Saturday, September 29, 2007

NM BF Film

Two men visiting New Mexico inadvertently filmed what they believe may be a Bigfoot. From the news:

"Lindsay Lemmon and Austin McGee said after returning from a trip out west, they found that video shot out the window along I-40 in New Mexico has a glimpse of what appears to be a hulking furry figure walking.
"Mr. Lemmon, a local contractor who specializes in historic homes, said, 'I'm still skeptical, but it does look like a figure to me. If it was a prank, then it was awfully hot and it was out in the middle of nowhere.'
"Mr. McGee, who shot the footage, is much more positive. He said, 'I believe it whole-heartedly. Every time I look at it on the VCR I see a figure with real long arms hanging below the knees. He is walking and swinging those arms.'" ...
"Mr. Lemmon said they plan to release the video after the copyright is in place.
"He said they do not want to release the exact location in New Mexico, though they believe they can pinpoint it from a town sign that is earlier in the video."

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Loch Ness Sightings Scarce

Fewer sightings from Loch Ness are leading to speculation by researchers. From the Times:

"There have been only two reported sightings so far this year and there were only three in 2006. A decade ago the numbers were consistently in the high teens." ...
"In any other circumstances, such an outbreak of level-headedness would be applauded. But along the shores of Scotland’s most famous loch the apparent disappearance of the legendary monster has sparked frenzied speculation. Some Nessie fans claim that she has been driven into hiding by low-flying RAF fighter jets, while others blame increased pollution. Some have even dared to venture the unthinkable: that Nessie, God rest her soul, is dead.
"Steve Feltham, 44, who has spent 16 years watching the loch from a converted mobile library on its southern shore, believes that there were once as many as 30 mysterious creatures in the loch but that they are gradually dying off, because of old age. 'In the heyday of the sightings, back in the Sixties and Seventies, there were probably 20 or 30 of these animals but I believe that we’re now down to the last half a dozen,' he said." ...
"Of the two this year, one was in March when an English holidaymaker saw what he thought was a head and fin in the loch below Urquhart Castle, while the other was in May, when a Yorkshireman captured video footage of what looked like a jet-black shape moving slowly beneath the surface. Although initially viewed as promising, experts now believe it was the result of a sustained draft of wind blowing down from the surrounding hills.
"Adrian Shine, 58, a naturalist who has investigated the mystery of Loch Ness for 20 years, believes that one reason for the decline in sightings is that people are more sceptical about what they see."

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Friday, September 28, 2007

Michigan Feline Identified

I still haven't seen the photo, but the newspaper is claiming that the photographed feline from Michigan's Gogomain Swamp is a bobcat. (News source.)

More on Spanish Panther

More details on the Mijas "black panther" (News source):

"It all started at around seven o’clock on Tuesday evening when a British couple resident in Mijas, Ean and Valerie Ritchie, spotted what they claim was a panther from their balcony on the Los Claveles estate in La Cala. The couple even had time to take a picture of the animal. In order to make sure it was a panther they showed the image to a vet who apparently confirmed their suspicions and contacted the police.
"Officers from Seprona, the environment protection service, agreed that what they had seen could have been some sort of wild animal and organised a search of the area, armed with anaesthetic dart guns just in case they did come across a large wild cat. Nevertheless the José García of the Guardia Civil in Mijas had his doubts: 'It’s not likely to be a panther. It’s most probably some sort of dog or a wild boar', he said.
"The search was called off at ten o’clock on Tuesday night but the officers were out again on Wednesday morning, this time with the help of 20 hunting dogs. No trace of the panther was found.
"Seprona officers agreed that the sighting was 'strange' and explained that would be practically impossible for a panther to survive in the area. They pointed out that the silhouette between the pine trees in the photograph looks more like a dog - some sort of Rottweiler - or a wild boar."

