Monday, February 28, 2011
The latest episode of our 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 at the end of winter
Prudence interacts with the lawn
Livebearer breeding success
Moving unknown cichlids
Conservation lake at Walland Farm
Explorer spends 7 months with the Maya people
Rossi's cage birds
Corinna looks at out of place birds
New and Rediscovered: New wolf
New and Rediscovered: New fish
New and Rediscovered: New rail
Local villagers initially discovered construction workers bulldozing access roads in the midst of the Southern Cardamoms Protected Forest in June 2010 suggesting that the plan was formulated some time ago.
Happy St David's Day.
On this day in 1993 Nicola Tesla gave the first public demonstration of radio.
And now the news:
Ancient Antarctic Sea Creature Allows Climate Comp...
UK Kayakers Claim They Spotted Loch Ness-Like Sea ...
Rare spider discovered in nature reserve in Poole
Amur tigers in population crisis
1,607 whales sighted
Imagine if you saw “Moby Dick the musical” billed at your local theatre... That sounds like it would be a cool show right? Hmm. Well, turns out it's a musical about an all girls school staging an amateur production of a Moby Dick musical... WHY?? Well, you can listen to it here if you still want to. In the meantime, if you'll excuse me I'm off to be 'Moby sick':
A new species of Rail has been determined to live in Madagascar, two notices from Chad Arment:
Sunday, February 27, 2011
Loren Coleman and Bruce G Hallenbeck
Stackpole Books 2010 ISNB-13:978-08117-3596-4
A couple of years back the CFZ decided to launch a series of books highlighting the mystery animals of the UK and Ireland with books tackling individual counties. Now Stackpole Books are embarking on a similar series for US states. The first in the series looks at strange beasts reported in the state of New Jersey. Loren Coleman should be familiar to any fortean worth their salt, having been in the field for decades and having penned such classics of the genre as Mysterious America and Curious Encounters. Co-author Bruce G Hallenbeck is a screen writer and film director.
In the book’s introduction the authors state how New Jersey’s monsters are hard to pigeon-hole and they are quite right. The states weird critters seem to defy and attempt to categorize them beyond the most basic and by their nature seem nebulous and fluid.
Case in point is the state’s most famous monster the Jersey Devil, variously described as resembling a bird, a deer, a horse, a dragon, a hairy biped and all kinds of ungodly hybrids of the afore-mentioned. Only the most basic outline of a winged, two-legged creature emerges when the descriptions are examined. The Jersey Devil, like the chupacabra, is likely to be a catch-all term for odd creatures seen in the Pine Barrens. The weird stories about its genesis have likely grown up around the phenomenon rather than visa versa.
Other creatures examined include Bigfoot, with ‘wildman’ reports going back as far as 1759. Stranger by far is the ‘Monkey-Man’ scare of 1982 were the students of all the schools in the Hoboken were convinced in the existence of a simian beast that lurked in school hallways, threw children out of windows and had killed a teacher. Needles to say the fiend almost certainly had no existence outside of the minds of frightened kids but it was a weird precursor to the much later Monkey-Man scares in Delhi, India.
An interesting sideline is given in the chapter dealing with freshwater monsters: the all too real case of a shark that swam 11 miles inland up Matawan Creek in 1911 and killed a number of people. The case supposedly inspired the book and film Jaws.
The best part of the book, though, is the chronological list of all known Jersey Devil sightings. It is the most comprehensive and up to date list available and really does showcase how variable and odd the state demon’s manifestations are.
Monsters of New Jersey is an interesting first volume in what promises to be a highly collectable series.
Bakers that emphasize appearance should be regarded with suspicion, yet how easy it is to be seduced by craftsmanship.
In short, take a look at this cake by Karen Portaleo of the Highland Bakery at Atlanta, Georgia.
A new blog about Nessie has started. The person does his research quite thoroughly from the posts I have seen so far. Nessie watchers may be interested .
hope everyone is ok.love to all
On this day in 1978 science fiction and fortean author Eric Frank Russell died.
And now the news:
Bigfoot search planned in N.C.
The 'Bownessie' monster sighted again in UK
Doggone if it's not a yeti hurtling down the ski s...
Sharks sighted off Perth beach
You know what they're going to need:
Saturday, February 26, 2011
CONSTABLES called to a nocturnal disturbance in Windermere found a group of men cheering two battling plesiosaurs, it has emerged. The gang fled, but one of the monsters was so badly hurt that it had to be put down.
When most people think of cartoons they tend to think of the mild and sanitised output of Western animation studios where cartoons are aimed squarely at a family audience and anything sad, violent and unjust that occurs to a good or nice person is neatly resolved and corrected by the end of the movie. True, it is not strictly necessary to the plot of many animations to include scenes that deal with the harsh realities of life, and may be a little jarring when juxtaposed with Jamaican crabs extolling the virtues of life beneath the ocean through the medium of song, but it is the animated films that go the extra mile to include a window, however small, into the dark side of life that stick in your mind. Examples of this include the death of Bambi's mother, which turned a rather twee and otherwise forgettable film into a children's classic, Fievel getting separated from his parents in An American Tale; and the death of Carl's wife in Up, which will have even the most composed person close to tears despite it being a cartoon and only about 10 minutes into the film.
