Every state seems to have its mysterious creatures but where most people only know the “big” names in the cryptid world, (Mothman, Bigfoot, Jersey Devil, etc.), there are also local legends and lore that the residents seem to keep to themselves. Michigan has had its share of Bigfoot sightings, some say we even have a Dogman and a devilish little red imp but most people have never heard of two of the strangest creatures which may inhabit the Great Lakes, I’m talking about The Whatzit and Big Toe.
Welcome The Whatzit
In the late 1950’s in a suburb of Detroit the first sightings of The Whatzit were made. Residents of the cities of Royal Oak and Berkley, Michigan told stories to their friends and neighbors of seeing a large rat-like creature that walked upright. William Liberman of Huntington Woods said the creature attacked his dog and during the fight “leaped over the fence of the backyard” and vanished into the night. The Whatzit was said to have enormous ears and a long tail. Over the course of three weeks it was spotted by numerous witnesses but only at night.
Tales of The Whatzit reached a fever pitch when finally the Huntington Woods police department actually caught the strange creature. One officer, James T. Mavis, thought the strange animal was a type of Chinchilla although he also stated that the only chinchilla he had ever seen was in an encyclopedia. The police department fed The Whatzit dog food while they waited for a staff member from the Detroit Zoo to arrive and reveal what exactly The Whatzit was. A zoologist arrived later in the day and could not immediately identify the creature, possession of The Whatzit was turned over to the Detroit Zoo and strangely, that is where the story ends.
No mention of The Whatzit occurs in any other newspaper accounts after the creature was taken in for examination. So what was The Whatzit?
Discovering a Big Toe
Throughout the 1970’s and into the late 1980’s there was a large human-like creature/being that stalked the upper portions of Michigan. Although most people would lump the tales together, picking and choosing information to make it fit traditional Bigfoot sightings, there were a number that seemed to describe something that was indeed not Bigfoot but what has come to be called Big Toe.
The first documented sighting comes from the Antserton brothers who were hunting in Grayling, Michigan in September of 1973. After an unsuccessful day of deer hunting the two brother decided to sleep in their tree-blind. The older of the two brothers was awoken by a “large dull pop sound and a bright flash of light.” He roused his brother and explained that he had heard “something like a dull boom” they discussed if a tree might have fallen somewhere close by and if the flash of light had been an electrical storm. Just then they noticed on the ground, through the trees, illuminated by the moonlight a large man walking around the rye clearing which their tree-blind overlooked.
The man seemed to be immensely tall, “between 7 to 8 feet” with “long hair on his head that reached past his shoulders.” As the man moved out of the brush and into the rye clearing the brothers could now see that although the man seemed to be shirtless it did look as though he was wearing some kind of pants. He was not covered totally in hair but it did seem that his arms and head were covered in long unkempt hair or fur. The also noticed that, “There were like wide-silver bracelets on his upper arms, or something that would reflect like, whatever they were sparkled in the moonlight.” One of the brothers shifted his position in the tree-blind and when the sound of his movement alerted the strange being on the ground to their presence. A second later there was another large dull “pop” sound and a flash of light and the man-thing was gone.
The brothers stayed awake until sunrise, about 2 hours later, and finally came down from the blind to check out the area where the being had been seen. The only evidence they found were a few large footprints in the soil. They were much larger than a normal man’s footprints between 15 and 17 inches and the prints revealed a very deep heel prints and one giant toe. The brothers didn’t speak to anyone but their families of this story for years and when they finally did talk to a newpaper in 1975 the reporter who finally wrote down their tale manipulated it to fit the popular “sasquatch” legends of the time.
Are there more sightings?
Big Toe encounters around Michigan can be found by looking more deeply into the “Bigfoot” reports which came out of the area in the 1970’s and 80’s. The creature/man/being is always described as wearing some sort of clothing but partial nude. Long hair on the head and back of the hands but not completely covered with hair. There is very commonly a flash of light or a thudding sound associated with the creature’s appearance and disappearance. And, of course there are the strange large footprints with a deep heel imprint and one large single toe.
Was the Whatzit just a normal creature and so once discovered was no longer newsworthy? Is Big Toe just a whacked out giant toed hippy doing magic tricks in the vast Michigan forests? One thing is certain Michigan’s strange beings are stranger than just Bigfoot and the Nain Rouge.