Archive for Cryptozoology

Vile Vortices Part 2 – Hamakulia

HawaiiMap02CryptoVille continues our investigation into the Vile Vortices proposed by the legendary Ivan Sanderson. Today we visit Hamakulia in the Hawaiian Islands. There is little evidence the place is overrun with monsters and bad spirits, yet it is considered a paranormal hotspot. Let’s see what we can make of all this.

According to believers, the bad mojo associated with this area of the world centers around the volcano named Hamakulia on the southeast side of the island. According to scientists, the trouble spot is actually in the ocean itself northeast of Hawaii halfway between the Murau Fracture Zone and the Molokai Fracture Zone.

Local legends tell of the strange disappearance of ships and planes seemingly centered around that area.  Back in the day, Sanderson chose to add it to his roster of mysterious places that he called vile vortices.

According to Rick J in an article on Chess.com, “Vile Vortices are areas on the earth’s surface which have naturally occurring anomalies due to the planet’s natural electromagnetic fields being stronger in these parts than anywhere else in the world.”

Hold that thought.

Hawaii-kilauea01Bigger Picture

So here we have the Hawaiian Islands (including Hamakulia) sitting in the Pacific ocean, right along the Ring of Fire. The Ring of Fire name was coined because of the overabundance of volcanic and earthquake activity all along the edges of the Pacific ocean. It actually looks more like a horseshoe, but we take the point. There is a LOT of movement occurring underneath the Earth’s crust in that area. (Photo above left is Kilauea volcano erupting.)

Here are some Wiki fun facts we should all be aware of:

“In a 40,000 km (25,000 mi) horseshoe shape, it is associated with a nearly continuous series of oceanic trenches, volcanic arcs, and volcanic belts and/or plate movements. It has 452 volcanoes and is home to over 75% of the world’s active and dormant volcanoes. … About 90% of the world’s earthquakes and 81% of the world’s largest earthquakes occur along the Ring of Fire.  … The Ring of Fire is a direct result of plate tectonics and the movement and collisions of lithospheric [of the crust and Earth’s upper mantle] plates.”

Does anyone else see the smoking gun?

Hawaii-Skylight-Kilauea-VolcanoWhat Volcanoes Do

We know they erupt with violence, often spewing gas, rocks, gravel, and pumice, then there is the lava that often flows from them, and lots of steam and smoke. That’s the laymen’s view. (Photo right of a “skylight” formed by Kilauea volcano.)

But what is really happening? I want to share this paragraph with you because it pretty much sums up the whole story of volcanism and electromagnetic activity associated therein. It’s a little dry, but hang in there – you’ll get the point.

According to scientists (3rd reference in my list below):

“ Volcano-electromagnetic effects – electromagnetic (EM) signals generated by volcanic activity – derive from a variety of physical processes. These include piezomagnetic effects, electrokinetic effects, fluid vaporization, thermal demagnetization/ remagnetization, resistivity changes, thermochemical effects, magnetohydrodynamic effects, and blast-excited traveling ionospheric disturbances (TIDs). Identification of different physical processes and their interdependence is often possible with multi-parameter monitoring, now common on volcanoes, since many of these processes occur with different timescales and some are simultaneously identified in other geophysical data (deformation, seismic, gas, ionospheric disturbances, etc.) EM monitoring plays an important part in understanding these processes.”

HawaiiLighting01Don’t let the big words confound you.

Piezomagnetic effects: Refers to the magnetization of rocks. Scientists are studying how and when rocks are magnetized and how the rocks react under a variety of circumstances. (Photo above left of lightning formed by eruption on Kilauea volcano.)

Electrokinetic effects: The flow of fluid through layered volcanic rocks generates the electrokinetic electric and magnetic fields found there. Science is further studying this property as it all fits into the bigger equation: how volcanoes work.

What excites me about these two types of effects is the fact they involve electricity – just what people are witnessing around these so called “paranormal” areas, like Hamakulia.

HawaiiStrangeLightsVolcanoStrange Lights

According to someone named Dotini/Steve on a physics forum thread, “…[in] a reasonably solid-looking piece of research into the recent lightning activity in an Icelandic volcano eruption: [ which] includes references to additional papers on the subject of volcanic lightning:

The authors seem to conclude that in this case, charge separation occurs in the plume and at the vent. They seem to think that [the] water content of the plume and local atmospheric conditions may affect the quantity of lightning strokes discharged in the plume.”

(Photo above right of “strange lights” formed by volcanic action.)

BOOM! You see what’s happening? Science is getting ever closer to knowing the full dynamics of a volcano, which goes hand in glove with earthquakes, and begins to shed light on a vastly misunderstood area – paranormal hotspots. We’re seeing more and more how these huge Earth processes form pent-up energy that is then released as electricity resulting in strange lights, charged air, and may very well cause havoc with ship’s and plane’s electronic systems.

HawaiiVolcanoInducedWaterSpoutNow please don’t get mad at me. I’m not saying there isn’t genuinely strange paranormal phenomenon around the planet. I know there is. In my opinion,  it’s just not associated with volcanoes and earthquakes. Science is coming ever closer to fully understanding these properties of Earth science. (Photo left shows waterspouts formed as a result of volcanic action.)

Missing Ships and Planes

While science is quickly learning about a myriad of wonderful things, they don’t quite know everything yet. Are strange things happening in the skies or under the waters in the Pacific that snatch ships and planes into oblivion? I think we’d have to have the best physicists weigh in on that, but I think it’s unlikely. Why?

Because we have to consider that the Pacific ocean (since we’re talking about Hamakulia here), is a very dangerous place. From rogue waves, to gas eruptions, to strange winds – who knows what can happen. Then factor in human error, mechanical error – who can say for sure? There is a lot of potential for bad things to happen within the normal realm of our world, without adding an additional paranormal layer.

Hawaii-VolcanoIntoOceanWhat I’ve read about Hamakulia doesn’t make me believe there is anything particularly strange occurring there. In fact on one travel site I read, a resident said he never heard of any vortex in the area, all he knows is that it’s paradise and he pointed out all the benefits and joys of living there. (Photo right, lava meets the ocean.)

Let’s not forget Ivan Sanderson, though a good scientist, died 42 years ago! Science has come a LONG way since then and knowing the caliber of scientist that Sanderson was, I am sure he would embrace and applaud the achievements of science over the last 40 or so years.

HawaiiRainbowBeachBottom Line

For all these reasons, I don’t believe Hamakulia is a paranormal hotspot or a place where terrible things happen. It’s just a volcano in an extremely active seismic environment. It’s just another part of our wonderful world. Ships and planes may go missing around there from time to time, but they do everywhere else around the world, especially in remote areas like Alaska, and over huge bodies of water like the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. (Photo left of Rainbow Beach, HI.)

If you’d like to see lightning activity during an earthquake, check out this video of Sakurajima volcano erupting January 24 of this year. Watch carefully and you’ll see the blobs of light form and disappear throughout the four or so minutes.

 

References

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

http://video.nationalgeographic.com/video/hawaii-volcanoes

https://profile.usgs.gov/myscience/upload_folder/ci2010Nov2221320042871158.pdf

https://profile.usgs.gov/myscience/upload_folder/ci2010Nov231351564287193.pdf

https://www.physicsforums.com/threads/volcanos-and-magnetic-field.290372/

http://www.chess.com/blog/Rickj/volcanoesearthquakesmagnetic-fields-and-climatric-impacts

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

Yuki-onna, the Japanese Snow Woman

yuki_onna_by_raulovskyAnother frozen mistress of the North, this time the Japanese spectre called Yuki-onna, embodies the good, the bad, and the ugly about the Winter season! With dual temperaments and disturbing habits, she terrorizes Japan’s frozen regions. Move over Yeti, the Snow Woman is on the hunt! 

