Thursday, June 28, 2007

Speak to the Toes

Stanford University researchers have discovered that elephants receive ground signals (low-frequency vocalizations) through their toes. From the news:

"In close quarters, those floppy ears work just fine. To reach elephants miles away, the low-frequency vibrations channel through soil, and clay represents the more reliable long-distance service.
"The 'listening' elephant catches the vibrations with its toes, behind which lie pads of acoustically sensitive fat. Similar tissue is in the heels of the elephant's feet and in its trunk, which augment the toe sensors. The vibrations speed along bones to the elephant's middle ear. They are processed in the auditory cortex area of the brain, just like regular sound."

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Treasures of the Sea


A new website by WWF – New Zealand launches June 29, 2007.


Treasures of the Sea

The aim of this website is to provide information on all known oceanic species of New Zealand. New Zealand is a unique and diverse ecosystem; over 40% of its oceanic species exist no place else on earth.
For biologists and natural resource researchers this new tool offers a high level of detail, images and data that is not centrally located anyplace else.

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Pennsylvania Gators

Over the last week two (2) alligators have been captured in the Pennypark area of Pennsylvania.

A 3-foot gator and a 5-foot gator, all within a mile of each other.

Are there more in the water way now as well? After all one was a male and the other a female.....

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Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Smiling Bushbird

The recently rediscovered recurve-billed bushbird has been photographed by conservationists in Colombia. (News source.)

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Thylacine Research

A researcher with the Australian Centre for Ancient DNA is testing animal scat from the 1950s and 1960s to determine whether any were left by thylacines. The scat was collected in Tasmania by Eric Guiler, a thylacine expert, who thought they possibly came from thylacines. (News source.)

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Tuesday, June 26, 2007

BFR Additions

Latest note in the BioFortean Review:

The New Siberian Roc, by Chad Arment

Also, Craig Heinselman reviews Further Cryptozoology.

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Monday, June 25, 2007

NC Feline

A North Carolina couple heard strange sounds in their backyard and investigated. From the news:

"So Bourne bought a spotlight, and on the next night, June 12, it helped solved the mystery — sort of. At first, the light illuminated a raccoon.
"'We were relieved until we caught sight of two more eyes and then a huge paw,' Bourne said. 'We angled the light and were dumbstruck to be looking at an enormous cat. A cat much, much larger than the raccoon.'
"Bourne said the cat had paws the size of a man’s hand, and a smooth tan coat. Later, she looked up pictures of mountain lions and bobcats, which people sometimes confuse. She thinks this animal was no bobcat."

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Albino Capra Ibex

A young albino capra ibex was photographed by rangers in the northern Italian Alps. From the news:

"Rangers took photos of the albino capra ibex climbing with its mother Sunday at about 10,000 feet above the Les Laures valley in the northwestern Val d'Aosta region, said Christian Chioso, a regional wildlife official." ...
"Chioso estimated the albino animal is about a year old.
"Hikers had been reporting seeing a white animal at higher elevations for months, and forest rangers have been keeping a lookout, Chioso said.
"The goat was seen near the boundaries of the Big Paradise National Park, which was established to protect the species. Chiaso said about 4,000 wild mountain goats populate the park."

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Sunday, June 24, 2007

Marine Life Survey Continues

University of Hawaii oceanographers are exploring the "abyss," the deepest part of the South Pacific, as part of a Census of Diversity of Marine Life project. 90% of the species they are collecting are new to science, and they have discovered that many species have a very limited range, making them more susceptible to extinction from human activity. (News source.)

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Thursday, June 21, 2007

Marc van Roosmalen Jailed

According to DutchNews.nl, researcher Marc van Roosmalen has been jailed in Brazil for a sentence of 14 years. He reportedly was keeping non-registered monkeys at his home in the Amazon.

Marc van Roosmalen is a well known biologist who has uncovered numerous new species over the years, including potential new feline ones.

