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The Ozark Howler: the Myth, or not

In his book, Cryptozoology: Science & Speculation, Chad Arment explains that along with several of his colleagues, he received an interesting email, claiming to have irrefutable evidence supporting the existence of the Ozark Howler. Unfortunately, this claim turned out to be a hoax.  Some kid in college pulled the prank, stating he thought it would be funny to fool the cryptozoology community.

A hoax perpetrated by a smart a** student looking for some attention doesn’t take away from the truth at all; it just becomes an interesting side note. You see, the myth of the Ozark Howler was around long before the prankster was even born.

Now historians (skeptics) argue the cryptid isn’t real because stories of similar creatures existed in Europe prior to any known sightings. According to the experts, the myth of the Ozark Howler likely came over with the Irish, Scottish and English, who settled the mountains.  The Black Dogs of Bungay, for instance, are a similar, supernatural myth that may have been the basis of these Ozark Howlers, or maybe not.

Even though sightings date back over a hundred years, as recently as 2011, there have been reports of folks spotting the Ozark Howler. Eyewitnesses describe the cryptid as a large, broad and muscular cat. There is some disagreement, however, about the exact description of the feline menace. Perhaps the variation is due to the existence of multiple creatures and possibly a combination of adrenaline, fear, and excitement (if not a little alcohol) on the part of the person recounting the story.

 

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In any event, the one constant about the Ozark Howler is the report of a loud, blood-curdling howl. Witnesses predominately say the creature has a massive shaggy-haired body, glowing red eyes and horns. Could this description and those horns be a clue to this cryptid’s origin?

The profile of a large cat with short legs and a broad, muscular torso is very consistent with extinct saber-toothed cats, such as the Smilodon, that roamed North America roughly ten thousand years ago. The Ozark Howler may very well be a generative offshoot of one of these creatures. For example, some eyewitnesses claim the Ozark Howler has a unique short tail, similar to a Smilodon and the American bobtail but not common to many other species of cat.

Netherlands - Saber tooth tiger skull, with long white front teeth.
Netherlands – Saber tooth tiger skull, with long white front teeth.

So, back to our clue and those horns, could they be teeth? Could ten thousand years of environmental adaption have yielded a creature with tusk like protrusions mistaken at a distance for horns?

As with all cryptids and their skeptics, the big question left unanswered is whether it’s plausible that this species survived undetected, this whole time, without human contact beyond an occasional glimpse. Understanding there are barely explored parts of the Ozarks, and knowing secretive cats can be as elusive as the mist, the answer is most certainly yes.  Case in point, there’s a breed of cat in the Andes only photographed twice before its rediscovery in 1998.

If the Ozark Howler is indeed a large breed of cat, the Ozark offers plenty of hiding places and resources for it to survive. Laying low during the day, a sparsely populated species could go prancing about the night, howling to their heart’s delight, without ever bothering the locals…much.

In his book, Cryptozoology: Science & Speculation, Chad Arment explains that along with several of his colleagues, he received an interesting email, claiming to have irrefutable evidence supporting the existence of the Ozark Howler. Unfortunately, this claim turned out to be a hoax.  Some kid in college pulled the prank, stating he thought it would be funny to fool the cryptozoology community. A hoax perpetrated by a smart a** student looking for some attention doesn't take away from the truth at all; it just becomes an interesting side note. You see, the myth of the Ozark Howler was around long…

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