I think it’s appropriate to ponder the legend of Japan’s Yuki-onna, or Snow Woman, on a snowy February evening when the snow is once again inundating parts of the country. (Artwork right by Raulovsky.) While we sit in our warm and cozy homes, our minds can wander into the storm and ponder whether there is any truth to this legend, or not.

Yuki-onna’s story is an ancient one. Her name means Snow Woman but she is considered a spirit or as we might call her, a ghost. Accounts describe her as tall and beautiful with nearly transparent skin that seems to recede into the snow itself. Her most definite features are her long black hair and her beautiful face with its legendary blue lips.

Many tales describe her as clothed in a flowing white kimono, while just as many others describe her as being nude. As is the case with most Japanese ghosts, she is said to have no feet, gliding along the snow and ice like the spectre she is.

Her dual temperament is very characteristic of the season she represents. First is her soft side which is much like the beautiful, quiet snowfall we see from our windows. We enjoy its beauty as it shimmers and glistens in the fading light. She is a creature of  benevolence and consideration in this persona.

Yuki_Onna_by_JR_McGeeThen we have the frightening, vengeful side which reflects those times when snow and ice threaten our lives and well-being causing accidents, pipes to burst, terrible falls, and things of that nature. (Artwork left by JR McGee.)

Through the 18th Century Yuki-onna was considered evil, but since then her softer side has prevailed at times. Today she is seen as the ghost of a beautiful woman doomed to forever walk the snowy depths of Japan.

Variations

When She Appears

Though mostly known throughout Northern Japan, one source states that almost every prefecture  (a jurisdiction within the country) in Japan has a story about a Yoki-onna except Okinawa and Hokkaido.

In some traditions she appears towards the end of the New Year’s celebration, while in others she arrives on New Year’s Day and leaves a month later.

Other traditions say she arrives only during full moons when there is “new-fallen snow.”  Yet other traditions say she comes and goes with the blizzards. Rounding out this mix, one tradition states that she appears on the cusp of Spring to mark the end of winter until the next year.

How She Appears

According to Hyakumonogatari Kaidankai, a monk named Sogi wrote about the Yuki-onna sometime during the Muromachi period (1333 – 1573). He had traveled to Echigo province (now called Nigata prefecture) and there met a Yuki-onna.

yuki_onna_by_yoshiyukikatanaHyakumonogatari Kaidankai wrote, “Sogi writes that he went out of his house one snowy morning and saw a beautiful and unusual woman standing in his frozen garden. She was huge; almost 10 feet tall, with skin whiter than any human being. Although her face was young and beautiful, her hair was stark white and hung loosely about her shoulders. Her kimono was white to the point of being translucent, and was made of some magical gossamer fabric that clung to the woman’s body. (Artwork right by Yoshiyukikatana.)

Sogi attempted to speak to her, but she vanished into the snow. Discussing the vision later with a friend native to the region, Sogi was told that she was the Spirit of Snow who normally appeared during heavy snowfall. It was rare for her to appear at the cusp of Spring.”

Other Variations

According to this account there are thousands of variations on the Yuki-onna story, but here’s a rundown of the more popular ones.

  • Yuki Nyobo: The Snow Wife
  • Yuki Onba and her Child the Yukinko
  • The Moon Princess
  • The Snow Vampire
  • The Talking Snow Woman

See the article mentioned above in the References section at the end of this article if you’d like to read more about these other manifestations of the Yuki-onna.

Original Story

Lafcadio Hearn is credited in multiple documents as having covered this tale, I guess for the first time in the Western world. This is the story he tells:

A long time ago, there lived two woodcutters, Minokichi and Mosaku. Minokichi was young and Mosaku was very old.

One winter day, they could not come back home because of a snowstorm. They found a hut in the mountain and decided to sleep there. On this particular evening, Mosaku woke up and found a beautiful lady with white clothes. She breathed on old Mosaku and he was frozen to death.

Yuki_Onna_by_yazukiwolfShe then approached Minokichi to breathe on him, but stared at him for a while, and said, “I thought I was going to kill you, the same as that old man, but I will not, because you are young and beautiful. You must not tell anyone about this incident. If you tell anyone about me, I will kill you.” (Artwork right by Yasukiwolf.)

Several years later, Minokichi met a beautiful young lady, named Oyuki (yuki = “snow”) and married her. She was a good wife. Minokichi and Oyuki had several children and lived happily for many years. Mysteriously, she did not age.

One night, after the children were asleep, Minokichi said to Oyuki: “Whenever I see you, I am reminded of a mysterious incident that happened to me. When I was young, I met a beautiful young lady like you. I do not know if it was a dream or if she was Yuki-onna.”

After finishing his story, Oyuki suddenly stood up, and said, “That woman you met was me! I told you that I would kill you if you ever told anyone about that incident. However, I can’t kill you because of our children. Take care of our children. Then she melted and disappeared. No one saw her again.”

Real or Imagined?

So ends another tale about a complex entity that spans the imaginations of many living throughout Japan. It seems certain that the actual Yuki-onna is a myth and more of a cautionary tale than anything.

Is it possible that once in the distant past there was a young woman who died in the snow and gave birth to this legend? Possible, sure, but we’ll never know for certain.

Over time the legend has taken on a life of its own until now it seems like a good ghost story to tell while sitting around the fire, especially when it’s snowing outside.

What do you think? Have you ever seen a Yuki-onna?

References

http://hyakumonogatari.com/2013/12/18/yuki-onna-the-snow-woman/

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yuki-onna

http://www.sarudama.com/japanese_folklore/yuki_onna.shtml

http://www.pitt.edu/~dash/type0703.html#yuki

Another Romanian Mystery – Growing Stones

GrowingStonesAs if Vampires and tales of Dracula weren’t enough, Romania gives us yet another mysterious cryptid, but this time of the geological variety. Cryptozoology lovers may be interested to learn that in Romania, the stones grow. CryptoVille digs into this monster of a tale!

Romania’s mysterious growing stones were named Trovants back in 1905 in a scholarly paper written by naturalist Dr. G.M. Murgoci, formerly of the University of Bucharest. The stones are very oddly shaped and seem to be growing as the years progress. In some cases, they move, apparently on their own.

Trovants02Over the years science has cracked the code of how these rocks grow and why. It starts with the geological story of concretion and if you want all the details of that, see the Wiki link in my references section below.

For the sake of this article, we’ll describe it this way: Trovants all have a hard stone core which, over the years, picks up sand forming a sort of shell over the hard core. The key to all this is the formula in the stones and the surrounding sand and sandstone.

The sand and surrounding sandstone must be highly porous so that it can absorb the minerals in the rainwater. This water must then contain high levels of calcium carbonate which, as it dries, “cements” the sand together over the preceding layers of sand, under which is the hard core of stone.

Trovants03Scientists figure the stones grow about 1 cm (1/3 of an inch) every 100 years. Granted, it’s a slow process, but it sure makes for some funny looking stones!

They Move!

