Thursday, June 04, 2009
But not always.
Some time ago, I received an email from a man who had an intriguing, but unfortunately, very brief story to relate.
The details, from Keith Fletcher of Derby, concern a story told to him back in the mid-1980s (by a work colleague who hailed from Cornwall) of a "giant monkey" roaming Bodmin Moor 6 or 7 years prior to when Keith heard the story - which would have placed the events somewhere in the latter part of the 1970s.
Keith is currently trying to track down his source; and so hopefully we may learn more in due course.
In the meantime, it's intriguing to note that others seem to have uncovered data on what may very well be the same story.
In his book Big Cats Loose in Britain, author Marcus Matthews says: "On 2nd January 1985, an article appeared in Exeter's Express and Echo about the 'Beast of Bodmin.' I have learned from a relation that in the 1970s and 1980s there were always rumours of an escaped orang-utan ape in the area. Farmers coming home from the public houses were used to seeing a strange pair of eyes looking at them, and a hairy human-like figure disappearing quickly."
Expect more data if and when I hopefully get it...
And, on a somewhat related matter:
Another story brought to my attention not too long ago is worthy of commentary: it comes from a man named Bob Shenton, who claims to have seen "something bloody odd" on the wilds of Dartmoor back in the winter of 1967.
Bob was driving across the moors late one night (at the time he worked as a plumber and was heading to a house to deal with a case of a burst water-pipe) and - while near the village of Postbridge - came across something decidedly strange.
According to Bob, for the briefest of moments, and as he approached Postbridge, he caught sight of what looked very much like a large ape-like figure crossing the road in front of him and vanishing into the shadows at the edge of the road.
Interestingly, Bob described the creature as "like a shadow", in the sense that it seemed one-dimensional in nature - which closely, and eerily, echoes the description of the similar beast seen at Bolam Woods by Squire Downes in 2002.
Not only that, Postbridge has been the site for many years of a phenomenon that may very well be related: namely, that of the infamous hairy-hands - concerning which, a quick search of Google will provide quite a lot.
I am contacting local newspapers in the area to see if anyone else can shed further light on this mysterious encounter. I'll keep you posted.
This is a new service provided by the CFZ bloggo both to publications and to you, the reading public. We invite the editors of any magazine that is on topic to the admittedly broad remit of this bloggo, to send us a shameless plug for the contents of any issue of your mag that fits on these pages...
The latest edition of Paranormal Magazine (July / issue 37) has a strong cryptozoological flavour thanks to contributions by the CFZ’s zoological director Richard Freeman and crypto-star Dr Karl Shuker.
Once mummy had dispensed with Colonel Bonkers she sat down on a chair in the corner of the room and talked to her children. It was not unlike a military briefing and certainly more effective than anything that Burger Van Billy and General Farley could manage.
“The first thing we should try is to actually find out something about this cat. I bet you that other people have seen it and another factor is, my dears, that we don’t want the village being taken over by nutters and men in camouflage. Or men driving around in a converted burger van. I am going to have a word with Jack and see what he can come up with. We shall reconvene here in an hour!”
Gosh, thought the children, mummy is a rock! “I was worried she’d be cross with me,” said Florence, “or tell me I was going mad.”
“You’re mad anyway, Florry,” laughed Robin. “But lovably so.”
“And pooh to you too,” sneered Florence in Robin’s general direction.
“There shall be no falling out. We are going to stick together in this one and save the village AND the cat I hope,” said Frieda. “It is going to be a lot of hard work but I suppose the first thing to do is to actually capture the cat!”
“Capture it,” the children said, aloud. Then Frieda added, “HOW are we going to capture it? Heavens!”
“Yes but I’ve been looking at some of these Big Cat websites and some are better than others,” said Robin. “And I’ll tell you what. The Big Cats Research one is the worst. Most of it isn’t about big cats and there are all these awful pictures of the various members and they all look like nutters or saddoes. Lots of photos of men in camouflage and very few women. Mostly a lot of posing idiots it seems and their forum, which I joined, is poisonous. It’s a lot of personal attacks on people they dislike and the General supports West Ham. Things couldn’t be worse!”
“Well who cares about his dratted website and forum,” retorted Tom. “Any idiot can have one of those!”
“Yes websites are ten a penny these days and it’s what people do, not how shiny their wretched website is and if ONLY people knew what kind of people these ABC idiots really are,” added Frieda.
