Tau Ceti: The Next Home for Humanity?

TauCetiStarMapMuch has been made of the star system Tau Ceti by science fiction authors, star gazers, and UFO hunters over the years. Would humanity be able to thrive there, or would we find evidence of other life forms among its planets? Possibly intelligent ones? Science learns more about this tantalizing possibility and CryptoVille reports!

Scientists at the Arizona State University (ASU) have been studying the Tau Ceti star system trying to determine if it could be a viable target for humanity’s colonization of the universe. Recently a group of scientists from ASU co-wrote a paper detailing their findings called “The Chemical Composition of Tau Ceti and Possible Effects on Terrestrial Planets.” The authors are astrophysicists Michael Pagano, Amanda Truitt, and Patrick A. Young, and mineral physicist Sang-Heon (Dan) Shim.

TauCetibyartistThe Planets

Two orbiting planets in this star system attracted the team’s attention as possible targets for supporting human life. They are called planets e and f. Scientists warn us that just because these two planets fit the description for being in the habitable zone for humanity, it doesn’t mean there is life on either of them, much less a flourishing ecosystem. (Unidentified artist’s concept of Tau Ceti and planets, left.)

Michael Pagano explains, “Planet e is in the habitable zone only if we make very generous assumptions. Planet f initially looks more promising, but modeling the evolution for the star makes it seem probable that it has only moved into the habitable zone recently as Tau Ceti has gotten more luminous over the course of its life.”

Tau Ceti itself has what is considered an unusual ratio of magnesium and silicon. These elements are important because here on Earth, they form a good portion of our rocks. Tau Ceti has 70% more of these minerals than our sun. So what does that mean for the habitability of its surrounding planets?

According to mineral physicist Dan Shim, “With such a high magnesium and silicon ratio it is possible that the mineralogical make-up of planets around Tau Ceti could be significantly different from that of Earth. Tau Ceti’s planets could very well be dominated by the mineral olivine at shallow parts of the mantle and have lower mantles dominated by ferropericlase.”

TauCetiVolcanic Problem

Ferropericlase is a magnesium/iron oxide found in Earth’s lower mantle. So what we know of it is that it doesn’t flow as nicely as the lava that we see coming out of Hawaii’s volcanoes. It resists flow. So, per Wiki, that means when it moves, “hot, yet solid, mantle rock would flow more easily, possibly having profound effects on volcanism and tectonics at the planetary surface, processes which have a significant impact on the habitability of Earth.” (Artwork above right by ASU art major Joshua Gonzalez.)

Dan Shim sums it up this way, “This is a reminder that geological processes are fundamental in understanding the habitability of planets.”

That’s a bit disappointing, isn’t it? It seems these planets aren’t the perfect places to begin humanity’s colonization of the galaxy after all.

Expanding Horizons

However science also tells us that with today’s advanced technology, they now can see so many extrasolar planets, that some of them are bound to be promising targets. Realistically they can’t search every one, so they will target the most promising among them.

It seems “Going Boldly Where No Man Has Gone Before” is turning out to be more problematic than we may have first thought.

TauCetiSTMeme

I was also thinking, if and when we do begin to colonize another planet, that will make us the UFOs to any of its inhabitants!

Are you ready to colonize a planet?

References 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ferropericlase

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/04/150422142501.htm

 

A Black Flamingo? Latest Miami Cocktail or Hoax?

BlackFlamingosCyprusAnother strange creature emerges into the internet consciousness, this time looking like a black flamingo! Cryptozoology lovers may wonder if this is a hoax or the latest cocktail craze from Miami. Could there be any truth to this latest monster?

This latest cryptid creature actually doesn’t come from Miami, or even the USA. It hails from the Mediterranean island of Cyprus and it was spotted recently by visitors and staff at the Akrotiri Environmental Center on Cyprus.

There amongst the carpet of pink bodied flamingos was a lone black one. How did it get that way? By having a genetic condition called melanism. This condition turns the pigment of birds’ feathers black.

BlackFlamingosFlyingFlamingos aren’t the only ones who can suffer this fate. Science tells us that it can occur in hawks and ducks as well. But while it can help the animal evade predators by allowing them to disappear into most landscapes, it can put a damper on the bird’s love life.

Flamingo females are programmed to look for the rosiest pink male as the perfect choice for a mate. The black flamingo won’t attract any interest amongst his flock, unfortunately for him.

Another down side, the melanistic condition makes their feathers brittle resulting in more breakage than normal. Not good if you need to fly.

Still, this particular bird seems to be surviving just fine. A conservationist with the Flamingo Specialists Group reported seeing this same bird in 2013 in Israel. The conservationist, Michaeline Moloney, said these birds can be told apart by their appearance as well as their behavior with the rest of the flock.

It seems that this year, the melanistic bird has made its way to Cyprus. Check out the recent video from Cyprus:


 

Flamingo Make-Up

You know how we often say how surprised we are by various finds in Mother Nature? You won’t believe this next one!

In the course of researching this article on melanism, I found another that described how flamingos use make-up to make themselves even rosier in preparation for mating season.

BlackFlamingos02According to ornithologist Juan Amat of the Donana Biological Research Station these birds go through a yearly “color cycle.” As soon as the chicks are born, they all fade and become pale. That goes on from May through September. In October they start getting rosy pink again.

Scientists know that flamingos get their color from the carotenoids in the food they eat, such as algae and small crustaceans. Then why do they fade during the summer months?

Scientists also know that these birds smear their own natural oil onto their feathers because the oil keeps the feathers flexible and waterproof.  Could it have something to do with their coloration?

Amat had a suspicion that the color was being applied to their feathers and the most likely culprit was the oil the birds got from a gland near their tails.  The scientists tested the oil and sure enough, it was loaded with carotenoid compounds.

Amat reported that male and female flamingos apply this “make-up” especially as mating season approaches. Both sexes are programmed to favor highly pink and rosy mates.

He said, “We were so excited to discover this. Other birds like the bearded vulture, are known to take mud baths that leave their feathers tinged with color. We now need to go and look at these species to see if they are applying cosmetics just like the flamingos do.”

