Top 10 Christmas Villains

Without conflict there is no drama and without Christmas villains there wouldn’t be dozens of holiday themed television specials and motion pictures. Christmas villains come in all shapes, sizes and colors. Most of them start out as not get the meaning of it all, but through a set of circumstances they repent and end up wishing everyone a Merry Christmas. Then there are those villains who show up at Christmas with no intention of changing. So let’s raise a glass of eggnog to the Top Ten Christmas Villains. If not for them, we wouldn’t have any Christmas stories to tell.

10. Burgermeister Meisterburger


Most Heinous Villainy: Making Santa a Most Wanted Criminal

This grumpy Gus made his appearance in the animated classic “Santa Claus Is Coming To Town” (1970). As part of Santa’s supposed back-story, the Burgermeister was the mayor of the small village where Kris Kringle first passed out his toys. When the Burgermeister tripped on errant toy duck he banned toys. Even a brief flirtation with a yo-yo wasn’t enough to convince him to change his ways. By making Kris an outlaw he forced Santa to go down chimneys. See how important Christmas villains are? The Burgermeister was given life by venerable cartoon voice artist Paul Frees who also provided the voice for the other cartoon villain Boris Badenov.

9. Heat & Snow Miser


Most Heinous Villainy: Using their weather powers for evil instead of good.

Following up on the success of “Santa Claus Is Coming To Town” the stop motion elves at Rankin and Bass delivered “The Year Without Santa Claus” (1974) and introduced us to two nasty brothers by the name of Hear Miser and Snow Miser voiced by George Irving and Dick Shawn respectively. The Misers were the epitome of sibling rivalry and it was only through the intervention of their mom Mother Nature that Santa was able to get back to business. In 2006, a live action version of “The Year Without Santa Claus” was made for TV with Michael McKean and Harvey Fierstein playing the weather challenged duo. These boys proved so popular they were given their own special in “A Miser Brother’s Christmas” (2008) where they finally learned the meaning of Christmas by filling in for Santa. And once again it was all thanks to mom.

8. The Martians


Most Heinous Villainy: Kidnapping Santa Claus.

Yes, the Martians from the classic turkey of a film, “Santa Claus Conquers the Martians” (1964) . This cinematic chestnut was made on an obvious shoestring budget in a Long Island warehouse. When released it made only around $200,000. Then along came Mystery Science Theatre 3000 who in 1988 took the film out of mothballs, dusted it off and ripped through it. It’s been a good/bad classic ever since; right up there with “Plan 9 From Outer Space” and “Showgirls.”

7. Old Man Potter

old man potter

Most Heinous Villainy: Holding on to Uncle Billy’s deposit.

He was the meanest and richest man in Bedford Falls and made George Bailey’s life miserable. That is right up to the point when George discovered he really did have a wonderful life. Portrayed with delicious sneer by Lionel Barrymore, Old Man Potter goes down as the quintessential Christmas villain because there was no redemption for him. FYI, Lionel is the great uncle of Drew Barrymore and is credited with inventing the boom microphone back when talkies started up. Want to stump your friends with “It’s A Wonderful Life Trivia?” What was Old Man Potter’s first name? It was Henry.

6. Jack Frost


Most Heinous Villainy: Freezing over anyone who does him wrong.

Jack got his start as an impish elf in folktales who liked running around making people cold. “Wizard of Oz” writer L. Frank Baum used Jack Frost in his “Life and Adventures of Santa Claus” tome. With the Christmas TV specials and movies, Jack became the defacto go to Christmas villain. He caused trouble for “Frosty the Snowman” (voiced by Paul Frees!) and for Tim Allen’s Santa Claus in “Santa Claus 3: The Escape Clause.” (2006) There he was played by Martin Short. Jack also turned up in a couple of B slasher films, most notably the aptly named “Jack Frost” (1997) and its sequel “Jack Frost II: Revenge of the Mutant Killer Snowman” (2000). And yes, that’s a real title.

5. Gremlins


Most Heinous Villainy: Sending an old lady shooting out of her home on her electric stair chair.

Don’t shine a bright light on them, don’t get them wet and whatever you do, don’t feed them after midnight. Those were three simple rules to follow to make sure this one of a kind Christmas present wouldn’t go all wonky. Of course we know what happened in “Gremlins” (1984). Gizmo got wet and the Mogwai “Stripe” was born who begat hundreds of other evil gremlins that wrecked havoc on Christmas night. In the first draft of the script, mean gremlin Stripe was actually supposed to be the Mr. Hyde to Gizmo’s Dr. Jekyll. Luckily, executive producer Stephen Spielberg nixed that idea. Look closely: the small town in this film was the same small town used in “Back to the Future.” In fact the movie theatre that went up in a fireball as the end of “Gremlins” is the same one Marty McFly crashed into in his first adventure.

4. Hans Gruber

Hans Gruber

Most Heinous Villainy: Killing Mr. Takagi in cold blood.

As long as there have been movies there have been movie bad guys, but one baddie stands alone: Hans Gruber from “DIE HARD” (1988). He counts as a Christmas villain because Hans and his crew picked an office Christmas party to raid. Unfortunately, for them John McClane was on the guest list. What happened next became the standard by which every subsequent action film would be judged. Making his feature film debut in the role of Hans was Alan Rickman. His reputation for playing a Hollywood heavy landed him several more roles right up to Professor Snape in the Harry Potter franchise. For the scene when Hans was supposed to take a death tumble from the tower, Alan was actually dropped 21 feet to an airbag. To get the right reaction, he was let go on “2” instead of “3.” The look on his face says it all.