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Thursday, September 27, 2007

Fisherman Finds Creature

An odd little story comes out of India:

"For fisherman Hemen Duwarah, it was another ordinary day as he sat for hours at Napukhuri, a pond in Lalimchapori village at Amguri.
"To his surprise, it was not a rou that took the bait, but a strange-looking snake. That was enough to create a sensation in the village.
"The snake was about one metre long and its body resembled a flexible tube, the size of a pen refill.
"'We have never seen such a strange creature. We were a bit petrified when we saw it for the first time. We want experts to come to the village to ascertain its identity,' village headman Pulok Das said."

Virginia Cougar Debate

This time, the debate isn't just over whether a cougar is in the area, but what to do about it. Residents responded irately when an out-of-towner suggested that it should be removed for safety's sake. (News source.)

Expensive Image

The photograph of an alleged yet footprint taken on a 1951 expedition was sold at Christie's yesterday, for £3,500. (News source.)

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Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Black Feline in Spain

A big black cat on the loose in Spain:

"The hunt is on for a large black panther spotted by a member of the public in a park near the Los Claveles residential estate in La Cala de Mijas at around 7pm last night.
"Since then, three other people have corroborated the sighting.
"Suggestions that the animal was a large dog were ruled out after the man, who managed to photograph it on his mobile phone, told how he saw it climb a tree."


(News source.)

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Is Cryptozoology a Science?

Apparently, one of Loren's blog postings on this question over at Cryptomundo instigated replies on other blogs, with some paranormalists claiming that "No, cryptozoology is not a science." Now, my problem with this is two-fold; first, the latter argument appears (from reading the blogs in question) to be based on faulty logic and irrelevant suppositions with little understanding of what, exactly, makes up a branch of science, and no apparent knowledge of the history of science (and the lengthy periods of development through which many current branches of science had to struggle for legitimacy). A convincing argument could probably be made that cryptozoology is not a science, but these arguments were not.

But that really isn't worth examining at this point, because the question itself is framed incorrectly. The question should not be, is cryptozoology a science, but is cryptozoology scientific?

Why? Because, as I've pointed out (in detail) in Cryptozoology: Science & Speculation, cryptozoology is primarily a methodology, and focuses on discovery science, not empirical science. (In some aspects, cryptozoology may also incorporate hypothetico-deductive science, which of course is prevalent throughout modern biology. All forms of scientific reasoning have their positive and negative characteristics, but that, too, is well beyond the scope of this note.) The point with empiricism, or experimental science, is that knowledge (results) should be verifiable and repeatable. Obviously, that isn't always possible with cryptozoology. In most cases, once a specimen of a mystery animal is located and the species described, it becomes verifiable, but at the same time ceases to be cryptozoological.

So, why is cryptozoology scientific? (And, for this, I recognize that cryptozoology can be, and often has been, used incorrectly; but, it does not logically follow that cryptozoology is inherently unscientific.)

1. Zoological discovery utilizes several different methodologies. Cryptozoology is the targeted-search methodology for ethnoknown animals. We have seen multiple examples of this targeted-search methodology occur over within mainstream zoology, with ethnoknown creatures for which only circumstantial evidence was known being sought and eventually discovered and described. The multiple (and ongoing) successes of Dutch zoologist Marc van Roosmalen, working with Brazilian indigenous peoples to locate new species is just one example.

2. Any generalized scientific methodology involves a) gathering data, observations and measurements, whether raw or developed (such as detecting and distinguishing patterns for investigation), b) developing, through various means, hypothetical explanations for the observations in question, c) determine, rationally, what a given hypothesis predicts, and d) devising a means of testing that hypothesis. In cryptozoology, the methodology is fairly straightforward: a) collect observations, sighting reports, and other ethnozoological data that suggests the presence of an unrecognized species. In some cases, the observations may be readily apparent, while others may require "pattern recognition," due to culture-driven folkloric guises. These observations directly lead to the identification of target ethnoknowns, or cryptids. b) Develop hypothetical explanations for a given cryptid, which may include an unknown species, known species, folkloric exaggeration, natural phenomena, etc. c) Develop and deduce from an explanation what we would predict (looking at the entire body of observations) if that explanation truly was correct. d) Develop a means of determining whether the explanation is correct. Now, this latter stage is far more difficult to implement than the others, which is why there is a preponderance of identified cryptids and only a relative handful of cases that have been adequately solved. There is an unfortunate tendency among some individuals to criticize cryptozoology on this point and then claim that the critique is based on science, when it is little more than emotionalism.

