WELCOME TO THE CFZ BLOG NETWORK: COME AND JOIN THE FUN

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...

Search This Blog

SIGN UP FOR OUR MONTHLY NEWSLETTER

Monday, December 07, 2009

WEIRD SCENES INSIDE THE GOLDMINE

Just in case some keen-eyed fellow or lass notices the time that today's blogs were posted, yes it is way before dawn. I had been asleep for much of the day, and now my sleep patterns are out of kilter, and so - despite giving stern warnings to two young ladies of this parish not to do this - I have gone completely against my own advice and come downstairs to do the blog, and to play a pointless computer game.

It has been a weird few weeks with daily visits to Marjorie's deathbed. Although I have visited deathbeds before when I was a nurse, and more recently when friends and loved ones have been dying, this is only the second time that I have been to a deathbed on a regular basis and been so emotionally involved in the process of dying. My father, three years ago, was of course the first.

I have seen someone die twice: an old lady when I was a nurse, and my father, and both times I held their hands as they passed on. I wasn't there when Marjorie died, but I was there less than twelve hours before the end of her life, and that was close enough.

Death is a great unmentionable in our society, and the subject is generally taboo. Indeed we punt our old people into `old people's homes` and away from the rest of us, and we usually make them die in hospitals. I was immensely impressed by the way that Kaye and Roy and Lorraine had Marjorie in Kaye's home for the last few weeks, and by the way the three boys came in and out of the room where Marjorie lay, and told her about their day. Lorraine's dog Hattie bumbled in and out, behaving in an utterly doggy manner, and the family continued their day-to-day activities with Marjorie in their midst as she always had been.

This is how it should be and usually isn't.

For those of you who wish to attend, the funeral will be next Monday at 2:00pm. It will be held at Woolsery Parish Church where Marjorie worshipped all her life. I urge as many CFZ members as possible to come and say goodbye. The world, and particularly the CFZ, will be a poorer place without her.

DALE DRINNON: On the Identity of East Asian And North American Giant Manlike Apes

On the Identity of East Asian And North American Giant Manlike Apes As Represented in Traditional Art and On the Identity of Both with Gigantopithecus sp.


During the 1980s I was a student assistant for the Anthropology departments at both IU-Bloomington and at IUPUI and I did artwork for both of them. One of the things I did was a speculative reconstruction for Gigantopithecus (Scan included here), which was in general agreement with the version that Grover Krantz came up with subsequently.



At the time it was still a widely held viewpoint that the Miocene apes had descended from small monkey-like ancestors that ran around on all fours much like large macaque monkeys (Proconsuls were supposed to fall in this category) but that many of the intermediate ones were bipeds like today's lesser apes like the gibbons and siamangs. The Miocene apes Oreopithecus and 'Ramapithecus' were generally thought to be bipeds. Using skeletal material from those early apes I made an allowance for larger body size and came up with this reconstruction. It is mostly speculative, of course. However, the point had been made and was then widely circulated that the ancestors of the modern apes were probably bipeds like today's lesser apes, and that the quadrupedal stance of modern apes was a secondary adaptation. Indeed, gorillas and chimps are knuckle-walkers while orangutans place the hand differently on the ground, indicating that the quadrupedal stance was separately evolved along different paths (a source for this is the popular book The Red Ape).

During the 1980s also, it was becoming clearer how Gigantopithecus fit in with the other fossil apes. It was not a part of the more primitive Dryopithecines but of the more advanced Sivapithecines (which also included 'Ramapithecus'). This could be told because the enamel on their teeth was much thicker (and hence more human-like: thinner-enamelled chimps and gorillas must be degenerated in that respect). So that there was nothing basically wrong with the idea that Gigantopithecus was a biped or would tend to evolve in that direction: the other early apes were already inclined to be bipeds (more recent fossil finds are tending to confirm this)
In this case, my Gigantopithecus reconstruction struck me as reminiscent of a Mexican precolumbian figurine of Xolotl, which seems to have an ape's head and massive torso on short legs but human feet. The statuette also has other human-like features: the arms are long and most especially the teeth include fangs.






