Friday, 20 March 2020

Introducing Three New Books

     I am pleased to announce that I have just published three new cryptozoological books, made possible by the mass digitalisation of old newspapers, journals, and other documents by the Australian National Library. The first two, The Truth About Bunyips and Australian Sea Serpents, will, I am confident, become the definitive works on the respective subjects. The third, Forgotten Sea Serpents will be required reading for all those seeking to complete their documentation of this unusual subject. These books are available in both paperback and e-book format from most branches of Amazon. (I know I have even sold a couple in Japan.)

Tuesday, 3 March 2020

The Footprint on the Cliff Face

    If you visit Carnarvon Gorge, Central Queensland, as thousands do, you will come to a cliff face where the aborigines have carved the footprints of numerous animals, perhaps as a blackboard for their children. Only a sign erected by the National Parks and Wildlife Service will alert you to the fact that one of them is not referable to any known animal. However, a keen cryptozoologist will immediately recognize its similarity to a footprint found north of Cardwell, nearly 900 km away.
     Well, that was what I wrote on page 69 of Bunyips and Bigfoots, introducing the chapter on the north Queensland tiger. To my surprise, however, in the quarter century since then I have discovered that I appear to be the only person aware of it. Those who mention it always cite my book. The current staff of the Carnarvon National Park don't know about it. They used to, and they should, but they don't. With this in mind, it is time I set the record straight.

Wednesday, 12 February 2020

Last Forgotten Sea Serpents (1926 to 1931)

     I know I've said this before, but this probably really is my last post on old sea serpent sightings. As before, they represent foreign cases which turned up in Australian newspapers, but which earlier researchers had apparently missed. Most of these were reported in the major capital cities dailies, but many others were picked up by minor rural newspapers, often at random. Which makes one wonder how many others are "out there", waiting to be unearthed.

Tuesday, 4 February 2020

More Forgotten Sea Serpents, 1914 to 1926

     Once more, I present a collection of sea serpent reports which have appeared in Australian newspapers, having been obtained from foreign dailies, often some time previously.

Saturday, 25 January 2020

Forgotten Sea Serpents, 1905 to 1911

     Here is the next installment of reports of sea serpents which had apparently been missed by previous researchers.

Wednesday, 15 January 2020

1903 Was a Good Year for Sea Serpents

     1903 was a good year for sea serpents. Heuvelmans, in his classic compendium, listed a dozen cases for that year. However, here are a few which he missed. The first one is rather strange even by sea serpent standards.

Saturday, 4 January 2020

Forgotten Sea Serpents, 1900 to 1902

     Would you believe it? I thought I had finished my cataloguing of forgotten sea serpents, but it turns out that I had overlooked a heap from the early days of the twentieth century. Again, these are cases which have never been published in book form before; they escaped the eagle eyes of such investigators as Oudemans, Gould, and Heuvelmans. As before, they are cases which had been picked up by Australian newspapers, although most would have originally been published overseas. As before, I have chosen the earliest and/or most detailed report, but the events themselves may have occurred a few weeks or even a few months before.

Tuesday, 19 November 2019

The Gatton Yowie, 1998

     Monday 9 February 1998: there I was, at my desk, minding my own business - or rather, my employer's business - when the phone rang. I found myself talking to a rather excited man, who initially refused to give his last name, asking if I knew anything about apes in Australia. Apparently, he had phoned the Queensland Museum and had been transferred to Dr. Ralph Molnar, the dinosaur expert, because he was the only staff member interested in cryptozoology. Dr. Molnar had then referred him to me. I told him that, yes, I had recently had published a book on Australian mystery animals, and that I had reluctantly accepted that the "yowie", or Australian version of the bigfoot, really existed. He now wanted me to promise that I would believe his story. I explained that this was too much to ask before I heard it, but that I could promise to take it seriously. He wanted information because of a dramatic incident experienced by a couple of his friends at Gatton, but if I ever mentioned his name, he would deny everything. Clearly, I was not dealing with any publicity hound.

Sunday, 10 November 2019

Forgotten Sea Serpents of 1879

     I am about to travel overseas, but first I might as well return to chronicling past sea serpent reports which have apparently remained unnoticed by former compilers. As explained in earlier posts, they were published in various newspapers around the world, then picked up by the press in Australia. Again, I have chosen what appear to be the earliest and fullest accounts, but it is possible that the original reports appeared a couple of months before. In the late nineteenth century the world press took sea serpent sightings seriously - sometimes too seriously. I have omitted some too outrageous to be true, including some in which the animal was alleged to have been captured, or at least a specimen taken, then never heard of again. Anyway, we shall start with the first of 1879.

