Archive for Cryptozoology

Did Leif Erikson Really Find Bigfoot?

VikingsBigfoot04Plots don’t get more twisted and convoluted than this one! Did legendary explorer Leif Erikson encounter Bigfoot on his voyage to the New World? Many sources say so. One scholar casts some doubts so CryptoVille investigates – the Truth!

I stumbled across a very interesting and provocative article the other day that I wanted to share with you. I will be quoting from it extensively throughout this post. The article, found on the Skeptical Humanities website, is called For the Love of Yeti, Bigfooters, Read a Primary Source!

The author is Eve Siebert. Who is she? A graduate of Saint Louis University who holds a Ph.D. in English Literature. Her specialty is Old and Middle English literature, but she also has “secondary concentrations” in Old Norse and Shakespeare.  The specialty in Old Norse literature is the key component for today’s analysis.

VikingsBigfoot01What Passes for Canon

How many times have we read about the earliest sighting of Bigfoot attributed to Leif Erikson during his historic voyage to the New World? You don’t see it a lot, but it’s out there often enough and has become part of the canon of Bigfoot lore.

We may have been duped. I’m not suggesting anyone intentionally tried to dupe us, but let’s just say their research was fraught with problems.

To Date or Not To Date

Siebert begins her article recalling how a TV program “Ancient Mysteries: Bigfoot” retold the tale of Erickson encountering Bigfoot in 986. She points out that the year 986 is always mentioned in these accounts but she never found the source for that error.  And it’s a big error because as it turns out, Leif Erikson wasn’t born yet in 986 and his father hadn’t yet settled in Greenland. We have to remember the Vikings traveled from Iceland to Greenland and then finally to Vinland in the New World.

Another important factor is the fact the Vikings didn’t write in journals. They only had a runic alphabet, and as Siebert points out they were unlikely to bring large boulders with them on the ship just to tap out the day’s events. The sagas weren’t written until centuries afterward.

VikingsBigfoot02Saga Synopsis

In Siebert’s article we learn that two sagas refer to the Norse discovery of America:

Greenlander’s Saga: Leif’s voyage to the New World is mentioned briefly. All he seems to find of significance are grapes and vines so he names the new land Vinland. It’s reported that Leif sees salmon that were quite large.

Saga of Eric the Red: Again, Leif’s voyage to the New World is briefly mentioned and it recalls  his discovery of Vinland and how he named it. Nothing about animals or creatures in this text.

Nothing about Bigfoot sightings, footprints, growls, odors, or anything. Hmm.

Other References

Author Siebert shares a few other references in books and blogs where this erroneous information is put forth as historical fact, and sometimes embellished. She recalls how the Vikings are referred to in one article as Berserkers and they were nothing of the kind. Though they had a history of being raiders as we know them stereotypically, in this case, Leif and his crew were explorers.

The misunderstandings and misinterpretations seem to take on a life of their own.

VikingsBigfoot03What is the Truth?

Siebert believes the misunderstanding stems from Peter Byrne’s book, The Search for Big Foot: Monster, Myth or Man? In his book, Byrne draws from Samuel Eliot Morison’s book The European Discovery of America: The Northern Voyages, A.D. 500-1600. Ironically, Morison never mentioned Bigfoot in his text.

So what happened?

It seems that Byrne misunderstood the word “skellring.” He said it means barbarian but then asks, why did the Norse describe them as hairy? Byrne figures it was because they were Bigfoots – a lot hairier than humans in any era.

In Morison’s account, he describes the Skrellings (proper spelling) the Norse found in the New World as horribly ugly, hairy, swarthy, with great black eyes. But in his account, he’s describing the natives, not another bipedal hominid.  Furthermore, Morison never recounts any encounters between Leif and any sort of animal whatsoever.

Siebert sums it up this way, “So how did humans become Bigfoot? Well, first Morison retold the sagas in a slightly odd way. Byrne seized on one word and ignored everything else Morison said, while making several mistakes. Others have dismissed Byrne’s reservations but repeated his mistakes, while adding their own (anyone who uses the word “Skellring” has clearly gotten their information from Byrne, either directly or indirectly). The same mistakes get repeated religiously until they become established fact. And no one, not even Byrne, bothers to look at the actual sagas.

Oh brother. There is a lot of truth in this for people like me who love cryptozoology, who hunt the internet trying to gather facts and information to share with my readers about the monsters we love, and who can inadvertently fall prey to misinformation.

LessonsLearnedLessons Learned

I think I’ve said this to my readers before – we all must be careful what we read on the internet and we should vet the sources.  Are the writers qualified?

I promise you, I do try to get to the bottom of the topics in my articles and find the absolute truth. I most always seek scientific documents because I believe science is the key to understanding our natural (and cryptid) world.

I think the best thing we can do is proceed with prudence and a healthy dose of skepticism.

I’m glad to know the truth about Leif Erikson and the story of his seeing Bigfoot in America. But this doesn’t mean Bigfoot doesn’t exist, it just means Leif didn’t see it/them as far as anyone knows.  And that’s fine. We’ve currently got plenty of sightings and clues pointing to the existence of this creature today and that’s really exciting!

If you’ve read my Bigfoot articles, you’ll know I believe!

So what do you think about all this?

