The Dover Demon is a cryptid or an alien creature sighted on three separate occasions in the town of Dover, Massachusetts, between April 21st-22nd, 1977.
Cryptozoologist Loren Coleman was the initial investigator, the first to interview the eyewitnesses within a week of the sightings, and the individual who named the creature the Dover Demon, which the press then disseminated, and the name stuck.
Bartlett described the creature as having a disproportionately large, watermelon-shaped head and illuminated orange eyes, like glass marbles. It had long, thin arms and legs with slender fingers, which it used to grasp onto the pavement. It was hairless and had rough, fleshtoned skin, described as tan and sandpaper-like. The creature's appearance was very plain, with no nose or ears, and no mouth was seen. The witness drawings portray its head as having a skull shape, forming the contour of a circle on top with a more elliptical ending projecting down to include where the nose and mouth would be.
The Dover Demon was first sighted at night as three seventeen-year-olds drove through the Dover area, when the car's headlights illuminated it. Bill Bartlett, the driver, reported that he saw what he thought at first was a dog or a cat, but upon closer inspection realized that it was a bizarre, unearthly-looking creature crawling along a stone wall on Farm Street.
The creature was sighted an hour later, by John Baxter, 15, as he was walking home. He said it was bipedal and ended up running into a gully and standing next to a tree. The next day, Abby Brabham, 15, and Will Traintor, 18, claimed to have seen a similar looking creature from Traintor's car, on the side of the road. Brabham's description matched Bartlett's and Baxter's descriptions, except this time the cryptid had illuminated green eyes. She approximated its height as "about the size of a goat". Investigators attempted to shake up Ms. Brabham by noting she said it had green eyes reflected by car headlights, while Bartlett mentioned orange eyes were reflected back to him by his automobile's lights. Ms. Brabham was steadfast in her description.
Bartlett, Baxter, Brabham, and Traintor all drew sketches of the monstrous sight shortly after their sightings. On the piece of paper that includes Bartlett's sketch, he wrote "I, Bill Bartlett, swear on a stack of Bible's [sic] that I saw this creature".
Coleman quickly assembled and brought into the inquiry three other investigators: Joseph Nyman, Ed Fogg, and Walter Webb. All were well-known ufological researchers in eastern Massachusetts, with Webb being the assistant director of the Hayden Planetarium at Boston's Science Museum. Coleman did not feel he was necessarily dealing with a ufological phenomenon, but he wanted to have seasoned investigators with good interviewing skills to do a comprehensive examination of the eyewitnesses, their families, and law enforcement, educational, and community members.
The widespread interest in the Dover Demon has resulted in it being an oft-discussed cryptid in popular culture, and having Japanese figurines of the creature being developed for cryptobuffs in Japan and North America.
May 2004: In Chile, a civil engineer named Germán Pereira was taking photographs of two mounted Carabineros (Chilean national police), and found a strange creature that closely resembles the Dover Demon in one of the photos.
Theories about origin and existence
The early ufologists first promoted speculation that the creature was an alien or some sort of mutant hybrid, perhaps one created as a result of a human experiment and escaped. Some have pointed out its resemblance to the description of the Greys, with the speculation that this could be a Grey or even a closely related species. Some theorize that it is really a being from another dimension, accidentally transferred into our world through a dimensional warp. One zoologically unsupported answer proposed was that it was a newborn moose, as some critics think all sighting incidents except for the sighting in which it stands next to a tree match a moose. One skeptic incorrectly wrote that the description of the creature's head matched that of a baby moose. Among several shortcomings of the moose explanation is that the descriptions of the Dover Demon clearly discerned fingers, while all moose, being artiodactyls, have only hooves. Also at the time of year of this sighting, yearling moose are much larger, no moose records exist for eastern Massachusetts for the spring of 1977, and more. Loren Coleman roundly destroyed the moose theory in his talks, radio interviews, and writings since 2001.
As Coleman first pointed out, the Dover Demon bears similarity to the Mannegishi creature, which is native to the mythology of the Cree Indians in Canada. Coleman also notes that cryptozoologist Mark A. Hall links the Dover Demon to other sightings of aquatic beings from around the world, often lumped under the moniker "merbeings."
During the spate of sightings in Dover in 1977, all the witnesses were teenagers. This has been pointed out often in analyses of the Dover Demon sighting phenomenon. Writers with a new-age or spiritual bent often write of it as a poltergeist-type being, something with a strong field of spiritual energy that naturally connects it with the young. This reflects a recurring theme from the annals of cryptozoology, this being one of many entities whose sightings all befell witnesses from the same age group, such as Owlman. What Coleman, a social scientist with a background in studying behavior contagion, points out is that all the witnesses had separate eyewitness experiences, did not talk to each other before investigators interviewed them, and did not necessarily agree on exact descriptive details of the sighting.
In his investigation of the case, Loren Coleman gave the Dover Demon a credibility rating of 5 on a scale of 1 to 10, initially in 1977, but his sense of the reliability of the witnesses and the case has increased. In his 2001 revision of his book, Mysterious America, he updates the status of the case, follows up with the witnesses, and demonstrates that the "baby moose" theory, for example, is not based on zoological fact. While critics have noted that Mr. Coleman left the Dover Demon out of his Cryptozoology A to Z (Fireside, 1999), this was an editorial decision, not Coleman's. Loren Coleman has lectured and written extensively about the case since the 1970s.