Tuesday, 29 October 2019

Two Unknown Bipedal Apes in the Congo

    This may be my last translation. Charles Cordier (1897-1994) was a Swiss zoo collector who worked for the Bronx Zoo in New York. In the late 1940s he and his wife, Emy made a lengthy expedition to the Belgian Congo (now the Democratic Republic of the Congo), specifically to collect the Congo peacock, which had been identified only in 1936! However, what I presume was his last expedition to the Congo coincided with the violence and anarchy of Congo Independence. Nevertheless, as well as catching gorillas using nets (they don't do that sort of thing any more) in what can only be labelled the geographic centre of Africa, he heard rumours of not one, but two unknown apes.  Here, then, is his account, translated from the French.

Saturday, 5 October 2019

The Last (Forgotten) Sea Serpents of the 19th Century

     Regular readers of this blog will be aware that I have been systematically seeking out and publishing reports in Australian newspapers of sea serpents witnessed in other parts of the world which have been missed by earlier investigators, in particular, Oudemans, Gould, and Heuvelmans. This post is the final in the series, and brings the story up to the last years of the nineteenth century. (Twentieth century sightings have been recorded in earlier posts.) Once more, I have chosen the earliest Australian report, but the original may have been taken from a foreign newspaper weeks, or sometimes months, beforehand.

Saturday, 15 June 2019

The Great Koolunga Bunyip Hunt of 1883

They sought it with thimbles,
They sought it with care;
They pursued it with forks and hope;
They threatened its life with a railway-share;
They charmed it with smiles and soap.
 (The Hunting of the Snark, Lewis Carroll, 1876)
Bunyip: The bogey of the bush, a mythical monster which lurks in the rivers and swamps of inland Australia, and makes Aborigines turn white with terror. Everyone has heard about the bunyip, but no-one can tell you what it looks like.
Koolunga, South Australia: population 195, the epitome of a one horse town. You'll need a really detailed map to find it, so I shall give the co-ordinates: 33½° S, 138.1° E, on the banks of the Broughton River, 33 km south of Crystal Brook, and 46 km north west of Clare.
     Yet, in early 1883 it was the centre of a colourful bunyip hunt which kept the rest of the continent amused long after it had ended with a blast. No doubt many readers in Queensland and Tasmania were asking themselves at the time: "Where the [expletive] is Koolunga?"

Monday, 10 June 2019

New Zealand's Mystery Animal

     Going through my papers, I discovered a translation I made from the German more than forty years ago on the waitoreke, an alleged native mammal of New Zealand. It's not doing much good lying on my desk, so I might as well share it with you. Once more, I have preferred accuracy of translation to elegant English. Nevertheless, some of the terms I found obscure, so I cannot guarantee absolute accuracy, but anyone who wishes to check it can find the original document here.
     The fauna of New Zealand has suffered dreadfully from human settlement, and many species have been driven to extinction. To cite just one example: in 1986 the world's largest gecko was discovered as a stuffed specimen in the Natural History of Marseilles, and was recognized as a lizard described in Maori oral tradition, which only a single person had ever claimed to have seen alive. New Zealand is a land where flightless birds take the place of mammals, for the only native land animals are two species of bats, because New Zealand has been isolated from the rest of the world since the age of dinosaurs. It even possesses a strange reptile, the tuatara, which looks like a lizard, but is really the last survivor of a group which otherwise died out with the dinosaurs. It stands to reason, therefore, that any non-flying native land mammal may well be a monotreme, like the platypus and echidna, or something more ancient and primitive. With this in mind, let us proceed to the translation.

Wednesday, 1 May 2019

The Beast of Gévaudan - Solved !

     Between 1764 and 1767 a huge man-eater terrorised the region surrounding the southern French town of Gévaudan, claiming between 80 and 100 lives. People, often teenagers, tended the fields bearing spears. A detachment of dragoons was sent to hunt the Beast, and. 10,000 citizens were engaged as a battue to flush it out. Several times its death was announced, but the killings kept going on. It took a number of musket balls at relatively close range. The Beast of Gévaudan has become the stuff of legend and speculation. What was it? Officially a wolf. Or perhaps some huge wolf-dog hybrid. Or a hyaena. Or even a werewolf, according to Montague Summers! But now, at last, a German zoologist, Karl-Hans Taake has examined the primary sources, and definitively identified it.

