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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, November 29, 2010

THE LATEST PART OF THE DIALOGUE BETWEEN THE CFZ AND THE PERSON CALLING HIMSELF `THE HIGHLAND TIGER`

`The Highland Tiger` wrote:

Sometimes, the CFZ really make me want to scream and bang their heads together.

So it appears that images were taken, but no-one at the CFZ thought of actually holding on to copies of them for their records.

My whole agenda with the CFZ is to get them to start thinking more scientifically, and changes have been made for the better in recent months.

It is possible that you have evidence of a brand new species, but no-one at the entire Weird Weekend, or any member of the CFZ directorate thought there was any need to document the evidence properly. It is inexcusable, as a scientific organisation that no-one thought to keep any of the images taken of the hairs for the CFZ records. You are now keeping your fingers crossed that someone else has kept copies.

You all knew the samples would be destroyed during DNA extraction.

Personally, I would not have destroyed all the hairs. I would have kept a few back, for the records.

I really do hope that the images can be found, and they are passed on to primate experts.

If you have lost all evidence, either through DNA testing, or through the inability to do something basic like saving a photograph, then you really do need to have a rethink on how you conduct future scientific research".



I replied:

"Once again you have ignored the facts in order to take a cheap shot at the CFZ. I will remind you of these facts:

1. You claim that "the CFZ" have lost the pictures. This is simply not true. The CFZ do not have a laboratory or anyone qualified or experienced in extracting DNA samples. All work was done by two labs in Denmark. As far as the pictures are concerned, they have not been lost. They were used in a documentary made by Danish TV, and Lars was not sure whether they are at the TV Company or with the microscopy company.

2. The DNA extracted by Tom Gilbert was not orang utan DNA. To expect the CFZ (and me in particular) to ignore the findings of two eminent scientist in order to follow the instructions of someone who has a peculiar interest in other people's qualifications but is presumably unqualified himself (we don't know because he is too cowardly to come out from behind a facile nom de guerre) really is ridiculous.

3. When you first wrote to me on this matter you said that you were not going to go public with your queries. I decided, therefore, to do you the courtesy of allowing you to address the general readership with your concerns. I note, sadly, that this entire exchange has been placed on your site "in order to get this out to the wider cryptozoological community". My discussion with you on this matter is therefore at an end.

2 comments:

Dr Dan Holdsworth said...

My opinion in this matter is that the observed DNA was mostly from contamination of the sample at some point. I prefer to use the logical tool Occam's Razor in these matters, and prefer the simplest explanation in the matter.

We know that the hairs were collected from a rain forest environment (hot and humid) by people who probably didn't take great pains to avoid contamination by human epithelial cells. We also know that Lars examined the hairs and found them to closely resemble Orang utan hairs, i.e. to be within the probable range of variation that Orang utan hairs are capable of, so therefore either from an Orang utan or something very closely related to it.

We also know that the DNA analysis would have had to have used PCR to amplify the initial sample to provide a decent sample for typing, and that PCR is peculiarly sensitive to contamination. In particular, it tends to amplify undamaged, long-chain DNA preferentially over degraded, short-chain DNA.

This leads me to prefer the hair analysis Lars performed over the DNA analysis, since to give equal weight to both would force me to believe that a human can produce hair that's damn nigh identical to Orang utan hair, yet retain a human-like DNA profile.

I also tend to have a little sympathy with "The Highland Tiger" in his criticisms of CFZ data retention policies; as I frequently tell people, you can never have enough backups!

Geordie-dave said...

I would like to ask Highland Tiger if he is familiar with a Harry Enfield character who says things like “You didn't wanna do that!” “Only Me!” “You should have done it this way not that way!” "Now I do not believe you wanted to do that!" if not then I recommend he watches it on Youtube and then takes a good hard look at himself in the mirror. Thats Harry Enfield ONLY ME.