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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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Wednesday, May 27, 2009

THE BOTTOM THREE: Dale Drinnon

A FEW WEEKS AGO WE ASKED VARIOUS BLOGGO REGULARS TO TELL US WHAT WERE THEIR TOP THREE FAVOURITE MYSTERY ANIMALS... AND WHY. DALE TOOK THE IDEA AND RAN WITH IT IN A TOTALLY UNSUSPECTED DIRECTION..


The three biggest wastes of time as I see it would be:

1) The Classic "String-of-Buoys" Sea-serpent,
2) The Water Horse and
3) The mangy dog-Chupacabras,

closely followed to my mind by Mothman, Owlman and all others of that ilk.

The Classic "String-of-buoys" is based on nothing but a wave effect in the water, whether in "Many-humped" or in "Super-otter" conformations. Several different thinngs create that effect and it is non-specific to any one cause. The vast majority of all "Water-monster" reports worldwide fall into this category. Hundreds of false reports of this type make up at least three-quarters of all the recorded reports in this category.

Water-horses are a subsection of this, but they are often cited as "The" basis for freshwater longnecked sightings such as the Loch Ness Monster. There are very clear reports of this type at Loch Ness and other places, seen entering or leaving the water. They are moose (elk in Europe) or other large deer (moose are not found in Scotland) and they leave cloven moose tracks. They often have the little stubs of horns but sometimes full moose antlers, and they are also sometimes seen swimming at sea when crossing fjords
and the like.

Mangy-dog Chupacabras and animal-mutilation reports we have just discussed. And as far as Mothman or Owlman is concerned there really is no reason to count them as anything more than exaggerated sightings of probably ordinary owls. Perhaps outsized ones, but there need be nothing more to it than that.

Now one of the biggest, most important things in Cryptozoology is a matter that falls between the cracks: the vast majority of creatures called Wildmen (or even using "Abominable Snowmen" in the broadest sense)are evidently relic hominids such as Neanderthal men. The problem in that case is they might therefore be Homo sapiens. If that is the case, then you do not have a cryptid, you cannot treat your own species as an unknown animal.

So really, technically, Cryptozoologists should not be dealing with any of those ones, either. They fall outside of their definition for being "Unknowns". And really, technically, Cryptozoologists should not be dealing in any known species of any animal, no matter where it should turn up. Hence misplaced cats are not Cryptozoological subjects. You can very easily make a field to study things such as misplaced big cats, but that is outside the field of Cryptozoology. The default explanation must always be that the misplaced animals were misplaced by some human agency. Nothing more and nothing less.

Now as to what we should be looking out for should be something along the lines of my Category I of Former Cryptozoological Checklists:

Section I of former Checklists. Section I is the category most acceptable to conventional science and for the most part contains animals very nearly like known forms, color variants of known forms, disputed forms for which there exist photographic evidence, specimens preserved in museums or mere matters of disputed taxonomic status.

This is an area of Cryptozoology in which ALL of these could be "known" species and hence not deserving of further attention by the most stringent definition of the field.

Heuvelmans List:

1. Gosse's beaked whale
2. Alua whale
3. Greek dolphin
4. Senegal dolphin
5. Illigan whale
6. Outsized giant squids [Collosal rather than Giant squids?]
7. Octopus (Otoctopus) giganteus
8. Lake Setani shark
9. Mauretanian wild dog
10. Atlas bear
11. Atlas python
12. Blue tiger, black tiger
13. Outsized reticulated pythons
14. Chinese white bear (like US Olympic black bears, which are white)
15. Kimos (pygmies on Madagascar, possibly human)
16. Ufiti and koolookamba, outsized chimpanzeess
17. Pygmy gorilla
18. Spotted lion
19. Other oddly colored African cats
20. Mngwa as a giant golden cat (which do have a streaked/spotted
and a grey phase)
21. Pygmy elephants
22. Water rhino/pygmy rhino/ African one-horned rhinoceros
23. Ethiopian ?hyrax
24. Spotted bushbuck
25. American lion (even if residual of extinct form, same species as
African lion)
26. Andean wolf
29. Felis levantina
30. Possible giant montpelier snakes
31. Quaggas (probably only a color phase of zebras in the first place)
32. Nandi bears, possibly even unknown African bears

Shuker List:

1. Dimorphic beaked whale
2. St. Helena elephant seals
3. Beebee's manta
4. Planetosphaera pelagica
5. Lophenteropneusts
6. Deep-sea spider
7. Bigfin squid
8. The thing (giant polychaete worm)
9. Horned Sunda wildcat, possibly only pathological
10. Venomous blackfish
11.. Hungarian reed wolf
12. Greek chameleon
13. Steller's white sea-raven
14. Qattara cheetah
15. Tailed loris
16. Pale Loris
17. Chuti/Nepalese hyena
18. Seah malong poo
19. Horned jackal, possibly only pathological
20. Quang khen
21. Mangden
22. Kting voar
23. Argus bipunctatus
24. Elephant-dung bat
25. Giant bushbaby
26. Australian Tasmanian devils
27. Sapo de loma (I basically do not see how this differs from the common
Marine Toad)
28. Yamamaya (possibly ony a Clouded leopard)
29. Malagnira (ultrasmall lemur)
30. Senegal stone partridge
31. Sudd gallinule
32. Kenyan black swift
33. Green touraco
34. Mexican ruffed cat (presumably a Lynx-variant)
35. Van Roosmalen's jaguar
36. Tigerstriped Peruvian cat
37. Speckled jaguar
38. Yama puma
39. Peruvian jungle lion
40. Pygmy brown bear
41. Mitla ('catlike dog')
42. 6 forms of Birds-of-paradise
43. Delcourt's giant gecko
44. Shamanu
45. Bornean babyrusa
46. Schomburgk's deer
47. Pink headed duck
48. Eastern puma (including its darker color variant)
49. Arizona (and Southern USA) jaguar
50. Nesophrontid insectivores
51. Glaucus macaw
52. Domench's Pseudo-goat (clawed goat, also possibly deformed)
53. Dobhar-Chu or Master-otter

These are the things that Cryptozoology is most likely to actually produce eventually. They are mostly rather mundane and unspectacular.

The bigger things that are still within reach are in Category III:

Category III of former Checklists : This category is one that deserves more attention. It centers around cryptids that appear not to be identifiable as known species, but are not so far different that they stand out as glaringly odd.

Heuvelmans List:

1.Highfin sperm whale
2.Antarctic saberfin whale (possibly related)
3. Double-dorsal finned dolphins
4. African unknown sirenians
5. Lake Titicaca seal/manatee
6. Gigantic anaconda
7. Minhocao
8. The "mysterious beast", a probable giant catfish
9. New Britain migo
10. Celebes unknown crocodile
11. Tatzelwurm
12. Tzuchinoko (Japanese unknown snake, possibly Angkistrodon)
13. Ahool, giant bat of the Orient
14. "Olitiau", giant bat of Africa
15. Outsized African pythons
16. South American apes ("Ameranthropoides")
17. Marquesan rail
18 Lau (as African giant catfish; reports also tend to sound like crested
cobra)
19. Jhoors and Burus, unknown monitors of India
20. possible similar African forms (nguma-monene is possibly related)
21. Megalotaria defined as a small residuum of giant sea lion reports.

Shuker List:

1.Trinity Alps giant salamander
2. Antarctic Narwhal
3. Two-backfinned Mysticete
4.Palmyra fish (type of killer whale?)
5. Scott's dolphin
6. Giant rattail
7. Beebee's Abyssal fishes
8. Giant woebegong "Ground shark"
9. Percy Fawcett's "toothless shark" (South American catfish, poss. related to
"Mysterious beast")
10. Genaprugwirion, Welsh large unknown lizard (just as likely a large agamid as
a tuatara)
11. Van Roosmalen's tapir
12. Jetete
13. Black wattleless guan
15. Alovot
16. Kondlo
17. Sasao
18. Goodenough black bird of paradise
19. O'shea's Papuan viper
20. Cigau

Category II in between covers Living Fossils which is a special category. There needs to be a determination about whether the species are the same as known fossil species and the length of time that they were suposed to be extinct is a factor in how likely they are to turn up again. Recently-extinct creatures are no big deal, long-extinct ones are a very big deal. However, if they are actually known species they also fall outside of the definition of Cryptozoology and they are not properly called Cryptids.

The entire issue hinges on several assumptions among them being how we determine species and if the forms when located actually are going to be defined as new species. There is also the problem of predicting the likelihood of discovery for unknowns. Both assumptions could well be unknowable at this time.

1 comment:

Dr Dan Holdsworth said...

One that strikes me as rather unlikely to ever be discovered is the fabled long-necked seal. The reason I tend to feel that this is unlikely to exist is because there isn't a plausible reason for one to evolve in the first place; the ecological niche which plesiosaurs occupied need not necessarily be occupied by a long-necked animal.

Plesiosaurs fed by using their relatively small heads and long necks as a way of "sneaking up" on fish, squid and the like in open waters; fish tend only to get out of the way of something that is big enough to trigger either their lateral line sensors or their eyes.

Compared to plesiosaurs, seals have relatively big heads so the "sneak-up approach is just not going to work for a seal, even a very long-necked one. Seals also have a further trick which plesiosaurs lacked: seals have whiskers, which are sensitive enough to pick up the eddies of the wake of a moving fish and this allows seals to hunt in complete darkness (which plesiosaurs probably could never do).

So, for this reason I think long-necked seals to be most unlikely to ever be discovered, based on the fact that they never existed in the first place (statistical tom-foolery notwithstanding).