The Nightshirt Sightings, Portents, Forebodings, Suspicions

Those Alien Bastards (Or, Who Are the Real “Hybrids”?)

The “crypoterrestrial” hypothesis recently proposed by the late skeptic blogger Mac Tonnies has a lot going for it over the extraterrestrial hypothesis (ETH) that most UFO believers still adhere to. For one thing, there is the historical span of reported encounters with strange humanoid beings. Encounters with “UFOs” and their purported otherworldly inhabitants are a post-WWII phenomenon, yet reports matching the modern UFO encounter or abduction report go back through recorded history, and are a common feature in folklore from all over the world. Astronomer Jacques Vallee’s Passport to Magonia shows that there is no difference between modern reports of alien visitation and reports of interactions with fairies, demons, and other cryptic humanoids found in all cultures present and past, which is the main reason he very early abandoned the ETH as a not-very-likely explanation for such experiences.

Vallee’s work places the UFO problem squarely in the realm of cultural beliefs, in other words, and any good anthropologist would therefore smile and close the book on the whole “alien” question then and there. Abductions by aliens are just like abductions by little people, witches, or demons: They are psychological phenomena given culture-specific construction—hallucinated or fantasized experiences couched in the symbolic or cosmological idiom of that society. Local craziness.

As an anthropologist, that’s the reaction I ought to have too. But more and more, that response feels too easy, like another arrogant dismissal of experiences countless humans have and have always had but have not been able to corroborate because they have been generally been alone at the time. It’s the “n of 1” problem: Personal experience (see previous post) is necessarily excluded from the domain of science because the latter is founded on replicability. Yet just because a phenomenon cannot be replicated does not mean it is not real. Hence my recent openmindedness about the question of abduction—which I admit I used to scoff at.

With that, I’m open to speculation about the theme of “hybrids” as it relates to supposed alien intervention in human affairs.

A common motif not only in alien abduction reports but also in stories of abductions by demons, succubi, fairies, deities, etc. is that of some kind of forced sexual intercourse (or surgical insemination or implantation in the extraterrestrial variant), resulting occasionally in, or with the aim of producing, some sort of intermediary cross-breed. Even the Bible includes several examples of potential mating between humans and angels, and what is Jesus but a deity-human hybrid? What if “aliens,” if they exist (a huge “if,” obviously) could actually be a cryptoterrestrial human offshoot attempting to cross-breed with our species?

As it happens, recent research reported a couple weeks ago in The New York Times has some fascinating things to say about real, naturally occurring hybrids. Close animal cousins can and do reproduce to produce cross-breeds, such as “ligers”—yes, ligers do exist. (See some cool pictures of such hybrids in this Huffington Post article.) Many hybrids are reproductively unviable (mules for instance), but many can produce offspring. It appears, for example, that Neanderthals interbred with humans back in the day, lending us a portion of their genes (and vice versa). So, to a degree, modern humans are hybrids of Paleolithic Homo sapiens sapiens and Homo sapiens neanderthalensis.

But here’s the really fascinating point: Such cross-breeds , when they are reproductively viable, are actually hardier and able to thrive in environments that neither parent species can quite abide. It is distinctly possible that the mixing of (proto-)human and Neanderthal genes is what enabled modern humans to thrive in pretty much every climate on earth’s dry land.

The notion of a human-alien hybrid as the agenda of an extraterrestrial species having a totally unrelated genetic code is absurd from a biological standpoint. Yet hybridization makes considerably more sense if “aliens” are secretive hominid relatives—perhaps a separate, brainier species from which our lineage diverged relatively recently. It’s thus also interesting to speculate whether a technologically advanced and secretive close human relative might attempt to create a viable hybrid capable of living and thriving in more extreme conditions than either parent species. Conditions such as space.

It would reverse the usual abduction assumption: Instead of extraterrestrials cross breeding with humans to create, effectively, a terrestrial half-breed, cryptoterrestrials could be cross-breeding with humans to produce, wait for it, extraterrestrials.