3. Marv and Harry

marv and harry

Most Heinous Villainy: After robbing houses, Marv would flood them.

Back in 1990, the brat pack’s favorite director John Hughes crafted a simple story about a little boy accidently left behind for the holidays while two inept burglars attempted to rob the house. The rest is film history. “Home Alone” went on to gross $533,000,000 making it the number one comedy film of all time. Marv and Harry were played by Daniel Stern and Joe Pesci. For the filming, Joe Pesci had to be constantly reminded this was a family film and he couldn’t drop the “F” bombs he was used to. Director Chris Columbus got him to say “fridge” instead. When it came time for Daniel Stern to have a tarantula crawl on his face, he agreed to do it just once. He had to pretend to scream otherwise he would have scared the spider.

2. The Grinch


Most Heinous Villainy: Stealing all the Whos’ toys and decorations.

Popular children’s author Dr. Seuss first brought the Grinch to life in his 1957 book, “How the Grinch Stole Christmas.” The story had all the Suessical elements of the Whos living in Whoville, but it was the Grinch’s story. It’s also a perfect example of a Christmas villain finding redemption. For the 1966 cartoon adaption, famed horror actor Boris Karloff was hired to narrate and provide the voice for the Grinch. At first, Theodor Geisel (a.k.a. Dr. Seuss) objected to Boris because he thought his voice might scare the kids too much. Thankfully, he was overruled and a classic Christmas villain was brought to life. And we got a new word for a grouchy and stingy type of person. Dr. Seuss wasn’t finished with the Grinch. He would go on to write “Halloween is Grinch Night” (1977) and “The Grinch Grinches the Cat In The Hat” (1982). Both animated specials won Emmys.

1. Scrooge


Most Heinous Villainy: Wishing there were more poor houses and orphanages.

If there was to be a number one Christmas villain it has to be Ebenezer Scrooge. The Scrooge archetype is essentially what every other Christmas villain strives to become. Charles Dickens creation was first published in 1843. Since that publication the story has never been out of print and has spawned at least 22 official stage variations, 2 operas, 4 recordings, 10 radio broadcasts, 49 television show adaptations and 20 film versions. Among the notable actors who have taken on the mantle of playing Scrooge have been Kesley Grammer and Albert Finney in musical versions. In classic versions Scrooge has been played by George C. Scott, Patrick Stewart, Reginald Owen and everybody’s favorite Alastair Sim. And let’s not forget Mr. Magoo, Jim Carrey and Bill Murray in “Scrooged.” “Bah, humbug!”



Top 10 Bizarre Cryptids

A cryptid is a creature who may be thought by some people to exist, but is not recognized by the scientific community. Cryptids appear frequently in folklore and mythology but – as you will see – tales of them appear still to this day. One cryptid that is well-known is Bigfoot. After the giant squid was discovered, I became fascinated (and creeped out) by these bizarre creatures. This list is in no particular order.

Nessie / Champ


Champ and Nessie are creatures that have similar backgrounds and descriptions. People have reported seeing these creatures in Lake Champlain, USA, and Loch Ness, in Scotland. Reports of Nessie describe the creature as being 20 feet long with dark grey skin. She is reported as having humps and at least one set of paddles. She has a head similar to a horse‘s. Witness reports vary on the description, but not by a lot. The most reported sightings of Nessie occurred in the 1930s and still occur to this day. Champ has been sighted for as long as 400 years. Native American tribes have even older legends of a beast in Lake Champlain. Champ is also described as being about 20 feet long (lengths vary) with a serpentine body. He also is reported as having a horse-like head. Champ has had laws pushed through to protect him. The most interesting thing about Champ and Nessie is that they are thought to be dinosaurs that managed to survive. Descriptions of them are similar to a plesiosaur.



Chupacabras have been reported to suck the blood out of livestock, similar to the way a vampire would. The chupacabra has been a very confusing subject for crypto zoologists to research because descriptions vary so much. American “chupacabras” have been usually proven to be a canine breed. Usually, they have mange so bad that they look like another creature entirely. Researchers have found sightings as early as 1974. They have also found that the chupacabra is similar to a creature in legends of the Taino Indians. The Puerto Rican sightings have gathered the most interest. Sightings had been reported from 1995 to 1999. The chupacabra has been reported as having large glowing red or orange eyes, huge fangs, sharp claws, spikes running down it’s back, and as standing on two limbs. In one sighting, the chupacabra changed colors before their eyes. One theory is that they are a scientific experiment gone horribly wrong.

Ebu Gogo


These little guys were sighted in Flores, Indonesia, from ancient times to the 19th century. They’re described as hairy and short with big guts. They walk like humans. They are said to have mimicked the words people said to them. Australians and Indonesians found skeletons of a new species of human at an archaeological site. They were believed to live over ten thousand years ago. The skeletons were about a meter tall. These skeletons were thought to possibly be the ebu gogo of Indonesian folklore. The ebu gogo have been used by Indonesians as a scare tactic to get their children to behave. The term “ebu gogo” means grandmother who eats anything. Legend has it that the ebu gogo and the people lived in peace… for a while. The ebu gogo started killing crops and the humans’ animals. They fled to caves when the humans started killing them. These caves were eventually set on fire after the ebu gogo stole a baby. Some were said to have fled to the Liang Bua caves, which is the cave where the archaeologists found the small skeletons.

