Archive for Cryptozoology

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

Arizona Bigfoot Family Caught on Traffic Camera – HOAX

BigfootArizona01The New Year has barely started and already they’re back at it – posting hoaxes of Bigfoot sightings. I hope they freeze their buns off!  Cryptozoology lovers may find this frustrating, but it’s a good cautionary tale. Don’t believe every monster that you see!

When I first saw this photo (top right) I immediately dismissed it and went about my business. But it seems to have caused quite a stir on the internet, even to the point where some media outlets covered it.

A friend shared an article with me in the Detroit Free Press (online) where they discussed the pros and cons of its validity. The Arizona Department of Transportation seems to have been the first to post this picture (from their static highway patrol camera) on Twitter asking if people thought it was really a group of Bigfoots. From there it spread like wild fire around the internet.

BigfootArizona02

People seemed convinced it was real because it was caught by a traffic camera belonging to an agency of the government. No one ever expects the government to have a sense of humor, right?

Well, in the aforementioned article, they quote the spokesman for the Arizona Department of Transportation, Tom Herrmann saying, “[Our] agency tries to drive traffic to its Twitter account using humor.”  I guess that’s why they have 52,000 followers.

However, that’s your answer in a nut shell. We find out later that Herrmann’s organization has pictures of the same area in the days following and the “Bigfoot” creatures are still frozen in time. They figure they are probably just shrubs on the side of the road.

BigfootArizonaMuleDeerSome people have speculated the “figures” are just mule deer. This is what a mule deer looks like (left). I think they look about as much like a mule deer as a Bigfoot.

So, lesson learned. Even when a supposedly sober and staid organization like the Arizona Department of Transportation comes forth with Bigfoot “evidence,” we have to remain skeptical.

Am I saying Bigfoots don’t exist? No, I believe they do. Check out more of my Bigfoot articles if you’re interested. Go to the top right of this page and select the drop-down menu “Articles by Topic.” You’ll find the Bigfoot articles there.

Til the next time!

BigfootIBelieve

Did Argentina’s President Adopt a Werewolf? The Real Story

ElLobisonThe story circulating the internet as to why the President of Argentina adopted a young Jewish youth seems to fit with other folklore tales about 7th sons turning into werewolves. But is that what really happened? Was there a monster on the loose or was something else afoot?

A young man named Yair Tawil was about to turn 13. The problem was he was the seventh son born to the same parents which, according to local folklore, means he would turn into a werewolf (El Lobison) on the first Friday after his 13th birthday. Talk about growing pains!

The folklore says that once he became a werewolf, the boy would be doomed to hunt and kill during every full moon. These creatures are said to eat un-baptized babies, the flesh of corpses, and excrement. After that cycle, he would return to human form until the next full moon.

It is also believed that one bite from this creature during the full moon phase would turn others into El Lobisons as well. So having a seventh son carries a terrible stigma for a family.

7BrothersLosVivancosHistorical Genocide

In the 19th Century parents with a seventh son started abandoning or killing them as babies. In those days people had larger families so it wasn’t as uncommon as it is today to have a seventh son (or daughter). (Photo of singing group Los Vivancos above left, 7 brothers in all.)

According to some, the presidents of Argentina began a tradition of adopting these children as godchildren to protect them. Which brings us to today, and the fact that current President Christina Fernandez de Kirchner adopted Yair Tamir prior to this 13th birthday.

In addition to being spared the stigma of being a werewolf, young Tamir also received a gold medal and a full educational scholarship.

Digging Deeper

Apparently, there is more to this story than first thought. In an article for The Guardian, author Uki Goni quotes Argentine historian Daniel Balmaceda, “The local myth of the lobizon is not in any way connected to the custom that began over 100 years ago by which every seventh son (or seventh daughter) born in Argentina becomes godchild to the president.”

ElLobisonAdoptionAccording to Balmaceda this tradition of presidents adopting godchildren in this way became law in 1974 under then President Isabel Peron. She also extended the tradition to seventh daughters at that time. (Photo right of current President Christina Fernandez de Kirchner with young Yair and his family during the ceremony.)

Balmaceda added, “The unconnected myth of the lobizon began among Argentina’s gauchos, the cowboys of Argentina’s vast cattle-raising Pampas, adapted from the older European werewolf legends.”  In this variation of the werewolf legend, the beast transmits its curse not by biting the next victim, but by passing between their legs. These creatures don’t turn into their werewolf form under the full moon, but on every Tuesday and Friday night!

Does El Lobison Exist?

