When we think of cryptids we usually think of creatures that are scary and/or dangerous. Accompanied by dozens of horrifying accounts of encounters, most a brief glimpse or stare-down with the creature and others resulting in the damage of property, pets or persons. Let's be honest cryptids are the things that go bump in the night that we can't explain, from Mexican goat suckers to the mothman. But every once in a while we come across something that is entirely different.
First Video - 2007
It was late one night in November 2007 in Fresno California when Jose was startled from his sleep by the barking of his dogs. He blearily stumbled from his bedroom out to where he had set up the security monitor. The camera pointed out over his lawn (a response to an earlier incident were he had caught someone trying to steal from him) but what he saw now looked like no person. It was a white creature, 2-3 feet tall, supported on long legs, with no real upper body to speak of. It looked like nothing he had ever seen before, if anything the closest thing it resembled was a pair of white pajama pants, traipsing across his lawn
Baffled, Jose rushed to grab his camcorder and began filming the security monitor screen, managing to capture not one, but two of these creatures as the strolled through his yard before they wandering from view
Perplexed, Jose couldn't figure out what he had seen, he sent the video a local tv station owned by Univision, America's largest Spanish tv network. The network would then contact a paranormal investigator from LA, Victor Camacho
Victor Camacho has quite the paranormal resume under his belt. Director of Desvelado Network in LA and The host of a radio show "Los Desvelados" (the sleepless ones) which has been on the air for the last 20 years in both the US and Mexico. Each night, the show discusses a wide range of topics from UFOs, paranormal legends, forbidden archeology, conspiracies and even other realities. Not only that he has been involved in several special television programs for The Discovery Channel, History Channels "UFO HUNTERS" and SyFy's "Fact or Faked'. Victor has been working in media for nearly 30 years and studied Communication at Weber State University in Utah
Victor was brought down to the tv station where they had him review the footage and wanted his confirmation that it indeed was an alien. Victor said he couldn't make that call based on that video alone and requested to speak with Jose. The network contacted Jose and eventually convinced him to come down to the station
Victor interviewed Jose, who was very nervous and didn't want his face shown on camera who told Victor his story. Victor left the station uncertain what to think, Jose had not given him a phone number or an address, and the station had not given him a copy of the video, he only had his own footage of the video play on the network tv screen
The network aired the footage despite coming to no conclusions and it would be these airing which would give this cryptid its name: the Fresno Nightcrawler
Four months later in February 2008 Jose contacted Victor and asked if he had come to any conclusions about the video and Victor said that unfortunately the network hadn't given him a copy so he hadn't been able to study it further. Jose offered to give him a copy so Victor met him at his home in Fresno
Jose was much more relaxed and showed Victor around the yard and through this Victor was able to estimate the height of the creatures
After this Victor was still baffled, and a couple weeks later we attended MUFON (Mutual UFO Network) where he presented the video and his investigation, seeking help from the other MUFON members
Founded in 1969 The Mutual UFO Network is a US-based non-profit organization composed of civilian volunteers who study reported UFO sightings. It is one of the oldest and largest organizations of its kind, claiming more than 4,000 members worldwide with chapters and representatives in more than 43 countries and all 50 states
Despite the room full of experts, no one there could agree on what it was that Jose experienced
Fact or Faked
Not long after this, the History Channel show 'Fact or Faked' would take on this footage. They weren't able to come to any conclusions either
Previous Sighting is Linked - 2004
In 2004 a 17 year old motorist allegedly saw a strange thing on the side of the road while driving one night in Manchester, Indiana
It was thin, with long legs, and looked humanoid without being truly human. It moved oddly, as if disjointed, and was described similarly to the creatures in Fresno, with one major difference. This one was over 6 feet tall. A second car passed the figure, containing two elderly passengers, who also saw the being. They conferred with the other motorist, and all three agrees that what they had seen was not human.
