Summary: Since 1994, strange serpent-like creatures have been captured on film flying through our skies. Are these so-called "rods" of ET origin or are they a new form of terrestrial life?
After hearing of numerous UFO sightings in his local area of Monterrey, Mexico, a man called Santiago Ytturia decided to set up his camera equipment to see if he could catch one of these unusual objects on film. After waiting for more than an hour on the day of 19th of March, 1994, Ytturia started to become restless, but just as he was about to give up hope, his patience was rewarded.
Suddenly, he spotted a flashing light and began filming. Unfortunately the light disappeared quickly and after waiting in vain for further activity, Ytturia decided to dismantle his camera and replay the video to see what he had captured on film. On reviewing the film he could see the strange light of the UFO, but then a few frames further on, Ytturia saw something else that puzzled him even more.
After the UFO had disappeared on the film, Yturria noticed the brief appearance of a long spear-like object, which darted across the screen at an incredible speed. After constantly replaying the footage he realised that this object could not be a bird or insect. In fact this object was moving so fast that it could only be spotted when the film was viewed frame by frame. Ytturia knew instantly that he had captured something new on film, but was it linked to the UFO or was it a completely new phenomena?
Since then, many more 'rods' have been captured on film from all over the world. One of the key investigators into the 'rods' phenomenon is video production company owner Jose' Escamilla. So far, Escamilla, who is in charge of a team of independent investigators, has obtained spectacular footage and photographs from a wide range of countries, including the UK, Sweden, Canada, Norway, Mexico and the USA. He even has footage of rods underwater. What is generally agreed is that these strange objects are organic. In other words, they are living creatures and not just some new form of flying saucer. Some people have suggested that they maybe a form of extraterrestrial lifeform because they are occasionally encountered with UFO activity. Some sceptics would have us believe that what we are seeing is nothing more than birds, insects or camera trickery, but as you can see from the film footage on this page, this does not seem to be a conclusive explanation.
Despite the difference of opinion on the nature of rods, close examination of the video footage has uncovered a number of consistent features. Analysis reveals that the rods seem to be cylinder-shaped 'creatures' that range in length from about 10 centrimetres to 3 metres, and can travel at speeds of up to 300 kmph. They appear to fly through the air by using an undulating solid membrane which vibrates extremely rapidly on each side of its body (similar to how a squid propels itself through water).
Because of the speed that they move, it can be difficult to capture rods on film. Even with 30 frames per second (fps), good video cameras still have problems capturing detailed pictures of rods. With rods moving upto speeds of 300 kmph, the video is only capable of capturing a few frames of footage before they disappear. Also, because of the fast movement, the video images of rods generally lack resolution, meaning that it is hard to see fine details, such as if these 'creatures' possess eyes or even a head.
What seems to be the best footage taken so far of rods was filmed by Mark Lichtle who is a professional cameraman for US television. He was making a film of parachutists jumping into a deep, vertical cave near San Luis Potosi, Mexico. As in most cases, the rods were only noticed when the film was reviewed later. On observing the slow-motion video, Lichtle saw numerous rods darting in and out of the frame and flying around the base jumpers as they fell through the air (see picture left). In one shot, a rod avoids colliding with one of the jumpers by veering sharply away at the last second.
Optical expert Bruce Maccabee, better known for his analysis of UFO footage, has viewed the film and confirms that the objects are between 2 and 4 metres in length, therefore ruling out the possibility of birds or insects.
In 1997, Escamilla attempted to gain scientific recognition of the phenomena by taking a selection of his footage to zoologists and entomologists from the University of Colorado. 'They were totally baffled,' states Escamilla. 'All they could say was that it was unlike anything they had ever seen and that it deserved further study'.
Biologist Ken Swartz has been investigating the rods phenomenon since 1998 and says 'Rods appear to be biological, but without a physical specimen it is difficult to say anything conclusively. They seem to be amphibious, as they have been seen entering and leaving water. Perhaps they are born in the sea and emerge into the air?' Speculating from the eyewitness testimony of people who have seen them, Swartz maintains that they appear to have some similarities to the family of creatures known as cephalopods, such as squids. 'There have been descriptions of them expanding like a balloon and rapidly deflating,' he states 'so they could be using a mechanism similar to a squid which sucks in water and jets it out for propulsion.'
If rods are biological entities, why has no one, so far, found the body of a dead rod? If they are flying around us all the time as is commonly believed, then how is it possible that not a single body has been discovered on the ground? Swartz explains that if the rods are indeed similar to squid, they will not have any hard body parts and so could decompose without a trace. Swartz points out 'If you look at the fossil record, there is only one creature that ever lived that had the rod mode of locomotion, and this was the dominant predator of the time called anamalocaris, which lived in the sea during the Cambrian evolutionary expansion 400 million years ago.' According to Swartz 'the creature propelled itself by a row of plates or fins that vibrated in a similar manner to the membranes seen on rods, it is possible that anamalocaris is the evolutionary ancestor of rods.'