Nick Redfern November 28, 2020
Richard Freeman is a good friend, a former zoo-keeper in the U.K., and someone who has undertaken numerous expeditions around the world – all in search of what are often referred to as “Cryptids,” but which many would likely call “monsters.” You can see the huge list of his expeditions at this link. It’s Richard’s work in the field of what we might call the “Russian Bigfoot” (the Almasty) that I’m focusing on today. Indeed, if you want to know all about the legendary Russian equivalent of Bigfoot, then Richard is definitely someone to approach for answers. After all, in 2008 he spent significant time in Russia, seeking out the Almasty. With that all said, let’s see what Richard says about the matter of the beast(s). Richard tells us: “Russia, or the one time Soviet Union, always seemed to be a step ahead of the west scientifically. They did, after all, get the first satellite into orbit, and the first man in space. They seemed to be forward thinkers and less hidebound and arrogant. In the 1950s, when the interest in the Himalayan Yeti was at its peak, most (though certainly not all) had more or less written off the creature. Not so the Soviets. Russian polymath Dr. Boris Porshnev seriously considered the existence of such a creature. Unlike most western scientists, he thought the creature might be a relic hominid – a relative of the ancestors of man – rather than a great ape.”
Photo taken by Nick Redfern
Richard continues: “Here I must personally disagree with him on the nature of the Yeti, but that is beside the point. He was a scientist with an active interest in the subject. Porshnev also found out that there were sightings of superficially similar creatures in the Soviet Union. In the Caucasus, the Pamirs, the Tien Chen and other areas were reports of hairy man-like creatures variously known as almasty, almas, dev, gul and many other names. There were records of encounters with such creatures. These seem smaller and more man-like than the classic ‘giant Yeti’ of Tibet and the Himalayas. These could, indeed be relic hominids.” Richard has more to say: “In 1958, the USSR Academy of Sciences, on Porshnev’s initiative, set up a special Commission on the ‘snowman’ question and launched an expedition to the Pamirs. Although it did not find a Yeti or almasty, the Snowman Commission was in existence for three years. It is hard to imagine any other government being so forward looking as to back a cryptozoological organization. During its three years, the Commission amassed a huge amount of information on sightings both modern and historical. As far back as the time of Carl Linnaeus the creature had been given the scientific name Homo troglodytes.”
And, there is more to come: “During the three years, Porshnev compiled and published yearbooks of information on the ‘Snowman.’ After the Commission was abolished he continued to compile information. Sadly, none of his books have been translated into English and even in Russia his books are rare, one having a print run of only 180. I have tried to get an inter-library loan of this book from Moscow Library with a view to photocopying it for translation, but I never did receive an answer. In 1960, Pyotr Smolin began a seminar on the subject at the Darwin Museum in Moscow. This encouraged a second generation of researchers including Dmitri Bayanov, Igor Bourtsev, Alexandra Bourtseva, V.Pushkarev, Maya Bykova, V.Makarov, M. Trachtengerts and Gregory Panchenko.”
“Fifty-one years after the Snowman Commission was disbanded, the Siberian Government set up a research institute based at Kemerovo University dedicated to the study of relic hominids. Officials of the Kemerovo administration in western Siberia have said that organizing an institute or a scientific center would be a logical continuation of research into the Yeti.” Richard is someone still very active in expeditions (aside, of course, from right now, as a result of the pandemic we’re all under), and, no doubt, one day more data on the matter of the Russian wild thing will surface. Keep a look out! Mysterious Universe
A Mysterious Case of Alien Reptilian Humanoids in Italy
Brent Swancer November 23, 2020
Before the night of December 6, 1978, Pier Zanfretta was just a normal, unremarkable guy living out in the rural village of Torriglia, Italy, where he worked as an unassuming private security guard. Up until that evening there had never been anything particularly remarkable about him, and he likely would have been forgotten by history if it weren’t for a sequence of strange events that would unfold. And so begins a weird odyssey concerning UFOs, high strangeness, and lizard humanoids from outer space.