Mary Kay, move over! 😀

MaryKayLipstick

References

http://news.nationalgeographic.com/content/news/en_US/2015/04/150417-black-flamingo-cyprus-birds-genetics-animals-science.html

http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2010/11/101110-flamingos-makeup-mating-science-animals/#

Bigfoot Photographed by a Ten Year Old?

BigfootIBelieveCryptozoology lovers may find this video interesting. It seems a 10 year old took a photo of what seems to be a Bigfoot. Is the child credible? Does the photo look legit? CryptoVille investigates!

The video showing the photos taken by ten year old Kyle G dates to October of last year. The location is never mentioned but if I had to guess, I would say it’s probably in the Northwest US somewhere. Perhaps even Western Canada.

The video was taken by Kevin Noad who seems genuinely fascinated by the event and who wanted to interview the child himself.  He introduces us to Kyle who comes across as a very normal kid, nervous in front of the camera, having trouble getting started with his tale, but Noad encourages him and he finally gets rolling with his report.

According to Kyle, he was out with his sister and cousin, walking from their house back into some woods. At one point Kyle looked up and saw what he believed to be a Bigfoot, about ten yards from them.

Noad had Kyle show us where he was standing, where the Bigfoot was standing, and afterwards, the path Bigfoot took to leave the area. Throughout all this Kyle seems very natural and very sincere. I want to believe him, but I’ve got some serious doubts about this sighting.

Here is the video, a little over 9 minutes long:


 

The Doubts

To begin with, why didn’t someone post Kyle’s photos on the internet, or share them with a news agency who could really spread the news to the world?

Why don’t they mention the location? Because they don’t want people coming up there to investigate? Perhaps because it was a hoax? (Photograph taken by Kyle and shared by Kevin Noad, below right.)

Bigfoot Problems: The child was ten yards from the creature and the photo is still blurry. Granted, the kid may not know how to take a good photo, and it was only taken on an Ipad. I don’t care how good Apple says their cameras are, they are not real cameras such as Rainer Mirau or Tim Vollmer would use when they’re out photographing nature.

Bigfoot-native-american-kid-photobyKevinNoadLook at the arms. They don’t seem to be quite long enough, based on other reports and sightings we’ve seen and heard about over the years. The arms should extend down over most of the thighs.

There’s no face. From ten yards, through pretty clear terrain, we should be able to see something of the facial features.

The Getaway: How the Bigfoot retreated is also a problem for me. Kevin Noad specifically went looking for tracks so we see a lot of the ground. I have to admit, the ground seemed pretty dry and definitely tough. Then you get over near the river, and there’s nothing but cobblestones for quite a way. Eventually they got to the river’s edge and it was wet and sandy. There were lots of other animal and human prints, not to mention an empty beer can or two but nothing that could be construed to be a Bigfoot’s print.

Even if the Bigfoot took one large step to get into the river before it disappeared around a bend, there would at least have been something to see. The event happened only the day before the videotaping. (Wider shot of the creature taken by Kyle and shared by Kevin Noad, below.)

bigfoot-kyle-native-american-kid

What We’re Left With

Kyle is such a cute little boy and I just can’t believe he is lying or perpetrating a hoax.

However, that’s not to say an adult in the area didn’t decide to pull a hoax on the children. Remember Kyle was there with his sister and cousin.

Unfortunately we can’t see enough detail on the creature to determine if it was a costume or not. For me, the fact the arms are rather short for a Bigfoot is a warning flag. The lack of a footprint is also a big problem. An animal would have left some kind of print in that wet sand, but a human, trying to evade being caught, would know to step on the hard surfaces, then perhaps into the water where any tracks would be washed away.

BigfootCoastalArtTotemFor these reasons I’m very doubtful this was a real Bigfoot. It’s more than likely a hoax perpetrated on the children, which is why it wasn’t instantly loaded onto the internet or shared with a news station. (Native American totem art of Bigfoot signed by artist, left.)

It’s not clear how Kevin Noad learned of Kyle’s photographs. He may have just been in the area and heard about it from other people.

Lingering Doubt

There’s just one thing I can’t explain about the original photographs – the height of the creature. Looking at the tree it’s standing next to, I would guesstimate it’s about 7 feet tall, give or take a few inches. That’s a stretch for most humans.

I suppose the costume could have been padded to increase the overall height, but there’s only so much of that you can do without throwing off the appearance of the creature. Was it standing on something? Kyle showed us where it was standing and the area was flat and undisturbed.

As per usual it comes down to this – the story is very interesting, the child is very compelling, but at the end of the day, we’re left with another “blobsquatch.”  I have too many doubts to call it a legitimate sighting. I think it was more than likely hoaxed, unbeknownst to the children.

What do you think – hoax or real?

 

SasquatchSearching

What’s Lurking in Our Oceans?

In the latest episode of River Monsters, Jeremy Wade shared with us the fossilized record of creatures that used to live in ancient freshwater environments. Huge, ugly, but nonetheless fascinating, they were truly monsters of the deep. Could other, terrifying species be alive today in the depths of our oceans?

Prehistoric creatures from the depths of ancient rivers and lakes, each a monster in their own right. I found myself alternately glad they no longer existed, and a little sad that they didn’t.

Did you see last Sunday’s episode of River Monsters on Animal Planet? It was a fascinating tour into the past where we could actually see the fossilized remains of these monsters and super predators. The CGI brought them to light in fascinating and gruesome detail.

Here’s a sampling of the creatures we saw:

Rhizodont

Rhizodont

 

 

 

Leedsichthys

Leedsichthys

 

 

 

 

 

Xiphactinus (image from American Museum of Natural History)

xiphactinusFromAmMusNatHis

 

 

 

 

 

 

Helicaprion

Helicoprion

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dunkleosteus

Dunkleosteus

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For sure, you won’t catch me going into the ocean ever again, I don’ t care if they ARE extinct!

Monster Legacy

The host, Jeremy Wade, is known for his freshwater fish expertise and he showed us how physical traits from these now extinct monsters were still alive in some of today’s fierce underwater creatures.

For instance, the architecture of the Rhizodont’s jaw is exactly the same as it is today in the Goliath Tigerfish. The streamlined body of our highly prized sail fish is the same as that of another super-long predator from that bygone era, Xiphactinus.

