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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 15, 2010

DALE DRINNON: The Skunk Ape

It seems that the best evidence is that there exists a sort of native orangutan in the south-eastern United States. Loren Coleman has been by far the most active investigator in this matter and therefore, I pass on his information without comment. I for one have never questioned the value of his original research in this matter.

The tracks are, however, different than the other orangutan-like creatures reported further to the south in the American tropics: it walks flat-footed. It leaves tracks generally like those of a chimpanzee. It is supposed to walk upright more often than the usual apes, although it still goes down on all-fours sometimes. It also seems to do an unusual amount of swimming and wading for an ape.

There have also been some purported and highly disputed finds of fossil teeth and skulls supposed to be related to it. It does seem that it inhabits a climate zone parallel to the Japanese macaques ('snow monkeys') and it eats primarily acorns and nuts in season - possibly stock-piling them for lean times - and it is especially fond of fruit when it can get any, but it also eats birds and eggs (and is blamed for raiding henhouses). These latter comments are my observations from the reports and not necessarily those of Coleman, although I would dare say he would agree with those remarks.

Here is the Wikipedia entry on the Skunk Apes:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Skunk_Ape

The Skunk Ape is a cryptid said to inhabit the Southern United States, from places such as North Carolina and Arkansas, although reports from Florida are most common. It is named for its appearance and for the unpleasant odor that is said to accompany it. Some reports say the skunk ape is so stinky because it rolls itself in animal carcasses to get people to leave it alone. According to the United States National Park Service, the skunk ape exists only as a local myth. Reports of the Skunk ape were particularly common in the 1960s and 1970s. In the fall of 1974, numerous sightings were reported in suburban neighborhoods of Dade County, Florida, of a large, foul-smelling, hairy, ape-like creature, which ran upright on two legs.

Myakka photographs

In 2000, two photographs of an alleged ape, said to be the Skunk Ape, were taken anonymously and mailed to the Sarasota Sheriff's Department in Florida. They were accompanied by a letter from a woman claiming to have photographed it on the edge of her backyard. The photographer claimed that on three different nights the ape had entered her yard to take apples from a bushel basket on her porch. She was convinced it was an escaped orangutan. The police were dispatched to the house numerous times but when they arrived the Skunk Ape, also known as the stink ape was gone. The pictures have become known to Bigfoot enthusiasts as the "skunk ape photos".

Loren Coleman is the primary researcher on the Myakka photographs, having helped track down the two photographs to an "Eckerd photo lab at the intersection of Fruitville and Tuttle Roads" in Sarasota County, Florida.

The Myakka photos can be seen at http://www.lorencoleman.com/myakka.html The main criticism of the photos is that the body does appear to be rather shapless with no anatomical hallmarks visable, but that is also true in the case of known big male orangutans covered in long shaggy hair.

KITHRA'S CORVIDS

According to the RSPB both magpies and jackdaws are members of the Corvidae family of birds. Well, I’m not scientifically minded so that’s not really important to me. And I do know what type of bird is being talked of when the word 'corvid' is mentioned. But that’s all somewhat beside the point.

When I first knew that I was moving home I knew that I would miss the pair of magpies that I had been able to watch flying around the garden during the years that I lived in my old home. There were very few things that I was going to miss but those birds were one of them. So imagine my delight when I arrived here to see not two, but three, magpies in the garden. They are joined occasionally by a couple of jackdaws, another bird that I’d seen at my previous address. The garden here is surrounded by mature trees, although I don’t know what species they are, and it also has a bird table where smaller birds appreciate the food put out for them. At night we even have the odd urban fox foraging around the property; along with most of the neighbourhood cats.

read on

OLL LEWIS: CFZ REVIEW - The Men Who Stare At Goats

In 2004 friend of the CFZ Jon Ronson, aided by John Sergeant, wrote a book called The Men Who Stare at Goats and made a documentary of the same name about a secret campaign by the American military to investigate the possible training of psychic spies and unconventional techniques that could be applied in conflicts during the height of the cold war. Many people in these post-cold-war times are now aware that there was no real danger of actual all-out war between the Americans and their allies, and the USSR, and that it was mostly just posturing to justify the positions of the two superpowers, and also used as a tool by governments to keep their citizens in check and provide convenient hate figures safely outside domestic politics, but a lot of people were drawn into this war of ideals at the time with many living in fear of the day the bombs would drop, and many lives were lost in satellite conflicts.

