Friday, September 12, 2014

Was Dennis Hall's "Baby Champ" A Mudpuppy Salamander?

Illustration of a juvenile Lake Champlain mystery animal, by Thomas Finley
The great caveat of cryptozoological research has long been, in many cases, the absence of type specimens for the mystery animals being sought after. This shortcoming has led to much criticism of this study of 'hidden' animals, and has even spurred heated debate among researchers of the field as to the ethics of deliberately killing an unknown animal to verify its existence. The discoveries or photographs of supposed 'cryptid' remains are few and far between, yet there are several eyewitness accounts detailing alleged finds. Although it has received little attention from cryptozoological researchers as a whole, one such case is that of the alleged juvenile Lake Champlain mystery animal caught by the father of Dennis Hall. Dennis Hall's research at this American lake first caught my attention when I watched a documentary featuring him several years ago. He illustrated his views regarding the appearance of alleged Lake Champlain mystery animals using a model of Tanystropheus which I also possessed at that time. This hypothesis is certainly one which is now unsatisfactory in my mind, but I will leave discussion of this matter for future articles. While I retain respect for Hall due to his work in collecting eyewitness reports and the like, his unsubstantiated spectacular claims and several "Champ" videos (which appear to be nothing more than mundane objects distorted by heat waves) have since made me grow slightly dubious. Regardless, the discovery of a living, juvenile specimen belonging to an unknown species of animal living in an American lake would surely prove to be one of the greatest zoological finds of all time. Unfortunately, there are several issues with this allegation. In the article reproduced here, diligent researcher Scott Mardis takes a critical look at the "baby Champ" claims and develops the hypothesis that the animal in question was a misidentified mudpuppy salamander. As bizarre as the idea of someone mistaking a mudpuppy for a relict reptile from 245 million year ago sounds, I encourage you to read on. This is a case of excellent and rigorous investigative work on Scott's behalf, and it should be taken as an example for other researchers to follow.
This is a guest post by Scott Mardis. Scott has been an active field investigator of the Lake Champlain “Monster” since 1992. He is a former sustaining member of the defunct International Society of Cryptozoology and a former volunteer worker in the Vertebrate Paleontology Dept. of the Philadelphia Academy of Natural Sciences (1990-1992). He co-authored a scientific abstract about the Lake Champlain hydrophone sounds for the Acoustical Society of America in 2010. He currently lives in Bradenton, Florida. 
 


Thursday, August 7, 2014

Previously Undocumented Oregon Coast 'Sea Serpent' Report

Today, August 7 of 2014, has been officially recognized as Sea Serpent Day. Reports of unidentified marine animals often referred to by the probable misnomer of 'sea serpents' continue to be the most compelling form of cryptozoological matter to many researchers such as myself, and it seems that those who have disregarded all such accounts as mere oarfish or giant squid have little knowledge of the intriguing cases in this area of study. While anecdotal data is generally viewed as unpredictable, several scientific minds have found 'sea serpent' reports to be of interest in that they often involve trained observers like naval men as witnesses and frequently occur at a close range. Also, unlike other areas of cryptozoological study, it seems that the greed of media and misinforming reality or "mockumentary" television shows have yet to taint the research into 'seas serpent' sightings. I have spent about a year researching alleged reports and evidence of unidentified marine animals and will continue to do so in the hope that efforts such as mine may help to bring this cryptozoological question to the scientific forefront. To mark this special occasion I have written on a previously undocumented 'sea serpent' report, and I ask you to read on if you are interested...
A rather fanciful rendition of the 'sea serpent' described by Deah Lael; commissioned by Ray Gardner.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Recent Material On 'Cadborosaurus'

"Female Caddy" illustration by Tim Morris, reflecting the line of thinking that the Naden Harbor carcass and reports of elongate
 'cadborosaurus' are based off of a form of marine mammal suggested to be named Cadborotherium
Over the past several months, I have been constructing and compiling comparative images which feature matters relating to unidentified marine animal reports. These have generally been posted in the Zombie Plesiosaur Society group as food for thought items, but I felt that it would be appropriate to reproduce some of these here. A majority of these comparisons deal with eyewitness sketches or images of alleged 'cadborosaurus': 'sea serpents' reportedly observed in Pacific waters from Monterey Bay in California to the rocky fjords of Alaska. These mystery animals are best known to supposedly inhabit the Cadboro Bay region of British Columbia, as it is this area to which they owe their locally-given name. As chronicled in Dr. Paul H. LeBlond and Dr. Edward L. Bousfield's 1995 publication, the general 'Caddy' description involves a horse-like head with large eyes and occasional 'horns', a long neck which is sometimes maned, a body which is either long and snake-like or has a central body swelling, a serrated crest or seal-like body hair sometimes present on the body, anterior flippers with the posterior ones either unable to be seen or fused with the body, and a tail which is sometimes described as jagged or bifid. Accounts of the animals swimming at extreme speeds, breathing, making bellowing vocalizations, interacting with larger or smaller individuals of the same form, coming onto land, and catching fish and seabirds also exist. It is clear that there are multiple animals involved in these reports, with many likely being misidentified known species and some possibly being unknown (I generally tend to agree with the basics of Dale Drinnon's writing on this matter; it can be found here, here, and here). This will be another image-heavy article with brief explanatory text, as I have been very busy with my job and other activities.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

