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, August 21, 2014

SASKIA: How a stingray sheds its sting

The CFA intern Saskia England IMd me excitedly earlier with this picture and the message: "Dad's female has successfully dropped her barb!"

As I know that Sas's father keeps freshwater stingrays, I was not as perturbed by this message as I otherwise might have been, so I asked for further details.

She wrote back with the following picture, and this message: "The larger one is the female's (which she shed today) and the smaller one beside is the male's from a month ago".

I didn't even know that stingrays shed their stings and said so. She replied:

"They shed in order to grow new ones.. Just like sharks with their teeth"

I was completely intrigued by this stage, and she wrote me the following little essay:

Unlike a wasp stinger, a stingray stinger is not hollow and does not inject anything. It is simply a physical weapon, like a dagger, not a chemical one. Stingrays have a set of barbs each one smaller than the next. As one is used the next one in line grows to replace it. Very similar to the way sharks replace lost teeth. Stingray skin is covered partially in dermal denticles (literally ‘skin teeth’) that contain dentine just like normal teeth. They look like short pointed spikes when viewed under a microscope. The ray’s tail spines are modified dermal denticles that have become elongated so that the can be used as defensive weapons.

So if you zoom in on the picture you can see it looks very similar to a shark tooth...

And she signed off with a picture of her Dad's rays. What a nice way to brighten up the last evening of my 54th year!


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