As if growing on their own isn’t unique enough, these stones also have a reputation for moving. It seems the same sand that can become cemented onto the stones’ surfaces also can become somewhat unstable during rainstorms, causing the stones to “float” over the surface into other positions. We’ve seen something similar happen over in the Death Valley region of the Mohave Desert in the US. You can see that article here:

http://visitcryptoville.com/2012/07/19/mystery-of-the-sailing-stones/

Other Peculiarities

Scientists have noticed these stones sometimes have extensions on them that look like roots, and when they cut into the stones they see what looks like age rings (similar to tree rings).  They’re still researching these phenomena.

Trovants04Trovants are almost always rounded in shape, forming spheres, nodules, and cylinders. They may not be asymmetrical, but they are interesting.

I was surprised to find that growing stones have been found in other places like Russia, Kazakhstan, and the Czech Republic.

Sometimes we’re so focused on the animal world that we don’t realize nature is full of surprises in so many other ways. Now we can add Trovants to our roster of Amazing Things in our fascinating world!

Til the next time!

References

http://whenonearth.net/trovants-growing-stones-romania/

http://bestofromania.eu/trovanti-museum-natural-reserve/

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

Dead Man’s Fingers

DeadMansFingersLeave it to the wilds of Southeast Asia to bring us this cryptozoology tale. How would you like to stroll in your garden only to be besieged by dead man’s fingers “growing” out of the soil? Is it a paranormal legend or just a monster tale from Mother Nature?

Let me introduce you to Dead Man’s Fingers, known by science as Decaisnea (photo right). It comes in two varieties, Decaisnea fargesii and Decaisnea insignis. Yes, it’s an actual plant.  (Photo right.)

This cryptid plant grows in the Far East, spanning China over to Nepal, then downwards towards Myanmar. The “fingers” are actually fruit that is highly prized by the Lepcha people who live in Sikkim (an Indian state on the border with Nepal).

DeadMansFingers02The fruit, the actual “dead man’s fingers,”  grows about 4 inches long (10 cm) and is a little over an inch (3 cm) in diameter. The gelatinous pulp of both species is edible (photo left). The pulp from D. fargesii is similar to sweet watermelon while the pulp from D. insignis is bland. The color of the fruit ranges from a light lime color to a muted dark purple color.

The plant is described as forming deciduous shrubs but can grow into small trees topping 26 feet (8 m)  with a trunk nearly 8 inches (20 cm) in diameter. There are cultivated versions of this plant for use in the home garden. They grow well in cool temperatures with fertile soil that is well drained. They tolerate temperatures as low as 5 degrees F (-15 C). In the US, it’s hardy in USDA zones 4-8.

DeadMansFingers03It’s too bad they don’t fruit in time for Halloween, isn’t it?  Would you like them in your garden?

(Photo right of D. insignis interior.)

Til the next time!

Amur Leopard – Living in Alaska?

Amur_Leopard_by_amrodelCould another mysterious beast be lurking in the far reaches of the Alaskan frontier? CryptoVille explores the mystery of the Amur Leopard and whether it may have transformed into a cryptozoological monster over the millennia.

Not much is really known about the ultra-elusive Amur Leopard (photo above right by A.M. Rodel) except for the fact that it’s highly endangered over in Russia and China. According to an article on amurleopard.com, scientists estimate there are only 30-40 living in the wild with another 150 or so living in captivity (zoos). Unfortunately I don’t know how old that information is as there is no date on the site’s web pages.

Conservationists are working feverishly to try and find out more about how these creatures live so that more meaningful conservation measures can be taken to protect them.

CryptoVille has covered the Amur, or Siberian, Tiger mystery and whether a population could be living in Alaska. (See the References section at the end of this article for a link to that article.) But could its Russian neighbor also have settled in the Great White North?

amur-leopard-in-snowAppearance

First we have to consider whether the Amur leopard could survive an Alaskan winter. It seems they survive harsh Siberian winters, so they should be able to handle Alaska. Their pale colored fur (light tan to a reddish brown, with white bellies) grows very long in preparation for winter – nearly 3 inches! Their spots are black.

They also have long legs that help them traverse the snow more capably. These beautiful animals measure from three to six feet long on their bodies plus an additional two to three feet in the tail.  Males weigh between 82 and 198 pounds while females weigh 62-132 pounds. At the shoulder they reach anywhere from 18-30 inches high.

Perhaps best of all, these animals have lovely light blue-green eyes.

Here’s a short video of Amur leopard cubs in China:

 

 

Required Terrain

When I think of a leopard, I imagine one sprawled on a tree limb overlooking a great African Savannah. But in fact, leopards are highly adaptable animals that can live in a wide range of environments, from the warm to the cold, from mountainous to deserts.

They can live without water for upwards of a week as long as they get moisture from their prey food. If they have some brush/grasses/plant matter to stalk through and some caves or rocky terrain to hide and hunt in, they’re good.

femalenarval15fmar28cam2a_365193So let’s see. Would there be enough cover in the state of Alaska to suit the leopard’s needs? Yes. There are plenty of places to hide and plenty of undergrowth to make stealthy stalking possible.  There are caves and plenty of rocky places for them to seek shelter, as well as lots of trees in most areas for them to climb. (Please note, the photos of these Amur leopards in this article had to have been taken in either Russia or China.)

Now let’s consider a comment in the Wiki article, “An individual’s territory is usually located in a river basin which generally extends to the natural topographical borders of the area.” Here are two maps of rivers in Alaska, one a general map and the other a close-up of the Copper River basin. I’d say there were plenty of areas to suit the tastes of an Amur leopard.

alaska-rivers-map

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

copperRiverCountry

 

Feeding Practices

Leopards in general are quite athletic, too. They are strong swimmers and have been clocked running at 36 miles an hour (58 kilometers/hour).  They are said to be able to leap 20 feet (6 meters) at a time, and can jump 10 feet (3 meters) straight up into the air.

They need to be athletic in order to stalk their prey and obtain food. Their excellent vision, keen hearing, and whiskers aid them in the hunt; their sense of smell, not so much. It’s been said that in Africa, leopards sneak into villages and pick off any unsuspecting pets lying around, all without anyone hearing anything.

They’ve also been known to simply drop out of a tree onto their prey, as well as lay low at waterholes stalking some poor thirsty creature.

Because they’re so strong, they regularly haul their prey into the trees to keep other carnivores from eating it, and so they can return at their leisure to continue eating. According to the San Diego Zoo website, in Africa at least, leopards are known to eat: “monkeys, baboons, rodents, snakes, amphibians, large birds, fish, antelope, cheetah cubs, warthogs, and porcupines.”

Wild-Amur-leopard-feeding-on-preyThat begs the question, what is there for them to eat in Alaska, if they are in fact there. Well fish, certainly. If they eat antelope, they may be enticed to eat elk or caribou, not to mention moose or bear. Alaska has rodents too, and things like raccoons and porcupines. So they probably could manage and even thrive there.

In Russia and northern China, the Amur leopard hunts hares, roe and sika deer, badgers and raccoon dogs. There are hares in Alaska, and in lower sections of the state, Sitka black tailed deer (which are different from sika deer). From what I’ve read, leopards are opportunistic eaters, so I have to imagine that there is plenty of game in Alaska to which they could have adapted, especially over the course of thousands of years.

AmurEyesImportant to note: Leopards are threatened by tigers, so if there is an Alaskan tiger, you can bet an Alaskan leopard will avoid it. According to the San Diego Zoo website, “Leopards go to great lengths to avoid these predators, hunting at different times and often pursuing different prey than their competitors, and resting in trees to keep from being noticed.”