“Brilliant, Frieda, brilliant. I have an idea...about the internet.....”, shouted Tom, joyfully. “Well, look here, we have broadband, we have a digicam, one of those nice Sony ones, and I’ve got this basic film making type programme and it’s a simple editing programme too. Some of my friends have put videos on YouTube. We could, too. We could make a `Kids From Upper Minster Speak Out` type film. Given all the rubbish publicity that is going to hit this village – and probably already is – people will watch any film on the subject and might help us in our plan.”
“Errrrm, just one problem, we don’t have a plan,” Robin complained. “Well apart from making a film and nobody will watch it anyway.”
“Don’t be so sure,” replied Tom. “If we do things right then we might go international.”
“Oh I do thiiink that the country air is affecting you Tom dearest,” added Florence.
“Maybe, maybe not,” replied Tom doing the worst Jimmy Cagney impression ever. “This is big news – by accident or design- so maybe the children of Upper Minster should get in on the act!”
At that moment, mother knocked on the door and Jack came in behind her. He spoke first:
“Well children, the quiet of our country life has been shattered by a lethal combination of bad luck and stupid people, so we are going to do something about it...starting now!” Jack was always a bit dramatic, but it amused Sheila and the kids loved his flamboyance.
“I have a plan,” he exclaimed, “and we will have to work in concert for it to work!”
“What’s concert?” demanded Florence. “Together, all of us,” Tom replied.
“I seeeee,” added Florence. “Cool!”
“First thing is,” said Jack, “To catch the blighter. Now so far nobody has managed this but then, you only have to look at the quality of personnel involved in the Big Cat Hunt to know why they’ve achieved nothing. Most of them don’t even own pets! Anyway, I digress. To catch this thing is not, technically, that difficult. What I shall do first, with some help from you youngsters, is try and work out its route. You see, cats of any sort are creatures of habit. I shall be speaking to a couple of the farmers I know, on the quiet, to see if they have any information. I have known some of ‘em all my life and they trust me, so we might get lucky. If this really is a Big Cat that Tom and Florry saw, then local farmhands will know something of it but will, for several reasons, not have made it public and might just have taken extra precautions on their land rather than making a big fuss or rushing off to the papers.”
“God knows what local farmers are thinking now,” mummy interjected, trying to add some hilarity into proceedings that had suddenly become all too serious. Mind you, Jack was an uncompromising soul and very gifted when it came to Zoology. When it came to animals and suchlike, Jack was your man. He was employed as a farm manager because he knew livestock, had expertise in it. In his earlier years, after doing a Zoology degree at Bristol University, he’d gone in search of new species of animal in South America and parts of Venezuela that weren’t even mapped properly! So he was a doer, not so much a talker.
“What we will do,” Jack continued, “is use our brains and our common sense. These have been sorely lacking amongst Big Cat researchers thus far.”
The children laughed.
“It seems to me that the cat will be hungry. Therefore, it is hunting. It needs food. So it will be drawn to local livestock and within short order we should be able to build up a Cat Activity Map on Robin’s computer. After doing this, and some preliminary investigations, we shall try and capture the thing by baiting it and trapping it. We shall use a ton of catnip, some live bait and hope that the Gods are on our side. By developing our sightings and activity map we should be able to work out a route and the best place to put our bait. I am betting that this creature is not so damned mysterious at all and that it behaves like big cats the world over using natural cover, for example nearby woods, to hide itself before moving in the for kill on open ground......”
“And here endeth the lesson,” remarked Tom, enthusiastically.
“Well Tom, what do you think?” asked Jack. “You’re a good fisherman and I taught you about that and the girls are quite good at catching butterflies before releasing them!”
“Yes, darling,” interrupted their mother, “but this mystery cat, or whatever, is not a butterfly and I do not want the children being in danger.”
“Indeed not,” answered Jack, “but these beasts seem curiously disinterested in their human counterparts.”
“I hope you’re not counting on a ruthless killer’s benevolence here darling,” added Sheila. “My children are not going to get in danger on some insane Big Cat hunt. I trust you to do it, with assistance, but my children shall be the backroom support.”
At this point Tom told mummy and Jack about the film and she said, “Aha! Fab! Something less dangerous for you to get involved in. I love your creativity. By all means, children, go and interview Mrs Seaton and Jenny Watts from the pub and, for that matter, anyone else you can get hold of. Be discreet of course. Tell people it’s for a homework project or something. If I’m right that idiot clown in the camouflage will have annoyed all but the most gullible by now. We can, I hope, rid the village of these invaders so we can maintain the peace and quiet and hopefully save the mystery cat’s life....”