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Wednesday, June 20, 2007

NJ Mystery Specimen Identified

A New Jersey woman found a strange set of teeth in a fox den on her farm in Hunterdon County. The specimen, after much inquiry, was identified by curators at the Academy of Natural Sciences in Philadelphia. Turned out the specimen was part of a wolf eel, which somehow turned up fifty miles from the nearest beach. (News source.)

New Zealand: New Bird Family

Genetic analysis of the New Zealand stitchbird (Notiomystis cincta) shows that it is not closely related to the only other three families of endemic New Zealand birds: the kiwis, the New Zealand wrens, or the New Zealand wattlebirds. A new family, the Notiomystidae, has been set up for it. (News source.)

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Electric Courtship

An African electric fish, Brienomyrus brachyistius, uses its weak electric signals in courtship behavior. From the research news:

"The research, which is the cover story in the July 1 issue of the Journal of Experimental Biology, is authored by Carl D. Hopkins, Cornell professor of neurobiology and behavior, and Ryan Wong '05, who conducted the study as an undergraduate for his senior honors thesis and is now a Ph.D. student at the University of Texas in Austin.
'"Our study provides strong evidence that the "rasp" [a certain electric signal] is a male advertisement call during courtship in this species,' said Wong, noting that the males also serenade females with lower frequency 'creaks.'"

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Alligator / Crocodile Films

Cycles happen, weather, nature and industry.

In movies we move through cycles of similarity, including nature run amok movies.

This year we see at least three (3) crocodile movies gearing towards the mainstream theatrical distribution:

Rogue is being released in late 2007 and was filmed for approx. $20 million
Blackwater is pending release and was just shown at Cannes
Primeval grossed over $10 million after a January 2007 release, and is now available on DVD

Some years we have alien invasions and super heroes, others just nature gone wild. While the spirit is not in the area of exotic wildlife, it does go hand in hand with more reports of escaped pets in the waterways (or 8 foot alligators being removed from basements in New York!)

Blackwater should be noted however for featuring real crocs over CGI or models. In line with how Open Water used real sharks for their filming.

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Steve Alten and Loch Ness


According to The Inverness Courier of June 19, 2007, popular cryptofiction author Steve Alten believes that his ideas on what the "Loch Ness Monster" is were supported by the recent Holmes footage.


Steve Alten is the author of a number of books, including four (4) with a distinct cryptozoological overtone. These cryptofiction entries are MEG, Loch Ness, MEG: Primal Waters and The Trench. Alten's 2005 novel Loch Ness was published by Tsunami Books.


As part of the publicity for the book the publisher offered a bounty for any fisherman who could produce an eel whose teeth appeared like the tooth found on Loch Ness in 2005. From this bounty a replica skull was commissioned showing what the skull of the "Loch Ness Monster" could look like based on the tooth.


Culture, fiction and the undeniable intrigue of Loch Ness.


See http://www.theloch.com/links.htm for images tied to the "tooth" mentioned above.




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Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Two (2) New Books - Big Cats and Zooform


BIG CATS LOOSE IN BRITAIN by Marcus Matthews
Paperback: 384 pages
Publisher: cfz (June 13, 2007)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1905723121
ISBN-13: 978-1905723126

MONSTER! - THE A-Z OF ZOOFORM PHENOMENA by Neil Arnold

Paperback: 396 pages
Publisher: cfz (May 23, 2007)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1905723105
ISBN-13: 978-1905723102

Both authors may sound familiar to cryptozoology readers based on their work in England dealing with big cats and other zoological phenomenons.

The books are available from various retailers such as Amazon.com

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Sunday, June 17, 2007

Manta Ray Born in Captivity

A Japanese aquarium has announced what may be the first captive birth of a manta ray. From the news:

"The baby manta, a female, was born late Saturday in a huge fish tank at the Okinawa Churaumi Aquarium, more than a year after its parents mated, the aquarium said in a statement posted Sunday on its Web site.
"In a video capturing the birth, the baby manta, rolled up like a tube, came sliding out of the mother manta, then quickly spread its fins and began swimming around." ...