References

http://skepticalhumanities.com/tag/leif-eiriksson/?blogsub=confirming#subscribe-blog

http://sonsofnorwayblog.blogspot.com/2009/10/happy-leif-eriksson-day.html

 

 

 

 

Mogollon Monster of Arizona

Mogollon01I stumbled upon another strange creature lurking in the American West – this time in Arizona’s mountain region. It’s called the Mogollon Monster. Researchers make the case it’s another Bigfoot based on eyewitness reports and evidence gathered in the wild. Is this creature bringing us closer to the truth about Bigfoot, or is it just another disappointment? CryptoVille investigates!

Facts about this creature are about as rare as the monster itself! I struggled to find what I felt was some solid information about this beast. The few accounts I did find all seemed to regurgitate the  description found on Wikipedia. (Unknown Artist’s rendition above right.)

That said, if you are new to this creature, I’ll present the basic description here, based on Wiki’s explanation then give you my humble opinion.

What is a Mogollon Monster?

The Mogollon (pronounced something like mo-gee-ohn) Monster is named for the area of Arizona where it’s seen, the Mogollon Rim. This rim sits atop a mountain range and seems like a Bigfoot-friendly environment with its Ponderosa forests and Pinyon-Juniper woodlands.

MogollonMonster04Witnesses describe this creature as bipedal and covered with hair everywhere but on the face, hands, feet, and chest. They report that the hair is “black or reddish brown,” and that it’s long.  The beast stands around 7 feet tall and has large eyes often said to be red. It also smells terrible, not unlike its other Bigfoot cousins. (Artwork left by Scott Davis.)

Reports state that the creature is highly territorial and can, at times, be quite violent. They seem to be nocturnal and like many apex predators, seem to be omnivorous.

People report that the creature walks with huge strides, swinging its arms, and can mimic animal calls such as those of  birds and coyotes. They whistle in the forests and researchers have found nests they attribute to this beast, made out of “pine needles, twigs, and leaves.”

People claim the monster has raided their campsites looking for food, and that they have had stones thrown at them from the forest. A few people have reported hearing a terrible cry coming from the woods, sounding like “a woman in ‘great distress’.”

(Photo right of the Mogollon Rim.)

MogollonRimViewHWWitness Accounts

Wiki shares the following reports with us:

In a 1903 edition of The Arizona Republican, someone named I.W. Stevens reported seeing the creature near the Grand Canyon. “[It had] long white hair and matted beard that reached to his knees. It wore no clothing, and upon his talon-like fingers were claws at least two inches long.” He apparently got closer to it and reported, “Upon further inspection he noted ‘a coat of gray hair nearly covered his body, with here and there a spot of dirty skin showing.” He saw the creature drinking the blood from two felled cougars and when it saw him, it picked up a club and screamed at him.

Don Davis, who went on to become a cryptozoologist, saw the creature in the mid-1940s during a Boy Scout trip. He said, “The creature was huge. Its eyes were deep set and hard to see, but they seemed expressionless. His face seemed pretty much devoid of hair, but there seemed to be hair along the sides of his face. His chest, shoulders, and arms were massive, especially the upper arms; easily upwards of 6 inches in diameter, perhaps much, much more . I could see he was pretty hairy, but didn’t observe really how thick the body hair was. The face/head was very square; square sides and squared up chin, like a box.”

Mogollon03The Native American people living in that area, the White Mountain Apache Nation, have had encounters as well. In 2006, Collette Altaha said, “We’re not prone to easily talk to outsiders, but there have been more sightings than ever before. It cannot be ignored any longer.” Marjorie Grimes, a resident of nearby Whiteriver, said, “It was all black and it was tall! The way it walked; it was taking big strides. I put on the brakes and raced back and looked between the two trees where it was, and it was gone!”

Tribal police lieutenant Ray Burnette said, “A couple of times they’ve seen this creature looking through the windows. They’re scared when they call. The calls we’re getting from people – they weren’t hallucinating, they weren’t drunks, they weren’t people that we know can make hoax calls. They’re from real citizens of the Fort Apache Indian Reservation.”

There are some Native American legends that deal with this creature. Here’s a synopsis of those:

  1. A prehistoric tribe exiled their chief. Angry, he prayed to his spirits to transform him into a “hirsute bogeyman” in order to scare his rebellious tribe. He still lives today, defending his territory.
  2. A rival stole the chief’s wife, so to get his revenge, the chief had the medicine man transform the thief into the horrible creature.
  3. Some Indians attacked a pioneer who managed to get away into the woods where he went insane and was cursed by the spirits. (Presumably turning into the Mogollon Monster.)
  4. A white man murdered an Indian woman. He was punished by being “hung from a tree by his hands, stretched to a height of eight feet, then skinned alive, and left to die.” (This according to the Weird US) He continues to roam the woods, presumably as the Mogollon Monster.

Mogollon04Ongoing Research

From what I can tell the ongoing research into this creature’s existence seems pretty sparse. One man who was trying to get the research going was Mitchell Waite (photo right). Unfortunately, he passed away earlier this year. Hopefully his partner Susan Farns will continue with their efforts. The link to their website is in my reference section, Mogollon Monster.

The BFRO website lists a bunch of sightings around Arizona. If you want to check those out, the link is in my references section below.