They drove together out of the area, obviously rattled by the experience. No footage or photos were captured during this encounter, but many agree that this story sounds eerily similar to what Jose would capture on film in 2007
2nd Video, Yosemite Park - 2011
The second video footage was caught on a Yosemite National Park security camera in March of 2011. They were hoping to identify a group of vandals who had been stealing and damaging private property. Needless to say, they were pretty spooked to see what really showed up.
The Ohio Sighting - 2014
The witness, a 60-year-old ex-marine yet to be named and his wife were driving near Carmel on December 12, 2014, when they came up over a hill and saw a 7' tall slender, gray creature which is now known as the Carmel Area Creature.
The Carmel Area Creature is tall and gray, with presumably no arms and long, muscular legs. It is bipedal and walks in an odd manner with its backward bending knees. It resembles the Fresno Nightcrawler so many have come to the conclusion that the two are related
"We recently bought a place in the Fort Hill area (in southeast Highland County). We first noticed after about 30 days of living here that we suddenly have a perfect circle that stays fresh green, no matter what weather, in our front yard. On Friday night (the 12th), we were driving home. After turning on Carmel Road, which leads to our road, we went around the curve by the Carmel church and then up a small incline and approximately 10 feet over the incline and in front of our truck, the 'alien' ran across the road and into the woods."
Reddit User Sighting - ~2015
While researching this story I stumbled upon a Reddit thread where a user claimed to have an encounter with a Nightcrawler:
Ok, so recently I was visiting my mothers place in Lompoc, CA, which is right outside of Vandenberg AFB, which has tons of sightings story that the military will never confirm.
Anyway, my mother lives on the outskirts of the town, near the junction that joins the 1 and the town, and on the hill overlooking the town, I saw a tall black figure walking alongside the hill.
It was about a quarter the size of a telephone pole and was relatively skinny. It had no arms and appeared to walk in the same manner except hunched over slightly, as if looking for something.
At the time, I freaked out (this being my first sighting) and I walked inside and told everyone.
Since then, my dog starts barking at things that aren't there, and she rarely barks at things unless it has a chance of it being harmful to the family. We would let her outside at night (she only barks at nothing at night) and she would run in circles: to the fence, the gate, the bushes in the back, and back to the gate.
It is usually extremely foggy (another conspiracy accepted by the citizens of Lompoc about the military having a weather device to shroud their base in secrecy) at night so I couldn't see stars, and on the few days I could, there would be nothing unusual about the stars or the hill.
'but bund, what does this have to do with the nightcrawler' well I dismissed the story as a hallucination, a trick of the night, until I saw photos and videos of the nightcrawler and I went pale.
The pictures and the videos were exactly what I saw that night, all except for the fact that it was black not white. This is interesting, because if Humans differentiate with color, what is to say that Extraterrestrials can as well.
Poland - 2017
The cryptid has also been videotaped in Poland, this time from what appears to be a handheld camera judging from the shakiness of the footage. The creature can not be seen for too long but appears to have similar traits to the larger one taped in Yosemite
The strangest thing about this cryptid is that most of the handful of documented sightings since the 2007 have mostly been revealed to be hoaxes or are commonly accepted as such.
The original video, while it has its doubters and absolute zealots mostly exists in a no-mans-land of plausibility. The video is so degraded that there simply is not enough data to make an absolute case one way or another to prove without question.
Sightings of the Fresno Nightcrawlers are incredibly limited and there has been no plausible claims to first-hand encounters.
- An alien or extraterrestrial being.
- A new species. Possibly a primate with short arms.
- A misidentified deer standing upright.
- Pants and/or a puppet on a wire
- A bird walking like a crane.
- A person wearing big pants and walking on stilts
For a short while it was rumored that the Nightcrawler might have roots in aboriginal folklore from the region. One person even reported discovered native art installations that showed the very creature itself, claiming to have found the carvings in California
But no legitimate sources have ever been found that can validate that such a tale existed, in or outside the region and in fact no one knows where these art installations are actually located. They may not even be in the United States. So it's commonly accepted that this claim has absolutely no credibility
The most common belief is that the whole thing is a hoax. The first video is the hardest to prove without a doubt, a big part of that is the video quality.
