Member of The Crypto Crew:

Please Also Visit our Sister Blog, Frontiers of Anthropology:

And the new group for trying out fictional projects (Includes Cryptofiction Projects):

And Kyle Germann's Blog

And Jay's Blog, Bizarre Zoology

Monday, 26 January 2015

Australian Megafauna for Australia Day

The following picture of the presumably-extinct Australian megafauna was posted this morning on Facebook because of Australia Day. Most of the creatures shown on it have been nominated as survivals corresponding to recent Cryptid categories.

Monsters in America Map Dissection

United monsters of America: Infographic reveals the strange beasts that have captured the nation's imagination 

  • The map, created by artist Mark Adams, reveals the imaginary beasts that are feared the most in each state 
  • 'It is a bit of a declaration of optimism and wonderment as to what might be possible on planet Earth,' he said
  • Big Bird, for instance, has become notorious in Texas where some say they have seen an ape-like, winged beast
  • Other monsters in the map include the Mothman in West Virginia, the Jersey devil in New Jersey, the Beast of Busco in Indiana and the Lizard Man of Scape Ore Swap in South Carolina

This map has been highly circulated and promoted recently

It is also very misleading in creating multiple categories for what is really likely to be only the same thing over again. There are several known hoaxes included and several cases where the creatures in question probably belong to already known and established species.

I have a detailed intermediate map indicating which cases are hoaxes and so on, as formerly posted on Facebook. I think to save a lot of unnecessary argument I can leave it off here but I can add it if people are really interested in the rationale for all of the category eliminations

This is what the map reduces down to after throwing out the obvious sightings of known animals (Chupacabras-dogs, big cats and the Beast of Busco snapping turtle), known hoaxes and misrepresentation (Monsters of Bear Lake and Alkali Lake, and the Jersey Devil as cited is based on hoaxes, not the residual of unexplained sightings), and putting all of the closely similar sightings into larger categories. This leaves with a few well attested Unknown categories with candidate fossil antecedents (blue F), some Cryptid categories that are likely known species (red K, including the Caveman and Ape categories which boil down to being "Only" humans and apes, and probably alligator gars) and a couple of poorly articulated and poorly attested leftovers, the smaller and larger "Lizardmen" or swamp creatures. I do think there is something to such reports but we need much better information on the both of them. I think Tyler Stone's suggestion of an amphibious sort of macaque monkey does still hold up as the best explanation for the "Kappa" like Pukwudgie types)

These are also not categories I made up to begin with and they don't contain all of the reports that I would include as potentially interesting. The original map is sensationalistic and not very particular about the authenticity of the stories it is including, or the lack of the same. ALL of the categories in Cryptozoology are completely artificial and largely arbitrary.

This is just how the situation stacks up to me and I will be the first to admit that nothing is "Proven" in Cryptozoology, these are only the best suggestions I have. For some funny reason people assume that just because something appears on this blog I consider the matter to be "Proven" but I do not, these are only the best suggestions and not all of the evidence is equally good  across the board.

Friday, 16 January 2015

Administrative Notice

This blog has been hacked and I have not been able to add anything or edit it for most of the calendar year 2014. Nor have I been able to get into the comments to read them or approve them. Most of the comments have all been wiped in my absence.

We can just say I've been on Sabbatical since I started writing on most of these subjects in Yahoo discussion groups and that was at least seven years ago.

If I can get the blogs going again I shall be doing extensive editing of older posts and rewriting. Currently the blogs are being run on Facebook. I shall have to see if I can get the regular blogs on blogger back under control again.

My readers are still in there and showing much support. I am grateful for that part
Thank you.

PS. I checked and this blog had two unreleased drafts on backlog. Both had been wiped when I went back to see if they were salvageable.

PPS. It has become necessary for me to make the blanket statement once again that as a news service I cannot be held personally responsible for the opinions expressed by others as reprinted on this blog. That is the standard situation. For some reason my harshest critics have managed to miss the point that this is the standard situation when they criticize me personally for the statements and  opinions of others as expressed on this blog.  For the record, Darren Naish, Cameron McCormack, Loren Coleman, Dick Raynor, Karl Shuker and several others have all done that when mentioning me or this blog during public discussions. They really should have known better than that.

Saturday, 2 August 2014

Researchers discover rare new species of deep-diving whale

Researchers discover rare new species of deep-diving whale

Feb 05, 2014
Male specimen of Mesoplodon hotaula that washed up on Desroches Island in the Seychelles in 2009, whown with men formt eh siland. It was found by Wayne Thompson (far right in picture) and Lisa Thompson of the Island Conservation Society of the Seychelles. Credit: Lisa Thompson
Researchers have identified a new species of mysterious beaked whale based on the study of seven animals stranded on remote tropical islands in the Indian and Pacific Oceans over the past 50 years.

Beaked whales, a widespread but little-known family of toothed whales distantly related to sperm whales, are found in deep ocean waters beyond the edge of the continental shelf throughout the world's oceans.
"They are rarely seen at sea due to their elusive habits, long dive capacity and apparent low abundance for some species. Understandably, most people have never heard of them," says international team leader, Dr Merel Dalebout, a visiting research fellow at UNSW.
The study of the , Mesoplodon hotaula, is published in the journal Marine Mammal Science.

