An exploration of our Earth's ever-captivating fauna through musings on the bizarre side of Zoology, Cryptozoology, Paleontology, and Paleoanthropology

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Key Developments in Avian Evolution Revealed by Recent Study

A recent study on archosaur (crocodilians, birds, and dinosaurs) anatomy has shown that theropod dinosaurs gradually evolved longer, heavier, and more muscular arms as their anatomy led towards the development of wings for flight. Interestingly, these theropods also developed a more crouched and bird-like posture along with the stockier arm morphology. These findings certainly lend key anatomical knowledge as to the evolution of birds from nonavian theropod dinosaurs such as the maniraptorans, so I suggest that you read this article for more information on this compelling analysis:

Heavier Dino Arms Led Evolution To Birds

Friday, April 26, 2013

Lakeville "Mystery Foot" is a Bear Paw

A diagram which I have created comparing the Lakeville "mystery foot" (on the left) and a decomposing bear paw.
Image (on left): Lakeville Police Department
I have noticed that many online news sources have been displaying this decomposing limb (which two boys found in the woods of Lakeville) as a "possible Bigfoot foot" or as "evidence of Bigfoot". This is entirely false and it can be clearly seen that this is a decomposing bear paw (as evident by my diagram above) and shares the same anatomical features. I have communicated with many fellow researchers of wood ape reports, and they all agree that this is a bear paw, so please know that this is not ignorance of "Bigfoot researchers" but rather ignorance of media sources which hope to receive popularity and views.


Thursday, April 25, 2013

Earliest Evidence of a Big Cat That Shouldn't Exist in Britian?

 A true cryptid carcass: out of place Canadian lynx
People have been reporting big cat species from black leopards to jungle cats in Britian for years, despite the fact that these animals are not supposed to exist in the region. Although the subject of these "Alien Big Cats" is often debated, there actually is good scientific evidence for the existence of these out of place animals including hair, droppings, deer kills, tracks, footage, and even dead and captured specimens. It has recently been announced that a specimen of a Canadian lynx  which lived in the wilderness of Devon, England until it was shot is present in a British museum. This animal

Sunday, April 21, 2013

A Most Compelling 'Sea Serpent' Case: The Alvin Submersible Encounter

Thomas Finley's illustration of the Alvin submarine encountering its alleged 'sea serpent'
While submerged near the Tongue of the Ocean in the Bahamas around July of 1965, Alvin submersible pilot Marvin McCamis allegedly observed an animal which could only be described as reminiscent of the classic 'long necked sea serpent'.1 Accompanied by Captain Bill Rainnie, the two had entered these depths in order to survey the Naval underwater listening array Artemis.1 After descending nearly one mile deep into a crevasse, the pilots allegedly noticed movement and spotted an object which they took to be a utility pole.1 When their position allowed a better view of the object, they realized that it was an animal which possessed a thick body propelled by flippers, a long neck, and a rather snake-like head.1 Before the submersible's cameras could reach the correct angle and activate, the animal quickly ascended and swam off.1 The observation was entered into their logbook, although the two remained hesitant to speak further about it for fear of ridicule.1 While this may sound to be a rather spectacular course of events, those alleged to have been involved in the sighting were all very real. The Alvin, the Naval Deep Submergence Vehicle from which this 'sea serpent' was allegedly viewed, was first commissioned in 1964 from which it made more than 4,600 dives.2 Captain McCamis himself, who passed away in 2004, was assigned as the chief engineer and pilot for the Alvin project after joining the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in 1963.3 In 1966, McCamis received a Meritorious Service Award from the Secretary of the Navy for his assistance in the recovery of a lost hydrogen bomb using the Alvin.3 Bill Rainnie, who passed away in 1985, received multiple commendation citations and Navy meritorious service awards for his leadership and undertakings with deep submergence.4

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Claw Marks Suggest that Theropod Dinosaurs Were Powerful Swimmers