So what could this possibly mean for cryptozoology lovers today?

Well, you’ve read in past articles where I have wondered what exactly is trolling the vast,  sunken depths of our oceans. Could these prehistoric fossils provide clues as to what might be lurking there today? Especially considering how evolution takes the best of its previous creations and uses them anew in related or totally new species.

RiverMonsters

That Missing Shark

Do you remember the report from last year where an 8 foot white shark that had been tagged by scientists off Australia suddenly dropped to the ocean’s depths and stayed there for 8 days? That was a behavior totally inconsistent with that species and scientists were left scratching their heads.

The next thing they know, the tag floated up on shore and was found and returned to the scientists. They suddenly realized what had happened. Their 8 foot shark was eaten whole by something else, something much larger. It takes about 8 days for food to digest through a shark’s system before the waste is voided, thereby releasing the tag. It all made sense. It had to have been eaten by a much larger shark.

Maybe it was a shark, maybe it was something else. The point is, it was something new to science for which they still don’t have definite proof.

Ocean1Ocean Facts

The Earth’s oceans cover 70% of the planet. The average ocean depth is 12,460 feet (3,798 m) but in the Pacific’s Mariana Trench, it dips down to 36,198 feet (11,033 m).

One cubic kilometer equals 264 billion gallons of water. According to the US Geological Survey, our oceans hold 332,519,000 cubic kilometers of water. I’ll let you do the math.

The point is, there is plenty of room to hide and plenty of room to develop into great big nasty creatures hidden from the prying eyes of mankind.

Further complicating the search is the inadequacy of our human bodies for the deep sea environment. The pressure alone can kill us, never mind the lack of oxygen.

It’s all very frustrating.

VampireSquidGlowingVampire Squid

Science has known about vampire squid for a while, but didn’t know much about their life cycles. This is one glowing in the deep water (left). They’ve recently discovered that these squid reproduce more like fish do, than other species in their family who reproduce once at the end of their lives.

Vampire squid reproduce periodically throughout their lives, and they seem to live their life more slowly, more laid-back, than other squid. Because of this recent finding, scientists from the GEOMAR Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research on the shores of the Kiel fjord in northern Germany, believe they must live longer than their shallow-water living cousins.

One researcher named Henk-Jan Hoving said, “We know very little about deep-sea organisms and their life-cycle patterns, in particular in the water column of the deep sea. The patterns we know from coastal and shallow-water organisms may not apply to deep-sea species. We need to enhance our knowledge of deep-sea pelagic organisms and the system they are part [of], since the pelagic deep sea is the largest living space on the planet. A better understanding of this unique marine ecosystem will eventually allow for better development of management and conservation strategies.”

Pelagic refers to animals that live at or near the ocean surface, but far from land.

FishingWill We Ever Know

I think as our technology grows, science will be able to do more and more research into what lurks in our oceans’ depths. Most likely it will involve remote viewing and perhaps some super duper scanning technology, kind of like the fish finders we have now, but ones that will be able to penetrate down to the ocean’s floor with top notch accuracy.

You might say, well satellites have mapped the floor of the ocean, which is true. However, they don’t have that fine-tuned accuracy to tell us what’s in the layers of water in between. On the Loch Ness episode of River Monsters, Jeremy mentioned that their fish finder, though it could “see” the bottom of the fjord in which they were fishing, didn’t have the sensitivity to pick up the bodies of any sharks at that depth. Hence, the technology has to be improved.

I thought this River Monsters episode (Prehistoric Terror) was an excellent program and if you didn’t get a chance to see it, Animal Planet is showing it again tomorrow night, April 22, 2015 at 9 pm (EST) in the US.

It really fueled my imagination and confirmed in my mind that the possibilities of what we might find are endless and very exciting!

Are you excited by the possibilities too?

References

http://see-the-sea.org/facts/facts-body.htm

http://oceanservice.noaa.gov/facts/oceanwater.html

https://water.usgs.gov/edu/watercycleoceans.html

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/04/150420122828.htm

 

Survivorman Bigfoot: Did Les Stroud Catch Bigfoot on Video?

survivorman-bigfootA perplexing video has come to my attention. It seems that during a new episode of Survivorman Bigfoot, Les Stroud “accidentally” caught what looks like a Bigfoot on the ground behind him, and a juvenile Bigfoot up in a tree. How could that happen?! CryptoVille investigates!

A strange little video came to my attention yesterday and I’ve been spending a lot of time pouring over it. The video is actually a cell phone video of a recent episode of Survivorman Bigfoot.

The man taking the cell phone video, known only as dlyall26 on YouTube, thinks that he sees Bigfoot in the background of Les’ video, as well as a juvenile Bigfoot up in the tree nearby. This was from the new episode of Survivorman Bigfoot that aired on April 1, 2015.

First of all, the quality of this video stinks. Les’s show was filmed well, as per usual, but taking a cell phone video of it off the TV screen just adds a huge layer of unsteady, grainy features. I looked online to see if I could find the episode, but it hasn’t been posted anywhere yet, as far as I can tell.

So for now, we’ll have to deal with this poor quality cell-phone video. (By the way, I’m not hating on dlyall26 – I appreciate that he shared this with us; it was a good attempt.  I’m hating on cell phone cameras and videos.)

Here is the video from dlyall26 (about a minute and a half long):

 

 

Look at time stamp 0:21 – 0:27, and look over Les’ shoulder in the background. I’m amazed at how much that looks like an adult Bigfoot standing next to a big tree. Tall, hairy, conical head, and no neck.

Next, look at time stamp 0:28-1:00. There is a black object high in the tree and it appears to be clinging to the trunk. At this point, I could believe it’s a tubby juvenile bear except for what happens next.

View time stamp 1:11 – 1:24. Doesn’t that look like a humanoid figure, with a cone shaped head and no neck to speak of? I can’t believe what I’m seeing – can you?

SasquatchSearchingProblematic Situation

I have a couple problems believing this is really a Bigfoot and their youngster up in the tree. Yes, they are a good distance away from Les, but they can certainly hear him talking. They’re not that far away. And they must have heard him walking through the forest. How is it the adult is not reacting?

Wouldn’t they have smelled him coming, as animals do?