Springheel Jack


Springheel Jack has been reported in London, New Mexico, Massachusetts, and Argentina, from 1837 to our time. Springheel Jack is thought to be a tall and thin man, who wears a tightly fitted hat and a black cape. He has large claws and sometimes his eyes are described as glowing a bright red. In 1837, a man, thought to be a police officer knocked on a woman’s door, claiming to have caught Springheel Jack. She came back with a candle and the man had disappeared. She went outside to find a man by her gate. After giving the man the candle, who happened to be Springheel Jack, he attacked her. He spit white and blue flames out of his mouth and tore at her dress and face with his claws. He fled after the woman’s sister came out after hearing her screams. In 1877, people reported their bullets shooting through him, while he remained unharmed. In the 1930s, he was reported being in Silver City, New Mexico, and Cape Cod, Massachusetts. The reports remained the same. In 2005, he has been reported as jumping from one roof to the next, up to five meters high and ten meters long. Some people link him to Jack the Ripper.

Shadow People


Shadow people are reported worldwide and since the beginning of recorded history. Shadow people seem to be living shadows. They are usually seen out of the corner of peoples eyes. Some people see semi-transparent dark splotches. They vanish as soon as a person realizes what they saw. When people see shadow people a feeling of despair and fear overcome them. There have been some reports of being attacked or chased by these shadows. The shadows are usually larger than a normal shadow and doesn’t resemble the person’s silhouette. I have personally came across a shadow like this and a dreadful feeling came over me for a brief moment. It was abnormally large and moved, when I did not.

Beast of Bray Road


This beast was sighted in Wisconsin, USA. It has been sighted since 1936. It runs on all four limbs, or its hind limbs. It is said to be about six feet tall, built like an athletic man and covered in shaggy hair. He has a wolf-like face with yellow eyes, that glow in the light. A woman said it was the closest creature to resemble a werewolf that she had ever seen. He has a horrible odor of decaying meat. In 1936, this beast was seen digging in an Indian burial site. The watchman prayed for his life upon seeing him. The beast reportedly said “gadarah” to him and walked away on his two hind legs. Gadara was a Greek city, located east of the Jordan River. It is mentioned in the New Testament. According to the Bible, Jesus met a man who was thought to have been possessed by evil spirits. This man was so strong that he could break through chains. When the man saw Jesus, he worshiped him. He told Jesus his name was Legion, and that there were many like him. Jesus cured him of the evil spirits, by transferring them to a herd of pigs. The pigs then ran into the sea and died. The theory is that the beast of Bray Road was trying to tell the man about his kind and that his kind has been around since biblical times.



This creature has been sighted in Point Pleasant, West Virginia, USA. Sightings have been reported since 1966. The moth man is a gray and winged creature with large glowing red eyes located in what would normally be the creature’s upper chest. It is about six feet tall and wider than a man. The first report was made by five males who were at work in a cemetery. As they were preparing a burial site, they had seen a creature that appeared to be man-like fly over them. In another report, a group of people were chased while they were in their vehicle going at least 100 mph by a similar creature. The mothman had managed to keep up with them for a while, before flying away. They claimed the mothman did not flap his wings while flying. Some people even reported their car completely dying, momentarily, when they have sighted the creature. The mothman has also been linked to UFO sightings and seemingly legitimate claims of “men in black” visits at a newspaper office.

Atmospheric Beasts


Atmospheric beasts are reported to have semi-solid bodies and are often invisible. They can fly, but have no visible wings. Sometimes atmospheric beasts are reported as UFOs. Ivan T. Sanderson claims that most UFOs are actually atmospheric beasts. He theorizes that atmospheric beasts are animals that live in the clouds. Sometimes the atmospheric beast is reported to change shape, color, and texture. People who believe in atmospheric beasts think that the creature will die if they ever touch the ground. Some people even report them spitting streams of water at them. Others report that the beasts smell like mildew and feel like a giant soft tongue. They also seem to resemble animals of the sea, rather than land animals.

Maryland Goatman


The Maryland goatman has been seen in Prince Georges County, Maryland, USA, since the 1970s. It is reported as having the lower body of a goat and the upper body of a man. He also has the horns of a goat. He’s about 7 feet tall and 300 pounds. The goatman was first sighted by a couple of lovers who had been making out in their car. The goatman had an ax in his hand, while staring at the couple. He then ran into the woods. A woman reported that she had seen the creature in her backyard while her dog was barking urgently. She was too scared to go outside and found that her dog had had it’s head chopped off, when she went outside the next morning.



There are legends of this creature in Africa. He is said to have looked like a mix of a man and a monkey. Legend had it that the creature had magical powers and enjoyed the taste of human flesh. Female pongos turned into gorgeous women in order to get close enough to a man to eat him. Pongos and humans could reproduce hybrid kids who looked like normal humans, but had cannibalistic tendencies. In 1847, the pongo was amazingly discovered to exist. However, it is now called a gorilla and known to be a vegetarian. Okay, I admit this animal is obviously no longer a cryptid. However, it shows that reports of cryptids may sometimes be over-exaggerated, and if some are found to exist they may actually turn out to be pretty damn ordinary.



Top 10 Fascinating and Unique Crocodilians

There are 23 species of crocodilians in the world. Usually, we think of these reptiles as being all the same; big head, short legs, many teeth and an eternal appetite for whatever unfortunate creature falls into their reach (humans included). Although it is true that modern day crocodilians share a very similar basic design, each species is really unique, and has its own interesting traits. This list features the least “mainstream” crocodilians, often overshadowed by their more famous relatives, including the Nile crocodile, the Saltwater crocodile and the American alligator.