Some films go further, though; typically European animation studios will make films that don't just include a window into darkness but can sometimes break open a whole wall. One animated movie that does this is Felidae, a German film based on the novel of the same name by Akif Pirinçci it is essentially a film noir where the main characters are house cats. Like most film noir and hard-boiled detective fiction it pulls few punches and soon descends into dark and murky territory as its protagonist, Francis, a sort of feline Philip Marlowe, investigates a series of gruesome cat murders. With scenes of decapitation, disembowelment, animal experimentation, cat 'love-making' and corpses turned into puppets and made to dance by Gregor Mendel (don't ask) this is perhaps not the sort of film you should show your children but really don't let that put you off, the film is tastefully done and its plot will have you gripped from start to finish.
The film possesses several layers dealing with the complex social interactions between the different cats, and indeed their owners, and the capacity for cruelty and evil present in both cats and humans, eugenics and the misuse of religion as well as the search for the serial killer that forms the main plot of the movie. In the social interactions between the various cats the fact that they are cats and not humans is never lost sight of, whereas some anthropomorphism has been employed to enable the viewer to relate to the characters and the story it is never taken to the level where the cats could easily be humans wearing furry suits. Over anthropomorphism is a plague that effects far too many Western cartoons and as a fan of all kinds of animation it really sets my teeth on edge like in Disney's 'Home on the Range' when a cow makes a joke about breast implants (for goodness sake she's a COW why would she know or care about plastic surgery!) and I was glad to see Felidae did not fall into that trap.
The film starts with Francis's owner, or 'can opener' as cat-slang would have it, moving to a dilapidated old house that used to be owned by a scientist. As soon as he arrives Francis sees the body of a cat in the garden with it's throat cut and meets a local tom cat called Blue Beard. Blue Beard is of the opinion that the murder, of which this is the fourth to occur recently is probably the work of humans but Francis is not as sure and together the pair start investigating the deaths (reluctantly so on Blue Beard's part). Soon another victim is found and Francis notes that both victims were male cats who had recently attempted to mate, suggesting a possible sexual motive for the killings. That night Francis witnesses a cat's religious cult meeting in the old laboratory of his new home and is chased off by them. When he finds safety he meets a blind cat named Felicity who he befriends. It turns out that Felicity witnessed, or at least heard several of the murders. Blue Beard then takes Francis to meet the most intelligent cat he knows, Pascal, a cat who has actually learnt how to operate a computer, in the hope that he will be able to shed some light on the case. While at Pascal's house it is learnt that Felicity has been murdered and Francis runs to her house where he sees her decapitated body. The fact that she was female and the frenzied nature of the attack suggests that Francis' initial thoughts on the motive of the killer may be wrong. Needless to say the plot thickens from this point on and to go into it much further would spoil the film. As Felidae is quite an obscure film in Britain and the USA (unjustly so, when other European animations which are pretty to look at but possess lesser plots, like 'Belleville Rendez-vous' are Oscar bait) chances are you were not even aware of its existence before you read this review and you will, I hope, want to see it for yourself I really don't want to ruin it by giving away all the little twists.
Felidae is a rare treat a Western animation for grown ups that is not preoccupied by showing off it's adult credentials by including unnecessary shocks and just lets it's dark plot unfold before your eyes. It's animation also is of a high quality as is it's English dub and voice-cast which puts the dubbing employed by several companies, that actually specialise is re-dubbing mostly Japanese cartoons, to shame. The only problem that the film has is that because of the animation's running time and the complexity of the source material things can seem a little rushed at times, but that will hardly stilt many peoples enjoyment of what is a marvellously executed and original animated film.
I’ve always said that Doctor Who, and in particular the Jon Pertwee years, were what inspired me to become a cryptozoologist. I will never forget those Saturday evenings when for half an hour between ‘a round up of the regional news and sport’ and The Generation Game I would be transported into another world; a world inhabited by giant killer maggots, Sea Devils, Autons, Daleks, Axons, Silurians and other fantastical horrors. Besides the Doctor himself one man was always there: UNIT’s Brigadier Alistair Lethbridge-Stewart, ably played by the wonderful Nicholas Courtney.
Nick was born in Cairo, a diplomat’s son and was educated in a number of places including Kenya, France and Egypt. He could speak Arabic and French before he could speak English. After his national service he joined the Webber Douglas Academy of Drama where he was awarded the Margaret Rutherford medal. Later he did repertory theatre in Northampton before moving to London.
During the 1960s he appeared in a number of classic shows such as The Avengers, The Champions and Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased). In 1965 he was cast in the Doctor Who story The Daleks’ Masterplan staring William Hartnell as the first Doctor. His portrayal of Space Security Agent Bret Vyon so impressed director Douglas Camfield that he cast him in two later stories The Web of Fear (the one with robot yetis on the London underground and an alien intelligence that manifests as an ecoplasmic web) and Invasion (featuring the Cybermen haunting the sewers beneath London) both with the second doctor Patrick Troughton. These stories introduced United Nations Intelligence Taskforce or UNIT (basically the army’s alien-fighting division) and Colonel Alistair Lethbridge-Stewart.
When the third and best Doctor arrived in the shape of Jon Pertwee in 1970's Spearhead from Space the Colonel had become a Brigadier. For the next five years he appeared alongside Jon Pertwee and then Tom Baker, battling such foes as the Loch Ness Monster (a saurian cyborg created by the alien Zygons from their crippled spaceship beneath the Loch’s waters), alien daemons, and rouge time lords The Master and Omega.
The Brigadier’s appearances became less with the advent of Tom Baker as the fourth Doctor and a return to more stories based in outer space.
