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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, May 02, 2010

JON AND CORINNA'S LATEST COLUMN IN THE BIDEFORD POST

The latest Jon and Corinna column from the Bideford Post might inform and amuse.

INTERESTING EXAMINATION OF NEOTENY IN TAILED AMPHIBIANS



RICHARD FREEMAN: THE LONESOME DEATH OF A MEDITERRANEAN MONK SEAL

There are only 540 Mediterranean monk seals left and now one has been brutally killed near the town of Yalıkavak, Turkey. The seal, a female, was bludgeoned and shot to death for no apparent reason. I don’t know if they have the death sentence in Turkey but I hope that if whoever did this is caught they are executed. Some think the owner of a fish farm is responsible.

MYSTERY BATRACHIAN IN DEVON

Richard Muirhead found this on http://www.wildlifeextra.com/



What sort of frog/toad have I seen?


This evening, I saw a very large frog or toad that was bright yellow on its dorsal surface, with a few large black spots. It was about 4-5 inches in length. I live in South Devon, could anyone please help me in identifying this creature. I live in a rural area and qhite often see frogs, toads and even newts(in neighbour's cat bowl!) but have never seen anything like this.


Posted on: 24 Oct 2009 03:34:21 Posted by: Phil A

I'm damned if I know.

LINDSAY SELBY: Mysteries from "The Green Hell"

There have been reports since the 1800s of living dinosaurs in Bolivia and other South American countries. At the end of the 19th century Scientific American recorded the following remarkable events: 'The Brazilian Minister at La Paz, Bolivia, had remitted to the Minister of Foreign Affairs in Rio photographs of drawings of an extraordinary saurian killed on the Beni after receiving thirty-six balls. By order of the President of Bolivia the dried body, which had been preserved in Asuncion, was sent to La Paz.' The 'monster' was reported to be twelve meters long (39 ft) from snout to point of the tail, which latter was flattened. Its head resemblance the head of a dog and its legs were short, ending with formidable claws. The legs and abdomen sported a kind of scale armour, and all the back is protected by a still thicker and double cuirass, starting from behind the ears of the anterior head, and continuing to the tail. The neck is long, and the belly large and almost dragging on the ground."( "A Bolivian Saurian," Scientific American, 49:3, 1883.)

It sounds like a crocodile-like species but reports continued to trickle in. Franz Hermann Schmidt, a German traveller, told of an encounter in 1907. Schmidt was travelling along the Solimoes River in Colombia along with Captain Rudolph Pfleng. Pfleng and Schmidt encountered some huge tracks along the shores of a small lake and trees nearby were stripped to a height of 14 feet. The following day Schmidt, Pfleng and their Indian guides saw a dark shape among the trees on the shore. A large tapir-like head was suspended on a snake-like neck more than 10 feet above the ground. The creature advanced towards the party but did not seem agitated. It was some 8 or 9 feet tall, with clawed flippers in place of legs. The explorers opened fire on the beast and it dived back into the water. Sounds like a strange sight; almost giraffe-like head and neck.

In 1931 Harald Westin reported seeing a creature along Brazil's Rio Marmore. He said it was 20-foot long and resembled a legged boa constrictor. Leonard Clark reported that he heard tales when travelling up the Rio Perene in Brazil and was told of herbivorous creatures that sounded much like a prehistoric sauropod. 'In 1907 Lieutenant-Colonel Percy Fawcett of the British Army was sent to mark the boundaries between Brazil and Peru. He was an officer in the Royal Engineers and was well known as a meticulous recorder of facts. In the Beni Swamps of Madre de Dios Colonel P. H. Fawcett saw an animal he believed to be Diplodocus... The Diplodocus story is confirmed by many of the tribes east of the Ucayali...' (The Rivers Ran East by Leonard Clark, 1953.) Then in 1975 a Swiss businessman was told by a guide called Simon Bastos about such a dinosaur-like creature. The long-necked creature had destroyed Bastos's canoe after he had landed along a riverbank. Bastos was later told that such long-necked creatures frequented deep waterholes and rarely came out on land.


It is all hearsay and inconclusive, and the report in Scientific America was later thought to be a hoax. The reports taken at face value seem to describe different creatures, creatures that we may recognise now but were not known then.


