Wednesday, February 25, 2009
New England's WCIN Radio may be well known for its jazz and folk music, but listen to what DJ Mark Lynch uncovered when he interviewed author Neil Arnold about his book, MONSTER! THE A-Z OF ZOOFORM PHENOMENA. A surreal safari indeed...winged men, varying hellhounds, Asian vampires, Noodleman, urban monster legends, the goatsucker, the Yorkshire maggot, Mothman...
Our good friend Tony Lucas has donated us scans of his collection of New Zealand cryptozoological press cuttings, none of which I had seen before, and which I suspect will be completely new to anyone who does not live in New Zealand. As soon as they have fixed our FTP access, I will be posting them to the archive department so that they can be freely downloaded by anyone who is interested.
Do YOU have a collection of crypto or fortean press cuttings? Or copies of pre 1060 fortean, cryptozoological, or natural history magazines, newsletters or journals? If so, would you consider scanning them in, and sharing them with the rest of the cryptozoological community?
Whatever you have to contribute, we want to hear from you, so please do get in touch!
The largest Eel caught was officially recorded at 5ft in length and weighed an estimated 46lb. There is, however rumour of an Eel captured at Lake Waitapiti weighing 120lb. Other rumours abound from different regions of Eels reaching 7-10 feet in length, having a girth as thick as a mans thigh and weighing on average around 80-100 lbs.
How do they get so big you may well ponder? It's all to do with age and senility.
The females of both species are generally bigger than the males; from this we can therefore deduce any extremely large Eel is going to be female. Another supposition that can be made is the fact that the Long-finned Eel is larger than the Short-finned. It is therefore safe to infer that any Eel of giant proportions must be a female Long-finned Eel.
Both species feed on living and dead flesh.
Not having any predatory species of fish in this country, such as Pike ect, they are the top freshwater predator in the lakes and rivers. Accounts of giant Eels, or Eel-like creatures, date back to the time of early Maori colonisation. One engrossing account comes from the Bay of Plenty, in the North Island, from an area near what is now Whakatane.
A giant Eel-like creature known as Tuna Tuoro occupied a local river, it is said that its touch was able to paralyse a person. Could this be an account of some hereto unknown species of Electric Eel?
A more contemporary account refers to a farmer from the Wairarapa region of the North Island.
As is the practice on many farms, he had just dispatched a sheep to feed his dogs.
At the top of a small cliff with a stream running below it, he proceeded to dress the animal, hurling the offal over the cliff to the stream below. Suddenly, he heard a loud turmoil coming from the base of the cliff and looked below to see the water boiling as two colossal Eels tugged at each end of the scrap of offal he had just thrown over the cliff.
With the copious food supply, lack of competition and ample ideal habitat you would think more Eels of giant stature would be captured. These giants, however, stick to the deep waters and it is said are intelligent enough to know all the tricks to remain hidden from the sight of man.
I meanwhile took an altogether quieter approach and sat in the main reception ensuring that Jon was covered from afar. Daleks of various colour schemes with a desire for Human Death cruised past and people had to keep their feet out of the way, rumour has it to be run over by a Dalek make your foot “EXCRUCIATE”!
A number of people passing commented on my CFZ Scarf as the stiches flew onto the needles.
For the record, they are:
CRYPTOZOOLOGY: Naomi and Ritchie went to San Antonio, and all they brought me was this lousy Jackalope! Excellent video report from our Texas correspondents! We are all very proud of them - they have done brilliantly!
Click here for further details...
CRYPTOZOOLOGY: Muirhead is back in the archives of a north country newspaper. He finds interesting stuff about entombed bats and toads. How does the bloody man do it?
Click here for further details...
CRYPTOZOOLOGY: Over in Illinois, Derek Grebner is back! And so, it seems, are the pumas.
Click here for further details...
FORTEAN: As Redfern is wont to say - there's somethging in the woods (although I suspect that it is a publicity stunt)
Click here for further details...
Lady Henrietta is on her way over to see us, so I will endeavour to post the revisions to the front page later on if FTP access has been enabled. In the meantime...ENJOY
They have done magnificently, and I cannot thank them enough. I have a whole string of other projects waiting for them LOLOL
As we reported the other day, no sooner had Jack announced a forthcoming lecture bemoaning the dearth of werewolves in contemporary culture, than werewolves started popping out of the woodwork and appearing allover the CFZ bloggo. We originally thought that this was just a coincidence, but now - after the latest werewolf news - that Jack Ashby has to be to blame.
According to the complaint, the creature scratched the face and arms of the victim. The police informed that Kelly underwent medical examination, where the wounds were confirmed. Officers also claim they will investigate if someone is using a werewolf costume to scare people.
So, nexct time you are in Gower Street, London, and you see an angry mob with pitchforks, or possibly a Brazilian Police Van full of riotsuited Brazilian policemen, you will know why.
Or possibly you should just go and visit the museum anyway, because Jack is a lovely guy and the museum is fantastic. Tell them we sent you, but remember, keep to the paths, and
don't go at a full moon...
