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Friday, December 15, 2023

Decemystery (2023) 15: The Tuttle Bottoms Monster

When most people hear the word “cryptid,” they likely think of Sasquatch or Nessie. However, there are a plethora more creatures out there than everyone’s favorite hairy hominid and Scottish plesiosaur. Heck, there are more than El Chupacabra and the Burrunjor.

Cryptids are a group whose reputation ranges from the timid to the downright brutal. For every shy apeman, there are beings like The Beast of the Land Between the Lakes, who’s said to have slaughtered an entire family that was camping.

Indeed, cryptids can have quite a homicidal reputation. While that may seem rather outlandish, you would be surprised at just how many are blamed for the deaths of hikers and swimmers. Ol’ Nessie’s very first sighting involved a swimmer who was attacked by the Loch’s resident cryptid. Meanwhile, Pensacola, Florida, has what is now known as “The 1962 Pensacola Sea Serpent Incident.” Hopefully, we’ll cover that in full next year. For now, if you want to know more about it, I briefly covered it in the second Conspiracy Theory Megalist (it’s entry #335).

There are tons and tons of aggressive cryptids out there—far more than I can name. My favorites are the humorously named Sheepsquatch and today’s topic: The Tuttle Bottoms Monster. This fellow is one that I wanted to cover last year, but life dealt me a Dead Man’s Hand and then some.

Luckily, we’re finally getting around to it. So come along, dear reader; it’s time for us to head back to Illinois to hunt one of the most bizarre-looking cryptids I’ve ever come across! You won’t want to miss this one because it has everything: government conspiracies and secrets, experiments gone wrong, urban legends, rumors of a cryptid murdering people, and an apeman with an anteater snout.

A Midwestern Night’s Dream

This story will have us bouncing from source to source since there’s a lot of stuff to go over. In fact, there’s so much; I’m amazed I didn’t bother delaying this one until next year. Not only did I desperately want to cover this, but a friend of mine picked it out. So I hope she enjoys this as much as I did!

Anyway, let’s start off with what this creature looks like. You can see from the header image that this is anything but a run-of-the-mill cryptid. It’s arguably one of the strangest ones out there; it resembles a primate with an anteater’s snout. However, there are a few other features. For starters, this monster is said to have shaggy hair and stands at a whopping 8 feet (2.4 meters) in height. It can also run on two legs and on all fours, which is something few Bigfoot-type creatures can claim to be capable of. In fact, I can’t name any off the top of my head.

All things considered, The Tuttle Bottoms Monster looks like a rejected design of the Pokémon Heatmor. Though while Heatmor is something I can’t be asked to talk about, I can and will happily discuss Mr. Tuttle Bottoms.

Now, then, onto the story itself. As I said, there’s a lot to go over, so I’ll try not to pause when moving to another source. Our first destination is going to be Wikipedia, which has a small article on the monster. Honestly, I’m surprised the page is as small as it is. Given how prevalent the monster supposedly is in Illinois, I figured it would be a bit more fleshed out. Then again, The 3X Killer still lacks a page.

The Tuttle Bottoms Monster is purported to have taken up residence in Saline County, in Harrisburg, Illinois. If you’re curious, this is in southern Illinois; we’re nowhere close to Chicago or Springfield. I know it’s hard to believe there’s more to Illinois than Chicago, but you’ll get used to it.

Stories of this cryptid date back to the 1960s and have become something of a folk tale in the community. In 1999, Gary Crabtree, who began serving as the Harrisburg Police Chief in 1971, stated that there had been 50 reports in his 28 years about the monster. They were mostly consistent, though some said the creature was a quadruped, while others claimed it was bipedal. This detail will be important, so keep it in mind for later.

As far as I can tell, the first sighting of the creature was on August 6, 1963, and was reported by The Harrisburg Daily Register. According to the paper, Saline County Sheriff James L. Thompson came across a young man with a rifle at 11:00 at night. The man informed Sheriff Thompson that there was “a monster loose in the bottoms.” While that may sound like some sort of innuendo or lead-in to a joke in a Seth Rogan movie, we mustn’t forget the name of this story.

The man continued by telling Sheriff Thompson that this monster was eight feet long, four feet tall, and sported a nose like an anteater’s. After that, the man placed his rifle into his car and left. The 1960s truly were a different time. Young lad out and about at 11:00 p.m. and is openly carrying a rifle, saying he’s going to hunt down a monster? No big deal. Nowadays, you’d end up on a dozen watchlists and the front page of Reddit.

Sometime later, Sheriff Thompson encountered a group of “about a dozen boys.” All of them were armed with shotguns and an array of other weapons. Like the first man, they, too, were hunting for a creature that resided in the bottoms. Unswayed by their monster-hunting endeavor, the Sheriff told all of them to go home and stop thinking they were the modern-day equivalent of Van Helsing.

After that, the article gets into the claims about government experiments and murders. I’m saving those two topics for later since they don’t deserve to be relegated to glorified addendums. So, instead, I want to take a leap over to the Cryptid Archives Wiki. I saw a Reddit user named CrofterNo2 say they wrote up this page. I’m not sure if they did, but if that’s the case, great work. It’s a really stellar article and reads wonderfully. Also, that comment was on a post by u/truthisfictionyt, the person behind the amazing YouTube channel Truth is Scarier than Fiction. Seriously, if you like cryptozoology, go watch his stuff. It’s excellent.

The first thing I want to go over is a statement made early on in the Wiki article. Namely, The Tuttle Bottoms Monster is a part of the “Abominable Swamp Slob” category of Bigfoot. If you wish to, you can shorten that title to “ASS.“ Thank you, John Keel, for being a wonderful contributor to cryptozoology. If that name sounds familiar, he wrote The Mothman Prophecies.

Anyway, this piqued my interest since, at first, I couldn’t recall the last time I ever heard of this subcategory of Bigfoot. According to the page for these abominable swamp dwellers, they’re also known as “Skunk Apes.” Those I’ve heard of, and if you want to know why they’re called that, you may be familiar with the Florida Skunk Ape. It’s arguably the most famous Bigfoot in the United States outside of Sasquatch.

