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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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Friday, October 23, 2009

MUIRHEAD'S MYSTERIES: FLEET FOXES? ER,NO,DUMMY,FORTEAN FOXES!

Richard Muirhead is an old friend of the CFZ. I have been friends with him for 40 years now, since we were kids together in Hong Kong. He is undoubtedly one of the two best researchers I have ever met; he and Nigel Wright both have what Charlie Fort would have no doubt called a wild talent: a talent for going into a library, unearthing a stack of old newspapers, and coming back with some hitherto overlooked gem of arcane knowledge. He is now sharing those archives with us on an almost daily basis.

Dear folks,

Here`s another selection of notes from Muirhead Archives in Muirhead Mansions. Actualy 'Fortean foxes' is a bit of a misnomer because I am only looking at odd colouration in foxes today, not the whole range of Fortean possibilities in foxes. I hope you enjoy the following and if you have any more observations please can you contact Jon or myself? Thanks.

I found a note in a book called The Sedgefield Country in the Seventies and Eighties (and that meant the 1870s and 1880s) about a male blue - yes blue - fox in Mainforth-whin, in what I thought was the West Country. But I have just done a Google search on the names Sedgefield and Mainforth-whin and I could only find a Sedgefield in Co. Durham, once Tony Blair`s constituency. This is the only instance of a blue fox in Britain that I am aware of. The next time I go to the Bodleian Library in Oxford or the British Library I will try to look at this book, which I found in a charity shop in Taunton earlier this year.

Some time in 1995 Jan Williams (through whom I 'rediscovered' Jon after our time in Hong Kong) wrote to me about albino foxes and other things:

“A pure white fox was killed in 1887 by Taunton Vale Hounds in West Somerset.” This is in Man and Beast by Ron Freethy (?) Blandford 1983.(1)

In Country Sportsman 1949 (page number unknown) there is a story: `Albino Foxes In Northumberland A Strain That Persists Around Rothbury`

`In the year 1937 a white fox was killed in the grounds of Brinkburn Priory almost within sight of the River Coquet by the Percy Hounds. The mask is now believed to be at Alnwick Castle*, the property of the Duke of Northumberland. In the spring of the same year,Richardson, a keeper on the Cragside Estate further west along the Coquet Valley, dug out a white vixen which had two cubs of normal colour. On Tuesday,15th 1938, the Morpeth Foxhounds, whilst hunting in the east part of their country, roused and quickly killed a pure-white fox. The mask, beautifully mounted, is now at Meldon Hall. The tips of the ears and brush are black, the eyes yellowish and lighter than the eyes of a normal fox, and there is none of the pink colouration one associates with the true albino….Later in the season another white fox was reported as being seen by the rabbit catcher at Paxton Dene, but no further trace of it was found. This outcrop of albinism naturally caused a good deal of local interest and there were many wild and fantastic theories as to the cause of this phenomenon. One of the most popular was that these white foxes had all been fathered by a silver dog fox which, by a strange coincidence,had escaped early in the spring of 1937 from a silver-fox farm in the neighbourhood of Capheaton,not very far,as a fox will travel,from the Coquet banks….In 1947 the keeper at Linden Hall, which lies about a mile north of Paxton Dene, reported having seen a white fox in the Dene. This man`s evidence can be taken as reliable…..The seed of this white breed, I feel sure, originated somewhere amongst the rocky, rhododendron-grown hills above Rothbury and, from time to time ,it keeps cropping up as it is handed down from father to son.'(2)

* Coincidentaly I will be at the Franciscan friary in Alnmouth near Alnwick in mid-November so I will see if I can see the mask at the Castle.

Jumping forwards 38 years to The Mail on Sunday August 30th 1987, `Lair of the little white foxes` by Dr Brendan Quayle, which told of with two white cubs, one of which was shot the other “booted to death”(3). 'According to David Bellamy* the birth of an albino or white-skinned specimen of a wild or even domesticated creature, unless specially bred, is very rare.' (4) One fox was shot. The story continued concerning the killing of the other fox: '…It was two teenage sons of a local farmers who killed the other white cub and one of its red brothers from the same litter. "Why did you do it?" I asked them bitterly this week. "Foxes are vermin and we were worried they were going for our geese," they told me.'(5) Quayle speculated their white pelts would end up at a taxidermist.

* I wrote to David Bellamy four or five months ago about this story but received no reply. The above incident was in the Border country between England and Scotland. Perhaps the same location as in the Country Sportsman article?

