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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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Friday, January 08, 2010

OLL LEWIS: 5 Questions on… Cryptozoology - SAM SHEARON (aka Mr Sam)

In the hotseat today is Sam Shearon (Mister Sam). Sam is an artist and Fortean and has hunted many cryptids in his time, including the beast of Green Drive and Bigfoot. It is for his artwork that he is best known, however, with clients ranging from Fortean Times magazine to Rob Zombie via Iron Maiden and Cradle of Filth. Examples of his work can be seen on his website: http://www.mister-sam.com/

So, Mister Sam, here are your 5 questions on… Cryptozoology.

1) How did you first become interested in cryptozoology?

As far back as I can remember I've always had a fascination with the unknown and the unexplained in general. The supernatural, the paranormal and the occult are all subjects of which I've been brought up to understand are very real things indeed. I've been drawing monsters since I was three years old and spent alot of my childhood in the natural history departments of various museums... with eyes wide, mouth open and a sketchbook under my arm, usually seen standing underneath some great dinosaur skeleton. But I think it was seeing Operation Deep Scan at Loch Ness, (1987) on the televison/main news, that I really pricked up my ears and listened!

This was something that was yet unproven, unclassified... still unknown and yet people were going to great lengths with 24 boats all kitted out with sonar - sweeping the loch in search of the elusive and legendary monster!

That's when my attention became focused on the reality that there are many more out there across the globe... other 'monsters', unknown animals - creatures of legend seen by living people on land in the sea and in the air....

2) Have you ever personally seen a cryptid or secondary evidence of a cryptid, if so can you please describe your encounter?

Here's one of many.....

Location: Murdishaw, Runcorn, Cheshire, England.

It was a warm evening in the late spring of 1986, and I had been catching frogs and insects, as I often did, with a friend and a couple of empty jam jars. We’d gone as far as my Mum had usually allowed me to venture, which was the very edge of the woods, and had been chasing all manner of woodland creatures in and out of streams and bushes until it had begun to get dark.
We started to walk back across the grassy embankment that led all the way up to my Mum’s back garden… and then we heard it.

It started as a soft drone, then louder until the unmistakable sound of a buzzing insect was to be heard. Because the buzzing was so very loud we assumed it was a swarm of bees and so began to run. After a few paces, we stopped and looked around as we couldn’t tell where the noise was coming from and were in fear of running directly into it.

Then as I glanced across to the end of the nearest group of trees I saw what initially looked like a black and yellow model aeroplane hovering about twenty feet in the air, about fifty yards from where we had just run from and it was coming towards us.

I was confused and stood still until it got closer. I was almost convinced that I was about to see a model radio controlled aircraft and my eyes darted across the area on the ground expecting to see the controller… But there was nobody to be seen.

As it neared us, it became clear that this airborne ‘buzzer’ was in fact a huge insect resembling a dragonfly. To my knowledge dragonflies don’t ‘buzz’ loudly and to my knowledge the only dragonflies that could grow to the size of a model aircraft are prehistoric and long extinct.
But this one had a very obvious loud droning sound to it and was clearly alive and well.

It darted downwards and towards us just like regular territorial dragonflies and so naturally, we resumed our running only this time with justified urgency… I wasn’t sure what it could have done to harm us, but we weren’t going to stick around to find out!

With every other breath I turned my head and glanced back while still running as I was both in fear of how close it was and fascinated at the size of it. We ran steadily until we reached my Mums back garden. Then my final turn revealed that it had gone. It was almost as though it had vanished instantly, slipped through a prehistoric time hole or perhaps landed somewhere.

3) Which cryptids do you think are the most likely to be scientifically discovered and described some day, and why?

Number one has to be Bigfoot/Sasquatch among other man-beast-apes from around the globe.
I even have a bet with a freind that Bigfoot will turn up within the next ten years on the main news for real. There's no doubt in my mind whatsoever that there's a large hairy intelligent biped walking around in the forests of Northern America/Canada and as far as flung as Texas, Florida and New York.

