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Half a century ago, Belgian Zoologist Bernard Heuvelmans first codified cryptozoology in his book On the Track of Unknown Animals.

The Centre for Fortean Zoology (CFZ) are still on the track, and have been since 1992. But as if chasing unknown animals wasn't enough, we are involved in education, conservation, and good old-fashioned natural history! We already have three journals, the largest cryptozoological publishing house in the world, CFZtv, and the largest cryptozoological conference in the English-speaking world, but in January 2009 someone suggested that we started a daily online magazine! The CFZ bloggo is a collaborative effort by a coalition of members, friends, and supporters of the CFZ, and covers all the subjects with which we deal, with a smattering of music, high strangeness and surreal humour to make up the mix.

It is edited by CFZ Director Jon Downes, and subbed by the lovely Lizzy Bitakara'mire (formerly Clancy), scourge of improper syntax. The daily newsblog is edited by Corinna Downes, head administratrix of the CFZ, and the indexing is done by Lee Canty and Kathy Imbriani. There is regular news from the CFZ Mystery Cat study group, and regular fortean bird news from 'The Watcher of the Skies'. Regular bloggers include Dr Karl Shuker, Dale Drinnon, Richard Muirhead and Richard Freeman.The CFZ bloggo is updated daily, and there's nothing quite like it anywhere else. Come and join us...

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Saturday, February 28, 2009

RICHARD FREEMAN: MONSTER HUNTER' A PALID SHADOW OF THE REAL DEAL

Guest Ranting time for Richard Freeman again. He does, however, have a point...

The other night I caught the American show Monster Hunter, wherein host Josh Gates is sent all across the globe in search of real monsters. It sounds great, but it isn't. Josh spends only a miniscule amount of time in each location, the research is non-existent and Josh has no zoological knowledge whatsoever.

A case in point was the show. I wasted an hour of my life watching the other night. Josh and his team had been sent to New Britain to look for a 'dinosaur'. Despite the fact that the beast had supposedly eaten three dogs, it was labelled as an 'iguanodon'. Iguanodon was a herbivore.

The actual sighting took place on the island in 2004. It occured near the village of Rabaul. Witness Christine Samei reported a 30 foot, grey scaled beast as thick as a 900 litre water tank. It reared up on its hind legs some ten feet tall. The monster ate several dogs and a search was launched, with armed soldiers carrying M16s. Nothing was found.

New Guinea and the surrounding islands are well known for such encounters. In 1960, a number of people in Papua New Guinea were supposedly killed by dragons that were over 20 feet long, stood on their hind legs and spat fire. Villagers built stockades to protect themselves. Officials from the government looked into the attacks and examined the bodies of the victims, but failed to find the monsters.

In the same year, Lindsay Green and Fred Kleckhan, administration agricultural officers, were shown skin and part of a jaw from a giant lizard.

Robert Grant and David George were exploring the Strachen Island district in 1961 when they saw a grey lizard some 26 feet long lying on a log. Its neck alone was 3 feet in length.

In 1969, explorer David M Davis was shown Papuan cave paintings of a giant bipedal lizard.

Fast forward to the mid 1980s and our own Colonel John Blashford Snell was told of an upright walking, fire-spitting dragon on New Guinea. The locals called it Artrellia. One story concerned a warrior who sat on a 'log' that turned out to be a giant lizard that reared up ten feet tall.

On a baited stakeout, the Colonel himself caught a glimpse of a lizard with a head the size of a horse’s head. A local shot a young specimen of an Artrellia some 6 feet long. It turned out to be a salvadori dragon (Varanus salvadori). They are the world’s longest lizard growing to 15 feet. But most of that is taken up by the lengthy tail, so they do not have the bulk of a Komodo dragon. Could the salvadori dragon grow far bigger than we know?

In 1999, two separate groups of people spotted a monster at Lake Murry near Boroko. It had crocodile like skin, a long tail, thick hind legs and smaller front ones. Varanids or monitor lizards can rear up on their hind legs using the tail as a support. The spitting flames could refer to the red and orange fork tongue they shoots in and out like a flickering flame.

CFZ member Bry Morgan visited New Guinea a couple of years back and was told that the truly giant lizards were not Artrellia but the war (pronounced whaar) dragon. One chief told him of seeing a war dragon 25 feet long. It had grey scales. Bry was also allowed to take home a small piece of preserved skin from one of these beasts. Our friend Dr Lars Thomas examined it at the University of Copenhagen, but sadly the DNA was too badly damaged from being in direct sunlight to be of use.

Could a giant 20-30 foot monitor lizard be existing on New Guinea? It makes more sense than a living dinosaur, especially a flesh eating Iguanodon!

'Monster Hunter' is a waste of time and money. Despite having all the financial backing anyone could want, an amazing array of equipment and transport, Josh achieves nothing. The reason? He spends so little time actually looking for the cryptids. In the New Guinea episode, he wastes time searching for the supposed 'Ri' mermaid. This was identified as a dugong well over a decade ago. In another episode, where he is searching for the Kongamanto, a supposed living pterosaur, he films what any ten year old could tell you is a bat. He excitedly takes this back to experts in the States who tell him 'it’s a bat'.

To add insult to injury we have expeditions backed by creationist loonies who think that finding dinosaurs will prove their crackpot young earth theories. It seems that everyone except the CFZ, the ones who really deserve it, are getting funding and wasting it. If I had half the budget of 'Monster Hunter' I think I would have found at least one cryptid.

4 comments:

Chris Clark said...

It's not only zoology they know nothing about. I saw one of these programs where they commissioned a very expensive thermal imaging scan of a lake from a helicopter, presumably to search for lake monsters. Did nobody tell them that thermal infrared penetrates about 1/40th of a millimeter of water? That scan probably cost more than our entire expedition budget for the last five years.

Neil A said...

Here, here! I've collected crypto-documentaries for two decades, and not come across many decent ones. 'Monster-Hunter' is 'Most Haunted' for beasties! These appalling shows often leave me wondering just how they got the money to waste. On numerous occasions I've been left scratching my head knowing I could do better.
'Monster Quest' is actually better but much of it still revolves around researchers impatiently buzzing around areas, and moving on bereft of patience.

G L Wilson said...

"Most Haunted for Beasties"!

I was about to make a very similar comment.

I wonder if the backers of programmes such as these actually WANT to find any real evidence.

Perhaps they feel that as soon as evidence is uncovered it would take away the mystique and they would start losing their audience.

Better to keep the audience in eager anticipation that something might be out there, than actually saying, YES, here be monsters?

stormwalkernz said...

We havnt had monster Hunter here, well not that im aware of but it seems to me they should leave the Monster Hunting to Monster Humters not wanna be's.
Ill take "on The Track" over those low info TV shows any day.
At least everyone involved knows what they are talking about and can walk the talk.