Then there are tales of giant apes, like King Kong. The evidence amounts to mainly a grainy photo published in a 1929 London newspaper. Sitting on a packing case, propped up with a large stick, was what purported to be the body of a giant ape, the 'Mono Rey.' It was said to have inhabited the dense jungles of northern Bolivia around the Madidi river. The last person to explore the region, Major Percy Harrison Fawcett, in the 1920s, disappeared without a trace. Simon Chapman, along with two companions, took a canoe into the swamps and rainforests of Bolivia to find the mythical monster of the Madidi. The story became a book: The Monster of the Madidi - Searching for the Giant Ape of the Bolivian Jungle. Simon Chapman.


He, however, did not find anything, but an interesting tale if you get chance to read it.


So the stories continue but I think the sightings may turn out to be creatures we now know and have named. I just love the romance of these tales, though; the explorer hacking their way through the jungle and coming across new wonders and unknown creatures.

THE ENTOMOLOGICAL LIVESTOCK GROUP..

About once a month I quote extensively from the newsletter of the Entomological Livestock Group. It is one of the minor highlights of my month when it arrives in my email inbox. I cannot reccomend it enough - at only £12 for a year's subs (if you want it delivered electronically) it is invaluable.

This issue, for example, has a fantastic article about breeding the Japanese vapourer moth, with pictures and a step-by-step account. However, its main role is as a wants, exchanges and adverts list for those people interested in keeping insects as a hobby.

If you are even half interested in insects, write to:

The Editor, Paul W. Batty,
50 Burns Road, Dinnington,
Sheffield, S25 2LN. England.
Tel/Fax: (+44) 01909 565 564.
MOBILE: 07792 415 886
E-Mail: pwbelg@clara.co.uk

OLL LEWIS: Yesterday's News Today

http://cryptozoologynews.blogspot.com/

On this day in 1763 the man known as George Psalmanazar died. If you pay attention to my fevered ramblings upon these hallowed pages you’ll probably be wondering why the name rings a bell. George Psalmanazar was not his real name, which is lost to the mists of time, for he is (cue dramatic music)… The Native of Formosa.
You can read about why that should be of any interest to man or beast here:

http://forteanzoology.blogspot.com/2010/03/oll-lewis-crypto-cons-native-of-formosa.html

I recommend you do read it as it is quite an interesting tale.
And now, the news: just the one story today, but an interesting one:

Fact or fiction?

Q: Why did the ghost not go to the cinema?
A: Because he had ‘nobody’ to go with.

(Yes, I know it has nothing to do with the news story, but its one of my favourite jokes).

LINDSAY SELBY: Decline of the Vampire Bat

Vampire bats are not exactly cryptozoological but are creatures of legend and myths from all over the world, especially Europe. Vampire bats do exist, but only in Central and South America, not in Transylvania. The three species are: the common vampire bat (Desmodus rotundus), the white-winged vampire bat (Diaemus, or Desmodus, youngi) and the hairy-legged vampire bat (Diphylla ecaudata). So where does the name come from? 'Bat' comes from Old Norse 'ledhrblaka' or 'leather flapper.' It became 'bakka' and then 'bat.' 'Vampire' comes from Magyar 'vampir,' meaning 'witch', not blood-sucker as such. Bats are in the single order Chiroptera (hand-winged) and are thought to have appeared n the late Palaeocene or early Cretaceous (Altringham 1996). There is poor representation of bats in the fossil record. The bats have a wingspan of approximately eight inches and a body about three inches long. They tend to feed on the blood of large birds, cattle, horses and pigs. However, they don’t suck the blood of their prey but use their teeth, to make small cuts in the skin of a sleeping animal. The bats' saliva contains a chemical that keeps the blood from clotting. The bats then lap up the blood that oozes from the wound. Another chemical in their saliva numbs the animal's skin and keeps them from waking up. A vampire bat finds its prey with echo-location (like radar), smell and sound. They fly about one meter above the ground. Then they use special heat sensors in their noses to find veins that are close to the skin.