For me, this is the biggest problem the video has. That adult Bigfoot looks calm, cool, and collected as it stands next to the youngster climbing above.

Speaking of hearing – how did Les not hear them? They’re big animals, they would make some noise too, especially up in a tree with little twigs breaking off, maybe leaves rustling.

I believe someone has notified Les of this finding, but he hasn’t released a statement yet. He is probably doing the same thing we are – watching this over and over again and wondering how the heck could this happen?

SurvivalLesLes Stroud

I respect and admire Les Stroud, and I trust his judgment in outdoor living and survival wholeheartedly. I wasn’t too thrilled when he associated himself with Todd Standing in the last series of Bigfoot videos, but he was skeptical and inquiring throughout that time. (You can see my article in the Reference section below where I covered that.)

So I don’t for a minute believe Les would perpetrate a hoax just to entertain us. He wants to get to the truth about this animal as much as the rest of us do.

So for now, we’ll just have to wait until Les issues some kind of statement about it. But it sure is interesting and it sure looks like the real deal.

(By the way, there is a new episode on tonight in the US, 10 pm EST on Science Channel.)

What do you think about all this?

References

http://visitcryptoville.com/2014/04/24/bigfoot-thursday-les-strouds-show-the-bigfoot-video/

Ireland’s Abhartach

AbhartachbyDavidDaleTrust our Irish friends to come up with a monster of a cryptozoology legend! This time, it’s a horrible dwarf that may have influenced the legend of Dracula due to its propensity to come back from the dead – and demand a bowl of human blood! Let’s investigate this mysterious creature and see if there’s any truth in it – or perhaps it’s just a dose of blarney! ( Artwork right by David Dale.)

Happy St. Patrick’s Day friends of CryptoVille! Here’s a tale I think you’ll like, especially on this festive day! Here’s how it begins:

In 1875 Patrick Weston Joyce wrote of the creature called the Abhartach in his book, The Origin and History of Irish Names of Places.  This is the excerpt from his book about the Abhartach:

“There is a place in the parish of Errigal in Derry, called Slaghtaverty, but it ought to have been called Laghtaverty, the laght or sepulchral monument of the abhartach [avartagh] or dwarf. This dwarf was a magician, and a dreadful tyrant, and after having perpetrated great cruelties on the people he was at last vanquished and slain by a neighbouring chieftain; some say by Fionn Mac Cumhail. He was buried in a standing posture, but the very next day he appeared in his old haunts, more cruel and vigorous than ever. And the chief slew him a second time and buried him as before, but again he escaped from the grave, and spread terror through the whole country. The chief then consulted a druid, and according to his directions, he slew the dwarf a third time, and buried him in the same place, with his head downwards; which subdued his magical power, so that he never again appeared on earth. The laght raised over the dwarf is still there, and you may hear the legend with much detail from the natives of the place, one of whom told it to me.”

ClanDoyleChieftainWiki quotes another version of this tale wherein the creature is described as a “meamh-mairbh” which means “walking dead” in Gaelic. He was killed by a man named Cathan (according to the Irish article listed below in the References section), believed to have been a local chieftain. He had to kill the Abhartach twice because it kept coming back from the dead. (Artwork left actually depicts a chieftain from the Clan Doyle.)

After it came back a second time, Cathan consulted a Christian saint to determine how to dispatch the monster. The saint told Cathan that the Abhartach was an undead, which is why he kept coming back from the dead demanding a bowl of human blood each time.

The saint told Cathan it could only be killed with a sword made from yew, and it had to be buried upside down with thorns strewn around the grave, and a large stone placed on top of it. It wouldn’t kill the Abhartach permanently, but it would subdue him and his magic. Cathan did as he was advised and the Abhartach never returned.

EvilWizardIs there any truth to this tale? Believe it or not, some people think so. Remember, though he’s called a Dwarf, he was considered a very evil wizard. Others say he was deformed in some way, regardless of his appearance, he was a creature to be feared – one with terrible magical powers.

Truth Stranger Than Fiction

It turns out there is a place in Ireland to this day called “Giant’s Grave,” sometimes called Leacht Abhartach (Abhartach’s sepulcher). It lies out in the open in the middle of a great field. The area where it’s located is called Glennullin (eagle’s glen) in the county of Derry, in its northern region. There is a mess of thorns covering the grave, almost obscuring a huge stone lying beneath it. Right next to it is a big Hawthorn tree that grew from the thorns originally strewn on the grave.

AbhartachGraveTodayWith HawthornTreeAccording to an article for historyireland.com, professor Bob Curran (who specializes in Celtic History and Folklore at the University of Ulster, Coleraine), “The land on which the grave is situated has acquired a rather sinister reputation over the generations. Locally it is considered to be ‘bad ground’ and has been the subject of a number of family disagreements over the years.” (Photo left of the actual site with the Hawthorn tree in place.)

Trouble began in 1997 when the locals attempted to clear that land and get rid of the gravesite. According to the locals, several strange things occurred:

  • When trying to cut down the tree, a brand new chainsaw malfunctioned three times.
  • As they began to lift the great stone lying over the grave, a steel chain snapped, injuring one of the workmen and his blood poured out soaking into the ground – a detail the locals dwell upon given the creature buried below.
  • Bob Curran himself reported having “a severe and inexplicable fall after visiting the site.”

Folklorist Curran goes on to explain in his article, “The spilling of blood was not uncommon amongst the ancient Irish. … The roots of this tradition undoubtedly go back into pagan times and may have a connection with the returning dead. The horrors of the Famine considerably added to the lore.”

Abhartach01He continues, “Although most cultures have vampire stories, such tales have a particular resonance in Ireland. Here, interest in and veneration of the dead seems to have played a central part in Celtic thinking. One of the great festivals of the Celtic year – the Failte na Marhh (Feast of the Dead), celebrated 31 October (Hallowe’en) – honored the returning dead from beyond the grave or from the ‘Otherworld.’”

Connected to Dracula?

Curran credits Patrick Weston Joyce for connecting the legends of the Abhartach and what Curran calls “an Irish vampire tradition.” Interestingly, Joyce published his findings in 1880, which Curran points out was seventeen years before the publication of Bram Stoker’s Dracula classic. At the time, Stoker was a civil servant working in Dublin.