Unfortunately, so long as some researchers resort to belief-driven investigatory practices (whether paranormalism, skepticism, or other), cryptozoology will continue to be questioned as a scientific methodology. I suspect, however, that it will eventually dawn on mainstream zoologists that targeting ethnoknown animals for discovery science has great potential for conservation efforts, which will be the tipping point for mainstream recognition of cryptozoology as a methodology. (I don't think it will necessarily influence acceptance of well-known cryptids like Bigfoot and sea serpents as legitimate targets for scientific pursuit, but that's another issue altogether.)

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Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Now You See It...

Someone reported a dead "mountain lion" along a Connecticut highway, but by the time officials got there, it had been picked up by someone and was long gone. (News source.)

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Monday, September 24, 2007

Albino

A foot-long albino ratfish was caught during a University of Washington research project off Whidbey Island. From the Eurekalert:

"'Ratfish usually hang out in places with soft, muddy bottoms,' says Jon Reum, the aquatic and fishery sciences doctoral student who found the albino ratfish during a UW research project. 'The typical ratfish in Puget Sound is brown or black with a smattering of white spots so it blends in with the sediments.'
"This fish was almost pure white with a crystalline layer near the surface of its skin that gave it a silvery sheen." ...

"After the albino ratfish was caught the researchers attempted to keep her alive in a bucket of water but, in spite of boards placed over the top, she managed to flip out of the bucket onto the deck during the night. She is now preserved and part of the UW Fish Collection, which has 82 other ratfish specimens, ranging from eggs to full-grown adults. The collection, which focuses on North Pacific and Bering Sea fishes, is needed by researchers on and off campus to identify species and to understand fish biology and conservation."

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Sunday, September 23, 2007

Michigan Cougar Photo?

A cougar may have been photographed with a Trail-Cam at Gogomain Swamp, Michigan. (No photograph is attached to the news posting online, so I can't comment on the identification's validity.) (News source.)

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Saturday, September 22, 2007

Coati

Apparently, there's a coatimundi on the loose in Argyle, NY. (News source.)

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Wolves or Not?

Montana has a canine mystery on their hands. From the news:

"A mystery predator responsible for 12 sheep deaths in Eastern Montana last month could be connected to the dozens of similar attacks in late 2005 and early 2006, which some officials blame on a domestic hybrid species of wolf.
"Montana’s top wolf official said this week that two suspicious animals remain on the loose in and near Garfield County following the sheep deaths in late August. A third animal killed in a coyote snare earlier this month has yet to be positively identified as wild or domestic."

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Snake Isn't Boa

A snake scare near Chicago turned out to be caused by a native fox snake, not an exotic constrictor. (News source.)

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Friday, September 21, 2007

H. Floresiensis: The Debate Continues

Research being published today in Science notes "evidence in three wrist bones that these people were members of a distinct species rather than humans with a physical disorder." From the NYT:

"In the new study, scientists led by Matthew W. Tocheri, an anthropologist of human origins at the Smithsonian Institution, examined wrist bones from the skeletons and found them to be primitive and shaped differently than the wrist bones of modern humans. For example, the trapezoid bone connected to the index finger was wedge-shaped, not boot-shaped, as in humans. In fact, the scientists said these wrist bones were closer in shape to those of apes."

One critic says the study is mostly obfuscation, disregarding the variation naturally found in wrist bones.