Tuesday, 2 April 2019

Four More Forgotten Sea Serpents

      Once again I shall continue with my program of publishing old "sea serpent" reports which had evaded the attention of earlier researchers, such as Oudemans, Gould, and the redoubtable Heuvelmans. As before, my sources are the old Australian newspapers digitalised by the Australian National Library under the title of Trove. No doubt, as more and more nations digitalise their newspapers, more and more incidents will come to light, if other researchers take the time to unearth them.

Friday, 1 March 2019

In a Dark Hut With a Mystery Monster

     Crytozoological references can turn up in all sorts of odd places, and since these publications are likely to have vanished from public memory, it is important that the stories be filed in a central registry - like this one. Readers of this blog with long memories may recall that one such story appeared in the august pages of the National Geographic. Now I have just discovered another one in the May 1915 issue of my favourite magazine, The Wide World which, if you are interested, can be read or downloaded here.

Saturday, 2 February 2019

Forgotten Sea Serpents of 1888 - 1889

     Another month, so let's continue with the task of documenting nineteenth century sea serpent sightings which managed to avoid the gaze of all major researchers, such as Oudemans, Gould, and Heuvelmans, but which serendipitously turned up in obscure Australian newspapers, frequently long after the event. In this post we shall concentrate on the years 1888 and 1889.

Wednesday, 2 January 2019

The Georgetown Sea Serpent, 1888

     Did a sea serpent turn up in Georgetown Harbour in 1888? On page 573 of The Great Sea-Serpent (1892), A. C. Oudemans features a list of hoaxes, culminating at the bottom of the page with:
The sea-serpent is distinctly seen in Georgetown Harbour, on the 20th. of August, 1888, sleeping on the surface, &c. - Chambers' Journal, 1888, Nov. 24. - (R. P. G.)
    The three last initials stand for Mr. R. P. Greg, who provided him with his whole collection of clippings. But why was it classified as a hoax? Did he know something he wasn't telling?

Tuesday, 4 December 2018

The Mongolian Wild Man's Last Stand

     One reason for taking cryptozoology seriously is the possibility that a significant species is going extinct before science has even established its existence. Thus, throughout the boreal forests of Russia, as far as Siberia, legends abound of primates apparently similar to the North American bigfoot. However, if the legends are correct, a wide tract of Central Asia also harbours isolated pockets of a different type of primate: slightly smaller, slightly more social, slightly more manlike (but only slightly). Such, for example, are the almasties of the Caucasus, and possibly the bar manu of Chitral. Peasants still claim to see them in Tajikistan. In Mongolia the term is almas (singular; it is not the plural of "alma"), and the leading researcher used to be Professor Yöngsiyebü-Biambyn Rinchen of Ulaan Baatar (1905 - 1977). The Mongolian alphabets are different to ours, so his surname has also been transliterated as "Rincen" and "Rinčen", and his initial as "P" and "B".
     In any case, in 1964 Prof Rinchen wrote a paper for the Italian journal, Genus in which he claimed that almas were then restricted to an area of 1,000 square kilometres [380 square miles] in his country.

Saturday, 3 November 2018

Forgotten Sea Serpents, 1880 - 1886

     I am back from America now, so I might as well get back to work. Just over a month ago I recorded four forgotten sea serpent reports from 1879. This time I shall introduce three incidents from the years 1880, 1885, and 1886 respectively. Once again, please note that these are new cases ie reports which have apparently never been discovered by earlier researchers, but which were picked up by various Australian newspapers from overseas sources. Presumably there are a lot of forgotten cases "out there" in local newspapers in all corners of the world.

Wednesday, 1 August 2018

Sea Serpents Galore! (1869 to 1875)

     Once more we venture into sea serpent territory. As I have mentioned before, the digitalised copies of old Australian newspapers contain articles on alleged sea serpents reported from other parts of the world, which have apparently remained unknown to researchers to this present day. I hope, therefore, that serious researchers are bookmarking this site, because this latest installment contains three accounts: two from the New England area of the US, and one from Africa.

Wednesday, 11 July 2018

Bigfoot in the Andes?

     It is now time for another venture into translation and bigfootery. The author of the following essay, written in 1963, was a journalist for El Tribuno, the newspaper of the province of Salta, tucked into the far northwest corner of Argentina. It thus includes the foothills of the Andes, although he cites legends from farther afield. Readers will no doubt be aware that bigfoot-type rumours are not unknown in South America, and the author apparently accepts this identity. Just the same, the description of the animal is extremely limited. All that one can say is that one would expect the average peasant to be able to recognize a bear, even an unknown species. Also, the behaviour of running away with its hands clutched to its head doesn't sound too ursine to me!
     I apologize in advance for the text. The author's form of literary Spanish tends to convert to a rather stilted English, but I have chosen to sacrifice style in favour of accuracy. Even in regard to the latter, problems arise. Firstly, my Spanish is only passable. Secondly, every word in a language bears a variety of meanings and connotations which do not transfer exactly into a second language. Thirdly, this essay contains a number of dialectal terms and slang absent from even the best dictionaries. Nevertheless, though I am prepared to accept criticism of specific words and phrases, I believe the overall meaning of the text has been preserved.

Tuesday, 5 June 2018

The Lake Minnetonka Monster

This is a story 'bout Minnie the Monster.
     Sorry! I couldn't resist that. Readers of my generation will recognize a parody of a popular song. In any case, one of the strange mysteries of cryptozoology is how certain lakes gain a reputation as being the habitation of a monster, which only reappear at very long intervals. Take Lake Minnetonka, Minnesota, for example. It's adjacent to the huge St. Paul-Minneapolis conurbium, for heaven's sake! - hardly the site you'd predict for a self-respecting monster to hide. I know the Wikipedia says that a big sturgeon called Lou is supposed to dwell there, but this is small fry. I'm talking about Minnie, and she's big!

Tuesday, 1 May 2018

Giant Ape Attacks Hunters in Guatemala

     There! That headline should have caught your attention. This month I have decided to take a break from my reviews of historic sea serpents, and go back to translations of bigfootery. In 1962 the International Committee for the Study of Human-like Hairy Bipeds was formed, and for the next few years they published articles in the Italian population journal, Genus. Imagine my chagrin to discover that it was no longer held in the reference library where I had read it in my youth! Not to worry; it turned out to be published online by JSTOR, and one could download six free articles every month.
     Some papers are in English, and you can even read Ivan Sanderson's original description of the Minnesota Iceman. The whole of volume 21 for 1965 - more than 400 pages - is given over the discussions of "abominable snowmen" in various parts of Asia. Unfortunately, the whole of it is in Italian, a language with which I am unfamiliar. Since it will take a while to learn the language, anyone who wishes to undertake the task is welcome to be a guest on this blog. In the meantime, I feel I owe it to the world to translate the Spanish and French articles, commencing with this short article.

Sunday, 1 April 2018

The "Dimboola" Sea Serpent, 1913

     Dimboola is a town in Victoria, Australia. It is also the name of a play written in 1969 and a movie based on it, and filmed on location, in 1979, both of which depict the inhabitants as hicks. However, it was also the name of a steamship plying its trade between the southern capitals of the nation in 1913. The fat hit the fire on 20 May when it docked at Fremantle, W.A., and the skipper announced to the world the sea serpent he, the crew, and its passengers saw in the Great Australian Bight. Suddenly, the news was all over the country. You will find 144 separate references to it over the next three weeks. But none of this appears to have leaked out into the rest of the world, or to any of the sharp eyed researchers outside. You won't find this story anywhere else. It has been completely forgotten.

Thursday, 15 March 2018

The Monster of Crescent Lake, Oregon

     "Cressie" is the monster of Crescent Lake - in Labrador.  But North America alone possesses nine other lakes with that name. (There are also sixteen Round Lakes and five Square Lakes. Do you get the impression that some name-givers are not terribly imaginative?) Do any of the other nine possess a Cressie? Here is a story which apparently went around the world, because I found it in a newspaper in Adelaide, South Australia: the Express and Telegraph of Saturday 5 November 1910, at page 4.

Friday, 2 March 2018

The Monster of the Everglades, 1901

     Since the 1980s, Florida has been infested with an invasive species, the Burmese python (Python bivattatus), and early this century someone discovered a green anaconda, the largest snake in the world, there. But what about the old days? Here is a report which appears to have gone around the world, because I discovered it in an Australian newspaper, the Maitland Daily Mercury (NSW), Tuesday 15 April 1902, on page 5, but it seems to originally appeared in the New York Times, 30 November or 1st December 1901.

Friday, 2 February 2018

Sea Serpents Galore ! (1850 - 1869)

     Once more I enter the lists to rescue reports of sea serpents which earlier researchers had missed. Again, my method has been to trawl through Trove for reports picked up by Australian newspapers of overseas encounters. Needless to say, this "churnalism" had its problems, notably the fact that the story may have been old by the time it was received, or published, in this country.

Monday, 1 January 2018

Sea Serpents Galore! (1834 to 1849)

      In the last two months I copied forgotten 19th century sea serpent reports for Australia and New Zealand, so in the new year I shall start on the rest of the world. Two avenues existed by which the reports turned up in Australian newspapers. The first was that a ship's voyage actually terminated in the country, most commonly Melbourne, at which point the captain came out and told the local journalists what had been seen in another part of the world. The second was when an Australian newspaper - often a small regional one - picked up a story doing the rounds in the outer world. Often this was in turn picked up and did the rounds of other regional newspapers. In such cases, it has not always been possible to determine when the original event occurred.
    In any case, my modus operandi has been the same as before: first I would do a word search for "sea serpent" on Trove. If an account was discovered which did not appear in Heuvelmans' book, In the Wake of the Sea-Serpents, it was assumed to have been overlooked by earlier investigators, and therefore worthy of being put on the net. Just the same, I have rejected ones so silly they were obviously hoaxes, and some which appear to have been intended as fictional short stories. Nevertheless, a few rather questionable ones have been retained. With all this in mind, let us start.

Wednesday, 6 December 2017

Sea Serpents Galore! (New Zealand, 19th Century)

     In my last post I said that I was in the process of searching the digitalised versions of old Australian newspapers for sea serpent reports which may have missed the eyes of earlier investigators. In other words, I have checked to see whether they were recorded in Bernard Heuvelmans' tome, In the Wake of the Sea-Serpents. Last month I dealt with Australian sea serpents, but our neighbours across the Tasman also came in for their share of reports. It would have been great if a similar exercise were performed in New Zealand, because some of these accounts are short on detail, to say the least. At any rate, please pay heed, because these stories are NEW.

Tuesday, 7 November 2017

Sea Serpents Galore! (Australia, 19th Century)

     Take note! Most of what you are about to read in this post, and in those of the following months, have never been presented in any significant publication as a collection. In other words, they are new: unknown to the general public.
     I have been going through the digitalised Australian newspapers on Trove for the nineteenth century, and my system has been simple. I just used the advanced search option to look for the phrase, "sea serpent" for a particular year. Frequently what turned up was a flippant remark, and all too often a reference to a horse or a ship of that name. (I regret to say that the latter was never involved in an encounter. I would have loved to have read the headline, SEA SERPENT SEES SEA SERPENT.) Nevertheless, quite frequently I was met with a report of an actual (alleged) sea serpent sighting, which typically appeared in a large number of periodicals over a considerable period of time. If the story could not be found in Bernard Heuvelmans' comprehensive tome, In the Wake of the Sea-Serpents (1968), I have assumed it is unknown, and have copied what appears to be the earliest and/or most detailed account. I only wish the journalists had been prepared to ask questions. As if was, they normally recorded merely the information provided by the witness, without any attempt to obtain more details. But at least they took the subject seriously - which is more than they do today. In any case, this month's post shall deal with the Australian encounters. At this period, it is important to note, most trade between the Australian colonies was by sea.

Friday, 13 October 2017

The Monsters of the Murray - and the Macquarie

     "Bunyip" is the name usually given to mysterious water monsters in the the outback of Australia, so it is not surprising it turned up in these newspaper accounts. They do not appear to have been discovered by any other researchers.  The first one occurred in the River Murray, which is the second longest river on the continent, and it forms the border of New South Wales and Victoria. The location, however, was just across the border in South Australia, Berri being situated at 34° 17' S, 140° 36' E, not far from Renmark. The article is from page 4 of the Murray Pioneer and Australian River Record (Renmark) of Friday 1st January 1932.

Friday, 22 September 2017

More Forgotten Sea Serpents

     Last month, when I was researching forgotten sea serpent reports from Australian newspapers of the 1930s, I discovered a number of reports of sightings in other parts of the world. This, of course, would be expected. However, when I cross-checked them against Bernard Heuvelmans' comprehensive work, In the Wake of the Sea-Serpents, I discovered some which had been missed by even his eagle eye. On the assumption that they are therefore largely unknown to the general public, I feel obliged to put them on record here. Some of them were no doubt reported in more detail in the newspapers of their countries of origin, but I do not have access to them.

Saturday, 26 August 2017

Antipodean Sea Serpents, 1932-9

     In the past, I have written a number of posts on sea serpents, gleaned from Trove of digitalised Australian newspapers. I had thought I had covered them all, but a recent visit to this article by Andrew Nicholson started me on the quest again. Once more, the provisos mentioned in earlier posts apply. The reports were usually copied from one newspaper to another, with the result that I have chosen to quote what appear to be the earliest and most detailed account in each instance. Also, investigative journalism was not in vogue; the reporters simply repeated the information volunteered by the witnesses, without questioning it, and without asking for any more. But, in any case, they took them seriously. It makes one wonder how many sightings occur today and are never recorded.
     With this in mind, let us take a peek.

Wednesday, 22 February 2017

More on the Chitral Yeti

     If you look at a map of Pakistan, you will see, in the far north, a sliver of land squeezed between Afghanistan and Kashmir, with Tajikistan to the north. This is the district, and former kingdom of Chitral, and it is a world apart from the hot, level plains of the Indus Valley, where most of Pakistan lives. They even speak a different language, and the mountainous terrain is essentially the western extension of the Himalayas. Into this forgotten land, in 1988 and 1990, came the Catalan born French zoologist, Jordi Magraner in search of evidence for the bar manu, the local equivalent of the Abominable Snowman. Speaking the local language himself, he interviewed a large number of people, and came back with 27 testimonies of encounters with the legendary beast.
     Five years ago I published a translation of his report. It turns out, however, that this was merely a preliminary report. A more detailed docuement, amounting to 84 pages, can be found at here in PDF form. In view of its length, I have no intention of translating the whole document. Moreover, I consider the original report presented sufficient details about the environment, the animal's appearance, and its location in time and space. However, there is one addition which is important. The full report contains far more eyewitness accounts than the three which illustrated the earlier report. I have therefore decided to translate that section. Read it, and then ask whether you any longer doubt the existence of an unknown primate in the Himalayas.
    Note: French and Russian investigators into unknown bipedal primates tend to call them "relic hominids". In normal scientific parlance, however, hominids refers to the group comprising humans, the great apes, and our extinct relatives. It is far from clear where the "relic hominids" fit into the scheme.

Sunday, 2 October 2016

Really Gigantic Squid? 1. Official Records

There is probably no apparition more terrifying than a gigantic, saucer-eyed creature of the depths with writhing, snakelike, grasping tentacles, a huge gelatinous body, and the powerful beak of a humongous seagoing parrot. Even the man-eating shark pales by comparison to such a horror.
(Richard Ellis, The Search for the Giant Squid, 1998)
     No doubt this is the reason why, as I commented in another article, people are more likely to encounter a living giant squid in fiction than in real life. Most people don't realize how recent has been our fascination with this monster. It was only scientificly described in 1856, and first observed at sea in 1861. Were it not for its habit of periodically dying en masse and being washed ashore, it may well have remained as legendary as the sea serpent.
     But the aim of the next two articles is to examine the claims that there exist individuals far, far bigger than those known to science.

Saturday, 1 October 2016

Really Gigantic Squid? 2. The Big Ones That Got Away.

     In Part 1 we learned that giant squid continue to grow more or less steadily throughout life, with about 6 per cent exceeding 50 feet in length, and that there is good reason to believe that some of them, not yet recorded by science, make it to 66 feet. But what do we make of the claims that rare individuals reach 100 feet in length, if not even longer?

Thursday, 7 April 2016

Big Birds Do Fly

     I am gradually coming round to the idea that there is something in the legends of avian giants ("thunderbirds") flying over North America. They were easy to ignore when they just amounted to a bird "the size of a small aeroplane" framed against the sky, because how can you judge the size of anything against the backdrop of the sky? It is a different matter when trees, houses, and roads provide a frame of reference. So, for example, I placed an article on big birds in my Anomalies blog, because two of the three sounded somehow paranormal, but the middle one seems honest-to-goodness flesh and feathers. You can find additional reports of thunderbirds in this article. Another recent report comes from Alaska, and another from Illinois.  Jonathan D. Stiffy also wrote an article about thunderbirds in Pennsylvania for the third volume of the Journal of Cryptozoology, which I reviewed here. The reports derive solely from North America, as far as I am aware, and as no nests or eggs have been discovered, it is assumed they represent an uncommon migratory species which breeds in some obscure region of the north. In any case, since one of the functions of this blog is to rescue reports from journals and books which others may not have seen, I shall add a few more.

Sunday, 20 March 2016

Another Trove of Sea Monsters

     When I originally decided to use the Australian National Library's Trove of digitalised newspapers to locate the original citation of old "sea serpent" reports, I didn't realise it was going to be almost open ended. Dr Heuvelmans quoted a number of cases from secondary sources. Some of these were mere summaries, but others appear to be more or less verbatim copies of the originals. However, these, as far as I can determine, were the original reports. So here goes.