The first specimen was a female found on a Sri Lankan beach more than 50 years ago.
On 26 January 1963, a 4.5 metre-long, blue-grey beaked whale washed up at Ratmalana near Colombo. The then director of the National Museums of Ceylon, P.E.P (Paulus) Deraniyagala, described it as a new species, and named it Mesoplodon hotaula, after the local Singhala words for 'pointed beak'.
However, two years later, other researchers reclassified this specimen as an existing species, Mesoplodon ginkgodens, named for the tusk-like teeth of the adult males that are shaped like the leaves of a ginkgo tree.
"Now it turns out that Deraniyagala was right regarding the uniqueness of the whale he identified. While it is closely related to the ginkgo-toothed beaked whale, it is definitely not the same species," says Dr Dalebout.
The researchers used a combination of DNA analysis and physical characteristics to identify the new species from seven specimens found stranded in Sri Lanka, the Gilbert Islands (now Kiribati), Palmyra Atoll in the Northern Line Islands near Hawai'i, the Maldives, and the Seychelles.
The new specimens are held by various institutions and groups, including the US Smithsonian National Museum in Washington DC, the Island Conservation Society in the Seychelles, and the University of Auckland, New Zealand. The genetic analyses were conducted as part of an international collaboration with the US NMFS Southwest Fisheries Science Center and Oregon State University

The researchers were able to get good quality DNA from tissue samples from only one specimen. For the others, they drilled the bones of the whales in order to analyse short fragments of 'ancient DNA' relying on techniques commonly used with old sub-fossil material from extinct species.
The researchers also studied all other known beaked to confirm the distinctiveness of Deraniyagala's whale, including six specimens of the closely related, gingko-toothed beaked whale.
"A number of species in this group are known from only a handful of animals, and we are still finding new ones, so the situation with Deraniyagala's whale is not that unusual," Dr Dalebout says.
"For example, the ginkgo-toothed beaked whale, first described in 1963, is only known from about 30 strandings and has never been seen alive at sea with any certainty. It's always incredible to me to realise how little we really do know about life in the oceans. There's so much out there to discover. "
Over the last 10 years or so, two other new have come to light; both through research in which Dr Dalebout was involved. In 2002, Mesoplodon perrini or Perrin's beaked whale, was described from the eastern North Pacific, and in 2003, Mesoplodon traversii, the spade-toothed whale, was described from the Southern Ocean. Both species are known from only about five animals each.
With the re-discovery of Mesoplodon hotaula, there are now 22 recognised of beaked whales.
Explore further: Rare whale found dead in Southern California

Read more at:

Monday, 21 July 2014

Lake Pepin's rumored creature may be folklore come to life

[I feel I need to reiterate that "Lake Pepin" is only an enlargement of the Mississippi River and so we are really talking about the Mississippi River Monster, and there are a lot more sightings and even more photos from other locations.-DD]

Lake Pepin's rumored creature may be folklore come to life

Article by: KIM ODE , Star Tribune      Updated: July 21, 2014 - 11:39 AM  
The centuries-old legend of a lake creature is alive today thanks to a handful of folks who are driven by scholarship, obsession and the irresistible mystery.

