Monday, November 24, 2014

New Findings Suggest Odd-Toed Ungulates Originated On Continental "Noah's Ark"

Illustration of the compelling Cambaytherium thewissi by Elaine Kasmer.
As recently reported on the Science Daily website, John Hopkins University researchers excavating fossils at the edge of a coal mine in India have recently made a discovery which brings revelations on the origins of odd-toed ungulates. Although past research has traced the presence of these animals back to the early Eocene epoch fifty-six million years ago, details on their earlier evolution is shrouded in mystery. The odd-toed ungulates, classified in the order Perissodactyla, include modern day horses and rhinos and are distinguished from other orders due to their uneven number of toes and unique digestive system. Following the proposition of perissodactyls having their origins in Western India, the John Hopkins University research team took to Eocene sediments in this region and unearthed several remains of the little-known ungulate Cambaytherium thewissi. According to these researchers, the teeth, number of sacral vertebrae, and hand and feet bones of Cambaytherium suggest that it is the species most like a common ancestor to all members of Perissodactyla yet discovered. Apart from filling an evolutionary gap, this finding also supports the notion that a diverse number of early mammal groups might have evolved in India while it was still an isolated island continent. This isolation would allow the groups, which included lemur-like primates and both perissodactyls and the even-toed artiodactyls, to evolve without competition from other Paleocene animals.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Scrutiny of Dennis Hall's Alleged 'Champ' Video Evidence

Although they are a minority in comparison to anecdotal data, various alleged photographs of unknown aquatic animals do exist,
although much dissention surrounds them. The illustration above is Peter Loh's wonderful interpretation of one of the 1975 Rines
photographs from Loch Ness, one alleged 'lake monster' image which continues to be viewed as compelling by some.
With the seasons of cross country and my job at the zoo having subsided, I anticipate more time to contribute to this blog and also revise older publications as my research into the bizarre realms of zoology furthers. While my blog is currently recovering, I have decided to post yet another publication sent to me from my colleague Scott Mardis. This particular article is a sort of follow-up to the previous one on Dennis Hall's juvenile 'Champ' capture claims. While it is set in a rather humorous tone at times, it makes no labor of getting to the point, which is a rather critical one at that. Here, Scott examines some of Dennis Hall's alleged images of Lake Champlain 'monsters' in light of his recent investigations into their origin. Dennis has recently teamed up with Katy Elizabeth in his expeditions to Lake Champlain, and the two have made allegations which fall when met with the scientific scrutiny necessary if we are to hold cryptozoological research up to the standards of other zoological sciences. Renowned astronomer Carl Sagan, who has not shied away from the topic of alleged aquatic mystery animals himself, once stated that "extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence." Keeping this doctrine in mind, take note that the aforementioned duo is claiming to have regular interactions with a species of reptile which is supposed to have gone extinct some 220 million years ago yet have no better evidence than ambiguous videos to support their assertions. I feel that Dennis and Katy's claims are lacking in the objective, scientific reasoning warranted in a field so troubled as Cryptozoology and thus such criticism as Scott's is well justified. That being said, I am not making slanderous remarks towards the individuals in question and neither is Scott, although he is entirely responsible for the content reproduced here. Hopefully, more objectivity can be brought to such amateur field work and aquatic cryptozoology will be brought to a better standing in scientific focus.


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.



YOU CAN’T POLISH A TANY TURD
by Scott Mardis

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.
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