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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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Tuesday, May 25, 2010

DALE DRINNON: Possible Identifications for some of Bruce Champagne's Independent Sea-Serpent Classification Categories

Bruce Champagne has had an independant classification for sea-serpent types that has been circulating around the internet for some years. The article is at StrangeArk: Bruce Champagne. A Preliminary Evaluation of a Study of the Morphology, Behavior, Autoecology, and Habitat of Large, Unidentified Marine Animals, Based on Recorded Field Observations. Available at strangeark. Pages 99-118 And I have never been able to get in contact with Bruce despite frequent trying (I tried just before submitting this blog entry, in fact).

No matter. His classification is posted on Wikipedia and at other places. His categories go as follows:

Bruce Champagne Sea-Serpents

1A Long-Necked: A 30-foot sea lion with a long neck and long tail. The neck is the same thickness or smaller than the head. Hair reported. It is capable of travel on land. Cosmopolitan.








1B Long-Necked: Similar to the above type but over 55 feet long and far more robust. The neck is of lesser thickness than the head. Only inhabits water near Great Britain and Denmark.








2A Eel-Like: A 20 to 30-foot-long heavily scaled or armoured reptile. It is distinguished by a small square head with prominent tusks. 'Motorboating' behaviour on surface. Inhabits only the North Atlantic.




2B Eel-Like: A 25 to 30-foot beaked whale. It is distinguished by a tapering head and a dorsal crest. 'Motorboating' behaviour engaged in. Inhabits the Atlantic and Pacific. Possibly extinct.



2C Eel-Like: A 60-70 foot, elongated reptile with no appendages. The head is very large and cow-like or reptilian with teeth similar to a crab-eater seal's. Also shares the 'motorboating' behaviour. Inhabits the Atlantic, Pacific, and South China Sea. Possibly extinct.







3 Multi-Humped: 30-60 feet long. A possible reptile with a dorsal crest and the ability to move in several undulations. The head has a distinctive 'cameloid' appearance. Identical with Cadborosaurus willsi and is behind the Naden Harbor carcass.



4A Sailfin: A 30 to 70-foot beaked whale. It is distinguished by a very small head and a very large dorsal fin. Only found in the North West Atlantic. Possibly extinct.



4B Sailfin: An elongated animal of possible mammalian or reptilian identity reported from 12 to 85 feet long. It has a long neck with a turtle-like head and a long continuous dorsal fin. Cosmopolitan.



5 Carapaced: A large turtle or turtle-like creature (mammal?) reported from 10 to 45 feet long. Carapace is described as jointed, segmented, and plated. May exhibit a dorsal crest of "quills" and a type of oily hair. Cosmopolitan.


6 Saurian: A large and occasionally spotted crocodile or crocodile-like creature up to 65 feet long. Found in the Northern Atlantic and Mediterranean.


7 Segmented/Multi-limbed: An elongated mammalian creature up to 65 feet long with the appearance of segmentation and many fins. Found in the Western Atlantic, Indian, and Pacific.

This matter came up again because of the recent reports of a grey whale seen in the Mediterranean. I had previously identified one of Bruce's categories as the same as the 'Scrag Whale' and hence a grey whale, and I mentioned that was my opinion on Darren Naish's blog the first time the matter was posted. I had first posted about the matter at my group, Frontiers of Zoology, when the group was new, 2006-2007.











L: The Israeli Gray Whale 2010 R: Scrag Whale Drawing From Iceland, ca 1640.jpg

Bruce's long-necked categories 1A and 1B are basically Heuvelmans's long-necked and merhorse categories. They are quite possibly female and male of the same species. The lengths he gives tally well with my average estimates (assuming female and male lengths) worldwide. Nowadays, I would say those estimates are probably on the high side for both series of reports, even though Heuvelmans's estimated lengths are much longer.