As you will have read, Jon and I went to Wildwoods at the weekend. I knew this place was good, but I didn’t expect to see this number of snakeheads here! I will swiftly explain, as an article in The Amateur Naturalist #7 explains, I adore snakeheads. They are very attractive looking animals, but with some serious intelligence (for fish) which endears them to me. It is odd that their family contains only two genera, the Asian Channa and African Parachanna, who are very similar indeed, both fulfilling the same role of predator on small fish and aquatic invertebrates in their eco-systems. Now, new species of this fish turn up in the trade with comparative regularity (two newly described species, C. ornatipinnis and C. pluchra, turned up in the aquatics trade almost a month after they were described), but I didn’t expect the ridiculous amount of undiscribed species for sale at Wildwoods. We have:
ii. Channa sp. 'Assam blue', the smallest snakehead found so far at a maximum of only 4”. I myself keep one of these stunners, and it is one of my favourite fish. (left)
iii. Channa sp. 'Meghalaya Leopard', an incredible fish with complex colouration as well as a high dorsal fin which reminds me of a giant species called C. barca (indeed, this rare fish once fetched a price of £4,000 for an adult pair!).
iv. Channa punctata “fluoro green”, a new colour morph of a described species, this deserves to be here because it is, err, striking! (see top)
I’m sure there were more there, but I can only find these four on their website. This was in addition to a host of new L-number plecs (large catfish with sucking mouths adapted to scraping algae from rocks and sunken logs) and the assortment of other animals. I will add, that should some of you be interested in snakeheads for your community tank, I will point out that they are highly predatory and will eat fish under 1/3 of their size, and are often aggressive to similar looking fish. The price of the new species varies, but Channa sp. “Platinum” (left) will set you back £130! They are very easy to keep though, and will live for over 10 years. This particular individual will eventually get to over a foot long.
Now, for something slightly different: endangered fish. I found, lurking in a corner along with some rasboras, some odd looking fish which attracted my attention. They were not colourful, active or exceptionally strange looking (characteristics which normally attract people to fish), but they were intriguing. I vaguely remembered the scientific name, but I couldn’t remember what with (Wildwoods tends to overload your senses, so you forget almost everything you know about fish). There were a form of Perch like fish (with spiny rays in their dorsal fin), and they looked to me like dwarf cichlids (they were most certainly not though). I guessed that they were from one of the strange families that one rarely encounters in aquaria, so, I bought one. I enquired about them, and found out that they were captive bred in Germany (the Germans can breed anything aquatic), originated in South Africa, it’s name was Sandelia capensis, grew up to 8”, were Anabantoids and were endangered in the wild. Endangered fish, in an aquatics shop? Strange.
The one I got (I could not afford more) settled into his new aquarium, acquainted himself with his tankmates (including a pugnacious Arulius barb and a very rare snakehead) and decided to ignore them. Good thought I, here we have a nice looking display fish who should be pretty damn hansom when he grows up. I pottered upstairs to my books to find out more about him. It turns out he is a relative of the climbing perches (Anabas and Ctenopoma) but it has evolved from the parent stock to rely less on it’s labyrinth organ (an organ which allows the fish to breath atmospheric air, an adaption to water with low amounts of dissolved oxygen) and more on its gills. This was the reason I had not twigged that it was an anabantoid in the shop, none of the fish had come up for air!
I then realised, David Marshal, a very good writer on tropical fish, had penned an article in Exotic Pets magazine about climbing perches, and had mentioned the genus Sandelia. This was the moment that I realised that I had a very rare fish in aquarium circles in my house, and one that I had been interested in keeping for a while, but one that I knew I never would. How wrong was I!
I read through the article, and then read “Sadly these fish, seldom seen in aquarium circles, are some of the most highly endangered creatures on the African continent and only remain in existence due to the work of a small number of dedicated local naturalists”. Bloody hell! thought I. After researching, I found that C. bainsii, the other species in the genus, was highly endangered and at threat from large introduced Clarias catfishes. C. capensis (my species) is listed by the IUCN as being “Data Deficient”, but that its population was decreasing. This was justified because “Several different lineages have been discovered in this species that requires a taxonomic revision. Several of these lineages will be threatened with extinction, but no reliable assessment can be made without understanding the distribution and taxonomic status of these lineages.”. It seems then, that the lineage I have could be extremely rare indeed, or “merely” Near Threatened.
Hummmm. I began researching how to breed them after that, and it looks to be fairly straightforward, but the only trouble is sexing the blighters, when sexually mature (from the small size of 2.5”) and in the breeding season, the males darken in colour and you can easily tell them apart. The problem comes in trying to get both sexes, you can’t do it with just one fish! So, I gave my idea to Jon: to breed this species, whether it is endangered or not, and try and do our bit to save a species. Are you with us? All we need are donations to help us buy fish at £17 each, but we will be able to get them a fair bit cheaper if we buy the lot. Will you do your bit to help?
Do you want to help us work with this rare and beautiful fish? If every person who visited this site yesterday gave a pound or a couple of dollars, we would have more than enough to set up a Sandelia breeding project, and have enough money left to carry out all the refurbishment we need to do to bring our other tanks up to scratch. Please be generous...
Four news stories were posted yesterday: A new sighting of the Whitby big cat (seen by a man lucky enough to have seen it a year before), an out of place bird in Hawaii, a new discovery relating to a fish with amazing eyes, and a 3 metre long oarfish that has been discovered washed up on Tynemouth beach.