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It was the spring of 1977, and New Englanders had monsters on their minds. In Dover, Massachusetts, three high-school boys spotted a creature with orange eyes and a melon-shaped head. Meanwhile, in Hollis, New Hampshire, a father driving with his two sons encountered a nine-foot-tall hairy behemoth.

Arnold Vellucci, mayor of Cambridge, Massachusetts, took notice when the Boston Herald-American reported these mysterious sightings in side-by-side articles. But he wasn’t worried about aliens or Bigfoot, the usual suspects in paranormal sightings. Vellucci worried instead that the peculiar beings had escaped from a molecular biology lab at either Harvard or MIT.

On the same day that the Herald-American articles were published, Vellucci penned a letter to Philip Handler, president of the National Academy of Sciences. Vellucci politely requested that the NAS investigate the matter. “I would hope as well,” he added, “that you might check to see whether or not these ‘strange creatures,’ (should they in fact exist) are in any way connected to recombinant DNA experiments taking place in the New England area.” Read the rest of this entry »