It’s not a very nice image, and the strange creature has such a horrible face that it was called “Garadiávolo” — the devil’s face.
The story associated with it is no less bizarre. Alfredo Garcia Garamendi was exploring the Laguna Negra on Puerto Rico when he was attacked by it. In spite of its small size — less than three feet — it had a supernatural strength.
“I shot at it“, Garamendi told later, “but even being hit the animal quickly started attacking me again on the neck, and I felt that it was starting to choke me with its tail. Then I managed to reach my knife, and kept stabbing the animal until I felt it was motionless around my neck, because it was dead.”
The horrifying fight in 1974 wasn’t actually the first. Garamendi had already managed to capture one animal from this bizarre species four years before, but that time things did not end very well. Not so much for his physical integrity, but for his scientific interestes.
He had sent it for analysis in the Central University of San Juan. Afterwards, when he got his creature back, he was visited by men from the CIA, who demanded to take it away. He never saw it again.
More careful this time, Alfredo Garamendi decided to preserve and study the specimen in his own house. He wrote a book about it, drawing the creatures along with flying saucers, though he didn’t believe they “came from another planet“, but rather from “another dimension“. What for? “Maybe for the same reasons we have for sending monkeys and other animals to other worlds, to see if they survive on an alien environment“.
The strange events didn’t stop there. Garamendi’s wife didn’t like the mere creature’s presence, even if it was dead, in her own house. Not only because her husband spent many hours studying it, or even because of the many visits by journalists and curious people alike, but because of a series of unfortunate events that happened on her family since they hosted the Garadiávolo.
Eventually, there was an explosion on their house and the second preserved specimen was also lost, this time reduced to ashes.
So, what the hell are the Garadiávolos?
They could be just crude plastic or rubber models, along with unbelievable and very bad stories — including CIA agents and ever-vanishing evidence. But the case is more interesting than that because the animals are real.
It’s only that they are not actually “Garadiávolos”, aliens or dimensional beings, or freaks of the nature.
Mexican researcher Luis Ruiz Noguez points out that Garadiávolos are just common flat fishes, like skates, rays, batfishes, etc., which are cut and dried to end up with this bizarre humanoid appearance.
The thing is that the lower part of those fishes do look like a face, but what we think are the evil eyes are actually the nostrils. The real eyes are on the other side.
A common Ray. The nostrils look like eyes, and this one has a sympathetic face.
They can be huge, funny thing that I never saw any giant Garadiávolo. Lucky for the fishes those hoaxers do not feel like creating such a huge monster.
Cut some parts of the fish to create arms and legs, add some chemicals to preserve it, and you have a nice Garadiávolo.
From the display “Skates, Rays and Jenny Hanivers” (link)
This cottage industry was not created by Alfredo Garamendi. In fact, it’s probable he didn’t create the ones he showed: many fishers create these Garadiávolos to sell them to tourists.
They are periodically promoted as unexplained alien beings, as people soon forget the last timie they were promoted and then explained. The Pravda recently promoted it again as something extraterrestrial, along with a video.
Too bad the internet also has a video of a skate:
There is an ancient name for creatures like the “Garadiávolo”. It’s not known exactly where it came from, thogh it may be related to the French name for Antwerp — Anvers — where these chimera were sold centuries ago. Known as Jenny Hanivers, dragons and basilisks were very popular items on the 16th and 17th centuries, created on Eastern countries just like the Garadiávolos are created today: from flat fishes.
Around 1580, French Ambroise Paré wrote on Des Monstres about a flying fish or sea eagle, considered today as a Jenny Haniver, curiously very similar to Garamendi’s Garadiávolo.
Jenny Haniver drawn by Ambroise Paré on the 16th century (link)
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