There it … there it is! Over by that fishing boat. No, there! Omigosh, they don’t see it! They must think it’s a log.
Unless it is a log.
Or a catfish. Or an otter. Or a boat wake.
But it also could be a sea serpent. (It could be.)
For hundreds of years, people have glanced across the glistening waters of Lake Pepin, where the Mississippi River widens to a basin as long and wide as Scotland’s famous Loch Ness (the same size!), and seen … something.
Most often, the sight turns out to be a dead tree hung up on a sandbar, or a huge sturgeon breaking the surface, or the wake of a boat unfurling toward shore.
But not always. (Maybe.)
“I firmly believe there was something at one time,” said Jil Garry, who owns Treats and Treasures in Lake City, Minn., a town of 5,000 on Lake Pepin.
Garry sells T-shirts, bibs, mugs and candy depicting a friendly Pepie, which is what everyone calls the (possible) creature. “There were those accounts of French explorers and the newspaper stories,” she said, then shrugged. “But now?”
Larry Nielson, who plies the lake daily offering tourists excursions on his sparkling paddlewheeler, Pearl of the Lake, doesn’t know, either. A few years ago, he offered a $50,000 reward to anyone providing “undisputable evidence that proves the existence of the real live creature living in Lake Pepin,” according to
So far, there hasn’t been a single claim, although he added, half-laughing, that “my wife’s always worried.” No question, the reward is a publicity stunt (and has reeled in some national press) but Nielson also would like some proof because, well, he’s seen “things I can’t explain.”
Such as 11 years ago, on a calm lake, midweek with few boats out, he saw “this wake 200-some feet long and 2 feet high going upstream.” (Upstream!)
Then in 2009, he saw a log in the water — he knew it was a log; it looked just like a log — but then it began moving against the current (against the current!) before slipping out of sight.
Is Pepie real?
“I don’t know,” Nielson said, hands on the spokes of the Pearl’s big wheel. “That’s for you to make up your mind.”
– ?!”
When Father Louis Hennepin explored this region for France in the late 1600s, he reported seeing “a huge serpent as big as a man’s leg and seven or eight feet long” where the Minnesota River flows into the Mississippi. In those days, the river ran unimpeded from Lake Itasca to the Gulf of Mexico — and, in turn, was open from the ocean to Minnesota.
Indians used only strong dugout canoes on the lake, given legends of something large enough to swamp a birchbark boat. Ancient effigy mounds in the region appear to depict huge serpents. Still, we can’t know if they reflect sightings, creation myths or something else entirely, said Chad Lewis, a Minneapolis man who’s written “Pepie, the Lake Monster of the Mississippi River” and maintains
The first known newspaper account in August 1867 was from river rafters from St. Louis, Mo., who reported seeing a large, unknown creature in the water. A more vivid account appeared four years later in the Wabasha County Sentinel, describing “a marine monster between the size of an elephant and rhinoceros,” moving “with great rapidity.”
Four years later, another newspaper described a “dark, strange-looking object” that rose 6 feet out of the water. Another newspaper noted that a huge eel later was caught.
Sightings have continued over the years, with Nielson, the Pearl’s captain, considering 15 to have some degree of credibility, in that they can’t easily be explained away.
Local lore even claims that one moonlit night in 1922, a young man named Ralph Samuelson saw a creature gliding across Lake Pepin and thought, “If a large aquatic creature can skim across the water’s surface, why can’t I?” A few months later, he invented the sport of water skiing.
Except for the fact that Samuelson did invent water skiing, and Lake City is known as “the birthplace of water skiing,” this is almost certainly not true.
Plans are being made for the first Pepie Festival in September, which promises to be the most family-friendly of events.
“When Larry Nielson brought Pepie back to life, some were afraid that people would think we’re dumb, or they’d be scared to go in the water,” said Garry, the shopkeeper. “But we see Pepie as a shy creature. Like we say, if you haven’t seen it, it’s not going to bite you.”
Wait a … wait a minute. Over there, by the far shore, do you think it … um, never mind.
Twenty years ago, Chad Lewis was pursuing a master’s degree in psychology, driven by two questions: What makes people believe in the weird and unusual? And what makes people not believe?
He had ample reason to ponder those questions, growing up near Elmwood, one of three Wisconsin towns (along with Campbellsport and Belleville) that claim to be the UFO capital of the world. But he also had ample reason to earn a living and so became a grant writer, pursuing folklore on the side, writing books and giving lectures.
Those books and lectures proved so popular, though, that he became a full-time folklorist, traveling the world collecting legends and accounts of curious experiences. (It may not hurt that he looks just like actor Sean Penn. Just. Like.)
So, what makes someone believe in the weird and unusual? “Personal experience,” he said, or knowing someone who had a personal experience.
But what intrigues Lewis even more is research suggesting that “the more educated people are, even while they may not believe in something, the more likely they are to believe in the possibility of these things,” he said. In other words, the more we know, the more aware we are of what we don’t know.
He’s always taken a 50-50 stance about the existence of legends, a position he calls “simple, safe and accurate.”
So he was a little stunned a few years ago when, to the usual question about Pepie, he blurted that he was tipping toward 75 percent that something unidentified is in Lake Pepin. What, he doesn’t know.
“But there’s something that’s big, and real.”
It’s a sturgeon. (It’s always a sturgeon.) Until it isn’t.
So what exactly is in the lake, apart from the large- and smallmouth bass, walleye, sauger, black crappie, sturgeon, northern pike, bluegill and yellow perch?
Does it migrate? What does it eat? Does it need to pop up and breathe, or is it a bottom-dweller?
Is it some form of ancient pleiosaur? A large eel?
Is it an alligator gar, which can be 8 to 10 feet long and weigh 300 pounds? Did we mention a gar’s broad snout and double row of sharp teeth? (Did we mention that whether or not such a fish accounts for Pepie, alligator gars really do live in the lake?)
Finally, sightings over centuries speak to reproduction, which means there has to be more than one.
“I love that we haven’t explained this,” Lewis said. “But it’s funny how we need to believe something is out there.” Today, Lewis said he has more questions than answers, which is OK with him.
“The legends, for me, provide the opportunity to have an adventure,” he said, a motivation that he urges others to adopt. While looking for Pepie, or Bigfoot, or a UFO or a ghost — or just an unfamiliar horizon — you may find yourself in a new place, learning new things and moving just far enough out of your comfort zone to discover a fresh context for your life.
Or, as Nielson said, at the very least, you can have a lovely day on a beautiful lake

