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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Saturday, August 09, 2014

CRYPTOLINK: Mythical ‘Sea Serpent’ Comes into the Light

A word about cryptolinks: we are not responsible for the content of cryptolinks, which are merely links to outside articles that we think are interesting (sometimes for the wrong reasons), usually posted up without any comment whatsoever from me. 

A glimpse by artist E. Paul Oberlander (www.poberlanderart.com) of an idealized oarfish.
Artist’s view of an oarfish, alive in the ocean depths. (Illustration by E. Paul Oberlander ©Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution)
Davy Jones’ Locker, it might be called, this final resting place of a sea serpent.  In a darkened back room at the Smithsonian Institution’s Museum Support Center in Suitland, Maryland, ichthyologists Jeff Williams and Kris Murphy prepare to break the seal of a time capsule, a faded jar the color of yellow-green sea glass. A container that is a coffin.
Hidden on a dark upper shelf for 47 years, an  oarfish has come into the light. (Photograph by Sandra Raredon.)
Hidden on a dark upper shelf for 47 years, an oarfish has come into the light. (Photograph by Sandra Raredon.)
Williams and Murphy lift the lead-weight jar from the uppermost shelf at the end of a row in the support center’s fish collection, place it on a steel cart, and wheel it to a lab where fluorescent lights illuminate the contents. And where there are instruments for prying open the tightly shut, three-feet-high by one-foot-wide jar.
Once through the lab’s double-door entrance, Williams tries to free the jar’s top. “That lid is wedged in almost like it was superglued shut,” he says.
Finally, after several twists of a wrench, open sesame. Within, an 11-feet-long fish with iridescent fins lies in repose, floating in preservative.
An oarfish that measures more than 11 feet.
Scientists at the Smithsonian Institution’s Museum Support Center measure a long-lost oarfish: 11 feet, 2 inches. (Photograph by Sandra Raredon.)
It’s an adult oarfish that, at best guess, washed up near St. Petersburg Beach, Florida, on April 6, 1967. According to a report in the next day’s St. Petersburg Times, retired Rear Admiral Edward Ellsberg found the fish floating in the Gulf surf and dragged it ashore.
Ellsberg hauled it to the Bureau of Commercial Fisheries Laboratory in St. Pete Beach. Scientists there donated the oarfish to the Smithsonian.
Little but a one-inch silver tag reading USNM (U.S. National Museum) 201458, a clue buried with the fish, heralds its existence. Marker aside, there’s no record of the oarfish in the museum’s database. The fish had been lost in time, its grave undisturbed for 47 years.
Now the “sea serpent” has come to light. It will receive an official catalog date: 2014. It’s the only adult oarfish in the Smithsonian’s collections.
The fish’s half-dollar-sized silver eyes seem to register our presence. I reach out to touch its scales. They’re firm and far from cold. Shimmering flecks soon cover my hand.
Read on...

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