According to Roger Burrows in A Complete Study of The Red Fox (1988) :

'There are records of white, presumably albino, foxes from Dartmoor, and at least five records of them from Whaddon Chase.”… “Russian authors mention blue and silver foxes as being present in the northern of the red foxes` range, so not all the blue foxes in northern Europe need necessarily be descended from the feral North American form.' (6)

The Wild About Forum on the Net reported an eyewitness sighting of a white fox near the Wirral. This was on May 2nd 2006. 'Lemming' thought it was a dog but later: '..This morning I saw it streaking across the field in front of my house, grabbed my binoculars and saw it was a white fox. White from head to hind legs then it turned a peachy colour. How lovely!!! Just wanted to share my sitings with you all.' (7)

On the same Forum in September 2007 there was some interesting communication about black and other coloured foxes. On September 22nd John (in Coventry) said: 'I have just had a shock. I was looking out of my bedroom window and a scrawny looking Black Fox walked past my Bungalow…I have never seen a Black Fox before and must admit that I didn`t know they could be that colour. It wasn`t a full on black but dark enough to be able to pass for black.' (8)

C C replied giving instances of a black one in Maesycmmer near Caerphilly and one on September 21st 2007 'on the fields by Carmarthen Bay' with 'a black stripe down back, with a stripe running down shoulder blades.' (9) C C saw three silver foxes in the past four years in Carmarthen.

Finally, on September 18th 2008 a newspaper website reported the sighting of a black fox on the outskirts of Chorley, Lancashire: Mr Hehir, from Preston, Lancashire, was walking in a cemetery with a friend when he spotted the animal among the gravestones…..Country villagers traditionally told stories of how the fox was as 'black as night, so that it could live in a man`s shadow and never be seen.' (10)

1.Letter from Jan Williams to R.Muirhead c.1995.

2.Country Sportsman 1949.

3.The Mail on Sunday August 30th 1987 `Lair of the little white foxes`.p.13

4.The Mail on Sunday Ibid p.13

5. The Mail on Sunday Ibid. p.15

6.R.Burrows. A Complete Study of The Fox. (1988) pp71,73

7. http://www.wildaboutbritain.co.uk/ May 2nd 2006

8.www.wildaboutbritain.co.uk September 22nd 2007

9.Ibid September 22nd 2007

10. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/ September 18th 2008.

That`s all for today,friends. Tomorrow: `Talking Turtles.`

DALE DRINNON: Here are the Young Menehune

This is a file that I had added into the Frontiers of Zoology newsgroup when it was new: that probably accounts for some of the crudity of the copy. At that point in time the group had been named The Cryptozoology Exchange. Here is the escription that went with that file:

Headrest from New Guinea compared to Celebes 'Ape.' Sanderson denies that these were to be found on islands in the Papuan realm (as reported by others and mentioned in The Monkey Kingdom, source for photo), but they seem to have been exported by ancestor-worshipping cults and furthermore also exported to Polynesia; they would be the 'hairy little men' reported on Pacific islands including Hawaii and New Zealand.

This is the pertinent part from the checklist:

It is the opinion of the author that the reports of the 'Little hairy black men' Menehune refer to Celebes apes distributed by Melanesians for cultic purposes. 'Menehune' is the common Polynesian referent for Melanesians - see Heyerdahl. Celebes apes, according to Sanderson in The Monkey Kingdom, are seen as ancestors locally and have a puzzling distrabution, including islands of the New Guinean realm (although Sanderson doubts this): I have artwork comparisons, which satisfy me that some New Guinean 'Ancestor' figures (Called 'Baboon-faced') are representations of Celebes apes, and Heyerdahl indicates that the Melanesian Menehune went as far afield as Hawaii (We need not subscribe to his rather racist opinion that they did so as slaves) Hence, I have no problem with the idea that Celebes apes were distributed cultically
as far afield as Hawaii and New Zealand, where they later ran wild. This is also my explanation for several of Heuvelmans's categories of 'Little hairy wild men' in Melanesia itself.

