Cryptids of Kansas - Errant Creatures #1
Posted by Flint Hills Paranormal on May 22, 2020
Cryptids of Kansas
Cryptids of Kansas – Errant Creatures #1: (Kangaroos)
The word “errant” means “misplaced,” or something that is out of its general location or way of doing things. We wouldn’t expect to see a polar bear in Kansas, a piranha in our rivers, or elephants in the Flint Hills, but if they should be discovered lumbering or biting things out there, then they would be “errant,” or out of place.
Habitat, climate, food sources and many other environmental changes over time have allowed many animals that were rarely found in Kansas to become a part of the tapestry of our Kansas environment. As Kansas winters have warmed, the Nine-Banded Armadillos (Dasypus novemcinctus) have moved from Texas and Oklahoma up into Kansas and have become quite plentiful, and are all too often seen feet up on the highways. White-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) populations have followed the food supply and have grown in numbers for the past 50 years, and the Mountain Lion (Puma concolor) have followed the deer. These are no longer errant animals, as this is their home now.
This blog and the next are going to delve into a couple errant creatures that have been seen frequently in Kansas. They are not exactly “cryptid” animals because they are a real species, but they are not supposed to be seen in Kansas, so they are “cryptid” in this sense because even though there are reports, they are not naturally a part our ecology. Thoroughly confused yet?? Read on about these rarities in our State.
Errant or Phantom Kangaroos…or What’s Hopping:
You are out on a Sunday drive through the country and in the distance, across the pasture, you see an animal that seems to be hopping across the Kansas countryside. It gets your attention, and as it gets closer, you see this rather large animal seems to have three legs, is tan in color, and its front legs are much smaller than the other legs. It gets even closer and you find that it is not a third leg, but a very large tail. You look at your friend and at the same time, you both incredulously utter, “That’s a kangaroo!!....but….,” as it hops on across the plains. Just imagine your surprise.
Kangaroos (Macropods or big feet) have been sighted across the United States since the late 1800s, but these marsupials belong in Australia, New Zealand, and Papua New Guinea. The United States has only one marsupial, the not very bright, but cute Opossum (Didelphis marsupialis) who eat tons of ticks. Strangely too, the Kangaroo sightings seem to be in areas where there is no good explanation for them being there. No circuses, zoos or pet owners report that they have any missing ‘roos, or lay claim to them.
Back in 1892, several businessmen tried to raise interest in bringing kangaroos to America as meat animals, since they had all but destroyed the iconic American Bison (Bison bison). This did not happen, but just a few years later, sightings of these “phantom” Kangaroos began emerging. One of the first reports was on June 12, 1899, in New Richmond, Wisconsin when a lady said a kangaroo was seen hopping across her neighbors’ yard. This report curiously occurred while a circus happened to be in town, and then the unfortunate town had a tornado. It was thought that the kangaroo had escaped the circus during the tornado, but the circus indicated that they had no kangaroos in their group of animals. Another report in 1900 in Mays Landing, New Jersey, had investigators following strange tracks into the swamp after a farmer heard screaming. Other early reports of sightings were scattered around the country; such as 1934 Tennessee; January 1949, Ohio; a long run of sightings occurred between 1957-1967 in Coon Rapids, Minnesota; 1958, Grand Isle, Nebraska and several other reports in areas near there; 1967, Payallup, Washington; 1968, Monroe, Ohio; October 25 through November 5, 1974 in Plano, Illinois; and November 12-25 had several sightings in Indiana. More sightings continued to be reported to this day, in Illinois, many in Nebraska, Colorado, Wisconsin, Maine, Oklahoma, Tennessee, as well as all around the world, and including Kansas.
There were even scholarly kangaroos found hopping around on college campuses, like the one spotted August 3, 1968, on the Michigan State University Campus in Lancing; or July 1971 when campus police chased one all over the campus at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois. Several police officers have been involved in chasing these elusive hoppers as well. One such humorous encounter occurred on October 18, 1974, when two Chicago officers were left bruised and battered by a 6-foot kangaroo they had tried to arrest and handcuff. The press had a wonderful time reporting the incident with titles to stories like, “Keystone Kops Go on Kangaroo Kaper” and “Kangaroo Stays One Jump Ahead of Police.”
There seem to be at least two different sizes of these “phantom” Kangaroos. The majority of these kangaroo reports are of the larger, 5 to 6-foot kangaroo or red kangaroos, with males weighing up to 200 lbs.; and the smaller Wallaby size, around 2-foot, and weighs up to 20 lbs. On August 31,1981, in Tulsa, Oklahoma two, 3-foot 6-inch kangaroos were hopping around and hopped out into the street. One was hit by an awed motorist who put it in the back of his pickup and later disappeared with the body. There were several witnesses to this incident, including the police, who all examined the body of the small kangaroo and confirmed that it certainly was a kangaroo. Explain that to your insurance company.
