Saturday, January 31, 2009

Local Politics and Monster Hunting

A Swedish county council is throwing up roadblocks for "sea serpent" camera surveillance on the shore of Storsjön. (News source.)

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Friday, January 30, 2009

Whatever Happened to the 15th Monkey?

Finally, the story is told...

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Thursday, January 29, 2009

Strange Toad

New herps aren't uncommonly discovered, but here's an odd-looking toad recently found in Tanzania. (Gallery image.)

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Chinese Babbler

A new bird has been discovered in China. (News source.)

"A new fist-sized, babbler bird species has been discovered in a series of underground caves in China" ...
"Ornithologists Zhou Fang and Jiang Aiwu first saw the bird, dark with white spots on its breast, in 2005 and has since then established its identity as an unknown species. They labeled it the Nonggang babbler, scientific name Stachyris nonggangensis, named for the region of China where the bird was found."

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Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Immortal Critter

Turritopsis nutricula, a hydrozoan, may be as close as it gets to an "immortal" creature, reverting back to its juvenile polyp stage after mating. (News source and here.)

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More Mystery Cats

A discussion of alleged big cats in Virginia continues here, with a story of a trapped cougar in NC.

An article on the cougar debate in Vermont here.

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Grizzlies Returning to Manitoba

Officially noted as extirpated in Manitoba, grizzly bear sightings are coming from the northern section of that province. (News source.)

"Grizzly bears, which are officially listed as extirpated in Manitoba - no longer existing in the region - appear to be making forays into the northern fringe of the province, according to provincial wildlife officials.
"One to three grizzly bear sightings are being confirmed every year by Manitoba Conservation, provincial biologist Bill Watkins said."

(Via Kevin Stewart)

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Rocky Mountain Hybrids

Caribou in the Rockies are an unusual hybrid of the tundra and woodland caribou. (Eurekalert.)

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Monday, January 26, 2009

Wolves Returning to Central France

From the news:

"Wolf tracks have been found in the snow near Bondons, in the hills and forests of the Cevennes National Park 500 kilometres (312 miles) south of Paris, where one park official believes he saw one of the predators.
"A dead calf was found on farmland nearby, but it had been torn at by so many different animals it was difficult to say what killed it. Authorities are to conduct DNA tests on spoor samples found in the forest."

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More Canadian Black Felines

Sightings of "black panthers" continue. (News source.)

"Marina Ploughman knows what she saw - people can say what they want.
"'Well my dear, I definitely saw one,' said the Port au Choix senior. 'It was all black, jet, jet black. My first instinct was it's a domestic cat gone wild.'
"But it was too big - the animal she remembers seeing near Whaleback Pond on the road behind Hawkes Bay last July had a body (from neck to rear) 3.5 feet long with a 4.5 foot tail. She estimates it crossed 50 feet in front of her on the road she's been driving to her cabin for 30 years.
"'It just strutted right across the road in front of me - its paws were just awesome to see spread out on the road. And its teeth, big fangs. The only thing that surprised me was it wasn't overly tall off the ground, just long and slender.'"

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Sunday, January 25, 2009

Millipede-Eating Dung Beetle

A new paper:

From coprophagy to predation: a dung beetle that kills millipedes
Trond H. Larsen, et al.
Biology Letters (Tuesday, January 20, 2009)
Published online

Abstract:
The dung beetle subfamily Scarabaeinae is a cosmopolitan group of insects that feed primarily on dung. We describe the first case of an obligate predatory dung beetle and contrast its behaviour and morphology with those of its coprophagous sympatric congeners. Deltochilum valgum Burmeister killed and consumed millipedes in lowland rainforest in Peru. Ancestral ball-rolling behaviour shared by other canthonine species is abandoned, and the head, hind tibiae and pygidium of D. valgum are modified for novel functions during millipede predation. Millipedes were killed by disarticulation, often through decapitation, using the clypeus as a lever. Beetles killed millipedes much larger than themselves. In pitfall traps, D. valgum was attracted exclusively to millipedes, and preferred injured over uninjured millipedes. Morphological similarities placing D. valgum in the same subgenus with non-predatory dung-feeding species suggest a major and potentially rapid behavioural shift from coprophagy to predation. Ecological transitions enabling the exploitation of dramatically atypical niches, which may be more likely to occur when competition is intense, may help explain the evolution of novel ecological guilds and the diversification of exceptionally species-rich groups such as insects.

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Another Alaskan Cougar Sighting

An alleged cougar sighting from Kenai Keys, here.