So it seems Yair Tamir received this honor not because he might turn into El Lobison, but simply because he was the 7th son in one family.

Does that mean the El Lobison doesn’t exist? The gauchos must have been afraid of something in their environment that reminded them of the old European tales of werewolves. We can’t say for sure what that was.

However, from all I’ve read about werewolves and those legends, I don’t think anyone needs to lose any sleep over it.

Have you ever seen something you thought was a werewolf?

References

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/president-of-argentina-adopts-jewish-godson-to-stop-him-turning-into-a-werewolf-9946414.html

http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/dec/29/argentina-kirchner-adopt-child-werewolf

http://visitcryptoville.com/2014/04/01/what-is-a-rougarou-exactly/

CryptoVille Tops 250,000 Viewers!

250KVisitorsCryptoVille has passed the Quarter of a Million Viewer mark!!  I can’t thank you all enough for your interest in my little posts and putting up with my opinions about things cryptozoological! When I started this blog nearly 3 years ago, I never imagined it would garner this much interest.

The credit can’t really go to me. Let’s face it, the creatures we discuss here are the stars. They’re very interesting, very mysterious, and very exciting!

SvokanMaybeI’m also grateful for the researchers who stomp through the woods and bayous of our country and beyond looking for that tantalizing evidence we all want so badly! Without their data and stories, I wouldn’t have much to write about.

Most of all, I’m thankful for you, my readers. Without your presence here in CryptoVille I’d just be blabbing to myself about these things and feeling a bit lonely.

I also deeply appreciate when you share your experiences of various creatures with me – it’s so interesting and exciting for me as well as the other readers.

SpottedLake03I’ve got lots of things planned for this year which I hope to be able to accomplish. So I hope you’ll “stay tuned” and keep coming back to visit CryptoVille throughout this New Year!

You are the best! Thank you and God Bless!

… Susan

ZebraMaid

Tap Tap Tapping – the White Raven Comes Calling

Whitie03Another cryptid has shown up to reveal yet another cryptozoological mystery to us! Not quite a monster, this white raven still seems a bit ominous, or maybe I  just have Edgar Allen Poe’s raven on my mind! See for yourself.

Scattered around the mystically beautiful island of Vancouver, BC, in the towns of Port Alberni, Comox, and Tofino, people have been seeing mysterious white birds. Science was able to identify these few, precious creatures as white ravens. While there aren’t many living on the island at this time, that tiny population is still a lot more than we normally see anywhere else on the planet.

Whitie02Science tells us these white ravens were born originally from black feathered parents with a rare genetic defect. While not albino because they do have pigmentation in their eyes, the condition we see is called leucistic meaning their pigmentation is significantly lightened.

According to Julie Mackey who is the assistant manager at the North Island Wildlife Recovery Centre, black feathered ravens can live to 30 plus years old and remain faithful to their mate as long as they live. However, the white ravens don’t seem to live as long or reproduce as abundantly as their counterparts.

Whitie04First Nations people keep many white raven tales alive in their culture. For them, the white raven can be the “bringers of light” or annoying tricksters. More ominous tales describe them as harbingers of the end of the world.

For me, they’re just another marvel thrown at us by the abundant resourcefulness of nature. They’re so rare, we should enjoy this brief time we have with them. And as I mentioned, they get me thinking of Edgar Allen Poe.

Will we see lots of these white ravens again in the future? Probably not.  As Poe’s raven wisely foretold “Nevermore.”

 

Nevermore

—————————-

I wasn’t able to identify who took the photos for this article. I found them on the web. Apologies to the photographer(s).

Striped Legged Horse? New Cryptid? Old Cryptid? Or Hoax?

NewCreatureIs this the latest Photoshopped hoax? Or a new mythological cryptid? Maybe it’s something more wonderful than that? CryptoVille looks into this mysterious creature to see if it could be real, or another big disappointment.

When I first saw this picture on Facebook, I was sure it was a Photoshopped hoax. What kind of horse has striped legs like a zebra? Or maybe it’s a photoshopped donkey? Do you remember the “Elephant Fish” and the “Goblin Shark”? So I was very skeptical.

Sound the trumpets and begin the flourish of music because this little creature is real! It’s called the Somali Wild Ass and it is an ancestor of today’s donkey. It’s also related to the zebra, hence the stripes on its legs. I was anxious to learn more and if you feel the same way, then read on! (Photos in this article by Ron Magill.)

The Facts

These beautiful creatures live in rocky deserts in very remote areas of East Africa. There are so few left in the wild that it’s feared something like a drought could kill them all off.

