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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.

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Wednesday, February 17, 2010

RICHARD FREEMAN: THE MONSTERS OF PRAGUE (Part 5)

The Burning Man #2

This flaming entity is said to prowl Karlova Street. It is supposedly the ghost of a miser. In life he was a property owner and amassed lots of houses and money. A great fire broke out on Karlova Street but he would not leave the money he had stored on his premises and he feared his gold would melt. Trying to carry it in a sack on his back he died of a heart attack and his body was consumed by the flames.


He is said to manifest as a flaming figure whenever a large fire breaks out in the city. He will only cease his manifestations when someone helps him carry his bag of gold.

LINDSAY SELBY: Eels as monsters

In The Monsters of Loch Ness by Roy P. Mackal (1976 Futura London) he wrote about the investigations in Ireland. The Loch Ness investigation teams did not confine them selves just to Loch Ness but also looked at Loch Morar and a couple of loughs in Ireland. Some of the information that lead them to look at Irish loughs is detailed in the book (p37-39 in the edition cited above) and includes:

Teige O’Donovan reporting sightings going back to 1914 from Lough Abisdealy (which translated means the lake of the monster). The descriptions of the creature were that it had a small flat head , along neck and three large loops sticking out of the water. Size was estimated at 25 feet( 8 metres) and the creature was dark brown. Interestingly one of the observers said the creature swung a portion of it’s body out of the water and described it as “looking exactly like the tail end of a huge conger eel”.


Lough Fadda has been discussed on here before.


There was strange sighting at Lough Claddaghduff by a Mr. Michael Coyne in 1956 who reported seeing a creature like looked like a large eel with ten feet showing as it turned over to display it’s lighter underbelly.
There was the story of the large eel stuck in a gully between Loughs Gowlan and Derrylesa from 100 years ago, which died.


In Lough Neagh in 1956 fishermen reported their nets damaged “by a thing like a giant eel”


You may wonder how this was connected to Loch Ness. There were stories that Roy Mackal mentions(p68) from older residents of Loch Ness that claimed eels of 10 feet(3 metres) to 16 feet( 5 metres) long had been caught in the loch years ago. I also heard the same stories from an elderly fisherman in 1972. He said when the eel fishing had been at it’s peak many years ago ,very large eels had been caught . I have been unable to substantiate this but I have seen it mentioned in other books about the Loch( I believe Tim Dinsdale mentions it in his books). Eels live in the loch in large numbers but are the normal European eel who don’t normally grow to enormous sizes. There have been reports of eels with manes being seen in the loch and divers reporting eels thicker than a man's leg, but no proof has been forthcoming. The theory that the lake monsters are giant eels is not a new one but when you look at reported sightings the descriptions of many say “eel like” . Eels tend to dwell near the bottoms of lakes and would only occasionally appear on the surface, perhaps when chasing fish. The manes reported could be a frill such as some fish like the Oar Fish have and a very large eel would indeed be very thick around the middle to be almost as big as a man’s thigh.

Dale Drinnon points out on the CFZ website there could be more than one type of “monster” , some sightings could be a large eel , some a huge fish. Certainly a giant eel has more credence than a plesiosaur but could be a breed of eel from the Ice Age and hence the large size. Anything is of course conjecture but then science starts with conjecture and observation and then tries to prove or disprove a theory , which is what cryptozoologists are actively doing.

I am not so well today so apologies for any spelling errors or woolly thinking.

MUIRHEAD`S MYSTERIES: BIG BAD BIRDS AND A SMALLER DUCK

I thought I`d concentrate on birds today, for some reason. No, my house hasn`t been attacked by starlings overnight, but it could have been!

The first report is from 1966, from a Salt Lake City newspaper the Desert News of July 18th 1966:

'But Would You Believe Batman?

A huge bird hovering over the east bench area sent residents scurrying for binoculars, dark glasses and
hats Monday.

Most residents agreed that it could be an eagle, but it may have been Batman.

C. L. Fairbanks, 817 Logan, saw the bird and it was “about as big as a Piper Cub airplane.” It didn`t have a motor and had retractable landing gear.

