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.

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Thursday, April 09, 2009

Water Blackfella?


It is certainly a hoax, but this is not what is interesting about the recent story (see CFZ newslink above) about a semi aquatic Australian BHM.

The picture has been kicking around for well over a year. I first saw it described as an "almasty" from somewhere in Kazakhstan early last summer when I was looking for images that I could pinch to illustrate the then forthcoming Russian Almasty expedition.

Now it has turned up in Australia, and it is supposedly a hominid called the "Water Blackfella". Now I have never heard this term, and a Google search could only come up with the one instance of it being used. But two interesting things come to mind.
Firstly, although we know thatAustralia is as hidebound with political correctness as we are in the UK, as this recent story shows, but it is hard to imagine any regional paper in the UK using such a term, although - much to my surprise - according to Wikipedia (which is, one has to admit, not the best and unbiased source for factual material, but was all that we had available):

Blackfella (also spelled blackfellah, black fella, or black fellah) is an informal term used in Australian English to refer to Indigenous Australians. It derives from "black fellow," referring to their dark skin. It is generally considered to be a neutral term, and is used by both white and black Australians.

But the most important thing about this story is, that although I have never heard the term before, it is strikingly similar to a South American term "Negroes of the Water" used to describe malicious small humaniform entities, including some described in Charles Bowen's seminal 1969 book The Humanoids which is sadly out of print.

Despite its irritating obsession with the idea that any non-human humaniform creature has to be from outer space, and a dreadful cover, it is an absolutely marvellous book which I wholeheartedly recommend to you all.

However "Water Blackfella" and "Negroes of the Water"? Coincidence? Probably, but an interesting one.


David Lee said...

A color version of this image has been passed off as a bigfoot photo for over a decade now. It seems to have fallen off the radar lately because it took me awhile to google up an example of it. See this article here for a brief story of the hoax.

Jon Downes said...

DALE DRINNON WRITES: I have seen the photo before alleging that it was a bigfot. It is almost certainly a smallscale model photographed close-to.

I am aware that many Australians do not find the term "Black Fellow" as pejoritive: some Americans also use it non-pejoritively. But you have to be on good terms with the other fellow before using it. I have used it before and it was not taken to be insulting and I have had the corresponding term "White Fellow" used on me without rankor. But as I say, you already have got to be on good terms to get away with it.

As to the "Negroes-of-the Water", the description exactly matches the smaller unknown South American ape, the one like a Siamang, and there is some suggestion that it also has Siamang-like feet.