Curran believes Stoker must have read Joyce’s book and used the Abhartach as a basis for his vampire legend, Count Dracula. Here’s how Curran connects the dots:

dracul“Might not the legend of the vampire-king, coupled with the strong tradition of blood-drinking Irish chieftains and nobles recounted to him as a child by his Sligo-born mother and the Kerry maids who worked about his Dublin home, have eventually coalesced into the idea of Count Dracula? Certainly, Stoker was not writing from any great experience of Eastern Europe. He had never been there and was relying heavily on tourist accounts of the region. His experiences may have come more directly from Irish folklore. Even the name has Irish resonances. In Irish, droch-fhoula (pronounced droc’ola) means ‘bad’ or ‘tainted blood’ and whilst it is now taken to refer to ‘blood feuds’ between persons or families, it may have a far older connotation.”

Isn’t that interesting? First of all I never knew Bram Stoker was Irish. Then, I never realized how this fascination with bloodletting permeated the ancient Irish landscape. Further, I thought Stoker had been to Eastern Europe, at least prior to writing his classic tale.

I think both Joyce and Curran make a good case that the legend of Dracula was actually born in Ireland. But is this Abhartach still causing trouble for the local residents today?

Well, I’ll let you decide. 😉

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

References

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abhartach

http://www.historyireland.com/18th-19th-century-history/was-dracula-an-irishman/

 

 

Mokele Mbembe — Africa’s Last Dinosaur?

mokele_mbembe_attack_by_benwootten-d5wuvcbMokele Mbembe is a huge dinosaur reportedly still living in the rivers of Western Africa. Sounds like it should be easy to spot, right? Not so fast. CryptoVille investigates this mystery to see if there is any truth to this huge cryptozoology tale. Are the regional natives right about the existence of a huge water creature that looks very much like a dinosaur? Let’s see! (Artwork right by Ben Wootten.)

I recently watched an excellent episode of Monster Quest (S 3 E 18) where they explored the legend of the Mokele Mbembe. I had heard of this creature before in an episode of Destination Truth, when Josh Gates and his crew went looking for the animal, but came up empty. I thought that was pretty much the end of it. But the Monster Quest show has got me thinking again, and I’d like to share this with you.

The Mokele Mbembe (whose name translates to “one who stops the flow of rivers”) lives in the rivers along the border of the African countries of Cameroon and the Congo. Three rivers converge there and of them the Dja River is a hotspot according to the local people, and so is river that converges with it, the Boumba River. What I didn’t realize about this area is that it’s classified as a rainforest so the area is remote and very hard to access.

MenFightingItMaking access even harder is the political situation in the Congo. It’s a wild and dangerous place and the people that live there seem to be wary of straying across any borders or territories, apparently for good reason.

Cameroon is about the size of California with less than half the population, according to Monster Quest, so that leaves plenty of room for large animals to hide in the rainforest.

There’s only one major problem. Mokele Mbembe is said to look like a sauropod dinosaur, but they died out before the great mass extinction, so how could one have survived this long? Further, it would require quite a few of these animals to ensure a successful breeding population. Could the area hide that many huge creatures?

Historical Sightings

A guest of the Monster Quest program, biologist Dr. Ray Mackal (retired from the University of Chicago) said the first mention of this beast in the Western world occurred in a priest’s notes in 1776. His name was Abbe Lievain Bonaventure Proyart and he was writing about the area’s natural history. He noted a creature, “which was not seen but which must have been monstrous: the marks of the claws were noted on the ground, and these formed a print about three feet in circumference.”

CanoeMenLater on in 1870, a British entrepreneur, Alfred Smith, recorded hearing of this creature, but it was referred to as the “Jago Nino” which translates to “giant diver.”

In 1909 a German, Hans Schomburgh, and a hunter from England told naturalist Carl Hagenbeck about an animal described as a “huge monster, half elephant, half dragon.” They both said it lived in the swampy areas of the Congo.

There have been other sightings and expeditions to search for the animal in recent times. If you want to see a complete list, see the Wiki link in my References section below.

The natives living in the area for ages have known of its existence and accepted it as part of their world. They are afraid of it, though, because they said it can break their wood-hewn canoes and kill people.

Mokelefootprint1In 2006, someone named Peter Beach was exploring the area for the Mokele Mbembe and claims to have found huge footprints in a muddy shoreline (Photo right). He took photos and also made plaster casts of the impressions. Science doesn’t seem to have been convinced by the footprint cast, so it seems we have to set that aside, at least for now.

Beach’s theory was that the creature was eating leaves from the tree canopy overhead when it made the impression in the mud.

Appearance and Behavior

Natives describe the creature as between 25-30 feet tall (7.6 – 9 m), 26-29 feet long (8 to 9 m), reddish brown colored, with a frill of some sort along its very long neck. The head is supposed to be snake-like. The locals say it mainly stays submerged in the rivers, but at night comes to the shore to eat leaves.

dino30Mokele Mbembe is seen during the rainy season, but in the dry season, it disappears. The locals say they believe it goes down and hibernates in the natural caves that line the river, particularly along the Congo side of the river. They report seeing what can only be described as air passages dug along the riverside that go far back, beyond anyone’s ability to see into. Once the passages are dug, they dry out in the air and become as hard as cement, thus insuring a steady supply of air to the creature(s) somewhere below.

The Monster Quest show found structures that looked just like air passages but were unable to explore more thoroughly because of the danger of militias appearing from the forest at any time.

UnderWaterWhen they searched the river with a fish finder they saw many intriguing serpentine shapes, all of large size but nothing more definite than that. The problem is the poor visibility in the river. As one of the explorers said it’s like searching through chocolate milk, you can’t see anything.

Adding to the difficulties, explorers have to contend with violent thunderstorms from which they have to run and seek shelter. Then add in the known animals living in the area that pose threats to humans, plus the snakes, alligators, and bugs of every sort and variety. It’s a very tough job.

Science Looks Into the Mystery

In an article for Live Science, writer Benjamin Radford describes the Mokele Mbembe with several major differences. Instead of being a reddish-brown color, he reports it is brownish-gray. Further, Radford describes them as supposedly eating elephants, hippopotamuses, and alligators! If this beast is some sort of sauropod, then it was an herbivore. I don’t know where he got this data from, but it does not correlate with the description given by the local indigenous people.