In some of the books about dinosaurs that I read as a child, it was suggested that theropod dinosaurs were poor swimmers. I had always thought this was unlikely, as many modern day birds and predatory reptiles can swim well. New evidence in the form of ancient claw marks on a Chinese river bed suggests that theropod dinosaurs actually were strong swimmers, confirming this prediction. The fossilized tracks suggest that they were made by a small theropod dinosaur which swam for approximately fifty feet. This discovery and the former illustration have brought an intriguing question to my mind. Could some species of feathered theropod dinosaurs have had glands which produced oil that waterproofed their feathers (like modern ducks and penguins do)? Further examination of fossilized remains of feathered dinosaurs may bring the answer to this question in the future, and more exciting data which gives insight into the habits and behaviors of nonavian dinosaurs will likely be coming soon.
Please click the link below to read more about this exciting discovery.
New evidence dinosaurs were strong swimmers

Sunday, April 14, 2013

80th Anniversary of Famous 1933 'Loch Ness Monster' Sighting

On April 14, 1933 Mrs. Aldie Mackay and her husband allegedly saw a large animal thrashing about in Loch Ness while driving along the road to Iverness. The animal was allegedly "whale-like" in the way that it was a monstrous animal, and it's body was described as black with water rolling off of it. This sighting has been widely regarded as the first modern day sighting of what has come to be known as the "Loch Ness Monster". It is also regarded as the sighting which set off the wide international interest in this legendary animal. Today marks the 80th anniversary of the sighting, and as news websites have been spreading theories about the origin of the legend, I have decided to share my own opinion on what the "Loch Ness Monster" sightings entailed. I think the most likely explanation for the alleged sightings of unidentified animals in Loch Ness are misidentifications of known animals such as large eels, seals, swimming deer, sturgeon, and basking sharks. However, if an unknown animal species was behind some of the sightings, I think that it was most likely a species or subspecies of elongate and long necked pinniped (a member of the genus which includes seals, sea lions, and walruses). In fact, many sightings mentioned hair, a mane, ears, and a bulky body similar to a pinniped. Intriguingly, a species of fossil seal from the Pliocene known as Acrophoca has been described as having an elongate neck and skull and being serpentiform in body shape. While it is unlikely that unknown animals behind "Loch Ness Monster" reports are relict Acrophoca, this does prove that physically elongate seals did exist in the past. Several noted cryptozoological researchers like Bernard Heuvelmans and Loren Coleman have also suggested this theory for lake monsters around the world before me. Although I think this is the most likely explanation for an unknown animal in the loch, I do feel that most sightings are misidentifications of known species (possibly abnormal specimens of known species at times).
Illustrations of what an elongated pinniped may look like
As for the sighting by Mrs. Mackay, I think this photograph of a walrus rolling in the water illustrates that a large species of pinniped could account for the sighting (if she actually saw an unknown animal rather than a known animal) and other "Loch Ness Monster" sightings.


  •  Coleman, Loren, and Patrick Huyghe. The Field Guide to Lake Monsters, Sea Serpents and Other Mystery Denizens of the Deep. New York, NY: Jeremy P. Tarcher/Putnam, 2003. Print.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Repost of Paleontological Articles from Laelaps

Beautiful artwork by John Conway
Science writer Brian Switek has a blog on the National Geographic website known as Laelaps. Mr. Switek has written several informative articles on evolution, paleontology, and natural history at this blog. I had planned to write several articles based off of information which I had read on his blog, but the busyness of high school activities and such has kept me behind on this. I have decided to share the links to some of my favorite articles of his, which I felt contained very interesting paleontological information, here instead.

 Maiasaura Milk? – Phenomena: Laelaps
(I wanted to add that I had previously speculated that dinosaurs may have fed their young with a milk like substance and I was thus very excited to learn that this may have been possible)
This beautiful artwork is by Luis Rey

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Bizarre Bat Requires Creation of New Genus

Scientists have recently made an exciting and unique discovery after returning from South Sudan. They returned with a specimen of a bat with a striking pelt, which was found to be identical to a specimen found in the Democratic Republic of the Congo in 1939. The bat species was originally placed in the genus Glauconycteris. However, closer analysis of the new specimen revealed that this bat's unique physical and skeletal anatomy requires the creation of an entirely new genus to classify it. These findings point to the idea that the age of zoological discovery is far from over and that new and unique animals may not only remain hidden in deep wilderness, but in the cabinets of our specimen collections! Please read more about this amazing mammalian discovery here: Striped like a badger: New genus of bat identified in South Sudan

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Analysis of the Jacobs Photos by Jarrett Mangus