The are considered the smallest of the Equidae family (horses, zebras, wild asses) and are ancestors of today’s donkeys. They have a smooth gray coat that can look purple-ish when the light hits it right. They have a bristle-like mane that stands upright, just like zebras. Their bellies are white and they have black striped legs.

The San Diego Wild Animal Park oversees the breeding of these animals, lending them out to zoos around the US for breeding purposes. Scientists feel they have enough of these animals in captivity to keep the wild ass population healthy and free of any inbreeding problems.

somaliwildass02The little foal seen in the photo top right of this article is a female named Hani, after the Somali word for happiness/ joyfulness. She was born at the Miami Zoo in late summer 2012.

Scientists have learned these animals are very social, having relationships within their herds that last a lifetime.

The mares carry their young for eleven months. The foals engage in a lot of play which scientists feel prepare them for many situations later in life.

These animals enjoy excellent vision and hearing. They usually try to outrun anything trying to kill them, but if they must, they can defend themselves with lethal kicks from their strong legs and pointy hooves.

Here are the physical stats on these beautiful animals, courtesy of the San Diego Zoo website:

Life span: Up to 40 years

Gestation: 11 to 12 months

Number of young at birth: Usually 1 every other year

Age of maturity: Up to 2 years for males, 2 to 4 years for females

Length: Average 6.6 feet (2 meters) long

Height: 4.2 to 5.5 feet (1.2 to 1.5 meters) tall at shoulder

Weight: Average 605 pounds (275 kilograms)

Weight at birth: 50 to 60 pounds (23 to 27 kilograms)

MPH: Somali asses have been clocked at 30 mph when running

Somaliwildass04The Somali Asses are herbivores. In the wild, they eat mostly grasses but will dig into some bark, “scrub”, and even some tough desert plants when they must. Like almost all animals, they require a regular source of water in order to survive.

Cold weather apparently comes to North Africa on occasion (who knew?) so the Somali asses grow longer coats to fend off the cold. In the Spring, they molt the excess hair off by rolling on the ground, scratching at themselves, and biting off whatever clumps of hair they can reach.

Scientists say two asses will stand side by side, head to tail, and obligingly nip off excess clumps of hair that their pals can’t reach.

Grooming is important to these animals, and is necessary to keep their skin healthy.

Some History

Mankind has been aware of these beautiful animals for a long time. The Egyptians domesticated them 6,000 years ago! They were also featured in ancient cave paintings found around the North African area.

Spanish explorers brought some domesticated Somali asses to the New World (Southwest US) when they came in the 16th century. The descendants of these animals are what we call burros and they still live in the desert Southwest.

Today they are critically endangered in the wild because they have been hunted for food and their body fat which local tribes believe cures tuberculosis.

Video

Here’s a cute video of Somali Asses in action, courtesy of the St Louis Zoo, October 2013. Just under one minute long.


It’s so wonderful to find such special animals still living among us, and extra nice that science knows all about them! I’m still hopeful the other “special” animals of our world will soon join their ranks and be acknowledged by the scientific community!

Til the next time!

References

http://animals.sandiegozoo.org/animals/somali-wild-ass

https://simplymarvelous.wordpress.com/category/rare-breeds/

http://www.stlzoo.org/animals/abouttheanimals/mammals/hoofedmammals/somaliwildass/

The Mystery of Bigfoot in Britain

BeastofBolamLakeA recent sighting of cryptozoology favorite, Bigfoot, was reportedly seen in Britain and photographed. Could it be true? Could this monster of a beast really live in such a confined and highly populated country?  CryptoVille begins to look into the mystery.

When I first heard of this report, I was skeptical. One thing we know about American Bigfoots is that they require a huge territory with dense areas of vegetation to hide and lots of game to hunt. In fact, some researchers think they may follow migrations of deer through the seasons. (Artist’s rendering of the Beast of Bolam Lake, right.)

Size Matters

Let’s first look at some logistics. Britain would fit inside the state of Texas. While Texas is, I believe, our second largest state in the Union, confining a population of large animals there wouldn’t bode well for them. I know people claim to see Bigfoots in Texas, particularly in the Eastern forested sections. But those creatures are free to roam up into Oklahoma, over to Kentucky, wherever they need to go to find food and water as the seasons dictate.

So my first thought is that a population of Bigfoots large enough to reproduce successfully (i.e., minus inbreeding problems) would be very “squeezed” into an island the size of Britain.