On this evening, Zanfretta was in his car on his usual night patrol, and as he peered into the gloom ahead trying to navigate the frigid icy roads, he noticed what appeared to be four mysterious lights emanating from a nearby home. At this very moment his car apparently sputtered and died, but he did not connect this to the lights he was seeing just yet. Indeed, he assumed the lights he was seeing to be flashlights from burglars trespassing on the property of the home, which he recognized as belonging to the wealthy doctor Ettore Righi. He estimated that there were four trespassers, and so when he left his vehicle to investigate, he did so with his weapon drawn and at the ready. He stealthily made his way onto the property, creeping around to the back were the light seemed to be coming from, and he had no idea that as he peaked around a corner his life was about to be changed forever.
There in the backyard of the estate there sat a glowing red, oval object with a diameter of over 33 feet, which was enough for him to start backing away and call it in to his supervisor. As he backpedaled out of there he claims that he had then turned around to be confronted with the astonishing sight of an immensely large being standing at around 10 feet in height looming over him, which he said was “An enormous green, ugly and frightful creature, with undulating skin… as though he were very fat or dressed in a loose, gray tunic.” Over its face it wore a mechanical mouthpiece of some sort, the creature’s skin was mottled and covered with scales like a reptile, its hands and feet bore wicked talons, and spikes protruded from its head, and it soon became apparent that there were several more of the same entities standing not far away. He would say “They are green, with triangular yellow eyes, with big thorns, they have green flesh and their skin is full of wrinkles as if they were old. Their mouths look like they’re made of iron, they have red veins on their heads, pointed ears and arms with fingernails.” In fact, they were so grotesque, savage, and frightening in appearance that Zanfretta started to run away, the reptilian creatures hitting him with some sort of “heat beam” as he did.
He would later be found unconscious after other guards responded to his screaming, panicked calls for help over the radio, and even after waking he was in an obvious daze and state of shock, even dangerously waving around his gun as if he were going to shoot them. Oddly, his clothes were found to be almost hot to the touch, despite the fact that he had been lying out there for who knew how long on the frozen ground. As soon as Zanfretta explained what had happened to him the police supposedly contacted the Italian military police, the Carabinieri, who arrived on the scene for a full investigation. They would apparently find some amount of physical evidence left behind from the encounter, such as large, anomalous footprints, scorched trees, and strange deep imprints shaped like horseshoes in the earth where the supposed UFO had rested. It was also uncovered that many other residents in the area had seen unusual aerial phenomena at around the same time that Zanfretta had had his bizarre encounter. Strangely enough, the gun that Zanfretta used was found to have been fired five times. Before long, word was out on the whole thing, and it was being splashed all over the news and on TV programs across Italy. It was all intriguing enough that a reporter by the name of Rino Di Stefano, with the newspaper Il Corriere Mercantile took it upon himself to look more deeply into what was at the time being treated as a sort of tabloid oddity.
Stefano would find Zanfretta to be very sincere in his tale, and would deem him to at least truly believe what he was saying. So convinced was Stefano that there was perhaps something to all of this that he had Zanfretta undergo hypnotic regression to try and uncover any lost memories from the missing time, which would unearth many new details. Under hypnosis, Zanfetta claimed that he had actually been taken aboard the reptilian aliens’ ship, where he had been examined and interrogated using some sort of translator device. The aliens had supposedly told him that they were from the planet “Teetonia,” located in the “Third Galaxy,” and that they were preparing to visit Earth in greater numbers. Making things even more bizarre is that this would apparently not be the last brush Zanfretta would have with these enigmatic beings.
On December 26, 1978, Zanfretta was driving on patrol when his car seemed to stop responding to him, steering itself and acting of its own accord, as if under some sort on intelligent control. The vehicle proceeded to go careening towards a remote area in the countryside, whereupon it suddenly stopped by itself and was bathed in a blindingly bright light. The aliens would then apparently take him aboard their ship again and examine him, as well as fit him with some sort of uncomfortable communications helmet, and this time one of the beings took his gun and fired it into one of the craft’s walls, seemingly out of curiosity. They also offered to take him with them, but he refused, so they let him go. However, they allegedly then abducted him yet again in July of the next year, on this occasion taking him to some sort of mothership in space, where they showed him a repulsive, frog-like alien in suspended animation that they claimed was of an enemy species. There were also a bird-like creature and a being like a caveman similarly ensconced within tubes. They also apparently gave him a transparent sphere containing a golden tetrahedron that would rotate in suspension, its purpose unknown. Zanfretta would later claim that he had hidden this sphere away in a safe place, and has always refused to show it to anyone, leaving its existence questionable.