John Green once said that the Sasquatch could be compared to a gorilla's torso, and arms and legs long enough to be comparable to a human being's. I include also a mock-up showing that idea by way of a comparison.

The ape-like face, with its strong browridge and cheekbones framing very round eyes, is also reminiscent of an illustration from Ivan T. Sanderson's Abominable Snowmen: Legend Come to Life, toward the back part of the book and showing a mask from Inner Mongolia.






This mask has a decidedly ape-like head and jaw, but it also had to be worn as a mask and so the cranium had to be fitted to a human head for the wearer. If the original had an ape-like top to the head, that part would cancel it out. But in this case it is the jaw that is of primary interest.

Both the Mexican Xolotl and the Mongolian mask have the same stylisation of the fangs, which is rather odd in itself. The fangs come in a set from the upper jaw and a set from the lower jaw. In this case, after subtracting the mistaken double-fangs, the depiction of the mandible resembles Gigantopithecus, especialy in the appearance of the teeth. Given the size of the mask and how large the lower jaw is on the mask, that might even be a pretty good size-match for a Gigantopithecus jaw in absolute size.










(A and B, Krantz's reconstruction compared to the Mongolian Mask. C and D., the jaw from the mask reconstructed and compared to the jaw of Gigantopithecus)

Similar masks are found in Tibet and they have been associated with the (larger-sized form of the) Abominable Snowman. On the North American side, fewer of the masks are skeletal but many are ape-like, and they are supposed to represent creatures called Sasquatch in English. There is a historical precedent to these ape-like representations: my IU-Bloomington North American Archaeology text included an illustration of one of the 'Stone monkey heads' found in the northwest Coast region in a datable context: this one was 500 BC (scan also included). It might not be the most monkey-like ones of the series but at least it is dateable.



These various depictions tend to reinforce one another, making allowances for the differences in style. They occur over a wide area, geographically, and over a long span of time, historically.

As far as direct evidence goes, a letter in Ivan Sanderson's files mentioned a hunter in southeast Asia that took a tooth out of what he called a Kung-Lu that he had shot. They described dimension of the tooth match Gigantopithecus. Spanish conquistadores also reported giant human teeth that also match the exact size and weight of Gigantopithecus teeth in both Mexico and Peru (these were about the same size as horse's teeth but are unlike them in shape: a horse's molar has a long cylindrical continuously-growing root and a lophodont chewing surface: these were described as bunodont with normal human tooth roots. Examples are quoted on some Creationist blog sites. There are also the old illustrations of these but unfortunately with no indication of scale). What is more, the same teeth are still being reported as in the mouths of large ape-like creatures in South America. Eberhart has an entry about them under Dientiendo, Big Tooth.


Gigantopithecus fossils


Krantz has been criticised as being presumptive and unscientific for saying that the shape of the jaw in Gigantopithecus indicated an upright stance. They say there is no evidence in absence of the body. It is well to remember that this was also the case in the Australopithecines when fossils of only the head and jaws were available: the shape of the jaws suggested an upright stance for the same reason. And eventually the fossils representing the vertebrae, pelvis and legs were found, all proving that it had indeed been so all along.


On the other hand, the old drawings with Gigantopithecus standing on all fours like an immense gorilla are definitely a fantasy with nothing to suggest that. At the time, none of the apes were going on all fours, knuckle-walking like that, and there is every reason to think that even if the Gigantopithecus WAS a quadruped, it would never be a knuckle-walker in the same way as a gorilla knuckle-walks, nor yet would its limb proportions be like the big gorilla Gigantopithecus reppresentations.



Patty Unretouched, Do not pay any attention to Retouched ones!

ROBERT SCHNECK: Why Coyotes will never go extinct

Biggles, by the way, is monumentally impressed by this story.

Meet the wiliest of all coyotes: hit by a car at 75mph, embedded in the fender, rode for 600 miles - and SURVIVED!