The Lake Monster of Japan’s Mt. Fuji

I am reposting this from another blog by request


The Lake Monster of Japan’s Mt. Fuji 

posted  July 21, 2014 by
Japan is a rugged, mountainous land filled with natural beauty. Perhaps the most well known example of this is the majestic and iconic Mt. Fuji, one of the country’s most famous and instantly recognizable landmarks. Rising up from Yamanashi prefecture, Mt. Fuji is the highest mountain in Japan, it’s majestic peak widely visible for miles around, even from the bustling metropolis of Tokyo.  The mountain, which is in fact a volcano, has been revered by the Japanese people for centuries. In addition to its stark beauty, Mt. Fuji is also known for its mysteries.
Sprawled out in an arc under the northern shadow of the looming Mt. Fuji are The Fuji Five Lakes, also known in Japanese as “Fujigoko,” (literally, “Fujis’s five lakes”). The lakes were formed by previous eruptions of Mt. Fuji, when volcanic lava flows blocked and dammed up rivers and streams to create the lakes. These five lakes are Lake Kawaguchi, Lake Motosu, Lake Saiko, Lake Shoji (the smallest of the five), and Lake Yamanaka, which is the largest of the five and also the third highest lake in Japan. The Fujigoko are a popular travel destination for people all over Japan and are also allegedly home to a bizarre, water dwelling beast.
For years, these picturesque lakes have been the setting for a series of strange sightings of an unidentified creature in the water, which has been affectionately referred to as Mossie, モッシー” in Japanese, in an attempt to emulate the naming of its more famous Scottish cousin Nessie. Mossie is reported as being up to 30 metres in length, with a horny, bumpy back like an alligator or crocodile. Some reports have also mentioned a long dorsal fin like that of a shark, yet the majority of sightings have been simply of large, dark shapes swimming under the surface of the water, with no details visible. A good majority of the sightings have occurred at or near dusk, when the creature appears to be more active.
Mt. Fuji’s lake monster first became widely known in the 1970s, when there was a rash of sightings of something large and unexplainable lurking in the depths of the lakes. The idea of a water monster roaming the waters at the foot of the famous Mt. Fuji captured the public imagination, and drew a lot of media attention at the time. People began to arrive in droves in order to not only bask in the beauty of the mountain and surroundings, but also in the hopes of catching a glimpse of the monster.
At the height of this lake monster fervor, boats descended upon the lake trying to find it, and one group of fishermen decided to try their hand at catching whatever the thing was. The fishermen spent days laying an elaborate system of sturdy nets on the hopes of ensnaring the creature, then laid in wait. Not long after, the nets were pulled up and were found to be completely shredded and ripped apart, much to the fishermen’s surprise. It was surmised that only something very large and strong could have done that much damage to the nets that were used.
Meanwhile, some of the boats scouring the lake came up with bizarre sonar readings of large moving shapes near the bottom. One boat captain claimed to have repeatedly picked up the sonar signature of an inexplicable dark form that he described as being around 25 meters in length. Other boats reported getting sonar hits on multiple unidentifiable shapes at the same time, which they described as almost a school of huge, eerie creatures that they insisted could not have possibly been schools of fish or geographical features.
One man, a Mr. Ken Yanoguchi, claimed to have had a very close encounter with the beast in the 1970s. While fishing on lake Saiko in his small boat, Yanoguchi reportedly bumped up against something in the water. Thinking it was a log, he went to investigate only to find a large creature of some sort lurking just under the surface with part of its back protruding from the water. The exposed part of the creature was described as black, slick, and rubbery looking. The rest of the creature had the appearance of an enormous fish or whale, and Yanoguchi himself even said that his first impression was of a whale, although he could not fathom why a whale should be out in one of the five lakes. The creature reportedly leisurely sunk beneath the water and was not seen again.
Plesiosaurus Migration
In the 1980s, sightings continued and the creature was even allegedly caught on film in October, 1987. A Mr. Yoneyama was out with three others taking pictures of the lake and its surroundings when they saw a surge of water out on the otherwise calm lake. Within this surge, they reported seeing 3 to 5 meters of the exposed back of something they could not identify, which was described as being rough like that of a crocodile. They were able to capture the animal on film, but the results are less than impressive, showing merely a dark shape and thus proving to be inconclusive. Sightings of the animal have dropped off in recent years, but a group in the village of Kamikuishiki has been investigating the Mossie phenomena since 2005.
Mossie has been sighted in more than one of Mt. Fuji’s five lakes, which could be explained by the unique geological features of the lakes, namely the fact that Lake Motosu is connected to Lake Saiko and Lake Shoji by a system of underground waterways that mysterious underwater creatures could use to travel back and forth between lakes. However, what can’t be readily explained is why an enormous lake monster should be here in the first place. The very nature of the lakes makes them an odd location for a lake monster to be found since the Fuji Five Lakes are not particularly ancient. It is thought that the volcanic activity that formed the lakes is very recent in geographical terms, with the lakes forming sometime during the 9th and 10th centuries. This makes it impossible for the creature to be some type of prehistoric animal trapped in the lakes millions of years ago.
The presence of a large, unidentified monster here is also further complicated by the fact that there are no rivers or natural drainage connected to the lakes either, so there is no possibility that something has travelled there from the sea through this route. In addition, many of the fish in the lakes were stocked, and there is no species of fish known there that even approaches a size large enough to cause the reports. These facts make it difficult to determine a biological possibility of  just what Mossie could be.
Many theories have been put forward. Ideas run the gamut from oversized introduced fish like the enormous wels catfish or sturgeon that have somehow been released into the lake. Sturgeon have indeed been introduced in some areas of Japan, but this is not known to have happened in the Fuji five lakes. As it stands, no species of fish known to inhabit the lakes even approaches the sizes reported for Mossie.
Wels catfish
Wels catfish
Regardless of the head scratching nature of the Fujigoko lake monster phenomenon, sightings of Mossie continue to occasionally come in to this day. Is there any chance that a large, unidentified creature is lurking somewhere in these lakes? Those who swear to have seen it say yes. Giant fish or unknown monster, perhaps one of these animals is swimming out there right now, cutting a path through the tranquil reflection of Mt. Fuji upon the water.

Sunday, 20 July 2014

Horned Serpents in Mounds and Puebloes

Wehave had announcements about the "Dinosaurian" Water Monster (Horned Serpent) Avanyu (Awanyu) before, but I just came across this stunning petroglyph representing one from the Anasazi culture. The Anasazi were the forerunners to our more familiar Pueblo (Village) Indians. It does seem that the idea is that the monster is a creature much like a Plesiosaur with a long neck and a fat body with four flippers. The tail is apparently prolonged by counting in the wake and the entire appearance is much like Oudemans' reconstruction of the Great Sea-serpent when seen from above.

This depiction of a Horned serpent has a human rider on its back, possibly intending to harpoon it. This is indeed intended to be an Avanyu despite its rather short and stumpy appearance: another version showing a human riding on an Avanyu is below, together with a rendition of it in "Periscope" position.. the one below definitely shows flippers and the one above from Mallory also has variations that seem to show the flippers also, at least the foreflippers.