Cuban crocodile

Cuban Crocodile

Found only in certain swamps of Cuba and Isla de la Juventud, this crocodile is highly endangered nowadays. At three meters (9.84′) long, it is not particularly large for a crocodile, and it doesn’t have a very unusual appearance either, but don’t let this fool you; it is actually one of the most unique crocodilians, and according to zookeepers who have worked with them, they are also the most aggressive of them all. Due to the rarity of the species, and their extremely limited range, attacks of Cuban crocodiles on humans are uncommon and seldom reported; even so, they are very dangerous, not only because of the usual reasons (bone crushing jaws, puncturing teeth and immense strength), but also because of their unusual agility and intelligence. Keepers have reported that Cuban crocodiles can work as a team to surround and subdue large prey (humans included!), the same way “raptor” dinosaurs are supposed to have done in prehistoric times. Although Nile crocodiles have also been reported to hunt in coordinated groups, they don’t seem to do this as often, or as skillfully, as Cuban crocodiles do. This is a very active species that spends a lot of time on land, although they are still considered to be semiaquatic animals rather than terrestrial.

African dwarf crocodile


Found in the tropical rivers and swamps of western and central Africa, this is the smallest true crocodile species; it measures only 1.5 meters (4.92′) long (rarely 1.8 meters – 5.90′) and is a shy predator that feeds on insects, frogs, fish and whatever carrion it can find. It is not dangerous to humans unless harassed (although a female protecting her nest will attack any intruders, as do almost all crocodilians). An interesting physical trait is that they are not only armored on the back, as usual in crocodilians, but also in the belly and the throat. This may be a defensive adaptation to compensate for their small size, which makes them more vulnerable to predators such as leopards. These little crocs dig burrows in the riverbank and only come out of said burrows at night; this makes them very hard to see and study, and therefore, we don’t know a lot about this interesting species. Some experts believe that there may be more than just one species of dwarf crocodile. Although bush meat trade (the hunting of wild animals for their meat) and habitat destruction have caused a decline in Dwarf crocodile populations, they are not considered to be as highly endangered as other crocodilians.

Slender snouted crocodile


Another native of tropical Africa’s rain forests, the slender snouted crocodile is much bigger than the Dwarf crocodile, growing up to 4 meters (13.1′) long. It feeds mostly on fish, but has been known to accept red meat in captivity; one kilogram of meat per day is enough to keep a slender snouted crocodile happy, and just like other crocodilians, it can go without eating for several days, or even weeks. Although not considered dangerous by scientists, the tribes of certain African regions fear these crocodiles, as they claim that they are quite aggressive. Even so, they are physically adapted to go after fish and small prey, and it is unlikely that they will attack humans unless harassed or defending their nest. The call of these crocodiles is said to resemble a truck exhaust backfiring; they also emit a chirping sound, similar to the one produced by baby crocodilians of other species. Unfortunately, this crocodile is endangered due to habitat loss and bush meat trade.

False gharial


Native to South Eastern Asia, particularly Malaysia and Borneo. It is seldom mentioned as one of the largest crocodilians, but there is plenty of evidence of them reaching incredible sizes, in the range of the 6 to 7 meters (19.6-22.9′). They are called false gharials because their slender snout resembles that of the actual gharial, another crocodilian found in India; however, their jaws are still broader and the largest individuals can prey on large prey, from monkeys to wild boar and deer, instead of only fish. They also feed on carrion when they get the chance. On the other hand, they only attack humans very rarely, and when this happens, it is usually to protect their nest or because they have been harassed first. The False Gharial is endangered due to habitat loss; it is also killed sometimes out of fear and ignorance.


Esteros Del Ibera Yacare

Sometimes called the “piranha” yacare, the Yacare belongs to the group of the caimans, mostly South American relatives to the famous alligator. The piranha seems to be its favorite prey, hence its popular name. It has also been said that they are called “piranha yacare” due to the protruding teeth of its lower jaw, which resemble the piranha’s. Besides piranhas, they feed on any other fish they can catch, as well as aquatic birds, small mammals and carrion. This is one of the most abundant crocodilians in the world; there are supposedly 100,000 to 200,000 of them living in the swamps and floodplains of Brazil, Bolivia and Argentina. Fortunately, they are rather small (2 meters, rarely 2.5 (8.2′)) and they seldom if ever attack humans (although they can bite if harassed, of course). Unlike Nile or Saltwater crocodiles, which are apex predators and very rarely hunted by other animals, Yacares are preyed upon by jaguars and anacondas, and possibly even by the larger, aggressive Black Caiman.

Spectacled caiman


The Spectacled caiman is the only caiman that can be found in the Northern Hemisphere (its northernmost range includes the states of Chiapas and Oaxaca in Mexico), and is also the most common crocodilian in the world, with a total population of one million individuals. Spectacled caimans are unusual because they are known to change the color of their skin (although they do so rather slowly), as well as the pattern of black markings on it. As for their name, they owe it to the bony ridge between the eyes, which to some people looks as if the caiman was wearing glasses. Spectacled caimans grow up to 3 meters (9.84′) long, but are usually smaller. Spectacled caimans in Mexico are seemingly smaller on average than those in South America.