Fun Facts: Leopards can hear five times more sounds than humans can, including the ultrasonic squeaks of mice!

Did the Amur Leopard Migrate to Alaska?

From what we’ve covered so far, Alaska has much to offer these elusive creatures of the cat family. But did they make the trip across the land bridge known as Beringia thousands of years ago?

We have the same problem when speculating whether the Siberian tigers migrated to Alaska at the same time. The major problem there is that some scientists feel Beringia was more or less a barren plain and tigers and leopards need places to hide as they travel. At least one other scientist believes there is evidence to suggest that Beringia wasn’t that barren, that there were small wooded areas and grassland dotted across the land bridge.

LeopardInTreeIf that’s true, then it would be more feasible to suppose these animals ventured across into Alaska. But as it stands, we have no proof.

Fun Fact: What’s the difference between a leopard’s & a jaguar’s spots? The spots on a leopard are flower-shaped but have no central dot. The jaguar also has these “rosettes” as they’re called, but their spots always have a dot in the center.

Burden of Proof

When we consider the vast stretches of time involved in the formation of Beringia, how long it lasted, the aftermath when it disappeared again, in addition to the huge tracts of unexplored wilderness in not only Alaska but the Canadian Northwest, it seems like anything could be possible. Why wouldn’t the Amur leopard saunter across the land bridge and set up housekeeping in a brand new world?

Autumnal Denali Nt Park Scenery with mountain rangePossible yes, but if we really want an answer, it’s going to take a lot of effort. Someone is going to have to go searching for it. My recommendation is to consult with the Native Americans already living in the state. See what legends and tales they have that may describe just such an animal. (Photo of Denali State Park, right.)

Then plan your hunt from there.  I think we can all agree, given the scarcity of this animal, we don’t need anyone to kill one. But come armed with an excellent camera and video camera.

Filming a leopard, even one that may have evolved somewhat differently over the past 10,000 or so years, is still something we’re going to recognize. Science doesn’t recognize Bigfoot, and because of that (and all the freaking hoaxing going on!!), a photo or video isn’t going to be enough. It will probably take a body to convince the scientific community.

But we all know leopards exist, so even a “slightly modified” one would be recognizable.

alaska-67832_640Another equally important factor to consider, this person will have to be prepared to survive the harsh and extremely dangerous conditions of the Alaskan wilderness. That’s not something to be taken lightly.  Every year people and planes go missing without a trace. So this undertaking wouldn’t be for the faint-hearted.

I’d love to see a population of these beautiful animals discovered in the Great White North. Technically, I think they could be there. But how to prove it?

Til the next time!

References

http://visitcryptoville.com/2014/10/10/alaskan-tiger-another-great-beast-of-the-north/

http://www.worldwildlife.org/species/amur-leopard

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

http://www.auduboninstitute.org/animals/asian-domain/amur-leopard-1951

http://www.denverzoo.org/downloads/dzoo_amur_leopard.pdf

http://animals.sandiegozoo.org/animals/leopard

http://phys.org/news/2014-01-rare-amur-leopard-china.html

http://www.livescience.com/41542-rare-amur-leopard-cubs-spotted-video.html

http://www.wcsrussia.org/en-us/projects/fareasternleopardconservation.aspx

http://thewebsiteofeverything.com/animals/mammals/Artiodactyla/Cervidae/Capreolus/Capreolus-capreolus.html

 

Animals are always adapting in new and exciting ways!! ;)

Owliver

 

What Bigfoot Hunters Can Learn From a Rare Fox

redfox_pCryptozoology lovers will appreciate this. An extremely rare fox was seen by scientists recently. It’s OK for a fox to be extremely rare, but not for Bigfoots? What does this discovery mean to our search for cryptids? Read what Bigfoot Hunters can learn from the scientists’ efforts.

Wildlife biologists from Yosemite National Park were on a backcountry trip to the most northern reaches of Yosemite National Park last month. Their goal was to retrieve motion sensitive cameras (I think these are the same as trail cams) that they had placed in that area in the hope of finding proof of the extremely elusive Sierra Nevada red fox.

Sierra_Nevada_Red_Fox,_Lassen_Volcanic_National_Park-_Keith_Slausen_USFS_2002Fortunately for them, their red fox sauntered into view on two occasions, once in December and once in January. The scientists think there may be less than 50 of these creatures roaming the backwoods of Yosemite. (Photo left by Keith Slausen USFS.)

Biologists from UC Davis, California Department of Fish and Wildlife, and the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) have also seen Sierra Nevada red foxes in the area of Sonora Pass since 2010.

Back in Yosemite, their team of biologists will continue to monitor their cameras for more information about these beautiful rare creatures. They have also placed “hair snare stations” near their cameras in the hope getting hair samples for DNA analysis.  (Photo below right by Keith Slausen USFS. How good is that animal’s camo?!!!!)

SierraNevadaRedFox_KeithSlausen_USFSProblem with Trail Cams

I didn’t know much about these types of cameras, other than the obvious from what we see of them on the various cryptid TV programs. When I looked into it a bit more, I found an interesting primer on the Cabela website where they mention some important points about choosing a trail cam.

  • Lens Quality: Not all cameras with high megapixel ratings will take good pictures. It seems companies will then provide cheap camera lenses in the trail cam which will still produce useless photos.
  • Trigger and Recovery Times: If a camera takes one photo, how long does it have to wait before taking the next photo? This could seriously mess up sequence photos if you’re lucky enough to get them. It could be a matter of seconds, but how fast can animals move? So this becomes a critical factor, in my opinion.

trailcamsSo not all trail cams are created equal. If you’re an amateur Bigfoot hunter and don’t realize this, you could wind up wasting your money and your time. If you’d like to read more about how to select a trail cam, I recommend the article I share in the References section below. (I’m not affiliated with Cabela’s in any way. I just think it’s a helpful article.)

Hair Snares

The concept of hair snares to catch hair from a particular animal is also new to me. The Yosemite scientists are using hair snare stations hoping to obtain hair samples from the Sierra Nevada red fox.  So I have to wonder if these things would work for Bigfoots.

HairSnareStationExam1I found a scholarly article (National Lynx Detection Protocol) about collecting evidence of lynx in North America by Kevin S. McKelvey, James J. Claar, Gregory W. McDaniel, and Gary Hanvey.  They did a good job explaining how a hair snare works and how to set them. I’ll include that article link in my References section below (fs.usda.gov) in case you’d like to learn how to do it. Scroll down to the section title Selection of Sites and Station Positions in their article and read to the end. (Example of a hair snare station, photo right.)

They point out a very serious word of caution. Hair snares require scent stations to lure in the beast you’re trying to sample. In the case of Bigfoot, whatever you put down may also attract other carnivores like bears so it’s imperative NOT to get the scent stuff on your clothes or equipment. That’s so important, I’m reiterating it here.

HairSnareStationExam2Also notice, they don’t just put out 2 or 3 trail cams in a small areas. These scientists are putting out 25 or so cameras 2 miles apart from each other. They’re covering a HUGE range in their search for the ever elusive lynx. I think that’s an important point for Bigfoot hunters to consider too. (Another example of a hair snare station, photo left.)

Probably none of us can afford to buy that many trail cams, but what if a Bigfoot hunting club pooled their trail cams and worked together on one big study? That would work.

