Monday, March 02, 2009
I only visited the Oxford University Museum of Natural History for the first time last November, but I instantly fell in love with the place and wondered why on earth I'd never been before. I'm not going to give its whole history here, but to say that the museum came into being following a competition in 1854, when Deane and Woodward's design for the museum was selected, and then in 1860 the building was opened despite being unfinished in parts. (The museum sells a booklet entitled Oxford University Museum: Its architecture and art for £2.50, and which will fill in all the historical details should you want them). Read On
So I went there, and was amazed at what I found.
They even have a blog. What a fantastic project!!!
Could this item below have been a seal or small whale? Not being a marine biologist,or even much of a zoologist I am unaware of the normal weight of these creatures.
“An extraordinary fish was caught last week near Chertsey-bridge (1): it has no scales upon it, is of a lead colour, and weighs 300lb.” Macclesfield Courier July 25th 1812 p.3.
“On Tuesday last 600 snakes which had nestled in some old manure,lying on a field at Boltham,near Lincoln,were destroyed.” Macclesfield Courier August 1st 1812. p.3
Tragically this was the all too common fate of these “snake swarms” which turned up in huge numbers all at once like this in the 19th century.
(1) In S.W. London probably
He was also a staunch defender of the doctrine of the peppered moth as an indicator of evolution through natural selection, and was probably the most important person in the fight to re-establish the bona fides of this particular case after it had been discredited in the mid 1990s.
He will be sadly missed.
2nd March:CRYPTOZOOLOGY: Episode 18 of CRYPTOZOOLOGY: On The Track is now online..
Click here for further details...
2nd March: CRYPTOZOOLOGY: New documentary about the hunt for the Ivory Billed Woodpecker
Click here for further details...
2nd March: ZOOLOGY: What killed this unfortunate pussycat?
Click here for further details...
2nd March: CFZ: Have you ever fancied being an indexer? Come and join the bloggo team.
Click here for further details...
This morning Richie and I found a dead cat in the woods next to our house. We had seen the cat lounging at the edge of the yard the past couple of mornings, but it looked content, fat and happy. (I tried to approach it once and it started to run away, so I left it alone.) Anyway, I cannot tell what the cause of death is, but it has a hole in the rear left haunch with innards spilling out. That's the only injury I can see.
The hole is so odd, having the precision of a warble, but it is very deep and almost looks bored from within, or like the innards burst out of it. We turned the cat over and found no other injuries. Attached are pics -- very gross. I hope you don't think me morbid, but this is just so odd. I am not expecting anything unnatural, I am just unpleasantly surprised and I want an idea of what could have killed this poor cat. I figured you were the best person to ask.
I will also be showing these pictures to my lovely step-daughter Shoshannah who, as regular readers will know, is in her final year at the Royal Veterinary College in London.
However, I have another motive. As Naomi so rightly wrote, there is no reason to suspect anything unnatural, but there are many folk who would need convincing of that.
I still remember with a shudder a well known UFO publication about a decade ago publishing pictures of small mammals that had suffered post mortem attacks by secondary invertebrate predators, and claiming that the `rectal coring` was the work of aliens, or at the very least shadowy Government agencies, when it was obviously the work of burying beetles. This made me furiously angry then, and as we at the CFZ, although mostly a straightforward zoological and conservation organisation, do somtimes operate in the grey area between science and forteana, I think that it is important to investigate such things as openly as possible...
24 Hours late - but I hope you will agree that it was worth it....
The latest edition of a monthly webTV show from the CFZ and CFZtv, bringing you the latest cryptozoological, and monster hunting news from around the world. This episode brings you:
New species at a Yeovil Bug Fair (and a South African game reserve)
Jon meets the daleks
new CFZ fish projects
donations of equipment
The latest on the blue dogs of Texas
Not a chupacabra
The changing seasons
A pagan fertility feast?
Flying saucers and new species of cave snail in Puerto Rico
The Grant Museum of Zoology
Jackalopes in San Antonio
Wolves and pumas in Illinois
Bigfoot 911 call
Dr Strangely Strange
NEW AND REDISCOVERED: Amphibians in Colombia
NEW AND REDISCOVERED: Frogs in India
NEW AND REDISCOVERED: Psychedelic toadfish
NEW AND REDISCOVERED: New freshwater fishes
As regular readers will know, I am a fan of Sharon - the birdchick who writes the blog of the same name which is always several places above us on the Nature Blogs Netword. In fact I think that I can truthfully say that she and Darren (TetZoo) are my two favourite blogs on the network.
She has some interesting news about a documentary about the Ivory Billed Woodpecker, and links to some trailers for it. I seriously suggest that it is worth having a look...
