Bermuda Triangle

The three types of triangles are right, isosceles, and scalene; the fourth type is BERMUDA. The concept of the Bermuda Triangle as some kind of mysterious sinkhole in which planes, ships, and people vanish without a trace dates back to around 1950. Theories abound about the supposed causes of these supposed disappearances, including magnetic anomalies or localized extreme weather; my favorite is that giant methane bubbles loosed by displacement of the continental shelves float to the surface, pop, temporarily decrease water density, and cause ships to sink. Not sure how that explains the planes, but that’s not my job. (For what it’s worth: most disappearances are easily explainable, and the frequency of accidents and mishaps in the triangle is no different than anywhere else).

Among the notable people to hypothesize about the ominous nature of the triangle was Ivan Sanderson, a naturalist and the man who invented the term “cryptozoology” whilst writing on similar topics. Sanderson claimed the Bermuda Triangle was just one of 12 “vile vortices” arranged in a pattern across the world, all of which were the source of mysterious disappearances due to strange magnetic and/or gravitational anomalies.

vile vortices

His other works were even better. His book Abominable Snowmen was first published in 1961, and is a definitive history of giant hairy ape legends and research, including chapter titles like “Sundry Objectionable Facts” and “Further Sasquatchery.” In Invisible Residents, Sanderson develops a theory about a race of advanced aliens that lives on the ocean floor, or possibly beneath it. The book is subtitled “The Reality of Underwater UFOs,” which makes me uncertain of the semantic status of the “F” in that acronym.

On the beach of Clearwater, Florida, in 1948, a resident found huge three-toed tracks, more than a foot long and nearly a foot wide. They came up out of the water, walked for two miles with long strides, then re-entered the water. The tracks kept appearing; residents began referring to the beast as “Old Three Toes.” Eventually Sanderson went down to take a look. After months of investigation, he concluded that the tracks had been made by a 15-foot tall penguin, clearly a relict animal, an evolutionary dead end stranded out of its habitat. What else could it be, he said—engineers estimated that 1000 pounds of force would be required to make impressions that deep. Sanderson died in 1973, and it wasn’t until 1988 that “Florida man” Tony Signorini came forward to admit his hoax. He’d crafted a pair of 30-pound metal feet. The 15 foot penguin was never found.

The gargantuan beast of Clearwater, honest and true


appeared in: processed trivia roundup