My Thoughts

I think it’s great that the scientists have evidence of the Sierra Nevada red fox’s existence. They say they want to learn more so they can put efforts forward to protect them.  For those of us who believe in Bigfoot, we feel they deserve the same kind of attention and care from the scientific community. (Photo below right from slideshare.net.)

SlideshareDotNetIt’s probably going to come down to us amateurs to find the Big Hairy guy and prove it to science. To do that, we need crystal clear, unambiguous, well-focused photographs and videos. It’s critical to have a good trail cam to get this caliber of proof. And for the love of God, lose the cell phone cameras – they stink!! Get a good camera with a high quality zoom feature so you can catch any Bigfoot activity occurring right around you.

I love the hair snare idea. That will take some planning and thinking, but if people could start to do that out in the wilderness, it may prove useful. I mean, if it’s good enough for the scientists as they hunt for evidence of lynxes and Sierra Nevada red foxes, then it should be plenty good enough to get evidence of Bigfoot. (Photo below from trail cam.)

What do you think?

SierraNevadaRedFoxTrailCam

References

http://www.trailcampro.com/Firsttimebuyersguide.aspx

http://www.fs.usda.gov/Internet/FSE_DOCUMENTS/stelprdb5444859.pdf

http://www.capradio.org/41146

Vile Vortices – Part I: Mohenjo-daro

mohenjo_daroCryptozoology lovers may be interested in some areas of the world known for strange and mysterious events, known collectively as the “Vile Vortices.”  Disappearances, strange sightings, weird feelings and more occur in these monstrous places. CryptoVille explores these mysteries in a new 12 part series beginning with Mohenjo-daro, the site of the ancient Rama Empire!

Creatures aren’t the only strange things on this planet as I’m sure many of you know. There are places around the world where some very strange and puzzling things occur. Probably the most famous is the Bermuda Triangle. (Photo of Mohenjo-daro ruins top right.)

What I didn’t realize is the number of strange places, dubbed “Vile Vortices” by Scottish Biologist Ivan Sanderson. There are 12 situated at more or less equal distances around the globe forming an imperfect icosahedron shape.

Are mysterious forces responsible for the weird happenings, or is it something more down to Earth like electromagnetic disturbances from the planet itself?

IvanSandersonA Word About Ivan Sanderson

In 1972 Scottish biologist Ivan Sanderson (photo left) wrote an article for Saga magazine called “The Twelve Devil’s Graveyards Around the World.”  According to Rob Schwarz in an article for the Stranger Dimensions website, “These [12] locations are equidistant from each other, equally divided between the Tropic of Capricorn and the Tropic of Cancer, and represent areas where strange disappearances, phenomena, or electromagnetic “aberrations” are said to occur.” (The clever map below showing the location of these vortices was created by Rob Schwarz for his website article.)

Vile_Vortices_Map

Sanderson came to call them “Vile Vortices” and he speculated they may be the result of electromagnetic disturbances in the atmosphere brought on by fluctuations in air temperature.  Since his article hit the collective consciousness, others have speculated (according to Wiki) that these vortices may be due to “subtle matter energy,” “ley lines,” or “electro-magnetic aberration.”

Sanderson was born in 1911 and died in 1973. During his career he was a well respected biologist, specializing in zoology. He traveled the globe until finally settling down in New Jersey. He seems to have been well regarded by the scientific community despite having a side interest in cryptozoology and strange phenomena.

What I find most interesting about the man is that he tried to find an explanation for the strange occurrences in these “vile vortices” based on science. It wasn’t until after his death that other writers and self-proclaimed paranormal investigators took his comments on various places and used them as a basis for their more outlandish theories.

Is there any truth behind Sanderson’s original theory? Or indeed the embellished theories that flourished after his death? That’s what we’re going to try and figure out in this series.

IndusRiverWhat Is Mohenjo-daro?

In approximately 2600 -2500 BC, the people of the Indus Valley began to build one of the earliest known civilizations of the Bronze Age in northwest Pakistan – known today as Mohenjo-daro. The remains we see today show us that it was a very advanced city for its time and the level of engineering and urban planning used in its construction is amazing.

Scientists say the city prospered until around 1900-1500 BC when it was abandoned. The scientists think the surrounding rivers may have shifted, resulting in the need to evacuate the area. Others believe they were destroyed by Indo-European migrants from Iran known as the Aryans.

The city was re-discovered in 1911 and named Mohenjo-daro from the local Sindhi language. Translated, it means “Mound of the Dead.”  The site was excavated until 1965 when work had to cease because the water table of the Indus River was rising and the subsequent salt residue threatened the ruins. Scientists think they excavated about a third of what’s there.

Now let’s consider this. At the time of Sanderson’s death in 1973, work had stopped on Mohenjo-daro and it was pretty much alone as an archaeological site. So we can see how it would look to be such a special and unique archaeological treasure. (Photo of a toy excavated in Mohenjo-daro, below left.)

indus_toy_1However, in subsequent decades, scientists continued to study the area only to discover other large cities similar to Mohenjo-daro. In fact, they now think there are over 1,000 sites throughout that area of Pakistan and parts of northern India and eastern Afghanistan that formed a greater, linked civilization. Scientists believe they had trade routes that linked them to Central Asia, Persia, and the Mesopotamian civilizations that existed in the areas now known as Iraq and Syria.

I’m not suggesting that Mohenjo-daro isn’t special, but as science has revealed, it was one piece of a greater puzzle. Since location is important for this “Vile Vortices” theory, it’s looking more like Mohenjo-daro doesn’t quite fit the mold.

So Where’s the Mystery?

From what I can tell, the mystery seems to be where did the people go? Why was the city abandoned? As I previously mentioned some scientists think nearby rivers – notably the Indus River that the city overlooked –  shifted course forcing the evacuation of the great city. Others say Aryan migrants from Iran destroyed the city.

indus_brickIn an article on the San Jose State University website, another theory is posed that goes like this. The city of Mohenjo-daro was built with fire-baked bricks that required lots of wood for the fire to bake the bricks. It seems as the centuries went by, the surrounding countryside became denuded of trees – a potentially catastrophic environmental factor. This would have worsened an already troublesome flooding problem.

Also, the city residents kept large herds of animals that may have overgrazed on an already stressed landscape.

Scientists remind us that not far away (geologically) were the Himalaya mountains. The potential for devastating earthquakes in the area was high.

Dancing_Girl_of_Mohenjo-daroAnother scientist, Gregory Possehl (University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia) said there wasn’t evidence of flood damage in the city itself. Also, he believes the city wasn’t completely abandoned. (Photo of Dancing Girl statue found in Mohenjo-daro left.)

In an article by John Roach for National Geographic, “Faceless Indus Valley City Puzzles Archaeologists,” Possehl says, “A changing river course doesn’t explain the collapse of the entire Indus civilization. Throughout the valley, the culture changed. It reaches some kind of obvious archaeological fruition about 1900 BC. What drives that, nobody knows.”

So any of these factors, as well as a combination of factors seems the likely reason this city fell into ruin.

indus_scriptTo date, science hasn’t deciphered the written language (see photo right) used by these people. But once that’s done, they may likely have the answer as to what was happening in those days that would have led to the city’s ruin.