The "original" video is that video comes from an off-the-shelf security camera, which is then filmed on a camcorder, which was then dubbed by a tv station, edited into a news show, DVR'ed, edited into a video file, put onto a projector at a conference and filmed by yet another video camera and uploaded to youtube
Also in that first video, there are two Nightcrawlers. But the bulk of uploads of this footage only shows the second Nightcrawler.
The video to the right is the recording of Victor Camacho's presentation at MUFON and is one of the few videos I could find that shows both of the creatures traipse across the lawn. The footage begins at 1:15.
The first nightcrawler moves slower and less organically, which makes its moves look less plausible
This is probably why this footage isn't commonly referenced
Why isn't there a clearer copy of the video available? Well because Jose accidentally deleted it. Also Jose is reported to have passed on
So how could this have been hoaxed?
One common theory is that the videos are made by applying CG to real footage. In fact a youtuber has even demonstrated how this could be done!
While impressive, to me personally, I don't feel like any of the videos were done with CG. The nightcrawler's movements just look too organic and I feel would take a decent amount of skill to reproduce convincingly
For most people, puppetry would be a lot easier to pull off with less required knowledge. Though this topic has been debated a bunch, there has been some compelling evidence
During the Fact or Faked episode on the Nightcrawler, the hosts tried to reproduce the video with no success. But their failure doesn't prove it's impossible, just proves that they're bad puppet masters. Youtuber ParaBreakdown on the other hand though, does a fairly good job at reproducing the effect in his back yard
ParaBreakdown's version is fairly simple, but a Reddit user proposed a more complex but more effective design and method. Unfortunately the user has since deleted their account, but their theory remains
Okay, so a lot of people are talking about a puppet on a wire. I don't think, if these are puppets, that's how it was done. I'm not a muppeteer or anything, but I enjoy puppets and am learning to make them. If I wanted to get this kind of effect, I'd use either one or three stick controls and weighted feet.
(If you look carefully at the surveillance video, in the right hand side, there are some mobile blurs that are suspicious.)
So here's the deal -- to create the puppet you'd do something like this: Imgur (Hope that works.) The feet, again, are weighted. The dotted line represents fabric swathing. (For a more pronounced 'knee' effect while walking you could also use two dowels of wood with eye ring joints for the legs along with the string. Stupid easy to make.)
The longer the pole, the harder this trick is, but what you'd do set the alien up so that the loose string is not supporting the feet. Notice in the begining of the video, the alien holds still for a bit. This could indicate the puppeteer is getting into position and making sure the feet aren't tangled, etc. Now, my swinging the pole back and forth and rotating it between your hands, you can make the puppet 'walk' in a sort of shambling, but even gait. It's even better to give each foot a control stick to get a perfect look to the creature, but one puppeteer that had practiced could make this simple version work. Of course, it can get a LOT more elaborate, but this is the minimum I think would be required to create this trick.
Many agree that the Poland and Yosemite Park videos are almost assuredly puppets or people in costumes, but the first video is still highly debated
As with many things, truth is stranger than fiction. While the nightcrawler is very young when it comes to cryptids and sightings are very limited, this creature has found a home in the hearts of the citizens of Fresno and online mystery seekers
Unlike many cryptids, there has been absolutely no reported behavior that gives any indication that the nightcrawlers have any ill intent if anything they appear to be shy and maybe even playful
As for, "Why Fresno?" Banti joked with The Mad Scientist Podcast that it's likely the city's reputation for delicious tacos.
"I love a good urban legend, ghost story, or bit of lore just for the entertainment and elements of culture," Jacobs wrote. "In some ways, it is pretty 'Fresno' that our local cryptid is a puppet made from pajama pants (and I don't mean that to be insulting, just about how funny Fresno can be)."
Or maybe... maybe it's just a girl in her pajama pants rocking out