[Sources on this include Thor Heyerdahl, American Indians in the Pacific and about a dozen books on Polynesian ethnology and folklore. I also noted that the identity of a Celebes ape in such cases wipes
out anbout a half-dozen categories of purported cryptid species, since Heuvelmans makes a different category for each island group involved. I can certainly give you much more material on this if you require it; my homefile writeup on this is quite lengthy]

And here is message 198 to the group, dated


Sun Oct 29, 2006 1:29 pm :

'I am enclosing one of my paste-ups from my group, the cryptozoologyexchange. The caption to this follows;
*****
PAPUAN BABOON=MENEHUNE Headrest from New Guinea compared to Celebes 'Ape'. Sanderson denies that these were to be found on islands in the Papuan realm(source for photo), but they seem to have been exported by ancestor-worshipping cults and furthermore also exported to Polynesia; they would be the "hairy little men" reported on Pacific islands including Hawaii and New Zealand'

http://groups.yahoo.com/group/cryptozoologyexchangeyahoo.com/group/cryptozoologyexchange

**** In my extended checklist on unknown animals commentary, I have a little more to say on this. I can send more info if anyone is interested. 'Mu and Menehune' are really references to small dark human beings, hence the Melanesians themselves (and real Pygmy types live in New Guinea) but usually is used any more to mean the 'little hairy men' (which are elsewhere said to go on all fours, have pointed heads and live in trees a lot). Heuvelmans's checklist refers to these under four separate headings for four separate islands in Melanesia, ending up with Fiji.

[The Fijian forms are alluded to in the passage below]

Cryptozoologist Loren Coleman and science writer Patrick Huyghe have suggested in The Field Guide to Bigfoot and Other Mystery Primates (New York and San Antonio: Anomalist Books, 2006), pp. 148-149 [that the Menehune are 'Proto-pygmies'].

On the other hand, Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia, in its article 'Menehune,' suggests that they may reflect a historical memory of early Polynesian settlers of Hawaii before the Hawaiians themselves, later mixed with imported European traditions of elves and brownies.

Dwarf hominids of the Proto-Pygmy type have been encountered in modern times on Pacific islands, including Hawaii and Fiji, Coleman and Huyghe note in their Field Guide. They describe the Hawaiian menehune, the best-known of these Oceanic 'little people,' as 2 to 3 feet tall, with short, stout, hairy and quite muscular bodies, red-skinned faces, big eyes hidden by long eyebrows, low protruding foreheads, and short thick noses. The menehune live in mountain forests and usually come to the lowlands only at night. A census of the Wainiha Valley in 1786 during the reign of King Kaumualii of Kauai supposedly revealed that 65 of the 2,000 people counted were menehune. Anthropologist Katherine Luomala suggested in 1951 that the menehune might have been a 'tribe of dwarfs.' In the late 1940s school superintendent George London and about 45 schoolchildren in Waimea, Kauai reportedly encountered a group of menehune playing around the large trees on the lawn of a local church. When the 'little people' saw the schoolchildren, the menehune stopped jumping in and out of the trees and seemingly dived into a tunnel under the parish house. According to the July 19, 1975 Fiji Times, encounters with menehune-like figures, 'believed to be dwarfs,' have also been reported from Fiji. The six witnesses of this Fijian mid-afternoon encounter described seeing eight figures, 2 feet tall and covered with black hair, run and disappear behind some bushes.

[References cited by Coleman and Huyghe include:

Janet Bord, Fairies (New York: Carroll & Graf, 1997);
Loren Coleman, "The Menehune: Little People of the Pacific," FATE (July 1989);
Katherine Luomala, The Menehune of Polynesia and Other Mythical People of Oceania; Fiji Times, July 19, 1975. (Honolulu: Bishop Museum 1951); ]

Wikipedia, in its Menehune article
begins by noting that in Polynesian mythology, the menehune are similar to the elves or fairies of European folklore. They are 'trickster beings,
though usually merely mischievous and not cruel.' The chiefs of the menehune are called
Alii Menehune. The menehune range from six inches to two feet (15-60 cm) tall, according to Wikipedia. They are always naked but are covered by long hair. They are said to be afraid of owls. When the menehune become too mischievous and cause too much chaos, the owl-god
Paupueo sends all the owls to chase them into the forest. The menehune enjoy singing,
dancing, archery, diving, and sledding. Their favorite food was the mai'a or banana.

In Hawaiian legends, according to Wikipedia, the menehune are stonemasons and other craftsman, each menehune specialising in a distinct handicraft. The legends claim that the
menehune built temples, fishponds, and even highways--and build canoes and houses even
today. The legends also say that when the ancestors of today's native Hawaiians first arrived on the islands, they found dams, temples and other structures built by the menehune, who lived
in caves. Some Hawaiian men, according to the legends, married menehune women, and
had to teach them how to make fire and eat cooked food.

As the term menehune is also used to describe the original settlers of Hawaii while Manahun is used to describe the original settlers of Tahiti, according to Wikipedia, some scholars have suggested that the legendary menehune might be based on the historical Marquesans, the first seafaring Polynesians. The Marquesas Islanders are believe to have also been the first people to settle Hawaii. When the Tahitian invaders arrived much later, the original Marquesan settlers may have been shunned and driven into hiding in the mountains.