 

Ancient Alien Theorists

You just know they had to get in on this act, right? In a nutshell, the Ancient Alien Theorists (AATs) believe Mohenjo-daro was destroyed by a nuclear bomb in the ancient past. Dollars to donuts, they think aliens were somehow involved. How did they arrive at this spectacular conclusion? They cite several points which I’ll share below:

lost-city-mohenjo-daro-pakistan

  • They say skeletons were found around the city, face down everywhere, as though everyone was struck dead at one moment.
  • Animals avoid the area (sensing the radiation) so there are no signs of scavenging on the skeletons or anywhere else.
  • They say the bones of the skeletons are remarkably well preserved.
  • There is radiation present throughout the site.
  • They say there is an epicenter with evidence of vitrification which is only caused by immensely high levels of heat.

Mike-HeiserSounds somewhat compelling, doesn’t it? And yet, thanks to the scholarship of Dr. Michael Heiser (M.A. and Ph.D in Hebrew Bible and Semitic Languages, and an M.A. in Ancient History specializing in Israel and Egyptology) (photo right), we get these facts:

  • The buildings within Mohenjo-daro are intact and some of them stand 15 feet high. A nuclear blast would have destroyed them.
  • In all 37 skeletons were found within the city, but they didn’t die at the same time. In fact, their estimated dates of death span a thousand years. And did we mention, all these bodies were buried?
  • No signs of scavengers on the skeletons? No because the bodies were buried.
  • What about the well preserved bones? The area experiences temperatures in the summer up to 128 F! Perfect for preservation.
  • None of the scientists who ever worked on the site found evidence of radiation.
  • The epicenter where vitrification was found was a pit with a lot of pottery in it. Vitrification (putting pottery in fire to harden it, which creates Frit, a type of vitrification) was found there as a by-product of their manufacturing process. It was hardly an “epicenter” of anything and certainly had nothing to do with a nuclear explosion.

AATMahabharata01The AATs frequently quote the great Hindu poem, the Mahabharata, which they claim offers proof that nuclear bombs were used in pre-history.  According to Dr. Heiser the AATs usually say something along these lines:

“One reference that we have, for example, speaks of these explosions that were brighter than a thousand suns. And when these blasts occurred the suns were twirling in the air; trees went up in flames and there was just this mass destruction. After those blasts, people who survive started to lose their hair and nails started to fall out. I mean, right there, we have a concise reference to radiation poisoning; nuclear fallout – and those texts are thousands of years old.”

The AATs never tell you exactly where these quotes are in the Mahabharata and that’s because they aren’t there at all. According to Dr. Heiser the part about hair/nails falling off and the thousand suns comes from a French book called Morning of the Magicians.

Now let’s consider that the Mahabharata consists of more than 1.8 million words. Who has the time to comb through that to verify what the AATs are saying? Most of us don’t. Thanks to scholars like Michael  Heiser and Jason Colavito, we have the evidence to say their quotes are flat-out wrong.

mahabharata_1Throughout the Mahabharata, deities are described as bright as “ten thousand suns.”  Remember, this piece is a poem where fanciful language and metaphors are used to describe ethereal topics, especially of a spiritual nature. The Mahabharata actually describes the development of the Hindu religion. It’s by no means an historical account.

So I think we can safely say, Mohenjo-daro is free of nuclear radiation, especially when you consider one of my references actually encourages people to come visit there. You don’t see people inviting you to Chernobyl, right?  However, due to the unrest in the Middle East, I’m sure it isn’t safe to travel to Mohenjo-daro, and that’s purely due to current human machinations.

In the End

So we see, once we get to the truth about a place, a purported “paranormal hotspot,” it isn’t really that at all. I think that would please Ivan Sanderson who was first and foremost, a scientist. It seems fitting to post this today because January 30, 2015 would have been his 104th birthday!

Next month we’ll visit another exotic place, part of this Vile Vortices series and see what we can discover there!

Til then!

GiorgioAnswersAll

References

http://www.strangerdimensions.com/2014/07/15/12-vile-vortices-ivan-sanderson

http://science.nationalgeographic.com/science/archaeology/mohenjo-daro/

http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/138

http://www.mrdowling.com/612-mohenjodaro.html

http://www.sjsu.edu/faculty/watkins/indus.htm

http://en.wikivoyage.org/wiki/Mohenjo-daro

http://ancientaliensdebunked.com/references-and-transcripts/ancient-nuclear-warefare/

Champ Search – Getting Closer to the Truth!

MansiPhotoThe jury is still out as to whether Lake Champlain’s Champ is real or not but Cryptozoology lovers will be interested in some new research that recently came to my attention. Is this monster of a tale the real deal, or a figment of our imagination?

Recently I was approached by one of the team members of Champ Search with exciting news about their ongoing research into the mystery of Champ, the Lake Champlain lake monster. Katy Elizabeth and her partner Dennis Jay Hall have been continuing the search for this creature on their own and have discovered some tantalizing evidence! (Legendary photo above right by Sandra Mansi.)

Echolocation

About ten or 15 years ago, a scientific team working on the lake discovered a unique echolocation signature that was new to science. (See links to my previous articles in the References section below.) There was some excitement that this data could help identify a new species of animal living in the lake. Over the years, that research was set aside so we heard no more about it.

DolphinEcholocationIn an interview last week, Katy told me that her partner Dennis has been looking into the mystery of Champ since at least 1985 when he caught some footage of the beast.  In more recent times, Katy had her own sighting which ignited her passion to search for Champ.

She said one day the pair went to the area where Dennis had his sighting in 1985 and dropped their equipment into the water, listening for any unique sounds. Sometime later they “heard” an echolocation on their equipment and recorded it.

Because Katy and Dennis aren’t scientists themselves, they have sent some of their data to reputable sources to have it analyzed by experts in the field of echolocation and biosonar.  They were told their recordings were “interesting” and are waiting for the results of further analysis.

What I find exciting is that these echolocations are still occurring on the lake and the team at Champ Search is finding them! It gives me hope that we may yet find this creature – at least officially —  and that we may finally get the thumbs-up from the scientific community! Funnily enough, both New York State and Vermont have already passed legislation protecting Champ from harm and harassment.

What Is Champ?

In the course of our conversation, Katy and I speculated about Champ’s appearance. I was under the assumption that Champ would turn out to be a mammal of some sort, perhaps one that left the lake during the cold winter months via the extensive cave system below and around the lake. I was under the impression that mammals were the only animals to use echolocation. I was wrong.

According to the an article on echolocation by Princeton.edu, there are some cave dwelling birds that use echolocation to survive, namely, Cave Swiftlets (below left) and Oilbirds (below right).

CaveSwiftlet

Oilbirds

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So that opens the possibility that some other type of vertebrate, such as a reptile, could develop echolocation as well. At least it does to me. And if we see nothing else in Mother Nature, it is her ability to surprise and astound us.

Back to Champ.

Another Theory

Katy’s theory is that Champ is actually a type of reptile perhaps with some amphibian traits. I asked her why the amphibian traits? She reminded me of a report that I’d heard over the years of a land sighting of Champ. (Photo below left of Katy Elizabeth on Lake Champlain searching for Champ, courtesy of the Champ Search Facebook page.)

KatyAtWorkCindy Hill sums it up nicely in her article for the Vermont Woman,  Embodying the Mystery Called Champ:

About 25 years ago, in early spring when the water was high, Christine Hebert heard her dogs barking in the wee hours of the morning. She lived near the Auer Family Boathouse, a treasured local landmark at the far northern end of North Avenue, a narrow spit of land wedged between the Lake, the Burlington Bike Path, and the Winooski River. 