It disappeared eastward after a few moments of circling the area.'
(1)

Now something from the late 1970s:

'There are big birds…and then there are BIG BIRDS.The former category includes condors and storks and others with wingspreads ranging up to 10 feet, which are sometimes seen far from their usual haunts. The latter are something sufficiently different to be considered Fortean, at least until a more precise term can be applied with assurance.

The latest spurt of Big Bird reports has come from exotic Central Illinois, where one appears to have tried to carry off a 10-year-old, 70 – pound boy.The newspaper reports were immediately followed by the the expected flurry of “explanations”, none of which accounted for the observed phenomenon.

On the evening of July 25,1977, according to wire service stories, Mrs. Ruth Lowe, of Lawndale, Ill. (35 miles south-east of Peoria) was cleaning the family camper when she heard a scream. Upon running to the back yard, she saw her son, Marlon, fighting with a huge bird that had lifted him two feet off the ground.

The Big Bird dropped the boy, was joined by another of its kind, and the two flew off in the direction of Kickapoo Creek. Mrs. Lowe described the birds as looking like condors, primarily black, but with white rings around their necks. She estimated their wingspans at eight feet. Mrs.Lowe`s husband, Jake, and neighbors James and Betty Daniels ran to the yard in time to see the birds.
(Ed of INFO Note:……..One theory that the California forest fires may have driven a few birds east may have some merit).

Mr Daniels told UPI, “If I had just had a can of beer earlier, then I could have said I imagined I saw it. But I didn`t have any beer that day.” Mrs.Lowe delayed reporting the incident the to the police for a day,fearing they wouldn`t believe her. “I thought if I did tell the police, they`ll think I`m crazy, and they did.”

Logan County Conservation Officer A. A. Mervar guessed the four adults saw turkey or king vultures, though neither is remotely capable of picking up a 70-pound child. A spokesman for the Brookfield, Ill., Zoo said an African stork escaped from custody on July 31 and was one of six received from Kenya in mid July, but it was still in the zoo on July 25. Also, upon escaping July 31 it flew 60 (or 80?) north, while Lawndale is 130 miles to the south.'
(2)

(Hall has much more information on this particular big bird attack:

'Following his release from the bird`s talons, Marlon Lowe ran into the camper in the Lowe driveway and wouldn`t come out for a long while.Reportedly he wasn`t even scratched from the experience. His shirt was frayed but not torn. His mother reported that afterwards he spent a restless night trying to sleep.”He kept fighting those birds all night long.” she said' (3)

The next one and a half pages are made up of similar big bird reports.

On June 7th 1996 a gentleman told me about a report of a large bird “about the size of an eagle. Brownish with other markings and ragged wings”. This was at Orcheston, Wiltshire, about 15 miles N.N.W. of Salisbury. (4)

On October 6th 1999 I retrieved an e-mail off cz@onelist.com from a M. Wren to the group which ran as follows:

'While checking old animal prints from the 1800s that are up for auction, I`ve run across a duck called “The Longtailed or Northern Harled”, it looks very much like a hybrid between the extinct Labrador duck (coloring) and the North American pintail (body and feather formation). Is any one on the loop familiar with birds and especially ducks? I`m not as sure of birds as I am with mammals and I don`t know if this is an unusual duck or not.

A copy of the image can be send (sic) to any one interested in this one.

Tanks! (sic)
Wren'
(5)

Finally, back to another big bird report, this time from Alaska in 2002:

'It may be a bird. It almost certainly isn`t a plane. All that is known for sure is that several people have reported seeing an enormous creature with a 4-metre wingspan flying over south-west Alaska in recent days. Those who saw it are urging children to stay in doors.” At first I thought it was one of those old-time Otter planes,” Moses Coupchiak, 43, from Togiak, 400 miles from Anchorage, told the Anchorage Daily News…John Bouker said he saw “the bird” shortly afterwards about 300 metres away from the plane he was flying. “The people in the plane saw him. He`s huge. He`s huge. He`s really, really big.” he said. “You wouldn`t want to have your children out.” Phil Schemf, a federal specialist in the Alaskan capital, Juneau, told the News he was sceptical.” I`m certainly not aware of anything with a 14ft wingspan that`s been alive for the past 100,000 years…”' (6)

