Extraordinary claims. Ordinary investigations.

Archive for the 'Criptozoology' Category

No more “Whatsits”?

whatsit

I’m very late on this, but David Acord has started a new weekly cryptozoological newsletter, The Cryptid Chronicles, and from the free sample first issue it seems very interesting. I found “The Whatsit That Wasn’t (Or Was It?)” story particularly nice, as to me it highlights how the public and media perception of creatures is influenced by culture. Acord writes:

“As we’ve seen repeatedly over the years, properly identifying strange mammals can be tricky. Mange or other skin diseases can turn otherwise normal-looking foxes, coyotes and dogs into weird beasts that are often hastily labeled as cryptids or, worse, bonafide chupacabras (as happened in Texas in 2006 and 2007). Usually the disease is diagnosed within a few days or weeks and the story goes away. But in 1971, a strange case popped up in North Dakota that fooled biologists and zoologists alike. (…)
It all started in the late fall of 1971, when Morris Baker found the animal on his farm in Rollette County during a snowstorm. Baffled by its strange appearance – it appeared to possess the qualities of several animals all rolled into one – it was sent first to the North
Dakota State University branch at Bottineau and then transferred to the Roosevelt Park Zoo in Minot. Scientists at both locations were stumped, and gave it the nickname “Whatsit.” Others simply called it “The Thing.”

As it was 1971, there was still no Chupacabras label to put into the animal – the term would only be made popular in the late 1990s. And, more importantly, there was still no practical DNA testing. Even so, the “Whatsit” was eventually identified as a mangy red fox, but not after a long time.

Acord feels the explanation is puzzling nevertheless, as it would mean all those scientists failed to identify a common animal, and the news media didn’t exploit the blunder when it was discovered. Could this be?

I do think so, as all modern cases where DNA testing was conducted revealed these strange mammals to be indeed common, yet poor looking animals, and embarrassed some experts much sooner. And those “I have never seen anything like it” statements are always there. Invisible gorillas.

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Robot and Giant Squid: Ultimate Battle

Alright, the actual video may not be as dramatic as the headline for this post, but it is interesting nonetheless – the robotic arm does poke a very big squid. I couldn’t find an official source confirming the video, but everything seems to check.

From the information in the video itself and a little research, we can infer that it was captured on October 26, 2008, by an underwater Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV) operated by Petrobras during a rigid gas pipeline installation near Espirito Santo, Brazil. I don’t know in what unit of measurement the “ROV Depth” is given, but it’s probably in meters, which would mean the squid enwrapped itself around the ROV at a depth of more than 400 meters.

Now, to the giant question: is it really a giant squid? As far as I could check, the ROV is probably a Subsea7-Warrior, which is around 1.7 meters (66 inches) wide. And from the video, the squid looks roughly the same length as the ROV itself. So, yes, I think it was a giant squid. Not that huge, but giant indeed. Not that I’m a zoologist either, so be sure to check again for any updates. [Read the update below: it’s not an Architeutis, but a Dana Octopus Squid]

Some have suggested it could be a more common “Jumbo”, or Humboldt squid, but the Humboldt squid is found in the waters of the Humboldt Current in the Eastern Pacific Ocean. Petrobras works in the Atlantic Ocean. There are other big squids such as Onykia or Kondakovia, but they don’t seem to match depth, location and appearance quite well either.

Considering the first film of a live giant squid was taken on 2006, this new Brazilian video would be pretty relevant. Taken by an underwater ROV, it would be similar to the more recent Magnapinna footage, and as far as I know, it would be also the first sighting near the Brazilian shore. I would more than welcome any comments, corrections, professional opinions, official sources and confirmation for this new footage.

[hat tip to Konda, thanks!]