The Brigadier returned in the 1983 stories Mawdryn Undead and The Five Doctors and the woeful 1989 effort Battlefield.
In the revamped series UNIT has returned but seemingly plays second fiddle to the pointless and irritating Torchwood. The Brigadier was mentioned several times but did not actually appear. Nick took up the role one last time in the spin-off series The Sarah Jane Adventures. He was said to have been on a mission in Peru for sometime. He remarked that he disliked the new way UNIT works. Sadly ill health prevented him from reprising the roll. That was a real shame as I had always wanted to see the Brigadier return to Doctor Who and give the insufferable prats at Torchwood a good hiding.
After his main stint on Doctor Who Nick featured in a number of shows such as Minder, Only Fools and Horses, and Yes Prime Minister.
I was lucky enough to meet him several times and found him to be utterly charming.
Nick died on 22 February 2011 at the age of 81 after a long battle with illness. One hopes that on reaching the Pearly Gates he said “Archangel Gabriel? Chap with wings, five rounds rapid!”
This blog is to encorporate my yahoo discussion groups on Lost Continents, Catastrophism, The origin of Modern Humans and the Out of Africa theory, Genetics and Human Diversity, The Origin and Spread of Civilization and Cultural Diffusion during the Bronze Age across the face of the Globe.
Dale's first major Atlantis posting
On this day in 2002 Spike Milligan died, also on this day but in 2003 the popular American children's Fred 'Mr Rogers' Rogers died.
And now the news:
Sexy monkeys wash with own urine
Mouse heart 're-grows when cut', study shows
Today's VRV is related to today's OTD:
Friday, February 25, 2011
Donkey Sanctuary in Sidmouth, Devon, where we were to be filmed for an episode of Dick and Dom Go Wild! When we arrived after a journey full of nervous butterflies fluttering around in our tummies, we were associated with a couple of helpers. We then walked to what that day would be our base to have a little snack and some lunch.
2. Make a yummy jam sandwich for Copper the donkey. I, yet again, can’t remember the name.
3. Dress a wound on Copper’s leg.
4. And to top it all off, we helped to shower a vixen. Nah, kidding! She was a donkey. (Regrettably, they didn’t feature the washing of the donkey in the actual episode. Never mind, eh?)
Unfortunately, we had to keep re-shooting certain scenes of the programme (just to get it right) and to tell the honest truth, it sometimes got a little bit tedious- but that’s life in the limelight for you. So who am I to complain?
Now whom are you to encroach upon mine own infinite faculty?
Hamsters, however cool they are, couldn’t write that..
The other day we posted an article `The Shameful Shell Game` which originally appeared in HerpDigest. The latest edition of HerpDigest includes the following letter:
Some Correction and Opinions on the Article "The Shameful Shell Game" From Mark Feldman of New Zealand. (Editor-Mr. Feldman is a turtle researcher who has lately been doing a lot of research on the chemical inducement to turtle egg-laying. He has been apply to do this research with the help of the Turtle Farms mentioned in the article who supply him with turtles and space to do set up his lab. If this makes him a biased or expert who can respond to the errors, and there were errors, is us to you, the reader.)
Just recently HerpDigest published an article called the "Shameful Shell Game." Many facts in the article were outdated and there were errors of interpretation as well.
1. ".there are 80 turtle farms in Louisiana alone." There were actually 48 farms still in business in early 2010 but probably less now because they are going out of business at a rapid rate. They are going out of business because the Chinese are purchasing fewer turtles each year as the build up their breeding stock and compete directly with the American farms. American turtle farmers that took out bank loans to enter the "boom" during the 1980s-early 1990s when the Chinese were buying hatchlings for over a dollar each (price now around 20 cents) have suffered the most. The older farms, with no loans and a wealth of experience have done better.
2. ".these farms are not self sufficient and thousands of adult sliders are removed from the wild each year to replace senile breeding stock."
The situation is actually that there is a glut of breeding stock. This is why a shipment of 40 tons of ADULT red-ears was sent to Vietnam this year. (Editor-Which Vietnam refused and send back to the U.S.- Sliders are illegal to export to Vietnam and condition of turtles was unacceptable.) These turtles were breeders from the USA that were surplus and no longer wanted. The decline in the industry and bankruptcy of the farms has resulted in the release of many thousands of adult breeders and the butchering of others for food to be sold in the Chinese communities in NY and California.
Turtles do not become "senile." They breed into old age. I have seen thousands of animals that have been on farms for over 40 years and are still laying several clutches a year.
Turtles are resourceful animals and escape frequently from turtle farms. If you tour wild areas around the farms you will note large numbers of turtles on the roadsides during nesting season. It is true that these animals do have the potential to alter the genetic pool of the local turtles. Whether this is more than an academic problem remains to be seen.
"Today over 200,000 farmed pet turtles continue to be sold in this country each
year and nearly ten million are shipped to international pet markets."
The legitimate trade in over 4 inch farmed turtles in the USA is about 60,000 per year. Annual exports of hatchlings vary widely. Using the LEMIS date (which is the best we have but not really accurate) there were 14.8 million exports last year but almost 2/3 of those were for the food trade in Asia, not for pets. (Editor-Question where did those 14.8 million turtles come from the farms or wild, as their is a large business in catching wild turtles and sending them to China according to Jeff Miller of the Center for Biological Diversity).
4. "Eggs taken from the wild be hatched and the young will be sold in any number of venues."