The interesting part starts with 2A. This is obviously the same as a 'Tusked Whale' reported in the South Pacific and Indian Oceans, and Gesner has a depiction of it. It is not a reptile at all, and I think some of Bruce's sightings are from the New England area. There is a fossil form that corresponds to the description, Odobenoketops, although the fossil form is much smaller. The fossil form is well known in Cryptozoological circles owing to another matter, which is possibly an overlapping category, Southern Narwhals as discussed by Karl Shuker.







L: odobenoketops R: Gesner's Chybby Whale (tusked whale)

Category 2B is pertinent here because although Bruce Champagne calls it a type of beaked whale, it is obviously a gray whale and the same as the Scrag whale of the Atlantic, up until recently thought to be extinct. (Gray whale is the correct spelling, I understand)

Category 2C is evidently a type of giant eel: I have no idea why BC thought it had the odd teeth he ascribes to it. Perhaps the teeth are due to confused reports of actual seals. The reconstruction is oddly short and stumpy. My reconstruction from Heuvelmans' Super-Eel reports made composites of two quite distinct creatures which I called a Megaconger and a Titanoconger. Heuvelmans was aware of the size difference (Megaconger 20-30 feet average, Titanoconger 50-100 feet long) but did not further subdivide the category. The two are also distinct in colouration and habitat.The freshwater Giant Eel reports generally correspond to the Megaconger and not to the Titanoconger type.









Titanoconger and megaconger

Category 3 is the same as the "Caddycarcass" creature, which I would say was a decayed shark (Pseudoplesiosaur).

It does not help that Bruce Champagne combines this with the Many-Humped reports, which refer to a standing wave action and not to the actual appearance of whatever creature is producing the wave (Several different kinds of things are known to make that type of wave pattern)


4A is interesting because it corresponds to other reports of a type of beaked whale with a large backfin far back, also reported in the Pacific. And 4B is obviously the same as the Valhalla Sea-Serpent. I do not know why BC gives it such a wide size range nor Geographic range, although I was aware of other reports of the type (Heuvelmans calls one a "Marine Dimetrodon"). I actually do not know what it is, but with that head and neck it is presumably related to the Plesiosaurs.












Category 5 is the Rhapsody-type giant turtle, obviously based on reports of a humpback whale turned turtle. Reports specify that the foreflippers are 15 feet long. Humpbacks are the only known animals that have 15-foot-long flippers. The "White Carapace" is the whale's lighter belly.

Category 6 is an interesting subsection of the Marine Saurian reports and what BC has illustrated is a large seagoing crocodile, probavbly what was described as the Tarasque in the Mediterranean, the MedCroc. I append an illustration of a "Great Horned Alligator" made in review of Mark A Hall's article "'Horrors' From the Mesozoic, in PURSUIT. (Artist unknown). The same "60-foot horned Alligator (Crocodile) is spoken of in folklore and illustrated in Thailand, and other possible representations of it are from Indus Valley seals. It is worldwide in the warmer regions and better at swimming at sea than the much smaller C. porosis, which it otherwise resembles.

This is NOT the only kind of "Marine Saurian": there is a type that is like an "Alligator" (including the C. porosis references) and then one or more other types which appear to be Mosasaurs.

Category 7 is obviously the same as Heuvelmans' Many-Finned. It is much thinner than Heuvelmans' version and for comparison I include a reconstruction I once did of the Many-finned as an eel (to go with the St. Olaf sighting and several others). The "Manyfinned" is the most dubious of all of Heuvelmans' categories and all the reports could admittedly be mistaken views of small pods of sharks or toothed whales. The "Pluripinniate Eel" version does however preserve the blunt, turtle-shaped head mentioned in several reports.

I do not attach much significance to the report of the Con Rit carcass, the description was most peculiar and at secondhand (or worse).

So out of these additional categories I see some of the same familiar categories from Heuvelmans' In The Wake of The Sea-Serpents and some other things. The modifications on Heuvelmans' categories are interesting, although I have a different spin on them: and there are a few whales in there, one of a potentially new species but two known. One of the known species is probably the same as the Med Whale, and it has been seen rarely and irregularly for many years past the point when it was thought to be extinct.

NEIL ARNOLD: If This Was...Part three

If This Was In Loch Ness Would It Be A Monster?

LINDSAY SELBY: Ahool Ahoy!

The Ahool is a legendary giant bat. It is named because of its distinctive call: ahooool. It was reported in the rainforests of Java. The island of Java was formed mostly as the result of volcanic activity and is part of Indonesia. Java is a densely populated island with a population of approximately 124 million. It is because of this over-population that the rainforests there have grown smaller, the Gunung Halimun National Park being one of the last examples of lowland forest on the island.

The ahool is described as having an ape-like face with large dark eyes, large claws on its forearms and a body covered in grey fur. It is said to have a wingspan of 10 feet (3 metres), its flattened forearms supporting its leathery wings. It has been reported as seen squatting on the forest floor, and appeared to be the size of a small child; about 4 feet (1.1 metre) in height. The ahool’s habits are to spend its days in waterfall caves, while it spends nights skimming across the jungle waterways, scooping up fish with large claws located on the top of its forearms.

The ahool was first described by Dr Ernest Bartels while exploring the Salak Mountains on the island of Java. In 1925 naturalist Bartels (son of ornithologist M. E. G. Bartels) was exploring a waterfall on the slopes of the Salek Mountains when a giant bat swooped down over his head. Then in 1927, around 11:30 pm Bartels was lying in bed, inside his thatched house close to the Tjidjenkol River in western Java, listening to the sounds of the jungle when he suddenly heard a very different sound coming from almost directly over his hut. This loud and clear cry seemed to utter "A Hool!" Grabbing his torch, Dr Bartels ran out of his hut in the direction the sound seemed to be heading. Less than 20 seconds later he heard it again, a final A Hool! It was the giant bat he encountered 2 years before.


People who have visited the area have questioned the local people about the bat. The people say they have seen it or know of its existence and avoid it as they do other large wild animals. The villages are remote and people do not own cameras etc, so no photos have ever been produced.


Bartels's accounts of the ahool were passed to Ivan T. Sanderson by Bernard Heuvelmans, and Sanderson concluded that the ahool is a form of unclassified bat. Sanderson took an interest in the ahool because he too had a strange encounter with an unknown giant bat in the Assumbo Mountains of Cameroon, in Africa. Sanderson thought that the ahool could be an Oriental form of the giant bat-like creature he witnessed in Africa, called the Kongamato.


The biggest known bat today is the Bismark flying fox, which has a wing span of six feet (almost 2 metres) from wing tip to wing tip. The island of Java is near the flying fox's home of New Guinea, so could it be a relative?

The other theory about ahool is that two large earless owls exist on Java, the spotted wood-owl (Strix seloputo) and the Javan wood-owl (Strix (leptogrammica) bartelsi) (named after Bartels's father) being 16-20 inches (40-50 cms) long and with a wingspan of 4 feet (1.1 metres). However, one would have thought Bartels would have known what the owls looked like, especially as his father discovered one and also the local people would be familiar with them. With the demise of the rain forests, if these creatures exist, they may have been pushed to extinction, which is a sad thought.

See here for the story from Karl Shuker’s book:
http://www.paraview.com/shuker/shuker_excerpt.htm

Holt, Denver W., Berkley, Regan; Deppe, Caroline; Enríquez Rocha, Paula L.; Olsen, Penny D.; Petersen, Julie L.; Rangel Salazar, José Luis; Segars, Kelley P. & Wood, Kristin L. (1999): Family Strigidae (typical owls). In: del Hoyo, J.; Elliott, A. & Sargatal, J. (eds): Handbook of Birds of the World, Volume 5: Barn-owls to Hummingbirds: 76-242, plates 4-20. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. ISBN 84-87334-25-3

OLL'S WOODLAND GARDEN

I know that this sounds like the title of a Japanese fantasy DVD but being Oll, this is probably appropriate. I sent him out about five minutes ago to take some photographs of the new tanks to accompany the bloggo post about Richard Muirhead's donation, and he also took these pics to show how his woodland glade is going. There is a small piece of ground by the main aviary block that I tried to make into a formal-looking flower bed and failed unequivocally.

Oll asked whether he could plant native wild flowering plants in an attempt to attract the local invertebrate population, and (although I was sorely tempted to note that my bed of French marigolds had done a jolly good job of attracting the local invertebrates in the form of slugs) I said yes, and promptly forgot about it.

There are at least sixteen species growing there and it looks very nice. I think he has done a jolly good job....

CARL PORTMAN WRITES

My dear Jon,

Take a look at this little beauty. I photographed it at the British Tarantula Society Exhibition yesterday. It sure ain’t no spider but it’s gorgeous in the extreme – and WEIRD too.

You might like to upload it for all to see on your website. Many people won’t have seen anything like it, I am sure.

I have kept one of these in the past – voracious eaters and diggers and bloody fast too.

Love to you and the team.

Carl

RICHARD MUIRHEAD'S KIND DONATION

Richard Muirhead is (apart from my brother and my cousin Pene) the person I have known longest in this world. We became friends in the summer of 1970 and have known each other (with a gap between 1970-1992) ever since. Yesterday he was kind enough to give us a donation of a fiver, and we spent it on a filter for one of the new tanks in the conservatory, which are being prepared lovingly by Oll for the fish auction in a couple of weeks...

Thanks, Richard.

OLL LEWIS: Yesterday's News Today

http://cryptozoologynews.blogspot.com/

On this day in 1828 Kaspar Hauser first appeared in Nuremburg, Germany. Hauser was certainly an enigma and told tales of a childhood spent in a dungeon devoid of any human contact. Rumour also circulated that he was related to the house of Baden. By the end of Hauser’s life, which ended in mysterious circumstances, just about all of his protectors and patrons had come to believe they had be duped.

And now, the news:

Polar bears face 'tipping point' due to climate ch...
New, Pink, and Rare
Fisherman baffled by mystery catch
Bees in fatal road crash
I am not a tabby cat but I am a scabby cat

Me-youch! That’s one ugly kitty.

JESSICA THINKS THAT THE WORLD SHOULD KNOW...

...that she can touch the tip of her nose with her tongue. What a revolting child she is!

However, as she points out, in November she is 13, and will have to be treated like a "delightful young lady", and even adopted uncles (like me) can't call her a revolting child any more. That puts me in my place!

I don't know what to make of this



DAVEY'S ON THE ROAD AGAIN

David "Geordie Dave" Curtis, dear friend of us all, is currently in Belarus. He will be posting back dispatches about the local wildlife, the local folklore, and - quite probably - the local vodka.


Just know that you are in our thoughts and prayers dude...

LINDSAY SELBY: A Loch Ness blog

People often say to me Why has nothing conclusive been found at Loch Ness? There are lots of reasons. One is that although the Loch is 23 miles long, large parts of it are not viewable because of trees, bushes etc around it and some parts are not easily accessible as to do so means scrambling down very steep banks. I have put on a photo here to show that even in winter it is still not easy to view through the trees.( it is a bit wonky as I was standing on a slope) People who have never visited the Loch often scoff that no one has yet got a decent photo but they don’t realise how difficult a task that is.

Secondly the water is pitch black once you get a few feet down. The water runs off the mountains and down the hillsides surrounding the Loch bringing with it particles of peat which are suspended in Loch , making it inky black with very poor visibility. Many a diver has come up shaken because they didn’t realise how bad visibility was and the thought that something large my be in there with you is scary. This why underwater photos are so blurry. It is also very cold and stays at a constant low temperature all year round, so prolonged time in the water is not recommended.

Exploring the Loch underwater is difficult. It is very deep (some reports say over 800 feet(266 meters) some 940feet( over 300 meters) in parts) and the sides drop away at a very steep angle. In places 50 feet( about 16 metres) from shore the loch drops to hundreds of feet deep. There are no caves in the Loch side as far as we know as the sides will be mainly granite which does not wear away into caves as limestone does. The steep Loch sides mean sonar often bounces off them giving false signals. Then there is the 25 feet(8 metres) layer of silt at the bottom of the Loch, you would not want to get stuck in that. Who knows what lurks with in it or what bones lie there?

Then there is of course money. To do a sophisticated proper investigation would cost a great deal of money. Most researchers are self financing or get small grants from their workplace. Since the 70s no one seems to have come forward to want to invest in looking for Nessie. Most researchers go up to investigate in their holidays from work, very few are able to afford to spend large amounts of time at the Loch. Steve Feltham is the only investigator that seems to be in permanent occupation theses days. There people who research the Loch fauna and flora etc but they are not monster hunters. They look at fish stocks and water quality and so forth. In the 70’s every layby and every turn in the road seemed to produce someone with binoculars and a camera watching the Loch.

Which brings us to Nessie. Nessie is seen as a joke due to all the hoaxes perpetuated over the years and very few scientists want to be involved . It can cost you your job and certainly held back some people’s careers. The fact it is seen as a hoax means many people have closed ranks and no longer report sightings and locals laugh when you ask. They don’t want to be seen as foolish. The number of times I have heard “Well I will tell you if you promise not to write it down or anything. I don’t want reporters round”. (I don’t like to tell them that being dyslexic I memorise the conversations but I don’t write them down. It is something I learned to do at meetings at work because I couldn’t write down notes fast enough. By the time I had decided how to spell something they had moved on to something else lol. These days of course I would record them or take a laptop). Though that has been a huge amount of sightings over the years , when you divide them by the number of years , it is not a lot. Nessie is quite shy.( taking the average figure of 3000 sightings since 1930s ,divided by the number of years ( 80) it is an average of about 40 a year ). If you then weed out the unlikely and definite mistaken identity you are left with about 2 unexplained sightings a year. It is not a lot is it? Then the chances of getting a decent photo are even remoter. Most people on seeing something can’t believe their eyes and by the time they have recovered enough to grab a camera ,it is often too late, the whatever it is, has gone. So the odds are against us all. That is a sample of reasons why I think nothing conclusive has never been found to support the existence or non existence of the Loch Ness creature.

The only answer is large amounts of cash and sophisticated equipment and trained people to operate it and interpret results in an all year round expedition to search the loch thoroughly. So if anyone has won the lottery and has a spare million???

CAN ANYONE HELP RICHARD FREEMAN?

Following on from my new book The Great Yokai Encyclopedia; An A to Z of Japanese Monsters, the subject is so masive that I have uncovered a book's worth of information since having finished writing. But I need some help.

I have two books written in French that are translations from Japanese works on Yokai. I also have a book of Japanese news stories about monster sightings from the 19th and early 20th century. I need these translating. Can anyone out there read French or Japanese, and would you be willing to help?

Whilst on the subject of requests for help, does anyone know where I can get some formaldehyde in San Antonio? Ken needs some, and cannot source any...

TANIA POOLE: Tales from the Antipodes

So I’ve heard many people mention to me that they have seen things. Big Cats are an extremely common sight here in Central Victoria. Thylacines are more fascinating, but then Yowies and Bunyips are even more exciting! People who have spoken to me are local people yet cover an area from Horsham to Gippsland. I’m yet to speak to some more people I have on my list, so they will come when they come. Josie is a new friend of mine, and she told me about this sighting at a Yule feast, so I decided to make her the first interviewed.

Interview with Josie Harris

Tania: Where do you live?

Josie: I live in Ballarat now, but my family is from Amphitheatre, which is on the way to Avoca. It’s the start of the Great Divide.

T: So is that the Pyrenees area?

J: Yeah, the mountains look the same as the Pyrenees in France. A lot of it is original growth. It wasn’t cut back when it was settled.

T: How long has your family been up there?

J: Grandpa’s farm was selected by our family, so they’ve been there since settlement.

T: How big is the land?

J: 10,000 acres – it’s quite big.

T: What, sheep?

J: Yep, sheep, since the start

T: So, what have you seen up there?

J: It was when I was about 13. I used to ride horses a lot with my cousins. I’ve got 58 cousins – it’s a huge family – so some of my cousins and I were riding along a dirt road that becomes bitumen later on when you go into Amphitheatre, into the actual town. Just before we got to the bitumen this big cat jumped across the road, and scared the crap out of the horses and we got bucked off.

T: What did it look like?

J: First we thought it was a dog, but it was definitely a cat, 'cause it had a big curved tail, kind of like a dusty brown and the top was darker, don’t know if it was black or brown. It came out from behind a tree and ran across the road into the bush.

T: Do you think it was a feral or definitely a big cat?

J: It was definitely a big cat, as it was the size of one.

T: 'Cause of the tail? The tail and the shoulders are quite distinct.

J: Yeah, and it had a flat head, like a big cat – the flat forehead. You could definitely tell it was not a dog.

T: What time of day was this?

J: Afternoon; we’d just had lunch.

T: What year?

J: I was 13 so it must have been 1995

T: Was it in summer?

J: Yeah, summer holidays. And I’ve heard stuff from other relatives as well; a lot of people have been up in the hills, shooting and stuff, my mum swears, and mum isn’t into this....

T: Bit of a sceptic?

J: Yeah, but she reckons one day she was up in the hills shooting with dad, they just heard this massive roar kind of sound coming from the other hills cause you can often yell from one hill to the other and it echoes clearly.

T: Acoustics is good. Called Amphitheatre for a reason.

J: Yeah, it's all rocky – bush with rocky outcrops. There is no one living on the farm now, but we still own it.

T: What else have your relatives seen?

J: One of my cousins thinks he saw one over in Dunnolly – sort of near Amphitheatre, near Maldon. He was at a party and something was scaring the cows outside and they went out and they reckon they saw one. And on WIN (channel 9) news a few years ago there were footprints – they found big cat footprints in the area.

T: Do you or your family have any theories about where they might come from?

J: There are a few stories – one is that some people brought some back after the Second World War or something – had them as mascots and they got away or let them go. Then there’s the theory that a guy at Miners Rest had a circus – when he retired they were pets, but got away – they’re the stories I heard.

T: What else is out there? Have you heard of anything else?

J: [Laughs] my sister thinks she saw a Bunyip. I don’t know if I believe her or not.

T: What did she see? What was it?

J: We don’t know. Mum reckons it might have been a sheep standing on its hind legs eating the trees. My sister was down at the creek one day, and she came running back and said that she saw it.

T: How old was she?

J: She was 12 – she is 18 now.

T: Did she describe it?

J: She said it was big and hairy and it was trying to hide in the trees, but she saw it and it ran off.
T: Did it run like a sheep?

J: On two legs.

T: On two legs?

J: Yeah. She thinks.

T: She thinks? Wasn’t a Yowie possibly?

J: No idea.

T: Was it brown, or was it like a sheep – a pale brown colour?

J: She said it was brown and black and furry. She said it was more furry that woolly; that’s why she’ll never to this day agree that it was a sheep. Coz she reckons it was furry. Not woolly.

T: Do you think it was like a Yowie? Like a Bigfoot?

J: Could have been. They’ve been seen sort of near there.

T: Where?

J: Just rumours – further up north, in more forest areas, near Bendigo and Swan Hill.

T: Was that on the property as well – where the cats are?

J: Yep, they live in that area.

T: Yowies?

J: Big cats.

T: You think they live in the hills?

J: The rabbit virus never really took hold – lots of rabbits up there - that’s probably what they eat. I’ll never forget that cat though. It scared the hell out of me and the horses. And the one we saw on the footage on WIN news 5 or 6 years ago looked like the same.

T: You haven’t heard of any Thylacines in the area?

J: Only further south, near the Otways.

T: And the Grampians.

J: That’s certainly a hotspot.

T: Thanks Jo!

Of course after hearing about her sister’s sighting, I thought this interview was far from over. But then I’ve not yet met her sister, except for a short phone conversation and an email but she has not replied to my request – so I am not sure whether she wants to be interviewed about it, or whether it really was just made up by her. Josie seems rather dubious about her sister’s story, so I am not sure what to believe.