More Recent Sightings

According to the website Cryptozoology News, a young woman was hiking the Canyon Point trail around New Years of last year when she had her sighting of the creature. Her name is Y. Estevez and she said, “It was on its knees, drinking water, when I found it. Drinking, making noises like a pig, so at first sight the animal looked like a pig to me.”

Mogollon Rim Visitor Center OverlookShe further explained that she liked to take pictures of all the animals she encounters when she’s hiking so she pulled out her camera to get some shots of this pig-thing. She said, “I figured it was just a pig … kind of hairy though, which seemed a little odd for a hog. As soon as I made a little noise, the animal turned its head and looked directly at me. Now that’s when I freaked out. It was staring at me.” (Photo above left from Mogollon Rim Visitor Center.)

Trying to scare off the animal, she began to make noise and wave her arms about trying to appear larger than she was. “The creature gets off its four legs and stands on its hind legs. It had long hair, grey and bluish, and I swear it looked like one of those trolls from a fairy tale. Ugly stuff. The face was human looking, no hair on it, but full of bumps. The eyes were kind of a brown-red. Thick big nose, small lips. No expression on its face at all. It then took off running like a person.”

News Report

At Halloween of last year, Fox10Phoenix interviewed Mitchell Waite for nearly five minutes. It’s interesting and I have to give kudos to the news team for reporting the story intelligently without the usual giggles and winks that drive me crazy.

Here’s that video:


 

What To Make of All This

The fact that the living Native Americans see and experience this creature to the point where they call their police department tells me something is happening in that area. I thought the report by hiker Y. Estevez was very compelling too – her report sounds genuine and believable.

I perused the photos on the Mogollon Monster site and while they’re interesting, they are all still too blurry and poorly defined to ever convince the scientific community. If it won’t convince the scientific community at large, then it’s useless.

It seems very possible that we have another Bigfoot relative calling this area home, at least some parts of the year. But as always, it’s going to take some serious and sustained research to get the evidence we need – clear, indisputable evidence.

What do you think about this creature?

Fun Fact:  Artist Trent Penrod of Pinetop’s Burly Bear mountain gift shop has used a chainsaw to sculpt five statues of the infamous Mogollon Monster. Five towns along the Mogollon Rim put one of the sculptures on their Main Streets to acknowledge and celebrate the local legend. (See photo below, taken by the artist himself.)

Mogollon02

References

http://mogollonmonster.com/

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

http://cryptozoologynews.com/mogollon-monster-startles-hiker-arizona/

http://www.weirdus.com/states/arizona/bizarre_beasts/mongollon_monster/index.php

http://www.thecryptocrew.com/2014/06/interview-with-mogollon-monster.html

http://www.ioanthem.com/index.php/get-out-mainmenu-85/1115–monster-sightings

http://www.thecryptocrew.com/2014/06/interview-with-mogollon-monster.html

http://cryptidz.wikia.com/wiki/Mogollon_Monster

http://www.arizonaedventures.com/things-to-see-do/arizona-top-ten/scary-arizona/

http://www.bfro.net/GDB/state_listing.asp?state=az

Remember the Night Crawler from the Fact or Faked Show?

NightCrawler01Video analyst and debunker Phil Poling, known through his channel on YouTube, ParaBreakdown, thinks he has solved the mysterious case of the Night Crawler seen on the TV show Fact or Faked. Does his analysis pass the test? Or could there still be more to this story than meets the eye?

I was a big fan of the TV show Fact or Faked because I appreciated the fact they tried to get to the bottom of some mysterious video phenomena. Many times they were able to debunk things, and other times, they were unsuccessful. But at least they tried. (Photo above right taken from their video, with an added arrow.)

Unsolved Mystery

The case of the Night Crawler of Fresno, CA was one of the unsolved mysteries. When you watch the video, it shows two bizarre figures that seem to be walking on stilts through a man’s yard late one night. His dogs would go crazy around the same time each night so he put up security cameras to try and record what was happening in his yard.

NightCrawler02The video we saw on Fact or Faked was from that security camera which also means it was poor quality, very grainy, and poorly lit (See part of that segment left). Still, my first thought upon seeing it was that this video shows the stupidest hoax I’d seen in a long time and I was astonished when the team chose that video as one of the two they were going to investigate. I would have left it on the cutting room floor.

Their efforts were interesting but I remember being most impressed with the interview they did with the homeowner. He only spoke Spanish so Jael de Pardo was able to fill in as translator. I thought the man’s body language and facial expressions were telling – he genuinely seemed afraid by these nightly occurrences.

It could be that someone was hoaxing him and he just didn’t know it. But it sure was strange. Honestly, my crypto-loving little brain has been mulling over this episode of Fact or Faked ever since. I was even thinking of doing some research to see if there had been anymore sightings of these dopey stilted creatures anywhere else.

ParaBreakdown’s Opinion

PhilPolingThen along comes Phil Poling (photo right) and his analysis on ParaBreakdown.  Phil seems to be an expert in video analysis and I always appreciate that in his reviews on any cryptozoological topic. He explains why the video quality is such a mess – if you can believe it was actually made worse by some well-intentioned individuals.

Phil set about imitating the creature in the film in his own backyard. The truth is, he did a pretty good job. It’s not exactly like we saw in the original video, but it’s pretty close.

Here’s that 8 minute video:

 

 

One commentator below his video mentioned that he hadn’t accounted for shadows and things that were found in the original video. I think more to the point was the fact he got the look of and the action of the “Nightcrawler” pretty accurately.

