Saturday, February 28, 2009

Attenborough on the Yeti

Sir David Attenborough thinks the question of the Yeti is as yet "unanswered." (News source.)

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UK: Big "Snakes"

Nick Redfern has an article on some large snake-like creature sightings. (News source.)

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Friday, February 27, 2009

New Species Paper

Kevin Stewart passes this along:

Discoveries of new mammal species and their implications for conservation and ecosystem services
Proc. Nat. Acad. Sci.
February 19, 2009, published online

From the abstract: "
In light of recent discoveries of many new species of poorly-studied organisms, we examine the biodiversity of mammals, a well known “charismatic” group. Many assume that nearly all mammal species are known to scientists. We demonstrate that this assumption is incorrect. Since 1993, 408 new mammalian species have been described, ?10% of the previously known fauna. Some 60% of these are “cryptic” species, but 40% are large and distinctive. ..."

You can download the list of 408 new mammal species here.

And, you can download a 2007 paper (Global Trends and Biases in New Mammal Species Discoveries) here.


Thursday, February 26, 2009

Coelacanth Danger

A Tanzanian harbor project could be detrimental to a local population of coelacanths. (News source.)

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Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Komodo Dragon Attack

A Rinca island park ranger was sitting at his desk in a hut, when a Komodo dragon entered and attacked him, causing injuries to his hand and foot. (News source.)

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Indiana Cougar Sightings

An alleged cougar in Terre Haute, IN, is back in the news.


Rare Tiger

Via Kevin Stewart: An Indo-Chinese tiger has been photographed (not shown on site) along the China-Myanmar border by Chinese researchers. They also found tracks and other evidence. (News source.)

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Howlbox Tool

Wolf researchers created a passive listening device that first emits a howl to stimulate interest. Could be some broader application there for cryptozoology... (News source.)


Delaware Cougar Sightings

More big cat reports from Delaware.

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Long-Necked Stegosaur

A new fossil from Portugal shows an interesting variation in stegosaurs. (News source.)


Algerian Cheetahs

Via Kevin Stewart: Camera traps have recorded four rare Saharan cheetahs in Algeria. (News source.)

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Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Psychedelic Frogfish

A new frogfish has been described; Histiophryne psychedelica may be a coral mimic. (Eurekalert.)

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"Barreleye" Fish

Some interesting research by MBARI on a deep sea fish with tubular eyes and a transparent head, here.

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They're Getting Smarter...

It's fun to anthropomorphize otters...

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Cryptic Corals

Coral researchers have to deal with corals that exhibit morphological variations, as well as separate species that look alike. Some research noted here.


Sunday, February 22, 2009

New Amphipod in Ohio

A new species of amphipod (a small crustacean) may have been discovered in a cave pool in Summit County, Ohio. Research is underway. (News source.)

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Feline News

Reports of a "black panther" by two different witnesses caused an Oconee County, GA, elementary school's officials to delay school recess. (News source.)

Arizona Game and Fish officials captured and released a jaguar southwest of Tucson, fitting it with a satellite tracking collar. (News source.)

Visitors to a Naples, FL, swamp sanctuary were able to photograph a young Florida panther stalking a deer. (News source.)

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Friday, February 20, 2009

OT: PIJAC Python Alert

This deserves a little more notice: here is a pdf of the Pet Industry council's alert on an idiotic political attempt to classify pythons as injurious species in the US, banning their import and interstate transportation.

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Oregon Sea Otter

A sea otter has migrated to the Oregon coast, the first confirmed sighting since 1906. (News source.)


Thursday, February 19, 2009

Yes, They're Fake

Who exactly is being fooled by these obvious fake photos of a giant snake in Borneo?

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Wednesday, February 18, 2009

More Siberian Yeti News

Take it for what it's worth...

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Lamb vs Eagle

Amazingly, the lamb won... (News source.)

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Rat News

Someone caught a big rat (possibly a bamboo rat) in China, six pounds with a 12 inch tail. The image is the standard "hold it close to the camera so it looks bigger" style, but still interesting. (News source.)

A new species of mountain rat was discovered in Mindanao island, Philippines. (News source.)

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Monday, February 16, 2009

Giant Snake Reported

A 39-foot (12 meter) snake (but only 8 inches thick) is being reported by terrified farmers in the Córdoba region of Colombia. (The dimensions, of course, are incompatible. Such a large snake would be much thicker.) (News source.)

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Mermaid Hoax

There was a mermaid hoax in the Philippines, with the rumor going around that a university marine lab had been given one found on the coast. It's uncertain whether a dugong stranding might have been responsible, or if it was a complete fabrication. (News source.)