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Celebes Sea Expedition

An ocean explorer with the New England Aquarium will be exploring the Celebes Sea, renowned for its diversity. From the press release:

"Stone is part of an undersea expedition which will explore the unique Celebes Sea, just south of the Philippines. The Celebes Sea is unlike anywhere else on the planet. With a shallow rim that protects it from deep-running frigid currents, it is one of the only deep ocean areas filled with warmer, life-sustaining water from its surface to its great depths. Scientists believe that most of the Earth’s oceans were similar 25 million years ago. The deep waters of the Celebes Sea just might be an ancient, biological time capsule. There has been little exploration of the deeper waters of the Celebes Sea. From September 24 to October 16, a joint expedition of the New England Aquarium, the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and National Geographic Magazine, in cooperation with the Philippine government, will do a top-to-bottom exploration of the twisted trenches and seafloor basins of this strange sea. Operating from a 175 foot research vessel, the scientists will use a remotely operated vehicle (ROV) that can descend to 10,000 feet and is also outfitted with HDTV and biological collecting equipment. They will also use baited deep sea cameras and deep sea trawl nets. Dr. Stone is a veteran National Geographic expedition leader, yet he exclaimed, 'We expect to make spectacular findings, including discovering new species and capturing images of beautifully strange creatures.'"

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Thursday, September 20, 2007

Tree Snail Mystery

Biologists have been wondering how a Tahitian tree snail, Partula hyalina, managed (historically) to reach two distant Polynesian islands (and not found on closer islands), and why the migrants are all white even though the snails on Tahiti are multicolored. Turns out the ancient Polynesians had a thing for white shells, so the snails were probably taken deliberately to the other islands for rearing. (News source.)

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Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Three Historical Papers

I've just added three historical papers to the BioFortean PDF Archive:

A Giant Story (1891): a brief folklore story of a Native American hairy monster that slaps its chest with the palms of its hands

Elephants in America (1887): A brief note about Davyd Ingram, who claimed to see several strange creatures in the late 1560s, as well as a mention of the Louisiana "unicorns."

Mermaids and Mermen (1900/1901): Various accounts of alleged "mer-creatures" from around the world.

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Sunday, September 16, 2007

Rumors and Big Cats

Stories and rumors in Southern Illinois have government helicopters dropping cougars into woodlands to take the deer population down. What's the farm-country counterpart to an urban legend; a rural myth? (News source.)

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Some People Like a Good Story

From a news column on tale-tellers (who do appear in the odd investigation):

"Junior Jones could tell a good story.
"As a college student, I worked at a Min-A-Mart where Junior was a regular. He'd stand around drinking coffee. I didn't charge him because I didn't want him to leave.
"Co-workers would get annoyed and go fill the beer cooler.
"I'd listen to Junior tell tales.
"Later, I learned that Junior was the one who created a minor media frenzy a few years earlier when he reported seeing Bigfoot in the woods near Dansville.
"He got the cops involved and the newspapers wrote about him and TV crews interviewed him.
"Soon, others piped up to say that, indeed, they'd seen it too.
"What a character."

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New (Previously Ethnoknown) Flying Fox

A new fruit bat was discovered on Mindoro Island in February 2006. From the Philippines:

[Dr. Mundita] "Lim said a team from the Comparative Biogeography and Conservation of Philippine Vertebrates (CBCPV) project conducted an expedition in Mindoro Occidental early last year that led to the discovery of the new fruit bat species, which has been named as the 'Mindoro Stripe-Faced Fruitbat' for its striking facial features and the island on which it was found.
"'A local resident of Sablayan first described the flying fox in great detail to us, but we were unconvinced until the species showed up in our nets,' said CBCPV mammologist Jake Esselstyn." ...

"The scientific description of the new species, Styloctenium mindorensis, was published last week in the Journal of Mammalogy." ...
"'The bat is very colorful; most of its hair is orange and it sports three white stripes on its face as well as a black beard, which distinguishes it from all other known fruit bats,' she said." ...
"The new flying fox is known to be only from Sablayan, Occidental Mindoro but the CBCPV team is hopeful that the bat will be found in other areas of the province.
"Another bat species from Mindoro is under study by CBCPV team members and is thought to be new to science as well, Lim revealed."

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Saturday, September 15, 2007

Australian Mystery Attack

Farmers in the Geelong district paddock continue to suspect that big felines are responsible for attacks on livestock, including a recent attack on a foal. A veterinarian could not rule out a wild dog pack as the culprit. (News source.)