Thinking she had forgotten to tie one of the boats up—it might be banging around. disturbing the dogs—she looked out the window. The night was foggy, but a bright streetlamp illuminated the boat launch ramp, providing a welcome beacon to late-night boaters. 

“It came out through the mist,” she recalls. “Like a dinosaur, as big as me, with its head and neck out of the water.” She gestures with her hand bunched up at a 90-degree angle from her forearm, her elbow steeply bent. “And a hump. I couldn’t tell how much of it was still in the water.” 

This was before the city had brought in truckloads of fill and broken-up sidewalk concrete to form a bulwark along this stretch of shore. The drop-off into the boat ramp was steep then. “The water would be over your head there,” she says now. 

Eva Gauvin Champ sighting drawingThe creature, a pea-green color, sat under the bright light staring out at the Lake for several minutes, apparently unperturbed by the dogs. Christine looked out from her window about thirty feet away, entranced. It moved its head around, then glided off into the water. Christine had the sense it was headed towards the Winooski River. 

A few nights later, the dogs barked again, and this time Christine was certain that everything in the yard was tied up tight. On this night, however, she was not alone. She woke her mother from her bed and dragged her to the window. The creature under the light this time was a bit smaller, and more brown than green. 

Her mother “refused to commit” to what she’d seen, Christine says, and would never speak of it. Christine related her experience to a colleague just after it happened, and wound up facing a formal, intimidating inquiry about the soundness of her mind at work, followed by a wave of curiosity-seekers in tents and vans on her front lawn. 

She was scoffed at and asked if she’d been drinking at the time. She and her brother started locking the gate across the boathouse driveway. And she stopped talking about it, except in response to serious, respectful inquiries. 

ChampHauntedLookWhile naysayers may have restrained Christine from talking about her experience, they have not changed her recollections of her sharp-eyed, sober experience. 

“I don’t care if you laugh at me,” she says firmly. “I don’t care if you don’t believe me. I know what I saw.”

Katy thought if they were amphibian they may be able to breathe through their skin a while when they are on land. But the question remains, if this is true, why do they come up onto land? (Artwork left by unknown artist.)

I asked Katy what she thinks it looks like. For starters, she said it’s usually 15-18 feet long but some reports say they can be up to 30 feet long. They’re pure muscle and Katy, who works extensively with horses, estimates their weight anywhere between 1500-2000 pounds.

The really strange aspect to the creature is that it doesn’t swim side to side like most fish and things like eels do. Katy describes Champ’s motion as a “caterpillar crawl.”  That surprised me.

 

So if Champ is actually some kind of reptile, where does it go in the winter? Katy suggested it may hibernate like many aquatic animals do. I know there are frogs who dig down into the silt/dirt at the bottom of ponds and hibernate through the winter. Perhaps this is what Champ does?

That makes more sense than the Champ-as-mammal theory because the creature isn’t seen during the winter months. Most winters Lake Champlain is frozen solid so if the creature needed to breathe air, it would be out of luck.

Caves

I asked Katy about the caves that supposedly exist near the bottom of the lake and if she’d heard anything about the possibility they connect to the Saint Lawrence Seaway.  She said that Dennis dove into the lake on several occasions and saw the caves. He said the lake is a lot deeper than people think. They believe the problem has something to do with the density of rock in the area – it makes it hard to get accurate depth readings.

Anyway, Dennis feels the caves are too dangerous to explore, especially by one diver. So to date, I don’t think anyone knows if these caves connect to anything or nothing.

tanystropheus-long-necked-lizardTanystropheus

Katy speculates that Champ could be a type of Tanystropheus, which I subsequently discovered is a fascinating animal. Though now believed to be extinct, I have to wonder if it’s a descendant or a new species that re-emerged after the mass extinction.

Here are some facts about Tanystropheus:

  • Believed to be a marine animal based on fossil findings
  • Fish bones were found in their fossils in the area where the gut would be
  • Scientists speculate the long neck could have been used to snatch tree-living reptiles from the boughs as part of their diet
  • Scientists think this creature retained the egg and embryo of its young in its body until shortly before the hatch-date.

Couple thoughts. Remember I was wondering why the animal would go on land at all? Maybe it does feed along the shoreline snatching various prey from the tree branches. Or maybe it laid its egg one night just before it was due to hatch, and the next night it made its way to the water, like baby turtles do. I’m wondering here, no proof of any of this, but I still find it fascinating to contemplate.

tanystropheus-sizeI asked Katy what kind of fish are available for a creature like Champ to eat. She said they check every time they go on the lake and they see a lot of perch, smelts, largemouth bass and smallmouth bass.  She also pointed out the critics’ argument that such a large creature would quickly deplete the lake of all fish if it existed. However, she thinks that Champ creatures don’t eat like mammals, i.e., daily. You know how snakes and alligators get a meal and then sit for a long period of time before they need to eat again? That’s what Katy thinks happens to Champ.

It’s all fascinating to think about, isn’t it? But as per usual, it’s going to take a lot more research to get to the truth.

ChampSearchLogoChamp Search

Both Katy and Dennis have full time jobs and lives, so the time they have to actually investigate Champ is precious.

The cost of the equipment they use is quite expensive and they’re paying for it by themselves.  The good thing is this is just the equipment they need to get good scientific evidence.

Besides the echolocation/bioacoustics equipment, Katy said they also used trail cams (for any potential land sightings), as well as several cameras and video equipment.

I think this intrepid pair has a very good chance of getting to the bottom of the Lake Champlain mystery. They’re both dedicated, they’ve got good equipment, and they’re sharing their findings with the experts. That’s the ONLY way this mystery is going to be solved.

I wish them the best of luck!!Here is their 7.5 minute video:

Books Available

Katy and Dennis have books available if you’d like to read more about their search for Champ.

Water Horse of Lake Champlain II by Katy Elizabeth

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1499112939/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=211189&creative=373489&creativeASIN=1499112939&link_code=as3&tag=wwwvisitcrypt-20&linkId=4CPG2ZJVNATMRAWJ

Champ Quest,  the Ultimate Search: 1999 Field Guide and Almanac for Lake Champlain by Dennis Jay Hall

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/192883700X/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=211189&creative=373489&creativeASIN=192883700X&link_code=as3&tag=wwwvisitcrypt-20&linkId=QG7W63GLJYNZFNWU

References

http://officialchampsearch.webs.com

https://www.princeton.edu/~achaney/tmve/wiki100k/docs/Animal_echolocation.html

http://www.reptileevolution.com/tanystropheus.htm

http://www.vermontwoman.com/articles/2014/0614/champ/champ.html

http://visitcryptoville.com/2013/07/02/has-champ-been-axed-part-1/

http://visitcryptoville.com/2013/07/02/has-champ-been-axed-part-2/

http://visitcryptoville.com/2013/07/03/has-champ-been-axed-part-3/

So what do you think? Have you ever seen Champ?

Evil Inuit Mermaid – Qalupalik

Qalupalik01Here’s a strange tale from the frozen North, courtesy of the Inuit peoples. Qalupalik looks horrible, scares children, and waits patiently in the shadows to catch them. Cryptozoology lovers will be reminded of other mermaid tales that we’ve heard along these lines. But is this monster real?  

Inuit legend gives us the tale of Qalupalik who is described as half human, half sea creature. Like other mermaids, she lives in the Arctic seas and is always searching for disobedient children who roam too close to the shoreline.

They describe her as having long wild hair, green skin, and fingernails so long they almost look like claws. She wears a garment called an amautik which is worn by Inuit women to hold their babies on their backs, sort of like a back pack. That’s how she carries away unsuspecting children.

