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, July 25, 2009

FLEUR FULCHER: Latest internship diary

Over, once again to the divine Ms F. She is spending the summer as an intern at the Royal Albert Memorial Museum in Exeter. This is her story....

Sorry for the large break in diaries, but I've been a busy thing of late. My placement at RAMM continued to be excellent, having worked on a more complicated whale rib. I have now learned how to use a product called microballoons (tiny glass spheres) to mend the bone as well as pigments and paints to colour the infill. My confidence at colour matching has increased dramatically.

A fellow intern and I have been doing a brief survey of some of the Natural History collections, including the fascinating bird's eggs collections, some of which were given by the police after being confiscated from rather naughty oologists of the illegal type.

The Natural History collection at RAMM is large and encompasses many things, from Moa bones to mongooses (mongeese?), from mantises to mosses. All of it is very interesting and a lot is of very good quality. This resource is a treasure for the local community and for scholars of the subject and it is lovely to find a museum that values its Natural History collections. This placement has made me more sure that I wish to specialise in Natural History conservation and I hope to take a course in the next couple of years that will enable me to work with specimens preserved in liquid (how very Hogwarts).

Some of the surveying has led to some marvellous things to look at: a cabinet full of tiny jewel-coloured hummingbirds, a replica elephant-bird egg, a selection of tiger skulls and an Eskimo curlew being amongst them.

Many museums and a minority of the general public feel that Natural History collections are unfashionable, and sometimes politically incorrect (oh how I hate that phrase!) due to the 'colonialness' of things like taxidermied animals and animal heads. This is misleading as these items not only provide scientific information on animals but also a look into the attitudes people in the past had to animals and their habitats.

At RAMM there are bones - and even skins - of many extinct animals. There are a large quantity of Moa bones, a partial moa egg, Diprotodon bones, an Eskimo curlew and several passenger pigeons. No matter how these were collected they are undoubtedly very important and should be (and are being) looked after carefully and well.

I now have a month off from my placement, but I hope to write some other things during that time. I return to RAMM in August and shall resume this diary.

The Stone Curlew pic is, of course, copyright to RAMM and is used with their permission.

1 comment:

Retrieverman said...

I'd love to see an Eskimo curlew. There may be a few of them flying about, and every few years, there is a sighting.

It's believed that Columbus knew he was approaching land when he saw great flocks of curlews and plovers (most likely Eskimo curlews and golden plovers) flying near his ship. It was those birds that first told him he was about to encounter land and thus helped Columbus encounter America.(He didn't "discover" it. There were already people here whose ancestors actually "discovered it" millenia before 1492.)

Just to show how PC I am, I even have issues with calling them "Eskimo" curlews. The people known as Eskimos are the Yupik and Inuit, and some authorities include the Aleut people. The Inuit do not like to be called Eskimos.

Some authorities call the Eskimo curlew the "Northern curlew," which fits more nicely with its scientific name(Numenius borealis) and is more politically correct.