Zanfretta would eventually admit to having been abducted no fewer than 11 times from between the years of 1978 and 1981, and on one occasion several security personnel would also see the UFO, even firing at it to no effect. Some of these encounters were truly strange, including one in which he stopped at a service station and was met by a being with an egg-shaped head wearing a checkered with a chest plate made of metal. Zanfretta has since appeared in numerous interviews and TV shows in Italy, he insists it is all true, and his case has become perhaps one of the more well-known and strangest alien encounter stories Italy has ever seen. What is going on here and is any of it true or not? It is certainly one of the more bizarre alien reports out there, and it will probably always remain just another very weird report that we will never have answers for. Mysterious Universe
Human Genes Spliced into Monkey Brains — What Could Possibly Go Wrong?
Paul Seaburn November 21, 2020
One of the most popular movie franchises in history is the ‘Plant of the Ape’ series. The movies, novels, TV series and video games illustrate that it’s generally a bad thing when apes have human abilities and intelligence – no matter how they got them. And yet … scientists continue with all manners of experiments with monkeys and apes, with many of the more recent ones involving some sort of genetics. What appears to be the latest and possibly scariest took place earlier this year but is just now getting the apocalyptic news coverage it deserves. A group of international researchers spliced a brain gene unique to humans into the brain of a marmoset monkey. While the animal was said to have been euthanized, the results were worthy of another dsytopian ‘Planet of the Apes’ film.
“Along the path of human evolution, gene duplication and divergence produced a protein, ARHGAP11B, that is found in humans but not nonhuman primates or other mammals.”
“ARHGAP11B expression may be one cause of the more robust neocortex that characterizes the human brain.”
What better gene to splice into a money’s brain than the one which triggers brain stem cells to form more stem cells and build bigger brains? That, of course, is the gene selected by researchers at the Max Planck Institute of Molecular Cell Biology and Genetics (MPI-CBG) in Germany and the Central Institute for Experimental Animals (CIEA) and the Keio University in Japan. As described in their study, published in the journal Science, and a press release, explain that the human neocortex is about three times bigger than that of our closest relatives, the chimpanzees, and evolved into the familiar folds in order to cram itself in the human skull. The gene ARHGAP11B arose about five million years ago after the chimp and pre-human lines separated and was passed to the ancient humans that evolved into Neanderthals, Denisovans, and present-day humans. As it mutated, it evolved into the role of increasing brain stem cells.
“Such point mutations are not rare, but in the case of ARHGAP11B its advantages of forming a bigger brain seem to have immediately influenced human evolution.”
A gene that helped humans develop larger brains seems like the worst choice for splicing into monkeys, right? These researchers must have never seen a ‘Planet of the Apes’ movie, because they spliced ARHGAP11B into the brains of 101-day-old common marmoset fetuses (50 days before the normal birth date). And?
“We found indeed that the neocortex of the common marmoset brain was enlarged and the brain surface folded. Its cortical plate was also thicker than normal. Furthermore, we could see increased numbers of basal radial glia progenitors in the outer subventricular zone and increased numbers of upper-layer neurons, the neuron type that increases in primate evolution.”
The monkey brains got bigger, just like human brains do on ARHGAP11B. As always, the scientists had a ‘noble cause’ to justify the experiment — ARHGAP11B’s involvement in the part of the human genome associated with intellectual disability, schizophrenia, epilepsy and Parkinson’s could aid in understanding them, developing new therapies and possibly further the use of stem cells in treatment.
Forget that — my big brain wants steak, potatoes and pie.
What if one of these big-brained monkeys escapes? Or what if they’re planning to grow superhumans with bigger brains?
Both good questions. Wieland Huttner of the Max Planck Institute of Molecular Cell Biology and one of the study’s authors, assures the fetuses were removed from the uterus of the mothers and not allow to reach full development. As far as superhumans are concerned, Huttner told The Smithsonian:
Brain Gene Tops the List for Making Humans, Human
In a study involving marmosets, a primate genetically similar to humans, researchers have come closer to underst…
“You have to be very careful. If you do genetic manipulation in humans, you can only do it if it is to cure a disease where you have an abnormal mutation and you bring it back to the identified normal sequence. Only then. But to try to ‘improve’ humans, no way.”
“No way.” Sounds like the perfect opening line for ‘Planet of the Big-Brained Marmosets’.