By “thriving in space” I obviously I don’t mean living unprotected in an actual vacuum; I mean able to easily tolerate the stresses that still put the major limit on human space exploration: ability to live long periods of time in cramped, close quarters; needing relatively little food and water and sunlight; resistant to radiation; able to withstand high g-forces and also not suffer muscle atrophy and bone loss over periods in zero-g; able to withstand or even enjoy long solitude and sexual deprivation; ability to see in relative darkness, and so on.

At least some of these attributes fit the physical description of alien “grays”: Coldly emotionless beings of small stature, with gracile frames, atrophied noses and mouths, and enlarged dark (i.e., light-gathering) eyes. Beings adapted to travel in spaceships, in other words.

So it raises the question: What if grays (if they are not simply the children of the space-age imagination) are themselves the hybrids—purpose-bred space explorers, Homo astronauticus, the product of successive generations (even millennia) in a breeding program by cryptoterrestrials who look much more like us–such as the “Nordics” also frequently described in the abduction literature, and sometimes even in the company of grays? Are the grays our bastard children?


I am a science writer and armchair Fortean based in Washington, DC. Write to me at eric.wargo [at]

6 Responses to “Those Alien Bastards (Or, Who Are the Real “Hybrids”?)”

  • Hi Eric,

    Long time reader. Bravo to you for carrying the Fortean torch into the ivory tower! As someone who completed a Ph.D. in Religious Studies writing a thesis on aspects of western esotericism, I understand how difficult that can be. The “Fortean” should be there already …

    And bravo again for referencing Tonnies – there was a fortean life cut short. Keep up the good work!

  • Thanks much for the compliments! Glad to have at least one long-time reader 🙂

    I only discovered Tonnies and his writings around the time he died — it was indeed a great loss for the Fortean world.

  • This is beyond speculation. Why would the brainy hominids care about space travel? If they’re so smart, why do we blanket the Earth and they have to slink in the shadows? Got fossils? Sex plays a big role in many abduction experiences because it plays a big role in our subconscious. The partner is a demon, angel, ET, or whatever the experiencer’s culture has suggested to her/him.

    Deros, anyone?

  • Hi Chris,
    Yeah you’re arguments are all good ones. I’m just speculating, obviously. Regarding fossils … scientists interpret their finds in light of existing paradigms, and that paradigm recognizes only two human lineages (sapiens sapiens and sapiens neanderthalensis), but for instance we just recently discovered a third–the Indonesian “hobbits.” I think there are probably many cases in which different species have been misidentified as part of the variation of a known species (and vice versa, certainly), until sufficient evidence accumulates to challenge the paradigm or until someone looks at the evidence with fresh eyes. The Boskops, for example — are they really just H. sapiens?
    And I used to subscribe to exactly the view that “abduction sex” is just expression of subconscious concern with sexuality, but again, I’m now trying to be open minded that some experiences written off as psychological could be real.

  • Eric – my apologies for not acknowledging your replies! I assumed that there would be some kind of automated alert system linked to the mandatory email address.

    And it all starts from those few early loyal readers. Most blogs don’t take off in any way until the first year or two.

    It’s my intention to make my way back into academia in some capacity over the next few years, and some of this area would be my ideal path through to it. I think the time is ripe for the Fortean subject as a career-enhancing move. At least, in so far as it is a domain little visited by the aliens from the ivory tower. Original scholarship would be like shooting a rain of fish in a barrel.

    The website will be up and running early next year, and I hope to contribute to and extend this conversation. In the meantime, keep a look out for a link back from It’s a friends blog but I contribute to it, and will be doing a post on academic study of the ‘paranormal’ in the week or so.

  • David, there is a relatively new program at some European University (Germany or France, I think) for studies of Western Esotericism. Sorry I can’t be more precise, but sounded cool when I heard of it a couple years ago. I’d try a Google search, if that’s along the lines of what you’re thinking of. I think this sort of thing is gradually becoming more legitimate as an area of study within academia. And you’re right, the field is wide open at this point.