 Here is an extraction I did while I was looking for "Spinybacked" reference materials, but after I was done the result still looks like a pair of big Loch Ness Monster type humps.

And here I a painting done by a Native artist of the area, depicting the Avanyu as a water monster in its own environment. I am not intending this should defraud the artist, I am merely using it because it is an exceptionally good depiction of the Avanyu as a water monster.


Another more modern depiction of Avanyu, showing the flipperlike limbs.
Similar creatures were depicted by the Mississippian culture, mostly in the Mississippi valley itself. These bowls with snaky heads, necks and tails have caught the attention of collectors that call them "Sea Monsters", which is a label that has been used in some museums.
And as has been mentioned earlier on this blog, some of the earlier Effigy mounds of the Ohio valley area generally also resemble Oudemans' reconstruction for the Great Sea-serpent, only they are more usually called "Panthers" and "Turtles". Sometimes the idea probably was to represent turtles or Water panthers, but in other cases the shape is different enough that the makers could have been trying to represent Plesiosaurian Water Monsters. I would weigh this toward the "Turtles" myself.

Indian Rock, Champ, And The American Bunyip

Scott Mardis sent me some more pdfs about the "Horned Serpent" and the Lake Champlain area. Among the more interesting items was a petroglyph rock from Southern Vermont called Indian Rock. The creature shown on it was very interesting but not well shown on the rock itself: I have some other versions here and my composite redrawing of the creature is above. Although it is called a "Great Horned Serpent" the conventionalization is different enough that it makes me think it is more like an American Bunyip. The Abnaki and surrounding peoples called it Tatoskok and said it was a snake as big as a tree with a head like a horse's and two hotns on it. The settlers later called it a "Hippogryph" but evidently this was a mistake for "Hippocampus" (and as such it was represented on powder horns also supplied by Scott Mardis) Most of the images in this blog posting are from "Horned Panthers and Erie Associates" by William Fox (2004) but the paper describes several different things and runs them all together. I am doing this as a sort of extraction of what seems to me to be a distinctly different local type.

The Indian Rock petroglyph is at Battleboro, Vermont and is shown below. One commentator thought the long horizontal line at top right represented a long neck turned back but I think this is more likely a bow wave. Bow waves are definitely represented on other similar petroglyphs.

This creature has some very specific Plesiosaur-like characteristics such as the long neck with a small head at the end of it, and a big body with four flippers and a short tail on the other end. The combination of the big ovoid body and four schematic limbs is what reminded me of Australian "Bunyips" in their own rock art.

Above: The long neck can be seen in "Periscope" position.
Below: also associated with large pointed or peaked humps on the back.
Three humps are usual.

This particular brand of Plesiosaur-like "Horned Serpents seem to be more of in the East and in New England proper, and along the St Lawrence seaway BELOW Niagra falls (gold stars on map, the Micmac version indicated by the arrow)

The more usual "Water panthers" or Mishipiziheus are more characteristic of the upper Great Lakes and inland generally. In their case there are catlike eyes and whiskers, and the "Horns" are definitely pointed ears at times.


Earliest Documentation of a Giant Beaver

Scott Mardis just sent this in along with a package including many other things:

Giant Beaver of the St Lawrence, Codex Canadiensis, ca 1670

I am fairly certain this "Cheval Marin" only represents another swimming moose report.

Saturday, 19 July 2014

Crowned Crowing Cobras

These two Roman representations of probably Crested Crowned Cobras recently came to me in the form of a Cryptic colouring page. I coloured them in and add them to the blog as illustrating the type. The originals were from frescoes at Pompeii. It is possible that they were called "Basilisks"

Maybe Not So Faux Alligators After All

I had at one point mentioned that water monster depictions had a distinctive subcategory that showed creatures with a row of spines down the middle of the back. In one of my earlier postings to an article posted to the CFZ, I said "The spiny-backed creature comes from further South. It is possible that originated in stories about alligators after all"
And later I reclassified the representations into the "Faux-Alligator" more general category.

From the masks of the "Water Monster" actors in the old ethnographic illustration above, I would think that Alligators are indeed back in the running as possible culprits in such sightings and traditions. This does mean that records in the category might run all the way out into California.

Below are a couple of "Missepeshu" representations from farther North and possibly representing an alligator's jagged back on a different sort of Water-Monster:

And this is another Alligator like creature depicted in Pueblo pottery which appears to have large squarish armour plates (Osteoderms) on its back. The armour is typical of Crocodylians.

Peabody Number: 36-131-10/8060
Display Title: Zooomorphic black on white potsherd–animal form
Inventory Description: Ceramic, zoomorphic figurine, with tail, opened mouth, two feet, black painted design on back and sides
Classification: Figurine
Department: Archaeological
Culture/Period: Pueblo
Geography/Provenience: North America/United States/Arizona/Navajo County/Hopi Reservation/Antelope Mesa/Awatovi
Intrasite: Test 14
Geo-Locale: Antelope Mesa
Materials: Ceramic Pigment
Provenance: Dr. John Otis Brew (1936)
Provenance: Peabody Museum Expedition (1936)

There is also the side issue that some of the traditions and representations of a "Horned Alligator" found in the Mississippi valley could be a new unrecognized species and likely a visitor from the sea. Common estimates of the size of the creatures in such sightings run up to 50-60 feet long, and sometimes even more, and they are sometimes called "Dinosaurs." People that talk about the "White River Monster" (in Arkansas) sometimes mention reports in this category, although they are usually stated as being in the Mississippi River.