I won’t linger on this for any longer, but it was interesting seeing The Tuttle Bottoms Monster filed under something outside of “an extremely weird thing people saw.” I do hope to discuss the Skunk Ape in more detail at a later point, though. Anywhoozle, back to the story at hand.

The Cryptid Archives Wiki has a tidbit from Bruce Cline (whose name I recognize but can’t recall from where). In his 2012 book More History, Mystery, and Hauntings of Southern Illinois, Bruce mentions how those who drove on Dorris Heights Road reported seeing “a large furry animal” to the police. This animal was described as resembling one of two creatures. The first was an “overgrown anteater,” while the second was a “large bear.” Sounds like the setup for an Asylum film. Mega Anteater vs. Giant Bear. Yeah, I’d watch it. Someone crowd-fund this bad boy!

Beyond this, the rest of the information we’ve already read about. However, there’s one fascinating bit that I’ve only seen mentioned on this Wiki page. In the section about sightings, there’s mention of how, in 2010, a man named Virgil Smith made an appeal for more coverage about the monster (we’ll get into him more later). Following this appeal, though, an anonymous lady from Eldorado, Illinois, wrote to the Daily Register about how she’s seen the monster on multiple occasions in years past.

The article, written by Brian DeNeal, has one truly bizarre detail to it that I want to note before we get into the lady’s account. Apparently, Virgil Smith said, “he has a theory on the Tuttle Bottoms Monster, also apparently referred to locally as the Mo Mo Monster.” Nowhere did I see it once referred to by that name. The only Mo Mo I’m aware of is Momo the Monster, also known as the Missouri Monster. It gets the nickname “Momo” from Missouri’s initials being MO and, well, the first two letters of “monster” being MO (I know, that totally warranted an explanation). So I don’t know if Brian misinterpreted something Virgil said or if I looked over a nickname the Tuttle Bottoms Monster has. If someone from the area knows, though, please leave a comment.

Anyways, Brian went on to write about an article that was run earlier in the week (which I believe to be this one, which is cited on Wikipedia and features Virgil’s appeal for information). That leads us to the anonymous report; also, for the rest of this write-up, I will refer to this lady as “Catherine.”

According to Catherine, she and her two friends crossed paths with Mr. Tuttle quite a few times. Unfortunately, no one believed them. That seems to be a recurring theme when it comes to cryptid encounters.

The three saw the creature “near the bridge on that road.” I’m not sure if she means Dorris Heights Road or another one, but another source does refer to a bridge that runs through the bottoms. Regardless, I now know what it’s like to be an out-of-towner in text form.

Catherine went on to say that the monster “seemed to get annoyed or interested in us” when she (or one of her friends) flashed the car’s lights on and off, honked the horn, and yelled at it. Not for nothing, but I think most animals would react if you did any of the three aforementioned things at them. Call it a hunch.

Unlike the strange apeman-anteater hybrid we talked about earlier, Catherine and her friends saw a much different monster. She described it as being “cat-like” on account of the ears that pointed upwards. It also had long “fingers.” Honestly, this bit of information unsettles me more than it should. It’s really uncanny sounding.

Despite those discrepancies, there were a few similarities, like the monster’s ability to run on two legs and on all fours. It was also tall; Catherine said it was “way over” 6 feet (1.8 meters) tall. She also said it looked “somewhat like what people assume wolfman looks like but different in a way.” Now, that’s what I call a real Cat-Dog.

Catherine claimed the beast was typically spotted “by the water in the creek.” I’m guessing she meant near the creek, but I digress. One of her more prominent encounters was when the monster was in front of her vehicle (at least, I’m guessing it was her vehicle). Not content with being a roadblock, it stood up on its hind legs. At this moment, Catherine and her friends “saw how huge it was.” After a bit, it bolted off back into the woods and made a large leap. I honestly wish she could have given a size estimate here, but I’d hazard a guess and say it was somewhere north of 8 feet/2.4 meters tall. 

Catherine also noted that its eyes glowed white with a blue tint, as opposed to the more common orange and yellow you’d see with a deer. She also claims the eyes would glow even if there wasn’t light near them. From what I know, there’s no known animal that can do this. If I’m wrong, though, I would greatly appreciate the correction.

Now for some more interesting tidbits. Catherine posited that the beast was “intelligent.” She believed the monster followed her and her friends after they lost sight of it. In her own words:

It also has followed us after the spotting when we lost track of it... we drove slow down the road and stopped to try to spot it and we heard a noise and then the blue eyes far into the woods near us once again. This is no normal animal, it seems intelligent, it thinks and is very fast.

This sounds like a predator that’s waiting for its prey to become completely defenseless. Given they were driving slowly, I think it thought they were a wounded animal—or something akin to one. I imagine if they had come to a complete stop, it would’ve bolted out of the woods and attacked the car. Granted, I’m thinking about this from the perspective of this all being true. And if I’m honest, it doesn’t sound like anything that outlandish (especially if you read some of the much more bizarre Bigfoot encounters out there).

Moving on, though, Catherine said there were a few occasions when she believed the monster was in the trees. She came to this conclusion thanks to some strange sounds she and her friends heard up in them, sounds that were “too big to be a bird.” Also, the eyes were up there. Little did they know the monster was playing hide-and-seek with its kids.

Despite the best efforts of Catherine and her friends, they weren’t able to find anything that came close to what they saw. The closest they found was the wolfman, but the monster’s face was “somewhat human.” Unlike The Tuttle Bottoms Monster, though, the creature they saw lacked that prominent snout. It also had arms and legs that were longer than those of a human. Also, and this is just me, but I think having eyes that reflect light when there isn’t any nearby would also be a giveaway that something’s off.

Catherine stated that she and her friends nicknamed the monster “The Tuttle Bottoms Pussy” on account of its cat-like appearance. I’d say I lost a bit of dignity having typed that, but I don’t think I ever had any. She also noted that, despite bringing friends to the road, the creature either didn’t show itself or what ended up appearing wasn’t like the monster she and her friends had seen.

Catherine signed off by saying that she and her friends would be more than willing to speak to Virgil and that none of them drank or used illegal substances, so they were confident in what they’d seen. She also said the monster “seems to come in interest or anger when you bother it enough.” I think that’s the case for any kind of animal.

Unfortunately, I don’t think Virgil ever got in contact with Catherine. If he did, it was not reported on, or I didn’t find it because I’m blind. As per the norm, I’m inclined to believe the latter.

After that, my next destination for finding details on this story was “To Contrive and Jive,” a WordPress site that had an article about this creature. Most of the information was stuff we’d already discussed, though there were a few interesting tidbits that were new. Well, most of them were new.

The first bit was about how the monster had been seen by folks at a Lover’s Lane. This wasn’t something I had seen before, and I’ll be going over it later. However, I feel now is the perfect time to introduce it since it leads into the second detail.

You see, the monster was primarily seen at Lover’s Lanes by teens who wanted to get a little bit of alone time. Cryptids (heck, unsolved mysteries in general) and Lover’s Lanes go together like bread and butter. In this case, the monster would waltz out of the nearby woods and romantic night into one of sheer horror. Afterward, it would wander back into the woods, uninterested in the screaming and shouting. Alternatively, it would murder the couple. We’ll talk more about that later, though.

After that, the author of the article makes a very dubious claim. Purportedly, “hundreds of reports [of the monster] became thousands.” I’m not sure if there were this many when the monster was first seen; Harrisburg’s population as of 2020 was 8,219, while its population in 1960 was 9,171. Obviously, everyone didn’t live in one confined community, nor did Mr. Tuttle reside in that hypothetical location. Though I’m quite skeptical of that claim. Of course, it could be metaphorical, or there could have been a period of mass hysteria that I didn’t see mentioned elsewhere. Feel free to leave a comment telling me if that was the case.

The only other thing of note—and the primary reason I wanted to mention this site—is an encounter an unnamed man had with the monster. Purportedly, while driving along the road, this individual “narrowly avoided hitting” Mr. Tuttle. Far from the most exhilarating run-in with a cryptid, but it’s something. Maybe one day, I’ll make a list of stories I’ve read about people having near misses with cryptids.

From here, I found it increasingly hard to find information. There were plenty of podcasts that covered the creature, but I have to admit that I’m awful at listening to podcasts. Sure, there are a select few I sometimes listen to. However, if I pick a random one to listen to, I almost always grow restless and disinterested. As such, if any of them had more information, blame my chaotically wired brain.

That said, there were three websites I wanted to note that I found when I initially did research for this story. The first was something that greatly amused me: a Tumblr account called Creature Codex. It had a page for The Tuttle Bottoms Monster—or rather, the monster’s stats for what I think is an RPG of some sort. I don’t know if this is actually something the user’s actively working on or if it’s just an idea they have, but if it’s the former: I would love to see it become a reality. An RPG centered around cryptozoology is something I’d play.

The second site,, was one of the very first places I visited. Even though it didn’t have much to it, it did have an image of the Saline River, which I found quite interesting. The Wikipedia article for this story mentions that the monster spends a lot of time “on the Saline River watershed.” Because of this, I was surprised that this was the only site to have a picture of the Saline River. Take a look.

Looks like I could get some prime riverside real estate around those parts.

The third and final website was, and may I say I love that name. It’s wonderfully silly; I wish more sites had memorable domains like that. It’s on this website that I found an article about Mr. Tuttle. It’s very well-written and brings up a few cryptids I was unfamiliar with: The Farmer City Monster and The Cole Hollow Road Monster. Both are hairy hominids and were seen in the 1970s in Illinois. I’ll try to get around to covering them next year.

Anywhoozle: I won’t get into the entire article, but there were a few things I felt really warranted a mention. The first is the statement on government cover-ups regarding Bigfoot. Given that we’ll be getting into that aspect of The Tuttle Bottoms Monster in a little, I felt it was worth at least acknowledging that, yeah, there are quite a few claims the government (specifically the US government) is covering up the existence of Bigfoot. Heck, some believe they’re covering up the existence of all cryptids. I want to write about that conspiracy one day, but that is a thing. If you enjoy conspiracies, it’s worth reading about. My favorites are the ones about how deaths by dogmen are covered up to prevent national parks from going bankrupt.

Beyond that, the information presented on Mr. Tuttle was nothing we hadn’t already seen. However, one thing did catch my eye, and that was a story about a man who, when younger, was in a vehicle with his babysitter. During the drive, they went by Tuttle Bottoms when, out of nowhere, a “massive, bat-winged creature” resembling a pterodactyl swooped down at them. Apparently, it was not fond of automobiles because it scratched and pecked at the roof.

Terrified that Chicxulub was unable to do its job correctly, the babysitter put the pedal to the metal and sped off. Luckily for both, the avian fiend didn’t pursue them; this encounter led this man to believe there may be more than one cryptid lurking in and around Tuttle Bottoms.

With that, it’s time to move on to the more unique parts of this story. I also have a funny little feeling these are the parts most people want to read about. So come along; it’s time to dive into the claims that the US government had something to do with this monster!

Mr. Tuttle Goes to Washington

Now you know why I suddenly started calling the cryptid “Mr. Tuttle.”

Allegations that the United States government knows more about cryptids are by no means a new concept; we discussed that a bit above. However, these claims go beyond Bigfoot. Some say they know much more about Mothman, while others say they outright created El Chupacabra in a facility, and it got loose. The latter of those two claims is, to this day, one of the most prevalent theories (though it doesn’t have the same presence as it did in the mid-2000s).

I could get really deep into claims and wild theories about the government and cryptids—trust me—but I don’t want to derail this write-up. For now, just know that the following section isn’t something without precedent.