1 Dr Shuker's Casebook by Dr Karl Shuker (5)
2 Extraordinary Animals Revisited by Dr Karl Shuker (1)
3 The Owlman and Others by Jonathan Downes (10)
4 Man Monkey - In Search of the British Bigfoot by Nick Redfern (-)
5 In the wake of Bernard Heuvelmans by Michael Woodley (3)
6 Dragons:More than a Myth by Richard Freeman (9)
7 Big Bird by Ken Gerhard (4)
8 Dark Dorset - Calendar Customs by Robert Newland (-)
9 Big Cats Loose in Britain by Marcus Matthews (-)
10 Centre for Fortean Zoology Yearbook 2009 (-)
Last month's positions in purple
1 Extraordinary Animals Revisited by Dr Karl Shuker (3)
2 Big Bird by Ken Gerhard (7)
3 Dr Shuker's Casebook by Dr Karl Shuker (5)
4 Monster - the A-Z of Zooform Phenomena by Neil Arnold (4)
5 CFZ Expedition Report: Russia 2008 (5)
6 The Island of Paradise by Jonathan Downes (-)
7 Man Monkey - In Search of the British Bigfoot by Nick Redfern (6)
8 Animals & Men Issues 11-15 (The Call of the Wild) (-)
9 The Smaller Mystery Carnivores of the Westcountry by Jonathan Downes (-)
10 Animals & Men - Issues 1 - 5 (In The Beginning) (-)
BTW Tony Lucas has won last month's stupid competition for claiming that Karl was the Abba of Cryptozoology and I was the Kiss. He has won a free year's membership of the CFZ. He would, however have won two years if he had said that I was the Joe Strummer or Keith Richards. A warning guys: When Max does his book he will insist on being the Emerson Lake and Palmer. Sad but true...
What's lurking at the bottom of your garden?
New UFO and big cat sightings
'Ugly' Cat Is Big Star At NH Vet Clinic
Roving Octopus Wreaks Havoc On Office
Expedition to track down Snowman planned in Kemerovo Region
Paws for thought on mystery tracks in the snow
Frank's on cat watch
'I saw creature too'
Big cat sightings increase
Frank stalking big cat of five valleys
Is sheep attack proof of big cat?
Bear still seems headed east; Bicyclist glimpses beast along Trace
Yellowstone wolf drifts into Colorado
Big croc seen near city
Croc spotted again
Report cougar sightings near school cancels recess
Coyote sighted at C.F. school; students kept inside
Motorist reports seeing tiger near roadway
Wolf sighting raises questions about Oregon return of animal killed off in 1940s
Air-filled bones helped prehistoric reptiles take first flight
Prints show modern foot in prehumans
Giant seabird's fossilized skull found in Peru
A rare success story; Into the wild
Dinos died of cold
Footprint that is 1.5 million years old
paleontologist is attempting to hatch a live dinosaur from a chicken embryo
Killer tigers on prowl `to save their space'
Ancient fish had sex 380 million years ago
Maker of 1.5 million-year-old African footprints had a modern gait
Lonely lady wolf looks for love in all the wrong places
Colorado Backyard Yields Cache of Stone Age Tools
Urban Fox Count: The Daily Telegraph launches study to count urban foxes
Homo erectus walked here
Normally at this point I’d make a few bad puns based upon the last news story in the list but I honestly can’t possibly think of a single joke that could be made about it…
Unsurprisingly the internet was full of froth and conjecture ranging from claimed eyewitness accounts of paranormal activity at the house on the banks of the River Trent near Nottingham, to the inevitable opinion that Mr Rashid had bitten off more than he could chew in the credit crunch and wanted rid of the financial albatross.
There seems little evidence the Anwar business, which the red tops might call ‘a nursing home empire’ was in difficulty and one can only imagine a man used to extensive old houses might be familiar the normal run of bumps, creaks and apparently unmotivated groans such properties make.
What wasn’t mentioned in any of the reports I came across was that the Clifton family whose estate the house belonged to were linked to a curious omen.
A number of aristocratic lineages are host to portents of one animal kind or another; the Gormanston foxes, the Oxenham white bird, the Fowlers’ owl but the Clifton’s harbinger of doom was a sturgeon that travelled upriver past the house. As the Clifton family vacated the premises in the 1950s and the house has since been a school and a university annexe it’s hard not to link their decline with that of sturgeon in British rivers.
Two hundred years ago the fish was known in domestic fresh water and rare examples were recorded into the 20th century, indeed the biggest rod caught UK species is (depending on who you read and how big) a sturgeon of some hundreds of pounds - although I reserve doubts about the ability of even modern tackle to land such a beast, netted river giants are well attested. For more detail read: HERE
Occasional specimens turn up in British off-shore waters and a few have been placed in lakes for angling purposes (an aberration to match still water barbel and chub IMO) but it seems for the moment at least, the migrant sturgeon is absent from UK rivers.
Perhaps a glimpse of a bone-headed fish the size of a midget submarine passing the bottom of the garden - having negotiated various locks and weirs - would itself bring on a seizure. Whether the portent is transferable to a new owner Mr Anwar is now unlikely to find out.