When a brother and sister struck a coyote at 75mph they assumed they had killed the animal and drove on. They didn't realise this was the toughest creature ever to survive a hit-and-run. Eight hours, two fuel stops, and 600 miles later they found the wild animal embedded in their front fender - and very much alive.

Daniel and Tevyn East were driving at night along Interstate 80 near the Nevada-Utah border when they noticed a pack of coyotes near the roadside on October 12th. When one of the animals ran in front of the car, the impact sounded fatal so the siblings thought there no point in stopping. "Right off the bat, we knew it was bad," Daniel explained. "We thought the story was over."

After the incident around 1am, they continued their 600-mile drive to North San Juan - even stopping for fuel at least twice. But it was only when they finally reached their destination at 9am that they took time to examine what damage they may have sustained. At first it looked as though it was going to be quite gruesome. "[Daniel] saw fur and the body inside the grill," Tevyn East said. "I was trying to keep some distance. Our assumption was it was part of the coyote - it didn't register it was the whole animal."

Daniel East got a broom to try and pry the remains out of the bumper and got the shock of his life. "It flinched," Tevyn East said. "It was a huge surprise - he got a little freaked out."

"We knew it was bad." Tevyn East, who was in the car when it hit the coyote, bent down to take a look at the fur poking through the fender.


Fur Pete's sake: What Mr. East spotted as he bent down to inspect the damage to his car - the body of the coyote poking out through the radiator
Wily coyote: The animal's head can be seen as rescuers took apart the front fender to save it after it was struck by the car at 75mph

Miracle escape: As the animal struggled, wildlife protection officials put a loop around its neck to prevent it from further injuring itself


The front of the car is completely taken apart as the coyote begins to wriggle free



And voila! Tricky, the toughest coyote ever, rests in a cage after its ordeal - which it survived with just some scrapes to its paw

LINDSAY SELBY: Mermaids on the Isle of Man

There are quite a few tales of mermaids from the Isle of Man, but as it is surrounded by sea it is logical that stories about sea creatures would abound. Here is one from 1891:

'The Folk-Lore of the Isle of Man by A. W. Moore 1891

Waldron was surprised to find that the Manx actually believed in mermaids, and he gave several stories that they told him about them, as follows:--"During the time that Oliver Cromwell usurped the Government of England, few ships resorted to this Island, and that uninterruption and solitude of the sea gave the mermen and mermaids (who are enemies to any company but those of their own species) frequent opportunities of visiting the shore, where, in moonlight nights, they have been seen. to sit, combing their heads and playing with each other; but as soon as they perceived anybody coming near them, jumped into the water, and were out of sight immediately.


'Some people, who lived near the coast, having observed their behaviour, spread large nets made of small but very strong cords upon the ground, and watched at a convenient distance for their approach. The night they had laid this snare but one happened to come, who was no sooner sat down than those who held the strings of the net drew them with a sudden jerk, and enclosed their prize beyond all possibility of escaping. On opening the net, and examining their captive, by the largeness of her breasts and the beauty of her complexion, it was found to be a female. Nothing could be more lovely, more exactly formed in all parts above the waist, resembling a complete young woman, but below that all fish with fins and a huge spreading tail. She was carried to a house, and used very tenderly, nothing but liberty being denied. But though they set before her the best provision the place afforded, she would not be prevailed on to eat or drink, neither could they get a word from her, tho’ they knew these creatures were not without the gift of speech, having heard them talk to each other, when sitting regaling themselves on the seaside.'

They kept her in this manner three days, but perceiving she began to look very ill with fasting, and fearing some calamity would befall the Island if they should keep her till she died, they agreed to let her return to the element she liked best, and the third night set open their door, which, as soon as she beheld, she raised herself from the place where she was then lying, and glided, with incredible swiftness, on her tail to the seaside. They followed at a distance, and saw her plunge into the water, where she was met by a great number of her own species, one of whom asked what she had observed among the people of the earth,--"Nothing very wonderful," answered she, "but that they are so very ignorant as to throw away the water they have boiled eggs in."

