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, February 03, 2011

DALE DRINNON: Packda, Kapre, Muwas, Waray-waray and Omomongo: Probable Relic Orangutans of the Present-day Philippines

Several of the internet resources speak of an asortment of legendary creatures reported from the many islands of the Philippines and said to resemble Bigfoot or Yetis. One of the sources is a juvenile book from 1917 that mentions the name "Packda (=Ape)" but it only mentions that the boy-hero came across the skeleton of one and at first thought it was a human skeleton. From this we can surmise that it is about human-sized and with a superficially human-like anatomy. The other mention I have of "Packda" is from Eberhart, Mysterious Creatures, which says that the apelike creature is reported from Palawan island, which lies between the Indonesian island of Borneo and Luzon of the Philippines.

I was able to find quite a bit on other apelike creatures reported in the Philippines but unfortunately on share-unfriendly sites such as Cryptomundo and Bigfoot Encounters. There were supposed to be attacks on villagers on Negros island from something called an Amomongo (loosely translatable as "Gorilla" according to Cryptomundo) and reports of a creature called a "Muwas" which is linguistically related to Mawas of the Malay peninsula and Mias, the common Indonesian name for orangutan. Only some of these reports hae become embellished such that the creatures have no proper feet or have "Bottlefeet", batlike wings, or are cyclopses. The Bottlefoot-cyclops reports are easily enough explained by reference to Mapinguaris (as per my earlier blog posting) and presumably the batwinged creatures are reports of a separate Giant-bat cryptid like the "Monkey-faced" Ahool of Java.

The Amomongo is a creature of Philippine mythology described as hairy, man-sized and ape-like with long nails.[1] The term may have its roots in the Hiligaynon word amó, which means "ape" or "monkey". Residents of La Castellana in Negros Occidental refer to the creature as a "wild monkey" that lives in caves near the foot of Mt. Kanlaon. The creature is said to have attacked two residents of the settlement and disemboweled goats and chickens in the area, for the purpose of eating the entrails.[2]

[Ape attempts to abduct girl, drawing for a movie planned in the Philippines during the 1940s, never made. From The Gorilla Men internet site on gorillas in the movies]


Amomongo Terrorizes Philippines

The amomongo (loosely, gorilla) is a creature of Philippine cryptozoology described as hairy, man-sized and ape-like with long nails.

Terror is gripping residents of haciendas in Brgy. Sag-ang, La Castellana, Negros Occidental, Philippines, following the reported existence of a man-sized creature, who recently attacked two residents and disemboweled animals in the area.

Elias Galvez and Salvador Aguilar reported to Mayor Alberto Nicor and the police that they were separately attacked by a "hairy creature with long nails," on the nights of June 9 and 10, 2008, in Cabungbungan, Brgy. Sag-ang, La Castellana, Philippines.

Aguilar who was able to escape from the creature, was treated at the La Castellana Emergency Clinic for scratches on different parts of his body, police said.

Galvez, on the other hand, who was also attacked by the creature, was rescued by his companions, Nicor told the Daily Star on June 12th.

Brgy. Sag-ang residents described the creature to be about 5 feet and 4 inches tall, and looks like a monkey.

Sag-ang Brgy. Capt. Rudy Torres has confirmed reports of the existence of such creature, called amomongo (gorilla) by residents.

The creature has also allegedly victimized chickens and a goat, who ate their intestines, in May 2008.

Torres said the creature usually strikes where there are no barangay tanods (village guards or paramilitary elements) around.

He called on barangay residents to be vigilant, especially during night time.

People have not been roaming around the barangay at night since the attack against Galvez and Aguilar, Nicor said.

Barangay residents should put out a bait to capture the creature, Nicor suggested.

Brgy. Sag-ang in La Castellana is located at the foot of Mt. Kanlaon , which has many caves.

The creature could be hiding in one of the caves, Nicor said.

The La Castellana police advised Barangay Sag-ang residents to immediately report to them if the creature is sighted.


Police and residents of La Castellana town are on alert against a wild monkey locally known as amomongo reportedly attacking residents and other animals since last week.