Exactly where this theory originated from, I can’t say for certain. Granted, the US government is no stranger to being accused of some crazy stuff. Sometimes it’s rooted in truth, like Project MK Ultra. Other times, however, you read that George W. Bush had Britney Spears fake her infamous meltdown to divert attention from the increasing disapproval of the Iraq War.

One thing is for certain: the theory isn’t something niche. A lot of the sources I went to, at the very least, mention it. The first time I found it was when I read a Facebook post from a page called Southern Illinois Unearthed. I wanted to say this page much earlier because of two amusing typos I found, but I decided to wait. The writer refers to Scotland’s iconic Loch Ness Monster as “Nelly” rather than “Nessie” and The Boggy Creek Monster as “The Boogy Creek Monster.” I’m guessing in the case of the first, the writer typed “Nessy,” but autocorrect changed it. Not sure about the second; either way, it bamboozled me.

Anyways, grammatical errors aside, the actual post itself isn’t too shabby. It covers the legend quite well and summarizes it very well. Toward the end, the escaped government experiment theory is mentioned. It isn’t elaborated upon, but it’s said the notion has been floated around since the monster’s first sighting. The idea that the government deliberately released Mr. Tuttle is also mentioned, but we’ll get to that variation in a little.

As for this claim, I sadly can’t find much on it. I do have a few ideas of my own, but I’ll save them for the theories section. What I can say now is that the US government does, to some degree, experiment on animals. Though it isn’t to make horrific abominations like Mr. Tuttle. No, it’s usually in medical trials when making things like vaccines. Now, whether or not the central focus of today’s story was the product of clinical trials or not is another story entirely. I’m bad enough at biology as is; I don’t think I’m in any position to try and guess how mutation works.

Now, for that variation, I mentioned that the government deliberately released this creature into the wild. This is actually something that has happened in the past. If there’s an invasive species that’s causing trouble somewhere in the US, the government may authorize the release of an animal that preys upon the pest. Does this happen often? I’m honestly not sure, but it is a thing.

This theory’s origin is one that garnered a bit of popularity thanks to Virgil Smith. If you forgot who he was, he’s the fellow who made the appeal for information, which caught the eye of Catherine. Virgil said the federal government released the monster and that it eventually died. He also stated the creature was a hairy primate; he added it wasn’t afraid of humans and once approached a couple. I don’t know if this was the story about the Lover’s Lane or not, but it sounds a bit like it.

One other claim Virgil made was that a former employee of the United States Department of Agriculture told him that the department had launched an investigation into the monster. The employee allegedly told Virgil about the origin of something called the “Massac County Creature.” I’m not familiar with that cryptid, but from what little I can gather, it’s a hairy hominid, so I’m guessing it’s like Bigfoot. The source of this information was an article by the Daily Register; I linked the article earlier, but I may as well do it again since it’s relevant. 

There’s a bit more information for this theory that can be found on the Cryptid Archives Wiki, but the primary source is paywalled. Luckily, the Internet Archive is here to save the day. Well, when it loads the page. I won’t go through the entire article since I don’t want to drag this out for eternity; it also focuses on more than just The Tuttle Bottoms Monster.

In 2022, Virgil was interviewed by The Southern. In this interview, he revealed that he’d discovered that there was a zoo in the Mount Vernon area, but federal authorities told the owner to shut it down, and if he didn’t find new homes for the animals, they’d return and take them. Apparently, the owner didn’t maintain or care for the animals; what a lovely fellow.

Virgil went on to say that he spoke to the owner’s friends and family, who said he did find new homes for them… sort of. Apparently, he drove around southern Illinois and released them into them; one of them was a “giant anteater from Africa.” Another was an old orangutan, which Virgil suspects may have been the hairy hominid that was seen in Massac County.

While not directly related to a government cover-up, Virgil doesn’t say if the federal authorities were aware that the animals were released into the wild. So it’s possible the investigation by the Department of Agriculture was why they’d taken an interest in The Tuttle Bottoms Monster.

So, case closed, right? Well, no, not quite. While giant anteaters fit the bill remarkably well, they aren’t from Africa. Rather, they reside in Central and South America. It’s possible the owner was ignorant and didn’t remember where he’d gotten the animal. It’s also possible he’d actually released an aardvark and not a giant anteater. The only problem here is that aardvarks are smaller than giant anteaters. I digress, though; we’ll get more into this when we get the theories.

That, by and large, does it for this section. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find any super crazy stories about horrific experiments on animals or attempts at making ungodly hybrids. However, what is out there is nonetheless pretty exciting and leads to arguably the most plausible theory. With that said, it’s time to jump into the last section, and it’s a weird one.

The Killer Cryptid From Illinois

Something about hormones attracts rejected Spore creations. At least, that’s my observation. I dunno if they’re inherently alluring for these monsters or if it’s bad luck, but man, cryptids love scaring youngsters. If I ever get another girlfriend, I am never letting her take me to a Lover’s Lane. If she complains, I’ll just tell her about Mr. Tuttle.

A lot of the sources I used for this write-up mention “rumors” about how murders occurred in the Bottoms when the monster was seen. As a result, they were blamed on the ol’ Mr. Tuttle. Not exactly the craziest thing since mass hysteria leads to a lot of wild accusations and theories. However, in this case, there’s a significant issue: I can’t find any documentation.

From what I can tell, this claim exists only as a rumor, something a friend of a friend heard from his uncle’s best friend’s cousin. I don’t know if there were any unsolved murders in the area during the sightings. I’m sure there are some, but I feel any tied to a cryptid would be something I’d have heard of by now.

In spite of that, I can safely say this claim isn’t unique to Mr. Tuttle. As I said earlier, cryptids have been blamed for murders before. In fact, I had considered covering a murderer who was blamed on El Chupacabra last year but decided to pass on it since I didn’t think I had the time. So, who knows, maybe somewhere in the very back of a filing cabinet is a folder on an unsolved murder where someone was mauled.