Remnant populations of this race, Wikipedia suggests, could have given rise to the legends of the menehune.

It is notable that an 1820 census of Kauai of by Kamuali'i, ruling ali'i of that island, found that 65 persons among the 2000 recorded claimed to be Menehune themselves.

The most likely theory, however, according to Wikipedia, is that the legends of the menehune are a 'post-European contact mythology' created by adaption of the term manahune (which by the time of the settling of the Hawai'ian Islands had acquired a meaning of 'lowly
people') to European legends of brownies, as suggested by Katherine Luomala in 1951. Menehune 'are not mentioned in pre-contact mythology,' according to Wikipedia. The legendary 'overnight' creation of the Alekoko fishpond by the menehune, for example, recalls the legend (Nordhoff 1874) about the creation of a corresponding structure on Oahu. That was supposedly indeed completed in a single day--though not by the menehune, but rather as a show of power by a local ali'i who demanded every one of his subjects to appear at the
construction site and assist in building--rather like the usual archaeological story of the building of the Egyptian Pyramids with the forced labour of conscripted peasants.

What many people don't know, Wikipedia concludes, is that there was supposedly a race present in Hawaii before even the menehune, a people whom the menehune had either driven out or
destroyed.

RICHARD FREEMAN: Shameless Plug

In my first piece of published fiction, I have a cryptozoologically-related short story in a science fiction anthology out on the 20th of December.


Bernice Summerfield - Secret Histories is a collection of short stories about the adventures of a time-travelling archaeologist. A one-time companion to The Doctor in Virgin Publishing's Doctor Who novels. After the rights switched back to the BBC she has continued as an ongoing character in a series of books by Big Finnish.


In my story The Song of Old Man Bunyip Bernice travles back to pre-colonial Tasmania to study the native people who were later wiped out by the whites. Whilst there she encounters a thylacine and on a journey deep into the unexplored interior of the island she encounters the supposedly mythical creatures of Dreamtime, who turn out to be very real and in some cases very dangerous.

You can pre-order your copy now at this site...

http://www.bigfinish.com/Bernice-Summerfield-Secret-Histories

NEIL ARNOLD IN CHAT MAGAZINE

Want something to read on Halloween...Neil Arnold has written an article on his monster-hunting exploits in the latest issue (43 - Oct 29th ) of CHAT! Magazine, page 40-41. The magazine is available from all good magazine sellers and newsagents.

No doubt the usual suspects will be complaining to us about it, or making cowardly remarks on other websites, which are always happy to print any snide remarks about Neil, Jon or the CFZ.

We say, good on ya Neil. You are a sound bloke, and a great researcher, and we are proud to be associated with you.

LIZ CLANCY: Fascinating blog

This is just a short one to advertise a wonderful blog I have disovered on the Nature Blogs network. For any of you who haven't yet come across it, Ugly Overload gives 'ugly animals their day in the sun.' I have to say, though, that some of the animals are far from ugly. The post from October 15th is particularly cute...if you want to know more visit the following address:

http://uglyoverload.blogspot.com/

Watch out for the demonic gecko in the most recent one; I think he might be called Leonard....

OLL LEWIS: Yesterday’s News Today




http://cryptozoologynews.blogspot.com/

Friday Fact time:

It has been rumoured by patriotic Britons that Charles Hawtrey was not sacked from the Carry-On films after being squiffy on the set of Carry On Abroad as historian Simon Schama claims. Rather, they insist, he lies asleep in a hidden cave in the Brecon Beacons with many of his fellow Carry On stars, ready to awaken and spout forth innuendo on film at a time when Britain needs them. One account recorded in folklore concerns a young man who found the cave and was greeted by a man wearing a golden suit. The man in the golden suit said that the young man could take anything from the great horde of ornate brass bedsteads from the cave so long as he did not knock over the golden pear sat on a plinth in the centre of the cave… It doesn’t take much to guess what happened next considering the cave was filled with Carry On cast members does it?

Anyway, it’s time for the news:

Tiny dinosaur species identified

Primate fossil 'not an ancestor'

Magpies hold funerals for fallen feathered friends...

Richard Dawkins on Darwin's universal impact

Giant seagull appears behind Nine newsreader Peter Hitchener

So which hen lays the golden eggs?

No pun today, for in its place is one of the funniest videos I’ve ever seen on Youtube. Thanks to Dr Naish for first bringing this to my attention:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yL_-1d9OSdk

I’m sure you’ll agree it is much better than any ‘poultry’ pun I could come up with.