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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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Friday, June 10, 2011

ANDREW MAY: Words from the Wild Frontier

From Nick Redfern's "There's Something in the Woods...":
Capturing Cryptids
Crypto Controversy!

From Crypto Squad USA:
Cryptids, Tulpas & Cryptomundo

From CFZ Australia:
Banjo update: elderly koala doing well
Another 'big' cat shot - but what kind?
New from CFZ Press: water monsters galore!
Yowie Port anyone?

NAOMI WEST AND HER MYSTERY INSECT


Naomi writes: 'I don't think I've ever seen this bug before. Isn't it pretty?' It certainly is, we agree, but what is it?

DALE DRINNON: Sea Wolves and Sea Apes

http://frontiersofzoology.blogspot.com/2011/06/sea-wolves-and-sea-apes.html

And congratulations are in order. Dale has now notched up 100 postings on his blog. Well done, matey!

LINDSAY SELBY: Deepest-living land animal found

Deepest-living land animal found

By Jennifer Carpenter Science reporter, BBC News

Worms have been found living at depths in the Earth where it was previously thought animals could not survive.Discovered in South African mines, the roundworms can survive in the stifling 48C (118F) water that seeps between cracks 1.3km beneath the Earth's crust.The find has surprised scientists who, until now, believed only single-celled bacteria thrived at these depths.Writing in the journal Nature, the team says this is the deepest-living "multi-cellular" organism known to science.The researchers found two species of worm. One is a new species to science, which the scientists have named Halicephalobus mephisto after Faust's Lord of the Underworld.The other is a previously known roundworm known as Plectus aquatilis.

Ends: Dr Borgonie believes that worms already have some of the "attributes necessary" to survive at these great depths. So it wasn't a surprise to him that the first multicellular organism to be found in the deep subsurface of the Earth was a worm. The authors of the study expect to find other multicellular animals far beneath our planet's surface, and are preparing to descend again to search for others.

Read full article here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-13620701


Finds like this set me off thinking I wonder what else is surviving where it shouldn’t be ? Always exciting when new species are discovered.

BRIAN REGAL WRITES:

Hey everyone,

Here is my latest media event, interview about my new book on the
Skeptic/Monster Talk podcast. It coincides with the release of,
'Searching for Sasquatch: Crackpots, Eggheads, and Cryptozoology.'

Enjoy!
Brian

http://www.skeptic.com/podcasts/monstertalk/11/06/08

OLL LEWIS'S FORTEAN FIVES: Dr Chris Clark

In Fortean Fives the great and the good of Forteana pick out five interesting events from the history of Forteana. If you want to submit your own Fortean 5s email it to Oll Lewis at fortean5s@gmail.com. Today’s Fortean Five is compiled by Dr Chris Clark. Chris will be familiar to you as an explorer and mainstay of CFZ expeditions and as an expedition coordinator. Take it away Chris:

Multiple Suns

The appearance of two suns in the sky sounds more than merely Fortean; rather something from the Book of Revelations, one of the signs and wonders that announce the Second Coming, a dire event that follows the opening of one of the seven seals. It is understandable then that in March this year the appearance of two suns over a part of China caused some Internet excitement.

This very rare effect involves the appearance of a second image of the sun, of very similar size and brightness, typically one or two degrees away, and commonly when the sun is just above the horizon. The image may be alongside the true sun or above it; sometimes there is more than one false sun (up to nine have been reported), and there have also been sightings of multiple images of the moon and even one of the planet Venus. Minnaert, in his book Light and Colour in the Open Air, doubted its reality in the early editions, but was forced to change his mind when drawings and photographs became available. Corliss, in the Rare Halos, Mirages, Anomalous Rainbows… Catalog cites a number of reports, most observed at sea, and involving altitudes of the sun and moon above the horizon as high as 25°.

It should be stressed that this does not refer to the ‘sun dogs’ or ‘mock suns’, caused by reflections of the sun from ice crystals. This is a fairly common effect (I have seen it twice) and easily identified: the sun dogs appear, usually as a pair with one on each side of the sun, as part of a bright ring at an angle of 22° around the sun.

Logically, if two suns are seen at one place, we might expect no sun to be visible at another, but this, if it happens, has never been reported. Presumably multiple images of the sun or moon must be the consequence of some abnormal refraction effect, of the sort that produces mirages, Fata Morgana, and the curious ‘looming’ effect that can make islands out at sea appear large and close when seen from the shore. Nevertheless it is extraordinarily hard to see how as many as nine clear and distinct images can be generated; perhaps the abrupt density changes associated with cold fronts, or the pattern of convection cells that can form in warm weather, may cause multiple paths. Certainly the experts consulted about the China sighting were baffled, and I know of not a single paper on the subject.

