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.

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Saturday, February 06, 2010

LINDSAY SELBY: Modern dragons

I have often been intrigued by stories of dragons and didn’t realise people claimed sightings in modern times. I came across this from Karl Shuker:

This took place in Powys, Wales In March 2001.

A British naturalist and some colleagues were conducting some research in the area after being notified by a local of "something" strange that was seen earlier on the year. As they stood at the edge of some woods by a quarry they suddenly spied an extraordinary entity. Measuring 2.5 ft or son in length, it resembled a serpentine dragon with four short limbs, but its head was shaped very like that of a sea horse, and it was airborne---undulating and wriggling as it flew about 10 ft above the surface of the quarry in a wide circle. They were unable to recall seeing any wings, but it had a long tail that terminated in a pair of horizontal, whale like flukes. The entity was green in colour and shimmered somewhat, but appeared solid, not translucent or ethereal, and they watched it for 3-4 minutes, at a distance of approximately 50 ft, before it finally vanished into one of the numerous caves and large crevices pitting the quarry. The naturalist had the distinct impression while watching it that this creature was deliberately seeking to keep them at bay, warning them off from approaching further into its territory.

Source: Karl P N Shuker, Strange Magazine 22

Then in his book, Extraordinary Animals Revisited, in a chapter entitled 'The Unmentionables' he discusses it again, as the mysterious flying creature reported in 2001 near a quarry in Powys, Wales, which resembled a serpentine dragon with four short limbs, with a head shaped like a sea horse, and undulating as it flew about 10 feet (3.3 metres) above the surface of the quarry in a wide circle. Shuker wrote that this report came from came a bona fide naturalist (who was not named for obvious reasons, the academic world being as it is), who was convinced that:

“it was neither an optical illusion nor a model, but was truly alive, although its appearance was so uncanny that he felt chilled by the encounter.” (Shuker 2007 :. 281)

Interestingly enough, I came across this in historical records: folklorist Mary Trevelyan interviewed many elderly people living in the Glamorgan area of Wales in the early 19thC. They recalled stories from their youth of a race of winged serpents that lived in the forest around Penllyne Castle. Supposedly, they had crested heads and feathery wings and were brightly coloured and sparkled as if covered with jewels. They rested coiled on the ground but if they felt threatened would attack by swooping down on the intruders. These flying snakes killed poultry and were described as "the terrors of farmyards and coverts" many were shot to protect livestock .

What is interesting is that both the accounts talk of the creatures shimmering or sparkling and swooping on intruders. Is it possible that some strange flying serpent still exists in Wales that gave rise to the dragon stories?

Ref: Karl P. Shuker. 2007 Extraordinary Animals Revisited: From Singing Dogs to Serpent Kings CFZ Press Bideford, North Devon:


Dale Drinnon said...

"Shimmering and Sparkling" is something seen in reports of UFOs and ghosts, and in hallucinations. It is not ordinarily taken to be a characteristic of real animals.

It just so happens that Indiana (where I live) is one place that has a history of "Sky Serpent" sightings. When we were kids we called them "Winnie-Worms" (a folkloric name probably derived from "Windworms") but we used it to describe aircraft contrails, we did not think of them as real animals. Still, Vincent Gaddis did suggest that they were living creatures when he was discussing the possibility of living UFOs.

They are not aerodynamic and they do not fly by conventional principles if they actually are real: the sightings around here specify that they do NOT have wings at all, just long snaky bodies.

Michele said...

Anyone who thiks that "real animals" do not shimmer and sparkle has evidently never seen a bird or reptile in the sunlight...or a fish, for that matter. I thought the dragon report was fascinating, personally, as well as believable.

jgm said...

"who was not named for obvious reasons, the academic world being as it is"

Are we to assume that Shuker knows this person's name, or was his source anonymous to him as well? This sounds like cryptozoology's equivalent of the mysterious government insider of UFOlogy who weaves wild, anonymous tales without a shred of evidence.

If this person was a naturalist and saw an amazing creature unknown to science disappear into a cave, and was a person worried about their academic standing, wouldn't the logical thing to do be to go into those caves and get (evidence of) that creature him/herself? This is the orang pendek no photo controversy x 1000. It doesn't make a lick of sense and sounds like someone pulled Shuker's leg (assuming it was really a naturalist) to see if he'd buy the story.