Atmospheric Beasts

We laugh at old-fashioned things now. Our conveniences and scientific advances are so, well, convenient and advanced that it gives us a lofty throne from which to judge things from yesteryear. We can laugh at those olden days, with their strange devices that were meant to make life easier, but seem like stone tools to us.

“Pathetic. My iPod is at least half that size.”

And sometimes, the ideas and beliefs of previous decades seem funny as well. For example: It was once believed (uncommonly, I’ll admit) among paranormal researches that some UFO sightings may have actually been creatures that lived in the atmosphere. They also speculated that, instead of just abducting their victims, the creatures were eating them. (It wasn’t until the 70s and 80s when people started telling stories of being abducted and returned. Before then, it was common to say that you heard a UFO abducted some dude and that motherfucker was never seen again.)

“Oh cool, no more bills for me.”

But there’s a bit more to it than that. Before the term “flying saucer” was even invented, much less “UFO”, folklore told of shit flying around and bugging people and generally scaring the bejesus out of them. But we also didn’t have things like planes back then, so anything that flew around and fucked with folks wasn’t a “flying object”; it was a goddamned monster. In the 1800s, there were legends that claimed that there might be some sort of dragons that lived in the sky and disguised themselves as clouds when they weren’t about to eat motherfuckers.


But after we began putting our own flying shit up there (and the shit we were pretty sure we didn’t put up there started getting called UFOs) the atmospheric beast stories began to die off. It is worth mentioning that atmospheric alien life has been speculated to exist on planets with a different makeup (and far less gravity) than that of Earth by people as bad-ass awesome as Carl Sagan.


These would be silicon-based jellyfish like creatures that could be as large as a mile long and filled with helium or hydrogen. V.S. Tsytovich, in a 2007 study, even discovered that space dust suspended in plasma might be able to take on life, of a sort.

The stories and speculation aren’t completely dead, however. Earth-based atmospheric life has been proposed to have similar traits to those silicon-based whoopee cushions: They’re semi-transparent or even downright invisible, are gas-filled, and that they possibly even migrated here from space. (Interestingly enough, it has been theorized by actual, legitimate scientists that the silicon jellyfish above could put out spores that would survive in space and germinate on other planets. How about that?) They might even be able to change their density and transform between hard, metallic states and cloud-like, invisible states just by contracting and expanding.

One of the most famous atmospheric monster sighting stories is that of the Crawfordsville Monster. (Doesn’t that just sound awesome?) At about 2am on September 5th, 1891, in Crawfordsville, Illinois, two ice delivery men, Bill Gray and Marshall McIntyre, were hitching horses to their wagon when they saw a large, white, rectangular shape flying through the air with fins all up and down its side. They claimed that it wheezed as if in pain and had no head, but that it simply had one large, flaming red eye and a mouth on one end of its body. 

Not pictured: The Crawfordsville Monster

They, however, weren’t the only witnesses that night. Reverend G.W. Switzer and his wife also saw it, describing it as serpent-like. Of course, the standard reaction to such a claim is, “And you had how much to drink?” The people of Crawfordsville were incredulous, to say the least, but boy were their faces red (From embarrassment or from drinking, whichever) when it came back the next night in full view of 100 people. It even swooped so low that a few people claimed to be able to feel its hot breath. (If you’ve ever been on a public bus, you know you have to be pretty close to something to feel its breath.)

Other sightings tell of “living clouds” that spit water like Jim Belushi in Animal House and small, blanket-like masses that are soft to the touch and smell of mildew. (So they’re like laundry you forgot about in the washing machine?) A few people have even claimed to find the bodies of atmospheric beasts, describing them as small, translucent spheres that apparently evaporate within a few minutes of death.

Some even go as far as to say that these semi-visible creatures could be the explanation behind things besides UFO sightings, too. Star jelly, for example, could be their corpses, as described above. (Oh fuck, what if it’s their poop?) And, as with any just about any pseudoscience or legendary creature, paranormal researchers are using the concept to explain that paranormal classic, ghosts. Some cryptozoologists believe that it’s possible that many ghost sightings could actually be sightings of atmospheric life. Atmospheric beasts, the supernatural chameleon.

“Casper: The Friendly Atmospheric Monster” just doesn’t have the same ring.

The always completely truthful Wikipedia (x2)
“Unexplained!: Strange Sightings, Incredible Occurrences & Puzzling Physical Phenomena” by Jerome Clark