Inspector Teddy Velez, the town's police chief, said a lot of residents from Barangay Sag-ang have reported of being attacked by amomongo since Tuesday, June 10.

Salvador Aguilar, a resident, told police he was attacked by the wild monkey. He showed authorities the scratches on his face, back and hands. He said several of his neighbors also saw the monkey attacking domesticated animals.

Mayor Alberto Nicor said amomongo is not a witch or aswang but a wild animal. He theorized it is not remote for an amomongo to live in Sag-ang, considering that the area is at the foot of Mt. Kanlaon.

He added the animal may have been suffering from hunger. "This is one possibility because there may be no food now in the mountain. Or it might be that amomongo habitat has been disturbed by humans, thus, it runs wild."

Velez said he already alerted his policemen as well as the village watchmen and instructed them on what to do in case the animal appears again or attacks residents.

Nicor also alerted residents in nearby barangays even as he advised Sag-ang residents to be calm but to also be prepared with arrows or anything that could be used in fighting the amomongo.


Creature terrorizing residents of farms, by Gilbert Bayoran, Daily Star, Bacolod City, Negros Occidental, Philippines, June 13, 2008


[Orangutan Compared to Kapre 1]

--However, the most common mention of any creature out of Philippines mythology in the "Apeman" category is ordinarily under the heading of "Kapre". Sightings of the Kapre are fairly common and still continuing, with similar reports all over the middle area of the Philippines, including the area of Luzon around Manilla and the Northern parts of Mindinao. There are several other synonymous names and some slight variations in some more localized areas.




Kapre (related to the Agta in the Visayan dialect) is a Philippine mythical creature that could be characterized as a tree demon, but with more human characteristics. It is described as being a tall (7 to 9 ft), brown, hairy male with a beard.

[Since Kapres are usually stated to be sitting up in trees, the height is estimated by the head+trunk length or sitting height. The sitting height of a Kapre is equivalent to the sitting height of a human 7 to 9 feet tall. That could be equivalent to a large orangutan or a gorilla in size because apes actually have short legs.-DD]


[Orangutan Compared to Kapre2- Mamma Kapre Giant]

Kapres are normally described as smoking a big tobacco pipe, whose strong smell would attract human attention. The term kapre comes from the Arabic "kaffir" meaning a non-believer in Islam. The early Arabs and the Moors used it to refer to the non-Muslim Dravidians who were dark-skinned. The term was later brought to the Philippines by the Spanish who had previous contact with the Moors. Some historians speculate that the legend was propagated by the Spanish to prevent Filipinos from assisting any escaped African slaves.

[The name 'Agta' otherwise refers to the pygmy Negritos of the Philippines and probably is used in place of the other "Black" references. Similarly, the name 'Waray-waray' refers to a local ethnic group and presumably is another misapplication of a tribal name to an apelike creature -DD]


[Dark Orangutan]

Natural habitat and attire

Kapres are said to dwell in big trees like acacias, mangoes, bamboo and banyan (known in the Philippines as balete). It is also mostly seen sitting in the tops of those trees. The Kapre is said to wear the indigenous Northern Philippine loincloth known as bahag, and according to some, often wears a belt which gives the kapre the ability to be invisible to humans. In some versions, the kapre is supposed to hold a magical white stone, a little smaller in size than a quail egg. Should any person happen to obtain this stone, the kapre could grant wishes.

[This "Magic Stone is a regular feature of Filipino Folklore and not restricted to stories of the Kapre. Some locally-published comic books use the magic stone as a device whereby the hero or heroine gains superpowers-DD]


Kapres are not necessarily considered to be evil, unlike the manananggal. Kapres may make contact with people to offer friendship, or if it is attracted to a woman. If a Kapre befriends any human, especially because of love, the Kapre will consistently follow its "love interest" throughout life. Also, if one is a friend of the Kapre then that person has the ability to see it and if they were to sit on it then any other person could see it.