Most Recent Report

The report that jumpstarted this discussion again began in the Friskney Nature Reserve which is in the Northeast section of the country, right along the coast. (See map.) A man named Adam Bird, described as a “Bigfoot enthusiast”, claims to have captured some images of the beast while he was walking through the reserve.

At first he didn’t see the creature, but later, upon examining his photos, he spotted the dark anomaly in the distance.  He claims that he was walking that particular route because he was hearing strange, unidentifiable noises and seeing large footprints.

This is what he said to a reporter for the UK”s Mirror:

“My investigators and I were tipped off that this small patch of woodland in Friskney could be a hotspot for Bigfoot beasts. There is at least one reported sighting here, so we decided to check it out. We stayed there for a few hours that day and felt watched and followed the whole time. I took various photographs throughout the investigation and when I checked back through them, I spotted the creepy picture. It looks like a shadowy figure stood within the trees staring at us from afar.”

My thoughts: one report does not a “hotspot” make. Look at the photos and see for yourself. I don’t think they look “shadowy” nor does it look particularly creepy. I mean it’s broad daylight and the figure is quite far ahead of them. That’s all.

Photo 1

BritBigfoot02

You see the “figure” in the distance. It does look sort of humanoid, but frankly, it could also be a hole in the side of a tree, or something else formed naturally. As per usual in the Bigfoot field, we have another nondescript, hard to decipher photo. For me, this isn’t proof.

Photo 2

BritBigfoot01

The enlargement of the same photo. For me, this doesn’t help at all. That could be anything.

Photo 3

ThePrint

The footprint. The most definite thing about this “evidence” is the line the researchers put around it. I don’t see a whole lot there. What looks like toe indentations continues out both sides of the outline making me think that must just be a natural crack in the dry dirt.

Landscape

Note the landscape in those photos above. Yes, it looks forested, but it also looks pretty barren at the moment. I tried to find out if deer populated the area because in the Americas, deer is the Bigfoot’s protein of choice. What I did discover that this area is so close to the ocean, that tourists come in droves to see all the species of seals that live there.

Could Bigfoot eat seals? Maybe a carcass, but they are pretty slippery when alive and wet, so it seems doubtful.

Another Account

I read an article by Nick Redfern, whom you may know more from his association with UFO hunting. The article is dated 1-19-2, which I’m guessing means January 19, but is it 2002 or 2012? I have no idea.

NickRedfernAnyway, he describes a group of “monster hunters” (called the Centre for Fortean Zoology) that work out of Exeter, England. The group is made up of journalist Jonathan Downes, zoologist Richard Freeman, Graham Inglis, and John Fuller. Nick said they found some interesting evidence for an “ape-man” living in the British Isles.

It seems the investigators were in the area of Bolam Lake when they saw what they call “The Beast of Bolam Lake.” They said it was about eight feet tall, three feet wide (the shoulders?), with dark colored hair.

Nick quotes Downes saying, “We only saw it for a few seconds then it vanished into the trees. This is the latest in a bizarre series of Big Hairy  Man sightings which have confounded zoologists and which have taken place in the UK in the last six months. I have been a professional monster hunter for years but the thing I saw has prompted me to completely re-evaluate my whole world view.”

BeastofBolamLakeNick writes, “The events at Bolam Lake are part of a larger, nationwide spate of similar reports that has included encounters at Cannock Chase, Staffordshire; Sussex; Sherwood Forest of Robin Hood fame; Cumbria; and Longridge Fell, Lancashire – a place renowned for “monster” sightings.” (Artist’s rendering of the Beast of Bolam Lake, right.)

This group also collected hair samples that they were sending to “specialists” in Scotland, England, the USA, and Denmark for testing. No results have been forthcoming which I’m going to assume means the samples were from known animals which is why they didn’t make the news.

Another Viewpoint

I tried to find pictures of this “Beast of Bolam Lake,” not too successfully. But I did find another interesting article by ghost hunter Rob Kirkup. Rob and some friends investigated the area around Bolam Lake hoping to catch a glimpse of the beast. You can read his account here:

http://www.ghostsofthenortheast.co.uk/the-beast-of-bolam-lake.html

The one thing I took away from his account is that he mentions journalist Jonathan Downes as “well respected” and I think Rob means among the paranormal community.

Rob writes, “It’s a lot more likely that this is something paranormal as opposed to a flesh and blood animal. I’ve read a lot of Jon Downes’ work and he believes a lot of the monsters spotted in England are paranormal as there is a lack of places for them to live without being seen, he also says the glowing eyes are a giveaway. There is an iron age fort not far away and legend has it that iron age forts are protected by guardians from another dimension, could the protector be The Beast of Bolam Lake?”