The Inuit tell their children that if they are near the shore and hear a humming, the Qalupalik is near. She tries to entice them to the edge so she can grab them and take them away somewhere to hide.

Qalupalik02Some tales say she eats the children, but most I read say she keeps them in a secret place, putting them to sleep so they don’t try to escape. These tales say she feeds off their “energy” to stay young, to keep her shiny green skin lovely, and her wild hair lustrous. As the children age, Qalupalik grows younger.

There is at least one tale where a boy’s father, a skilled hunter, searched for his son ceaselessly. Qalupalik saw this and was afraid of being found, so she let his son go. After that, the boy turned into a model citizen of the tribe and never disobeyed his parents or the elders again.

Reality Sets In

This makes a good story to keep the kiddies in line, especially when you’re living in a vast wilderness with treacherous seas nearby. For me, the thought of this creature taking a child on its back into those frozen waters instantly negates any possibility that this tale is real. The kids would die of hypothermia almost instantly.

Qalupalik03On land, in other cultures, we have tales of the “boogeyman” who lurks in the woods. Children are advised to stay close to their families and do as they’re told in order to stay safe.

I’ll have to chalk this interesting legend of Qalupalik up to “cautionary tale” status, designed by loving parents to keep their mischievous children in line.

What do you think?

References

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

https://www.nfb.ca/playlists/unikkausivut-sharing-our-stories/viewing/nunavut_animation_lab_qalupalik

 

 

 

Humpbacked Dolphins, Fish Eating Spiders, and Mick Jagger Lips

BeastiesIn this post CryptoVille selects a few animals discovered in 2014 to share with cryptozoology lovers! Mysterious nature is never at a loss to create creatures that amaze us with things we may never have imagined. Have a look at these monsters and see what you think!

Australian Humpback Dolphin

How long has humanity been plying the waters around Australia? How long have scientists been studying its waters? And yet here in 2014 they find – Oops! – a new species of dolphin.

AustralianHumpbackDolphinThe Wildlife Conservation Society in conjunction with Clymene Enterprises announced last year the official naming of the new species of dolphin, Sousa sahulensis, the Australian Humpback Dolphin. This announcement comes after spending 17 years trying to decide if this animal was its own unique species or not.

These animals live along the coast ranging from northern Australia over to the coast of West Africa.

Like many of their marine “cousins,” the Australian humpback dolphin is in peril due to development along their coastal habitats as well as accidents with large oceangoing vessels, and the fishing industry. Scientists feel they won’t survive unless humanity takes some important steps to protect them.

AustralianHumpbackDolphin01There are 3 other species of humpback dolphins: Atlantic humpback dolphin, the Indo-Pacific humpback dolphin, and the Indian Ocean humpback dolphin. This latest species of humpback dolphin differs from the others in several ways:

  • Dorsal fin is lower and wider at the base
  • Colored dark gray overall
  • Has a dark dorsal “cape” unlike the other species

Also, there are differences in the length of these different species of humpback dolphins, as well as number of teeth and number of vertebrae.

In general humpback dolphins can reach up to 8 feet (2.4 meters) in length and weigh upwards of 300 pounds (136 kg). They primarily eat mullet, but scientists don’t have enough data on these elusive animals to say what else they may or may not consume.

Let’s not overlook the fact it took science 17 years to come to this conclusion. The fact that they’re taking decades to get into Bigfoot research almost seems to make sense now!

FishEatingSpiderFish-eating Spiders

That’s right, you read that correctly. As if spiders don’t terrorize enough of us on this planet, it seems they’re also into terrorizing fish!

(PHOTO CREDIT left:  Fishing spider Dolomedes facetus captured fish (genus Xiphophorus) in garden pond near Brisbane, Queensland, Australia by Peter Liley, Moffat Beach, Queensland.)

This report hit the news last June based on a study published by zoologist and spider expert Martin Nyffeler from the University of Basel in Switzerland and zoologist Bradley Pusey from the University of West Australia.

Nyffeler and Pusey gathered data from around the world that proved larger spiders would hunt small fish in their environment. According to the scientists, spiders from at least five families of creepy crawlies have been seen hunting and eating fish. They also discovered that in a laboratory setting, three more species of spiders will hunt and consume fish.

FishEatingSpider01

The scientists call these spiders “semi-aquatic spiders” because they live on the edge of shallow water in streams, ponds, and swamps. Some of the spiders can actually swim and dive while others are able to walk on the water’s surface.

As you would expect, these spiders are loaded with neurotoxins to paralyze their unfortunate prey, as well as enzymes that begin the digestion process. Often these fish are much larger than the spiders.

According to Nyffeler, “The finding of such a large diversity of spiders engaging in fish predation is novel. Our evidence suggests that fish might be an occasional prey item of substantial nutritional importance.”  Well, they say fish is good for our brains …

FishEatingSpider02Scientists have witnessed spiders hunting fish all over the world, primarily in Florida’s wetlands. The technique used by these semi-aquatic spiders is to anchor its back legs on a rock or something solid, then let its front legs float on the surface. When an unsuspecting fish hones into view, it pounces and injects its venom.

Once immobilized, the spiders will drag the fish out of the water onto terra firma where it will consume it over the course of a few hours.

These lovely horrors operate on every continent in the world, except Antarctica.

BigLipFossil01Mick Jagger Lips

What is about the size of a small deer, looks like a cross between a skinny hippo and a pig with long legs, and has lips almost as big as Mick Jagger’s? According to co-author of the study Ellen Miller, Wake Forest University, “Jagger’s water nymph.” The official name is  Jaggermeryx naida.

Miller, along with co-author Gregg Gunnell, a paleontologist from Duke University, discovered the fossil leading to this discovery in the Egyptian desert. But they tell us that millions of years ago, that area was a “lush tropical delta.”

Jaggermeryx belongs to a family of hoofed animals called anthracotheres and it’s one of six species of that group living in the Egyptian wetlands once upon a time.

BigLipsFossilAccording to Gunnell, “The animal probably had a highly innervated muzzle with mobile and tactile lips, thus the Jagger reference.”  He said that because the jaw bones discovered show a bunch of tiny holes on either side where nerves ran giving a lot of sensation to the chin and lower lip. (Artist’s rendition of what this animal looked like, above right.)

The scientists believe this animal was a plant eater. They said they considered naming the animal after Angelina Jolie and her “famous lips,” but as both are Mick fans, they opted for the Jagger connection.

What Does This Have To Do with Cryptozoology?

I love these stories because it shows just how little we know of the natural world. Every year big discoveries are being made on land, in the sea, and in the air. New species, new behaviors, expanding territories – there is always something else to learn!

And I believe that includes science FINALLY discovering Bigfoot, as well as a few other strange creatures we love to speculate about. I think these are the likely candidates:

  • Bigfoot/Sasquatch
  • Alaskan Tiger
  • Saber Wolf hybrid
  • Giant Raptors
  • Black Beasts of Britain and possibly other areas around the world.

Of all the cryptids we talk about here in CryptoVille, I believe these are the most likely candidates to actually be found by science. I think they have the greatest probability of being real.

So we’re starting an exciting New Year! I can’t wait to see what else science finds and I’m still rooting for my list of likely candidates!!

What’s on your list of likely candidates?

References

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/06/140618184618.htm

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/09/140910120432.htm

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/08/140801125052.htm

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