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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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Sunday, September 19, 2010

OLL LEWIS: Crypto Cons

The Mutant Moggy

Now as you're reading this on the internet, I think it's a safe bet that you have at some point seen a picture of 'Snowball the monster cat'. Around the beginning of this decade emails started to circulate the globe containing the story of what was reputed to be the worlds biggest cat and an accompanying photo of a jolly bearded man lifting this huge cat aloft.

The story most frequently attached to the photo was that Snowball, as the giant cat was called, had been given birth to by a cat that had spent it's time hanging around a nuclear research facility in Canada. Because of this the cat's offspring supposedly grew to superhuman proportions. These proportions being 69 inches in length from the nose to the tip of the tail and 87lbs in weight, which is around 1.75m and 39.5kg in metric.

Now, what I like to call the 'Stan Lee cryptid explanation', after the legendary superhero creator who usually has genetic mutation and radioactive things in his characters origin stories, is perhaps one of the main reasons cryptozoology doesn't get taken seriously by a lot of main-stream scientists. All too often you'll see this fanciful reason trotted out by the media or a witness and the subject tends to loose all credibility, it's all well and good to use it as an explanation as to why the the population of New York are being attacked by a giant axolotl dressed in a top hat in some b-movie but real life doesn't work that way. So that alone should start the 'this is not entirely serious' alarm ringing. Couple that with the pictorial evidence and you get an even clearer picture of what is really going on. The jolly fellow in the photograph is lifting a weight of almost 40kg in front of him pretty easily isn't he? The cat looks less sharp compared to the rest of the photo and the Jolly Fellow seems to have rather large fingers too. It is pretty obvious that the photograph has been made with photoshop or another similar program and that the accompanying text is just a bit of puff.

So, what is the real story behind the photo? The jolly fellow in the photo is Cordell Hauglie of Edmonds, Washington and Snowball's real name is Jumper. The photo was made as a joke to send to his daughter who had asked for a photo of Jumper to show a friend, Hauglies son held up the cat in the first shot he took (those are his fingers supporting the cat, hence why they look large too) and then Jumper was cut out from the picture and placed over a picture with similar lighting of Hauglie standing further back, creating the illusion that he was holding a much larger cat. Hauglie never set out to trick anyone just to create a funny visual joke for those that knew jumper. The text was added to the photo by persons unknown who received the photograph in their inbox.

Guinness world records do not hold a record for heaviest cat any more because of possible health concerns that people may attempt to overfeed their animals just to get into the record books but according to snopes.com who consulted an old copy of the record book when this record was still extant the heaviest cat was 47lbs, around 21kg, which is almost half the weight claimed for 'Snowball' in the text. Jumper is in reality about the same size as most other domestic cats but slightly portly.

Often with a number of photos of supposedly strange or unusually sized animals that make it on to the internet or into the press perspective tricks are employed to make the animal seem larger or more dramatic and that is something any cryptozoologist should always be on their guard for.

1 comment:

Bilbo said...

Now I've been viewing this blog for a while now but I just have to say that Oll, how come you can dig this up yet neglect the fact that a cfz member found 'leopard' hairs at the w.w infront of a film crew and never before, I mean come on chaps like anyone is going to believe that one! What next, a ufo see at the next w.w??

Bilbo