The Dover Demon was allegedly sighted on three separate occasions in the town of Dover, Massachusetts on April 21 and April 22, 1977. It has remained a subject of interest for cryptozoologists ever since then. Cryptozoologist Loren Coleman was the initial investigator, the first to interview the eyewitnesses within a week of the sightings, and the individual who named the creature the Dover Demon; it was disseminated by the press, and the name stuck.
Coleman quickly assembled and brought into the inquiry three other investigators: Joseph Nyman, Ed Fogg, and Walter Webb. All were well-known ufological researchers in eastern Massachusetts, with Webb being the assistant director of the Hayden Planetarium at Boston's Science Museum. Coleman did not feel he was necessarily dealing with a ufological phenomenon, but he wanted to have seasoned investigators with good interviewing skills to do a comprehensive examination of the eyewitnesses and their families, as well as law enforcement, educational, and community members.
The Dover Demon was first sighted at night by three seventeen-year-olds who were driving through the Dover area when the car's headlights illuminated it. Bill Bartlett, the driver, reported that he saw what he thought at first was a dog or a cat, but upon closer inspection realized that it was a bizarre, unearthly-looking creature crawling along a stone wall on Farm Street.
Bartlett continued to watch the creature, and he reported it to have a disproportionately large, watermelon-shaped head and illuminated orange eyes, like glass marbles. It had long, thin arms and legs with slender fingers, which it used to grasp onto the pavement. It was hairless and had rough, flesh-toned skin, described as tan and sandpaper-like. The creature's appearance was very plain, with no nose or ears, and no mouth was seen. The witness drawings portray its head as having a skull shape, forming the contour of a circle on top with a more elliptical ending projecting down to include where the nose and mouth would be.
The creature was sighted an hour later, by John Baxter, 15, as he was walking home. He said it was bipedal and ended up running into a gully and standing next to a tree. The next day, Abby Brabham, 15, and Will Traintor, 18, claimed to have seen a similar looking creature from Traintor's car, on the side of the road. Brabham's description matched Bartlett's and Baxter's descriptions, except this time the cryptid had illuminated green eyes. She approximated its height as "about the size of a goat". Investigators attempted to shake up Ms. Brabham by noting she said it had green eyes reflected by car headlights, while Bartlett mentioned orange eyes were reflected back to him by his automobile's lights. Ms. Brabham was steadfast in her description.
Bartlett, Baxter, Brabham, and Traintor all drew sketches of the monstrous sight shortly after their sightings. On the piece of paper that includes Bartlett's sketch, he wrote "I, Bill Bartlett, swear on a stack of Bibles that I saw this creature."
The widespread interest in the Dover Demon has resulted in it being an oft-discussed cryptid in popular culture, and having Japanese figurines of the creature being developed for crypto buffs in Japan and North America.
The Dover Demon is currently a classic cryptid, with a variety of theories abounding as to what it was or is. Early ufologists first promoted speculation that the creature was an alien or some sort of mutant hybrid, perhaps one created as a result of a human experiment and escaped. Others theorize that it is really a being from another dimension, accidentally transferred into our world through a dimensional warp. It has been speculated by various ufologists that the Dover Demon was a Grey, due to its similar appearance. One zoological answer that has been proposed is that it was a newborn moose. One skeptic wrote that the description of the creature's head matched that of a baby moose. Among several shortcomings of the moose explanation is that the descriptions of the Dover Demon clearly discerned fingers, while all moose, being artiodactyls, have only hooves. Loren Coleman disputes this theory, stating that at the time of year of the sightings, yearling moose are much larger, and no moose records exist for eastern Massachusetts for the spring of 1977. Coleman additionally points out that all the witnesses had separate experiences, did not talk to each other before investigators interviewed them, and did not necessarily agree on exact descriptive details of the sighting. No conclusive evidence has been found for the existence or lack thereof of the Dover Demon. Since the Dover Demon was only seen over a two-night period, it is probably not a naturally occurring species, such as Bigfoot is claimed to be.
The Dover Demon bears similarity to the Mannegishi creature, which is native to the mythology of the Cree Indians in Canada. Coleman also notes that cryptozoologist Mark A. Hall links the Dover Demon to other sightings of aquatic beings from around the world, often lumped under the moniker "merbeings". It could also be a Backoo, as evidenced by the similarities in the body structures. Another theory, advanced in an episode of The X-Files, is that it is a hominid or stone age human.
During the spate of American sightings in Dover in 1977, all the witnesses were teenagers. This has been pointed out often in analyses of the Dover Demon sighting phenomenon. Writers with a new-age or spiritual bent often write of it as a poltergeist-type being, something with a strong field of spiritual energy that naturally connects it with the young. This reflects a recurring theme from the annals of cryptozoology, this being one of many entities whose sightings all befell witnesses from the same age group. An unfortunate comparison is made to the Owlman incidents, but skeptics rightfully point to the Owlman episodes having elements of pagan prankishness in evidence in those British events. In reality, sorting for age groups and other demographics elements can be found underlying any witness series.
Questions of credibility
Because all the witnesses were teenagers, many believe it to be a particularly nasty hoax to be dismissed offhand, and suspect a group of high school classmates of collaborating to make up the story. These accusations curiously evoke the comments from a group of young witnesses of an early Mothman sighting, whose complaints were that nobody believed them because people always thought teenagers were up to no good.
Interestingly the Cree nation of eastern Canada speak of a race of pygmy entities called the Mannegishi, who delight in playing tricks upon travellers, much like the little people in European myth. The Mannegishi have round heads, long thin legs, arms with six fingers on each hand. Excluding the finger count discrepancy, this description is reminiscent to the Dover Demon.
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