With that, though, the long and wild story of The Tuttle Bottoms Monster comes to an end. This has to be one of the strangest cryptids I have ever come across, and if I’m honest, I absolutely love it. Not only does it feel like an old-school cryptid tale, but it never felt like it blurred the lines between urban legend and an actual thing people claim they saw. Now, then, onto the theories!


1. It was a misidentification

The inaugural theory is also, without a doubt, the most arduous one to cover, so let’s get it out of the way. While misidentification is arguably the most common theory thrown around for any cryptid, it’s usually relegated to one or two animals in the majority of cases. For this story, though, it could effectively encompass every single theory and then some. For that reason, I’ll start with the lesser suspects and make my way to the primary one.

The first suspect is a bear. Given the ape-like appearance and the fact bears are often used to explain Bigfoot sightings, some have suspected Mr. Tuttle was a bear. Of course, bears lack anteater snouts, but human memory is faulty, and tricks of the light (what little there may have been) can make you see things.

Next up is a primate. This is related to the zoo claim from Virgil; some have speculated the creature may have been some sort of primate. This shares a lot of the same flaws as the previous suspect, but most primates don’t come close to being 8 feet tall. I also don’t know of one that has an anteater snout.

Third is an aardvark. I didn’t show an image earlier, but here’s what they look like:

They’re oddly cute in my eyes. Anyways, aardvarks look remarkably similar to The Tuttle Bottoms Monster. They can also stand upright, have a prominent snout, and are native to Africa (which is where that zookeeper said he got that “giant anteater”). Topping things off, aardvarks are nocturnal; something I noticed with reports was none of them appeared to take place during daytime.

However, there are some differences—namely in their size. They’re roughly 2 feet (60 centimeters) tall. Length-wise, they’re 7.2 feet (2.2 meters) long; as a side note, that length accounts for their tail. As you can see, though, they aren’t exactly close to the proportions of Mr. Tuttle. To make matters trickier, they don’t come close to the size of the Illinoisan aberration when standing upright. Take a look:

That brings us to the final suspect, and it’s the most popular one by far. The Tuttle Bottoms Monster was a misidentified giant anteater, and they more than live up to their name. They can be anywhere from 6 feet (1.8 meters) to 8 feet (2.4 meters) and can be 2 feet (60 centimeters) tall. However, I’m unsure if giant anteaters are taller when standing upright since I can’t find a video of one doing that. However, here’s a video of another species of anteater standing up:

Strangely adorable if you ask me. Anyways, this is a no-brainer on the surface, and with good reason. It looks like an anteater; the zookeeper said he let one loose into the wild (despite saying it was from Africa). They can stand upright, and best of all, giant anteaters are extremely close in size to the monster. But first, take a look at these majestic creatures.

This is strikingly similar to the monster (in my eyes). However, like with the aardvark, there are some major differences. First, and perhaps most apparent, is the tail. Most depictions of the monster I’ve seen show it without a tail, though a few of them include it. Why there’s this inconsistency is something I can’t explain; it’s possible that some encounters were with a creature that had a tail, but none I read included one. If I had to guess, it might be artists adding in one, given the monster closely resembles an anteater. Who knows.

Second, they don’t exactly look like the monster. At least, not entirely. This fault is admittedly more of a “purity” thing; it must be stressed that human memory is not infallible, and when it comes to cryptids, you can’t expect an eyewitness to give a flawless description. In this case, it’s more than likely that the eyewitnesses were taken aback by seeing something they’d more than likely never seen in person. 

There’s one other issue—and this one is the biggest one by far. Given this creature was seen across decades, it stands to reason that the people of Harrisburg were seeing something. If it was a giant anteater, then there couldn’t have been just one; they have an average lifespan of fourteen years. So unless that zookeeper let loose a group of them, there was already one there, or it was cursed with immortality, there’s no way this can explain all of them. At least, I don’t believe there is.

Since I wasn’t able to find many reports of the creature across the decades, I lack any sort of knowledge about the creature’s appearance; whether the monster began to look different is unknown to me. I know the nightmarish Catman Catherine wrote about was significantly different than the apeman-anteater hybrid, but she and her friends are, to this day, the only ones to have seen that. At least, they are, to the best of my knowledge.

Because of this life expectancy flaw, this theory is likely the first instance where you would need to have not one but two takes with it. And since we didn’t have much in the way of detail with the reports, that’s all but impossible to do. Given the monster’s borderline nightmarish appearance, I think that’s a blessing, but I digress. I’ll leave it up to you to decide since I don’t want to drag this out for much longer; onto the next theory!

2. A prehistoric beast (specifically a Giant Ground Sloth)

Have you ever heard the story of the “Gorp?” There’s a story that was posted on 4chan by someone who went camping once when they encountered this big, nasty creature that didn’t take too kindly to someone being in its territory. Luckily, the guy escaped with his life, but suffice it to say: he was terrified. Prior to all of this, he had been told by his dad about the “Ozark Big Bears” that lived nearby.

This thread is relevant because a fair number of people thought the creature sounded like a Giant Ground Sloth. Thought to have gone extinct long ago, some believe them to still be alive and kicking in parts of North and South America. The Mapinguari—a cryptid that I’ve wanted to cover for a long time now—is arguably the poster child for its continued existence.

Surviving animals from the ice age is by no means a novel concept. Reports of living mammoths and saber-toothed tigers are very much a thing. Siberia and Alaska are two of the most commonly cited locations for mammoth sightings, while the American southwest, parts of both South America and Africa, are said to be where the saber tooth tiger resides.

The theory of living fossils, as I’ve discussed in the past, is a contentious topic, and I feel you blame it on the Coelacanth. Its discovery effectively added an unlimited amount of ammo to the argument for other animals still being alive. After all, if an animal thought to have been extinct for millennia was found alive and swimming, why couldn’t others? Well, there are reasons, but they vary from animal to animal, and the Giant Ground Sloth is one that has a few. Changing climate and being hunted by humans are the two main ones.