They live in colonies, which have quite strong social bonds, grooming each other and recognising their fellows with voice and smell. The structure is imperative to their survival, as there are many nights when a bat may not find a host to feed on. The hungry bats are fed from others through a process of regurgitation. If vampire bats do not get their share of blood on a regular basis, they rapidly deteriorate. A bat may be close to starvation within 2-3 days (Altringham 1996). In the wild vampire bats live to about 9 years but can reach 20 years in captivity. Vampire bats mate all year round. The bat may consume up to 60% of its body weight in blood and it only needs the red blood cells; it will begin excreting plasma before its meal is over. With a specialised stomach and kidneys the vampire rapidly removes the plasma as it may take up to twenty minutes to the bat to finish its meal (Altringham 1996).

Central and South America are alive with superstitions about the vampire bat. It is said that bats are dirty germ-carriers feeding on human blood or that they have supernatural powers allowing them to change shapes from man to bat. While these legends may sound strange, there is recorded evidence of human hosts. Glover Allen (1939) wrote about bats feeding on humans, “while travelling down the Amazon valley, he (Dr William Farabee) awoke one morning to find that a vampire during the night had gouged a small piece of skin from the tip of his nose and had evidently feasted while he slept, for the wound was still bleeding slightly”. Not all tales are negative; bloodletting has traditionally held healing qualities.

Western literature has embraced the vampire bat, making it popular in fiction with Dracula stories as they did not appear in early vampire myth. The European folklore of vampires did not incorporate the bat probably because they did not exist in Europe. Apart from the captive animals in zoos, vampire bats have apparently never been found outside of the Americas. See articles below about the vampire bat as disease carrier.

Vampire bats blamed for Venezuela rabies outbreak

By Ian James in Caracas, Venezuela Sunday, 10 August 2008

see : http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/vampire-bats-blamed-for-venezuela-rabies-outbreak-889772.html

At least 38 Venezuelans have died as a result of a suspected outbreak of rabies spread by bites from vampire bats. Laboratory tests have yet to confirm the cause, but the symptoms point to rabies, say researchers from the University of California at Berkeley and other medical experts. At least 38 Warao Indians have died since June 2007, 16 of them since the start of June this year, according to a report that the Berkeley researchers, an anthropologist and public health specialist, and indigenous leaders provided to Venezuelan officials last week. All the victims died within two to seven days after the onset of symptoms. One village, Mukuboina, lost eight of its roughly 80 inhabitants – all of them children. Health officials investigating the outbreak are now planning to distribute mosquito nets to prevent bat bites and send a medical boat to provide treatment in the remote villages on the Orinoco river delta.Outbreaks of rabies spread by vampire bats are a problem in various tropical areas of South America, including Brazil and Peru. The common vampire bat, which feeds on mammals' blood, swoops down and generally approaches its sleeping prey on the ground. The bat then makes a small incision with its teeth, and an anticoagulant in its saliva keeps the blood flowing while it drinks the blood. Symptoms of rabies include fever, tingling in the feet followed by paralysis, and an extreme fear of water.

And also this article from 2005: http://www.livescience.com/animals/051104_vampire_bats.html

Excerpt from article :Bites from rabid vampire bats were blamed for 23 deaths in northern Brazil over the past two months, according to local newspaper reports. Many scientists fear such encounters will become more common as the bats' forests homes are destroyed and they are lured towards cattle ranches and farms where livestock and humans make easy prey. A common one is that the bats bite the throats of their human victims. The truth is a little less glamorous."They're more likely to go for a person's big toe," French told LiveScience. "There's a good blood supply there and the bite is usually less noticeable."Also, instead of sucking the blood of their victims as is generally believed, vampire bats make a small tear in their victim's skin and lap at the blood as it oozes out. When the bats have finished their meal, they're often so engorged with blood that they're too heavy to fly. The bats have to crawl off their sleeping victims and go someplace to digest their meal before returning home. A lot of human deaths could be prevented if people take simple precautions, French said.

Ker Than, LiveScience Staff Writer posted: 04 November 2005

It seems such a shame that these animals could be made extinct by humans destroying their homes and forcing them into a position where their hunting makes them open to being eradicated. They will then be true cryptozoological legends , and I for one hope that doesn’t happen.

Altringham, John D. 1996. Bats, Biology and Behavior Oxford University Press; University of Leeds, New York.

Allen, Glover Morrill. 1939. Bats Dover Publications; Harvard University, New York.