"According to the aquarium, the newborn manta was more than six feet wide.
"The mother manta, which was brought to the aquarium in 1998 after hitting a fishnet off the southern island of Okinawa, about 1,000 miles southwest of Tokyo, mated with its partner on June 8, 2006, and was pregnant with the baby for 374 days, according to the statement."

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Junkin's Warbler Identified

Dave Junkin, an expert birder in New York, captured a small warbler while banding last year. He was unable to identify the species, but took a number of photos and measurements before releasing it. Posting it on the internet, many guesses were made, but not conclusively. The bird was recaptured, and a feather extracted for genetic testing. It turned out to be a hybrid of the mourning and Kentucky warblers. (News source.)

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Saturday, June 16, 2007

More on Philly Snake Hunt

While several newspapers are still making nonsensical statements about the "cat-decapitating snake" on the loose in Bucks County, PA, one journalist has taken some advice and actually contacted a few reptile experts to put the case into perspective. From this article:

"A spokeswoman from the Philadelphia Zoo who is an expert on snakes said it's possible for snakes to eat small animals, but if they do, they will swallow them whole and not leave anything behind.
"She also said that a snake's appetite would be less than usual with the weather being cooler for this time of year. And, she added, that a snake may eat only once or twice every two weeks." ...

"Whatever is causing the problems in Bristol, experts have the same advice for all the residents who live close to this area: Relax."

Friday, June 15, 2007

Wayward Alligators

More alligators on the loose:

Mentor, Ohio - a five foot alligator was captured and turned over to a pet store on June 13, 2007. It is believed to be a released pet released when it became too large.

Antioch, California - a four foot alligator is captured after being reported by a witness on June 15, 2007

Atlanta, Georgia - while alligators do travel to the northern part of the state, they are rarer. This week searchers have been trying to find one such errant gator from the Chattahoochee River outside of Atlanta, Georgia.

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Missing Link - a 13 Part Show on SPACE

Starting on June 28th at 10 pm (EST) a new show on the television channel Space will air. Entitled Missing Link the show will look at the unexplained in the world.

Note that episode one (1) and nine (9) feature topics of interest to cryptozoology, while other episodes touch on the fortean world.

June 28 – Episode One: Strange Species and Curious Creatures
July 5 – Episode Two: Survival and Reincarnation
July 12 – Episode Three: Possession
July 19 – Episode Four: Near-Death Experiences
July 26 – Episode Five: UFOs
August 2 – Episode Six: Premonitions and Psychic Powers
August 9 – Episode Seven: Ghosts, Haunted Houses and Poltergeists
August 16 – Episode Eight: Supernatural Death
August 23 – Episode Nine: Marine Monsters
August 30 – Episode Ten: Magic, Witchcraft and Satanism
September 6 – Episode Eleven: Miracles
September 13 – Episode Twelve: Mysterious Disappearances
September 20 – Episode Thirteen: Stone Mysteries

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The Puma Field Guide

The Cougar Network has put out a new downloadable field guide to mountain lions.

This short download has a high level of detail on the biology, behavior and history of these felines, and makes for a useful reference tool.

The Puma Field Guide was written by biologists Harley Shaw, Paul Beier, Melanie Culver, and Melissa Grigione.

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Snake Decapitates Kittens (or not)

Among a recent outbreak of exotic species running loose, there is a report from Bucks County, PA, about big snakes (pythons or boas). One quote from the news article bears mention:

"Bristol Township officers caught a nine-and-half foot snake Wednesday, but another it [sic] believed to be on the loose after the remains of several kittens were discovered." ...
"Two kittens, ironically named Miracle and Lucky, escaped their deaths after their owner discovered the bodies of four others in their litter.
"'They decapitated it, [sic] it was disgusting,' said the cat's owner Lisa Remer."

