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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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Monday, March 01, 2010

MUIRHEAD`S MYSTERIES: 18TH CENTURY SEA MONSTER, OUT OF PLACE SEAL AND ABBERANT PIGEONS

Dear folks,

Today I am returning to my Strange Nature Scrapbook for a selection of items dating from some time in the eighteenth century up to the mid-1990s. Unfortunately the cutting from The Gentleman`s Magazine is undated, but it could date from the 1700s.

Mr. URBAN

As the ships are now said to be returned from the discoveries in the Northern regions,let me intreat you to insert in your Magazine, the following relation from Paul Egede`s* account of Greenland.

“July 6th, a most hideous sea-monster was seen, which reared itself so high above the water, that it`s head over-topped our main-sail. It had a long pointed nose, out of which it spouted like a whale. Instead of fins it had great broad flaps like wings; its body seemed to be grown over with shell work, and its skin very rugged and uneven; it was shaped like a serpent behind, and when it dived into the water again, it plunged itself backwards, and raised its tail above the water a whole ship length from its body. Our eye could rate the measure of its body to be no less than the bulk of our ship in thickness, and in length three or four times as long.”

The opinion of gentlemen who have traversed these seas, concerning the existence of such monsters, will no doubt be acceptable to the public, and particularly to, Sir, Your constant Reader, Y. D.
(1)

*Egede was a Danish-Norwegian missionary to Greenland who translated the New Testament into the Greenland language.

This next story is from the New Scientist of January 15th 1994:

Seal that went walkabout

Bjorn Lytskjold had the shock of his life when he first noticed this dead seal in the frozen wastes of Antarctica. The animal seemed to be staring straight at him. “I was really scared,” he says,” and did not expect such a terrible grin.” ….He found the seal at a spot 250 km from the coast amd at an altitude of 1300 metres. It was the second seal the team had found in a week, and the researchers have no idea how the animals ended up so far inland, or how ancient they are. They dug the perfectly preserved animals out of the ice and transported them back to Oslo, where they will be examined by Nils Ē¾ritsland, a biologist at the institute. His first task will be to establish when the animals died, using carbon-dating techniques
. (2)

On February 5th 1994 Ron Watkins of University London replied in New Scientist:

“I can report that this seal was not the first to accomplish such a seemingly incredible feat, or at least the first to have his/her hurculean deeds recognised.

At Christmas 1988,my colleague, Chris Harris, and myself found a similarly misplaced seal carcass at an equivalent altitude and distance inland while mapping the geology of Tvora Mountain, in western Dronning Maud Land, Antartica. On this occasion, we too were astounded at the finding of the creature in such an unlikely location.

Being earth scientists, and not zoologists, we had difficulty in ascertaining whether the entire skull was preserved on the carcass which had been crushed and suffered wind ablation on the exposed surface…”
(3)

Finally, those pigeons:

From the Daily Mirror of August 23rd 1994:

“BERMUDA FLY-ANGLE Pigeons get lost as comet hits Jupiter. Hundreds of racing pigeons are vanishing into mid air – because crashing comets have distubed the earth`s magnetic field, claim bird fanciers. Top breeder Graham Chupka has lost dozens of young birds, as if they were disappearing into a pigeons Bermuda Triangle.

And he believes comet activity is knocking the birds off course by affecting their homing instinct…He has lost dozens of pigeons since the comet Shoemaker Levy-9 crashed into Jupiter last month.” That could have upset the earth`s magnetic field, and in turn, upset the bird`s navigation.” he said…But a spokesman at London`s Royal Observatory doubted that the comet crashing into Jupiter would have affected the Earth`s magnetic fields. “It is unlikely that`s the reason the pigeons have been vanishing…if they were using the magnetic fields in the first place.” He said.
(4)

1. Gentleman`s Magazine. Date unknown.
2. New Scientist. January 15th 1994

3. New Scientist February 5th 1994
4. Daily Mirror August 23rd 1994

Devo Big Mess

I am cowboy Kim
Cowboy Kim I am
I am a lucky cowboy
Let me tell you why
I`m a man with a mission
A boy with a gun
I got a picture in my pocket of the lucky one
I`ll announce the winner
On the radio
With my microphone
I do a super show
I wear a cowboy hat
It is my business hat
I must tell you that….

1 comment:

Dale Drinnon said...

With the Egede account you have hit on Charles Paxton's pet theory: he says that the creature which was reported was a misunderstood gray whale (Scrag whale) and in fact it is possible to match photographs of different views with different parts of the animal as drawn later. Paxton says the "tail" would then be the whale's penis, but that is not necessary: if you have a view of the tail showing only one fluke, you have a pretty good match for the shape that was drawn.

As to misplaced seals-I had read some of the earlier press releases from the Loch Ness Investigations that spoke of a type of seal that was found in land-locked Lake Titicaca. I see by Heuvelmans' checklist that this was originally stated to be a "seal or manatee", and a later mention by National Geographic says there is a lake monster there which is usually written off as the effects of too much alcohol consumed during fiestas. I had always asumed it was a seal as James had said, but I have independant statements by others that:
1) It is assumed that there is an amazonian mantee that lives in the lake and feeds on water-weeds, and which is considered non-controversial: and
2) There is said to be a "water-tiger" in the lake which is most likely a giant otter, and which might have been what the lake was named after. This is also considered plausible enough but unconfirmed.

Does anybody have any better information on that matter? I now think the "Seal" explanation is less likely in this case.