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Robert Todd Carroll

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cattle "mutilations"

mutilation.gif (11065 bytes)The term "mutilations" is used by UFO devotees to describe animal corpses with "unusual" or "inexplicable" features. What counts as "unusual" or "inexplicable" is just about any cut, mark, wound, excision, incision, swelling, distention, organ or blood absence, abrasion or bruise. These "mutilations," we are told, are being done by bad aliens. No one has shown either that there are thousands of inexplicable animal deaths around the globe or that, if there are, they are related, much less that they are the result of alien experimentation. These facts, however, are no deterrent to those who are sure we are not alone. To them, these visitors from other worlds are not only responsible for the deaths and mutilations of thousands of cattle, horses, cats and other domestic animals around the globe, they are also responsible for numerous human abductions for the purpose of  experimental and  reproductive surgery. Furthermore, some of these aliens are destroying crops around the globe in an effort to impress us with their artistic abilities or to communicate to us in strange symbols just how much they like our planet's cattle.

The belief that aliens have been killing and mutilating animals is supported by little more than an argument from ignorance:  since there is a lack of evidence that aliens aren't responsible for the deaths or the post mortem conditions of the animals, it follows that the aliens are responsible. Defenders of this view reject the notion that there could be an earthly and naturalistic explanation. They are convinced that aliens need cow blood and organs for their experiments. What seems most convincing to the alien theorists is that "wounds" and missing organs such as the tongue and the genitalia seem completely inexplicable to them in any but mysterious terms, i.e., alien surgeons. Naturalistic explanations in terms of predators (skunks, buzzards, weasels, etc.), insects (such as blowflies), and birds are to no avail, even though the most thorough examination of so-called cattle "mutilations" concluded there was nothing mysterious that needed explaining (see the Rommel report). It is useless to note that insects and animals often devour the vulnerable mucous membranes and the softer parts of dead animals such as the genitalia, instead of  trying to burrow through the cowhide. It is pointless to note that incisions to a carcass by the teeth of  predators/scavengers often resemble knife cuts. It is of no use to point out that there is little or no blood oozing from the wounds because blood settles, the heart does not pump when an animal is dead, insects devour the blood that does spill out, etc.

Typical of the alien surgeon accounts is that given in An Alien Harvest (1989) by Linda Moulton Howe, which includes photographs of wounds described as weird, bizarre, suspicious and inexplicable. She claims that her photos reveal

for the first time that tissue gathered from mutilator cuts in Arkansas on March 11, 1989, revealed the following characteristics under microscopic examination: 1) The line is pinpoint thin; 2) The line was subjected to high heat, probably 300 degrees Fahrenheit or above, leaving a hard and darkened edge; 3) The cuts were made rapidly, probably in two minutes or less, because there is no inflammatory cell destruction which typically begins in a few minutes after any trauma to tissue (See contrasting photomicrographs).

The photographs are considered to be "scientific proof" of unnatural happenings, even though the scientific community considers such photos to be of little significance. Even if the photos are not doctored, they need no explanation in terms of alien surgeons. But there is no point in suggesting anything earthly as probably being responsible for the cattle deaths or conditions, since those explanations have already been ruled out by such experts as Howe. The wounds are too weird, the lack of blood too bizarre, the coincidences too many, they say, for any naturalistic explanation.

Besides, if there were earthly explanations, one could not invoke the favored government conspiracy theory to juice up the story. Cattle "mutilations" are not only associated with UFO sightings, alien abductions and crop circles, they are linked to black helicopter sightings as well. This suggests to the well trained conspiratorial mind that our military forces are testing new weapons on the livestock of unsuspecting citizen ranchers. It shouldn't surprise anyone to find that the military thinks it is ok to experiment on cattle surreptitiously, since they've done it on people in the past. Another possibility, according to UFOlogists, is that the helicopters are UFO's disguised to appear as terrestrial craft. Some even think that the aliens have been in collusion with the Air Force for the past 30 years and that the animal "mutilations" are being performed by aliens with the full knowledge of our military. We allow it because of some sort of treaty the U.S. government supposedly signed with the aliens. You would think that such intelligent beings might have worked out a better arrangement.

Of course, inquiring minds want to know why beings with the intelligence and power to travel billions of miles to our planet would spend their time mutilating cows, experimenting on otherwise unnotable people, or carving up wheat fields. They need cow blood and glands for food and experiments. They are harvesting enzymes and are working on a genetic engineering project that will blend the Gray race (the aliens) with a Nordic race so they can interface with humans better. They are altering cow DNA to create some sort of artificial life form. They are carving up wheat fields with ever more elaborate designs to impress upon us how intelligent they are. Why would they come here and behave so perposterously? They're aliens and are beyond our comprehension. Nothing is preposterous for beings who are beyond our comprehension.

See related entries on alien abductions, crop circles, flying saucers, the men in black, and UFOs.

further reading

reader comments

Frazier, Kendrick. (ed.) The Ufo Invasion : The Roswell Incident, Alien Abductions, and Government Coverups
(Prometheus, 1997). $18.17

Hines, Terence. "Cattle Mutilations," in The Encyclopedia of the Paranormal edited by Gordon Stein (Buffalo, N.Y.:
Prometheus Books, 1996), pp.143-146. $104.95

Hitt, Jack "Operation Moo," Gentleman's Quarterly, February 1997. And the review by Linda Howe's premier defender, Mark Williams.

Huston, Peter.Scams from the Great Beyond : How to Make Easy Money Off of Esp, Astrology, Ufos, Crop Circles, Cattle Mutilations, Alien Abductions, Atlantis, Channeling, and other New Age Nonsense (Paladin Press, 1997). $20.00

Kagan, Daniel  and Ian Summers. Mute Evidence (Bantam Books, 1984)
Perkins, David. Altered Steaks : a Colloquium on the Cattle Mutilation Question, participants: David Perkins (aka "Izzy Zane"), Lewis MacAdams, Tom Clark, (Santa Barbara, Calif. :Am Here Books/Immediate Editions, 1982). This book is hard to find. The UC Santa Barbara library has a copy in the Special Collections (PS3553.L29 Z3 P47, 1982 Special Col)

Rommel, Jr. Kenneth M. Project Director, "Operation Animal Mutilation: Report of the District Attorney, First Judicial District, State of New Mexico," published in June of 1980.

Stewart, J. "Cattle Mutilations," Zetetic (now Skeptical Inquirer, Spring/Summer 1977 (vol 1 no. 2).

ęcopyright 1998
Robert Todd Carroll

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Last updated 10/30/98

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