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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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Thursday, December 24, 2009

A HAPPY CHRISTMAS TO YOU ALL




DALE DRINNON: Pugnoses Part 2: On the Ice


There have been many commentators on the 'Iceman' body examined and described by Ivan Sanderson and Bernard Heuvelmans. Most of the expressed opinions on the matter made by others are completely worthless.

There have been claims by certain persons that they have manufactured the model body that was used in the Iceman exhibit. These are false claims. Ordinarily the claimants will identify features that the body examined by Sanderson and Heuvelmans did NOT have, and in fact the claims usually cite features of the second iceman exhibit and that one definitely did not match the first one, most especially in the face. I have seen Heuvelmans's original photographs in Sanderson's files and I could see that the two icemen as exhibited did not match and could not both be the same model (as Napier alleges in his book Bigfoot) Furthermore, the head has a distinctly Neanderthaloid facial skeleton. An allegation made by the Balls states that the body they manufactured was based on a Cro-Magnon man: there is no way that they could have been looking at a Cro-Magnon body and put distinctively Neanderthal characteristics on it. If they knew enough to make such an accurate depiction, they would most certainly have known the difference.

Similarly, the facial skeleton is definitely NOT characteristic of Homo erectus: Neanderthal browridges were arched and erectus' browridges ran across the face in a straight horizontal line. The shape of the eye sockets alone tells the tale, and several prominent Cryptozoologists that have pronounced the body to belong to the species Homo erectus have merely demonstrated that they do not have enough technical knowledge to make the distinction.

One of these Cryptozoologists is Mark Hall. Mark Hall did in fact send me material on the so-called "Homo gardarensis" skull found in Greenland and dating from the Viking age.

It is also clearly a primitive hominid of very large size, and not a modern human with acromegaly as has been alleged.

This one skull pretty much clinches the matter entirely.




As far as the Iceman goes, I have read Heuvelmans's book on it, which has been written in French but never published in English. It is a very impressive and convincing book and I reproduce several tables and illustrations from it. Before I saw the copy Heuvelmans and I had exchanged letters on the subject, and he graciously sent me copies of articles about it: he also put me in touch with Loofs-Wissowa, and I communicated with the latter over the phone a few times. I had told Heuvelmans that even going by Sanderson's drawings, I could tell that he (Heuvelmans) had been correct in his identification but Sanderson himself had missed several telling signs. I also told him that what he called Homo pongiodes could not be considered either an unknown species nor an unknown animal, to which he quite readily agreed.

I had made up some transparencies for lectures back in the late 1980s and on them I had cut-out portions of Sanderson's Iceman drawing and Neanderthal fossil material. I include scans of those transparencies here. In the original, I could take the Iceman face or hand and lay the transparency over the corresponding Neanderthal part and the set would match up practically perfectly.

























The Neanderthal hand skeleton, which matches the Iceman's hand, is also close to the Pangboche hand. In Ivan Sanderson's book Abominable Snowmen: Legend come to life, he states that the bony structure of the Pangboche hand was identified as possibly Neanderthaloid by Ostman Hill and definitely o by Russian experts. That constitutes an exact scientific classification of identity by separate assessments. There are also other such hands reported in Central Asia, some of them retaining the hairy covering (red being stated in one such case). That too goes on to confirm the identity.
It is also pretty certain that the Central Asian Almas is anatomically close to Neanderthals. I include my comparisons for a Neanderthal (hairless body) reconstruction with a magazine illustration representing Caucasian sightings (that from Sanderson's files) and another comparing an old Neanderthal head restoration, with something of a pug nose also, to a reconstruction of the Almas (marked "A". the latter was compiled from several "Blobsquatxch" photos. The region of the back of the neck looks different but that would be because the live Almas had thick hair back there.























Any one of these things would be enough. Frankly, once you have the Gardar skull you do not need to say the Iceman was genuine. Once you have established that the Pangboch hand has a Neanderthaloid anatomy, you do not even need the Gardar skull.. And in fact once you have DNA samples from hairs that consistently fall into the Neanderthal genetic range, you do not need anything else.

I do not claim to have solved the mystery. All I am doing is pointing out that the mystery was already solved years ago.