Taking eggs from the wild is seldom worthwhile. Such eggs need to be gathered within the first 24 hours or after three weeks to avoid mortality. It is far more efficient to use farmed animals where the hatching rate is 85%. Hatchling turtles that end up being sold illegally in the USA almost always come from back-yard farmers that produce a thousand hatchlings or less a year. No big farmers would risk their business to get involved in this illegal trade.
5. "The IUCN lists this turtle among the 100 most dangerous."
This is true but ill deserved. Red-ears are NOT super turtles. Like any other animal they have strict requirements in order to survive and reproduce. Buddhist countries like Korea, Taiwan, and Vietnam buy large numbers of hatchlings to be released during religious ceremonies. This has to cause problems; if you release a million hatchling red-ears a year there's bound to be an effect even if they can't reproduce or survive for very long.
6. "They are on every continent..and even islands like New Zealand, the Bahamas and Cuba now support feral populations of red-eared sliders."
There are no reproducing feral populations of red-ears in New Zealand. Adults that are released can survive for a few years but inevitably die from shell disease and starvation because our winters are too warm and summers too cool. There are tiny areas north of Brisbane, Australia where the environment is more suitable for red-ears and they may reproduce there in artificial impoundments. However, the bulk of the country is too dry for the eggs to hatch. This is why Australian turtles have hard shelled eggs.
There are areas in Europe (Southern France) where red-ears can reproduce and do compete to variable degrees with the native pond turtle but there are many other areas in Europe where that is not the case. Again, red-ears are not super turtles; they usually end up surviving the longest in ponds in parks and where local turtle populations have been extinguished already.
7. "When the European Union banned the importation of red-eared sliders the turtle farmers circumvented this and cross-bred them with yellow bellied sliders and shipped their customized, genetically designed young turtles to Europe."
There's some truth here. With the ban of red-ears in the EU, American turtle farmers began exporting yellow-bellied and cumberland sliders. These animals do interbreed with red-ears and crosses are produced but it is not purposeful since the pure bred yellow bellied and cumberland sliders can be legally imported into the EU anyway. Most farmers isolate their cumberlands and yellow bellies from the red-ears because they are of higher value in the pet trade.
"Based on the hybrid swarms of hatchling map turtles produced and sold by turtle farmers we know that Graptemys readily hybridize."
It is true that map turtles interbreed on turtle farms (they can even produce off-spring with red-ears) but it is also true that they interbreed in the wild.
The real issue that needs to be addressed is whether or not people are going to be allowed to keep turtles as pets. If we want to have a society where people can have pet turtles, than turtle farms are the most efficient way to produce them. On a farm 85% of the eggs are hatched successfully but in the wild less than 5% of the eggs survive long enough to make it to the water. A well run turtle farm requires no additions to the adult stock since they can produce their own breeders in 4-5 years at very little additional expense. Breeders taken from the wild require 2-3 years to acclimate to the captive environment of a turtle farm and lay few, if any, eggs in that time. So farmers have little to lose by breeding their own stock.
The state of Louisiana has developed a protocol to prevent the transmission of salmonella via hatchling turtles. It is very effective. However, it does not prevent a pet turtle from getting salmonella from the food (raw chicken) it is fed or proximity to other pets (chickens, donkeys, cows, etc). Recent attempts to eliminate salmonella from chicken eggs in the USA may help to solve this problem.
It would be a real shame if young people could not keep pet turtles. I'm sure that all of us had herps as pets when we were young and that has added a great deal to the quality of our lives. It is my view that we should ban the wholesale capture of wild turtles throughout the United States and support active turtle farming so we can do as little damage to the natural populations as possible.
Kerikeri, New Zealand
About 3 weeks ago I came across an ale brewed at Cheshire`s Tatton Brewery, at a Sunday morning market in Macclesfield, with the endearingly cryptozoological title Yeti, subtitled `Stomp out the chill.` So I bought a bottle and drank it shortly afterwards.
The website says:
•Tatton Best Tatton Gold and YETI are now available in bottles direct from the brewery. We'll be updating the website with retail outlets in the coming weeks.
•Our new Winter Brew YETI has been receiving many compliments. Its 4.5% abv, A rich fireside copper-coloured winter ale with a distinctive warming flavour and classic British hop aroma. Let's hope our Yeti really can - STOMP OUT THE CHILL. http://www.tattonbrewery.co.uk/
I have been asked to point out by Tatton Brewery that Yeti is a Winter ale and that it will not now be available till October, but the last Sunday market in Macclesfield, i.e March 27th will have their Spring ale. Come on, Cheshire cryptozoologists, support your local crypto-friendly brewery!!
Cthulhu mythos as imagined by kids As Richard Freeman said when he wrote to be telling of this fantastic project: "This is absolutely ACE"
On this day in 1946 people in Finland started to report thousands of sightings of a type of Unidentified Flying Object dubbed 'ghost rockets.' It is still up for debate as to what was responsible for the sightings, although meteorites seem to be the most likely explanation.
More details here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ghost_rockets
And now the news:
Walking cactus discovered in China
Panther sightings have residents freaked, experts ...
Brazilian woman finds alligator behind sofa
LOSS OF TURTLE POPULATIONS (Via Herp Digest)
Physics of Burrowing Sandfish Revealed (via Herp D...
Fox lived in the Shard skyscraper at London Bridge...
