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MOVE OVER LOCH NESS: NEW BOOK PROFILES AMERICA'S WEALTH OF MONSTERS

 DETROIT, March 17 /PRNewswire/ -- If you thought Bigfoot was America's only monster, you've been living in a fool's paradise.
 That's according to Jerome Clark, an anomalous-claims investigator, who has captured the best American monster stories in his new book, "Unexplained! 347 Strange Sightings, Incredible Occurrences, and Puzzling Physical Phenomena" (Visible Ink Press).
 Take Champ, a giant reptile rumored to live in the depths of Lake Champlain. The monster, reportedly a distant relative of Nessie, has been sighted by hundreds and was eventually photographed in 1977 by Anthony and Sandra Mansi, who noticed the hump-backed creature about 150 feet from where their children were wading.
 Then there's the White River Monster. According to Clark, from about 1915 to the early 1970s, residents of Newport, Ark., occasionally reported seeing a gigantic creature in the White River. Although scientific hypotheses range from a "truly gigantic penguin" to a large male elephant seal, eyewitness accounts described the river urchin as "the length of three or four pickup trucks" with a protruding "bone" on its forehead.
 "If seeing is believing, then America definitely has its share of monsters," said Clark. "Of course, in a society prone to sensationalism, urban legend is bound to create a creature or two." He added that only a handful of reported encounters with bizarre creatures warrant serious investigation.
 Case in point -- the Jersey Devil. Although numerous press accounts describe terrifying encounters with this bat-winged creature, Clark said New Jersey's most famous "monster" is a folktale that began in Leeds Point, N.J., when in 1735, a Mrs. Leeds, pregnant for the 13th time, declared that her offspring might just as well be a devil, which it was. There's also the "mad gasser of Matton," a phantom attacker who terrorized a small central Illinois town in 1944. A social scientist later wrote the "gasser" (named for the smell it reportedly left behind) was the creation of mass hysteria.
 Yes, it's a very strange world we live in and Clark couldn't agree more. "We may never find definitive explanations to the existence of America's truly mysterious monsters. We can only marvel at how little we understand about some kinds of human experiences," he said. "They remind us what a mystery this world is, and what mysteries we ourselves are."
 -0- 3/17/93
 /CONTACT: Jenny Sweetland of Visible Ink Press, 313-961-2242, Ext. 1326/


CO: Visible Ink Press ST: Michigan IN: PUB SU: PDT

JG -- DEFNS1 -- 6850 03/17/93 07:32 EST
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Date:Mar 17, 1993
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