There’s much more to these claims, but I’ll save it for another day. The point is: our next theory is that The Tuttle Bottoms Monster was a Giant Ground Sloth. Setting aside the debate on whether or not the animal is still alive, the appearance of these majestic beasts is surprisingly similar. Take a look:

Per a Reddit post.

While their snouts were certainly different, they did protrude more than, say, a bear. However, there were a few… well, noticeable differences. For starters, Giant Ground Sloths were 10 feet (3 meters) tall and long. The next, and easily the most significant, was that these things were roughly the same weight as an elephant; they weighed 2–3 tons (1.8–2.7 tonnes). Given elephants make the ground shake when they walk, there’s no way that this could have been a Giant Ground Sloth. A descendant of some sort? Possibly, but the real thing would be inconceivable that it would have remained undiscovered for this long. They wouldn’t exactly be stealthy, even in rural North America.

Nevertheless, this remains a relatively popular theory, and sightings of the creature persist. In fact, it remains a popular contender for a living fossil in the form of the Mapinguari. Perhaps next year, we will cover that fellow, as it’s one of my favorite cryptids.

3. It was a cryptid

I think this theory is quite self-explanatory, but when has that ever stopped me from rambling?

There are some out there who suspect Mr. Tuttle of being some type of Bigfoot. While there are definitely several “types” of Bigfoot out there (we discussed the Abominable Swamp Slob earlier), I’ve never heard of one with such a pronounced snout. The closest I can think of is a Bigfoot that had comically large, saggy breasts—and yes, I’m serious about that. I also know The Philippines has its own Bigfoot that likes to hang out in trees and smoke, which is easily the funniest image related to Bigfoot I’ve ever thought of.

Your mileage on this theory will be based largely on your opinion of Bigfoot; if you don’t believe in it, then I doubt this theory will do you any favors. If you do, then it’ll depend on whether or not you think there’s a type of Bigfoot out there that also looks a bit like an anteater.

4. It was an escaped government experiment

We largely went over this theory earlier, and because of that, I won’t get that deep into it; I won’t try to anyway. However, if you’ve read this blog before, you’ll know that not only am I terrible at keeping promises, but I’m also incapable of keeping things short.

This theory could easily—and I do mean easily—be proven or disproven by doing one thing: submitting a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request. Simply do that and see if there were any crazy, potentially horrifically unethical, and reprehensible experiments going on in or around the area this story took place, and boom: case closed. Of course, in order to do that, you need some good money; as the United States Department of State website says:

The categories of personnel that may conduct searches and reviews and the estimated hourly costs based on the average current salary rates (including benefits) for those categories are:

Administrative/clerical – $21/hour

Professional – $41/hour

Executive -- $76/hour

Records shall be duplicated at a rate of $.15 per page.

The point is, nothing in the United States is free, and you’re gonna need to cough up the dough in order to get that information.

Every department has different price ranges, too (from what I’ve seen), and the most common one I’ve seen is $25. If I had to guess, that’s based on the salary of the clerks who have to shift through the files to find whatever it is you requested. 

At least, that’s how it works normally. Under certain circumstances, a FOIA request can be denied. I recall reading that one was denied by the FBI when someone wanted to know if a video called “LOL SUPERMAN” was real; the FBI said it was part of an investigation and couldn’t be disclosed. So it isn’t like a FOIA request is going to get you everything you want.

I digress, though. Assuming this theory is as it goes, the US government was conducting an experiment on an animal for some reason. Knowing my nation’s government as well as I do, it probably falls into the realm of “just cause.” During the experiment, things went sideways, and it got loose. Then it stalked the forests until it died (or was killed by government agents in a scenario straight out of the movie Predator).

Honestly, I don’t know if we’ve ever experimented on animals to try and make them into some sort of weapon. I believe it’s been done in the past by some countries, and I wouldn’t be shocked if the US attempted it. However, the way this story presents it is something closer to a horror movie, a mutated abomination that would likely be used in a way to go berserk and paint an entire structure red. Maybe it’s been put forward by someone to gauge the response from their peers. It definitely wouldn’t be the most absurd thing ever postulated by the government. They once wanted to nuke the Moon!

4b. It was a government experiment that was deliberately let loose

This is an offshoot of the above theory, and it covers most of the same bases.

I’ve already told you that the US government has been accused of some wild stuff in the past; I won’t get into it because this isn’t a write-up centered on one of those theories, and as such, it has no place being discussed here. But this theory hinges on your belief that the government would release some hellish abomination into the wild for some reason—and it’s here that the main problem with the theory rears its ugly head.

Namely, there isn’t any reason for the government to have released a creature like this into the wild.

I already went over that there have been animals deliberately released into the wild to combat invasive species, but not only is that publicized (at least it is nowadays; I’m unsure if it was back in the 1960s), it usually involves animals that don’t look like H.R. Geiger’s basement-dwelling tenant. If there had been a reason for animals to be released into southern Illinois for one reason or another, I’m pretty sure it wouldn’t have been something like an anteater—or something like that.

I also don’t believe there would be a need to release a government experiment into the wild; if something like that went wrong, I’m pretty sure they would have killed it rather than letting it run wild in the wilderness where it could have (and almost certainly would have) caused untold amounts of damage to the ecosystem. Sure, I know a lot of people don’t trust the government, but this seems like a major stretch in my eyes. I mean, as I said above, if there had been experiments like this going on, surely you’d be able to submit a FOIA request to learn about it, right? Maybe, maybe not; we went over the specifics before.

I digress, though; there are some who don’t think this was an experiment that went awry and was dumped into the wild. From what I can tell—or at least interpret—some think the government simply released an animal into the bottoms. Nowhere is it specified what animal that may have been, but if I had to guess, it was a giant anteater. My assumption is that the federal officials who shut down that zoo dumped it into the forests themselves and then said, “A job well done,” before driving off to do something else.