Head of Animal Care
Farplace Animal Rescue
- the no-kill animal sanctuary
Farplace, Sidehead, Westgate, County Durham, DL13 1LE
Last weekend she offered us a baby magpie, and we said `yes` even though we had nowhere to keep it. Sadly, the magpie succumbed to its injuries, but we decided that it was probably a good idea to go ahead with building the aviary anyhow.
For those of you familiar with the CFZ grounds, this means that the perimeter hedge which presently divides us from Dave and Ross B-P's grandmother next door, will have aviaries all along its length.
Whilst on the subject of aviaries, we hopefully will be getting a breeding pair of Reeve's Pheasants on friday afternoon. They will go in the main aviary outside the museum..
It’s time for another update on the latest cryptozoology news from the CFZ’s daily cryptozoology news blog, enjoy:
Long odds on space viruses seeding life
Researchers believe they have found recent Bigfoot print in Oklahoma
New bustard chicks a 'huge step'
Sharks can be cuddled like dolphins, say scientists
Did you hear about the angry aquarium owner? His shark was worse than his pike.
The thing is, the use of the name "Water Horse(Cow)" to mean elk/moose is not even controversial. It would seem that "Kelpie" was originally a mythologized elk (with its more horrific undead bogie version, the Nukelavee) and confused with the maned sea serpent.
Records of several such reports are at at Loch Ness. A report on a February night in 1934 by Patricia Harvey and Jean MacDonald, who saw a four-footed beast 6 feet high at the shoulder
and perhaps 8 to 10 feet long that moved swiftly on land. They saw this creature at close range (20 feet, no doubt an underestimate of the range) and the creature was dark in color but had a white spot on the throat. It emerged from the woods and headed for the water.[Mackal]
But there were also a whole series of such reports recalled as childhood memories when the "Monster" flap occurred in 1933, and these "Camel" reports merged into traditional Kelpie reports. These ranged in date from 1879 or 1880 to 1919 or 1920 and their descriptions all matched this description, with minor variations due to lapses in memory (larger or smaller, lighter or darker in coloration, etc.)
Very likely this was the authentic local "monster" tradition and the identification with Kelpies is quite strong: the deascription of the size and color, and especially the camel-shaped head and neck exactly match a description of a European moose/elk, without antlers (the elk that have antlers are the males and then only in season; the latest native-Scottish elk remains seem to indicate that they had stunted antlers)
In Search Of Lake Monsters , quoting Sir Walter Scott in 1810 on pages 132-133, says "If I could for a moment credit the universal tradition respecting almost every Scotch loch, lowland or
highland, I would positively state that the water-cow, always supposed to dwell there, was the hippopotamus..
A monster long reported to inhabit Cauldshields loch, a small sheet of water in the neighborhood, has of late been visible to sundry persons...a very cool-headed, sensible man....said the animal was more like a cow or horse"
This looks very like the continuing tradition of the Scottish water-horse or cow (which is also connected to rumors of similar creatures supposedly in Canada, Central and Eastern Europe, Russia, Mongolia and far-Eastern Siberia) is based on unsuspected survivals of the European elk (moose)
Eberhart in Mysterious Creatures on the Water-Horse entry lists a conglomerate category with the distribution given as "Scotland, Wales and Ireland, France, Italy, Czech Republic, Scandinavia, and Siberia. Legends have also migrated to Canada" Some of the Native American Water Monsters are also supposedly hooved, and split hooves are a common feature (even when supposedly representing a horselike creature, such as the Kelpie)
"Water bull" is given a separate category, as are Mongolian "Water cattle" elsewhere. The extended lump-listing of Water monsters as Eberhardt's appendix includes the Mongolian Water-cattle as well as other Water-horses-or-cattle in Switzerland, Eastern Europe, European
Russia and Northern China (Manchuria)
Some rough estimates from Eberhart's appendix on water monsters in Mysterious Creatures are: Out of 884 lakes, rivers and streams with monsters drawn largely from sources like Bord and Bord and L. Coleman, At a rough estimate, 3/4 of these locations are in the Europe-Russia-Canada-and-USA area, something over 600.