If you follow the VRV's (Vaguely Related Videos) I post at the end of YNT (which is pronounced 'yint' in case you wondered) you might have seen this one before:
What is this extraordinary piece of alliteration? Click to find out
Thursday, February 24, 2011
Adam C. Algar, Jonathan B. Losos
Article first published online: February 3, 2011, Journal of Biogeography
How to Cite
Algar, A. C. and Losos, J. B. , Evolutionary assembly of island faunas reverses the classic island-mainland richness difference in Anolis lizards. Journal of Biogeography, no. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2699.2010.02466.x
Department of Organismic and Evolutionary Biology, Museum of Comparative Zoology, Harvard University, 26 Oxford Street, Cambridge, MA 02138, USA
*Correspondence: Adam C. Algar, Department of Organismic and Evolutionary Biology, Museum of Comparative Zoology, Harvard University, 26 Oxford Street, Cambridge, MA 02138, USA. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Aim Islands are widely considered to be species depauperate relative to mainlands but, somewhat paradoxically, are also host to many striking adaptive radiations. Here, focusing on Anolis lizards, we investigate if cladogenetic processes can reconcile these observations by determining if in situ speciation can reduce, or even reverse, the classical island-mainland richness discrepancy.
Location Caribbean islands and the Neotropical mainland.
Methods We constructed range maps for 203 mainland anoles from museum records and evaluated whether geographical area could account for differences in species richness between island and mainland anole faunas. We compared the island species-area relationship with total mainland anole diversity and with the richness of island-sized mainland areas. We evaluated the role of climate in the observed differences by using Bayesian model averaging to predict island richness based on the mainland climate-richness relationship. Lastly, we used a published phylogeny and stochastic mapping of ancestral states to determine if speciation rate was greater on islands, after accounting for differences in geographical area.
Results Islands dominated by in situ speciation had, on average, significantly more species than similarly sized mainland regions, but islands where in situ speciation has not occurred were species depauperate relative to mainland areas. Results were similar at the scale of the entire mainland, although marginally non-significant. These findings held even after accounting for climate. Speciation has not been faster on islands; instead, when extinction was assumed to be low, speciation rate varied consistently with geographical area. When extinction was high, there was some evidence that mainland speciation was faster than expected based on area.
Main conclusions Our results indicate that evolutionary assembly of island faunas can reverse the general pattern of reduced species richness on islands relative to mainlands.
On this day in 1966 Tea Leoni was born. She was in Jurassic Park 3 and is married to David Duchovny who was Fox Mulder in The X-Files.
And now the news:
LOSS OF TURTLE POPULATIONS (Via Herp Digest)
Physics of Burrowing Sandfish Revealed (via Herp D...
Florida Sea Turtles and The Impact of the Deepwate...
Tick Population Plummets in Absence of Lizard Host...
SHELLSHOCK: New Report Lists 25 Most Endangered Tu...
Sterility in Frogs Caused by Environmental Pharmac...
OUT OF PLACE LIZARD IN HAWAII (Via Herp Digest)
Today's vaguely related video is:
Wednesday, February 23, 2011
FROM HERPDIGEST: Can we use the tadpoles of Australian frogs to reduce recruitment of invasive cane toads?
Elisa Cabrera-Guzmán, Michael Crossland, Richard Shine
Article first published online: 12/23/10, Journal of Applied Ecology
How to Cite
Cabrera-Guzmán, E., Crossland, M. and Shine, R. , Can we use the tadpoles of Australian frogs to reduce recruitment of invasive cane toads?. Journal of Applied Ecology, no. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2664.2010.01933.x
School of Biological Sciences A08, University of Sydney, Sydney, NSW 2006, Australia
*Correspondence: Richard Shine,
*Correspondence: Correspondence author. E-mail: email@example.com
1. Native to the Americas, cane toads Bufo marinus are an invasive species causing substantial ecological impacts in Australia. We need ways to control invasive species such as cane toads without collateral damage to native fauna.
2. We explored the feasibility of suppressing survival and growth of cane toad tadpoles via competition with the tadpoles of native frogs. Compared to the invasive toads, many native frogs breed earlier in the season and their tadpoles grow larger and have longer larval periods. Hence, adding spawn or tadpoles of native frogs to toad-breeding sites might increase tadpole competition, and thereby reduce toad recruitment.
3. Our laboratory trials using tadpoles of eight native frog species gave significant results: the presence of six of these species (Cyclorana australis, C. longipes, Litoria caerulea, L. dahlii, L. rothii and L. splendida) reduced toad tadpole survival and/or size at metamorphosis. Litoria caerulea also increased the duration of the larval period of cane toad tadpoles. Tadpoles of the other two frog species (Litoria rubella and Litoria tornieri) did not affect survival or growth of larval cane toads any more than did an equivalent number of additional toad tadpoles. Native frog species with larger tadpoles exerted greater negative effects on toad tadpoles than did native species with smaller tadpoles.
4.Synthesis and applications. Encouraging the general public to construct and restore waterbodies in peri-urban areas to build up populations of native frogs - especially the much-loved green tree frog Litoria caerulea- could help to reduce recruitment rates of invasive cane toads in Australia.
"These animal mummies have been largely ignored by Egyptologists. Today, the Cairo Museum holds on of the world's largest collections of these unique artefacts. A collection which needs to be carefully recorded, studied and preserved for future generations."
