Thursday, March 05, 2009
Last time we asked which section you wanted scanned next, and you said Lake and Sea monsters, so that is exactly what we have done...
In 1985 Xinjiang University biology professor Xiang Lihao led a party of biology students to Lake Hanas in north west China`s Xinjiang Autonomous Region. The expedition was to evaluate the lake`s potential as a wildlife reserve.
The lake has long been considered as one of China`s greatest natural resources. The name itself means `Lake Beauty` and the mountain lake is surrounded by lush pastures which in summer are a riot of wildflowers and deep forests teeming with rare and beautiful wildlife. However the lake has a more mysterious side. According to a website maintained by students in the area the colour of the water appears to change with the seasons…
“for this reason, people also call it"the lake of changing colors".this is one of its mysteries.the people living around the lake have also found that there are some "lake monsters" in the lake. they reported hearing a large "bang" in the lake while watching a very high water column shooting out of the lake. it is still unclear what on earth makes this "trouble"in the lake.”
However, as far as we know, the eminent professor was searching for more conventional wildlife when he made his trip. However on July 24 the Professor and his charges saw several monsterous fish. One of the students was observing the surface of the lake from a wooden watchtower which had been built several years earlier when he saw some immense objects moving slowly beneath the surface of the water. They were resddish in colour and according to my friend and colleague Dr Karl Shuker their heads, fins, and tails all clearly visible. He estimated that their heads were 3 feet across. The next day he took several colour photographs of the fish. One aligned itself parallel to the bank between two lakeside trees. Later measurements of the distance between these trees allowed the scientists to gauge its length at 33 feet.
Two days later they attempted to catch one of these remarkable fishes. However neither such succulent baits as sheep legs or wild duck were effecacious in luring one of these monstrous creatures onto a hook, and therefore into the record books.
Two years later in 1988, a further investigation of the lake was carried out after local fishermen again reported seeing three of the giant fish with a slightly less remarkable length of thirteen feet. An in depth investigation using hovercraft, and aerial recconnaisance was carried out, but again no specimens were secured, and as one wag once put it “what`s hit is history – what`s missed is mystery”!.
So, if these fish do exist what on earth are they?
In appearance at least they appear to be salmon like in form. Therefore the salmon family (salmonidae) would appear to be a sensible place to start our investigations.
The largest salmonid in the world is the King Salmon (Oncorhynchus tshawytscha) which is found in the rivers of Pacific North America. However, another large salmon (Hucho taimeni) which can reach a length of 6.5 feet – a not inconsiderable fish (though miniscule compared to the giant fish of Lake Hanas does live in the area. Although most salmonids migrate to the sea as an integral part of their life cycle, some species are entirely landlocked including some close relatives of the enormous King Salmon, so the idea of an enormous landlocked salmonid may not be as ridiculous as it may first seem.
The concept of landlocked salmonids growing to an enormous size is not a new one. There are many accounts in British zoological folklore of particularly large salmon of the normal UK species – Salmo salar - which have become trapped in landlocked lakes and pools and have achieved an immense size. However the largest known British salmon was a mere 66lb and was caught in Scotland in 1922.
Without, for one moment, intending any disrespect towards the good proffessor, one of the biggest potential problems with the existence of such enormous salmonids is the small matter of their swim bladder According to zoologist Richard Freeman, this organ seems to be only effective up to a certain body size which has, to date, proved an effective limit to the size of fish species that rely on the swim bladder for their buoyancy. Sharks and rays have no swim bladder which is why the largest fish found in the oceans of the world are from this group. If the fish of Lake Hanas are indeed salmonids then they would presumbly have swim bladders, and this presumably means that they have either developed an effective way of uitilising their swim bladders despite the increased size, or that they have evolved another method of buoyancy control entirely.
The final qustion that has to be answered is the relationship (if any) between these enormous fish and the other putative monsters of the lake. Unfortunately the account that we have managed to discover tells us next to nothing about the nature of the Lake Hanas monster. Lake monsters have been reported from a number of Chinese lakes, most notably Lake Tianchi on the border between China and Korea, but the description of “a large "bang" in the lake while watching a very high water column shooting out of the lake.” Is so vague that it could really refer to anything.