As wild as that may sound, the federal government has done things quite lazily in the past, and I wouldn’t be shocked if they did something astronomically stupid like that in the 1960s. I mean, it was the time of J. Edgar Hoover’s FBI; you can bet some good money that a federal department chucked some animal somewhere because they had no idea what to do with it or simply didn’t want to bother with some paperwork.

Also, I doubt it would have been easy to take care of a giant anteater. Those things eat upwards of 30,000 ants and termites a day. I sincerely doubt it would have been easy to babysit one until they could find a new home for it (let alone one that could afford to house it).

5. It was all a hoax

Not gonna lie; I didn’t see this theory postulated anywhere. I simply wanted to include it because it felt wrong not to have it. It is possible that some of the sightings were hoaxes perpetrated by some pranksters, but that goes for every cryptid. I have to give the pranksters credit for managing to recreate this monster, if any did, that is.

6. It was an alien

Haha, just kidding. I just wanted an excuse to mention aliens.

7. It was a modern art piece

No wonder it looks so laughable.

My Take

It’s remarkably difficult to give a conclusive take on this story—and it’s solely because I know what I think some of the sightings were of. I believe the early encounters were of a giant anteater; I guess the zookeeper was an ignorant jerk and figured they came from Africa. I know I said it’d be hard to not notice their tail, but I’m willing to set that aside and say fear overtook those who saw it, and they exaggerated what they saw.

With that said, I can’t explain the continued reports of the monster—and I sure as heck can’t explain Catherine’s stories (assuming she wasn’t fabricating them). While I’m sure some people saw a bear and simply mistook it for the monster, I doubt every single encounter was of a bear. That, to me, seems exceedingly unlikely.

I also cannot fathom every eyewitness, across decades, mistaking a bear for an apeman with an anteater snout. The prominence of that snout is incredible; I firmly believe in coincidences, but there comes a point where even I have to draw a line. That more than passes the line; it runs past it and keeps running until it’s gone around the entire planet and lapped by it.

So, with that said, I can’t conclusively say what I think the later sightings were of. At least, not all of them. There wasn’t much to go off of, to begin with; all we had was the claim that there were 50 reports in 28 years. I’m sure some people mistook other animals for a monster, especially if the conditions were right. Stress or anxiety, tricks of the light, and a bear standing upright (hey, a rhyme) could cause someone to panic and think they saw a monster.

As for those other sightings, the sightings that aren’t mentioned because we lack any details on them, I don’t know. If I had to give an answer, though, I’d say it may be some sort of cryptid or a Giant Ground Sloth. I’m more than aware that it isn’t the scientifically approved take. I also know that most (if not all) skeptics reading this are rolling their eyes at a rate that rivals a tire in a NASCAR race. But I can’t, in good faith, dismiss every single report. Some may be fabricated, and some are all but definitely cases of misidentification, but to brush aside every report feels narrow-minded.

It’s the same issue I have with people who scoff at reports of ghosts and UFOs. Millennia of reports and accounts, yet some disregard every single one and say they’re all nonsense. That mindset is idiotic to me; I know there are a plethora of sightings that are hoaxes (that’s a given when you have over a thousand years of reports), but for every single one to be the product of something explainable is inconceivable to me. At some point, you have to look at the laundry list of sightings and go, “Huh, maybe there’s more to this than just swamp gas and tricks of the light.” That’s just me, though; I know I can’t make everyone think like me. 

As for the other theories, I’m mixed about them. I certainly don’t think this creature was a cryptid. It doesn’t look like any cryptid I’ve ever seen—and I know there are some pretty peculiar ones out there. If it’s some sort of Bigfoot, then it takes the cake as the most bizarre-looking one I’ve ever heard of. Even the Flannel Shirt Sasquatch isn’t as strange as this one would be. I mean, it’d be a Bigfoot with an anteater snout. What sort of Spore-level tomfoolery is this?

The government experiment theories are ones I don’t buy into. I know that anything involving the government invites a boatload of trouble, and as a result, if you wish to give your own take on it, please don’t make it partisan. While I think political discourse is vital and healthy, mindless partisanship is the lowest form of debate I can think of. Well, in my opinion, it is.

That said, I don’t really see a reason for this to have been done on any front. There was no apparent benefit to trying to make some sort of weapon out of an animal; if they wanted to do this, I think a werewolf would have been a better case. Adding an anteater snout seems impractical.

Also, having it be indifferent towards humans (as The Tuttle Bottoms Monster was said to be) makes me think the experiment was a resounding failure. As a result, it would have also been a waste of taxpayers’ money. Hey, maybe this theory isn’t so impractical after all!

My point is: I don’t see any basis for this theory. I would be curious to see if a FOIA request would yield anything, though. Maybe if I get enough money, I’ll submit one. Or maybe I’ll buy the rights to the Terminator series and never let them make another movie.

As for the living fossil theory, this one I have two very different views on. I don’t think it was a Giant Ground Sloth that was seen. That said, I do think they could still be alive.

In the case of The Tuttle Bottoms Monster, I cannot fathom a beast as large as the Giant Ground Sloth having gone unnoticed for this long. The weight of this thing would cause the ground to vibrate. Along with that, there are roads that run through this area. I don’t understand how this thing could slip under the radar. To me, this would be like if we found a second Earth behind the Moon. Gee, how’d we miss that? Maybe we all need to get glasses.

Now, with that said, the idea of a Giant Ground Sloth isn’t too crazy—at least in my eyes. They only went extinct 9,500 years ago, and the reason for their extinction wasn’t something akin to that of the dinosaurs. While climate change is definitely rough, they also died out due to human hunting. In my eyes, it’s plausible that some survived in a more remote part of the world (such as the Amazon, where the Mapinguari is said to reside). Granted, I know that there are some relatively solid arguments by skeptics and others, but I’ll save both them and the rest of my thoughts for a write-up dedicated to Giant Ground Sloths and the Mapinguari itself.