Dwarf caiman

Trigonatus7-Schneiders Dwarf Caiman-By John White

There are actually two species of dwarf caiman. Due to their small size (usually under 2 meters (6.56′) long), rather cute appearance (big eyes, short upturned snout and what not), and the fact that they are not endangered, Dwarf Caimans have recently became somewhat popular as exotic pets. However, they actually don’t make good pets; just like any other crocodilian, they have powerful jaws and their teeth, although small, can puncture human skin easily and cause wounds that go septic very quickly; even what may seem like a non life-threatening wound may cause an irresponsible owner to end up in the hospital. As is always the case with wild animals, Dwarf Caimans are best left in the wild. These little crocodilians are native to the Amazonian basin in South America; they feed on whatever small animal they can catch and often hunt on dry land, especially at night. Unlike crocodiles, caimans, and particularly dwarf caimans, tend to walk with their neck and head raised well above the ground. I highly recommend this website to those who may be thinking of getting a pet caiman or any other crocodilian.

Chinese alligator


This little reptile is sometimes credited as being one of the inspirations for the Chinese dragon myths. (Unlike the western dragon, the Chinese version was a short legged, aquatic animal with no traces of wings). This is the only species of genus Alligator, other than the more famous American alligator. But while the latter can grow up to lengths of 5 meters (16.4′) and is aggressive and powerful enough to devour humans, the Chinese gator is a small (1.5 meters 4.92′) long), shy animal that feeds mostly on mollusks. It will also eat any fish or small animal it can catch. Unless provoked, it poses no danger to humans whatsoever. This is one of the world’s most endangered crocodilians, with as few as 200 of them living in the wild nowadays, mostly in the Yangtze river. Fortunately, they breed readily in captivity, but habitat loss and pollution may spell doom for the species in the wild in a few years.

Freshwater crocodile


Also known as Johnston’s crocodile, the Australian freshwater crocodile is yet another crocodile with a slender snout adapted to catch fish. Although it bites people on occasion, this happens usually when the crocodile is protecting its nest or territory, or when it has been provoked; most of the time it is a very calm, harmless animal and Australians often swim in places where freshwater crocodiles (locally known as “freshies”) are known to live. Freshwater crocodiles are notorious because of their agility; they are actually capable of galloping on land like a mammal. Usually, they gallop when they feel threatened and want to return to the safety of water as soon as possible. However, they have also been known to charge at intruders in this way. Young individuals of other crocodilian species have also been known to gallop, but the freshwater crocodile are the fastest, reaching speeds of 18 kms p/h (11 m/p/h). Compare that to the average running speed of a normal, healthy man, which is of 24 kms p/h (15 m/p/h). It’s not a big difference really! And let’s consider that freshwater crocodiles have much shorter legs. These crocs can grow up to 3, sometimes 4 meters long (10-13′), but are usually smaller. Although not considered endangered, they are vulnerable to the infamous Cane Toad plague which is spreading in Australia; having evolved separated from Cane Toads, freshwater crocodiles have no natural defenses against the amphibian’s poison, and often die while trying to eat one of them.



The Gharial is undoubtedly the most bizarre looking crocodilian. Its very long, very slender snout is adapted to catch fish, as are the interlocking, needle-like teeth. Gharials are possibly the most aquatic of all crocodilians, and they have very short and weak legs; they actually only leave water to bask in the sun and to lay their eggs. This crocodilian is found in India and Nepal, and is among the largest members of the group, reaching 7 meters (23′) in length. Despite their huge size, they are usually harmless to humans; however, they can bite in self defense if provoked. Gharials get their name from the protuberance in the adult male’s snout, which is called a ghara. Gharials use the ghara to produce a sound which is supposed to attract potential mates.

It seems that males also use their ghara to produce bubbles with the same purpose. Some prehistoric crocodilians such as the enormous, dinosaur-eating Sarcosuchus also had a ghara. Who knows what amazing sounds they may have produced! Gharials are, themselves, the last survivors (along with false gharials) of a crocodilian group that was once widely distributed and diverse; remains of gharials and gharial-like crocodilians have been found even in South America! Unfortunately, the survival of the Gharial is, as usual, threatened by the advance of “civilization” and the loss of habitat. There are around 1500 gharials living in the wild nowadays, and the population seems to be declining due to water pollution with heavy metals.



10 Bizarre Human Mysteries

Every so often, we’ll come across strange and inexplicable conditions found in the human body. These are the mysteries science can’t easily debunk, the kinds that defy natural laws and how we’ve come to understand ourselves. There’s always debate concerning these supposed powers. Are they just hoaxes derived from our imagination, or are we looking at the first steps into the next evolutionary leap? So here’s what we’ve seen; you decide what to believe from these bizarre human mysteries.

Entrancing Healers


Shamanistic practices were once much more prevalent in the world, and considered a profound foundation of the tribes that believed in them. These spiritually based rituals are still found today and are revered as legitimate procedures. In the Philippines, an entrancing healer, allegedly, has the ability to materialize and dematerialize matter. The shaman will enter a mild trance, where they gain the supernatural ability to perform surgeries with little to no contact with the patient. They would then be able to remove foreign objects within the body such as glass and metal and provide alleviation from similar pains.

Many of these shamans have been discovered as fraudulent, proving the use of slight of hand tricks and passing them off as legitimate procedures, but that isn’t the case for all of them. Some entrancing healers can pull out molars with their bare hands, while others can remove and replace eyeballs. There is still not enough evidence to dismiss what these shamans have been apparently able to achieve for decades.