I think it's ignorant, arrogant and simply stupid to even suggest that they are not out there. Around 200 sightings and hundreds more footprints, vocal recordings and hair samples are brought to the table each year. Far, far less people see wild snow leopards in ten years... do the maths.

It's a fact that in the state of Oregan alone there's around 300 'million' acres of forest that we have yet to explore... that's more than enough space for a large population to be living out there - quite happy - undiscovered... but it's only a matter of time.

The first time western science had a Gorilla on the table in London was in 1861. But it wasn't until 1920 that the first study of the great ape was conducted. The Gorilla is split into two species (still under debate) and four or five subspecies. This is a nice reflection of the various 'types' of giant man-apes seen around the world. Most notably the 'skunk ape' from Florida is more like an orangutan than the 'sasquatch' of Canada who are more like upright gorillas and so these two 'types' of 'bigfoot' may simply be subspecies or branches of the same giant ape along with their cousins from around the globe such as the Yeti of Tibet and the red man of China.

4) Which cryptids do you think are the least likely to exist?

What do I consider to NOT be a possible cryptid?

That's a hard question because we're faced with striking off animals that people have claimed to have seen. However, I think that the chupacabra is the most colourful with regards to its physical probability being very low as a possibility. There are no creatures outside the realms of science fiction and the fantasy worlds of the Greek myths that look anything like a chupacabra. Unless of course you mix a few species together. A porcupine with a cat and a bat and monkey perhaps... If they are real, and the descriptions turn out to be 100% accurate - I would be VERY suprised indeed. If they do exist, as with the local peoples who claim to see them, I don't believe they're animals of any kind... I'd have to think they were something paranormal, something alien to us, perhaps even demonic and from another dimension akin to the creatures in Lovecraftian tales.

5) If you had to pick your favourite cryptozoological book (not including books you may have written yourself) what would you choose?

Giants, Cannibals & Monsters - Bigfoot in Native Culture by Kathy Moskowitl Strain.
I bought this book in Willow Creek, California, at the bigfoot museum and I love it. It's an incredible source book for the Native American legends and more importantly, 'knowledge' of the giant man-apes' existance alongside man in the American forests long before any European settlers. Highly recommended!

DALE DRINNON: On "Discosaurus" and the possibility of Plesiosaurian Survival

Joseph Leidy had written several articles about the earliest finds of Plesiosaurs in North America, and one of them was the disputed 'Discosaurus' in Alabama, possibly originating from the same beds as 'Zueglodons' (Basilosaurus). He was writing in the 1850s and one of the comparable early finds was from the Greensands of New Jersey, thought to have been of Late Cretaceous age. The specimens in this case were named 'Cimoliasaurus'; however, some of them turned out to be cetacean vertebrae of probably Pliocene age, probably some sort of a dolphin.

However, this was some of the vertebrae and not all: Leidy did think the other vertebrae were legitimate and were of that genus, and probably related to that

'Discosaurus' http://www.oceansofkansas.com/Leidy1865.html

However, it seems that both genus names are invalid. 'Cimoliasaurus' has been described as a 'garbage taxon' and several nondescript fossils from Europe and Australia have also been ascribed to this genus, much in the same way as the early tendency to call all early canivorous dinosaur finds.

'Megalosaurus' http://www.palaeos.com/Vertebrates/Units/220Lepidosauromorpha/220.820.html
In this case the really interesting thing is that the New Jersey fragmentary Plesiosaur is found in association with Pliocene dolphin fossils, mixed up together and only separated out later, and the Alabama fossils Leidy considered probably the same genus are labelled as coming from the Eocene zueglodon beds. In the case of the New Jersey Greensands, there is independant evidence that they are not only Cretaceous but also Tertiary: another site gives a paper in which several genera of O. C. Marsh's 'Cretaceous' birds from the New Jersey Greensands are actually of Eocene date or later. http://elibrary.unm.edu/sora/Auk/v084n02/p0260-p0262.html

The characteristics of these fossils has placed them tenatively in the same family as Cryptocleidus and Muraenosaurus, and they were thought to have been like the Elasmosaurs but with shorter necks. This is also along the lines of what the surviving Plesiosaurs would have to have been to give rise to our Long-necked Sea-serpents: long-necked, but not excessively long-necked, not so specialised as the extreme Elasmosaurs, and generalised enough to be versatile, possibly enough so that they could pursue other avenues of evolution that became open to them.

That makes a good deal of sense and I am willing to arrange the theory of Plesiosaurian survival on those terms alone.

MUIRHEAD`S MYSTERIES: A MERMAID AND WINGED CATS IN MADAGASCAR

Dear friends,

Muirhead`s Mysteries will be appearing in a somewhat different format from now on. It will be appearing every other day, i. e. Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays. This is due to the pressure of other commitments.

Our first story today is about a mermaid. Nothing particularly unusual about that, I hear you say (yes I have exceptional hearing, whether you`re in Heywood, Woolsery, or anywhere!). However, this one was white, which rather rules out many animals it could be. The story is from the Omaha Daily Bee (Omaha, Nebraska) May 4th 1890:

'HERE`S A MERMAID AT LAST. W. W. Stanton, mate of the schooner Addie Schaefler, now lying at the Market House dock, while fishing for bass 300 miles off St.Augustine, drew in his line, and found entangled therein the strangest fish, if it is a fish, that has ever been caught, says a Jacksonville (Fla) dispatch to the New York Sun. This strange creature is about six feet long, pure white, and scaleless. The head and face are wonderfully human in shape and feature. The shoulders are well outlined, and very much resemble those of a woman, and the bosom is well defined and shows considerable development, while the hips and abdomen continue the human appearance. There are four flippers, two of which are placed at the lower termination of the body, and gave one the impression that nature made an effort to supply the strange creature with lower limbs. Mr Stanton confesses to quite a fright on first of his queer prize, which, on being drawn on board gave utterance to a low, moaning cry, which might easily have been mistaken for the sobbing of a baby.

'It is extremely unfortunate that Mr. Stanton did not succeed in keeping the creature alive, which he thinks might have been done, as the strange object lived two days after being taken. The schooner has been thronged all day by curious visitors, who express much wonder and astonishment at the strange object. Mr Stanton, after visiting several ports and showing his strange creature will donate it to the Smithsonian Institution. The fish or mermaid is in a large six-foot glass jar in alcohol'
(1)

Could this have been a beluga, far beyond Arctic waters?

The next story dates from 16 years later and is even more improbable, if that were at all possible. It concerns winged cats in Madagascar as making an appearance in a letter to the New York Tribune of March 15th 1906: (Something tells me it is an elaborate hoax. You can judge.)

'Sir, Referring to your article in to-day`s paper, entitled “The Dog on Wheels” while it is extremely interesting as showing how the speed of animals may be accelerated by simple mechanical means it does not compare with the means which nature supplies to animals to adapt them to their environment, notably the winged cats with twisted tails like a screw, as found in Madagascar (which island, by the way, according to the researches made by Professor Russell Wallace *has flora and fauna found in no other country). These winged cats do not, like ours, prey on rats and mice, but exclusively on birds, and in order to secure their prey nature has provided them with wings like a bat, which are attached to their bodies directly over their front legs, and in addition they have spiral tails, which they revolve with a rapid motion to assist in their flight, and also to aid as a stearing apparatus, and they can in a few seconds soar to the top of the highest trees and capture birds twice there own size. Besides this, they are used by the natives as a kind of animated barometer, as before a storm they run about the fields flapping their wings and honking much as geese do now. Some two years ago a pair of these wonderful animals were imported by Professor Devoe, the weather prophet of Hackensack N. J. who is said to base all of his prognostications upon their movements and he has also bred from them a progeny which he sells off at a very high price, first of course giving ocular demonstrations of their power of flight to purchasers, but he has steadily refused to have them exhibited at the annual cat show held in this city, on the ground that it might reflect on his skill and veracity as an original weather prophet” “FITZ NIGLE”' (2)

* Russell Wallace co-operated with Darwin and was a spiritualist, amongst other things.

1 Omaha Daily Bee May 4th 1890 p.3
2 New-York Tribune March 15th 1906 p.7

Steeleye Span The Wife of Ushers Well

There lived a wife in Ushers Well
A wealthy wife was she
She had three stout and stalwart sons
And sent them o`er the sea
They had not been from Ushers Well
A week but barely one
When word came to this carlin wife
That her three sons were gone
I wish the wind may never cease
Nor flashes in the flood
Till my three sons return to me
In earthly flesh and blood..

Rich

JAN EDWARDS: What's this?

JAN: Strange markings in knee-deep snow. I know what did it.... you probably do too, Jon. But will anyone else know?

JON: I have to admit that I have no idea at all. Over to you guys....

FRISWELL'S FREAKY FEATURES: Alien animals

Some months ago Alan Friswell, the bloke who made the CFZ Feegee Mermaid and also the guy responsible for some of the most elegantly macabre bloggo postings, wrote me an email. He had an idea for a new series for the bloggo. Quite simply, he has an enormous collection of macabre, fortean, odd and disturbing magazine and newspaper articles, and he proposed to post them up on the bloggo.

ABSTRUSE ALIENS ABSTAIN FROM ACTUALITY, ALBEIT AFTER ALTERNATIVE AND ALLITERATIVE AFTERTHOUGHTS

This should surely be put under the heading, 'So crap, it's great'. To be fair, I used to love reading about this kind of thing in 70s comics such as Valliant, and Smash--anyone remember them? I suppose that cryptozoology is perfectly workable on other planets as well as our own, but in any case, I love the artwork.













LINDSAY SELBY: Return of the Mothman

The following reported sighting appeared on my blog under a post I had put up about mothman. I thought other people on CFZ might be interested to see it and maybe someone would have some insight into what was seen.

Anonymous said...
Many years before I saw the movie The Mothman Prophecies, I, along with 4 other people travelling in a car saw a very tall figure standing with it's back towards us. It was standing almost in the road, but just to the side, I was afraid we might hit it. It was nightime at the time of the incident. As we drove past it, it didn't seem to move at all, it's arms were spread eagle with it's head completely lowered so it appeared there was no head. I was so shocked at what I saw, all of us in the car saw it and wondered aloud what in the world it was. It was freaky at the time, we all told ourselves someone put a scarecrow up on the road or something like that. Several years later I saw the Mothman movie and drawings and I swear it struck me that is what I saw. I sometimes search around to see if other people have seen this as well.
5 January 2010 18:34

Tabitca said...
I know you have submitted this anonymously and I understand why but could you possibly tell us what area of the country this took place in or even which road/ highway?Thank you.
6 January 2010 01:49

Anonymous said...
I'm sorry, I should have posted that. It was in Stafford Virginia on Courthouse Road. Stafford is about 50 miles south of Washington DC. Courthouse Road is a windy two lane road. It was in October because we were going to celebrate my friends birthday so I remember the month but not the year, it was about 12 years ago. I still drive down that road a lot, I have never seen it again. Like I said we thought that maybe someone was playing a joke by putting a scarecrow or something right on the white line. (dangerous if that's what it was) Whatever it was it appeared to be very tall, it didn't move at all as we approached it and then passed it. All of the people who were in the car including myself were very freaked out by it. I don't know what it was but the fact that it looked like it didn't have a head was really what freaked me out the most. I do know that I will never forget how creepy that thing was, whatever it really was. Anyway thanks for reading. Take care.
6 January 2010 17:04

Tabitca said...
Thankyou .If anyone else saw something similar perhaps they would be kind enough to post a comment.

CENTER FOR BIOLOGICAL DIVERSITY NEWSLETTER



Thanks: A Video From Center Board and Staff

From all of us at the Center for Biological Diversity, thanks for supporting us last year. Your donations, emails, and phone calls helped make 2009 a success.

We secured more than 40 million acres of critical habitat for species including the Canada lynx, Alaskan sea otter, and green sturgeon. With your actions and hard work by our scientists and lawyers, we also stopped uranium mining on a million acres near the Grand Canyon, put an end to the killing of wolves in the Great Lakes, and won a proposal for 128 million acres of habitat for the polar bear.

From all of us at the Center, thank you. To kick off 2010, here's a message of thanks from the Center's board chair, Marcey Olajos, and me. Click here to watch our video.

As 2010 starts, our campaign to protect 1,000 species is in full gear and you'll be hearing updates on our jaguar, panther, and penguin cases very soon. Check out our video and then click on the link to view our Saving America's 1,000 Most Endangered Species campaign page.


Leatherback Sea Turtles to Win 45 Million Acres

In response to a petition by the Center for Biological Diversity and allies, this Tuesday the National Atmospheric and Oceanic Administration proposed to set aside almost 45 million acres of protected "critical habitat" for endangered leatherback sea turtles off California, Oregon, and Washington. If the proposal is finalized, it will mark the first time critical habitat is designated for sea turtles in ocean waters of the continental United States. Unfortunately, the current plan leaves out a large expanse of foraging and migratory areas and fails to protect the turtles from fishing-gear entanglement -- even though it's a leading cause of death for the species. A final critical habitat rule is due in a year.

"Today's proposal marks the first step in making sure these giant turtles have a safe and productive place to feed after their amazing swim across the entire Pacific Ocean," said Center attorney Andrea Treece. "Now the government needs to take the next step and improve its proposal by incorporating more of the species' key habitat areas and addressing one of the worst threats to leatherback survival -- entanglement in commercial fishing gear."

Read more in the Oregonian.


California Old-growth Forest Saved

After the Center for Biological Diversity contested a plan to log one of the very last remnants of old-growth redwoods in California's Santa Cruz Mountains, this Monday the state's Department of Fish and Game declared the plan shouldn't be approved. Our comments pointed out that the area is home to the extremely endangered marbled murrelet, a seabird that has been declining for many years and is dependent on old-growth trees for its survival. Due to extensive logging in California, only 3 to 5 percent of the state's original old-growth forest is left -- meaning serious trouble for the murrelet. Our comments made clear that any additional loss is unacceptable.

In its memo rejecting the logging plan, Fish and Game proclaimed the plan must be revised so that no old-growth trees are cut down. The Center will continue to follow the issue closely to ensure the protection of those trees.

Learn more about our campaign to stop destructive logging on our Forests Web page, where you can also read our comments and Fish and Game's memo. Then learn more about the marbled murrelet.


Center to File Suit to Protect Penguins

To save penguins endangered by global warming and other threats, this week the Center for Biological Diversity filed a formal notice that we'll sue if the Obama administration fails to move forward on protecting seven penguin species. After a Center petition for 12 penguin species -- which are primarily imperiled by global warming and industrial fisheries -- the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service proposed Endangered Species Act protection for seven penguins. But the agency missed its December deadline to finalize those protections. A place on the endangered species list for the penguins will require national action to slow climate change, as well as protection for penguins from fisheries, oil pollution, habitat loss, and other threats.

"Instead of protecting penguins and taking meaningful steps to address global warming," said Center biologist Shaye Wolf, "our government is dragging its feet while penguins are marching toward extinction." The Center has also notified the administration we'll sue over its failure to propose protections for emperor and rockhopper penguins

Read more in E & E News.


Grazing Halted on 51,000 Acres to Save Bighorn, Butterfly

After challenges by the Center for Biological Diversity and allies, this week the U.S. Forest Service righted two decisions that would have allowed destructive cattle grazing in California habitat for the endangered Peninsular bighorn sheep and Quino checkerspot butterfly. The Service withdrew one decision and reversed another, together which would have reauthorized grazing on 51,000 acres of public land in the San Jacinto Mountains. The Peninsular bighorn competes with livestock for water, scarce forage, and other resources it needs to survive, while the Quino checkerspot can't afford to lose any more of its remaining habitat to the tearing jaws and trampling feet of cattle.

"The Forest Service has made the right decisions for these allotments," said Center biologist Ileene Anderson. "The agency needs to give much closer scrutiny to its duty to conserve endangered species."

Check out our press release and learn more about our campaigns to save species from grazing.


Desert Tortoise Spared Off-road Ruin

After a Center for Biological Diversity challenge, last week a judge overturned a decision to open two off-road vehicle routes imperiling threatened desert tortoises in California's Mojave Desert. The routes, planned for a site of critical environmental concern directly abutting the Desert Tortoise Natural Area, had been closed in 2002 to protect the tortoise -- but in 2008 the U.S. Bureau of Land Management decided it would be OK to reopen both routes if it introduced an off-road education and permit program that in fact provided no education and tracked no permits. Now the Bureau must close the routes again and go back to the drawing board on off-road planning for the area.

The Center has been working for the desert tortoise since the '90s; we've saved the species from numerous off-road threats and millions of acres of cattle grazing, as well as recently halting a disastrous plan to relocate 1,000-plus tortoises to inferior habitat, killing hundreds of them in the process.

Read more in the San Jose Mercury News.


37 Groups Demand Action for Jaguars

With a court deadline looming due to a Center for Biological Diversity lawsuit, this Tuesday the Center and 36 other groups wrote a letter to the Obama administration requesting designation of critical habitat and development of a recovery plan for endangered jaguars. Ever since the Center compelled the jaguar's placement on the endangered species list for its U.S. population in 1997, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has refused to either designate critical habitat for jaguars or develop a recovery plan for them. In the Center's third round of litigation since 2004 calling for both moves (and after a previous settlement agreement still resulted in no action), last year a judge ordered the agency to reconsider its stance by January 8, 2010. Time's almost up, and the jaguar needs action now.

The last known wild U.S. jaguar was killed last year after a bungled snaring effort by the Arizona Game and Fish Department, intended for radio-collaring but divorced from the scientific conservation intent of a recovery plan. We're separately suing the state agency to prevent them from killing additional jaguars. But for the species to reclaim part of its U.S. range with more than just a few animals, it will need critical habitat and a recovery plan.

Check out our press release, where you can also read our letter to the feds, and learn more about our campaign for the jaguar.


2009 Deadliest Year for Florida Panthers and Manatees

On New Year's Eve, a three-month-old Florida panther kitten was tragically hit and killed by a car in Naples, Florida, bringing the number of 2009 panther road kills to 17 -- the highest number ever recorded -- while total 2009 panther deaths reached 24. Florida manatees also suffered a record deadly year with 429 of the majestic animals dying, the largest number since recordkeeping began in 1974. At least 97 of the deaths were due to boat collisions.
With Florida's human population booming, there are more and more roads, more and more cars, and more and more boats. And, of course, less and less habitat and wildlife.

The Center for Biological Diversity just filed a notice of intent to sue the feds for not moving forward on our petition to protect 3 million acres of "critical habitat" for the Florida panther. We've also petitioned to expand manatee protected areas. When both species have enough habitat, the death rates will decline.

Read more in Scientific American.


Video: Last Indian Dancing Bear Set Free

A seven-year campaign by Indian activists to end the exploitation of bears came to a triumphant conclusion at the end of last year when the final dancing bear was set free. Traditionally, wild bears were captured and made to dance for money by "trainers" who controlled the bears with a rope pushed painfully through a hole drilled into their noses.

See a video here of the last dancing bear being set free.


