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, September 08, 2010

DALE DRINNON: "Galapagos" tortoises in China

A while back there was a posting to the CFZ blog on the supposition that giant tortoises were brought back during a supposed Ming Dynasty circumnavigation of the Earth. I did not know what they were talking about at the time, but I think I know better now.

The supposition that the Chinese were aware of giant tortoises is based on statures of Dragon Turtles in Bejing (Peking) and elsewhere, and Dragon Turtles are traditional auspicious Chinese legendary creatures. They do not mean the same thing as the Black Warrior Tortoise of the North, which is a constellation. Looking at the depictions of the Dragon turtles you can see that the heads are vaguely shaped like a Galapagoes tortoise (Freely interpreted to add "Dragonlike" features such as whiskers) and the long neck is similar. BUT there are Tortoises nearly as large and of much the same anatoomy at the Aldabara Islands near Madagascar, and while it is theory that the Ming Chinese made it to the Galapagoes Islands, it is on the other hand a plain fact that we know the Ming Chinese reached East Africa and Madagascar. Their distinctive china is found all over the place.

Besides that much, there used to be many other islands with giant tortoises, including some islands of Indonesia. And at one point cryptid Giant Tortoises could well have co-existed with humans in India and China-old Greek records imply that much. So there are any number of alternative candidates that would be more likely than the Galapagoes giant tortoises, with a favoritism on Aldabara ones (But not discounting the possibility that the Chinese also knew of such tortoises on Madagascar or any of a number of other places. Chinese were fond of drawing Dragon Tortoises all over their maps in the spirt of "Here There Be Dragons")

Best Wishes, Dale D.


Christian said...

Certainly, Manouria emys, not nearly as large as Galapagos or Aldabra species, was large, and a lot closer to China.

Richard Muirhead said...

I found a report in Bernard E.Read`s Chinese Materia Medica of turtles with shells of 10-20ft in diameter.They were said to live in Guangdong (then Kwangtung) Province.