OK, here's the difference between how a snake eats its prey, and how a small predator (say a rat, a weasel, a canine, etc.) eats. A snake swallows its prey whole... They don't bite chunks off of kittens.

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Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Golden-headed Box Turtle - Extinct in 10 Years?

According to researchers at Anhui Normal University, the golden-headed box turtle may become extinct in 10 years. The species, described in 1988, has not been seen by locals for nearly 5 years and its total population is estimated at around 100.

The golden-headed box turtle, or yellow-headed box turtle, (Cuora aurocapitata ) is found in in Namling County, Yixian, Guande, Jingxian of China. It has been described both as a unique species (1988) and as a sub-species Cuora pani aurocapitata (2005).

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Louisiana "Black Panthers"

Another article has been written on sightings of big black cats in Morehouse Parish, LA. USFW says it might possibly be cougar from Texas. Or, it might be an escaped pet. Jaguar and jaguarundi are listed as less likely candidates. (News source.)

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Tigers in China

The Indo-Chinese tiger (one of several subspecies in China) has been captured on infrared film in a nature preserve in Yunnan Province. (News source.)

"Until now, no definitive evidence had surfaced for nearly ten years to prove that the tiger still existed in the wild in southwestern China, although field researchers had recorded footprints and other clues indicating the large cat’s presence in the region." ...
"China’s wild tiger situation is still very precarious. Currently, four subspecies in the country—the Northeast China tiger, the South China tiger, the Indo-Chinese tiger, and the Bengal tiger—have wild populations below 50 individuals. While the protection of their natural habitat is key to the survival of these animals, time is pressing and the danger of extinction remains a strong possibility. It is critical that we seize this moment to continue anti-poaching, conserve habitats, and increase investment so that China can protect its wild tiger populations from complete extinction."

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Bigfoot Comedy

Paramount has acquired rights to distribute a comedy, Strange Wilderness, starring Steve Zahn and others. The plot: "The story follows the hosts (Zahn and Covert) of fictional wildlife TV show 'Strange Wilderness,' which is headed toward extinction because of bad ratings; they hatch a scheme to find the one animal that can save the show — Bigfoot." (News source.)

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PDF - How to Tell a Sea Monster

Meant to put this link up earlier, it's a paper from 2002, "How to Tell a Sea Monster: Molecular Discrimination of Large Marine Animals of the North Atlantic," from the Biological Bulletin. It has been out for a few years, but I didn't realize it was available online from the author until Rod Dyke pointed it out. Should be useful to those new to cryptozoology or those who haven't had a chance to pick up a copy before.

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Monday, June 11, 2007

New Fossil: Longnecked Gliding Reptile

A description of a new gliding reptile with a longer neck than expected has been published in the Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology. From the press release:

"A remarkable new long-necked, gliding reptile discovered in 220 million-year old sediments of eastern north America is described in the latest issue of the Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology (Vol. 27, No. 2), scientists report. Mecistotrachelos apeoros (meaning "soaring, long-necked") is based on two fossils excavated at the Solite Quarry that straddles the Virginia-North Carolina state line." ...
"Fraser said that while two other reptiles with similar gliding membranes are known from the Triassic Period, they have much shorter necks and therefore conform more to the modern gliding lizard, Draco.
"The relationships of Mecistotrachelos are unclear, but Fraser considers that it is probably related to the protorosaurs. Protorosaurs are a group of extinct reptiles characterized by a long-necked, including the bizarre Tanystropheus which had a neck longer than the length of the body and tail combined.
"Because of the nature of the sediments, it was not possible to prepare the fossils by standard mechanical methods and the descriptions are based entirely on CT scans. This technique has only been rarely used to describe new species. Tim Ryan of the Center for Quantitative Imaging at Pennsylvania State University led the work on the CT scanning."

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Sunday, June 10, 2007

More on India's "Bigfoot"

An interesting supplement to the initial news article about the ape-like creature reported in India: (News source.)