On this day in 1975 Charles Hawtrey foiled an attempt by Barry and Paul Elliot, aka The Chuckle Brothers, to steal the crown jewels in order to sell them on to a wealthy Droitwich Spa based consortium for the princely sum of £80 (which was a lot of money in those days). The exact details of the incident are shrouded in secrecy and still covered by a gagging order imposed by the home secretary at the time, all that is really known about the events is that Hawtrey managed to foil the plot using only a pair of boxer shorts and a trout that he happened to be carrying at the time. Sadly, the trout perished in the insident. The Chuckle Brothers apologised personally to the queen after being frogmarched half way across London from the Tower to Buckingham palace by Hawtrey himself and she decided not to press charges as the pair had suffered enough. The Chuckle brothers gave up their life as international jewel thieves as a result. Ever since then it has been said that at midnight on the anniversary of this event the ghost of the trout can be seen flopping about on Tower Green with a somewhat shocked look on it's face.
And now the news:
Owls change colour as climate warms
The Shameful Shell Games Continue (Via Herp Diges...
Oil in Gulf of Mexico (Via Herp Digest)
Stunned Turtles Hit Record of 1,040 (Via Herp Dige...
Race on To Save Sea Turtles (Via Herp Digest)
Fishing Closures announced; turtle patrols begin (...
X-Rays Reveal Hidden Leg of an Ancient Snake (Via ...
Dinosaur named 'thunder-thighs'
If you're about 30 or so this clip might get you feeling moderately nostalgic, a forgotten classic from the late 80's/early 90s:
Tuesday, February 22, 2011
Many years ago when I first began writing for Animals & Men magazine (around issue 5 or 6) I mentioned to Jon Downes something regarding cryptozoological pub signs. There are many St George and the Dragon signs, and I know a few which also mention unicorns. However, one particular pub sign which is of great interest to me is that which belongs to The Wild Man at 29 Bedford Street in Norwich. Now, most pub signs have a meaning but the legend which pertains to The Wild Man is extremely intriguing. So the folklore states, that many, many years ago a six year old boy named Peter became lost in a wood in Germany. Around six years later the boy had grown wild, and in naked form would prowl the woods, living alongside the resident animals. Eventually he was found and picked up by a travelling showman who exhibited throughout Europe. St Mary’s Northchurch adds more to the legend for within its walls there is an inscription which reads:
To the memory of Peter, known as the Wild Boy, having been found wild in the forest of Hertswold nearHanover in the year 1725. He then appeared to be about 12 years old. In the following year he was brought to England by the order of the late Queen Caroline, and the ablest masters were provided for him.But proving himself incapable of speaking, or of receiving any instruction, a comfortable provision was made for him at a farm in this parish, where he continued to the end of his inoffensive life. He died on the 22nd of February, 1785, supposed to be aged 72.
Peter’s tombstone can be found in front of the church porch and simply reads: PETER the Wild Boy 1785.
Around 1751 Peter was housed at the public house and in the past the sign would depict the unfortunate chap as a demonic character amid flickering flames. Now, the pub sign shows him frequenting the forest alongside bears.
The church website adds even further details to this fascinating story:
‘Other local accounts describe with more detail how King George I was hunting in the woods near Hamelin when his party encountered the boy. They assumed that he had been living in the woods by himself for some time, but the only indication that he had had a normal childhood was the remains of a shirt collar around his neck. It has never been possible to establish why Peter was in the woods on his own – had he been abandoned by his family, had he simply become lost, or was there some family trauma from which he was the only survivor?
At the English court, many efforts were made to educated him, but all failed. He was clumsy and unable (or unwilling) to adapt to the behaviour patterns of the royal household, and he never uttered a single syllable. After a while, the court tired of Peter, and he was entrusted to the care of Mrs. Tichbourne, one of the Queen’s bedchamber women, who received a handsome pension for his maintenance. While he was under her protection, Peter was brought to Northchurch when Mrs. Tichbourne visited a yeoman farmer called James Fenn at Axters End. After several visits, Peter was given over to the care of James Fenn, and the government granted a pension of £35 per annum to him. On James Fenn’s death, Peter was transferred to Broadway Farm, where he lived out his days.
AN ESCAPED TIGER
Another story related to a travelling zoo comes from the area of The Bear Inn, situated near Norwich city centre. On 5th November 1788 a large tiger escaped from its cage, terrified local folk and ate two monkeys. The beast, not long after being captured, died of gangrene because it had swallowed the chain and collar which had once shackled it.
SPRING-HEELED JACK IN NORFOLK
Spring-Heeled Jack, the terror of Victorian London was said to have accosted victims elsewhere in England, mainly around Everton and Aldershot, and accounts also exist of him loitering around Kent, Surrey and Sussex. No-one knows who or what SHJ was, and reports exist in the modern era, from Kentucky, Massachusetts and Philadelphia in the United States, to Dourdan Woods and Montmorency in France, and the Monte Maiz phantom in Argentina. Norfolk has also had its Spring-Heeled Jack panic which took place in 1860. On 21st January it was reported that in Southtown, Great Yarmouth, a figure in a white tight-skin dress and having goat horns on its head, attacked an employee of East Suffolk Railway and ‘left him insensible on the ground’. Fifteen years previous a man wandering the ill-lit streets in a nightshirt was attacked, and eventually died from his wounds, after panicked locals thought he was the leaping phantom. In 1877 SHJ was allegedly seen leaping from rooftop to rooftop in the Caister-on-sea region of the county.
On this day in 1965 Stan Laurel died. Laurel was one half of Laurel and Hardy and the writer of the duos material. Their comedy often contained fortean and paranormal themes, ghosts in particular.