WithHippoRadford is a confirmed skeptic, as demonstrated in his article for Live Science. He claims there is no real evidence as to the existence of these creatures and he sites several failed expeditions in the modern era to prove his point.

He even begins his article with an explanation of how fiction, from Arthur Conan Doyle’s 1912 thriller, The Lost World, through to Jurassic Park, has formed our opinions on the likelihood of dinosaurs still living in remote areas of our world today.

Don’t Be Discouraged

What I find amusing about Radford’s article is that right next to it in the margin is an ad for another Live Science article from August, 2008 by Jeanna Bryner, Surprising Number of Lowland Gorillas Discovered in Africa. The author describes how surprised science was to find so many of this known-by-science species of apes living in the Congo. They had no idea they were there.

EatingLeavesI wonder why they are surprised? What have we just said about the Congo? It’s remote, it has few inhabitants, it’s ravaged by political infighting, it’s riddled with predators ready to kill humans, and if you survive all that, the weather will kill you.

In the case of the Mokele Mbembe, add this to the roster of problems: they live in a murky river where visibility is almost non-existent. And they wonder why no one has caught any meaningful evidence of this beast?

javan-rhinocerosLet me share these related fun facts with you, to highlight how science can be a bit thick at times. It wasn’t until 1998 that science got adequate proof as to the existence of a 4,000 pound land mammal – the Javan rhino. How do you miss a 4,000 pound mammal that lives in scrub land and from the photos I’ve seen is plenty tall enough to be seen over the scrubby grass and bushes? (Photo left.)

In a December 2013 article for inhabitat.com, Tamsin Woolley-Barker shares with us the news of a newly discovered pygmy tapir (Tapirus kabomani) that is the largest terrestrial mammal found since 1992. (She may not have heard about the Javan rhino.) She describes the tapir as “a shy and elusive fellow, living below the radar in the grasslands and forests of Brazil and Colombia.” This animal (photo below right) weighs a quarter of a ton. How does one miss a 500 pound animal anywhere? Did the locals know about its existence? Of course they did.

TapirusKabomaniNow just because science has missed the boat in both these instances (and probably more), I have to say, that alone does not mean the Mokele Mbembe really exists. As much as science annoys me in this regard, I do hold it in high esteem because it gives us plenty of insight and principles on which to operate in our natural world. That’s a very good thing.

Believing in Possibilities

I’m not a scientist and I’m not a “cryptozoologist.” I am just a woman who wants to know the truth, and that’s probably true for many of my readers, be they men or women.

mokele_mbembe2I believe in possibilities. To begin with, I listen to what the locals have to say about their environments. Who knows it better than they do? Add to that, the descriptions they give follow a natural order, in other words the animals are behaving in a way we can understand based on what we know about other animals already recognized by science.

Finally, science is discovering new, unknown species of animals every year, by the hundreds. So it’s a learning process for all of us.

I think there are very tantalizing clues that there may just be some large reptilian sort of creature living in the rivers of western Africa. The Monster Quest show really captured my interest, further supported by Josh Gates’ exploration of the area. It doesn’t have to be a “leftover” dinosaur either. Evolution may have coughed-up an extraordinary reptile or something else.

mokele_mbembe_by_sebastien_ecosse-d6jd89wThere may be something there. It reminds me of the hunt for Champ, the Lake Champlain creature. There is no smoke without fire, right? It’ll be interesting to see how these searches go. (Artwork right by Sebastien Ecosse.)

For now, I think the Mokele Mbembe is firmly hidden behind all the conditions that make it extremely hard to travel there – political and natural. I guess for now it’s going to remain a mythical beast until hopefully one day, someone will be able to get science the evidence it needs to prove the existence of this tantalizing creature.

What do you think about the Mokele Mbembe?

References

http://www.livescience.com/38871-mokele-mbembe.html

http://visitcryptoville.com/2015/01/23/champ-search-getting-closer-to-the-truth/

http://www.damninteresting.com/retired/the-tracks-of-the-mokl-mbmb/

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mokele-mbembe

 

 

Strange Creature Spotted in Germany – Real or Hoax?

SpeckledBear02A strange creature has wandered into view and it sure looks unusual. Is it a monster or cryptid, or something Photoshopped by a hoaxer? The truth might be closer to home than you think. CrpyptoVille investigates!

When I first saw this photo I thought the back end looked like a baby elephant, and the front – who knows. I was sure it was another hoax perpetrated through the use of Photoshop. What I subsequently discovered astonished me and I wanted to share this story with other cryptozoology lovers. (Photos in this article courtesy of Alliance/DPA/Photoshot unless otherwise noted on the picture itself.)

SpeckledBear01Turns out this is a bear that is nearly hairless! Her name is Dolores and the poor thing lives in a zoo in Leipzig, Germany. More astonishing, all the female bears of this species (Spectacled Bears Tremarctos ornatus) in that zoo have lost their fur except for some tufts around their head and neck. Here’s a photo (left) of what they look like when they have their fur. Cute, right? Have another look at her claws though – they’re dangerous like any other species of bear.

What’s causing the loss of fur? Scientists are stumped. The good news is that the condition isn’t life threatening and they aren’t sick in any other way.

SpeckledBear04South American Roots

The bears originally came from South America, their natural home where they are the only bear known to live in that region. Ecuadorian custodians of these bears saw the same problem a decade ago and were at a loss to explain it.

Then they decided to change the diet they were feeding the animals. Spectacled bears normally eat fruits and bamboo and only a little meat but their custodians had added some fun treats to their diet, human food and sugary drinks like Coke. When they removed the human food from the bears’ diet, their fur grew back completely within four months.

SpeckledBear03Is this what is happening in Germany? Right now, no one is saying for sure. But the German scientists are definitely trying to solve this problem and hopefully they will soon.