"One local farmer, 40-year-old Wallen Sangma, claimed he had seen an entire family of the creatures - possibly a lowland relative of the Himalayan Yeti, or perhaps a distant cousin of the North American bigfoot known as Sasquatch, or Australia’s Yowie.
"'The sight was frightening: two adults and two smaller ones, huge and bulky, furry,' he told an AFP reporter who visited the remote area on Thursday and Friday.
"'Their heads looked as if they were wearing caps, and their colour was blackish-brown,' he said, adding that the four 'monsters' were about 30 to 40 metres away from him as he looked for firewood in a forest area.
"'The four of them quietly vanished into the undergrowth,' he said of the recent sighting."

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Friday, June 08, 2007

NZ Black Feline

Here is a news video from New Zealand on the alleged big black cat reported from Canterbury.

Barnacle Mass

A strange 14-meter tentacle-like object was found washed ashore a New Zealand beach. Officials investigated, and determined it was a large mass of goose barnacles attached to a rope or other object. (News source.)

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Homo Floresiensis Book


Mike Morwood and Penny van Oosterzee have published their book on Homo floresiensis:

A New Human: The Startling Discovery and Strange Story of the "Hobbits" of Flores, Indonesia.
HarperCollins
ISBN-10: 0060899085
ISBN-13: 978-0060899080

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Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Penguins at the North Pole

Not quite, but an article in the June issue of the Wilson Journal of Ornithology discusses how some penguins may have ended up in northern waters. From the news release:

"Guy Demmert got quite a surprise when he hauled a fishing net into his boat off the coast of southeast Alaska in July 2002. There among the salmon, in living black and white, was a Humboldt penguin, thousands of miles from where any of its kind should have been.
"The flightless bird appeared to be healthy and in good condition, and Demmert snapped its picture before turning the bird loose.
"It wasn't the first sighting of a penguin in Alaskan waters. In fact Demmert himself reported seeing one while fishing in 2001, and in 1976 a research cruise in the Gulf of Alaska recorded the sighting of 'brown penguins.'" ...

"The most probable explanation is that the creatures were hauled aboard boats – probably fishing boats -- in southern waters and were kept by the crews as the vessels traveled far to the north, then were released, concludes a new research paper by Dee Boersma, a UW biology professor noted for her penguin studies, and Amy Van Buren, a UW doctoral student in biology." ...
"The Humboldt is one of 17 penguin species, and is sometimes referred to as the Peruvian penguin because it typically lives along the coasts of Peru and Chile. The Galapagos penguin is the only species that lives north of the equator, and that is only because Isabella Island, one of the Galapagos Islands where the species lives and breeds, lies partially north of the equator.
"There were efforts in the early to mid 20th century to establish breeding penguin colonies in the Northern Hemisphere, mostly in Scandinavia, the researchers noted, but after nearly a decade all the penguins had been killed by predators, died by other means or disappeared.
"Northern sightings of penguins in the wild have been rare. There was a report of a single Humboldt penguin off British Columbia's Queen Charlotte Islands in 1944; one was reported near Long Beach, Wash., in 1975; three sightings of one to three Humboldts off the coast of Vancouver Island, B.C., were recorded in 1978, with pictures published in local newspapers; and a single penguin was reported off the Washington coast in 1985." ...

"They say it is unlikely the Humboldts swam from Peru to the Pacific Northwest, in part because it would mean traversing climate conditions the birds are not well equipped to handle.
"There also isn't much chance the birds spotted in the wild were zoo escapees, the scientists said. Penguins used to be brought to North American zoos from the south on a regular basis, but those shipments stopped in 1972 with the adoption of international regulations that halted much of the trade. Since then, they said, zoos in the United States have bred penguins in captivity and managed their penguins as one large population, moving individuals from specific zoos to reduce inbreeding. It would not be easy for the birds to escape to the wild from a zoo."