Psychic Surgeons


Much like entrancing healers, psychic surgeons can perform procedures that would normally require tools and what we consider conventional medical supplies (like anesthesia). But, unlike the healers, psychic surgeons go deep into the patient’s body, and literally pull out tumors and organs from their patients.

These types of surgeons are mostly found in Brazil and the Philippines, where people strongly believe in spirits (which aid every procedure/treatment). Patients are told to recognize that negative feelings and thoughts toward disease and illnesses only serve to aggravate the condition, and that they can’t be healed if they don’t believe in the possibility of overcoming it. In other words, they must form a bond between the mind, body and spirit, to achieve the balance required for recovery; the body can’t be healed if the mind and spirit aren’t aligned. This is also the reason why psychic surgeons argue that outsiders who come to them seeking help are more difficult to work on because they lack that faith.

Spontaneous Human Combustion

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SHC is burning from the inside out. It certainly sounds strange but by now, most of us are familiar with this supposed phenomenon. Famous cases include Jack Angel’s account of SHC that led to his hand needing amputation, or Mary Reeser who was burned to a crisp and found with a shrunken skull. Even fiction has its examples of SHC, as seen in Charles Dicken’s novel, Bleak House (Dickens was fascinated by the topic and researched it thoroughly).

Already you can probably come up with a few facts off the top of your head that would debunk this mystery, but consider this: crematoriums pre-heat their furnaces to about 1837.4 degrees Fahrenheit, because the human body is relatively difficult to burn. It takes between one and two hours for tissue and major bones to become ashes. SHC victims are usually found in a liquid form, meaning their bodies had to burn at a temperature exceeding 2998 degrees Fahrenheit. And in some cases, not the entire body is burned and we’d expect to see burn marks all over the body in a traditional house fire scenario.

Fire Immunity and Fire Starter


On the subject of fire, we come to the Leidenfrost effect. The effect actually creates an insulating, protective barrier of vapor that forms over a liquid exposed to extreme heat. This same effect protects you when you pinch out candles with wet fingers. It’s a phenomenon we’re all capable of doing given the right circumstances (like in firewalking), but it’s only a fraction of what people with fire immunity experience.

Nathan Coker was a blacksmith in Maryland who could stand on white hot metal, swill molten lead shot in his mouth until it solidified, and hold red-hot coals. His skin was so dexterous, he never even showed signs of burn marks. Is it a practice of mind over matter or did his skin, over years of handling fire, get tough enough to keep him from feeling the burn?

On the opposite spectrum, pyrokinetics can attract or project fire. A.W. Underwood was able to cause a handkerchief to burst in to flames by blowing on it. Starting a fire with the mind, or a wave of the hand, is rejected much quicker than those that have fire immunity but it remains the favorite in fiction.



Dowsing has existed as early as the 15th century. Using a divining rod, a dowser may find water, metals and other substances in the ground without the use of scientific tools. The thought is that divining rods amplify invisible movements of the hand coming from the dowser who has some ability to sense magnetic fields or may possess a form of ESP.

One way to explain the phenomenon is by exploring the environment. If a dowser can detect hints about their surroundings, then they make subconscious movements with their hands, forcing the rods to shake and dip, indicating they’ve found something of value. Most dowsers can’t offer a plain explanation how the process works but the practice has been used to locate substances successfully throughout the centuries.



You have probably seen Youtube videos of people showing signs of bioelectricity. As early as the 19th century, there have been cases of people being electrically charged or magnetized, resulting in an odd electromagnetic effect on the objects around them. Some people even show allergic reactions to technology, finding it difficult to live around devices that emit too much magnetic and electrical charge.

There have been cases of people being so charged that they are able to light a bulb simply by holding it. Others cause fuses to blow out, without any means of controlling the effect. It’s even been recorded that people with this strong force can give a static electricity shock continuously, and be powerful enough to actually hurt someone.



Surprisingly, most cases on bioluminescence in humans comes from ill patients. Anna Monaro had asthma and for several weeks, a blue glow would emit from her chest while she slept. In his book ‘Death: Its Causes and Phenomena’, Hereward Carrington reported the body of a boy radiating a blue glow after his death of acute indigestion.

This glow-worm effect still doesn’t have many cases, but recently Japanese researchers discovered that the human body glimmers. The light we emit is about 1000 times lower than the naked eye can see. This light fluctuates during the day, in cycles, leaving us brightest in the afternoon (the skin around your mouth lightens most around this time of day too) and dimmest in the evening.



D.D. Home was a famous medium who had many witnesses claim he could indeed levitate. Homes most incredible feat happened in 1868, when he floated out one window and into another during a séance. His abilities were never proven to be fraudulent, even by Harry Houdini, who attempted to duplicate many of Homes “tricks.”

Today, levitation is common during magical performances, but they all came from reports of people actually floating. It was considered a normal occurrence in séance, not just by the people in attendance, but of the objects around them. And if you ever want to experience levitation for yourself, try the Light as a Feather, Stiff as a Board game. It’s been scaring kids for years now.



ESP is an extrasensory perception, able to gain information through use of a sense unknown by science. Before getting into ESP, first you should realize you do in fact have more than five senses. You can sense temperature variations, proprioception (position of your muscles), and the force of gravity (you do this by knowing at what angle your head is in while your eyes are shut). ESP covers the senses that are left.

There’s plenty of anecdotal evidence of ESP, but what about legitimate science? In the 30s, the Ganzfeld experiments took place. People claiming to have ESP were told to lie down, and then forced to listen to white noise to clear their minds. Someone observing from another room would then attempt to mentally send him/her an image. Afterward, that person would pick which image it is they saw in their mind from four. Critics predicted a 25% accuracy but were surprised to learn it was 35%. That isn’t statistically a lot more but this experiment was used to show that perhaps there was something to ESP after all.



The Delphic oracle did it. Nostradamus did it. Hell, you can call fortunetellers over the phone nowadays to hear about the future. History is riddled with people claiming to know the future. Some have visions that come and go, others have foretelling dreams. There are those who seek the future by means of ritual, and then there are people who are struck with precognition randomly. You might have experienced it yourself. Ever thought of a friend and they called you (or in this modern age – they Facebooked you) seconds later? Is that an example of precognition or just coincidence?

Nostradamus had a number of prophecies that, when interpreted in a certain manner, predicted the Great Fire of London and the rise of Adolf Hitler (among others). However, Nostradamus was purposefully vague and cryptic in each of his predictions, leaving them open for interpretation. To say that he unmistakably foresaw those events in history would be a bit of a stretch. Still, among all the items on this list, the ability to see the future is the most abundant bizarre trait people believe they possess.



Top 10 Most Influential Psychiatrists

Psychology has, historically, been considered the ugly stepchild of science. There are some legitimate reasons for this. First of all, the average person associates psychology with the kooky antics on on-screen therapists in various movies and T.V. shows. Second, everyone considers him or herself an “amateur” psychologist. While most of us don’t have direct experiences with black holes DNA or atoms, we all have experienced and generated behavior, emotions and thoughts. Finally, few understand that, historically, there were attempts to shape psychology as a science of human nature, along the lines of physics or chemistry. Unfortunately, modern psychology is an incredibly fractured discipline with many components, some of more value than others. The ten individuals I’ve selected, in my semi-educated opinion, are those who had the greatest impact on the shaping of psychology into the field it is today (both for good and ill).

Karl Lashley

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Karl Lashley is a debatable choice for the tenth spot. I selected him because he was one of the first psychologists to try to understand the physiological underpinnings of behavior. Lashley was an American psychologist who initially worked with John Watson. However, Watson was never very interested in the brain-behavior relationship and Lashley eventually went his own direction. He conducted a series of studies with rats where he attempted to locate the “engram” or the physiological seat of memory. Lashley trained his rats to run a maze, systematically removed portions of their brains, and observed any effect it had on their ability to run the maze afterwards. Lashley found, to his astonishment, that it didn’t matter. What did matter is how much of the brain was removed. Lashley would go on to train, and mentor, a number of psychologists and physiologists who built upon his early work linking brain and behavior. Currently, much of the work in modern experimental psychology is focusing on this topic.

B.F. Skinner


B.F. Skinner is one of the few psychologists with name recognition outside the field. Much of this had to do with his charismatic personality, excellent writing ability (he originally wanted to be a novelist), and confrontational style. Skinner was convinced that his approach to psychology was the only reasonable one, and had little patience with opposing views. Arrogance aside, few men in history can claim to have created the vocabulary for an entire discipline. In psychology, when we speak of “operant conditioning”, “positive reinforcement”, and “shaping” these are terms introduced and popularized by Skinner. But his ideas go beyond terminology. Skinner was instrumental in making his notion of psychology (called “behaviorism”) a dominant force in the discipline. In fact, in America, between the years 1930 and 1950, behaviorism WAS psychology. Much of this had to do with the compelling nature of Skinner’s ideas; a few simple principles based on the interaction of the organism and environment, that can explain a multitude of behaviors without invoking ideas like “thought”, or “emotion” or “unconsciousness”.

Jean Piaget


My first cheat: Piaget was not a psychologist. His training was as a natural scientist. As a young man growing up in Switzerland, he was interested in fossils, shells and birds. However, after finishing his degree, he became interested in developing an “embryology” of intelligence. Piaget initially planned to spend only a few years on this. He ended up spending 60 years observing children and their abilities, and formulating his highly influential theory of cognitive development. His ideas had a huge impact on developmental psychology, educational psychology and cognitive psychology. Ironically, Piaget, perhaps due to his own unusual childhood, while intellectually interested in the children he studied, never really engaged with them emotionally.

Abraham Maslow


Maslow, an American psychologist, was familiar with the two dominant forces in psychology during the mid-twentieth century: namely, psychoanalysis and behaviorism. Maslow felt that neither of these approaches adequately explained human experience. Behaviorism was founded on animal research which Maslow felt couldn’t have any real relevance to humans. Psychoanalysis seemed to focus on psychotic individuals and not healthy personalities. Maslow, by nature shy and reserved, felt strongly enough about this to lead the development of a new approach to psychology he called “third-force” psychology. His psychology discarded research as not relevant to human beings, focused on what it takes to become mentally healthy, and paved the way for a number of approaches to therapy, developed in the sixties and seventies, of dubious utility. Depending on your perspective, Maslow either increased the scope of psychology or reduced its overall validity.

Max Wertheimer


Wertheimer was a German psychologist, fascinated by fact that what we often see is not what is present. For example, when we watch movies, we are actually watching several still pictures presented quickly in sequence. What we see is movement up on the screen. Wertheimer believed that our minds do something to the perceived image to create this apparent movement. His curiosity in this phenomenon led to the development of Gestalt psychology, and its focus on perception, cognitive insight and learning and dynamic social systems. Wertheimer had to leave Germany because of the rise of Nazism, and when he came to America, presented the only real competitor to the ideas of behaviorism that were so dominant at the time. The principles of Gestalt psychology were instrumental in the founding of social psychology and cognitive psychology. While it no longer exists as a separate discipline, many Gestalt principles have been integrated into other subfields of psychology.