The Tunguska Event

In June 1908 a colossal explosion took place in a very remote region of Siberia. The exact power of the explosion, which blew down trees over an 80-square-mile area, is impossible to establish, but it seems to have been in the 5 to 30 megaton range. It must have taken months for the news to reach Moscow; the Tsarist government took no action, and it was not until 1927, when the chaos of World War I, the Bolshevik Revolution and the Civil War had died down, that an expedition was sent. Although the site was still devastated, with fallen trees pointing away from the site of the blast, there was no sign of any impact crater, and the damage seems to have been done by a massive airburst.

Many ideas, some of them rather wild, have been put forward to explain the nature of the blast: an antimatter meteorite; a quantum black hole; even an alien spaceship blowing up on landing! However, the discovery of tiny particles of iron with a high proportion of nickel in the soil and the fallen trees suggested a meteorite; the discovery of traces of iridium, a heavy metal very rare on earth but often found in meteors, strengthened this. Nevertheless, it was not obvious why a solid stone meteor should explode at high altitude instead of reaching the ground and forming a crater, and there were suggestions that a comet, or at least a fragment of one, could be responsible. Now that we understand that many asteroids are merely loose aggregations of pebbles held together by a weak gravitational attraction the meteor idea becomes more plausible; calculations show that even a solid stony object can be broken up by high pressures in the atmosphere before it reaches the ground. On the other hand, the observation of a bright column of light in the sky for ten minutes before the explosion suggests that a detached fragment of the object hit the Earth first: the Shoemaker-Levy comet that hit Jupiter was preceded by similar fragments pulled off by tidal stresses. The high metal concentration is also hard to square with a stony meteorite, and it may be that a comet, or the nucleus of one, is still a possibility.

It is worth noting one more thing: if the object had arrived five hours later it would have hit the outskirts of St Petersburg. And if it had impacted during one of the more fractious periods of the Cold War instead of 1908….

The Moving Coffins of Barbados

In 2007, on our way back from searching for giant anacondas in Guyana, the CFZ team made a stopover in Barbados. While we there we inspected the tomb of the Chase family in Christ Church graveyard, famous for its ‘creeping coffins’. In the early nineteenth century several members of the family were buried here. The first two burials, in 1807 and 1808, happened without incident. However, when the tomb, built out of large cemented blocks, was opened for a third burial in 1812 it was found that the two coffins, encased in lead, had been flung against the wall. There was no disturbance to the dust on the floor. The coffins were replaced and the third burial took place. The fourth burial, that of plantation owner Thomas Chase who had purchased the tomb for his family, was only a month later, but the same disorder was seen; from then on, whenever the vault was opened for another burial, the coffins were found in state of disarray. In 1819 the Governor of Barbados himself checked for secret entrances, placed seals on the vault and scattered sand on the floor to detect intrusion; yet when he checked nine months later the coffins had moved again, and there was no sign of footprints. After this the Governor ordered the tomb to be emptied and the coffins reburied: they have apparently been content to remain where they are ever since. It is hard to imagine any explanation, short of an elaborate conspiracy, to explain this one.

Ball Lightning

In the town of Khabarovsk (USSR), in the summer of 1978, a ball of orange light about 1.5 m diameter appeared over a local cinema and was observed for a full minute as it descended to the street, When it finally exploded it caused a crater 1.5 m across and 20-25 cm deep. The estimated energy release was about one billion Joules, or enough to completely evaporate half a ton of water. This is the most spectacular example of ball lightning so far observed, but very far from the only one. A paper published in 1993 gave examples of over 3200 distinct sightings.

The cause remains a complete mystery, though it engaged the interest of (among many others), the famous Russian physicist and Nobel Prize winner Peter Kapitza. The same paper mentions a discussion in a Soviet technical journal which produced 138 different explanations! Since most sightings are associated with thunderstorms, an explanation in terms of plasma physics has always been preferred (and I can certainly produce something that looks like ball lightning, though it presumably isn’t, in my microwave oven using nothing more than a candle). Since wiring was damaged up to 150 m from the explosion in the Khabarovsk case this would suggest an electromagnetic pulse, but there is no explanation of how the air can remain ionised for the long (10 – 60 seconds) duration of ball lightning, instead of the milliseconds typical of plasmas. Other causes suggested include antimatter, a fractal state of matter called an aerogel, and even the elusive Dirac magnetic monopole. The recent discovery of positron annihilation gamma radiation in the aftermath of violent lightning strikes suggests that antimatter can actually be created: so if you do see ball lightning, treat it with respect.