One thing, however is certain. As far as we have been able to ascertain, the last expeditions to investigate the events at Lake Hanas took place in 1988, and as far as we know, no-one has been back since. This is a great pity, because this beautiful lake is the site for at least two zoological mysteries, and deserves to be given at least as much attention as is given each year to Loch Ness. Watch this space.
Despite the slidy nature of the roads (the snow having taken everyone by surprise) it only took him a few minutes to get to his destination, a private house next to a small close called `East Park`. (Yes there is a `South Park in the village, much to the amusement of all and sundry especially Oll and Richard)
In the garden he found a long line of footprints leading across the snowy lawn. As you can see, the only human footprints next to them are Graham's.
I am sure that you are all aware of the legend of the Devil's hoofprints - an occasion in February 1855 when a series of prints of what appeared to be cloven hooves were found in the snow all across South Devon. The superstitious locals believed that they were the work of the Devil and that the hornèd one had paid a personal visit to the county.
Well I don't believe that happened then, and I don't believe that is what happened last night either. There is certainly a perfectly rational zoological explanation for both events but our investigations are at a very early stage. In must be stressed however, that there are no scuff marks in the snow as would happen if a person had walked, and although the marks could have been made by someone on stilts that is highly unlikely.
Our investigations are continuing, and we will bring you more news as we get it...
February has been a chaotic time for my research into exotic cats across the south-east, and one particular animal always makes great headline. The ‘beast of Bluewater’, a black leopard, has been seen a handful of times since January this year, and in February the Gravesend Messenger were eager to tie a set of mysterious footprints to the big cat. However, the tracks, which were discovered by four golfers whilst playing at Southern Valley Golf Club were nothing of the sort.
One of the witnesses, a Mr Bowles, photographed the tracks which he’d found during the morning in a frosty bunker. The impressions, when compared to a size 10 footprint, measured almost as long, and showed four claws on each ‘paw’, but an elongated heel. The prints were dismissed as belonging to a badger by a local badger expert, and the witness sent the images to Howletts Zoo, who told him they were probably made by a German Shepherd dog! However, after looking through many sets of tracks, I believed the impressions resembled those made by a wolverine, or another member of the mustelid family, the Fisher!
These animals are around two to three-feet in length, whilst the wolverine can reach up to four-feet. Mr Bowles mentioned that whatever made the tracks walked on all fours, and was roughly four-feet in length, the indentations of the fore-paws being slightly smaller than the rear. I sent the images to Richard Freeman who mentioned also that a wolverine could well be the answer, and mentioned that although such animals have five claws, the fifth is not always evident in tracks. There have been no local reports of such an animal, but I would like to know what everyone else thinks.
Charter boat captain Erik Rue, 42, photographed the animal, which is actually an albino, when he began studying it after the mammal first surfaced in Lake Calcasieu, an inland saltwater estuary, north of the Gulf of Mexico in southwestern USA. Capt Rue originally saw the dolphin, which also has reddish eyes, swimming with a pod of four other dolphins, with one appearing to be its mother which never left its side....
Read on: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/newstopics/howaboutthat/4927224/Pink-dolphin-appears-in-US-lake.html
However, apart from the mild embarrassment of wintry weather only two weeks after I proclaimed that the sub had returned, there is an upside to all this. There is a breaking story that is most peculiar indeed, and I will be updating the bloggo with it later on. I do not wish to appear mysterious, but watch this space...
Ex-Employees Claim 'Horrific' Treatment of Primates at Lab
Amorous frogs get love shack
Camel Car: Animals Take A Break From The Sun
Dalek found in overgrown pond
Discovery of the Planet's Oldest Footprints
Fossil Of 10 Million-Year- Old Bird Found In Peru
Obama Restoring Endangered Species Act Provision
Wombat poo paper launched
Climate 'hitting Europe's birds'
Chimps craft ultimate fishing rod
It’s always fascinating when an animal appears to ‘ape’ human behaviour and ‘tackle’ problems in intelligent ways.