Loren Coleman is one of the Unites States preeminent Cryptozoologists, and author of numerous books on the subject, as well as the Director of the International Cryptozoology Museum in Portland, Maine. Mr. Coleman is also thought of as the premiere authority on the “phantom” kangaroo. He has collected several reports of these “phantom” kangaroos having much longer hair, with more apelike features and large feet. They were also more vicious than other reports of the more common kangaroo. In his book, “Mysterious America: The Revised Edition,” 2001, he believes that these reports of phantom kangaroos may be misidentified. After over more than two decades studying reports and information about these sightings, he thinks that all, or in part, of them are an elusive creature called a “Devil Monkey” instead. He states, “These Devil Monkeys, at four to six feet tall, are relatively short, with the smaller juveniles often resembling wallabies or “baby kangaroos. Their leaping mode of locomotion is one of the major reasons they have been confused with kangaroos.” They have shaggy hair and have more of an ape-like or dog-like face, a barrel- chest, powerful legs, tail and pointed ears, and they had a saltation or leaping form of movement, somewhat kangaroo-like. By all accounts, these creatures can be vicious and may be a better explanation for some of the other sightings. One report of January 1934 seems to have been a very vicious animal. In the Encyclopedia of Cryptozoology, Newton describes the following incident: “A ‘killer kangaroo” mauled pets and poultry around South Pittsburg, Tennessee. Reminded that kangaroos are vegetarians, the “Chattanooga Daily Times’ replied: There is absolutely no doubt about these facts, a kangaroolike beast visited the community and killed dogs right and left, and that’s all there is to it. Some published accounts claim the ‘giant’ creature ‘killed and ate’ two police dogs.” Not very kangaroo-like.
Reports of these phantom kangaroos have included Kansas, as well. July 26, 1965, Bert Radar was surprised to see a kangaroo hopping around near I-70, east of Abilene; August 15, 1965, Jerry Conrad reported a kangaroo northeast of Wakefield; November 1, 1971, there was another ‘roo sighting, as well, near Abilene. Interestingly, Coleman had another report, “November 1971 was the month that ‘The Phenomenon’ visited Kansas in two of its many guises; this time as kangaroos and as those darn UFOs. Mrs. Edward Johnson, who lives near Abilene, reported seeing a kangaroo not far from her home on the first of November.” During this same time frame, Kansans had several encounters with UFO’s in Manhattan, Delphos and in Ottawa County. Is this a coincidence?
Some “phantom” kangaroos are described with very red eyes and a ghost-like appearance and are amazingly large. After the Kansas City Zoo acquired two baby kangaroos in 1936, UMKC named their mascot Kasey the Kangaroo. Today you may see kangaroo crossing signs around KC highlighting the impact the school and its students have had on the Kansas City area. However you wish to see these “phantom” kangaroos, either frightening or a cute mascot, they are out there hopping around our countryside and causing good people to question what they are seeing. Be sure to look both ways at Kangaroo Crossing signs.
Karl Shuker is one of the most well-known and biologist and crypto biologist, who has written many, many wonderful books on the subject and related subjects. He has just written two articles regarding the errant kangaroos and what they could be or what creature could be misidentified as one. This is a 3- part article. I am giving you the links to the first two parts and will add the third as soon as it is released. He makes some interesting correlations to other animals and other interesting information on these "hoppers".
KARLSHUKER.BLOGSPOT.COM, "Caught on the Hop by Phantom Kangaroos and Other Out-of-Place Mystery Macropods: Part-1 -An American Anomoly." , January 21, 2022.
KARLSHUKER.BLOGSPOT.COM, "Caught on the Hop by Phantom Kangaroos and Other Out-of-Place Mystery Macropods: Part-2 - Escapees and other Explanations.", January 27, 2022.
If you see something strange or have any questions, please feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or message me on our Facebook page.
Dr. Linda Clarke
Newton, Michael, “Hidden Animals: A Field Guide to Batsquatch, Chupacabra and Other Elusive Creatures,” Greenwood, 2009.
41 KSHB KC, “Kangaroo Crossing: A New Traffic Style Signs Pop Up Around Kansas City in NMKC Campaign,” Charlie Keegan, March 4, 2019.
Atlas Obscura.com., “Does America have a Secret Kangaroo Population? – And if not, What’s That Thing Hopping in the Distance?, Eric Grundhouser, December 22, 2016.
Coleman, Loren, “Mysterious America: The Revised Edition”, Paraview Press, New York, 2001.
YouTube.com, “Weird Wisconsin #1: Phantom Kangaroos,” July 25, 2019.