Tiwanaku Black Ware Creatures

I recently came across some information on some black pottery animal figures (zoomorficas) found at Tiwanaku (Tiahuanaco). In central America, similar black pottery can be very old, back to 2000 BC or more in the Preclassic period, in Bolivia the age is some matter of controversy. In this case I only wanted to point out the animals represented.

The first one seems to be one of those big lizards that run on their hind legs and reported in both North and South America in the drier uplands of the west ("Mini-Rex", "Mountain Boomer" and so on.) This evidently represents a foreign animal, whichever species it represents, because no lizards live in the Altiplano plateau near Lake Titicaca. There are both traditions and reports of the biped lizard types further to the South, in Northern Argentina and in Chile. 
The Arica Monster was first spotted at the Atacama desert in Chile 1980. Witnesses describe a run in with huge kangaroo-like, bipedal monster in the deserts . The sightings have occurred by people who were traveling by car on different days through the remote road that links the cities of Iquique and Arica through the Atacama desert, some 2,000 kilometers north of Santiago, Chile. The newspapers in those cities collected recent accounts from citizens who claim to have seen the rare creatures. In addition, a military officer named Hernan Cuevas says that he spotted two of the beasts while traveling with two other adults and two children in a vehicle. He was quoted as seeing, "a huge beast, much like a two-legged dinosaur, with huge thighs."
They described the animal as being exactly like the raptor from Jurassic Park. In this case, it's said to be a living Dromaeosauridae.
See Also

The second is a frog or toad and I relate this to the Sapo de Loma.
 Sapo De Loma is a mysterious large toad, living in river valleys of Andes Mountains of Chile and Peru. Eats medium-sized birds and rodents. 
And the third is labeled as a "Pyrotherium" This might represent a transpacific cultural contact but there were apparently still some "Mastodon" reports in Peru and Ecuador during the 1800s.

Toxodons are also represented in other art at the same site.

Below is the original notice, in Spanish. I am not assigning any identity to the remaining examples at this time, these were the ones I had something relevant to say about.

Wednesday, 16 July 2014

Surface Swimming Longnecks and Plesiosaurs

Jay Cooney has made these comparisons and they look like they are potentially meaningful the way he has arranged them, and so I pass the pasteups along.

Recent model of the likely surfacing configuration taken on by Cryptoclidus compared to the Devon Coast, Nushagak Bay, and Pembroke Dock 'sea serpent' photographs

Ten Mermaid Sightings

10 Credible Mermaid Sightings? (+Videos)

By , Epoch Times | September 21, 2013

Last Updated: September 23, 2013 3:03 pm
[Note, this article is reposted as a news item and not as any kind of endorsement necessarily-DD]

Screen capture from the footage of the mermaid sighting of on March 6, 2013, by marine geologist Torsten Schmidt. (Screenshot/Youtube)

Screen capture from the footage of the mermaid sighting of on March 6, 2013, by marine geologist Torsten Schmidt. (Screenshot/Youtube)

Mermaids have been a subject of fascination for centuries. Cultures from all over the world, that had no contact with each other, have mermaids in their folklore, all with very similar descriptions. From these stories and modern movies everyone know what mermaids are, but few people have been able to provide evidence to testify to their existence. Skeptics are many, but there are also those who believe. For those intrigued by the question of whether or not mermaids exist, see below for a handful of documented mermaid sightings—then decide what you believe.

1. May 2013 – Kiryat Yam, Israel

Kiryat Yam is the only place in the world where a $1 million reward is up for grabs for the first person who can provide conclusive footage capturing a real mermaid. The local government has offered this reward in response to the numerous mermaid sightings there.
Allegedly there is a mermaid that appears sometimes at sunset. One of the first people to see the mermaid was Shlomo Cohen: “I was with friends when suddenly we saw a woman laying on the sand in a weird way. At first I thought she was just another sunbather, but when we approached she jumped into the water and disappeared. We were all in shock because we saw she had a tail,” Cohen was quoted as saying by Israel National News.

See the short clip featured below for a taste of what some are claiming to be a real mermaid caught on camera this year, at Kiryat Yam

2. March 2013 – Greenland Sea

This year, on March 6, 2013, marine geologist, Dr. Torsten Schmidt, released extraordinary footage of what he believes to be a mermaid that he captured on camera during one of his deep-sea explorations.
Contracted by the Iceland GeoSurvey, Dr. Schmidt and his Danish team worked on “seismic mapping and sampling of the ocean floor” to locate promising sites for oil and natural gas reserves.
At nearly 3,000 ft (1,000m) below the ocean’s surface, Dr. Schmidt reported not only seeing some interesting phenomenon, but also hearing some remarkable things. After reporting to the Iceland GeoSurvey about the strange sounds he heard when he was scanning the ocean floor, he requested to undertake an investigation, which was declined.
“We were reminded of our confidentiality agreements. And we were told we could not share our recording with anyone else,” Dr. Schmidt told journalist Jon Frankel on Animal Planet’s documentary, “Mermaids: The New Evidence.”
Dr. Schmidt ended up conducting his own investigation where he “took down two cameras on every dive, just in case we see them.” Commenting on his footage, Dr. Schmidt said Jon Frankel, “well I looked at it, and knew I was looking into the face of another intelligent species, like us.”

3. 2012 – Zimbabwe, Africa

Mermaids have been sighted on a number of occasions in Zimbabwe. It’s claimed that efforts to complete the building of dams were delayed by mermaids. Apparently, mermaids had harassed the workers when installing water pumps. “All the officers I have sent have vowed not to go back there,” Minister Nkomo was reported as saying in Zimbabwe’s state-approved Herald newspaper.
“We even hired whites thinking that our boys did not want to work but they also returned saying they would not return to work there again,” Nkomo added.