Another ParaBreakdown commentator said that just because he (Phil) could reproduce what was shown in the video doesn’t mean that the entity isn’t real. I guess that’s true to a certain extent. I would believe it more if we were looking at a strange Bigfoot video because in my mind there is so much evidence pointing to the fact that this creature actually does exist. So if someone makes a lousy video of one it certainly doesn’t mean that Bigfoot isn’t real – at least in my opinion.

However, there aren’t that many Nightcrawler videos or stories, to my knowledge. The fact that this thing just looks so unreal probably points to the fact that it is not.

So what do you think about the “Nightcrawler” and Phil Poling’s analysis? Do you believe?

HELP SOLVE A MYSTERY

The photo below shows a sculpture in wood purportedly showing a Nightcrawler. However, no one knows where these statues stand. There are several of them.

Do you know where these things are? Please share below if you do (or email me).

NightcrawlerStatue

 

 

Cutest Cryptid Ever! Meet the New Octopus

Normally cryptozoology describes big, fierce, and intimidating monsters. Not this time! Science is struggling to come up with a name for this very cute little octopus – another wonder from the deep dark ocean that was recently found! Have a look!

Scientist Stephanie Bush of the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI) has been studying this very cute and elusive little octopus. She was so struck by its sweetness that she’s tempted to name it Opistoteuthis adorabilis. So far she has established that it belongs to the Opistoteuthis family of octopi, but is still categorizing it further.

In the 1990s other scientists found samples of this animal but didn’t find a live specimen until recently. Because this is such a deep sea creature, the requirements to sustain its life are tricky.

That’s where the aquarium part of this organization comes in. They’ve created a wonderful environment for this little cutie that mimics conditions far below the ocean’s surface. It seems to be thriving, so much so, that it thought the environment safe enough to lay some eggs!

Scientists have gathered the eggs for safe-keeping and anticipate the day when they eventually hatch. Until then, Stephanie has her hands full studying the live specimen.

Check out the video from MBARI, a little over five minutes long:

 


 

References

http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/speaking-of-science/wp/2015/06/17/the-cutest-octopus-ever-may-end-up-with-the-name-adorabilis/?wpisrc=nl_science&wpmm=1

 

Two New Species of Horny Marsupials Found in Australia

AntechinusMainland01Has evolution gone mad, or is something else destroying these strange little marsupials native to Australia? It seems they engage in mating behavior until they literally drop dead! CryptoVille had to investigate this one because though they aren’t technically cryptids, their behavior is definitely strange!

The good news is that Australian scientists have discovered two “new” tiny marsupial species of antechinus. The bad news is that these carnivorous little guys go mad when mating season rolls around.  They fiercely compete with other males for females then go into a mating frenzy for such an extended time that they eventually die from the effort. (Photo above right shows Mainland Dusky Antechinus.)

The two news species of marsupials found are the Tasman Dusky Antechinus (Antechinus vandycki) which lives in a remote area of Tasmania, and the Mainland Dusky Antechinus (Antechinus swainsonii mimetes) which lives in eastern Australia. The Tasman Dusky Antechinus averages 5 inches long and weighs about 3 ounces. The Mainland Dusky Antechinus, the largest antechinus in this family, weighs just under a pound and can reach nearly 4 feet long (which must include the tail).

YowieVsBigfootAndrew Baker, the lead researcher in the study says, “Uncovering new mammals in developed countries like Australia is pretty rare and the fact we’ve found even more antechinus species hints at the biodiversity jewels still waiting to be unearthed.”  (Wait until they find the Yowie! :) )

Baker adds, “The breeding period is basically two to three weeks of speed-mating, with testosterone-fueled males coupling with as many females as possible, for up to 14 hours at a time. Ultimately, the testosterone triggers a malfunction in the stress hormone shut-off switch; the resulting rise in stress hormones causes the males’ immune systems to collapse and they all drop dead before the females give birth to a single baby.”

I know “love hurts,” but this is crazy! This must be the reason why at least one of the species is on the endangered list, right? They lose half their population every year!

LoveHurtsNazarethGuess again.

Scientists tell us that halving the population every year ensures that the mother antechinuses will be able to find enough spiders and insects to feed their offspring.

So how is it that they’re endangered, then? Turns out their habitats are being decimated by you know who.

AntechinusTasman01According to Baker, “Most of its [Tasman Peninsula Dusky antechinus pictured left] limited habitat falls within state forest, which is being logged. This species now apparently only lives in tiny, fragmented stands of intact forest that are under threat. It’s a shame that mere moments after discovery, these little Tasmanian marsupials are threatened with extinction at human hands.”

The scientists’ goal is to have these animals added to the roster of Australia’s federal threatened species list. That may help them survive.

The Mainland Dusky Antechinus is listed on the Least Concerned list, which means it isn’t endangered. At the moment.

Seriously, they think we’re crazy for believing in Bigfoot, and yet look at the weirdness Mother Nature throws our way!

Til the next time!