BolamLakeIn all honesty, that’s where they lose me. I know there are strange paranormal occurrences in the world that no one seems able to explain and I intentionally avoid them in CryptoVille because there is no good way to explain any of it, in my opinion. (Bolam Lake, left.)

But without doubt, Bigfoot and his cousins around the world are flesh and blood animals.  So what are people seeing in the Bolam Lake area? Well, if it’s not a flesh and blood animal, maybe it’s a demon or something. I don’t go in for this shapeshifting stuff very much.

Bottom Line

I appreciate Adam Bird’s enthusiasm for the creature. In fact, he said he saw what we call a Skunk Ape in Florida when he was younger and was visiting there on vacation. That fueled his desire to search his native Britain for another cousin of the big hairy guy.

That said, my focus is on finding top quality evidence that we can share with the scientific community which will prove the existence of this creature(s) once and for all. I don’t see that here. I don’t see that in any of the reports/accounts I’ve read so far. In fact this latest report opens up more questions than it answers.

detective girlIf anyone ever finds scientifically sound evidence that “Britfoot” exists, then I’ll be just as happy as the next Bigfoot lover. But until then, I must remain skeptical as to the existence of Bigfoot in Britain.

I’d love to hear what my British readers have to say about this. Have you heard any other stories or reports along these lines through the years?

Til the next time!

 

References

http://www.ghostsofthenortheast.co.uk/the-beast-of-bolam-lake.html

http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/weird-news/bigfoot-britain-mysterious-figure-lurking-4731307

http://www.rense.com/general33/britfoote.htm

 

Newly Found Giant Penguin!

dr_daniel_thomas_holds_a_thigh_bone_from_the_fossi_547789b430Note to universities: time to have a clear-out of your storage areas!! They did at Auckland University and they found some very interesting stuff! Cryptozoology lovers will find this account amazing and frustrating as science slowly and painfully uncovers a monster from our past.

This is one of those tales that leaves you rolling your eyes. How does a fossil of a potentially new species of bird get lost in storage at a major university? For over 40 years?! (Photo above right of Dr. Thomas holding the thigh bone of the new species.)

Well it happened in New Zealand at Auckland University. Someone must have been having a look around the storage shed and discovered the fossilized bones of a very large bird. Scientists are able to tell that this bird was likely a deep sea diver, like the Emperor penguin, and it too would have been a tasty meal for sharks and dolphins.

DrThomasDr. Daniel Thomas (photo left) took the bones and scanned them, sending the results to a paleontologist in America who printed the image using 3D printing. Everyone was surprised to find these were the bones of what appears to be a VERY large penguin. At the moment they can’t determine if it was an adult or a juvenile.

Dr. Thomas said the bird measured 4 feet 3 inch (1.3 m) tall! Compare that to an Emperor penguin, currently the largest in existence, who reaches about a foot less in height.  In 2012 scientists  discovered the remains of another extinct penguin, the Kairuku, but this bird was smaller than the new giant species.

According to The New Zealand Herald, “… the new species was the first of its kind to be found on North Island, and the specimen dates back 28 million years to a time when New Zealand was largely underwater.”

At the time of my posting this article, there are no sketches or drawings of what this new species would have looked like.

Dr. Thomas said the storage shed is full of other items that may also lead to more fantastic revelations about the Earth’s past. He said, “It turned out there was a raft of other specimens as well – it was a treasure trove of some really incredible stuff.”

GiantPenguinsSo Much for Curiosity

What gets me about this situation is how a university full of scientists managed to ignore the pile in the storage shed for so long. Was no one curious? And you know if it happened in Auckland, it’s happening at every university around the world.

So now I’m thinking about American universities in particular. Are they inadvertently sitting on great discoveries too? Might there be some actual evidence that Bigfoot exists? Or that giant birds are still circling over our planet?

I realize some of these fossils and data have been put aside because at the time of their discoveries, technology wasn’t advanced enough to aid in determining what was actually found. But doesn’t anyone keep records of this stuff? Does no one review these things periodically?

Apparently not. Shame on them.

ATTENTION ALL UNIVERSITIES: It’s time to have a clear-out of all your obscure storage facilities! You owe it to the cause of science and the advancement of human knowledge!

CommunityCleanup-300x300

 

 

Ok, now I’m getting off my soap box.

Til the next time!

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