And kindly allow me to repeat my earlier statement: it is a recognised school of thought that Neanderthals are only a subspecies of Homo sapiens. That does not have to be currently popular among theorists in order for the term Homo sapiens neanderhalensis to still be on the books and still be in use. Therefore if these creatures really are Neanderthals, it automatically follows that they are H. sapiens. And you cannot call your own species unknown. The default assumption in the case of all of these hairy Wildmen running around must be that they are all actually HUMAN.

[Note: There has been some insinuation that the Iceman could not have been a real body because human bodies would not be on display in a sideshow exhibit. That was an incorrect assumption: for example, the body of poor Julia Pastrana wound up as a sideshow exhibit, alongside her stuffed and mounted baby. It does sound like the reason the original body of the Iceman was swapped for a fabricated model is that the FBI was about to look into the matter, and evidently the real owner - whoever that might have been - had a strong disliking for being investigated by the FBI]

There are also such things as large human teeth ascribed to the Eastern Bigfoot that match the Neanderthaloid taurodont pattern, and other alleged remains ranging from hair samples that match each other and fall in the Neanderthal range up to whole alleged skeletons, as well as several purported examples.

THE CFZ ON CHRISTMAS EVE

It is cold, it is frosty, and although the sunshine in the middle of the day has made the snow melt to a certain extent, it re-freezes at night, and the garden, the paths, and even some of the lane outside, is covered in a glassy covering that is as slippery as, ummmmm, a very slippery thing.


Two CFZ Residents - Graham (aged 52) and Biggles (aged 18 months) - are taking advantage of this and are using the garden as an ersatz skating rink. Biggles in particular is very funny to watch. Last year he was taken aback by winter, but this year he is grokking it immensely,


When he was a small puppy I made the great mistake of buying him a present which consisted of a rope, upon which was threaded a number of hard, rubber applecores. Over the last year and a bit he has become proficient with what Richard describes as his `doggy nunchucks` and he can cause enormous amounts of damage with them as he whirls them around his head. Corinna banned them from the house when doggy was under six months old, and he keeps them in the garden.

The rope became sodden in the waters of the melting snow, and then froze solid, and so when Biggles went into the garden for his morning excercise he whirled them about like Hassan I Sabbha after a particularly savage bender. I wish I had a fraction of his energy. For that matter, I wish that I had a fraction of Graham's energy, but that is another story.

Graham is still on the track of unknown animals, by the way, because Maureen the rabbit is still on the loose.

Graham put her hutch out, with a convenient ramp leading up to it, and left some food in it. Amusingly, she obviously visited the hutch during the night because the food was gone, although Graham did see a large cock blackbird helping himself to the provender that had been so thoughtfully provided by a munificent CFZ.

So the battle of wills between Graham and Maureen the rabbit continues. Who will come out top? All bets are off. Watch this space....

RECORDS OF THE YEAR

As always, on Christmas Eve I look back over the best albums of the last twelve months. It has been a pretty dire year for music, with the music industry hamstrung by the twin onslaughts of changing technology and TV talent shows. However, there have still been some records as good as anything else that has been released in the last fifty four years since a young Elvis staggered out of Sun Studios with an acetate in his hand...

1. Embryonic by The Flaming Lips

A welcome change in direction for Wayne Coyne's mob. The last album was great fun but threatened that one of the best contemporary bands would become stuck in a stylistic rut. With this double album of experimental organic electronica they have proved otherwise

1= Slow Attack by Brett Anderson

For the third year running the one-time Suede frontman is top of my personal pops. This is a glorious return to orchestral form after the starker sounds of last year's album, but interestingly, it has a preponderance of woodwind rather than strings, which bring a welcome new texture to his music.

3. Dark Night of the Soul by Sparklehorse, Dangermouse et al

Roher Heywood up at the pub turned me on to this record, which sounds like an entire album of out-takes from A Tragical History Tour by The Rutles and you can't get better than that. Truly Dangermouse gets better and better.

4. Between my head and the sky by Yoko Ono/Plastic Ono Band

In 1974 I bought the first Yoko solo LP by mistake, thinking it was her husband's. I was entranced. That and Don't worry Kyoko are some of the greatest, most primal slices of avant-rock music ever. Now, at the age of 76, she has resurrected the Plastic Ono Band moniker and made a worthy follow up with some of the most intense and frightening music for many a year.

