures

About these images

Anyone would be justified in our Photoshop age to suspect these photos are fake. Indeed, I’ve almost wondered as much myself at times, although I took them and know that they are not. Every critter here is as I found it in the woods. If it weren’t for natural decay (some photos are 8 years old) you could see these animals as they are here. I adopt-ed this rule when I first started noticing them. I saw a rotting log, the end of which looked vaguely like a cow’s head. Before taking a photo (not included here!) I artfully put a piece of bark on it to improve the similarity. I was immediately disappointed with myself and felt reproved by the very trees around me. As a lover of trees, I knew, and they knew that I knew, that their magic and power extends beyond any human trickery, whether physical or digital. I resolved to follow one rule: I could bend, duck or revolve around a creature until it looked just right, but I could never touch it. And I have not. I’ve edited the photos for normal, sensible reasons (lighting, contrast, color, sharp-ness) but have not changed the basic image the camera re-corded. This rule has made my creature-hunting a fun game for me and kept it fascinating for so long.

All photographs is this report are by the author. © Richard Higgins 2014. All rights reserved.

Send comments to [email protected]

Page 4: Woods Creatures

1. Dog With Strange Bark

This is Caninus Cum Alienum Barca ( Dog With Strange Bark), which I found in Walden Woods.

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2. Walden Dragon

I spotted this scaly-skinned, reptile-like thing near the dog. Initially I worried that it was headed toward it, but I later found that it subsists on a diet of fallen branches, which it is seen eating here.

Page 6: Woods Creatures

3. Sylvan Slitherer

Spotted, oddly, at Harvard’s Arnold Arboretum in Boston, not far from the main research facility, in which scores of botanists and naturalists looked at screens to identify things. I’ve wanted to ask one of them if it is related to the Walden Dragon, but I haven’t wished to embarrass anyone.

Page 7: Woods Creatures

4. Red-ThroatedPine Pecker

Emerging from a hidden nest after feeding its young regurgitated pine nuts and worms. It was also spotted in Walden Woods, and had its sharp eye on the dragon and the dog—possibly to see if there would be any scraps.

Page 8: Woods Creatures

5. North American Wood Owl

Spotted owl in a pine woods of Concord. This guy really tested my classification skills. As a type of bird, it should not be placed in the class Mammalia. But that face makes me wonder.

Page 9: Woods Creatures

6. Canadian Woodhorse

I logged this fellow at Owl’s Head in Quebec. The ski area chairlift in seen middle left.

Page 10: Woods Creatures

7. Agni Conciderunt

Spotted on beach in Little Compton, R.I. Fortunately, the zoologist Lewis Shari was on the beach that day. At his suggestion, I named this sand-dweller Agni Conciderunt, or Lamb Chop.

Page 11: Woods Creatures

8. White-tailed Hornbranch (skeleton) I came across the skull of this cud-chewing ruminant in Thornton, New Hampshire. I’m including this creature on my lifetime checklist for now, but I admit there is some possibility that it is extinct.

Page 12: Woods Creatures

9. Rootfoot Gargoyle Snag

This is a sad one. Saw this poor thing at the bottom of rock steps while descending Dickey Mtn. in N.H. Coming face-to-stump with this hideous creature in the wild is terrifying, but I wasn’t worried because it was asleep. Or so I thought. Poked it with a stick, and it was dead. Fell? Pushed? Jumped?

Page 13: Woods Creatures

10. Dancing Birchling With a zoom lens, I managed to catch this graceful creature doing a one-trunk conga dance in the Arnold Arboretum. This was one time I wish I hadn’t given up on carrying a video camera!

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11. Atlantic Drift SharkSpotted on a Rhode Island beach. It was in a predicament, but there was little I could do other than splash water on it. There were reports of shark attacks that July, and I didn’t want to take a chance.

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12. White Boled Rhino

Spotted in Thornton, N.H., after I overhead periodic loud snorting in the woods. It was good to know that, unlike the Rootfoot Snag, this deciduous denizen of the forest was just resting.

Page 16: Woods Creatures

13. Bigtooth HorntrunkSpotted in the King Phillips Woods in Lincoln, Mass. This guy is a real invasive. It attacks trees, sinks its powerful mandibles into their xylum and sucks out the sap through its trunk.

Page 17: Woods Creatures

14. Druid SlothSpotted at Owl’s Head, in Quebec. This shot was a lucky one for me, as the druid sloth typically hiber-nates the entire winter in a tree. It was aroused after snow-making machines splattered it with snow.