Journey to Description

It took almost 10 years from the first photograph of an undescribed species of Grammonus in Hawaiian waters before an actual specimen could be placed in a museum collection and described. The fish was photographed and even collected in the interval, but one circumstance or another prevented its examination by experts. The paper:

Grammonus nagaredai, a New Viviparous Marine Fish (Ophidiiformes: Bythitidae) from the Hawaiian Islands
John E. Randall and Marc James Hughes
Pacific Science 63(1): 137-146 (2009)

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Another Classic Cryptofiction Reprint

Now available, a 2-novel omnibus, Frank Aubrey's A Queen of Atlantis and its (loose) sequel, The Devil-Tree of El Dorado. This is typical "lost race" fiction, with strange people, and stranger creatures. Each novel has its primary "creature" antagonist (the first has a deadly flying monster, the second a man-eating tree) along with additional imaginative beasts (several pulled from the annals of cryptozoology). Details at Coachwhip Publications.


Sunday, February 15, 2009

Lemur Article

Discovery of Sympatric Dwarf Lemur Species in the High-Altitude Rain Forest of Tsinjoarivo, Eastern Madagascar: Implications for Biogeography and Conservation
M. B. Blanco, et al.
Folia Primatologica, vol. 80(1): 1-17, 2009

The number of species within the Malagasy lemur genus Cheirogaleus is currently under debate. Museum collections are spotty, and field work, supplemented by morphometric and genetic analysis, is essential for documenting geographic distributions, ecological characteristics and species boundaries. We report here field evidence for 2 dwarf lemur species at Tsinjoarivo, an eastern-central high-altitude rain forest: one, from a forest fragment, displaying coat and dental characteristics similar to C. sibreei (previously described only from museum specimens) and the other, from the continuous forest, resembling individuals of Cheirogaleus found today at Ranomafana National Park, further to the south. This study represents the first confirmation of a living population of grey-fawn, C.-sibreei-like, dwarf lemurs in Madagascar.

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Giganto Articles

Here are a few abstracts to somewhat recent papers pertaining to Gigantopithecus (of interest to some in cryptozoology):

Molar enamel thickness and dentine horn height in Gigantopithecus blacki
A. J. Olejniczak, et al.
American Journal of Physical Anthropology, vol. 135(1): 85-91 (2008; online Oct. 2007)
Download PDF
[Also see paper on Australopithecus and Paranthropus enamel: PDF]

Absolutely thick molar enamel is consistent with large body size estimates and dietary inferences about Gigantopithecus blacki, which focus on tough or fibrous vegetation. In this study, 10 G. blacki molars demonstrating various stages of attrition were imaged using high-resolution microtomography. Three-dimensional average enamel thickness and relative enamel thickness measurements were recorded on the least worn molars within the sample (n = 2). Seven molars were also virtually sectioned through the mesial cusps and two-dimensional enamel thickness and dentine horn height measurements were recorded. Gigantopithecus has the thickest enamel of any fossil or extant primate in terms of absolute thickness. Relative (size-scaled) measures of enamel thickness, however, support a thick characterization (i.e., not "hyper-thick"); G. blacki relative enamel thickness overlaps slightly with Pongo and completely with Homo. Gigantopithecus blacki dentine horns are relatively short, similar to (but shorter than) those of Pongo, which in turn are shorter than those of humans and African apes. Gigantopithecus blacki molar enamel (and to a lesser extent, that of Pongo pygmaeus) is distributed relatively evenly across the occlusal surface compared with the more complex distribution of enamel thickness in Homo sapiens. The combination of evenly distributed occlusal enamel and relatively short dentine horns in G. blacki results in a flat and low-cusped occlusal surface suitable to grinding tough or fibrous food objects. This suite of molar morphologies is also found to varying degrees in Pongo and Sivapithecus, but not in African apes and humans, and may be diagnostic of subfamily Ponginae.

Comparative observations on the tooth root morphology of Gigantopithecus blacki
K. Kupczik and M. C. Dean
Journal of Human Evolution, vol. 54(2): 196-204 (Feb. 2008)

The extinct great ape Gigantopithecus blacki from the middle Pleistocene of China and Vietnam is known only from dental and mandibular remains, and its dietary specializations remain contentious. Here, for the first time, we describe the root morphology in G. blacki using computed tomography and three-dimensional image processing. We quantify the tooth root lengths and surface areas of the female G. blacki mandible No. 1 from the Liucheng Cave and compare it to a sample of extant great apes and humans, as well as the giant panda (Ailuropoda melanoleuca) and the American black bear (Ursus americanus). The results show that, in G. blacki, the pattern of mandibular root numbers—particularly that of the premolars—corresponds with that of Gorilla gorilla, Pan troglodytes, and Pongo pygmaeus. However, G. blacki can be distinguished from the extant hominids by having relatively higher values for postcanine root length and surface area, both absolutely and relative to mandibular size (except for premolar root lengths of humans). The relatively large postcanine root surface areas, which are most similar to A. melanoleuca, suggest that the dentition of G. blacki was adapted to sustaining relatively large occlusal forces needed to fracture mechanically resistant foods such as bamboo.