Source where you can read it online for free:
http://www.sacred-texts.com/neu/celt/fim/fim07.htm

MUIRHEAD`S MYSTERIES: PINK UNKNOWNS IN AMERICA

Dear folks, it`s time for Muirhead`s Mysteries.

Today`s edition is entirely devoted to pink unknowns in the U.S. and it is largely down to Mark A. Hall and Anon that we have this information. 'There seems to exist on the North American continent an as-of-yet unidentified species of gigantic amphibian. The amphibian seems to closely resemble the mudpuppy (Necturus maculosus.) The mudpuppy is closely related to two species of salamander native to Asia, the giant salamanders Megalobatrachus davidianus of China and M.japonicus, native to the islands of Japan' (1).

Hall succinctly summarises the above-mentioned phenomena of pink creatures [although the anonymous author of the above article on The CryptoWeb does not mention them being pink he/she clearly is refering to the pink cryptids of Scippo Creek, Ohio] thus: 'Western culture inhibits the discussion of anything that is both strange and pink. Other cultures will be puzzled by our reluctance if not out-and-out incapacity to come to grips with such simple topics. The stumbling block is the familiar allusion to the distorted faculties caused by overindulgence in alchoholic spirits. One who over-drinks is considered inclined to see “pink elephants”. By association the report of anything pink and out-of-the ordinary is cause for suspicion and is easily ridiculed. Nature has no respect for our biases. There are unknown animals that are pink and we are going to look at some of the reports here.

'In my book Natural Mysteries I discussed the Giant Pink Lizards of Ohio, which appeared to be the larval stage of a giant salamander still unrecognized by establishment scientists. Two centuries ago they were common in the area of Scippo Creek.'
(2) The appearance of pink in that case appeared to stem from the albinism of the larval stage.

Anonymous writes: 'Early 1800s: Scippo Creek,Ohio. The first report of what may be a giant mudpuppy comes from Scippo Creek in Ohio 9 a tributary of the Scipio River). In the early 1800s, settlers there saw a number of animals, measuring between 6 and 7 feet in length, that were pink in color. These pink water-dwelling lizards had moose-like horns [hardly candidates for salamanders then?} Sometime around 1820, a drought struck the area, drying up numerous streams and creating brush fires which destroyed the local ecology even further. It is generally believed that the animals, whatever they were, were wipped out in these two disasters.' (3)

In 1928 Herbert R. Sass and his wife Marion were boating on Goose Creek near Charleston. 'He was on the bow of the boat when they observed a shape moving below the surface of the water. As the boat passed over it Sass extended his oar and managed to lift part of it from the water…..It was a bright salmon pink and orange colour.' (4)

In 1968 the American cryptozoologist Ivan T. Sanderson wrote an article in Argosy in which he mentions '…how he received a letter from a young woman named Mary Lou Richardson, who said that while hunting with her father she had seen some sort of pinking animal. The creature had a flattened head and a small neck.' (5)

Moving on to 1972: this time Ivan Sanderson himself and his 2nd wife Sabina, saw an unknown pinkish critter in a pond on their land: 'They waded into the pond with a blanket extended between them, set on removing some of the offending growth. Suddenly the blanket parted, torn in half, and something alive showed itself for an instant above the water. What they saw was two feet of something pinkish-orange. It was large and worm-like' (6)

Finally: 'Perhaps there is a pink unknown to account for the report from Vermont. Writing in his newspaper column “Fishy Tales” in the Rutland Herald, Charlie Spencer makes reference to a report of a “pink crocodile” in his state. It had been glimpsed in the Tinmouth Channel, which is the name given to the headwaters of the Clarendon River in east-central Vermont' (7)

'Certain peculiarities of the animals in question tally more readily with a mudpuppy explanation, for example the prominent horns of the Scippo Creek animals. In warm, slow moving or stagnant water, the gills of the mudpuppy expand and become much more noticeable. In addition, the largest mudpuppies have been recorded from the southern United States, specifically North and South Carolina - the same general area which has given us several reports of these creatures. The possibility of the existence of such large mudpuppies is an enticing one, although in my opinion, these giant salamanders will probably turn out to be extremely large specimens of N. maculosus, rather than a completely new species.' (8)