So, in the end, I think this thing was likely a giant anteater, with later sightings being misidentifications and probably something else. I dunno; maybe there’s a Bigfoot around those parts, and some people added the anteater part to keep the legend alive. Honestly, I don’t know, and no matter how many ways I cut it, I can’t quite come to a conclusion that feels satisfactory. 

As for the story that Catherine told, I don’t know. I know I’ve said that enough times to make a drinking game out of it by now, but I genuinely don’t know what she saw. Assuming she was legit, my only guess is she saw some sort of Dogman. The Midwest is known for a lot of cryptid sightings, and the Dogman is remarkably prevalent over there. The most famous is, without a doubt, The Beast of Bray Road. Even though that cryptid is native to Wisconsin (purportedly residing on Bray Road), some consider it to be more of a regional cryptid, residing across the entirety of the aforementioned Midwest.

I know Catherine said it looked more “cat-like,” but I’m unfamiliar with Catman sightings. Looking them up, I found four things; I think there were some others, but I didn’t want to spend too much time looking for a bunch of stories. The first was a Reddit post where one user mentioned sightings of “Lion Men” in Africa. The second was another Reddit post, this one with a top comment that really caught my attention. Per a user by the name of GoliathPrime:

Decatur Illinois and the surrounding areas have a lot of "black panther" sightings that are usually grouped with "alien animals" or "alien big cats - ABCs" However, upon further digging these are not ABCs. These panthers regularly get up on their hind legs and run off, and are able to manipulate latches and locks. But beyond that, they seem to have electromagnetic effects like Mothman. They cause vehicles to short out, radios to go nuts and often leave witnesses with conjunctivitis and sunburns.

I haven't found this information online, but if you want to read the most concise report on them, the book is Earth's Secret Inhabitants by D. Scott Rogo and Jerome Clark. I've come across this information in other books too, but you have to dig through chapter after chapter of ABC stuff just find one mention of bipedalism.

Decatur, Illinois, is 3 hours and 12 minutes from Harrisburg. Though this doesn’t sound like what Catherine saw, it’s certainly something. Also, I find it funny how the location is named Decatur. The puns are endless—unless it was made up by the user.

The third thing was a story from Phantoms And Monsters about a 9-foot-tall humanoid panther from Bay County, Florida (which is in the Floridian panhandle). Honestly, that’s probably the least absurd thing to come out of Florida in recent memory, but the story itself was quite fascinating. I definitely recommend giving it a read if you’re into enigmatic humanoid sightings.

The third and final thing I found was a Cryptopia post on something called the “Wicomico Catman,” which is from Maryland. I’ve never heard of the Lion Men, humanoid panthers from Decatur, the 9-foot-tall panther from Florida, or the Wicomico Catman, though all three interest me greatly, and I’ll definitely make sure to read about them. As it stands, those are the four I opted to give a read. So, even though I said I wasn’t familiar with Catman sightings, I guess they do exist. They definitely aren’t as common as Dogman sightings, though. Still, maybe she saw one of these elusive Catmen.

Before I get to the conclusion, though, I want to return to something that I talked about much earlier in the write-up because it was something that never left my mind: Brian DeNeal’s claim that The Tuttle Bottoms Monster is also known as “Mo Mo.”

This was something that I feel I should have created an entire section for because it drove me nuts when I initially read it. While I’m not from Missouri, I’m very much aware of Momo the Monster, Missouri’s version of Bigfoot. While Momo isn’t as well-known as Sasquatch, Yowie, Yeren, Yeti, or The Boggy Creek Monster (also known as The Fouke Monster), Momo did garner a bit of a reputation. Heck, there was an attraction as Six Flags in St. Louis based on ol’ Momo for a while. By all accounts, Momo, at the very least, attained fifteen minutes of fame before becoming one of America’s more second-rate Bigfoots.

That’s one of the many reasons why DeNeal’s claim of Mr. Tuttle also being known as “Mo Mo.” While I am far from a reputable source or even the most knowledgeable source, I try my absolute best to at least provide all the information I feasibly can. As I’ve said in the past, I am one person; I write everything on my own. Even though there are two authors, we have our own projects and schedules; we’re still best friends, mind you, but we have our own pursuits and what have you.

As such, seeing this creature be referred to as Mo Mo drove me up a wall. I looked up and down to see if maybe there was anything about this; I was honestly hoping that maybe I’d found something that no other source had. A bit of trivia, if you will. However, as far as I can tell, this claim has no basis. No source ever refers to The Tuttle Bottoms Monster as “Mo Mo” or “The Mo Mo Monster.” What’s more, I found three articles about Mr. Tuttle written by Brian DeNeal, and none of them, outside of the third one that’s hyperlinked (which I hyperlinked earlier; the middle one is one I hadn’t hyperlinked until now), refers to the creature as “Mo Mo.”

I feel like I’m making a far bigger deal about this than I should, but little things like this get under my skin. Maybe it’s the autism, or maybe it’s because I grew up fascinated by cryptozoology and even had aspirations to become a cryptozoologist. Whatever the reason, I would love to know whether Mr. DeNeal heard that nickname from someone or if he mistakenly thought Mr. Tuttle was the same as Missouri’s “Momo the Monster.”


This was certainly a much longer and considerably stranger story than I expected. I’d looked into it in the past and knew some of it, but I had no idea about things like the zookeeper or Catherine’s encounters. Learning about things like that made me realize just how wild some cryptid stories can get.

As a result, I had absolutely no idea this write-up would become as long as it did. I expected something within the realm of 4,000 or so words. In the end, this ballooned to over 10,000 words. I normally don’t mind longer write-ups, but as some of my more dedicated readers may know, I dwell on things, and one of those things is how lengthy these pieces can be. I dread the thought that people won’t want to read longer articles; it’s not like you can listen to these things in the background. They aren’t scripts; they’re written for a blog. And sadly, I know longer posts are likely to deter some folks.

Oh well, that’s life. I know not everyone wants to read enormous posts on some things, and that’s perfectly understandable. Anyway, with that, I bid you all adieu. Stay happy, stay healthy, and thank you all for reading!

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