Geochronology of Ailuropoda–Stegodon fauna and Gigantopithecus in Guangxi Province, southern China
W. J. Rink, et al.
Quaternary Research, vol. 69(3): 377-387 (May 2008)

Pleistocene faunas from south China are difficult to subdivide based on the long temporal ranges of many taxa and a reduced number of genera in comparison to faunas from temperate north China. In south China, the Ailuropoda–Stegodon fauna is a very general one and includes a relatively stable suite of genera that apparently persisted for long periods of time. These attributes have made constraining its time range difficult. Application of electron spin resonance (ESR) dating of tooth enamel constrains the ages well where uranium uptake was minor. Where uranium uptake into teeth was significant, an approach combining ESR and 230Th/234U isotopic analysis also yields excellent ages. Previous estimates of early, middle and late Pleistocene time ranges previously determined by biostratigraphic seriation for the Ailuropoda–Stegodon fauna are confirmed in all cases but are made more precise with our approach, including specific time ranges for certain archaic taxa. Absolute dating also yields an extended time range for Gigantopithecus blacki of 1200 to 310 ka.

Assessing mandibular shape variation within Gigantopithecus using a geometric morphometric approach
S. F. Miller, J. L. White, and R. L. Ciochon
American Journal of Physical Anthropology, vol. 137(2): 201-212 (Oct. 2008)

This study provides a survey of mandibular shape in a sample of extant hominoids (Pan, Gorilla, Pongo, and Hylobates), as well as extinct Asian and Eurasian taxa (Ouranopithecus, Sivapithecus, and Gigantopithecus) in order to compare overall shape similarity. Results presented call into question differences in mandible shape recently used to distinguish Gigantopithecus giganteus from Gigantopithecus blacki and to justify resurrecting a different generic designation, "Indopithecus," for the former. It is concluded that while the two large-bodied Asian taxa may have been adapted to slightly different dietary niches with different geographic and temporal ranges, the unique mandibular/dental characters that the two taxa share should not be viewed as independent evolutionary developments.

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Identical Species at Both Poles

A marine census shows there are hundreds of identical species found at both poles. (News source.)

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Saturday, February 14, 2009

Big Cats in UK

A BBC news article here on a "big cat" print.

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Big Cats in UK

A BBC news article here on a "big cat" print.

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Fossil Croc with Tusks

A "boar-croc" has been discovered in the Sahara, but still awaits official description.

"Boar-croc doesn't fit in any known order. It has a crocodile-like snout, but adds horns and three sets of canine teeth like those of a wild pig adapted for eating meat." (
News source.)

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Cheeta Cheater?

Was "Cheeta" a fictional persona foisted on a number of hapless chimpanzees? Details...

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Thursday, February 12, 2009

Jaguar in Central Mexico

A jaguar has been photographed in a region in central Mexico, where it hasn't been seen for 50 years. (News source.)

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Dholes Loose in UK

A pack of Asian dholes (wild dogs) escaped from a UK animal park; 6 were darted or shot, and 2 are still loose. (News source.)

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Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Hot Spots, New Species, Etc.

Some research here on locating hot spots of species diversity for conservation focus.

408 new mammal species have been discovered since 1993, according to a new paper. The authors then go on with dire warnings for humanity.

And, new birds are waiting to be discovered in the eastern Himalayas.

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Sunday, February 08, 2009

Mountain Beavers

A column here on an often overlooked North American mammal.


Friday, February 06, 2009

Black Cat Mis-ID

In the latest of a series on NC big cat sightings, the columnist relates how a black feline turns out to be canine...

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Black Wolves

Some interesting genetic research regarding a black mutant gene found in North American wolves, and its origin. (Eurekalert)

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Nessie (or Not)

Details on an alleged Nessie sighting and photo here.


B. C. Bigfoot Hunter

Profile here...


Wednesday, February 04, 2009


A giant fossil snake (Titanoboa cerrejonensis) has been described from Columbia.

Researchers "used the ratio between vertebral size and the length of existing snakes to estimate that this boa-like snake must have reached 13 meters (42 feet) in length and weighed more than a ton." (Eurekalert; also, here)

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Fossil Worms Weren't

Turns out that some fossil tubeworms were misidentified: "scientists discovered that what was previously identified as fossilized tubeworms were actually fossilized tubular escape hatches for methane, a major constituent of natural gas." (Eurekalert)

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Monday, February 02, 2009

Extinct Animal Cloned (Then Goes Extinct Again)

The cloning of the extinct Pyrenean ibex was partially successful: a successful clone was born, but the kid died shortly after birth from breathing issues. (News source.)

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More H. Floresiensis Research

A few details here on some new research being published.