References

http://www.sci-news.com/biology/science-antechinus-new-species-australia-02866.html

http://www.sciencealert.com/scientists-find-new-species-of-marsupial-that-mate-themselves-to-death

http://thewebsiteofeverything.com/animals/mammals/Dasyuromorphia/Dasyuridae/Antechinus/Antechinus-swainsonii.html

NASA’s Saucer Shaped Craft!

nasa-flying-saucerUFO Hunters be advised that now NASA is launching saucer-shaped craft of their own! What could it mean for the future of space travel? What will it do to the search for UFOs? CryptoVille ponders this latest development!

NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory explained the reason for creating enlarged, disc shaped craft (artist’s rendition right) this way, “As NASA plans ambitious robotic science missions to Mars, laying the groundwork for even more complex human expeditions to come, the spacecraft needed to land safely on the Red Planet’s surface will become larger and heavier in order to accommodate explorer’s extended stays on the Martian surface.”

The launch, originally planned for today has been postponed until Thursday (today) due to high wave conditions in the planned landing zone in the Pacific ocean. When it does launch, the Low-Density Supersonic Decelerator  will take-off from Hawaii’s U.S. Navy Pacific Missile Range Facility in Kauai whereupon a huge high-altitude weather balloon will carry it into the stratosphere.

Once aloft the balloon and vehicle will disconnect at 120,000 feet. Then the vehicle will accelerate to three (or four – I’ve read conflicting reports) times the speed of sound until it reaches its goal of approximately 34 miles (180000 feet) above the Earth’s surface. From there an airbag will inflate around the saucer and a huge parachute will deploy, both aimed at slowing down the vehicle as it lands in the Pacific Ocean. NASA plans to retrieve the vehicle and its data from the ocean.

This vehicle is considered roomy by space craft standards and will easily haul much needed equipment, supplies, and crew to all the Martian expeditions. The trick is getting it to land on Mars safely.

mars-memes-curisoity-martianThe Problem with Mars

Mars’ atmosphere is much thinner than ours and that makes landing gently problematic. It’s hoped that by using a new parachute technology called the Supersonic Ringsail Parachute, gentle, safe landings will become a reality.

NASA stated, “We want to see if the chute can successfully deploy and decelerate the test vehicle while it is in supersonic flight.”

This current saucer-shaped vehicle is 15 feet wide, weighs 6,808 pounds (3,088 Kg) and the parachute (the largest ever used) is 100 feet (30 m) in diameter.

UFO Complications

It isn’t enough that we’re dealing with drones all over the place now, and remotely operated vehicles, now we’re going to be seeing even stranger weather balloons, huge parachutes, and good grief – saucer-shaped craft in the skies! Further complicating the search for a genuine ET is all the Earth science that we know about and some that hasn’t yet been discovered, especially of the electromagnetic variety.

RED HERRINGWhat’s a UFO hunter to do? I guess it pays to be prudent. When we see things in the sky and elsewhere, give it an honest assessment. Could it possibly be something else? If so, err on that possibility.

By weeding out these “red herrings” we’ll be closer to finding the true ETs and their flying  machines.

As for humanity and our ability to travel into space, this is a great achievement on NASA’s part. We have to lose those stupid tubular rockets and create craft that are more Star Trek-worthy. That’s the only way we can safely “go where no one has gone before.”

What do you think about NASA’s new craft?

References

http://time.com/3904665/nasa-flying-saucer-mars-mission/

http://news.yahoo.com/nasa-test-supersonic-parachutes-flying-saucer-launch-200311597.html

http://www.foxnews.com/science/2015/06/01/nasa-preps-revolutionary-flying-saucer-test-flight/

Hobbits, Cannibals, and Ebu Gogos – Oh My!

HFlores01Animal Planet brought us another mix of legend, historical fact, and speculation last week with its movie, Cannibal in the Jungle. The difference with this one is that it was very interesting. So CryptoVille set about exploring the possibilities and what we can really know about hobbit fossils, whether they committed cannibalism, and just what the heck is an Ebu Gogo! (Image right by John Gurche from National Museum of Natural History.)

What is an Ebu Gogo?

The Animal Planet movie tried to link the historical fossil record concerning the Hobbit people with a very old legend that spans most of Southeast Asia – that of the Wildman.  In the Indonesian version of this story, on the island of Flores, the Nage people call the creature Ebu Gogo (meaning grandmother who eats anything) and it certainly has had a tumultuous and confusing history.

The creature itself is man-like in appearance, only much hairier. I’ve read where they can stand about 3 feet tall. Their broad faces sport wide mouths and flat noses. Both males and females have been seen.

HFlores03Residents of Flores say they have heard the Ebu Gogos speaking what the Nage think is their own language. They say the Ebu Gogos can repeat words that are said to them.  (Artist’s rendition of H. floresiensis, left.)

Whatever happened to them is still a mystery, but they do not seem to be around today, at least to anyone’s knowledge. Some Nage think they disappeared in the 17th Century soon after the Portuguese trading ships arrived on Flores.

Others say the Nage themselves exterminated them after the Ebu Gogos kept stealing food from their homes and kidnapping their children. According to this version, the villagers tricked the Ebu Gogos into accepting many palm fibers so they could make clothes out of them. The Ebu Gogo took the fibers back to their cave whereupon the villagers set the cave alight, killing most if not all of them.