And now the news:
Chinese pandas leave for Japan
Half a dodo found in museum drawer
Local Photo: Resident wonders if unusual animal is...
Have you heard about that bat? Eats your goat and then your cat...
Monday, February 21, 2011
Read on chaps
A huge alligator gar caught
A possible new spider found in Seattle (WA)
Some Japanese deer like to chew on chains
Easily the biggest country in South America, Brazil is also the largest Portuguese speaking country in the world. It is home to the Amazon Forest famed for both its size and the rate of its destruction. It is within that vast forest, so rumour has it, that the hidden city of Z lies, or so Colonel Percy Fawcett thought; it was while searching for this hidden city that he disappeared in 1925. Unsurprisingly for a country of its size Brazil does have its own collection of cryptids and today we are going to look at the Caiteto Munde.
The pig-like ungulate, the Caiteto Munde, is described as being 3 feet long and 20 inches tall at the shoulder. It is said to live in pairs and occasionally in groups of up to four animals, unlike peccaries, which tend to have larger herds.
Maybe not an interesting creature to draw your attention to but it does give you an idea of some of the interesting but uninspiring creatures that await discovery. Next we are heading north into a little bit of France located in South America, and that is, of course, French Guiana.
On this day in 1926 Kenneth Williams was born. Williams is best known for his work in radio comedy and the Carry On films but was also the voice artist of the Will o' the Wisp cartoons. Interestingly, a blue plaque commemorating Williams's childhood home is only a few doors down from the silver plaque commemorating Charles Fort's London lodgings, both on Marchmont street, London.
Volunteers scour forest for Bigfoot
Study shows Welsh sheep 'more clever than thought'...
Gives me an excuse to repost this video:
Sunday, February 20, 2011
The answer is here:
And also here
See Cathy McMurray's "Giant Crocheted Squid"
The point is that this sort of incident has happened not just once, but scores of times. I'm aware of at least two dozen such tales from Tyneside and Wearside alone. There are a number of points that need addressing regarding such events, so instead of simply rattling off yet another Frog Jumps Out of Rock story (although I will refer to one in just a minute) I'll cut straight to the chase and get to the heart of the issue.
But first, the aforementioned account.
On the morning of Wednesday, April 18 1827, several workmen were engaged in their duties at Fulwell Quarry, Sunderland. At some juncture they happened upon a large block of limestone that needed transporting to another place, the exact location of which I haven't been able to determine. The problem was that the boulder was simply too large for them to lift onto the cart. By employing the creative genius for which we Geordies are known across the globe, they figured that if they split the rock into two, each piece would weigh only half of the original, and that lifting two smaller boulders onto the cart would be infinitely easier than hoisting up one big one.
And so they set about the boulder with their sledgehammers, and eventually cleaved it into two pieces. Now I know what you're thinking: a frog jumped out of the remains of the boulder, right? Wrong. What jumped – or rather slithered – out of a recess in one part of the rock was a 5-inch-long snake with “a brown back and a freckled belly”. Five inches isn't incredibly big for a snake, but there again, if you'd been trapped inside a rock since the Triassic era you'd probably have lost a bit of weight yourself. I know I would.
Anyhoo, here are the knotty issues – and questions - as I see them.
1) How can an animal be encapsulated in rock, which, presumably, must have been molten when the event occurred, without being fried to a crisp?
2) In the event that such a thing is possible, how could the animal survive for hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of years without food, water or air in anything but negligible amounts, if any at all?
3) If the above two points make such an event impossible, how have so many people reported being witnesses to them?
4) If it is physically impossible for a creature to be encapsulated in rock in such a manner, then what other explanations are available? Are all the witnesses lying? A ridiculous suggestion. Are they all mistaken? That's hard to imagine, as the cavities from which such animals have emerged often fit their body shape and size perfectly, and are hard to explain away if the animal in question was never inside the cavity in the first place.
If you'll excuse the pun, we're caught between a rock (with or without a beast incarcerated in it) and a hard place, for on one hand the events as described seem impossible, whilst on the other the sheer volume of witness testimony makes them hard to deny.
Answers on a post-card, please....
Two animals live at San Diego Wild Animal Park and until recently six lived at Dvůr Králové Zoo in the The Czech Republic. These were thought too old to mate. Four of the six were translocated to Ol Pejeta Conservancy in Kenya in December of 2009. The animals have surprised conservationists by mating. The first mating was between Fatu and Suni, both former residents of Dvur Kralove Zoo. The second mating was Sudan - the oldest northern white male - with a southern white known as Aramiet.
The southern white rhino (Ceratotherium simum simum) the largest and least endangered rhino was once reduced to around 15 individuals in one valley in South Africa. Now 17,480 animals live in the wild.
Check it out on I-Player
On this day in 1937 the world's first flying car Waterman's Arrowbile had its first successful flight.
And now the news:
Man's First Best Friend Might Have Been A Fox
Hibernating Bears 'A Metabolic Marvel'
The first 1 million selling song was 'The Preacher and the Bear' by Arthur Collins, it was a bit rubbish truth be told (evidence here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U8VKxFTadLc ) but in 1958 The Big Bopper recorded his version and that really was fantastic:
Saturday, February 19, 2011
When you add together the beauty of the grounds surrounding the hall, its walled gardens, plants sales area, craft shop, outdoor games area, woodland retreat and quality cafeteria (don't request a large salad as this is a 'vegetable garden on a plate') you have the makings of an excellent day out.
But what is there here of interest to the aquarist? The answer comes in the form of four outdoor ponds.