Wednesday, 3 February 2016

The Search for the Wild Man of the Pyrenees

     It came as a bit of a surprise to me to see the amount of feedback I received from last month's translation of Sr. Javier Resines' article on the alleged "wild man of the Pyrenees". It included a secondhand report of a sighting in France, and a firsthand report of a sighting in southern New York.
    In 2011 Sr. Resines also published two articles on a search for the fabulous creature, the first expedition being described here and the second here. It is high time, therefore, that I translate both of them in the same post. The italics were in the original.

Sunday, 3 January 2016

A Photo of the Wild Man of the Pyrenees?

     Let me state up front that I find it extremely hard to believe that a bipedal primate, unknown to science, could exist up to the present time in a narrow stretch of mountains between two heavily populated countries, such as France and Spain. Then again, I held the same view about the Australian yowie, until the sheer bulk of evidence became too large to ignore, for evidence which would be unimpressive individually can become very strong in the aggregate. We must therefore follow the trail wherever it leads us, and at least record every item of evidence as it turns up.
     Some months ago, when I published an article on the legendary "wild man of the Pyrenees",  Javier Resines kindly informed me about various articles on the same matter on his own Spanish language blog. So, for those whose Spanish is limited, I shall provide a translation of his article of 30 March 2012. As explained, the closest town to the event was Irún (43° 21'N, 47° 20' W), an ancient Basque city close to the sea and to the French border.

Tuesday, 8 December 2015

The "Nemesis" Sea Serpent of 1900

     In In the Wake of the Sea-Serpents, Bernard Heuvelmans mentioned two alleged sea serpent sightings reported in The Wide World Magazine which he declared to be bogus. One was the Tresco sighting, which  I dealt with in my October post. The second was described on p 366 of his book.
     I shall therefore deal only very briefly with the dramatic tale of Captain Laurence Thomson of the steamer Nemesis published in Wide World Magazine, which specialized in 'true adventure' stories. In 1900 he saw what he called a sea-serpent off Cape Naturaliste. There is a photograph of the sailor and his ship to convince us they existed - but one still cannot believe in the truth of his story for a moment, nor in the drawing in the magazine. It was a rubbery worm-like animal some 300 feet long and 3 feet in diameter, which rose out of the water in three huge arches in a way that was both mechanically and dynamically utterly impossible. In front of these arches a head rose on the end of a long neck, and on the spine was a sort of high soft fin that could fold up like a parasol.

Sunday, 1 November 2015

More Forgotten Sea Serpent Sightings

    Pity poor Dr Bernard Heuvelmans! He wrote In the Wake of the Sea-Serpents before the advent of the internet, which means he had to carefully cull bits and pieces of information from the far corners of the world, squirreled away in obscure newspapers and magazines, often having to rely on brief summaries in secondary sources. These days, at least in Australia, you will find the vast majority of newspapers, even minor local ones, digitalised on Trove to at least 1955. This means that a some casual references made by Heuvelmans can be investigated in more details. Let's try a few.

Thursday, 1 October 2015

The "Tresco" Sea Serpent of 1903

      On pages 368 - 369 of In the Wake of the Sea-Serpents, Bernard Heuvelmans describes the sea serpent allegedly seen by the crew of the Tresco near Cape Hatteras in 1903. His opinion was that the story "reaches the peak of fantasy", and I have to admit that, from the summary provided, it did seem to suffer from credibility problems. Nevertheless, one always wishes to refer to the original document, which was cited as the October 1903 issue of The Wide World Magazine. Now, The Wide World was a monthly magazine in which members of the public related their own adventures in various parts of the world. It was a requirement of publication that they certify that the story was true in all particulars and, in most cases, I suspect they were. Most of them lacked the normal structure of fiction - the beginning, middle, and end - and had the air of truth about them. Just the same, there was no method of confirmation, and a number of hoaxes certainly did make their appearances in its pages.
     I have been an avid fan of The Wide World ever since I was introduced to it as a boy, and have collected every edition I could lay my hands on. Regrettably, this includes only a couple before World War II. Then, a couple of months ago, a light bulb went off in my head. The Internet Archive contains a number of the early bound editions, including volume 12, where the relevant article appears on pages 147-155. I would really like to introduce you to this wonderful magazine, and I would seriously suggest that you read it. But for those who lack either the time or the inclination, I shall publish the article here.