Fun Facts

These bears are quite interesting. Here are some fun facts:

  • Last known short-faced bear in existence.
  • Related to the now extinct Florida spectacled bear and Giant Short-faced bears of the Pleistocene eras.
  • The spectacled patterns around their eyes are unique to each individual bear, kind of like a zebra’s stripes.
  • Males can weigh 220-440 lbs. (100-200 kg) and females, 77-181 lbs. (35-82 kg).
  • Shoulder height is 24-30 inches (60-90 cm)
  • They live in the Andes mountains in the countries of Venezuela, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia (in the western region), and Argentina (in the northwest region).

You  never know what you’re going to see in the animal kingdom, do you? I’m not that familiar with bears to have looked at that photo and said, oh, that’s a hairless bear. Maybe a hunter would be able to, but for most of us city and suburb dwellers, it’s a bit harder.

As always this gets me wondering what’s happening in the cryptid world from time to time. Do they suffer these same problems and anomalies that the rest of the animal world suffers? I have to think they do and we should probably keep that in mind when we’re seeing things we just cannot explain.

We live in a fascinating world, don’t we?

Were you fooled by the photos or did you know what it was just by looking at it?

References

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1225042/Germanys-bald-bears-Fur-disease-afflicts-Dolores-baffles-vets.html

http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2009/12/091208-bald-bear-picture.html

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spectacled_bear

 

 

Pondering UFOs

UFOTakeOFfCryptoVille muses over the findings of recent UFO TV programs and reports from around the internet. Alien activity seems to be getting bolder and kind of obnoxious. What is happening in our world, and is there anything we can do to protect ourselves?

In the past month I’ve been reading about alien and UFO reports that I find disturbing. My unease was further fueled by some very interesting programs on the Science Channel in the last couple weeks or so.

I should probably tell you that of all the UFO sightings reported around the world, I think that about 90% of them are the result of Earth science that in some cases we don’t understand yet, but in other cases we definitely do (e.g., ball lighting, increased electromagnetic activity around fault lines, earthquakes, and volcanoes).

I give about 8% of the sightings to technology undergoing tests either by the US military or other militaries around the world. We can’t tell what they’re up to, yet they are clearly making advances as we find out every decade or so. And of all the people involved with “UFO sightings,” the military will be the last to tell us anything.

UFOSciChanLogoSo that leaves 2% of sightings that, in my opinion, don’t have a good explanation and that may in fact point to extraterrestrial activity on and around our planet. And they are the ones that disturb me.

The Shows

The programs I’ve been watching include (but aren’t limited to) NASA’s Unexplained Files, Close Encounters, and Uncovering Aliens. I like the first two shows because they do try to find other explanations (earthly and scientific) to explain various sightings, but if there’s no other explanation, then we’re left to draw our own conclusions.

Uncovering Aliens is interesting because it’s kind of like Finding Bigfoot – the saving grace is that they have a skeptic on the team as well as a journalist. So while two of the members seem to believe everything is aliens, the other two members balance them out. In the process they highlight some interesting cases that I don’t think I would have heard about otherwise.

UFOreptoid2Disturbing Accounts

Reptoid Creatures

The first account I’d like to share with you comes from a Monsters & Mysteries in America episode (Season 3 Episode 1 Tennessee Wildman and Subterranean Reptoid) on Destination America channel.

In that account a woman was walking her dog somewhere around Los Angeles, CA when she heard a strange noise near a sewer grate. She got closer to see what it could be when she saw the red eyes and monstrous form of a humanoid reptile. It was aggressive and caused her to run into a nearby car, which I guess was fortunately unlocked.  She called her boyfriend on her cell phone and he started running to help her. Before he arrived the reptoid and others like it got closer to the car and she was terrified they were going to nab her. Soon after her boyfriend came racing down the street brandishing a golf club and the reptoids quickly retreated back into the sewer grating. He followed them and made threatening gestures and they retreated further into the sewers.

Badly shaken, but alright, the pair returned to their apartment wondering what the heck they had just seen.

UFOreptoid1In the interviews with both these people, they were firm in their recollections, they were clear, unwavering and adamant that they experienced things the way they described. I watched their body language and neither of them seemed to be lying. In fact, their body language supported their words. The boyfriend still looked frightened when he described what he saw and what happened.

At this point I have no good reason or data to doubt them.

Which leaves us with this cold realization. What the heck were those things? Some have speculated they’re not aliens at all but that they come from “inner Earth.”

UFOPertweeSiluriansThat reminds me of a very old Dr Who story when Jon Pertwee was the doctor. I believe he called them Silurians, but they were another race of creatures that had evolved on Earth and went dormant, giving the apes time to evolve into humanity as we know it. A very fanciful story and I have to wonder if that plays into the explanation of what these other creatures are. How many other people have seen that Dr Who episode (photo right) which is now filed away in their subconscious mind?

UFOdemonsStill, I believe the two witnesses when they say they saw reptilian humanoids. So what are they? I also wonder if they aren’t some form of demons. I cannot get over the fact that people in South America refer to alien creatures as demons – that’s the translation. Given the grotesque appearance of many of these things, that explanation would fit, in my opinion.

Family Abduction

The next tale that caught my attention comes from a family that was abducted in the 60s, I believe, in the Midwest somewhere. A mother and her two young sons and the grandmother were abducted. I saw this March 4 in the evening on Science Channel, but I cannot find which show it was on.

Anyway, all four of them told the same story and were traumatized by the event. The one boy saw what he described as a praying mantis type of creature that looked like it walked on all fours but could stand up on the hind legs.

UFOMUFONLogoFor me, it all comes down to how they tell the story and the main son who was reporting the event looked very credible. He even went so far as to get MUFON to come in and gather what evidence they could, given that the event occurred years before. I should note, the abductions continued throughout the lives of the boys.

The thing that impressed me was how the family’s reports were consistent with each other’s reports. The boys, now grown men, were desperate to get some validation as to what was happening to them over the years.

The thing that sickens me about these accounts is that nobody seems able to fight back, refuse the examination, or scare the aliens away. I wonder if they had a gun and shot it, would that make the alien’s flee?

If abductions are real, they are terribly, horribly wrong and we need to find a way to stop them. This is one of the main reasons why I don’t trust these aliens at all. If they want to befriend us, fine, but this behavior is not friendly, it is not acceptable, and it needs to be stopped.

UFOLakeMichiganArtistConceptWhat’s Happening in Lake Michigan?

