Saturday 6 November 2021

The 1983 Californian Sea Serpent

       Personally, I consider sea serpents more credible than lake monsters. It's the logistics of it all. The sea is vast, and we move across it with noisy vessels along narrow sea lanes. Anything could be there. Lakes are small, and tend to be surrounded by people. What lives there ought to be seen a lot more often. Yet, when I was researching the digitalised files of Australian newspapers for Australian and foreign sea serpents, I noticed something peculiar: up to the Second World War, it was respectable to see and report sea serpents, often uncritically. However, once the war started, people had much more important things to talk about, and after that date, although it has become respectable to see and report lake monsters, reports of sea serpents droppedoff  dramatically. But they still turn up. One case was in late 1983, off the coast of California. Again, I have the old International Society of Cryptozoology to thank for the summary. Although it is anonymous, the author was almost certainly the editor, J. Richard Greenwell.

Saturday 23 October 2021

A "Tree Crocodile" in Papua?

       The jungle clad mountains and valleys of New Guinea, just north of Australia, have turned it into a vast patchwork of "ecological islands" with new, rare, species just waiting to be discovered. By following up clues left by the natives, one of our more prominent zoologists, Dr. Tim Flannery managed to locate two new species of tree kangaroo concealed in localised pockets. The possibility that the thylacine, or Tasmanian tiger, believed to be extinct in Australia, may still exist in the Indonesian half of the island, is something I have discussed in this blog (here and here) and in my up-dated second edition of Bunyips and Bigfoots. Just the same, it was still a surprise to discover a 1955 article by a certain Walker Pearson, about a legendary giant lizard, or "tree crocodile" in Papua. Not only that, but he was able to cite, not only native legends, but credible reports by Europeans concerning the cryptid.

Monday 27 September 2021

The Thylacine That Wasn't

       When researching reports of mystery animals in Australia, the ones which give me the most headaches are not alien big cats (which shouldn't be here), nor the bigfoot-like yowie (which definitely shouldn't be here!), No, they are the ones describing thylacines, or Tasmanian tigers, on the mainland. The reason is, firstly, they were never recorded there in historic times (at least, not in the areas where they are now being reported) and, secondly, it is just so easy to mistake a mundane animal for a thylacine. The most disconcerting thing is, there still remain a residuum of cases which are not so easy to reject. So, my initial feelings were, "Here we go again!" when, earlier this month, I received an e-mail from a Mr. David Szabo concerning his experience in southeast Queensland, close to the New South Wales border. He has generously agreed to let me share the story.

Sunday 15 August 2021

Yes, There Really Are Pygmy Elephants.

      Let's be realistic: the idea of a big hairy ape stomping around North America, all unnoticed by science, is weird. I'm not saying it's impossible, but it is definitely counter-intuitive. Even weirder still is the idea of monsters, which don't breathe air, lurking in our lochs and lakes. But there is nothing weird about pygmy elephants wandering the trackless depths of the African jungle. The jungle is big enough to hold them all. The pygmy elephant was described back in 1906, and named Loxodonta pumilio, and since then they have been repeatedly sighted in the wild, and live specimens have even turned up in zoos. Nevertheless, the scientific consensus has been that they were just dwarf individuals of the known elephant species, or juveniles roaming in their own temporary bands. 
     Nevertheless, 30+ years ago, two German zoologists, Drs Martin Eisentraut and Wolfgang Bohme marshalled the evidence and produced two papers establishing the existence of the animals. As they were published in German in the journal of the Cologne Zoo, a publication not prominent in the libraries of English speaking universities, they were largely ignored by English speaking scientists. Fortunately, the now defunct International Society of Cryptozoology got hold of them and summarised them in their newsletter. It is these summaries which I now intend to summarise in turn.

Saturday 3 April 2021

Up Close and Personal with Ogopogo

     I was a foundation member of the International Society of Cryptozoology (ISC) in 1982, even contributing to its peer reviewed journal, Cryptozoology, and continued until it folded in 1998. Recently, I was going through the old Newsletters, and found an article I remember well: of a close encounter with Ogopogo which, I am sure you are aware, is the monster of Lake Okanagan in British Columbia, Canada. Reading it again, I realised that it had never been published elsewhere. As you are unlikely to have any copies of the ISC Newsletter, I shall share it with you. The author was anonymous, but was almost certainly the editor, J. Richard Greenwell, now deceased.

Thursday 11 March 2021

Apes in North Queensland

      The yowie, for those who are unaware, is the Australian version of the North American bigfoot. Of course, it shouldn't exist, because Australia is marsupial country, and no non-flying, non-swimming placental mammal larger than a rat has ever arrived here without human help. I didn't believe in it, until the evidence became too strong to ignore. In their definitive work on the subject, The Yowie, Tony Healy and Paul Cropper catalogue sightings and encounters from the south of the continent all the way up to north Queensland. Newspapers have not been as active in reporting sightings as they used to be, but last month a major capital city newspaper provided a glimpse into the situation in north Queensland. I have therefore decided to copy the report which appeared on page 26 of The Sunday Mail (Brisbane) on 7 February 2021.

Friday 5 February 2021

"Bunyips and Bigfoots" is Back!

      Doesn't time fly! It was a quarter of a century ago - in 1996- that my book, Bunyips and Bigfoots, in search of Australia's mystery animals was published. Since then, it appears to have become a boon to second-hand booksellers. From a recent websearch, I notice that the asking price varies from $50 to $220 US. At least that's lower than the £3000 (pounds, not dollars!) one seller was asking in late 2013. Even I admit that it wasn't worth that much. Never fear, however; I have just published an up-dated second edition at a reasonable price in both print-on-demand paperback and Kindle editions.