You Bid With Lids, We Won Money -- Thanks

The results are in, and they're great. Through its Bid With Your Lid program, last fall eco-savvy organic yogurt company Stonyfield Farm promised to donate a portion of a $100,000 fund to the Center for Biological Diversity, based on the number of votes we got from people across the country. And you voted. With 27,770 votes, the Center wound up just a fraction of a percentage point short of first place in the program, earning us a whopping $35,371.77 donation from Stonyfield.

Because of your support, our 2010 campaign to save 1,000 animals and plants will kick off with a big extra boost. We and 1,000 others thank you.


KierĂ¡n Suckling
Executive Director


Photo credits: leatherback sea turtle by Scott R. Benson, NMFS Southwest Fisheries Science Center; Kieran Suckling and Marcey Olajos; leatherback sea turtle by Nancy Black, NOAA; marbled murrelet by Gus Vliet Van, USFWS; Peninsular bighorn sheep by Steve Elkins; desert tortoise by Jeff Servoss, USFWS; jaguar courtesy Wikimedia Commons/Cburnett under the GNU free documentation license; southern rockhopper penguin (c) Larry Master/MasterImages.org; Florida panther by George Gentry, USFWS; Indian dancing bear and handler courtesy Wikimedia Commons/www.viajar24h.com under the Creative Commons attribution license; logo courtesy Stonyfield Farm.

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OLL LEWIS: Yesterday’s News Today

http://cfztemporarynews.blogspot.com/

On this day in 1935 Elvis Presley was born. Several myths with a Fortean flavour have sprung up about the singer, not least that he faked his death and it was a lookalike that had died, allowing Elvis to leave the building undetected, or that his ghost stalks Memphis and Graceland (ala Marc Cohn’s song ‘Walking in Memphis’ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pRjPhFbvfZ4).

My favourite Elvis story has to be his vision of Josef Stalin. There is little question that this actually happened because he had a crowd of witnesses with him at the time. The story goes that in 1964 Elvis was driving through the desert on his way to film ‘Harem Scarem’ when he looked up at the sky. Presley was shocked to see the clouds parting to form a man’s face, but not just any face, the face of Joseth Stalin. Because the cold war was in full swing this perturbed Elvis somewhat and he asked the various people in his entourage if they saw it too and they did. Elvis ran into the desert to try to get a better look at the clouds, shouting out for the other people who were on his bus to follow him. Eventually his spiritual advisor Larry Geller caught up with him. According to Geller this is what happened next:

"It's God!" Elvis cried. "It's God!" Tears streamed down his face as he hugged me tightly and said, "...I thank you from the bottom of my heart. You got me here. I'll never forget, never, man. It really happened. I saw the face of Stalin and I thought to myself, Why Stalin? Is it a projection of something that's inside of me? Is God trying to show me what he thinks of me? And then it happened! The face of Stalin turned right into the face of Jesus, and he smiled at me, and every fiber of my being felt it... Oh, God. Oh, God," Elvis kept saying.

Then he paused and added a peculiar aside. "Can you imagine what the fans would think if they saw me like this?"

"They'd only love you all the more," Geller said.

"Yeah," he said, "well, I hope that's true."

Make of Elvis’s road to Damascus moment what you will but this goes to show unsual things can happen to anyone. Regular readers of Yesterday’s News Today will also know I’m a bit of a fan of Al Stewart so I can hardly mention this incident without providing a weblink to Al’s song based upon it: http://www.last.fm/music/Al+Stewart/_/Elvis+At+The+Wheel

While I’m on the subject of Elvis and songs, though, it would be remis of me not to post a link to an Elvis song for you to listen to while you read today’s Fortean zoology news so here you go: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FEO7uu1Pp8I

But enough talk of Elvis; here’s the real reason you’re here: it’s time for the latest Fortean zoology news:

'The bat swooped down and bit each of the men'
Why Nessie may have sunk without trace
Melbourne Zoo's pregnant elephant
Taiwan scientist discovers 'strawberry' crab
Alan & Fleck have an "Arctic Fox" of a time

“Where do you think that Arctic fox comes from?”
“Alaska.”
“Don’t be silly, Arctic foxes can’t speak!”