At another approximate reference, half of these areas, something over 300, include reports of "Water-horses, Water-bulls or Water-cows", horse-headed animals with moderate lengths of neck, sometimes blunt or forked short horns (antlers) and sometimes large ears, and furry or hairy humps. These reported animals are usually about 10 feet long to twenty feet ( length estimate doubled) but can be estimated as up to 100 feet long (by including the wake) The locations including such reports include British Columbia, Alberta, Ontario, Wisconsin, Montana, Wahington state, the Great Lakes, and specific locations such as Lake Champlain, Lake
Okanagon, and Flathead lake. This includes the series of "Horse's Head" reports in Quebec, of an animal averaging 10-20 feet long but said to travel overland between lakes. A Fair word-picture for a moose.
All of which is rather mind- boggling when you consider the magnitude of what this means in terms of eliminating nearly the entire water monster category. The remainder of locations are
largely ambiguous or indeterminate, with a sprinkling of various minor fishlike, reptillian or mammalian water monster reports.. It is an enormous mishmash of all sorts of different reports and includes tropical as well as temperate freshwater monsters, and several known hoaxes.
Water Horse reports do include the New England area, with creatures in Maine and Connecticut that emerge from the water and travel rapidly overland, leaving cloven hoofprint ("Clawmarks"). These include reports recorded by Loren Coleman. Similar reports are common
up to Newfoundland (where they are clearly identified as the same Gaelic Water-horses)[Coleman, Eberhart]
One clear 1933 report of the Loch Ness Monster on shore indicates cloven hoofs, and the tracks attributed to Ogopogo are the exact size of moose tracks. [Mackal,Costello]
Reports like this are actually mostly in fringing areas where moose/elk are supposed to be locally extinct or poorly recognized by "civilized" people, and such reports are only more rarely made by local hunting natives that depend heavily upon moose in areas where they are common and the natives are very familiar with them. Reports are usually made by farmers or city people, with a recurring number of people out boating. For example, consider the Flathead Lake Monster from internet sources:
"A woman wrote me a letter from Canada with perhaps the most interesting sighting. In the early 1970s she took a group of five girls from her church to the lake. She was a teacher at Flathead High at the time. The group spotted a deer frantically swimming to shore. Behind the deer a large wake was moving in fast. The girls screamed for the deer to swim faster and maybe it did, as it made it to shore just before whatever was in pursuit could catch up. The large wake
then fizzled out and disappeared and the lake was calm. The woman and all five girls to this day swear by what they saw.
Another person wrote me an email saying he knows somebody who has a videotape of the monster. The keeper of the tape doesn't show it much in fear of coming off as crazy. But the e-mail writer said it is not the usual long-distance grainy footage that could easily pass as a
hoax. It was taken from a boat with the creature - whatever it was - swimming close by.
Other people, who don't know each other, told me similar accounts of seeing a serpent-like large creature snaking through the lake. They all admit it could have been a natural feature distorted by the conditions, by light or ripples, but they doubt it."
--It should be noticed that the large wake following the frantically swimming deer was probably generated by the deer (frantic only in wanting to get to shore)And MOST of these accounts seem to be only unidentifiable wakes or waves in the water. The exact same occurance of a "Monster" wake chasing a deer in the water comes from the Ogopogo lake, Lake Okanagon.
Flathead lake is definitely one location with moose-antlered "Water Horses" being reported regularly. [Sanderson Archives] The Flathead Lake monster is usually reported as twenty feet long,dark in color and sometimes with a single hump on its back. A characteristic sighting was in 1960 by the Ziegler family when they went to investigate unusual waves near the shore of the lake. Mr and Mrs. Ziegler saw something rubbing up against the pilings of the pier as a cow would rub up against a post to scratch itself. Mr Ziegler went back for his gun and Mrs. Ziegler
saw a "horrible" head about the size of a horse's "with about a foot of neck showing". She screamed and Mr. Ziegler returned in time to see it swim off at speed. [PURSUIT article on Flathead Lake Monster]
This has all the earmarks of a moose sighting--the shape and size of the head, short length of neck, the way it rubbed up against the pilings and the way it swam off. It all fits: NONE of this is typical of the Long-Necked category of sea-serpents as defined by Heuvelmans (the kicker is absolutely that it does NOT have a long neck) Mr. Ziegler denied that it was a sturgeon and rightly so.
The original popularization of this matter was from The Mystery Monsters, sequel to The Maybe Monsters, by Gardner Soule and originally printed 1965, using accounts drawn from the Flathead Courier: no outside source seems to have taken notice before Soule's book (which includes the Ziegler account and is mentioned as a source in later Lake Monster books) One odd fact is that Costello quotes the same Flathead Lake reports as Soule, without citing any sources:
possibly he had them as quoted through an intermediary he does not seem to have named. Ivan Sanderson certainly knew of Soule's books.