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James Colvin

From a Chicago-area paper:

"Former Arlington Heights resident James E. Colvin, a scholar who helped create the Great Books Foundation, has died.
"Colvin, 96, died on Jan. 4 in Greenville, S.C., where he moved from the Northwest suburbs after retirement." ...
"Colvin served in the U.S. Navy during World War II, after which he worked for Encyclopaedia Britannica in Chicago as director of public relations, taking the train in from the Arlington Heights station. He later moved to World Book Encyclopedia, directing two unsuccessful expeditions to find the Loch Ness Monster. He retired in 1972 and moved to North Carolina and later to South Carolina."

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Thursday, January 22, 2009

Climbing Catfish

A new climbing catfish has been described from Venezuela. The species "has a specialized pelvic fin that decouples from its body and moves backward and forward independently." This is "used in combination with a grasping mouth to move like an inchworm up rocks." (News source.)

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Thief of Time

A fossil hunter turned out to be a fossil thief. (News source.)

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Really?

Richard Freeman, in a recent interview: "The CFZ is the only company in the world publishing books on mysterious animals"

Guess again, Richard.

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Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Another Homo Floresiensis Study

Another study on the skull of H. floresiensis suggests it is not a scaled-down Homo sapiens skull.

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Not Quite

Big tracks in Australia are likely from a canine, not a feline. (News source.)

Apparently this passes for news today: The RCMP has not captured a live Sasquatch. (News source.)

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Deep-Sea Misidentifications

An interesting case where male, female, and larval forms of deep-sea whalefish were separated into three different families, and now resolved. (News source.)

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Monday, January 19, 2009

FL Panther Deaths

Two Florida panthers have been hit by cars so far in 2009. (News source.)

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New Marine Species from Australia

A joint US/Australia marine expedition near Tasmania has lead to a number of new species discoveries. NatGeo has some pics.

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Sunday, January 18, 2009

Papers: Civets and Lemurs

Via Kevin Stewart, a couple of new papers to mention:

Lemur Diversity in Madagascar
Mittermeier, et al.
International Journal of Primatology (2008) 29: 1607-1656

This is a review of the taxonomic status of lemurs, recognizing 99 species and subspecies. It also notes several controversial areas, and points to potential new species (as yet undescribed).

The taxonomy of the endemic golden palm civet of Sri Lanka
Colin P. Groves, et al.
Zoological Journal of the Linnaean Society (2009) 155: 238-251

This is the citation for the golden palm civet paper noted in a previous blog posting. Paradoxurus stenocephalus, a new species, is described, and a possible new species is identified but not yet described.

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Saturday, January 17, 2009

Snow Worms

Mystery "snow worms" in a South Kitsap, Washington, yard have been generally identified as oligochaetes. No answer as to why they were in the snow. (News source.)

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Species Hotspot in Cambodia

WWF is pointing out a new "species hotspot" in the Mekong of Cambodia.

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Civets

A Sri Lankan "hobbyist" studies the native civets, leading to the rediscovery of one species and the discovery of a new species. (News source.)

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Woodpecker Study

A new UGA study suggests that ivory-billed woodpeckers could have persisted (in that it is possible as far as a population viability analysis goes).

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Cryptofiction?

A new novel, Kronos, has the following description:

"Two years after his wife's death, oceanographer and former navy SEAL, Atticus Young, attempts to reconcile with his rebellious daughter, Giona, by taking her on the scuba dive of a lifetime-swimming with a pod of peaceful humpback whales in the Gulf of Maine. But the beauty of the sea belies a terror from the deep-a horrific creature as immense as it is ancient. There is no blood, no scream, no fight. Giona is swallowed whole by the massive jaws. Only Atticus remains to suffer the shame of the survivor and his inconsolable grief turns to an unquenchable thirst for revenge.

"Drawn by the spectacle, Trevor Manfred, a ruthless billionaire, approaches Atticus with a proposition: Trevor will make available all the advanced technology of his heavily armed mega-yacht, the Titan, to aid Atticus in his death-quest. In return, Trevor is to receive the beast's corpse as the ultimate hunting trophy. But in the midst of the hunt, Atticus makes a terrifying discovery that changes the way he sees the ocean's creatures and begs the question: what is Kronos? The answer sets him on a new and much more deadly course."


Not sure if this is cryptofiction or not, haven't read it yet, but could be of interest. Also noted that another addition to Steve Alten's Meg series is due to come out soon.

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Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Macaque Roaming Clearwater Area

FL F&W is trying to capture a rhesus macaque roaming the Clearwater area. They don't know where it came from, and are waiting the next tip to go looking for it. (News source.)

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Careful As You Go...

Here's a good reminder for Bigfoot hunters to take care in the woods.

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Big Cat Fake

A UK newspaper published a fake big cat sighting photo, created from a Youtube video the hoaxers found online. (News source.)