Greg Forth’s Opinion

Greg Forth is an ethnographer (a scientist who studies individual cultures as a part of anthropology) at the University of Alberta, Canada. He wrote a very interesting article in Anthropology Today on the subject of the Ebu Gogo based on his experiences on the island of Flores. (I was unable to access this article without paying a large fee. However, John Hawks [a Vila-Borghesi Distinguished Achievement Professor of Anthropology at the University of Wisconsin, Madison] discussed this article on his blog in 2005, so I was able to learn more there.)

HFlores04In his article, Greg explored the possibility that the Ebu Gogo may “actually [be] a preserved memory of relict populations of Homo floresiensis.” (Photo right unattributed.)

He compared this situation to the one we have with Bigfoot and asks the question, why do we not listen to the native peoples in the area?

We’ve been asking the same question here in CryptoVille for years!

Sadly, in his commentary on Greg’s article, John mentions that in modern times, anthropology has changed course a bit and is not as interested in studying the evolution of culture as we might hope. This is a problem because the Ebu Gogo, if it still exists today, by description is more human-like than a Bigfoot is, or another Southeast Asian “Wildman,” the Orang Pendek. Culture evolved along with humans and used to be an important area of study among anthropologists.

If it is more human-like, than it could be closer to the Hobbit people, H. floresiensis themselves, if not the exact same species.

HFloresCaveWhat is Homo floresiensis

In 2003 on the island of Flores in Indonesia, a group of scientists discovered an amazing creature, her remains hidden for eons in a cave in Liang Bua (Photo left). They named this new species Homo floresiensis, nicknamed “the Hobbit” because of its small stature.

This first fossil of a female, referred to as LB1, is the most complete found so far. Science tells us she stood 3 feet tall (1 meter) and weighed between 66 and 77 pounds (30-35 kg). They estimate she was 30 years old when she died.

Scientists believe this species had “large teeth for their small size, shrugged-forward shoulders, no chins, receding foreheads, and relatively large feet due to their short legs. Despite their small body and brain size, H. floresiensis made and used stone tools, hunted small elephants and large rodents, coped with predators such as giant Komodo dragons, and may have used fire.”

The Smithsonian Institution believes LB1 and her kind lived between 95,000 and 17,000 years ago. Other scientists have wondered if she is an offshoot of Homo erectus or a separate unique species.

MicrocephalyCritics countered that LB1 is just a human with microcephaly (a medical condition in which the circumference of the head is smaller than normal because the brain has not developed properly or has stopped growing. It can be present at birth or develop in the first few years of life, according to Google).

Tests and comparisons had been run on LB1’s skull until finally it was determined that her brain was fully developed for its size. The Hobbit brain would have taken up 26 cubic inches, whereas our brains, Homo sapiens, take up 79 cubic inches.

Charles Choi, a contributor to the LiveScience website, wrote, “Another possibility is that the hobbit evolved from Homo habilis, whose brains were only about 600 cubic cm (37 cubic inches).”

Found with the Hobbit

Along with LB1’s remains, the scientists discovered bird fossils of a six foot tall stork called the marabou stork. Three wrist bones were also found further making the case that H. floresiensis is its own species, and not a branch of something else. Some researchers have reported that they think the wrist bones of these creatures resemble those of apes more than humans, but I suppose if these hominids were evolving, that wouldn’t be unexpected.

HFlores05According to the Smithsonian Institute, “Paleoanthropologists found many stone tools associated with H. floresiensis and these tools are broadly similar to those found earlier on Flores and throughout the human evolutionary career. [Sic] There is also evidence that  H. floresiensis selectively hunted Stegodon sondaari (an extinct type of elephant) as hundreds of these bone fragments are found within H. floresiensis occupation layers and some of these S. sondaari bones show butchery marks.” (Photo right of other bones found in the same cave as LB1, along with stegodont teeth.)

Were They Cannibals

Science doesn’t know enough about them to say whether they were or not. The Nage legend seems to imply they may have been by saying they stole the Nage’s children. Why? One account said that was so the children could teach the “Ebu Gogo” to cook, but that seems bizarre to me.

There is still much more to learn about this species, but nowadays most scientists believe that H. floresiensis represents its own unique species of early human.

Does that mean this is the creature mistaken for the Ebu Gogo?

HFloresSizeCompareI suppose it’s possible. From what I read, in the days before H. floresiensis was discovered, anthropologists believed the Ebu Gogo legend was based on some type of monkey.

But with the discovery of this new species, some, like Gregory Forth, have speculated that the Ebu Gogo, and other “Wildman” creatures such as the Orang Pendek, may actually be based on long term cultural memories of H. floresiensis.

It’s important to remember that the Nage people feel the Ebu Gogo aren’t around anymore and I believe they would know better than anyone. So while H. floresiensis is a wonderful discovery and adds another fascinating chapter to evolutionary history, I am satisfied that this species is long gone and no longer bothering humans.

The Movie

I think Animal Planet did a nice job with this movie – it was very interesting, compelling, and enjoyable. They based their story on facts and legend and wove it into a fun plot. For instance, the fact that the scientists were looking for a very rare owl species is based on a real species, the Otus alfredi, known as the Scops owl.

This owl, described as “one of the world’s most elusive owls” lives on Flores, Indonesia. Here’s a photo of one:

ScopsOwl

I thought their make-up people did a wonderful job bringing H. floresiensis to life – scary and realistic!

But rest assured, the whole story was pure fiction, acted from a script. The fact it was loosely based on legends and some scientific data was fascinating.