4. August 1991 – South Africa

About 30 percent of the remains of an unknown, humanlike creature were found in the belly of a dead great white shark in Southern Africa. The body was then examined and it was determined to have hands and a humanoid skull. A stingray barb was left jammed in the shark’s jaws, and this is claimed to be a mermaid’s weapon.
RECOMMENDED:  Mermaids Are Real Say Columbus, Shakespeare, and Pliny the Elder

5. 1967 – British Columbia, Canada

A sighting occurred when tourists who were on a ferry saw a woman with the tail of a dolphin. She was described as having beautiful blonde hair and was seen eating salmon. It was reported in the Times-Colonist newspaper and drew a lot of attention, but no one has since spotted it again.

[Reports continue all along the coast and including California, but many of the reports do NOT say the "Mermaids" were good-looking. I have some reports which were sent to me personally and they stated the "Merfolk" creatures were hairy and ugly and looked bestial or had apelike or monkeylike faces-DD]

6. 1943 – Kei Islands, Indonesia

In 1943, at the time of World War II, several mermaids were spotted by Japanese soldiers on the shores of the Kei Islands in Indonesia. They reported seeing them swimming in the water, and one on the beach. A description of the one sighted on the beach is as follows: roughly 4-foot 9-inches (150 cm) tall, pinkish skin, human looking face and limbs, spikes along its head, and a mouth like a carp.
When Sgt. Taro Horiba heard news of a dead mermaid that was washed up on the shore, he went to examine it. After seeing it with his own eyes he was convinced. After his return to Japan, he urged scientists to go and study such mermaids, however his claims were turned down as they didn’t believe him, hence no investigation was undertaken.
Locals refer to mermaids as Orang Ikan, or “fish people” in Malay. There have been several such sightings in the area, and apparently mermaids have been reportedly been caught in fishing nets on the odd occasion.
[And of course Japanese fishermen still report them-DD]

7. August 1886 – Cape Breton, Canada

This reported mermaid sighting from Canada in 1886 is quoted by zoologist Dr. Karl Shuker on his website. The report comes from the Cape Brooklyn Eagle newspaper in August, 1886
“The fishermen of Gabarus, Cape Breton [an island off the coast of Nova Scotia, Canada], have been excited over the appearances of a mermaid, seen in the waters by some fishermen a few days ago. While Mr. Bagnall, accompanied by several fishermen, was out in a boat, they observed floating on the surface of the water a few yards from the boat what they supposed to be a corpse. Approaching it for the purpose of taking it ashore, they observed it to move, when to their great surprise, it turned around in a sitting position and looked at them and disappeared. A few moments after[,] it appeared on the surface and again looked toward them, after which it disappeared altogether. The face, head, shoulders and arms resembled those of a human being, but the lower extremities had the appearance of a fish. The back of its head was covered with long, dark hair resembling a horse’s mane. The arms were shaped like a human being’s, except that the fingers of one hand were very long. The color of the skin was not unlike that of a human being. There is no doubt, that the mysterious stranger is what is known as a mermaid, and the first one ever seen in Cape Breton waters.”

8. June 1737 – Spain

Shuker quotes another newspaper report from Daily Kennebec Journal of Augusta, Maine, 24 June 1873:
“About the same time [c.1737] a story came from Virgo, in Spain, to the effect that some fishermen on that coast had caught a sort of a merman, five feet and a half from head to foot. The head was like that of a goat, with a long beard and moustache, a black skin, somewhat hairy, a very long neck, short arms, hands longer than they ought to be in proportion, and long fingers, with nails like claws; webbed toes, and a fin at the lower part of the back.”

9. June 1608 – Henry Hudson Near Russia

Henry Hudson, explorer and discoverer of the Hudson River, records seeing a real mermaid near Russia. He wrote in his log: “Two crew members—Thomas Hilles and Robert Rayner—sighted a mermaid at 75° 7′ N, and shouted at the rest of the crew to come and look.” Hudson further recorded it as having a “tail of a porpoise and speckled like a mackerel.”

10. January 1493 - Christopher Columbus’s travels

Christopher Columbus has reported sighting mermaids whilst he was out at sea. He stated, “They were not as beautiful as they are painted, although to some extent they have a human appearance in the face….”

[The Primary source for Documented Mermaid sightings is the book Sea Enchantress -DD]

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and the Sea Monster

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and the Sea Monster

by Adrienne Mayor (Wonders & Marvels contributor)

