If you are a regular reader or podcast listener, you won’t be surprised to find that I was immediately grabbed by recent headlines about a werewolf loose in Brazil. I’m inclined to click even the most mildly lycanthropic link and a story about a wild man-beast in a place that’s full of both tropical jungles and densely populated cities was too good to resist.
While this story, video and image hit the crypto/occult mystery-creature spot for me, this Skeptophilia post goes on to examine how we can be overwhelmed by irrational fears. It’s an interesting observation of the kind of the bypassing of the rational that may turn an engaged, thoughtful appreciator of fringe culture into a wild-eyed true believer.
A story this week out of Brazil highlights the third “F” — which stands for the flight response. It could also stand for “fear,” because that’s what usually motivates an animal running away. The story, which comes out of the town of São Gonçalo de Campos, near Feira de Santana, in the state of Bahia, is about a rather terrifying cryptid that has been sighted more than once in local neighborhoods.
Even the government officials are taking it seriously. Apparently, for the last two weeks there’s been a curfew in the town; no one is to be outside after 9 PM. It started when a man identified only as “Pingo” described seeing a five-foot-tall black monster, which ran at him; Pingo turned and fled, escaping (he said) only by the narrowest of margins. At first, the other villagers made fun of him — until others had similar encounters. Locals are calling it a “werewolf.”
All of this would have been nothing more than another tale of “I saw something real, really I did” if it hadn’t been for the footage captured on a home security camera. Watch it for yourself:
Okay, yes, I know. There are no such things as werewolves. There’s no reason why this couldn’t have been faked. It probably is a guy in dark clothes jumping around in front of the homeowner’s security camera, in order to keep the whole scare going. Who knows? Maybe it’s even “Pingo,” who dreamed the story up to have his fifteen minutes (or in this case, more like two weeks) of fame.
But I have to admit that watching this video gave me some very irrational shudders right up the spine. There’s something about the way the creature moved that just doesn’t look… human. I’m probably being suggestible, I realize that; our fight-or-flight responses have been programmed through millions of years of evolution to shriek at us, whenever we see a shadowy shape in the dark, “DEAR GOD IT’S A PREDATOR RUN FOR YOUR LIFE OR YOU WILL BE MESSILY DEVOURED.” The chances of it being anything other than a hoaxing human are very small.