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Australia: Big Cat Track?

An Australian man made plaster casts of tracks that he believes were made by a large feline. (News source.)

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Monday, January 12, 2009

Thylacine DNA

A gene-sequencing study on the Tasmanian tiger is set to be published soon. (News source.)

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Sunday, January 11, 2009

Prowling Felines

Another article here on alleged cougar sightings in Michigan.

An article here on a prowling tiger in Malaysia worrying a village.

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NJ Varmint

A pair of possible wolf-dog hybrids are roaming Vorhees, New Jersey. (News source.)

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Friday, January 09, 2009

British Tourist Gag Becomes UAE Hoax

A plaster goblin in a UK tourist cave has been photographed and turned into an Arabian monster email hoax. (News source.)

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More Australian Cat Stories

Tracks found in Glenwood, Australia, have been found; the discoverer isn't sure if they're canine or feline. Claw marks are present, but he thinks they appear retractile. (News source.)

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Solenodon on Film

Researchers in the Dominican Republican have caught the Hispaniolan solenodon on film. (News source.)

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Birdwatcher: The Life of Roger Tory Peterson

For those of you who get up way too early in the morning, put on your hiking boots, grab your binoculars, and set out to look for flashing wings and trills in the tree tops, a new book will be just your cup of tea. Elizabeth J. Rosenthal has interviewed his friends, family, and colleagues to introduce us to the genius, drive, and humanity of a singular individual, Roger Tory Peterson. Birdwatcher shows the foibles and insecurities along with his love of nature and the determination behind his conservation efforts.

Birdwatcher: The Life of Roger Tory Peterson
The Lyons Press
ISBN-13 978-1599212944
$29.95 / hardcover / 464 pp.

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Thursday, January 08, 2009

Newsletter

A new newsletter, the Cryptid Chronicles, is being offered by David Acord. It will be a weekly publication, 12 pages an issue, 52 weeks a year, for $29.95.

A free issue and more details can be seen here.

My only caveat is that the articles seem to be based solely on digital newspaper archives; there's little else right now. Nothing wrong with archives, they are foundational for my own publishing, but it's easy to miss broader correlations if that's all you use. For example, the collection of articles on whistling snakes is interesting, but overlooks the many cases reported elsewhere (herpetological or herpetocultural publications) of snakes making strange sounds. Within the cryptozoological community, Karl Shuker has noted several such cases.

And, then, there's the discussion of the Ohio "proteus," which appears to puzzle the editor, who doesn't seem aware that "proteus" was commonly used historically as a generic term for aquatic salamanders. The animal in question is no puzzle; it's a mudpuppy.

So, taking it with an open mind (but with some critical examination), this could be a good choice for those who look forward to new (old) crypto reports in their email every week.

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Sea Serpents

A brief article here on historical sea serpent sightings off the northeastern coastline.

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WV Cougar Allegations

A West Virginia family thinks a cougar attacked and killed one of their horses. (News source.)

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Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Panther Corridor Considered

USFWS is thinking about creating a "panther corridor" from south Florida to the Okefenokee swamp. Georgia may be home to reintroduced Florida panthers in the future. (News source.)

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Invertebrate Cryptofiction

Now available, Invertebrata Enigmatica, a collection of classic science fiction and fantasy stories involving insects, arachnids, and other invertebrates. Some are straight-forward fantasy, mystery, or supernatural stories, but many qualify as cryptofiction (involving encounters with unknown species). Details and contents available at CoachwhipBooks.com.

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Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Australia: Feline "Breeding Colony"

The Hawkesbury and Blue Mountains region in Australia might have a "breeding colony" of introduced big cats, according to some investigators. (News source.)

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UK: Big Cat Sightings Continue

Experienced Forestry Commission rangers in the UK have seen what they believe are large felines. (News source.)

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Monday, January 05, 2009

New Galapagos Iguana (More to Come?)

The media is jumping on the designation of the "rosada," a pink-tinted Galapagos land iguana, as a new species. See details at Discover News, and New Scientist.

Interesting, though, is a paper from this past November, noting that five populations of land iguanas in the Galapagos "represent distinct conservation units (one of them being the recently discovered rosada form) and could warrant species status." So, perhaps a couple more species to come?

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Sunday, January 04, 2009

Barbados: OOP Snakes

A few non-native snakes have been killed in Barbados, and a few more are believed still loose. Commentary here by the president of the Caribbean Herpetological Society.

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Bigfoot Group

A new Bigfoot society has started up in southeastern Ohio. (News source.)

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Tanzanian Herp Hotspot

17 new species of reptiles and amphibians are reported from the South Nguru Mountains in Tanzania. (News source.)

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