Sunday, December 20, 2009
I came across an old-looking print-out of a series of email messages between Ben Roesch and someone who just appears to be called `dwn194`. I have a vague memory that Dr. Darren Naish passed on these details to me but I`m not absolutely sure. So could dwn194 be Darren?Probably!
The first email is dated November 16th 1995:
'This interesting cryptozoological report comes from Touching the Moon, by John Preston, pp. 35. the book is about Preston`s interest in travelling to the Mountains of the Moons in Uganda, Africa, and his fulfilment of his dream. I thought some of you would be interested in hearing this:
'In 1896 one S. Begge climbed up to a height of 9,000 feet. His servant climbed higher and came back with reports of finding a small lake on the shores of which were a number of black birds the size of sheep. When he tried to get close to them, they bellowed at him like bulls and he ran away. Far from thinking his servant was mad, or effected with altitude sickness, Begge was only sad that he had not seen the black birds himself.'
'First, I might remark that the area of the Mountains of the Moons is the home to plant species that have grown to remarkably large hights and size. Groundseld grow to 20 feet in hight and heather “mighty as trees” (in the words of botanist Patrick Millington, who went there in 1934). The area is covered with mists and giant forests of plants that are normally small in the western world. It sounds like a perfect cryptozoologist`s (or zoologist or botanist) playground. Who knows what may lie here?
'I must say that a very thorough search of these mountains were performed in 1906 by an explorer named Duke of Abruzzi. He found no evidence of these “black birds” but I don`t know of his other zoological and botanical discoveries he may of made. (1)
1.E-mail from Ben Roesch to dwn194 November 16th 1995.
Talking Heads Life During Wartime
Heard of a van that is loaded with weapons
Packed up and ready to go
Heard of some gravesites,out by the highway
A place where nobody knows
George Bishop, crop circle expert and one-time stalwart of the Weird Weekend, used to be an electrician in Plymouth. Once, in the 1970s, he was called out to a house in an ordinary-looking street in the city.
In the front room he was talking to the woman who lived in the house when he saw what he thought was a table move. The table was in fact the flat head of a tiny person. George said the figure was dressed in a flat cap and brown suit and moved in a stiff limbed fashion like a toy solider. He had a tiny face beneath a broad flat cranium that, in the cap, looked like a round table top. Apparently he was never let out of the house. George did not enquire too much about the strange little person.
The girlfriend of a former friend of mine once told me that one of her past boyfriends (a gofffb story?) that he had been visiting a small, remote village in northern Cornwall one evening when he saw what looked like a werewolf. The man who was dressed in a flat cap (again!) and normal-looking clothes had skin covered with hair and a jaw that jutted outwards, and was furnished with fangs. All in all he looked like the werewolf from the film The Werewolf of London based on Guy Endore’s short story The Werewolf of Paris. A man who was with the ‘werewolf’ explained that he was the man’s brother. He had been born that way and had lived in the village all his life. Locals knew him but he tried to avoid strangers so as not to scare them. He only came out when few people were around - usually at night.
It makes you wonder how many more poor souls are out there, living in isolation, away from the prying eyes of humanity.
So, Dr Karl Shuker, here are your 5 Questions on… Cryptozoology:
1) How did you first become interested in cryptozoology?
When I was given a copy of Dr Bernard Heuvelmans's On the Track of Unknown Animals as a present when I was about 12-14 years old. I'd always been interested in unusual and mythological animals, but after reading this book I was totally hooked!
2) Have you ever personally seen a cryptid or secondary evidence of a cryptid, if so can you please describe your encounter?
In 2006 I visited the island bird sanctuary of Tiritiri Matangi off Auckland, New Zealand, home to many endangered bird species, including the famous takahe, once believed extinct but rediscovered 50 years later, and which I was fortunate enough to see. Moreover, I also saw two large quails, which at the time I simply assumed were bigger-than-usual Australian quails, which had been introduced to New Zealand as its own bigger native quail had become extinct in the 19th Century. However, months later I was stunned to learn that scientists were planning to investigate the quails on Tiritiri as they suspected that these unusually large birds may actually be surviving specimens of the supposedly long-extinct New Zealand quail! So I might well have seen a species currently classed as extinct!
3) Which cryptids do you think are the most likely to be scientifically discovered and described some day, and why?