1. Desert News July 18th 1966. Richard Muirhead`s collection and M.Hall Thunderbirds America`s Living Legends of Giant Birds (2004) p.73
2. D.Berliner Big Birds. INFO Journal. Vol.6 no.3 Sept/Oct. 1977
3. M.Hall op cit. pp15-16
4. R.Muirhead notes.
5. E-mail from M.Wren to cz@onelist.com October 6th 1999
6. O.Burkeman First it was bigfoot,now it`s big bird. The Guardian October 19th 2002

The B52s Rock Lobster

We were at a party
His ear lobe fell in the deep
Someone reached in and grabbed it
It was a rock lobster!

Rock Lobster!!!

Rock Lobster!!!

We were at the beach
Everybody had matching towels
Somebody went under a dock
And there they saw a rock
It wasn`t a rock
It was a rock lobster!

ANDREW HOPCROFT: Thought this might be appropriate for your 'taxonomic failures'.

I always like it when people pick up the ball and run with it:

I once saw a pair of Woolly pigs (Mangalitza) exhibited at an agricultural show. However, this I believe is a sheep!
Regards

Andrew Hopcroft

OLL LEWIS: Yesterday’s News Today

http://cryptozoologynews.blogspot.com/

On this day in 1979 snow fell in the Saharah desert for the only known time.
And now, the news:

Mexican gray wolf on loose in Forest Lake
Rare wild jaguar spotted just south of the border
Coleraine author taps into fascination with mythical beast
Rare beetles found at Blakeney National Nature Reserve

Well, doesn’t that just ‘beat all’…
(I do believe that if you check the official records of puns held in the British Library, you’ll find that this is the first time since the 1960s that anybody has made a pun based on a story about beetles that hasn’t been based upon The Beatles).

LINDSAY WRITES

http://cryptozoo-oscity.blogspot.com/2010/02/i-will-be-speaking-at-weird-weekend.html
I am going to be a speaker at the Weird Weekend in August this year (see link below) so this a blatant plug, and I am going to talk about my experiences at Loch Ness as it is 40 years this summer since I first went up there aged 14 and met the LNIB people.

So what’s the big deal, you might think.

Well, the big deal is that for all the years I have been going up there and all the years investigating stuff, this will be the first time I will be coming out in public about it. The reasons I can now do this is that I no longer work as an academic as ill health has forced me to leave work and now my daughter is getting established in a career of her own as a plant scientist, it won’t effect her.

I didn’t want her teased at school because her mother was a monster hunter, and in academia, having what was termed strange hobbies meant you would be passed over for jobs and even lose your job. It is thanks to Jonathan Downes from CFZ, who encouraged me to write for the CFZ blog and now I am attempting a book about Loch Ness. If it passes muster CFZ will publish it.

So it will be a big thing for me to be able to talk about Loch Ness and the characters I met there over the years and the whole experience. Maybe some of the blog readers on here will be going. If so, please come up and introduce yourselves. I would love to meet you.

MAX BLAKE: The final one in the current bunch of Taxonomy Fail

I think that young Maximilian should be inundated with emails entreating him to leave his studies for a few hours and find some more Taxonomy Fails, because they do amuse me....

RICHARD FREEMAN: The Monsters of Prague (Part Four)

The Vodníci of Charles Bridge
In Czech legend the Vodníci is a water spirit resembling a old man with green skin and with a beard like water weed. They are fond of drowning humans and eating them.

A coachman named Vincenc Sahul, who did not belive in the water sprite, once shouted out "Vodníci give me your skin to make a drum".


The engraged creature shouted back: "You country yokel with straw on your boots, you won't get my skin but I will have yours! You are dead at this very moment."


Shocked, the coachman said he was only joking and begged the Vodníci to spare him as he was about to be married. "You beg in vain; he who offends me receives a terrible punishment. If you have no headstone get one now." Then the water monster hauled the coachman, his coach and horses into the River Vltava where the coachman was drowned and eaten.