5. Horehound by The Dead Weather

Jack White continues to surprise. I was torn whether to put this album or Them Crooked Vultures - the OTHER blues rock supergroup of the year - but this one has an insanely manic version of Bob Dylan's New Pony so it pipped Dave Grohl and my old acquaintance John Paul Jones at the post.

6. Here's the Tender Coming by The Unthanks

Formerly known as Rachel Unthank and the Winterset, this is some of the most gloriously wintry roots music I have ever heard. Traditional Northumbrian folk for the 21st Century. Peerless.

7. Roadsinger by Yusuf Islam

This isn't as good as his 1970s output. It is not even as good as his 2005 comeback album. But in the Godawful world we live in it is good to know that we still have Cat Stevens no matter what he calls himself these days. A bloody smashing album!

8. Fever Ray by Fever Ray

I only discovered this a few days ago, but it is some of the most brutally elegant electronica I have heard in years, and it is the work of one woman who uses pitchshifters to completely torture her voice into submission. Well worth investigating

9. Long Live Pere Ubu by Pere Ubu

I have been a fan of David Thomas et al since Datapanik in Year Zero back in 1978. Finally he has released a musical version of the Alfred Jarry play from which he got the name.

10. Two Suns by Bat for Lashes

The album itself is OK. In fact, it is pretty good, but Natasha Khan deserves note for managing to get a guest vocal from Scott Walker on one track, and wait for it... She managed to get Scotty singing something with a tune for the first time in decades!

JAN EDWARDS: A Day in the life

In Weardale there are only two seasons: Winter and August. At least, that’s what we were told when we moved here 14 years ago. It’s sort-of true. Winter always comes in on the tail-end of the agricultural shows in early September, and by October we usually have zero temperatures and ice. We almost always have a white Christmas, and often it snows right through till May.

One year, not long ago, the snow plough got stuck in the snow banks. That year the drifts were 10-15-foot deep, so we were not surprised.

The sanctuary (and my home) is situated high in the hills of the high north Pennines, and when we get snow, we get Serious Snow. The household water supply is straight from the ground (not mains), and sometimes freezes below ground. When this happens, we have to light fires on the ground above the water pipes in the top field, and keep them burning for several hours. This warms the ground deep enough to thaw the ice in the pipes.

The only access to our home is via a very steep tractor-wide road, which doesn’t get gritted very often. The council provide piles of grit/salt for us to use on the road.

There are about a dozen piles of grit on the 2-mile stretch of road between here and the A689.

It took me almost 3 hours the other night, at minus 3C, to grit just the mile-long hillside where our home is. Someone else (some neighbour from 5 houses/ half a mile away), was gritting the other mile. It’s hard work, in the dark of a winter’s night, but you don’t feel the cold because you are sweating.

BUT...It is very dark. You get a good view of the night sky. The nearest street lights are 2 miles away on the main road, and dwellings are few and far between. Sounds travel a long way and echo and distort, so you are never sure what direction you heard it from.

There are tales of ghosts – I can tell a few tales myself of strange otherworldly happenings up here in the Northern hills - and there are other, not so weird, happenings. Big cats roam the countryside. I have personally witnessed 2, and other family and friends have seen others. And a few years ago stoats were hunting in packs. In the darkness of a midwinter’s night you just want to be home. But it is not all doom and gloom.... There are some good things about Weardale in winter, especially for the naturalist.

It’s easier to track animals for a start, and birds become tamer due to hunger. We had a pheasant eating nuts from a feeder yesterday, for example.

Having the woodland has presented a fantastic opportunity to watch wildlife. We put a hay-net up for the deer to try to take their minds off bark chewing. Time will tell if it’s going to work. In addition, we are filling the 12 woodland bird and squirrel feeders 2-3 times a week, to keep them well fed during these lean times. The wood looks like a scene from Narnia at the moment.

And the sanctuary animals? Well, they are coping all right. The hedgehogs are living it up in the parlour, on a diet of cat food and meal worms. The quail, pigeon and peacock are thriving. Ducks and chickens are thriving. Sheep, goats, cats, dogs and rabbits are full and satisfied. Everyone is happy, warm, healthy.