– – –

UPDATE: Frederico T. Magalhaes, from the Biology Institute of the Campinas State University, writes us:

“I’m a zoologist specialized in dealing with mollusks, and by the images I can say this is a Taningia danae. A species of bioluminescent squid that reaches up to around 1,70m and lives in deep waters. It was filmed alive for the first time in its habitat in 2005, before that it was known only through dead specimens and parts. Here’s an image of the video [which is also below], and here is one being examined in a lab. There’s also this nice illustration. It’s different from Architeutis sp., specially because the fins extend all along the mantle, shorter arms, no hooks and smaller size. You can see an Architeutis sp here. I hope this helps!”

It sure does, thank you very much Frederico!

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A Dinosaur in the Middle Ages? The Stegosaur in Cambodia

dinosaursamongusd

Now, isn’t that so obviously a Stegosaur? But it’s a carving from the Ta Prohm temple, located in the Cambodian jungle and built c. 1186. The first Stegosaurus fossil was only found in Colorado, USA, in 1876. Stegosaurs were extinct some 140 million years ago. And the one in that carving is all fleshy. It was a living creature.

Creationists are all excited about the carving, “amazing evidence that dinosaurs and humans coexisted” (with many photos). Dinosaurs were actually all extinct millions of years before the first humans, and they only lived together in the Flintstones – unless, of course, you consider that some dinosaurs evolved into birds.

So, many skeptics doubt the carving is authentic, assuming it’s a modern restoration, perhaps like the Salamanca Astronaut. It’s the easy answer.

But apparently, it’s really there, and it’s not a modern addition. Cryptozoologist Loren Coleman was intrigued. And wondered if “perhaps it is nothing more than a rhinoceros?”.

“Fish Head Salad”, makes a very convincing case that it is indeed just a rhino, with a decorative background: Modern Day Stegosaurus?

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I side with the rhino interpretation.

Rock carvings of Dinosaurs among men are more famous in the Ica stones version. Creationists are also excited about them, including what seems like a great illustrated book cover.

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Did I say that the book cover is amazing? Because it is.

Too bad they are not even honest mistakes like the Cambodian Rhino-Stegosaur. The Ica stones are just plain hoaxes. More info, in Portuguese, including photos of one of the makers of the Ica stones in O Legado dos Flintstones.

And let’s not mention the Acámbaro figures. [via Anomalist]

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“Capture the Truth” (with an expensive camera)

sonyNessie

Click on the image to enlarge and find the “truth” – there’s a small detail there on the left of Nessie’s body. It’s a nice ad for Sony’s expensive 24.6 megapixels camera.

Keep reading for a couple more excellent images of the series and some further musings.

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Giant Stingray

raiagigante

The photo is very real: this giant stingray may be the largest freshwater fish ever recorded. With an estimated weight between 550 to 990 pounds (250 to 450 kilograms), the image was captured as part of a National Geographic Society expedition in Thailand.

The stingray measuring around two meters in diameter was released later. Its tail was missing, and Zeb Hogan, Biologist from the University of Nevada, estimated its size with it could have reached 5 meters.

As part of the Megafishes Project, Hogan had already recorded last year a stingray four-meters long in Chachoengsao. And NatGeo has the video (the giant stingray appears near the end):

These giant stingrays were first described scientifically as recently as 1989, and the expedition and project are part of an effort to better understand, protect and preserve them.

Upon seeing these colossal stingrays, I couldn’t help but remember the infamous Garadiavolos, made from stingrays exploiting the fact their underside nostrils look like eyes, which along with its mouth give them a sort of pseudoface.

And I wonder how eerie the sighting of a giant stingray may be at night. Something like a Ningen. Fortunately – at least for the faint-hearted – as far as is known, they only survive in freshwater. And even if they survive in the sea, as can be seen in the videos they are not particularly dangerous, apart from their sting, of course. Notoriously, a stingray killed “Crocodile Hunter” Steve Irwin in 2006.

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Contrary to the illustration above, you can check real images of giant stingrays, via Google clicking below:

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[Above from ketessestars]

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