[Which is to say males interested in human females are bolder and less prone to conceal themselves-so the story goes-DD]

Kapres are also said to play pranks on people, frequently making travelers become disoriented and lose their way in the mountains or in the woods. They are also believe to have the ability to confuse people even in their own familiar surroundings; for instance, someone who forgets that they are in their own garden or home is said to have been tricked by a Kapre. Reports of experiencing Kapre enchantment include that of witnessing rustling tree branches, even if the wind is not strong. Some more examples would be hearing loud laughter coming from an unseen being, witnessing lots of smoke from the top of a tree, seeing big fiery eyes during night time from a tree, as well as actually seeing a Kapre walking in forested areas. It is also believed that abundant fireflies in woody areas are the embers from the Kapre's lit tobacco pipe.


[Orangutan Compared to Kapre 3]

--Although Orangutans could very well be chewing on a bunch of leaves which could resemble a cigar, it is generally held by posters on the Bigfoot sites that the references to the Kapre's nasty-smelling cigar is simply a way of saying it makes a bad smell. And if it eats some kinds of tree bark or other aromatic vegetable matter, its excrements could smell rather like a bad cigar. Some North American Bigfoot reports say the creature smells "like burning garbage", not so very different. And the fact that it lives up in trees would be the reason why it is hard to see, or why it makes branches rustle when there is no wind. That it has a wild raucous laugh is a familiarly apelike trait. Actually the "Loincloth" seems to only mean that it has long hairs hanging down the crotch-as well as having a prominent beard and long head-hair-or long hair all over, in fact. It is also notable that it Kapres are often seen in food trees such as mangoes and in bamboo thickets.

Primate 010 -Tarsier

[Range of Tarsier species in Indonesia and Philippines]

Officially, the only nonhuman primate native to the Philippines are a couple of species of protosimian Tarsiers. However the range of tarsirs inside and outside of the Philippines is suggestive and the fact that some of the "Ape" reports on the islands between Borneo and the Philippines does suggest that orangutans may have crossed over a former landbridge. And I would suggest that the Kapre and the other "Monkey-men" are more like the Borneo orangutans (and Beruang Rambi) while the Mawas and Tua Yeua,etc, of Southeast Asia are more like the Sumatran orangutans. I shall have to expand on that idea in a future blog. And while I have just mentioned the name, Eberhart is wrong when he says "Beruang Rambai" is a usual name for the Malaysian sun-bear. It is on the contrary a common name for the orangutan, and so recorded by Russell Wallace. Which basically makes it a non-Cryptid, only a large orangutan but of the known species native to Borneo.

PRU MEETS THE CORNISH GHOST HUNTERS (and still thinks she's a lap dog)

This is what happened when Jules and Dougie met Prudence for the first time

VANISHING OF THE BEES - Official Trailer

GLEN VAUDREY: I'd go the Whole Wide World #5

Yet another land-locked South American country with a couple of claims to fame. It’s the country where revolutionary poster boy Ernesto "Che" Guevara met a sticky end, and the country shares part of Lake Titicaca with neighbouring Peru; however, the mystery animal we will be looking at is not found in its waters.

The cryptid that I would like to introduce you to today is the Mitla (sounds a bit like the name of naughty Austrian dictator).

This mystery animal was mentioned by the great lost explorer Colonel Percy Fawcett in his book Exploration Fawcett. He states the following while commenting on the creatures of Bolivia.

‘In the forest were various beasts still unfamiliar to zoologists, such as the mitla, which I have seen twice, a black doglike cat about the size of a foxhound’

It does sound very promising, doesn’t it, but what could the Mitla actually be? While Colonel Fawcett may have thought it was a cat the current feeling is that what he actually saw was a bush dog, while another promising canine candidate is the short-eared dog, an animal known for its feline-like movement. So perhaps the Mitla is less of the dog-like cat and more of the cat-like dog.

So where are we off to next? Well, we’re heading south across the border to Chile.

OLL LEWIS: Maternal cultratus?

Regular readers of the CFZ blog will be aware of the saga of our Alfaro cultratus or knife livebearers. About 6 weeks ago, during the Arctic conditions of late December, the thermostat on their tank's heater broke over night. Only 2 female knife livebearers, the apple snails and 2 rather heavily bred guppies survived the cold temperatures. If one were to make a Hollywood film about the trials and tribulations of our knife livebearers you would need the next scene to be uplifting to buoy your audience back up; and just that was to happen a few days ago when at least one of the females gave birth to a clutch of tiny fish.