You learn to keep good supplies in for the bad weather. Including candles and matches, gas heaters, and bottled water in case of power cuts. You learn that the nearest petrol station is 10 miles away, and only open 9am-6pm Mon-Sat. The nearest supermarket is a full hour’s drive away. You learn to deal with stuff like recycling, and water supplies and sewage. You learn to plan. You learn to live.

We often have to drive when you can’t actually see the road for snow. You can usually see the 6-foot-tall snow-poles marking the sides of the road, and you know that to each side of these poles there is a wide, deep drainage ditch, so you have a good idea of where to drive.

This morning we had an emergency vet run. Our veterinary surgery lies 15 miles away across the border into Cumbria. I needed to get a cat (called Jade) to surgery for life-saving treatment. 6 miles from home we couldn’t see the road – total white-out. We COULD see the emergency ambulance that had stopped on the brow of a hill, and the driver running about in the snow taking photos of his vehicle and his buddy. No problem – just a photo opportunity. The world has gone mad, I tell you.

We managed to avoid skidding into the ambulance (it would have been MOST embarrassing, because they would have taken photos....) and got Jade to the vet. She was still alive, and we are hoping for good news.

Dropped the car off at the local garage for a service, and walked the 2 miles back home, snow crunching underfoot in the brilliant winter sunshine. 2 and a half hours later the animals here were all cleaned out, fed and watered. They complained a little, but it couldn’t be helped. Everyone is OK, and that’s what matters.

The postman got to us in his landrover at about 2pm. We have forgotten what morning deliveries are like....

Chickens, sheep, goat, pigeons, peacock, chucks and ducks were all dealt with by 3:00pm, and by 4pm it was dark. The dogs, cats, mice, rabbits etc are all indoors, so easier to deal with after dark.

Dealt with several emails and updated the website and the forum – and it’s still not quite 6pm. Just one more animal feed to go – for the cats with kittens and the animals who need medicines, then we do it all again tomorrow. Life is just one round of fun. But I wouldn’t live anywhere else, or do any other job. Being able to make a difference to the countless lives that come our way every week is fantastic!

http://www.farplace.co.uk/

OLL LEWIS: 5 Questions on... Cryptozoology - MAX BLAKE

In the hotseat today is Max Blake. Jonathan, Richard and I first met Max at Bugfest South West when he excitedly told us about the fact that he had just spent a king's ransom on beetles, and he has since gone on to become a valued member of the CFZ team.

So, Max Blake, here are your 5 questions on... cryptozoology.

1) How did you first become interested in cryptozoology?

I first became interested in the subject as part of my self-taught zoological knowledge grew. I think my first encounter with the subject, ignoring the common knowledge stuff like Bigfoot, the Yeti etc., must have been in a book I picked up in a book sale about the unknown. In it it detailed profiles of mainly zooform phenomena, but after reading it through, at the age of 6, alone and in the dark, I was so scared I could hardly sleep for weeks! As many will tell you, fear breeds interest, and over the years I got slowly more and more into the subject, until by the age of about 12 I just took it for granted that mainstream science was happy to accept the existence of such animals. Now however, I can see that my naivety in youth was very wrong, and I aim to change this during my time at university.

2) Have you ever personally seen a cryptid or secondary evidence of a cryptid, if so can you please describe your encounter?

I have been lucky enough to see evidence of 2 cryptids in my short time within the scene. The first was the various encounters with British big cats (not strictly cryptids, but close enough to make them exiting) that I have had in the last year, ranging from large artiodactyl kills, including sheep and deer, that I have come across in two locations, and the vocalisation I heard when approaching a small patch of dense shrubs and trees. This small area had had a big cat (black leopard) sighted 3 days before I heard the noise on the exact road I was walking down, and the day before I discovered a dead deer killed very recently, so recently that it’s leg twitched in a nerve spasm as I photographed it. It was very warm to the touch, but little flesh had been eaten away. That which had had been taken from the leg. When I came down the road before I saw the body, I must have scared the cat away from its kill with the noise from the quad bike I was driving. An hour later I noticed the body when I came past again. The next morning (about 0730-0800) I went down the same road on foot with my camera. When I walked near to the wooded area, 100 meters from the body of the deer, I heard a loud noise come up from the wood very close to me. It was a harsh, rasped “KhhhaaaH”, matching very closely with the warning noises I had heard leopards make on wildlife documentaries when they feel threatened. Needless to say, I backed away slowly and calmly. After 30 minutes, I left for a fish auction without seeing anything.

