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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, November 28, 2010

SUMATRA HAIR SAMPLES: The dialogue between the CFZ and the person calling himself "The Highland Tiger" continues..

The dialogue continues. THT writes:

'Thanks for posting my thoughts. I did wonder if the DNA testing had destroyed all the samples. Some people might say, "yeah yeah here we go, all proof has been destroyed etc", but in this instance I don't think this is the case. It is one of the drawbacks of DNA testing that samples are detroyed in the very nature of the test. That's life as Esther would say!

Can you confrm if any proper images were taken of the hairs. By that I mean photographs taken through the microscope and not photographs taken using a camera aimed at the screen.

I do hope it is not the latter, because if it is, then you must admit that is very poor scientific practice. I would expect, with microscopic equipment worth a small fortune, that the ability to photograph specimens would be a necessity.

If you do have good microscopic images of the hairs, then why not send those to some orangutan experts, even if it is just to get a second opinion.

After all, a second, third or even fourth opinion cannot hurt, and will only increase the credibility of your findings.

For the record, I do feel that of all cryptids in the world, the orang pendek is probably the most likely to be a real creature. But you do need to investigate every avenue in order to rule out the possibility of those hairs being from a known species.'


Lars replies:

'The microscope I used were set up to record pictures of everything I put into it during the WW, but it is back with Olympus by now, and I am not sure whether they have the pictures or whether the production company has them. But I will check and let you know - and I will try and contact various primate experts I know.'

4 comments:

Dale Drinnon said...

This line always gets me: "I do feel that of all cryptids in the world, the orang pendek is probably the most likely to be a real creature" It always gets me because the base assumption is that there is ONE creature called the Orang Pendek. There is not, the term is non-specific. Secondly, doesn't "Being a real creature" somehow imply that it is actually a KNOWN creature, especially since there is a large part of the audience that thinks of Cryptids as UNREAL or fantasy creatures?
For my part, if the Orang Pendek in question turns out to be a dwarfed Orangutan,then you will have possibly got an unidentified species but you will NOT have the "Final solution to the question of the ages"-You will NOT have identified the Orang Pendek that leaves hominid tracks (and not the ape tracks) and you will NOT have the Orang Pendek as it was known to Sanderson and Heuvelmans. That one I think is more likely to be a smaller variety of Almas -the tracks are very similar- and most likely a real human being (Homo sapiens)NOT legitimately even a cryptid.

The trouble is that these things become catch phrases that are repeated endlessly without good reason and without the person spouting the catch phrase out automatically even stopping to think what he is saying. In this case it assumes that "The Orang Pendek" names one specific unidentified species that is legitimately a cryptid and can be demonstrably classified as a previously-unknown species, AND that somehow this one example is the most likely one to follow that pattern. It is not. The very notion is foolish. ANY unknown species can become classified at ANY time and would therefore be the "Cryptid most likely to be proven real". Several species of birds, fishes, snakes and lizards have been identified since this motto started to be thrown around so casually.

I suggest we all just stop saying that particular party line.

Dr Dan Holdsworth said...

What I would personally like to see is a lot more pictures of more Orang utan hairs, to cross-compare to the putative Orang pendek ones we have, and to explore the full range of variability that Orang utan hairs are capable of exhibiting. I still think that it is not beyond the bounds of possibility for there to be a small relic population of Orang utans in the Sumatran forests, and that it was one of these which provided the hairs found. Logically it is the simplest explanation for the observed data, in the absence of camera trap evidence for bipedal apes.

The simplest way of getting half-decent camera trap evidence is to use the methods that chimp researchers used to first get close to chimps; a trick known as "provisioning". Food in rain forests is hard to come by, so if an animal suddenly happens on a reliable source for tasty food (Durian fruit would be a good one to try here; extremely smelly and Orangs love it) then it'll keep on coming back to a site for more.

Baiting several sites repeatedly with Durian or similar food is probably the only way that big, obvious, clumsy apes such as ourselves are going to get close to elusive apes which are already going to be really, really nervous of humans. It ain't eco-friendly, but it works, and we urgently need much, much more data on these animals having acquired a small amount of ambiguous yet tantalising info.

Richard Freeman said...

Debbie martry once told me of the legend of a race of tiny, tool useing, fire useing hairy people in Sumatra but they had not been reported for decades. She said they were quite destinct from the orang-pendek. All the wintnesses i have spoken to are describing an ape and all the track i have seen have been ape tracks (abit ones unlike any known species).
Its not impossable that something like the Flores ebu gogo existed on Sumtra and (hopefully) still exists. All my experience with the orang-pendek though has pointed to an upright walking ape.

Dale Drinnon said...

BTW,that phrase has been around in some form or another since the 1990s. Since then Science has uncovered over 400 new species of mammals and something like 30 new Primate species. Many of these species were ethnoknown before their cataloguing by science and hence had been cryptids. Several of the species discovered were of a greater body mass than that assumed for the Orang Pendek.
In short, the statement "The Orang Pendek is probably the next Cryptid that shall become officially catalogued" has proven to be a very bad prophesy and nothing more.