Friday, November 27, 2009
MUIRHEAD`S MYSTERIES: EARLY CHINESE KNOWLEDGE OF THE KTING VOAR, A RECENTLY DISCOVERED BOVID FROM CAMBODIA
Kting Voar is the animal`s Cambodian name. This was erroeneously translated in the West as `jungle sheep`, leading to a mistaken assumption that the animal was related to sheep and goats. In fact the name means `liana-horned gaur`(a gaur is a species of wild Asian cow).
Adding to the confusion, the Vietnamese name linh duong, meaning`antelope` or `gnu`, was once reported to refer to this animal. However, this is in fact a local name for the Mainland Serow.
Other Kampuchean names possibly include kting sipuoh (`snake-eating cattle`) and khting pos.
“For Western scientists, the first evidence supporting existence was a set of horns found by biologist Wolfgang Peter in a Ho Chi Minc City market. ( W. P. Peter and A. Feller. Horns of an unknown bovid species from Vietnam (Mammalia: Ruminantia ) Faun. Abh. MusTierkd. Dresden 19,247-253.)…All supposed Kting Voar specimens that were subject to Dna analysis to date have turned out to be articially shaped Kting Voar specimens that were subject to DNA analysis to date have turned out to be artificially shaped cattle horns…The most likely explanation, given the DNA results and the unusual spotted fur (which is well known in domesticated, but unknown in wild cattle), seem to be that modern specimens at least are cattle horns shaped by a complicated technique in order to serve as anti-snake talismans…There is also an earlier report of British tiger-hunters in the first part of the 20th century, who observed Kting Voar and shot two as tiger bait… The existence of the Kting Voar is far more likely than that of other cryptids. IUCN Red List of threatened species lists it as endangered, stating “The existence and systematic position of Pseudonovibos spiralis is currently being debated. There are undoubtedly manufactured trophies (“fakes”) in circulation, but the precautionary principle requires us to assume that the species did exist and may still exist.” (1)
In the abstract to their paper `Chinese sources suggest early knowledge of the `unknown` ungulate (Pseudonovibos spiralis) from Vietnam and Cambodia`, Alastair A. Macdonald and Lixin N.Yang stated `A survey of historical Chinese encyclopaedias, compilations and textbooks from the Ming and early Qing dynasties (14th to 18th centuries ) was carried out for information that might fit an animal from Vietnam and Cambodia which is known only from its distinctive horns. These horns have a raised, rib-like pattern of rings round much of their length, and a backward curl of the horn`s tip. One illustrated text found in the San Cai Tu Hui, a compilation of knowledge by Wang Chi and his son Wang Si Yi (1607), seems to bear a close resemblance to the information which has recently been gathered during field trips in Cambodia and Vietnam`. The authors conclude that additional information on endemic animals in the region may be found in the writings of that part of the world….
Results. Illustrations and brief descriptions of goat-like animals were found in many of the books and manuscripts consulted. Most of them clearly referred to species present in northern China and Mongolia. However, one illustrated text found in the San Cai Tu Hui (Wang Chi & Wang Si Yi,1607) seemed to bear a closer resemblance to the information which has been gathered in Cambodia and Vietnam. (2)
I hope Jon and I will be able to use these old Chinese encyclopaedias for our future book The Mystery Animals of Hong Kong, which we hope to start writing in a few years.
1. Wikipedia. Kting Voar. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kting_Voar [accessed November 26th 2009]
2. A.A.Macdonald and L.N.Yang. Chinese sources suggest early knowledge of the `unknown` ungulate (Pseudonovibos spiralis) from Vietnam and Cambodia Journal of Zoology (1997) 241 pp 523-524.
Muirhead`s Mysteries will be taking a short break until next Tuesday due to a hectic schedule.
Thanks to Darren Naish who provided me with the document on early Chinese knowledge of the Cambodian-Vietnamese ungulate
Bob-Dylan I Dreamed I Saw Saint Augustine
I dreamed I saw Saint Augustine
Alive as you or me
Tearing through these quarters
In the utmost misery
With a blanket underneath his arm
And a coat of solid gold
Searching for the very souls
Whom already had been sold
From You Tube: 'Filmed in the Penryn River, a pair of dividing birds, what are they?' For 'DIVIDING' presumably read 'DIVING', but the question still stands.
By the way, Tony S. once told me that Penryn was known as `Shagtown` because of all the cormorants that live there. Has anyone else heard this?
Host: George Noory
Guests: Neil Arnold
Folklore researcher Neil Arnold will discuss his study of a surreal safari of monsters including winged humanoids, sky serpents, paranormal 'manimals,' hellhounds, and other creatures.
On this day in history the first Eddystone Lighthouse was destroyed by the great storm of 1703 and Harvey Milk was assassinated in 1978.
Now for the cryptozoology news:
Humpback Horror: Camel Chaos In Oz
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Baby gibbon gets surrogate mother
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I want to be a ham-star
They’re really hamming it up for the cameras.