Sanderson wrote his chapter on Lake Monsters in More "Things" in 1966 (as a magazine article later reprinted in the book) and mentions the Flathead Lake monster but not the source: He vaguely alludes to the Ziegler description (not an exact quote) and says similar reports come from Waterton lakes and Lake Payette. And they do, but Waterton Lakes also has "Baby Monster" reports that have nothing to do with the other reports. They are in the right size range to be ordinary otters. Both of these other areas have the standard "Water Cows" with long wakes, some of them with the initial antler spikes reported as "Horns". Flathead Lake does have a native tradition of a Water Monster with a full set of Moose Antlers.
Coleman cribbed most of this material in a later article for Strange magazine, where I believe the original Sanderson article was published first. When I went through Sanderson's files circa 1974, I saw the originals for these reports and some others of the Moose type from such places as Maine. along with some Long-Neck, but Sanderson did not differentiate the two, nor yet some fairly obvious reports of large seals. Dinsdale mentions getting material from Sanderson, and what Dinsdale actually mentions is in the More"Things" chapter as well.
Many of the nearshore sea sightings of "Merhorses" also seem to be moose sightings, including some in Scandinavia and some "Cadborosaurs" off the Northwest coast area. This does not mean sightings with necks ten to thirty feet long, but horse or camelheaded creatures with only a
few feet of neck, usually about a yard (or a meter) Many of these sightings are during the winter, it seems, which is ordinarily a low point in regular sea-serpent sightings. Almost always
any reports of great length are due to prolonged wakes as in "Super-otter" sightings. The wakes in moose reports are generally from 25 to 100 feet long, which happens to be exactly the size given by Heuvelmans for the Merhorse . However, he specifies only the one-humped sighting
type--but goes on to mention "vertical undulations" and that clearly refers to the wakes.
Sanderson also emphasizes "vertical undulations" in freshwater reports that clearly refer to wake. The "One-humped" configuration also refer to the male moose's shoulder hump in other
easily identifiable cases. Clear instances of this are reported from Colorado and Lake Manitoba-Winnepeg-Winnepegosis, in which cases the head-neck region is never much more than four or five feet long.[PURSUIT,Costello]
In Monster Hunt, Tim Dinsdale quotes Ivan T Sanderson from a long letter to him about the "Northern Water Monsters" in the Taiga zone, but he included Loch Ness in the category as well, mentioning that such animals in European Russia (and Sweden) were called Water-cows.
The Taiga is the zone of Northern Coniferous forests and is the main habitats of the moose and elk. Heuvelmans gives the distribution of freshwater monsters in the same area as defined by isotherms, but it comes down to the same thing, The Water Horse/Lake monster's home range is the moose's home range. Water Horse or Water Cow is one of the recognized names for the Elk in the Uralic family of languages and it might also be in the original Indo-European (cf Equs to Elk) [Private communication to group from a Russian member]
Water monster reports actually sometimes come with reported Moose-antlers: one of the early ones in Lake Champlain has this feature, as do other simlar reports in British Columbia, Saskatchewan and Alberta. Furthermore, traditional images of Water Horses or Dragon Horeses are shown with antlers or other such structures on the head that correspond only to moose antlers in Scandinavia, Central Europe, Siberia and Northern China. And Water Horse images in Karelia are definitely identified by some Archaeologists as representing elks.[Group photo album reference: album also illustrates swimming moose with "string-of-buoys" wakes]
I would probably be just as happy to say "the European and Siberian elk is sometimes called the Water-Horse and such traditions as cryptids generally refer to such creatures but mythologized"
Coleman, L. A Field Guide to Water Monsters
Coleman, L. . Cryptozoology A to Z
Eberhart, George M. 2002. Mysterious Creatures: A Guide to Cryptozoology. 2 volumes. Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO.
Heuvelmans, B. In The Wake of The Sea-Serpents
Heuvelmans, B. 1986. Annotated checklist of apparently unknown animals with which cryptozoology is concerned. Cryptozoology 5: 1-26.
Mackal, RP. The Loch Ness Monster
Mackal, RP. Searching for Hidden Animals
Dinsdale Tim, Monster Hunt
Costello Peter, In Search of Lake Monsters
Sanderson, Ivan T. More "Things"
Sanderson Ivan T. Investigating the Unexplained
Sanderson, Ivan T Archives [The author had inspected these before they were dispersed]
Internet sources on moose information