The Prehistoric Survivor Paradigm And More On Possible Post-Cretaceous Plesiosaurs


Excellent relict plesiosaur illustration by cartoonist Peter Loh
If you have been following my articles regarding aquatic mystery animals, you will most likely know that I was once a fervent supporter of the idea that long-necked 'sea serpents' and 'lake monsters' are almost certainly not relict populations of plesiosaurs. However, further research into reports and photographs, as well as speaking to respectable fellow researchers, has led me to think otherwise. I now feel that there is some plausibility to the hypothesis that relict plesiosauroid lineages continue into the present day, although I will refrain from going any further into this here. One important point which I feel necessary to touch upon is that regarding the apparent absence of any recent fossil record for these Mesozoic marine reptiles. Arguably one of the most crucial weaknesses in regard to the Prehistoric Survivor Paradigm, the line of thinking that some cryptozoological reports are based off of the continued existence of some prehistoric fauna, is that of a lack of recent fossil record for the animals. However, as Scott and others have pointed out, this may not be the case in regard to plesiosaurs. 'Reworked' plesiosaur fossils have been found ranging from Paleocene to Pleistocene deposits, and although there is the possibility of them having eroded into younger deposits, they have yet to be receive proper radiometric dating. The following article by Scott Mardis discusses some of these and similar cases, and their possible significance. While I am satisfied with the contention of the few post-Cretaceous dinosaur remains having actually been reworked, I find the plesiosaur material to be compelling. Still, none of this is concrete, although it is rather interesting in the opinion of this author and certainly suggests the need for further examination into the relict plesiosaur 'hypothesis. Following the reproduction of Scott's Prehistoric Survivor Paradigm article, I have included and commented on some other notable material pertaining to the enigma of alleged living plesiosaurs.


This is a guest post by Scott Mardis. Scott has been an active field investigator of the Lake Champlain “Monster” since 1992. He is a former sustaining member of the defunct International Society of Cryptozoology and a former volunteer worker in the Vertebrate Paleontology Dept. of the Philadelphia Academy of Natural Sciences (1990-1992). He co-authored a scientific abstract about the Lake Champlain hydrophone sounds for the Acoustical Society of America in 2010. He currently lives in Bradenton, Florida.


Prehistoric Survivor Paradigm Under Fire?
By Scott Mardis

Monday, July 14, 2014

My Appearance On CryptoLogic Radio


Find Additional Podcasting Podcasts with CRYPTOLOGIC on BlogTalkRadio

On Wednesday, July 2, I spoke on the CryptoLogic Radio show with fellow cryptozoological researchers Scott Mardis and Dale Drinnon. It was an excellent show, to which a link has been embedded above, and it served as a great group discussion regarding 'aquatic cryptozoology'. We covered a plethora of excellent topics, from what could possibly allow air-breathing plesiosaurs to remain hidden in the modern day to the significance of long-necked aquatic mystery animal reports extending across a belt of specific Northern latitudes. British Columbia Scientific Cryptozoology Club president John Kirk called in towards the end of the show and sparked a heated discussion regarding the 'Surgeon's photograph(s)'. This was not heated in the sense of the emotional discourse which sometimes occurs in the less scientific corners of discussion regarding mystery phenomena, but rather was reflective of the heavy disputation surrounding this particular piece of data. I personally did not give much input at this point as I am admittedly not versed as well in this case as the other gentlemen were, but it was thought-provoking nonetheless. I do not feel that the 'Surgeon's photograph(s)' carries the same weight of importance as Scott and Dale insinuate, although I am doubtful regarding the toy submarine explanation. While the similarity to the Sandra Mansi photograph and its apparent vertical submergence are interesting, I do not feel obliged by the images alone to necessarily support the idea of a longneck being present in them (primarily due to the object's apparent small size and the controversy surrounding it).
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