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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, August 12, 2010

DALE DRINNON: Mystery Primates - the tote up

Tote-Up

After my survey and commentary on mystery primates of the world,
I thought it would be instructive to compare the results of my reassessment of the cryptid large primate categories as compared to the cryptid large marine creatures categories (comparing the Abominable Snowmen to the Sea-serpents, more or less)

In the case of Heuvelmans's Sea-serpents, the nine cryptid categories were:

1. Longneck,
2. Merhorse,
3. Many-Humped,
4. Super-otter,
5. Many-finned,
6. Super-eel,
7. Marine Saurian,
8. Yellowbelly,
9. Father-of-All-the-Turtles,

out of which I discount merhorse, many-humped, super-otter, many-finned and father-of-all-the-turtles. I retain versions of the long-neck, super-eels and marine saurians, with yellowbelly allowed but of questionable status.

Coleman et al, in The Field Guide to Bigfoot... also gives nine categories, thus:
1. Neo-Giants,
2. True Giants,
3. Marked Hominid,
4. Neandertaloid,
5. Erectus Hominid,
6. Proto-pygmy,
7. Unknown Pongid,
8. Giant Monkey,
9. Merbeing,

out of which I discount true giants, marked hominids, neandertaloids, erectus hominids and proto-pygmys, the last four of them on the grounds that they are not only probably variants of one species, but that species is most likely not separable from Homo sapiens. I retain the categories neo-giants, unknown pongid, giant monkeys and allow the mer-beings but also keep that category as a questionable status.

In this case, the categories unknown pongid, giant monkey and merfolk are NOT unified categories representing a single cryptid as a single species per category. The categories are thus also invalid as formulated. However, in each of those categories I have also eliminated some candidates such that the unknown pongids of Africa are removed from unknown status - they are very likely displaced or unusual chimpanzees and gorillas. The remaining Asiatic and American pongids are all mostly like orangutans and do form a recognisable sequence, although they are not belong to the same species and it is doubtful that they would all belong to the same genus. By the same token, ALL of the giant monkeys are very likely merely outsized monkeys of known species, except for the South American Isnachi. It should be noted that it was a major error to make one category for both Old World and New World monkeys in the same group. The presumed chupacabras creature is likewise a composite based largely upon reports of canines (hairless or on the activities of feral dogs in general) and the classical merfolk creature is possibly a sort of highly adapted marine monkey out of the macaque stock originally, evolved to the point that the typical monkey tail has become something like a dolphin's tail. This does involve a great deal of speculation and if such a creature does exist, it might very well qualify for at least familial distinction from its nearest relatives.

Essentially in both lists of nine candidates, I have taken out two thirds of both lists because they fail to meet my criteria for representing well-defined cryptids, left only three of the nine as well-defined probable new forms of animal life, and allowed the last one as possible but not perhaps as probable in each case.

As far as the categories in Coleman et al's The Field Guide to Lake Monsters... it would seem at first to be a version of the sea serpent categories supplied by Heuvelmans with additions but in fact, the categories are broad enough that they can be reworked to accomodate any possible aquatic cryptids: only such categories as unidentified bony fishes and unidentified lampreys are needed to make a general catalogue of any aquatic creatures that could be reported. The categories would of course need to be fine-tuned a bit more such that the 'mystery manta' category should cover unknown freshwater stingrays as well and thus be on a par with the 'mystery sharks' category that replaces 'giant shark' and so on down the line.

I shall admit that my processing of the nine categories in each instance has some unusual parallels but I would tend to see that as an indicator of how much of the material gathered tends to turn out to be useful, as a general proportion in any largescale inquiry of this nature, rather than some individual quirk I have in looking at cryptozoology. I suppose it would represent a measure of methodological stringency on the researcher's part that I tend to dismiss 2/3 of the cases and concentrate on examining the remaining third in greater detail.

1 comment:

Dale Drinnon said...

This string of articles did start with some postings at the Frontiers of Zoology group which have unfortunately failed delivery to the CFZ repeatedly. There were to be blog articles on the Almas of Central Asia and the Kapre of the Phillipines. The latter was something I pegged as another orangutan-type and it has some features in common with Mapinguaris (it is described as a cyclops)and it is almost invariably seen high in the trees (arboreal habitat)

The most interesting thing about the Almas was that apparantly Almases were known as Aramaspai in Classical times, the name Almas is that old (Aramas) and equated to the Chinese Pei or P'i (Evidently related to Fei-Fei)Furthermore the determinative characteristic given for them was that they had round eye sockets, a Neanderthal characteristic.

Another issue that came up was that certain fossil finds of teeth in Inner Mongolia described as :Neanderthaloid" in some sources were actually surface finds and could have been quite recent. And I had a terracotta representation of a "demon" from Inner Mongolia that could correspond to descriptions of Almas skins kept at monasteries.

However, as this tote-up indicates, I do not count Almases as actually UNKNOWN, either as unknown animals or unknown species. The default classification is that they are human. I also tend to side with the classification of Neanderthals as Homo sapiens, there has not been enough time of separation or genetic difference demonstrated between them to justify calling them a separate species.