I think that the orang pendek and the thylacine are among the likeliest, because of the remarkable evidence collected by Adam Davies, the CFZ and others for the orang pendek indicating that it is a species separate from all known species to date, and because of the many excellent, reliable sightings of thylacine-like beasts made over the years, even by game wardens.
4) Which cryptids do you think are the least likely to exist?
I am not happy with some of the categories of sea serpent formulated by Heuvelmans, such as the many-finned sea serpent being an armoured archaeocete and the long-neck being a tail-less giant seal.
5) If you had to pick your favourite cryptozoological book (not including books you may have written yourself) what would you choose?
It would have to be the book that started it all for me - Dr Bernard Heuvelmans's On the Track of Unknown Animals, which I've read countless times but still enjoy as much as ever.
I have written up this story because I think the people concerned are telling the truth, but you never know.
An interesting story has came to my attention about a possible Mothman/Owlman-type sighting that warranted closer inspection. I don't know what to make of it, but this is what I have learnt so far.
I have had to change the names of the people concerned for reasons I will explain later.
On the outskirts of Seaham on the northeast coast of England there is a pub called the Pemberton Arms, known to everybody as the `White House` because for as long as anyone can remember, it has been... wait for it... painted white.
A married couple in their early 40s (Phil and Kate, I'll call them) had gone there on Saturday evening (10th of October) to watch a live band.
Now, I don't if the band they had wanted to see had not turned up or what, but they had decided to leave early (Just after 10pm, they tell me) and because it was unusually warm for that time of year, walk back into town for a few jars to finish off the night.
They left the pub, turned right and walked down the lane that would lead them to the well-lit main road into town.
As they got to the end of the lane something caught their eye in the field next to the fence. At first they thought it was a Shire horse because of its size but it was definitely not a Shire horse. Phil and Kate both told me that it was man-shaped, at least 7 feet tall, jet black with piercing red eyes, and it just stood there, motionless.
Phil and Kate looked at it in disbelief for about 15 seconds, then it let out a scream like a fox before “disappearing straight down like it had fell down a well or trap door!”
That did it! Phil and Kate then ran like Hell onto the main road until they stopped near the recently built water treatment plant, exhausted and out of breath. Phil tried to phone a taxi but found his mobile phone was dead, although it was working fine back at the pub. So half running, half walking, constantly looking about them, they got back home, terrified out of their wits, unable to understand what they had just witnessed.
Three weeks later, when they felt able to, they wanted to talk to me.
I have known this couple for about 20 years and I don't think it is a hoax. They are very upset that this has happened to them and did not want to talk about it to anyone for fear of ridicule. They are angry and confused, “Why us?” They said. They want to put it all behind them. They only came to me because they remember me talking a few years back about my visit to Loch Morar in Scotland to look into sightings of a creature there and so thought I may be able to help them. But apart from recommending they read Alien Animals and me assuring them they are not alone in witnessing strange beings, I could offer little help. What can you say to somebody who has witnessed the unexplainable?
Now things get weirder!
The name of the place where this thing was seen is Cold Hesledon.
As soon as I made the Cold connection to Indrid Cold, Mothman and Point Pleasant, a lot of other things that John Keel had written about in The Moth Man Prophecies started falling into place.
I re-read his book and discovered that according to John Keel, phenomena like this is attracted to certain things.
- He mentioned power lines - there is a sub station approx 50 feet from the sighting
- He mentioned military bases - there is a old R.A.F radar and underground bunker approx 200 feet away
- He mentioned ley lines and the name Cold cropping up in ancient settlements - (this is the icing on the cake for me) it just so happens that the original Cold Hesledon was an medieval village, long deserted!
So there you have it: food for thought!
If our Tall Dark Friend turns up again I'll let you know.
On this day in 1968 the Zodiac Killer claimed his first known victims: Betty Lou Jenson and David Arthur Faraday. The killer is thought to be responsible for the deaths of at least five people and the wounding of a further two people. Zodiac himself claimed responsibility for 37 murders, and was never caught.
Now for the news:
Two-legged dog Faith learns to walk
This time they can call it puppy love...
Alladale Estate applies for zoo licence
Bird snags talon on escalator
Lucky they got it released fast; that situation could have ‘escalated’ quickly.