This was most unexpected because we thought that we would not be getting any more fry until we had replenished the tank's males, but it is possible for some female livebearers to hold on to male gametes for around a month. The only other possible explanation as to where the male DNA could have come from is the guppies and they are meant to be physically incapable of breeding with the knife livebearers, according to Max Blake.

The fish are very small indeed and whereas they are not quite the smallest livebearer young I've ever seen, they are the smallest Jon has seen and being somewhat of a livebearer enthusiast he has seen many more species than I. Given the experience of Jon and I, I would be tempted to say anecdotally that they are probably among the smallest livebearer young in the world. So small were the young that as a precaution we have moved the guppies to another tank in case they decided to snack upon the young fish. With the guppies gone Jon was most concerned that the female knife livebearers would also start to snack upon their young and his worst fears appeared to be confirmed when he saw one of them apparently chasing a baby fish, which escaped into the clump of plants in the tank. In the hope of discouraging any feeding on young I upped the amount of fishfood I was putting in for the adults on the basis that if a fish is full of easy-to-catch-and-eat flake then they won't bother going after hard to catch fast-swimming little fish. It is a technique that worked for Barnum and other showmen when they made 'Happy Family' exhibits and is still employed by some zoos and aquaria today in their community enclosures and tanks.

Upon further observation of the fish, though, I noticed that we may well have been incorrect in our initial assessment of the threat to the fish from their mothers. One female stayed in amongst the clump of plants for a long time after the births and was so well hidden that she was impossible to spot until later in the day when she moved out of the clump a while after I had moved the guppies on. I witnessed something most interesting today (3 days after the births as I am writing this blog). One of the female fish started to chase a small fish that had ventured too far out of the plant clump. Initially I thought that despite the fact that I had just put food in the tank my efforts could be for nothing if the baby fish was more appealing than the fish flake; however, as I watched it became apparent that, far from trying to eat the tiny fish, it was trying to corral the fish back among the plants eventually attempting to gently waft the fish into them as it got close.

This behaviour could have 2 possible explanations: either it was a territorial dispute between the large fish and the tiny one due to the fact that the large fish wanted first dibs on the food recently been put in the tank or it was a maternal behaviour where the fish was attempting to get her baby back into the plant clump where at this small size it would be safer than in open water. I'm leaning towards the latter explanation at present as it makes more sense than the former when you consider that even when the tank had more large fish in there there were rarely any food-related disputes, and let's not forget the action of wafting the baby back into the plant clump. It did not seem like an aggressive action on the large fish's part.

If the fish was indeed trying to protect its young from potential predators then this is quite interesting as it is generally regarded that most livebearers show very little in the way of maternal instinct, happy to just plop out their young and leave them to get on with things. An instinct for maternal care is certainly within the realms of possibility, though, as a number of the livebearers I have bread for the CFZ will often require certain conditions to be met before they breed. There are the obvious ones like temperatures but there are also ones that a surprisingly large number of people forget about like plants. Often livebearers (with the exception of some species like guppies, of which a greater challenge would be getting them not to breed so much) will require a certain amount of plants or type of plant in their tanks that can act as a nursery, protecting baby fish from the attention of larger fish, before they will breed or give birth. This shows that there is certainly some degree of maternal care in many livebearer species even if it is limited to to ensuring a nursery site is available pre-birth so post-natal care may happen more often than we give livebearers credit for.

OLL LEWIS: Yesterday's News Today


On this day in 1940 George A. Romero was born. Romero is best known for his zombie movies, which revolutionised the horror sub-genre. His 1968 film Night of the Living Dead is in the public domain so why not watch it after you finish reading the blog today? Here's the link; no excuses now: http://www.archive.org/details/Night.Of.The.Living.Dead_1080p
And now, the news:

New mosquito type raises concern
Why are we a nation of tree-huggers?

And in the spirit of that, how about this: