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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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Thursday, July 01, 2010

ON THE TRACK (OF UNKNOWN ANIMALS) Episode 34



The latest edition of a monthly webTV show from the CFZ and CFZtv, bringing you the latest cryptozoological, and monster hunting news from around the world. This episode brings you:

CFZ in summertime
Charity fish auction
Breeding success
Knife livebearer
Beth Tyler King
Hartland Wildlife Rescue
Snapping turtles
Pine martens
Animal rescue - baby kestrel
Rebuilding the CFZ
CFZ open days
Triops
Corinna looks at out of place birds
New and Rediscovered: Chinese large blue
New and Rediscovered: African geckos
New and Rediscovered: Swedish polychaetes

RICHARD FREEMAN ON THE X-ZONE

His interview is now available on the following sites:

Apple iTunes: http://itunes.apple.com/WebObjects/MZStore.woa/wa/viewPodcast?id=295327298

'X' Zone Podcasts : http://www.xzonepodcast.com/

The 'X' Zone Jukebox - http://www.xzoneradiotv.com/jukebox.htm

DALE DRINNON: More Super-Eels


Left: Titanoconger R: Megaconger


Again from Charles Gould Mythical Monsters:

(Continuing after the Pauline section)
A remarkable and independent corroboration of modern date comes from the Japan seas. It was reported both in local papers and in the San Francisco Californian Mail-Bag for 1879, from which I extract the notice and the illustrative cuts (Fig. 75).

“The accompanying engravings are fac-similes of a sketch sent to us by Captain Davidson, of the steamship Kiushiu-maru, * and is inserted as a specimen of the curious drawings which are frequently forwarded to us for insertion. Captain Davidson's statement, which is countersigned by his chief officer, Mr. McKechnie, is as follows:—

“‘Saturday, April 5th, at 11.15 A.M., Cape Satano distant about nine miles, the chief officer and myself observed a whale jump clear out of the sea, about a quarter of a mile away.

“‘Shortly after it leaped out again, when I saw there was something attached to it. Got glasses, and on the next leap distinctly saw something holding on to the belly of the whale. The latter gave one more spring clear of the water, and myself and chief officer then observed what appeared to be a creature of the snake species rear itself about thirty feet out of the water. It appeared to be about the thickness of a junk's mast, and after standing about ten seconds in an erect position, it descended into the water, the upper end going first. With my glasses I made out the colour of the beast to resemble that of a pilot fish"

In this case (and not the others) I DO think the object depicted is more likely to be a large conger eel, and this again counter to Heuvelmans: Heuvelmans says that the creature seems to be holding onto the whale's belly when actually a large conger-type eel should be holding onto a fin - but my reading of the picture is that the eel-like creature actually is holding onto the whale's pectoral flipper. It is in just the right position for that.


Heuvelmans mentions in a footnote that Gould mentions several reports of large conger-like eels around Singapore but he does not include them in his catalogue of reports. Here is the pertinent passage from C. Gould:

It is an open question whether conger eels may not exist, in the ocean depths, of far greater dimensions than those of the largest individuals with which we are acquainted. Major Wolf, who was stationed at Singapore while I was there in 1880, gave me information which seems to corroborate this idea. He stated that when dining some years before with a retired captain of the 39th Regiment, then resident at Wicklow, the latter informed him that, having upon one occasion gone to the coast with his servant in attendance on him, the latter asked permission to cease continuing on with the captain in order that he might bathe. Having received permission, he proceeded to do so, and swam out beyond the edge of the shallow water into the deep. A coastguardsman, who was watching him from the cliff above, was horrified to see something like a huge fish pursuing the man after he had turned round towards the shore. He was afraid to call out lest the man should be perplexed. The man,
p. 328 however, heard some splash or noise behind him, and looked round and saw a large head, like a bull-dog's head, projecting out of the water as if to seize him. He made a frantic rush shoreways, and striking the shallow ground, clambered out as quickly as possible, but broke one of his toes from the violence with which he struck the ground. This story was confirmed by a Mr. Burbidge, a farmer, who stated that on one occasion when he himself was bathing within a mile or so of the same spot, the water commenced swirling around him, and that, being alarmed, he swam rapidly in, and was pursued by something perfectly corresponding with that described by the other narrator, and which he supposed to be a large conger eel. In each case the length was estimated at twenty feet. Mr. Gosse gives the greatest length recorded at ten feet.

Gould also lists several other reports in the vicinity but without enough detail that we could tell if they were the same type or not. Heuvelmans is, however, of the opinion that most of the ambiguous "?LN?SE" reports from the Indian Ocean are of the 'super-eel' type. These reports as listed above illustrate the two poles of 'super-eel' reports: there are bigger ones and smaller ones, each conger-like generally but distinctive in several ways. In his conclusions on page 563 of In the Wake of the Sea-serpents, he states 'the size of animals of this type is not usually said to be large-usually it is less than 50 feet...The curve of lengths given by the various witnesses has two peaks, one around 30 feet and the other at 100 feet. this seems to confirm that there are at least two types of very different sizes.'

In point of fact, the reports are very nearly even halves at both of the peaks, about ten or eleven sightings in the range of usually 20-30 feet but up to 40 feet, as in the Singapore congers reports, and then again at the larger size of the really big eels. The Kyushu Maru creature falls into the latter category, it is much too large and thick to be a giant squid's tentacle.

I have called the smaller type Megaconger and the larger one Titanoconger in my analysis, not so much as official scientific names as to emphasise that there are two very different types. The Megacongers are not only smaller, they have a more even overall colouration with lighter backs and darker bellies than Titanocongers, usually desacribed as having a brownish back and yellowish belly. They are usually seen closer to shore and seem to prefer shallower waters. The Titanocongers are darker on top, lighter on bottom and are often noted to have large eyes: they are also seen at shore but also more frequently farther out to sea, and they are obviously more pelagic in habitat. They may swim at depth, but I doubt that they habitually sim at abyssal depths, that was something which Heuvelmans need not have added.

I include my maps for the sightings in my analysis, which include some re-classifications from Heuvelmans's and some others from other sources, and some from folklore. Heuvelmans indicates that he thinks the Valhalla SS was an eel-like fish with a prominent back fin that starts abruptly far back: I have cropped an illustration of a regular conger eel to illustrate his meaning. I presume all of the Finback category would most economically follow suit: Bruce Champagne has a special category for this which he assumes to be Plesiosaur-shaped. That was Meade-Waldo's opinion: the creature as a giant eel would not have the four flippers below water as assumed and in fact in the Valhalla SS sighting it is possible the pectoral fins were pressed close to the body and missed (if it was indeed an eel. The reported proportions in the Valhalla SS sighting are rather odd if that is actually the case)

LINDSAY SELBY: Living Dinosaur reports mistaken

There have been reports of living dinosaurs being seen on some islands in Papua New Guinea. Here is the first one:

“Since the 1990s, a large ‘reptilian’ creature has been sighted occasionally on Umbungi Island in West New Britain, Papua New Guinea. Umbungi Island is located on the south coast of West New Britain between Kandrian and Gasmata. The creature has also been sighted on Alage Island, about 1km to the south of Ambungi Island. The creature was described as having a long tail and a long neck and was 10–15 metres in length, with an appearance like a ‘very large wallaby’ and having a head like a turtle’s head. It walked slowly on two legs and had smooth, shiny brown skin. The top of the head was estimated to be as high as a house and the underbelly of the creature was as high as an adult. The creature was described as being fearful-looking, with the sighting being made from a distance of about 50 metres. The sighting was made in the late afternoon and was observed for a considerable length of time.Nine people have seen the ‘reptile’ since the early 1990s, with sightings occurring every 4–5 years, usually around Christmas time. Perhaps the creature is primarily nocturnal, which might account for the small number of sightings. Two women from Ambungi Island observed the creature from a boat on the south (unpopulated) side of the island as it was standing on some rocks at the bottom of a cliff. The animal has also been sighted swimming between Ambungi Island and Alage Island with its head above the water.”

These sightings have only been found on certain religious websites, I could find no newspaper articles etc. that you would normally expect. I suspect it was in fact a large wallaby that was seen. The people were apparently shown pictures of dinosaurs in a book. but not a natural history book with pictures of different indigenous creatures. This creates a problem as if you are only shown pictures of dinosaurs you will chose what looks closest to the animal you saw , even if it isn’t the animal because that is the only choice you have , when someone says which of these does it resemble. Kangaroos and wallabies are most active at night, dusk and dawn Generally a solitary animal unless they have a mate and a family. There are several varieties of kangaroo and wallaby in that area and vary in sizes from the very large (15 feet or 5 metres to the small 18 inches or 45cms). For example Doria's tree kangaroo Dendrolagus dorianus is described as follows :Head and body length 20–31 in (51.5–78 cm); tail length 18–26 in (44.5–66 cm)( overall largest length approx 5 feet or 1 . 7 metres); weight 10–32 lb (4.5–14.5 kg). It has a brown coat and a paler, shorter tail . You can see from the photo(attached) it doesn’t look quite how you would expect a kangaroo to look. As the animal was seen in poor light, at dusk it could easily be misidentified and the size wrongly estimated. It is also seen at certain times of the year which suggests that is it life cycle to be seen solitary and feeding at those times in the calendar. These animals are also known good swimmers. Then there is this report also from the same sites:
One afternoon late in 2005, three people from Awrin Island, near Gasmata in West New Britain, Papua New Guinea, were on the beach on the south side of the adjacent unpopulated Dililo Island when they observed an amazing creature moving in the water. Simon Patolkit (lay preacher for the Catholic Church on Awrin Island) and his wife Margaret described their sighting of the reptilian creature. The creature had a long neck and a long tail and had a total length of about 20 metres and a width of about 2 metres. The head was described as being ‘like a dinosaur’ with an ‘oval-like face’. The top of the legs of the animal were visible above the water, with the water being used to support the weight of the animal’s body. The skin of the animal was described as being ‘like a crocodile’ and was khaki green in colour. Dermal frills could be seen on the creature’s back, extending to the back of the head. Something was observed protruding from the back of the creature’s head. The creature’s neck was almost horizontal during the sighting. Details of the creature’s eye and mouth could not be determined, as the observers were about 30 to 40 metres from the animal. The sighting occurred for less than 30 seconds, until the reptile sunk into the water. No sound could be heard from the creature by the observers. The creature has not been observed since this sighting in 2005.
Again we have another problem as the report was passed on through an interpreter who only spoke pidgeon English which makes me wonder where terms like “dermal frill” came from. If the animal were as described walking through the water , it must have been shallow, so how in 30 seconds did it sink without moving very far? The idea of large dinosaurs walking in water to support their bulk went out after the 1950s when it was discovered they were quite capable of walking themselves. I wonder if perhaps the ideas from what they observed were based on old books as it may be the island is a bit behind on text books. There were no newspaper reports I could find.
Could they have actually seen a Crocodile Monitor Lizard.? They have been recorded as reaching 15 feet (5 metres) in total length. with stories of 19 footers being told by tribesman of the Papua New Guinea jungles. Its head and neck are long, and are both covered by overlapping polygonal shaped scales which could look like a dermal fin. Some live in swamps so I presume they can swim. The appearance of being supported by water could just have been the way the animal was swimming. I may of course be completely wrong but it just seems the more logical explanation. It may be that am sceptical because of where the reports come from, the creationist websites, and I am perhaps being unfair but it seems to me that it is a case of making the descriptions fit dinosaurs rather than compare them with indigenous species to the area. What do you think?

NEIL ARNOLD'S NEW BOOK

Roll up, roll up for the magical mystery monster tour...step right this way for a surreal and supernatural safari through the concrete jungle.

Neil Arnold's new book, 'Paranormal London' is OUT NOW. Published by The History Press, this collection of obscure, chilling and monstrous tales features a menagerie of phantom animals, from hellhounds, to ghostly cats and birds, spectral ape's, and ethereal bears. Relive the horror of Hackney Marshes, or come and visit Mr Davy's monster. Peer in at the London mermaid, or howl in terror at the wolf of Clapham Common.

Read more...

CFZ AUSTRALIA SENT US THIS...

OLL LEWIS: Yesterday's News Today

http://cryptozoologynews.blogspot.com/

On this day at mid-day, or 1pm in places that use this stupid pointless clock fiddling mumbo-jumbo like the British government is so keen on, it will be the exact middle of the calendar year. Happy exact middle of the calendar year everyone!

Speeking of daylight saving time though, is there anyone out there on bloggo land who can come up with a good reason why we change the clocks in summer? The reason everyone seems to quote is that it gives farmers longer to tend their crop in summer, but that strikes me as the sort of thing that would result in a points deduction on QI because surely a farmer decides his own hours and doesn’t not go out to his fields just because his watch doesn’t read 9am yet.

And now, the news:

Prince Charles on the lookout for Wildwood’s Squirrels
Bigfoot surfaces in rural North Carolina
Police hunt leprechaun
Maggots ground plane
Swearing parrot f***s off (that’s flies off)
Bin busker employs guard dog

I don’t think that’s ‘bin’ done before.

JON'S GODSON TENDING TO HIS PYGMY GOATS WHILST ON A UNICYCLE

Now THIS is what I call entertainment.

ROBERT LE SERREC PHOTO SPOOFED

Below is one of those irritating viral videos which everyone seems to send to each other. However, what is amusing about it is that it spoofs a well known part of cryptozoological sea serpent history.




I'm sure Darren won't mind if I pinch this from his account of the Le Serrec case:


"Wrecked on the Great Barrier Reef with his family and Australian friend Henk de Jong, Le Serrec and family had bought a motor boat and had decided to spend three months on Hook Island (one of the Whitsunday Islands). They were all crossing Stonehaven Bay on December 12th 1964, when Le Serrec's wife spotted a strange object on the lagoon floor. It proved to be a gigantic tadpole-like creature, estimated at about 30 ft long. They took several still photos, gradually moving closer [the image shown here is a mockup I found on the web]. Eventually Le Serrec and de Jong plucked up the courage to approach it underwater in order to film it. It proved larger than first thought, with its estimated length increasing to 75-80 ft. It didn't move and they suspected it might be dead, but just as Le Serrec began the filming it opened its mouth and made movements toward them. They returned to the boat, and by this time the creature had moved off."

read what else the good doctor has to say..

I remember hearing about the case on Redifusion Radio in Hong Kong in 1965, in what was probably my first exposure to the world of cryptozoology. I never imagined that nearly half a century later I would be writing a critiqueof the case based on a mildly amusing viral video. Funny old world innit?