The first of these is situated to the west of the hall. A small number of Lemon and Wild type goldfish enjoy the luxury of a pond that is teeming with Elodea plants. To add a quaint touch, the brass fountain feeding this pond comes in the form of a smiling fish.
A view of the fountain in the main pond.
The second and largest pond is situated amid a lawn to the east of the main building. This pond was built on three levels. The first level, which is also the deepest, is raised and home to several deeply coloured goldfish. The second and longest level currently houses an Israeli tri-coloured Koi who shares her home with a young Mirror Carp and fully-grown Ghost Koi. The third level is best seen during the month of July as it is has a large planting of water lilies.
As the filtration system for all three levels is only run on a minimal basis there are times when the water appears a little silted, as you will notice from the photographs, so you do have to command a little patience in order to view all of the various fish species. The heron featured on the photograph of this pond is not the real thing but a plastic deterrent aimed at keeping members of the local heron population away from indulging in a fish breakfast.
Although this is only a presumption none of the levels of this pond would appear to be of a depth to allow for the successful over-wintering of the fish species they hold so I assume that these fish must be removed and placed elsewhere during the colder months of the year.
The third pond.
Finally comes a wonderful nature pond complete with wooden structures and platforms ideal for frogs and toads. If I had one complaint it is that the amount of water filtered through the model elephant's trunk is actually running too fast to encourage the presence of amphibians.
The fourth pond.
For visitors wishing to view the interior of the hall an entrance fee is charged. The craftsmanship on display is stunning with an art collection dating from the Middle Ages through to modern times. Entrance into the gardens and other areas mentioned earlier also commands a charge (£4 as of November 2010). To find the hall follow the A614 from Bridlington or the A166 from the York by-pass to join the A614 at Driffield. Sue asks me to note that the entrance lane is situated on a rather blind corner.
Burton Agnes Hall may not immediately spring to mind as a place of aquatic interest but is well worth a visit.
A creature, standing over eight-feet in height stood in the woods and the car headlights reflected off what appeared to be a foil-like skin or clothing. The beast stepped upwards through the trees; its features were not discernible in the darkness and it moved away quickly uphill into the undergrowth, consumed by the shadows of night.
The witnesses were stunned by this peculiar entity and so the driver bravely reversed the car back to the spot.
There was no sign of the weird figure and no sound in the night air.
The passenger commented many years later, “I don’t personally believe in extraterrestrials, so for my own part I’ve ruled out anything like that, and being a fairly practically-minded person I’ve come up with various explanations, such as kids mucking about. But the problem of size keeps coming back – I even checked the Internet the following week to see if 8-ft plus people were more common than I’d thought, rationalising that it was some weirdo in a foil suit. It certainly wasn’t any kind of model, because it was definitely animated. I’m still puzzling over it.”
It’s difficult to comprehend some of the bizarre encounters that people report, and some of these perplexing mysteries are experienced by seemingly level-headed people. From zombies to hellhounds, from aliens to hairy humanoids, Sussex folklore is peppered with such accounts, leaving us to wonder just what kind of ‘spirits’ are lurking in the woods and darkest corners of this ancient county.
Neil Arnold is currently writing MYSTERY ANIMALS OF THE BRITISH ISLES: SUSSEX
I am very proud of CFZ Press, but I shall go to my grave disappointed. Because we have been pipped at the post by the RSPB for the award (which I have just made up) of `best title of the year`. How can we beat this? I wish we had published a book with this magnificent title.
"A newly-opened "winter wonderland" Lapland-style theme park has been described as a "joke" and a "scam" by hundreds of angry visitors. Many people have demanded a refund of the £25 they paid to enter the Lapland New Forest, at Matchams Leisure Park on the Hampshire-Dorset border. "
It is pretty much off-topic, but rather amusing...
On this day in 2005 Hunter S. Thompson died.
And now the news:
Searching for Bigfoot
Peculiar geese deaths baffle wildlife officials
Rare butterfly 'at risk' from Sutton playground pl...
Weymouth welcomes giant Japanese spider crab
Friday, February 18, 2011
This 41st collection once again really is a collection of completely uncategoriseable stuff, including a penguin at the wrong pole, miniature weasels or minivers, a five mile walk for a bloodhound, bats with regional accents and tons more. It doesn't get much better than this. Good stuff.
"The American Museum of Natural History's Giant Mosquito Model played an active role in public health education around the turn of the century. This wax model of an Anopheles mosquito (the hairs are made of brass wire) was created to inform the public in the New York City area about a dangerous outbreak of malaria, which is transmitted by mosquitos, and to make sure that the threat was taken seriously. When the mosquito is magnified to seventy-five times life-size, its potential for spreading disease becomes quite vivid -- somewhat horrifyingly so."
Garth had bought this jackalope in the U.S. It now resides on the wall of my living room, surveying, er, the opposite wall and bookcase, much to the amusement of my friends. It is interesting to compare it to a jackalope I photographed in a restaurant in Dreifelder Weiher central Germany in May 2009 on the way with a team of about 12 others to survey butterflies in Hungary. The 3rd photo here shows this particular jackalope.
The jackalope is a supposed folklore animal, a “cross between a jackrabbit and an antelope, goat or deer.” (1)
1. R.Muirhead To Aggtelek, Hungary and Back (or, a cryptozoologist looks at butterfly behaviour) Amateur Naturalist and Exotic Petkeeper Issue 8 2010 p.46.