Tuesday, 1 September 2015

Another Queensland "Black Panther"

     At last! People are using the "How to report a sighting" function at the top of this blog. On Saturday 15 August this year I received an e-mail form Mark and Bronwyn (Bronnie) Welbeloved [4 syllables] about an experience they had six days before. The site was just outside the Cordalba State Forest, a reserve of 11,000 hectares [about 27,000 acres, or 42½ square miles] which, as the name implies, lies just west of the village of Cordalba. The latter is situated at 25° 10' S, 152° 13' E, and the site itself would have been somewhat to the north of that. The nearest significant town is Childers, to the south. As is appropriate, they each wrote a separate account.

Friday, 7 August 2015

Up de Graff and the Giant Anacondas

     The green anaconda, Eunectes murinus, the great water boa of the Amazon, is the heaviest, and one of the longest snakes in the world, but how long does it grow? It certainly reaches 20 feet [6.1 m], although the vast majority are shorter. Any individuals longer than that are officially unconfirmed but, since they grow throughout life, and since every species contains freakishly large individuals, we should not doubt their existence. It is the truly gigantic forms which remain controversial. Perhaps it is natural for the white man to project onto the hostile wilderness monsters two or three times the known maximum (though we never hear of 30 foot long alligators). However, the fact that the Indians also tell of them might give us pause for thought. Percy Fawcett, we know, claims to have shot and measured (? by pacing it) an anaconda 62 feet [18.9 m] in length. So, either he was a bare-faced liar, or there really are such monsters out there.
     With this in mind, and since the aim of this blog is to rescue reports which may have got lost, I should like to share with you a record which, until now, appears to have been largely overlooked.

Tuesday, 7 July 2015

The Barcelona Satyr, 1760

     A couple of months ago I published a translation of Michel Raynal's article on the legendary "wild man of the Pyrenees". This time, I shall follow it up with a translation of a follow-up article by the same author of the possible capture of such a creature in the mid-18th century. The original article is entitled, Une figuration de l'homme sauvage dans les Pyrénées? and it was published in Bipedia 4, 1990, pp 16-18, the original of which can be found here.

Tuesday, 2 June 2015

Journal of Cryptozoology, Volume 3

     Volume 3 of The Journal of Cryptozoology is now out, containing 97 pages, compared to 80 for the second volume and 62 for the first. The reason I have chosen to depict the rear cover is that because it is more interesting than the regular boring front cover, and by now you will have probably guessed that the contents involve ducks and dinosaurs. As in previous issues, the five papers are all of scientific journal quality, but it is interesting to note that none of the contributors cites a scientific establishment as an address. So what does this say about cryptozoology - that it is dominated by amateurs, or that it is dangerous for professionals to be associated with it?

Wednesday, 13 May 2015

Mysterious Big Birds

I have posted this essay on my Anomalies blog because, although there are a lot of reports of "thunderbirds", these specific accounts contain elements of weirdness which suggest there might be more than just a mystery animal species involved.

Tuesday, 5 May 2015

The Wild Man of the Pyrenees

     This is my 50th post, and it appears I shall have to go back to translating, because I have run out of English language material. It seems only yesterday, but in reality it was a quarter century ago that Michel Raynal sent me his paper, in French, about the alleged "wild man of the Pyrenees". In effect, it is a local form of a legend which extends throughout Europe, and which used to be portrayed in pageants, and on the façades of churches and other public buildings, not to mention coats of arms. In English the term was wose or woodwose, from which the surname, Wodehouse derived. Classically, the wild man was conceived as solitary, hairy, speechless, and armed with a wooden club. Whether the idea related back to anything substantial is an open question. After all, the same people believed in the little people: fairies, elves, call them what you like. There is only a limited number of variations on the human form which the imagination can call upon to populate the local area. Very small humans is one variety, and another is the beast-man, who bridges the conceptional gap between humans and the natural world. Just the same, there is good evidence for similar such creatures in the Caucasus, so it cannot be ruled out that they once extended deep into the primeval heart of Europe, where they left residues on the collective memory.
     M. Raynal's paper was entitled, L'homme sauvage dans les Pyrénées et la survivance des néanderthaliens, and was published in an obscure journal, Bipedia, vol 3 (1989), pp 1-16. The original can be found here and, if you wish, you can use the "translate" facility to compare a human translation to a computer driven one.

The Possum Book

I am pleased to provide a link to a website of a friend of mine, Robyn Tracey, who has written a fascinating story about her dealings with brush-tailed possums in the outer suburbs of Sydney. You can download the book for free, or read it on the site. Go to: The Possum Book.

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