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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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Wednesday, April 21, 2010

MUIRHEAD'S MYSTERIES: POSSIBLE IDENTITY OF A STRANGE WOLF IN IDAHO IN 1909

Hi. Quite a long time ago I found a reference to the killing of a large black wolf in the Boise national forest in Idaho in 1909, which could not be identified then or now. It was sent to the “biological survey in Washigton D.C" according to The Standard, Ogden, Utah newspaper of April 8th 1909 but I had no success tracking down records of the remains of this enormous wolf with a heavy, coarse black coat, which even Native Americans were unfamiliar with.

The other day whilst looking for some other unrelated information I found a website called Weird Animal Report. `Amarok, And Other Giant Wolves. So, I thought, could the Boise Forest wolf of 1909 be the Amarok? The web site, by someone going under the name of “Erika”, posted on January 25th 2010, contains the following information – (I will not quote in entirety, just the most interesting parts.)

“ It is a figure in Inuit mythology with a lot of ties to the field of cryptozoology. Amorak was a giant wolf who would “hunt down and devour anyone foolish enough to hunt alone at night” (1). Amorak does not travel in a pack (thank goodness for small favors) but is a lone wolf………..The precursors to the Inuit people would have travelled along the Bering land bridge alongside dire wolves, so to speak. The dire wolf would have been a familiar figure, and more`s the pity, because it was a tenacious predator, about five feet long, weighing almost 200 pounds.

Another candidate is the hyaenodon, which is an extinct relative of the modern hyaena. Hyaenodons were members of the “large and furry” cohort of animals which flourished during the Miocene. They were large, in keeping with their prey ( woolly mammoths and woolly rhinoceros) and competition (dire wolves and Aphycyonidae).

Although hyaenodons came in all shapes and sizes , Hyaenodon gigas, the largest hyaenodon, was the size of a small rhinoceros, and was probably a solitary nocturnal predator. This matches the description of Amarok perfectly. Furtermore H.gigas would have had a thick coat to survive the ice age, and could easily have tolerated modern day climate of the Inuit`s home range in the Arctice…………..And more southerly still we have the Shunka Warakin, which is a large wolf like animal which is a member of Native American folklore, specific to the central states and the Rocky Mountains. The Shunka Warakin is apparently part of Sioux culture, and according to cryptozoologist Loren Coleman the name translates to “the one who carries off dogs” (2)

Several Shunka Warakin candidates have surfaced over the years, but all have been debunked eventually. Most recently, an unusually large wolf was said to be responsible for the deaths of 120 sheep over the course of one year in Montana. (The proof on this claim is somewhat lacking, and knowing ranchers and humans in general as I do, I rather suspect that every sheep which died in that time was chalked up to this one particular naughty wolf. But I digress.

Eventually the wolf was shot, and was identified by Montana Fish and Game officials as being a regular wolf with an unusual reddish coloration.(3)

1. No source is given for this quote.
2. This sounds a bit like our 1909 animal.
3. and most of the blog http://weirdanimalreport.com/news/amarok-and-other-giant-wolves.

And now, in celebration of Icelandic volcanic dust, I present to you, Lava by the B52s.

My body`s burnin` like a lava from a Mauna Loa
My heart`s crackin` like a Krakatoa
Krakatoa,east of Java,molten bodies,fiery lava

Fire,fire,burnin` bright
Turn on your love lava
Turn on your lava light
Fire,oh volcano,over you
Don`t let your lava love turn to stone
Keep it burnin`
Keep it burnin` here at home…

2 comments:

Retrieverman said...

I think Adolph Murie had our answer for weird wolf conformation and color:

http://retrieverman.wordpress.com/2009/02/08/adolph-murie-speculated-on-dog-wolf-hybridization-as-the-source-of-unusual-color/

And even if the DNA says wolf, keep in mind that dogs and wolves have a very long time to exchange genes in North America. The assumption of all of these studies is that if it was taken from a wolf, it is a wolf. No one has ever looked for old dog genes in these wolves, but because they have found the black coloration to be the result of dogs breeding into the wolf population, it is worth exploring.

As for the big wolves of the Arctic:

I don't think this population could still exist, but these animals could have survived in Inuit and native folklore:

http://news.softpedia.com/news/Giant-Wolves-Haunted-the-Ice-Age-57964.shtml

Canis lupus is a remarkable species. Not only does it include domestic dogs which vary in their skull shape between each other more than cats vary from walruses (a remarkable study here: http://www.livescience.com/animals/dog-skulls-evolution-100125.html), but the wild forms of C. lupus are so variable--40 pound Arabian wolves to 120-130 pound wolves in Alaska.

It doesn't surprise me that people see unusual wolves, coyotes, or jackals. The development of unusual phenotype seems to the the hallmark of these species and probably the reason why they have been so successful.

Retrieverman said...

Historical records of frequent dog and wolf crossing:

http://books.google.com/books?id=eRNsbeKvuhEC&lpg=PA14&dq=alexander%20henry%20dogs&client=firefox-a&pg=PA14#v=onepage&q=alexander%20henry%20dogs&f=false