Sea monster sightings have been reported in the Mediterranean since antiquity. Aristotle (fourth century BC) remarked that experienced Greek sailors occasionally encountered unknown sea creatures. The monsters fell into two types: some resembled massive beams of black wood; others were like giant red shields with many fins. A multi-finned monster was observed in modern times by officers of the British royal yacht Osbourne in 1877. Twenty years later another British crew in the Mediterranean saw a huge sea “centipede,” 150 feet long with “an immense number of fins.” In 1742, it was reported that giant eels wrecked tuna fishermen’s nets; similar reports appeared again in 1907, 1924, and 1958.
The Greek travel writer Pausanias, writing in the second century AD, claimed that so many sea monsters lurked in the Adriatic Sea that “their smell hung thick in the air.” Unfortunately Pausanias did not describe the odor. The nineteenth-century classicist J. G. Frazer (author of The Golden Bough) was intrigued by Pausanias’s comment. Frazer sailed the Adriatic several times but he never caught a whiff of anything untoward.
The Roman natural historian Pliny the Elder described another type of sea serpent, said to be about 30 feet long. These  “dragons” swam with their heads raised up like periscopes, in the classic Loch Ness Monster pose. In the late 1890s, a Mediterranean ship’s log noted that a pair of sea creatures whose “heads were like greyhounds without ears” kept pace with the ship sailing at about 8 knots. In 1912, the crew of the steamer Queen Eleanor observed a 25 foot long mottled, eel-like creature with two “humps or coils”  swimming along at the same speed as their ship. [It would not be eel-like if it showed humps or coils above water-DD] Another ship’s log of 1924 reported a 100-foot serpentine animal with raised head moving with “vertical undulations in the waves.” In 1916, Captain Eduoard Plessis, sailing west of Thasos (northern Aegean), was startled to see what looked like a periscope projecting 6 feet out of the water, moving swiftly, about 15 knots. Plessis sounded the submarine warning even though no sub of his day could move that fast.
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle maintained a keen interest in prehistoric animals and paranormal events. In 1928, the creator of the unflappable detective Sherlock Holmes and his wife took a sea voyage to the island of Aegina. Standing on the deck of a steamer, they were gazing at the ancient Temple of Poseidon, god of the sea, on Cape Sounion. Suddenly they were distracted by something swimming parallel to the ship. Conan Doyle recalled that “the curious creature had a long neck and large flippers. I believe, as did my wife, that it was a young plesiosaurus.” Plesiosaurs were marine reptiles that went extinct along with dinosaurs 65 million years ago. Their shape strongly resembles the reported forms of typical sea monsters in the popular imagination, such as Nessie of Loch Ness. Perhaps this incident inspired Conan Doyle to write his story The Lost World, in which extinct creatures are brought back alive to London.[No, the sighting came sixteen years after the book which was published in 1912. The book was also published long before "Patagonian Plesiosaurs" were publicized in the newspapers but the sighting was made close to the same time.-DD]
About the author: Adrienne Mayor is a Research Scholar in Classics and History of Science, Stanford University. She is the author of “The First Fossil Hunters: Dinosaurs, Mammoths, and Myths in Greek and Roman Times” (2000, 2011); and “The Poison King: The Life and Legend of Mithradates, Rome’s Deadliest Enemy,” a nonfiction finalist for the National Book Award.

Illustration from The Lost World: YES, he knew what a Plesiosaur was!

 [Charles Paxton criticized Doyle's accounts which called the creature he saw an "Ichthyosaurus" at another time. The answer is of course that Doyle was not actually wholly conversant with the scientific names and that the same confusion occurs with other reports of Longnecked water monsters elsewhere. And in The Lost World, much of the information about the dinosaurs was inexact or incorrect  because Doyle was not really thorough on his research on the subject. But that is not to say that he did not know what a Plesiosaur was supposed to look like -DD]

Monday, 14 July 2014

Roman and Byzantine- Age Sea Monsters

Peter Costello drew attention to this mosaic in In Search Of Lake Monsters and surmised that it represented the same kind of Longnecked Sea-serpent that witnesses continued seeing and which were the basis for many reports of Lake Monsters worldwide.He noted that it could not be a reconstruction of a fossil animal because it contained features which occurred in the reports and which could not possibly be inferred from fossils. Later critical response included the assertion that it and the similar depictions below must have been made to account for fossils. Fossils do not indicate ears or horns, manes or humps on the back (often called "Coils" and thought of as being a long body thrown up into twists and turns)

It was also asserted that these creatures do not have rear fins and they have an imaginary kind of triple tail sometimes later seen in depictions of dragons. On the contrary this triple tail could easily be meant to include a representation of the rear flippers and the fact that they are sometimes shown as adjacent to a reptilian cloaca proves that they do not really belong at the end of the tail. The cloaca would instead represent the base of the tail.
(I have pointed this out to both Tyler Stone and Jay Cooney)

Illustrations of "Cetus" (Ketos in Greek) from 1st-2nd Century mosaics at Rome. The "Cetus" (Now used to mean "Whale" but it is evidently an even older IndoEuropean root meaning "a Disturbance or a Shaking",ie, "That which disturbs the waters from below"). The Greek story of Perseus had him rescuing a Phoenician princess from a Cetus (Ketos), and it is the name of one of the constellations as a result. The constellation is traditionally represented as a long-necked sea monster.

Be cause of the ambiguity of the term, many early Christians had the mistaken notion that Jonah had been swallowed by a Cetus (later "a Whale") and that representation became regular for many years before it fell out of fashion. The original text nowhere specifies what kind of a sea creature swallowed Jonah. It is a mistaken notion because almost certainly, Longnecks are not equipped to be able to really swallow people. However you do get many interesting repeated views of a Longnecked animal in Periscope position showing its foreflippers while it was considered the proper thing.

Kykkos, Cyprus, Byzantine Sea Monster . There are also several parallel examples of the same kinds odf sea monsters continuing on into the Byzantine Empire which folloed after Rome. Once again the depictions indicate such things as ears or horns, manes, and humps on the back, that occur in sightings but which could not be guessed from fossils. The flippers are usually shown as winglike fins. At this time the alternate name of "Pistrix" (="Pisces, Fish") was used instead of the older  "Cetus" ("Whale"). And the same creature carried over into medieval bestiaries. One type of these sea animals was commonly called a "Hippocampus" or "Water Horse" but the larger category did not necessarily all fall into that subgroup. the following Bestiary page uses the label "Pisces"