Alfred Binet


During the late 1800s, “intelligence” was conceptualized as a psychological quality passed on from one generation to another. What was needed was a way to successfully measure this particular quality. Binet was a French psychologist, approached by the French government to assist in developing a number of tests to discriminate between children of normal ability and children who needed extra educational assistance. In 1905, Binet and a colleague, Theodore Simon, developed their first attempt, called the Binet-Simon Test of Intelligence. It was based on a brilliant but simple idea. If you want to know if a child is “less intelligent” than another, first see what a “normal” child does and then observe how many of those tasks the child you’re evaluating can accomplish. This is the basic principle that all modern intelligence tests follow. Binet’s simple test was brought over to America and eventually revised to become the Stanford-Binet Test of Intelligence that is still being published and used today. But more importantly, Binet introduced the concept of successfully measuring psychological qualities that led to an absolute testing mania in the United States and other parts of the world. Few people have not been touched, for good or ill, by testing. Ironically, Binet would probably be appalled by the direction that testing has gone.

Wilhelm Wundt


Wundt is probably the most influential psychologist that no one has ever heard of. His influence did not lay in his ideas of psychology (his goal was to discover the “elements of thought”), or his methods of studying psychology (his one original contribution to methodology was probably “introspection”, which involved having subjects, somewhat subjectively, report their mental responses to different kinds of stimuli). No, Wundt is considered the founder of psychology. He was the first individual to call himself a psychologist, and to recognize that the work he was doing was part of a new discipline that hadn’t been labeled. Wundt was serving as the chair of the department of philosophy at the University of Leipzig, in Germany, when he began conducting his first psychological experiments, probably around 1879. His program of study was so successful that Germany became the center of psychology for a time (until a couple of world wars occurred). During the late 1800s, if you wanted to study psychology, there was no question that you must go to Germany, and many of the early psychologists traced their intellectual genealogy back to Wundt.

John Watson


Few famous men have started out so ignominiously. John Watson was the son of a drunkard who abandoned his family, and an extremely pious woman who made Watson promise to become a minister. Unfortunately, as a young man growing up in South Carolina, Watson was well on his way to juvenile delinquency. For some odd reason, (perhaps in the interest of pleasing his mother) Watson suddenly decided to go to college. Eventually, he graduated from the University of Chicago with its first Ph.D in psychology. Watson was dissatisfied with the current trends in psychology and believed only that which was directly observable could, and should, be studied. In 1912, Watson presented his ideas to the psychology community and in one broad stroke, swept away the old methodologies and presented his own. B.F. Skinner, as influential as he was, built his success on the foundation of Watson’s ideas. Watson is also well-known for his notorious “little Albert” study and, even more notoriously, for carrying on an affair with his assistant in that work, Rosalie Raynor. The affair cost Watson his academic position in 1920 (times being what they were) and, like any good behavior modifier, he worked in advertising for the rest of his life.

Sigmund Freud

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Here he is: the most well-known psychologist in history, and another cheat. Freud was not a psychologist; he was a psychiatrist (and, yes, there is a difference between the two). It is difficult to overestimate the influence that Freud’s ideas had over psychology and culture. His terms ‘ego’, ‘id’, ‘libido’ and others have entered every day language, and his very name is synonymous with probing techniques that reveal the damage that your parents did to you when you were young, and dreams that are superficial covers for surging, uncontrollable desires. What may be perplexing to the layperson is that in modern psychology, Freud’s ideas are not taken very seriously. Most acknowledge that his ideas have little basis in reality, and were more the product of Freud’s highly creative and innovative imagination. So why is he so well-known? Whole books have been written on this subject but I would say his place on the list is due to a very basic, but at his time, completely new idea. This was the notion that mental disorders could be treated psychologically. Before Freud, doctors considered mental disorders to be the product of some physical aberration (and many of them are). Freud provided compelling anecdotal evidence for the psychological origin and treatment of many of these problems.

William James


James was an American psychologist who disliked the label. Morton Hunt, the science writer, described him as the psychologist malgre lui or the reluctant psychologist. James fancied himself more as a philosopher than a psychologist, and did very little experimentation in psychology. He was not impressed with the work of Wilhelm Wundt, and towards the end of his life focused on matters of religion and spiritualism. However, I place him in the number one position for one reason: in 1890, he wrote a book called “Principles of Psychology” which is still in print today. It contains some apparently very modern ideas of psychology. In fact, a naïve reader would probably assume the book had been written in the last couple of decades not over 100 years ago. James essentially outlined modern psychology in this book. Wundt had proposed a psychology that focused, primarily, on the senses and perception. He rejected the notion that psychology could concern itself with some of the higher-order processes, like learning or problem-solving. James disagreed and outlined in his “Principles” the idea that psychology could concern itself with issues like: emotions, habits, consciousness, self, adaptation and learning. Behaviorism has many of its roots in James’ ideas, as does concepts like “self-esteem, self-concept, clinical psychology, biopsychology” and others. There are few topics in psychology that James didn’t anticipate, in one form or another. Interestingly, James was unsatisfied with the book. He wrote to the publishing company and described it as “a loathsome, distended, tumefied, bloated, dropsical mass, testifying to nothing but two facts: 1st, that there is no such thing as a science of psychology, and 2nd, that W. J. is an incapable”.