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RFID Aquarium

An interesting exhibit concept: a Singapore aquarium has placed RFID (radio frequency identification) transponders in fish within their Living Fossils exhibit. As a fish swims close to RFID readers, information on the fish is displayed on a touch screen. (News source.)

Monday, June 04, 2007

Newfoundland Iceberg Skeleton

Difficult to determine identity without a specimen in hand, but a couple took photos of a rib cage and spinal column sticking out of an iceberg as it passed the eastern coast of Newfoundland. Marine biologists are uncertain if it is a whale or pinniped (or something else). From the news:

"Stenson said he is fairly certain the pictures aren't a hoax.
"'If it was Photoshopped, it's a damn good job,' he said. 'The way that it's laying there, with what looks to be part of it underwater, looks authentic.'
"Stenson said he was told the backbone was roughly 2.4 metres out of the ice, leading him to believe the spine belonged to a large mammalian creature.
"But he is uncertain whether the animal would have fallen into a crevasse in an iceberg and then got stuck, or if it simply died on an ice floe and later became embedded by other pans of ice.
"'It could be a walrus, for example, that died and is laying on its back and the pressure of the snow and the ice has flattened those ribs,' he said.
"The bones don't appear very weathered, and it looks like there may be tissue still attached to them. Stenson wouldn't speculate on how old they are because the ice may have preserved them for years."

Sunday, June 03, 2007

India: Giant Apelike Creature

There have been recent sightings of a giant apelike creature from the West Garo Hills in the State of Meghalaya, India. This creature is ethnoknown to the local people as mande burung. A few local investigators formed the Achik Tourism Society to actively search for the creature, having been interested since sightings in 1997. They have found tracks 14 to 15 inches in length and have collected sighting reports from several regions in the Garo Hills. (News source.)

Saturday, June 02, 2007

1 Million Pounds for Nessie

Bookmaker William Hill (gambling bookmaker that is) has put up a Nessie Reward of 1 Million Pounds to anyone who can provide conclusive proof of Nessie's existence.

As part of the June 9-10th ROCK NESS festival at Loch Ness, attendees will will have the opportunity to obtain cameras and the chance for some Nessie hunting.

The rules are simple:

All evidence must be collected over the weekend of June 9-10, 2007 and submitted to William Hill by Noon of June 18th, 2007.

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Okapis on NPR

There is a brief report on the radio program Living on Earth regarding okapis. "Radio Deutsche Welle's Rupert Cook traveled to the Congo in search of the okapi and to find out about conservation efforts." You can read the transcript or listen to the audio here.
(I'm uncertain, though, why they say that European colonists called them the "African unicorn." There are stories of a "unicorn" in Africa, but I don't recall any folkloric connection to the okapi. If anyone can provide a citation for such, I'd be interested...)

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Friday, June 01, 2007

Amazonian New Species

Darren Naish has added several postings to his blog, Tetrapod Zoology, regarding the phenomenal work that Dr. Marc van Roosmalen has done in tracking down significant new species in the Amazon: primates, peccaries, a dwarf manatee, a large feline, an anteater, a coati, and much more. Several of these are in process of being described (the giant peccary this next month). Darren's postings are Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, and Part 4. van Roosmalen's website is here.

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Yowie Sighting

There's another report of a large ape-like creature from Australia. From the news:

"Around 11pm last Saturday a Batemans Bay resident, who wishes to remain anonymous, saw what she described as a two-legged non-human creature in her headlights.
"She said it was more than six feet tall, covered in a dark brownish fur and appeared and moved like no other animal she had ever seen."

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BFR Article

A new article has been added to BioFortean Review:

Notes on a Minor Set of Correspondence from Bernard Heuvelmans

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NWT Cougar Sighting

Two Yellowknife, Northwest Territories, residents spotted a large feline crossing the Ingraham Trail. It is unknown whether this might be the same cougar as that confirmed earlier this year, almost 40 kilometers northwest of Yellowknife. (News source.)