1. Anon Giant mudpupies? http://fortunecity.com/roswell/siren/552/noram_mudpuppy.html [accessed Dec 4th 2009]
2. M.A.Hall Sobering Sights of Pink Unknowns. Wonders Dec.1992 p.60 Anon.Giant mudpuppies ?op cit.p.1
3. M..A.Hall Sobering sights op cit p.62
4. Anon.Giant mudpuppies?. op cit p.1
5. M.A.Hall. Sobering sights… op cit p.63
6. M.A.Hall op cit p.64
7. K.P.N.Shuker (? Unclear from text who author is) In Search of Prehistoric Survivors, (1995) in Anon. Giant Mudpuppies?


Led Zeppelin Stairway to Heaven



There`s a lady who`s sure
All that glitters is gold
And she`s buying a stairway to heaven
When she gets there she knows
If the stores are all closed
With a word she can get what she came for..


Until we meet again…good bye!



TIM ADDIS: The Charity Fish Auction, yesterday in Redditch

I am still most disappointed that we weren't able to attend, and Tim's account of the proceedings makes me even more so....

After a really hectic day at the auction I can give some preliminary results. More will follow on the website as usual with a more in-depth look & photos. Could I ask those taking photos to send me some to include on the web page?

As predicted, it was a monster auction surpassing attendance figures & donations. We had around 120 people attending, which was up about 40 on last December. The auction generated a total of £755.74, which was paid into the club today. A scan of the receipt will be put on the web page. This is a record donation since the auctions started.

The kitchen was kept exceptionally busy & at one stage had 40 orders to cook for.

I would like to thank everyone for attending & spending money on fish in the auction. Also thanks to the small army of volunteers who willingly help out each year. This year we had some new faces on the team & I have to say things ran really smoothly.

The beefs I heard about were mainly from people blocking the view of the stage. It's difficult to fit so many people into the room & not have some gripes but I have taken them onboard & next auction we will have a new viewing rack built, which will be sheeted over during auctions to prevent folks viewing lots & getting in the way. This also benefits the fish by keeping them shaded from light & outside disturbance. This is something the fish & audience will appreciate.

So keep telling us where we can improve things. We do listen & try to resolve problem areas. For instance, no gripes on fish not being put on the rack from particular boxes. Now great pains are taken to select fish from every box. This area of work is not fully appreciated & Linda & Dave do a great job every auction.

Next auction is June 6th (D-Day) so it should be easy to remember. We have already booked the marquee for the event with the club now own so this is definately going to be on. This area will be used for cichlids & run by the BCA's new management. The idea is that they run this area & donate 10% as we do now from the auction in this area. This will be added to the main charity donation kitty.

Early days yet but it looks like we can organise a barbeque for this event.

OLL LEWIS: Yesterday’s News Today

http://cryptozoologynews.blogspot.com/

Now, did anything vaguely Fortean happen on this day in history? It certainly did! If I was to ask you what the most well-known cryptid in the world is I’d be willing to put good money on most of you saying the Loch Ness Monster. According to most of the books written on Nessie, the first person to see the beastie was St Columba, who was born on this day in the year 521AD. However, leaving aside points such as he saw his creature in the River Ness, not in the loch itself and that according to some interpretations the ‘monster’ was nothing more than a truculent local shaman; he wasn’t actually the first to see it as the account of his encounter with the monster starts with a group of Picts burying one of the monster's previous victims.

And now the part that everyone skips forward to without reading my intro: the latest Fortean zoology news headlines from the CFZ Daily News Blog:

Is West Virginia part of Bigfoot’s migration route?
No time for monkeying around – 350’s the limit
Mice holding back muscular dystrophy research
Poisonous Poisson
Rare chance to meet a kaka chick
Researchers create first transgenic prairie voles
Scent signals stop incest in lemurs
Ancient site reveals signs of mass cannibalism
Up in arms over kangaroo, emu "Coat of Arms" chips

The Australian Advertising Standards Bureau didn’t act when the ‘chips’ were down.