My other encounter happened this September when in South West Ireland, in Killarney. Along with Jon and Corinna Downes and Tony Sheils, I witnessed a completely calm lake, upon which nothing had broken the surface nor caused any form of ripple (other than the wind), transform for about 5 minutes into a highly active area. Many fish jumped from the water, large birds took off from the water, other birds were visible swimming under the surface, large animals in groups and alone were swimming in a number of areas on the lake, and odd white shapes were visible. After 5 minutes, the whole lake returned to being completely still. We stopped to watch to see if anything else occurred, but the lake appeared to be completely dead. Nothing except the wind caused any movement.

3) Which cryptids do you think are the most likely to be scientifically discovered and described some day, and why?

The Thylacine and Orang-pendek, are practically certain to exist, but there are a whole list of others which are less “charismatic megafauna” types. More beaked whales and other cryptocetacea almost certainly remain to be described, whilst animals like colossal and giant squid have yet to have their maximum sizes truly established; they certainly get larger than their current known maximum. Seeing as Humboldt squid, a smaller species, are usually between 4-5 feet, but 7+ footers are scientifically verified. This could potentially be extrapolated onto the giant and colossal squids, taking their largest sizes from 40 feet and 45 feet respectively, up to between 70-80 feet for both species, assuming that the specimens so far caught have been of normal size. The sheer bulk of an 80 foot long colossal squid (a rough estimate would give a weight of 2.6 tones, incredible for an invertebrate!) would certainly be a sight to behold. Beebe’s manta ray is a very interesting possible aberration, possible new species that certainly exists, but remains unstudied.

4) Which cryptids do you think are the least likely to exist?

All of the zooform critters don’t exist in a physical sense, but from the standard list of cryptids I would have to pick any of the surviving dinosaur, plesiosaur and pterosaur explanations given for various cryptids. These groups have laid unseen in the fossil record for 65 million years and as large animals, they fossilise comparatively well. Much better than the coelacanth which has much more fragile bones. Any remaining population of plesiosaurs, sauropods, or large pterosaurs would have left evidence in the fossil record, particularly if they were living in swamps which are known to provide excellent conditions for fossilisation.

5) If you had to pick your favourite cryptozoological book (not including books you may have written yourself) what would you choose?

Rumours of Existence and Shadows of Existence by Matthew A. Bille were the first two books to get me truly interested in the subject, but I would also have to cite Richard Freeman’s Dragons: More than a Myth?, Nicholas Witchell’s The Loch Ness Story, Bigfoot by John Napier and Dr. Karl Shuker’s Extraordinary Animals Revisited as big inspirations.

LINDSAY SELBY: A Cryptozoological Carol

To be sung to the tune of the 12 days of Christmas:

On the first day of Christmas I received in the post an owlman in a large tree
On the second day of Christmas I received in the post two thunderbirds
On the third day of Christmas I received in the post three almas
On the fourth day of Christmas I received in the post four ozark howlers
On the fifth day of Christmas I received in the post five gold ogopogos
On the sixth day of Christmas I received in the post six bunyips laying
On the seventh day of Christmas I received in the post seven Nessies swimming
On the eigth day of Christmas I received in the post eight chupacabras sucking
On the ninth day of Christmas I received in the post nine yetis dancing
On the tenth day of Christmas I received in the post ten spring heeled jacks leaping
On the eleventh day of Christmas I received in the post eleven black dogs howling
On the twelvth day of Christmas I received in the post twelve bigfoots drumming

And an owlman in a large treeeeeee......Merry Christmas everyone. xx *hug*

OLL LEWIS: Yesterday’s News Today

http://cryptozoologynews.blogspot.com/


On this day in 1968, after breaking free of Earth’s gravitational field on the 21st of December the crew of Apollo 8 enter into orbit around the moon and become the first people to see the dark side of the Moon with their own eyes.
And now, the news:

Experts Cry Wolf Over 'Faked' Wildlife Pic
Baby seal in garden named Rudolph
Fossil find reveals whales as suckers

'Whale' I never!