Friday, September 14, 2007

Flathead Lake Monster Sightings

After publishing an article on a retired biologist collecting Flathead Lake monster sightings, the journalist received a few more interesting stories.

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The Cage (Cryptofiction Novel)

A new horror tale involving a number of cryptozoological and mythical creatures: The Cage, by Jason Brannon. Involves a traveling caravan ("Captain Omaha's Cryptozoological Fair and Freak Show"), a zoo, and a storm that traps visitors in a deadly situation. Quite a few of the well-known cryptids (the dangerous ones, at least) make an appearance.

Not for the faint-of-heart, but a quick skim shows that it is readable and imaginative. (At some point, when I've had time to catch up on my reading, I'll put reviews of this, and a few other cryptofiction novels, up on BFR.)

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Thursday, September 13, 2007

Cougar Tales

A Shelton, CT, woman and son were waiting for the school bus when they spotted a large golden-brown feline that ran off into the woods. (News source.)

An Algoma, WI, high school biology teacher and others have reported seeing a mountain lion in that area. (News source.)

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Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Kouprey is Distinct Species

A recent genetic analysis of kouprey samples shows that, despite recent arguments that the animal was a hybrid, it is in fact a distinct species. The paper, "Resolving a zoological mystery: the kouprey is a real species," published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B, can be downloaded here.

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Texas Spider Webbing Identified

The giant spider web found at Lake Tawakoni State Park is made up of webbings from several different species. From the news:

"Heavy rains early this summer created prime feeding conditions for the spiders, which worked collectively to spin a web that nearly covered a pond ripe with mosquitoes and other insects.
"'Normally they are cannibalistic and their webs are separated,' said Allen Dean, a Texas A&M University entomologist. 'They live in harmony because there's so much food available.'" ...

"Dean studied 250 specimens and identified 12 families of spiders in the same web. He said the most prevalent type is from the Tetragnathidae family, which typically weave individual orb-shaped webs.
"Arachnid expert Hank Guarisco, of Fort Hays State University in Hays, Kan., traveled to Texas to take a look for himself. He camped at the park, observing the spiders at night because some of them are nocturnal.
"He said he was impressed with the variety of spiders contributing to the web.
"'Tetragnathidae are usually solitary spiders who build their own webs and mind their own business," he said. "Here they are sharing a lot of foundation strands that are all over the place. They don't have individual webs anymore.'"

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West Arctic Walrus

A pair of Inuvialuit hunters brought in a rare visitor to the western Arctic, a walrus, found in shallow waters near Banks Island. A genetic sample has been sent to the Department of Fisheries and Oceans for testing. The animal's parts were distributed throughout the community for various uses. (News source.)

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Tuesday, September 11, 2007

New Underwater Cave Fish in Hawaii

A marine fish first photographed in 1998 in a South Kona cave, Hawaii, has finally been collected and informally confirmed as a new species. The description is still being written, but the fish is in the genus Grammonus. (News source.)

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Giant Spitting Earthworm Endangered

Several groups have sued the USFWS in an attempt to get the rare giant Palouse earthworm (Driloleirus americanus) listed as an endangered species. Press release here.

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Sunday, September 09, 2007

'Tianchi Monster'

A Chinese television reporter believes he filmed six "lake monsters" in Lake Tianchi, near the China/North Korea border:

"Zhuo Yongsheng, who works for a local TV station run by the administration office of the nature reserve at Mount Changbaishan, Jilin, has sent pictures of the Loch Ness-type creatures to Xinhua's Jilin provincial bureau.
"One of them showed the creatures swimming in three pairs, in parallel. Another showed them together, leaving ripples on the surface of the deep, volcanic lake." ...


He had originally gone to the mountainside to shoot the sunrise. At 5:26 am, a guide started yelling and pointing toward the water.

"He focused his lens on the black moving object in the center of the lake and five other forms emerged from the deep water.
"Zhuo said he witnessed the six seal-like, finned creatures swimming and frolicking in the lake for an hour and a half, before they ducked out of sight at 7:00 AM.
"'They could swim as fast as yachts and at times they would disappear under the water. It was impressive to see them all swimming at exactly the same pace, as if someone was giving orders,' he said. 'Their fins - or maybe wings - were longer than their bodies.'"