HFlores06

So what do you think about all this? Did you like the movie? Do you still think H. floresiensis may still exist?

References

http://humanorigins.si.edu/evidence/human-fossils/species/homo-floresiensis

http://www.theguardian.com/science/2014/aug/16/flores-hobbit-human-downs-syndrome-claim-homo-floresiensis

http://www.livescience.com/29100-homo-floresiensis-hobbit-facts.html

http://www.nature.com/news/the-discovery-of-homo-floresiensis-tales-of-the-hobbit-1.16197

http://www.smithsonianmag.com/science-nature/ten-years-flores-hobbit-human-evolution-fossil-puzzle-180953108/

http://johnhawks.net/weblog/fossils/flores/forth_2005_ebu_gogo.html

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

http://www.birdlife.org/europe-and-central-asia/news/rare-indonesian-owl-photographed-danes

http://www.animalplanet.com/tv-shows/cannibal-in-the-jungle/about-the-film/

Survivorman Bigfoot: Les Stroud with Randy Brisson and Sonja Episode S6 E7

LesStroudSurvivormanBFThe search for Bigfoot/ Sasquatch continues as Les Stroud brings us another interesting episode. But do fuzzy photos, strange calls, a hoaxing experiment, and spiritual search techniques bring us any closer to the beast itself? CryptoVille reviews this episode.

In this episode of Les Stroud’s Survivorman Bigfoot series, he takes us to an unnamed forest in America that looks like the Pacific Northwest to me. He brings two guest researchers with him, Randy Brisson and his colleague Sonja (I’m sorry I didn’t catch her last name). (Photo top right from an earlier episode of Survivorman Bigfoot.)

Randy Brisson is described in other sources as a cryptozoologist from Canada. He previously brought what were referred to as “Baby Bigfoot Prints” to the cryptozoological consciousness that were also considered controversial.

Face in the Woods

His latest addition to Bigfoot lore is the face in the woods. At the time he took the photo, Randy and his son were able to snap a photo of it, but as it was pelting them with rocks, they were unable to take any more photos. Critics have said that he should have had a video camera with him and taken footage of the creature retreating from the area. If he’s a regular Bigfoot researcher, you would think he’d have a video camera with him, so that is strange.

But let’s look at the photo itself. This is the best version of it I could find on the internet, and as such, it is quite out of focus. But we’re still able to see what looks like a face in the center of a tree trunk covered with green moss.

BigfootFaceInWoods

 

My first thought was that Bigfoots don’t have bangs/fringe. The face was quite round, as opposed to most descriptions of what Bigfoot’s face looks like with a heavy jaw and deep-set eyes. Yes, those eyes  – they don’t look real to me. (This photo didn’t copy well. In the one I copied, you could see the eyes; the image was brighter.)

So as far as I’m concerned, we can throw out this piece of “evidence.”

dr_jeffrey_meldrumHoaxing Jeff Meldrum

I was very disappointed in this aspect of Les’ search. I can understand that he wanted to test the experts and see if they could identify a good hoax, but I thought it was disrespectful of this professor who already puts himself out on a limb with his scientific colleagues for the Bigfoot cause.

Testing him in a “sting” just stinks in my opinion. The professor came through – he was polite and gracious, but he clearly had doubts about the veracity of the hoaxed footprint. Good for him!

Les mentioned that he spent upwards of $10,000 to have these hoaxed feet made, so that’s not something your average hoaxer could do.  Still, it doesn’t set a good precedent as far as I’m concerned, and I hated that Les did this.

BigfootByPeterTraversSpiritual Cleansing to Attract Bigfoot

One guest, Sonja, approached the finding of Bigfoot differently than most. She put herself through a spiritual cleansing of sorts, and relied on what I can only describe as her psychic energy to “bring in” the Bigfoots. (Artwork right by Peter Travers.)

Much has been made in some quarters about Bigfoot being a more paranormal entity than a blood and bones animal. I just don’t buy it. For me, this creature is clearly another great ape waiting to be added to the known roster of animals by the scientific community.

Les reported that Sonja connects with Bigfoot “emotionally, spiritually, and energetically.” If that’s how she wants to approach her search for Bigfoot, that’s fine. But I didn’t see any evidence of success in this endeavor within this episode.

I don’t think Les was particularly convinced this was the way to go either, but he was polite about it.

BigfootSybilaIrwinLes’ Overnight Visitor

We saw Les bed down for the night in his tent which he pitched about 150 yards from his fellow seekers. He reported that something was walking around the tent in the middle of the night and it also pushed in the top of his tent. Now we’ve heard other people (not necessarily Bigfoot researchers) report this kind of behavior out in the wild, and I think it’s legitimate Bigfoot behavior. The creature was just checking out the tent. (Artwork above left by Sybilla Irwin.)

I believe Les when he reports these things, and I’m pleased he had that kind of encounter.

Those Screams

At one point during the night, the group hears some strange calls in the distance. In a very nice twist, we, the audience, were also able to hear the screams/calls and they did sound strange.

BigfootScreamPeterOberdorfBut I advise caution when analyzing animal calls. I have seen other situations where supposed Bigfoot calls turned out to be rarely used calls by a species of owl new to the Californian forests. Not only do animals expand their territories, but they have quite a repertoire of calls, for the most part. This can lead to a lot of confusion. (Artwork right by Peter Oberdorf.)