Several shows recently highlighted UFO sightings on and around Lake Michigan. The Uncovering Aliens crew felt Lake Michigan was a hotspot because of all the sightings being reported there. In addition to sightings in the sky, many people are seeing these craft dive down into the lake itself, leaving people to wonder if they have an alien base located in the depths of this Great Lake. (Artist’s rendering of UFOs over Lake Michigan above right.)

I mentioned to my personal Facebook friends that I was thinking a lot about UFOs lately and asked them if they’d ever seen anything strange. One had dear “Church-going” friends, as she described them, who saw strange craft over “the lake” near their home in Lincoln Park, Michigan about 30 years ago. Lincoln Park is very near Lake Ontario, and not that far from Lake Michigan.

UFOEvilAlienAnother friend said she and her family saw strange lights moving very fast and erratically near their home in northern Illinois. Northern Illinois is right on Lake Michigan.

What makes this so strange to me is that in my post on Facebook, I never mentioned a lake at all, much less a Great Lake, or Lake Michigan.

What the heck is happening up there?

Current UFO Sightings

Go on any UFO tracking website, such as MUFON’s site, and you’ll see there are plenty of sightings being reported around the world. Most of them are painful to watch because they are such junk, in my opinion, but not all of them.

What disturbs me most is how they are exerting their domination over us, particularly through these abductions, but even in the sense they get too close and seem to be watching or monitoring people, our aircraft, and other situations.

UFOalien-through-the-windowWho Can Protect Us?

How aware of all this is our military? I know ever since Roswell they have been vilified for keeping secrets from the rest of the population but let’s not forget – they’re busy developing the next generation of fighting machines and need to keep that secret from our enemies.

Still, are they aware of these abductions? Do they have any way of combating these creatures? Are we (humanity) at the mercy of these horrible creatures?

It makes me uneasy.  I don’t trust these creatures if they do in fact exist. And I really hope our military doesn’t trust them either. What can we do to protect ourselves?

Have you got any thoughts about this?

References

http://maureenelsberry.com/

http://www.sciencechannel.com/

http://www.openminds.tv/alien-themed-alone-week-returns-science-channel/26194

http://visitcryptoville.com/2014/09/08/proof-that-ghost-lights-exist/

http://visitcryptoville.com/2012/11/17/alien-intelligence-what-can-we-know/

Amur Leopard Populations Growing – Implications for Bigfoot Hunting

AmurLeopardResurge01CryptoVille shares a recent report by the WWF that shows the critically endangered Amur leopard is repopulating areas of Russia and China thanks to conservation efforts. These beautiful and resilient animals still have a long way to go, but their resiliency is impressive. What could that mean for any big cats living in the Alaskan wilds?

In an article on LiveScience.com, Elizabeth Palermo shares some good news with the world about the critically endangered Amur leopard population. It seems that since 2007 the leopards have doubled their population in Russia and parts of China.

The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) gathered data primarily from the Leopard National Park in Russia which accounts for 60% of this animal’s natural habitat. They counted 57 individual leopards which is up from 30 in 2007.  Clearly the leopards still have a long way to go to kick the endangered label, but this is a good start.

In addition, scientists spotted about a dozen more of these leopards in the wilds of northeastern China, another part of their natural habitat.

AmurEyesAccording to Barney Long, who is the director of species protection and Asian species conservation for the WWF, “Such a strong rebound in Amur leopard numbers is further proof that even the most critically endangered big cats can recover if we protect their habitat and work together on conservation efforts. There’s still a lot of work to be done in order to secure a safe future for the Amur leopard, but these numbers demonstrate that things are moving in the right direction.”

Gathering Data

So how did they get an actual count of the leopards in these areas? Through camera traps that were placed by experts from the Far Eastern Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences. They placed the traps throughout a 1,400 square mile area and collected approximately 10,000 photos. They could tell individual leopards from other ones thanks to the fact each leopard has its own unique arrangement of spots.

Siberian/Amur Tigers Benefit

Due to the same conservation efforts that are helping the leopards, Siberian tigers are beginning to thrive in these same natural habitats. In 2009 scientists only counted 56 tigers in that area of Russia, but now they figure the number may be more around 350 individual tigers and their habitat is spreading into northeastern China.

SiberianTigerDivision head of the Wangqing Nature Reserve, Wang Fuyou, said, “These images show that Wangqing Nature Reserve has now become a breeding site for Amur tigers. Seeing these positive outcomes from our efforts greatly strengthens our confidence that wild Amur tiger populations can be restored.”

Russian and Chinese scientists are working together to monitor populations of both Amur leopard and tiger in their respective areas. It’s a bit of good news in a world that is losing so many animals every year to extinction.

Finding Bigfoot and Other Cryptids

I think the most important point to take away from this piece, apart from our happiness for the leopards and tigers, is that the scientists mounted a full campaign to gather evidence of these creatures. They took over 10,000 trail camera photos spanning 1,400 square miles!!

When people hunt for Bigfoot and other cryptids, they seem to keep the cameras up for a few days, maybe a week. I have never heard of them getting more than a few dozen photos from each camera.

BigfootbabyThat puts us at a statistical disadvantage. The more cameras employed, the longer they’re in the wild, the more photos we let them take, then the greater chance we’ll have of getting good shots of Bigfoot and other cryptids.

I realize that’s a huge undertaking for one person, or even a small group of hunters. That’s why I’ve said before I think the Bigfoot hunting community at large needs to work together more and cooperate in these data finding experiments.

Alaskan Beasts

In addition, I believe (and strongly urge) scientists to get more involved in searching for the animals that live in the remote Alaskan wildernesses. Who knows what they would find? There may be Siberian/Amur tigers and leopards living there. Some natives believe there are big cats in the back country, but how will we ever know?

Alaska-Monsters-BannerI know those areas are very hard to reach and extremely hazardous, but I’m sure we could do it if a couple universities threw their support behind it and got the funding needed to complete this research.

Will we ever see that day? We can only hope.

But don’t be sad, this report has shared some very good and exciting news with us – given half a chance, these very resilient big cats can and do make a resurgence in their natural environments and our world is all the more richer and more wonderful because of it!

What do you think?

References

http://www.livescience.com/49905-amur-leopard-population-doubled.html

 

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