There was a constant fear among the military establishment of both sides that the other might develop some ultimate weapon without the obvious drawbacks of an atom bomb with which they could hold the other side to ransom, or spying techniques that could not be detected. So when the USSR heard reports that America had been developing psychic spies they started a program of their own to look into the possibility. The original reports had been a hoax but now that the USSR were looking into the prospect seriously the Americans had to follow suit or risk being defenceless in the slim chance there was something in all this. With that the American military started their own research into unconventional warfare techniques, the most leftfield of which was the new age ‘First Earth Battalion,’ which hoped to create a squad of warrior monks capable of resolving conflicts through non, or minimal violence. These warrior monks, sometimes referred to as Jedi, would be capable of changing the enemies' opinions by psychic will, phasing through solid objects, invisibility and remote viewing. Along with this program the US went on to develop psychic weaponry techniques, one such technique being the ability to stop a person's heart by staring at them. This was tried out on goats with very limited success - one goat died but this may have just been pure chance.

The unusual program and its successors, which were put to use in the recent Iraq conflict, form the basis for the comedy film The Men Who Stare At Goats staring George Clooney, Ewan McGregor, Jeff Bridges and Kevin Spacey. Unlike the book the film follows a straight narrative told through events in ‘the present’ as McGregor’s na├»ve journalist character follows Clooney’s character, an ex-psychic warrior who now owns a dance studio, into Iraq on a top secret mission. The story of the psychic spy/warrior monk/Jedi program, headed by Jeff Bridges’s character, with Spacey’s character throwing several spanners into the works, is told as a concurrent storyline using flashbacks. Overall, the film works quite well and this is largely due to the fantastic cast. Not since the classic days of Hollywood has there been a film with so many actors at the top of their game staring in the same film, McGregor plays his role perfectly without a trace of any previous characters he has played (Daniel Day-Lewis and Sean Connery would do well to take note) and Clooney’s time spent on Coen brothers’ films has paid off vastly as his portrayal of a confident man who may be either possessed of super powers or completely insane is completely without fault and will have you guessing throughout. Maybe after his portrayal of the Mad Hatter in Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland Johnny Depp should be strapped to a chair and forced to watch this movie 50 times as a lesson in how to portray madness properly without just resorting to a Scottish accent and doing anachronistic dances. Kevin Spacey also impressed as a ‘not very’ psychic spy consumed by jealousy for Clooney’s character’s abilities, a highlight of which was a Shirley-Ghostman-like scene when Spacey channelled his spirit guide to look at a picture in a locked draw, got the answer completely wrong and had a tantrum. For me, though, the star of the film was Bridges. I’m of the opinion it is damn near impossible to have a bad film with Bridges as one of the actors; two Bridges films make my all time top 5, The Big Lebowski and Tron and had the last half hour of this film managed to keep up the momentum of the first hour then The Men Who Stare At Goats really could have joined them.

The last half hour of the film really is where cracks begin to show: with the Bridges's heavy flashback storyline all but finished, the film turns its focus on the present day story in Iraq and most of the fun feels like it has been taken out of the film by this point, leaving only the rather stark realities of modern warfare, torture and the ultimate moral that the media would rather peddle a funny news story than look at the uncomfortable truth behind it. Somehow the pay-off at the end of the film doesn’t seem quite as satisfying as it could have been, but at least the very last scene of the movie will bring a smile to your face and provides a good juxtaposition to the first.

All in all, the first two thirds of the film provided an hour of impressive entertainment but after that, it started to flag and went downhill. That is not to say that the final half hour was bad; it just couldn’t compare to what had gone before and ended up as an anticlimax, but the film is still worth a watch, particularly if you need a good Jeff Bridges performance to keep you going until True Grit and Tron Legacy are released later this year.

7.5/10

SHARON HILL WRITES...

A few weeks back we reported on a strange story about a man with a horse's head turning up on Google Street View somewhere in Scotland. Now Sharon Hill writes:

Jon:
Just wanted you to know I spotted the Horse-head boy in Las Vegas this past week at The Amazing Meeting 8 (James Randi's JREF conference). He was having a beer.

http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?pid=31136646&l=02f6ad2a19&id=1029183951

Sharon Hill





It is things like this that make my life worth living. Thanks Sharon....

NICK INTERVIEWS NEIL

Hi

I have just done a Q&A with Neil Arnold about his brand new book, Paranormal London, which focuses heavily on cryptozoology, strange creatures and more. Here's the link to the interview.
http://monsterusa.blogspot.com/2010/07/neil-q.html

Best
Nick

OLL LEWIS: Yesterday's News Today

http://cryptozoologynews.blogspot.com/

On this day in 1969 Apollo 11 was launched and became the first manned mission to land on the Moon on the 20th of July.

And now, the news:

ETHNIC GOOSE CLEANSING
JIHAD MONKEY! Taliban training primates
Hampshire workmen paint white lines around dead ba...
ANGEL SHARK RE-APPEARS IN BRITISH WATERS
GF&P says photo not a bear after all
Mysterious creature found in Bay St. Louis
Gorillas 'play games of tag just like human children

And today’s song is:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1V_xRb0x9aw