The two so-called 'Jacobs photographs' showing some form of atypical mammal in the forests of Pennsylvania. (Source)
I recently received an email from an individual named Jarrett Mangus in which he shared an illustrated analysis of one of two images purported by some to show a juvenile sasquatch. The pictures in question were two trail camera photographs taken in the Allegheny National Forest on September 16, 2007.1  The game camera which took the images belonged to R. Jacobs, leading to them being referred to as the 'Jacobs Photos'.1 The photographs show a large mammal with long limb proportions and a sparse pelt bent down to investigate a mineral block. Owing to its superficial similarity to a great ape, it has been suggested that the animal in the photographs is a juvenile individual of the reported mystery primates popularly called sasquatch.1 The images prior to the alleged juvenile sasquatch images showed an adult American black bear (Ursus americanus) with cubs; healthy individuals lacking any signs of illness. Owing to the established presence of bears in the area around the time, several analysts have suggested that the animal in the Jacobs photos was an individual with mange. American black bears have frequently been proposed as a probable source of misidentification in regard to supposed bigfoot sightings, rightfully so considering correlations between bear habitat and the areas in which sasquatch are reported.2 Increasing videographic documentation has shown that upright-walking bears are not distinctly dissimilar from the common profile of reported sasquatch, suggesting that "a vertical walking bear is a more plausible explanation than an unknown human-like primate to explain possible sightings of 'Bigfoot'" with the current lack of substantiated zoological data.3 If the black bear identification is correct pertaining to the Jacobs photographs, they may be interpreted as further examples of the primate-like characteristics which the carnivores can exhibit under certain circumstances.
GIF created from YouTube video showing a black bear walking upright through a neighborhood in New Jersey. (Source)
Jarrett Mangus feels that his interpretation of the second photograph in the Jacobs series supports the ursid identity. His illustrated diagram is reproduced below, in which he suggests that the snout and other facial characteristics of a black bear can be distinguished in the image. He has stated that he feels the feature which he has pointed out is not simple pareidolia, although the position of the feet and apparent backside make me question this inference. The apparent placement of these suggests that the animal is facing away from the game camera, although Jarrett points out that "A bear can rotate their paws inward and I wouldn't put too much stock at the way the knee 'appears' to be positioned in this picture. The photo is relatively dark and if this one is mange stricken (which it appears to obviously be) it's hard to say for sure how much the baldness or thinning of the hair is playing into knee positioning." The analysis by skeptic Blake Smith of the brilliant Monster Talk podcast independently reached the same conclusion as Mangus, and also points out that the object appearing beneath the animal may very well be a nursing cub.
Mr. Mangus's diagram on the second Jacobs photos

Illustrated diagram of the second Jacobs photos, showing the position of the legs and backside as inferred by the author.
Regardless of the position of the animal in the Jacobs photographs, an overwhelming bulk of evidence such as comparative anatomy substantiates the U. americanus identity. My own personal treks through Pennsylvania wildernesses such as the Allegheny National Forest give the impression of the area's ecology being unlikely to support a species of unverified primate, though a wildlife biologist may yet run into something unexpected. With this analysis concluded, I leave readers with Mr. Mangus' final comments:
There is one thing that I wanted to mention and meant to earlier. Just imagine for a moment that it is indeed a known juvenile squatch bending over in the pic. I think people often believe/assume that there should be a foot and toes (on what would be the subjects right leg) extending out towards the 10 o'clock position (of the picture) had it (the foot and toes) not been blocked partially by the subjects left leg. Personally, I think in actuality we are indeed seeing around 95% (or more) of the creatures left hind foot and that the toes are actually facing what would be close to the 6 o'clock position of the picture. If you imagine that my theory is a known fact for a minute, I also think I can see what would be the knee on the creatures left hind leg and thats its left hind leg is also bent slightly which is also the natural posture for a black bear hind leg.
  1. "Jacobs Photos - Pennsylvania, 9/16/2007." The Bigfoot Field Researchers Organization. N.p., n.d. Web. 16 Mar. 2015.
  2. Loxton, Daniel, and Donald R. Prothero. Abominable Science!: Origins of the Yeti, Nessie, and Other Famous Cryptids. N.p.: n.p., n.d. Print.
  3. Hill, Sharon. "Bipedal Bear Video Is Amazingly Bigfoot-ish." Doubtful News. N.p., 5 Aug. 2014. Web. 16 Mar. 2015.