The only way to overcome that is to record the calls with specialized equipment that will allow scientists to decipher which animal actually made the call. For instance, if a human was recreating a Bigfoot call, their voice would still be recognized as human on this specialized equipment.

I can only hope that Les takes this latest recording to one of these experts to see if they can decipher the source.

Bottom Line

This was an interesting episode that clearly reflects Les’ more methodical way of searching for this creature.  For me, the fact that this professional survivalist, having roamed the wilds of many countries over a 30 year career, and has had just a few tantalizing encounters with what he suspects may be a great ape, a Bigfoot / Sasquatch, speaks the loudest of all in terms of evidence.

As with all the other Bigfoot researchers, I wish him luck and I am still looking forward to the day when someone, somewhere gets “THE” evidence we need to prove to the scientific community that Bigfoot does exist.

What did you think about the episode?

BikerBigfoot

 

References

http://visitcryptoville.com/2014/05/22/bigfoot-thursday-bigfoot-call-home/

http://www.ghosttheory.com/2010/02/25/russian-newspaper-publish-canadian-bigfoot-photo

http://www.bigfootencounters.com/sbs/brisson09.htm

 

Vampire Crabs – Another Legend or Cryptic Reality?

DraculaByCharlesChaissonThey lurk in the shadows, mad yellow eyes glowing, pincers ready to strike. Instead of fangs, they have sharp little claws that they clack together as they eagerly anticipate their next victim. Is this the stuff of fiction? Or do these Vampire Crabs really exist? CryptoVille investigates!

I stared at the monitor transfixed. Their colors are mesmerizing and quite beautiful. Then I shook my head and said, “Wait a minute! Isn’t that how human vampires rope us in, with their beauty/ handsomeness?” Business-like once more, I dug for the truth. (Artwork right by CharlesChaisson.)

German research scientists, Christoph Schubart, and his colleague Christian Lukhaup, of Regensburg University’s Institute of Zoology, identified two new species of vampire crabs recently. They were helped in their discovery by Peter Ng of the Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum, Singapore. The weird thing is, both these crabs have been widely used in the aquarium trade for years, but no one knew where they originated. Now we know.

map-Java01Both species originate in river valleys in Indonesia, on the island of Java. Though they come from different rivers, they are related biologically. Geosesarma dennerly and Geosesarma hagen are the new species named by the scientists and they really are beautiful.

G. dennerly is a gorgeous mottle of purple, lavender, and some magenta, and sports a cream colored spot on its back. Not to be outdone, it seems, G. hagen has bright red/orange claws in stark contrast to its black body. (Photos below.)

VampireCrab01NatGeoPicG.Dennerle

 

VampireCrab02GeosesarmaHagen

How did they wind up in aquariums around the world before science could properly identify them? Turns out dealers in these aquatic critters explore areas off the beaten path long before scientists can get there, and they collect what they know their customers will like – bright, colorful creatures to add to their mini water worlds.

vampirecrab-geosesarma-dennerleVampire Crab Facts

These little guys measure up to an inch in width, so they fit perfectly into aquariums and terrariums. Adding to their vampiric lure, these creatures hunt  greedily at twilight for their dinner. They like to climb which is important to remember if getting one for your aquarium or terrarium. (G. dennerle, photo right.)

According to Schubart, these animals evolved so colorfully because they spend a lot of time on land, in fact they are amphibious. On land, coloration is vital as a means of communication between animals.  He says, “There’s much more emphasis on color and visual cues rather than chemical cues, as used in the water.”

vampirecrab-geosesearmahagenThey actually spend most of their time on land, going into the water only to molt and lay their eggs.

(Photo left G. hagen.)

The down side to this is the fact that they’re being over-hunted for the aquarium trade. The scientists hope this will stop as “private enthusiasts” are breeding these crabs for sale to the aquarium trade. Once that builds up enough, the need to buy actual Javan vampire crabs will cease.

Natives Know

Here is another example how the  local people know about species of animals and creatures that science has yet to uncover. This is just another indication that the cryptid animals we love to talk about are most likely in this same category – known by the locals and waiting for science to “discover” them!

Let the search continue!

Til the next time!

Fun Fact: Co-author of this study, Christian Lukhaup, was born in Transylvania, home to the most famous vampire of all – Dracula! Seriously, you can’t make this stuff up!

References

http://news.nationalgeographic.com/2015/03/150316-vampire-crabs-animals-new-species-science-pets/

http://www.natureworldnews.com/articles/13524/20150318/newly-discovered-vampire-crabs-already-found-peoples-homes.htm

http://caresheet.net/animals/crustaceans/vampire-crab-geosesarma/

CryptoVille Guests on Supernatural Radio – the Podcast

PodcastLast night I had the privilege to be a guest on Corinne De Winter’s radio program, Supernatural Radio Show!

The topic was the 12 Vile Vortices of Ivan Sanderson. Joining us was expert James Moses who is a physics and scientific guru! We had a great discussion about these places that led into other fascinating topics such as worm holes, warp drive, and the nature of life after death.

If you’d like to listen to our lively discussion, here’s the link to the podcast. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did!

http://www.blogtalkradio.com/supernaturalradioshow/2015/05/07/the-12-devils-graveyards-worldwide-vile-vortices-paranormal-strange-activity

mapaocultotierra11_01

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