The Annemarie Schneider Poltergeist

The paranormal is a huge disappointment to those who, like me, would like to believe. Telepathy retreats ever further into a statistical limbo of analysis and meta-analysis (as Rutherford said “If your experiment needs statistics, you ought to have done a better experiment”). Psychokinesis scarcely ever occurs under properly controlled conditions; certainly I have never heard of anyone being barred from Las Vegas casinos for winning vast sums at the craps tables using their PK powers. Precognition seems to be as bogus as every other form of prophecy; Soal, who spent years investigating it, was reduced in the end to cheating out of sheer frustration. As for teleportation, which Charles Fort seems to have invented as a joke, there is not even bad evidence that anyone ever teleported or ever will.

Out of the vast pile of debris that constitutes the paranormal library, one phenomenon seems to remain standing: poltergeists. There are far too many accounts to even list, but one in particular stands out : the Rosenheim poltergeist or, since all the effects were associated with one adolescent girl (as they so often are), perhaps it should be called the Annemarie Schneider poltergeist. The events centred round the office of a Bavarian lawyer called Sigmund Adam. They began in 1967 with a series of telephone calls, at a rate sometimes of several per minute, apparently made from the office. The calls continued when all the telephones were locked, only Adam himself holding the key. There were a range of electrical problems, involving exploding light bulbs, blown fuses and lights that went on and off by themselves. The power company and the telephone company could find no problems with the equipment. Objects began to move, apparently of their own accord. When a paranormal investigator and two physicists were brought in they noted that the events only occurred when a young secretary, Annemarie Schneider, was present. Schneider apparently had just come out of a difficult relationship, and anyone who attended the talk ‘Sex and the Single Poltergeist’ at the last Unconvention will remember the link between poltergeist activity and sexual tensions in adolescents. The case became internationally famous: I remember reading about it in the British newspapers at the time. Despite the attention of journalists, police and investigators the effects continued, and did not end until Schneider herself left. It is worth noting that no-one claimed to have seen her faking anything. Unfortunately no illusionists or magicians seem to have checked on her, so the possibility of fraud by an attention-seeking neurotic remains, but it would be remarkable if a teenage girl could have replicated the sort of effects associated with skilled mediums who are allowed to set the terms under which they work.

HAUNTED SKIES: Bernard Cox UFO, 1967

http://hauntedskies.blogspot.com/2011/05/bernard-cox-ufo-1967.html

Yesterday's News Today

Oliver is away at the LAPIS Conference, at which he will be videoing bits and bobs for CFZtv as well as speaking himself. He has left some bits and bobs for us, starting with:

On this day in 1962 three prisoners pulled off the first and only escape from the supposedly escape proof Alcatraz prison. As the escapees were never seen again it is not known if they were entirely successful or if they just died in their raft.

Now for the news from Gavin Wilson, starting with the best headline of the year so far...


Spitting and urinating chimps 'replay Aesop's fable'

The Anthropocene - a man-made worldEscaped wolf shot - security probed
China genetically modifying cows to produce human milk
Wild beavers terrorise Philadelphia

Good 'ere innit?

CFZ PEOPLE: Karen Gensheimer

Many thanks to Karen for her generous donation of $100. This will go towards a new computer to replace the one that died at the end of last week.

Thank you, my dear. I really do appreciate it.

DALE DRINNON: Some Late Dragons and Dragon-Slayings


http://frontiersofzoology.blogspot.com/2011/06/some-late-dragons-and-dragon-slayings.html

PLUS: Three new postings on the 'Frontiers of Anthropology' blog..


http://frontiers-of-anthropology.blogspot.com/2011/06/cultural-diffusion-by-david-kelley.html

http://frontiers-of-anthropology.blogspot.com/2011/06/david-kelley-on-pre-columbian-lacquer.html

http://frontiers-of-anthropology.blogspot.com/2011/06/cochineal-and-lacquer.html

CFZ NEW ZEALAND

http://cfz-nz.blogspot.com/2011/06/bird-that-shouldnt-bee.html


Today I am happy to announce the launch of the new CFZ New Zealand blog. This promises to be a good 'un.