Rumors have circulated previously, but: "Scientists, however, have dismissed the rumors saying the lake was too cold for large creatures." (News source.)

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Florida's Unexpected Wildlife

A new book, focusing on Florida mystery animals:

Florida's Unexpected Wildlife: Exotic Species, Living Fossils, and Mythical Beasts in the Sunshine State
Michael Newton
University Press of Florida

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Catlike Beasts

A couple recent media items:

Westford, CT, police have issued a warning to the public following a "credible" sighting of a mountain lion-like feline. (
News source.)

A "mystery beast" is prowling around Camden, New York. Claw marks on trees have been noted. (
News source.)

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Thursday, September 06, 2007

Blood Monkey

Ran across this trailer for a Sci Fi Channel movie that is more cryptozoological (it appears) than most of its Saturday evening monster flicks. Don't know when it will be out; wouldn't start watching it with high expectations, but you never know...

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Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Dingos vs Thylacines

Pack-hunting dingos outcompeted the lone hunter thylacines by having better anatomical resistance to the mechanical stress of killing larger prey. (News source.)

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Kansas Cougar Debate

An Audubon official in Kansas is offering journalists what he claims is evidence for cougar in that state, while other wildlife biologists are criticizing his method of going to the press rather than "peer review." (News source.)

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Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Shipton's Yeti Photos at Auction

From the Telegraph:

"Four photographs of large paw prints in the snow beneath Mount Everest are to be sold at Christie's in London on September 26.
"The images were taken by the legendary British mountaineer Eric Shipton on a reconaissance trip to Everest in 1951..."

"Tom Bourdillon, who was also in the reconaissance party, later gave Shipton's black and white prints, which measure 6ins by 4ins, to a friend, Michael Davies.
"Mr Davies' descendants are now selling the historic souvenirs, which are expected to fetch £2,500." ...

"On the back of one of his images, Bourdillon wrote to Davies about the team's sighting of the prints.
"He said: 'We came across them on a high path on the Nepal-Tibet watershed during the 1951 Everest expedition.
"'They seem to have come over a secondary path at about 19,500ft down to 19,000ft where we first saw them and then went on down the glazier.
"'We followed them for the better part of a mile. What it is I don’t know, but I am quite clear that it is no animal known to live in the Himalaya and that it is big.'"


The estimate sounds a bit on the high side...

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Monday, September 03, 2007

CZ Book Review Contest

Online Cryptozoology Book Review Contest

How this works:
You can submit up to three book reviews for this contest. Once you have written a review, it must be posted online to Amazon.com or BarnesandNoble.com and available to read there by the 17th of September, 2007. Once it is up on the site, you must send an email to ChadArment@verizon.net to let me know that you are submitting that online review to the contest.

Basic rules:
1. Any non-fiction cryptozoology book, from any publisher, (including a reprinted classic) is eligible for review, so long as a) the current ISBN was first published between 2000 and the present, b) it is still in print and available from distributors (not just the used book dealers), and c) is at least 75% focused on mystery animals (not a general Fortean anthology, etc.).
2. The review needs to be honest, objective, and intelligently written. The rating you give the book will not be taken into consideration.
3. The review must be posted under your "real name," not an anonymous name.
4. The review must be new, posted between now and contest's end.
5. The review should focus on the book, its merits, its scope, and/or its implications for cryptozoology. It should not be a generic discourse on cryptozoology, the author, or other irrelevant points.
6. Obviously, authors shouldn't review their own books, but are more than welcome to review others'.

The individual with the most interesting review, as judged by myself and a small cadre, will receive their choice of:
Does Champ Exist?,
Oudemans' The Great Sea Serpent,
or Cryptozoology and the Investigation of Lesser-Known Mystery Animals.

(Yes, "interesting" is subjective: I'll be looking at conciseness, depth, detail, and discernment, as well as personality, clarity, and insight. Simple enough, right?)