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

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Intriguing 100 Year Old Report of an Alleged Australian Sea Serpent

A beautiful painting by cryptozoological artist Thomas Finley
A New Zealand news outlet recently posted an article containing reports of an allegedly unknown animal apparently seen off the coast of Australia by several people on a ship named the Dimboola. Interestingly, the reports were not dismissed due to the large number of people who allegedly saw the animal at a close range; shedding light on how seriously such sightings were taken at that time. The captain of the Dimboola reported that the "sea serpent" had a body which was about fifty feet in length with a brown color like a seal, a tail "of the exaggerated fish variety", and a large head. Interestingly, the expectation that the animal was simply a "big fish" was apparently lost once it was observed. The descriptions of the animal were said to have similarities to the mythical Chinese dragons, which could indicate that it was reportedly similar to a reptile and possessed a "beard" or "whiskers" (although this could have been an inaccurate comparison). In fact, cryptozoological researcher Dale Drinnon has mentioned that such facial integument reported on "sea serpents" is frequently compared to that shown on a Chinese dragon. However, it must be kept in mind that misidentifications of now known species were certainly possible at that time and that this may also be a case of yellow journalism. If it is not, then it contains reportedly reliable and accurate descriptions of an unknown marine animal, which would be of great value to researchers. To read more details of these unknown animal reports, click this link: 'Sea monster' spied in Australia | Otago Daily Times Online News : Otago, South Island, New Zealand & International News

Saturday, May 25, 2013

New Study Reveals When Juvenile Neanderthals Stopped Consuming Milk

A skeleton of a juvenile Neanderthal
A study was recently released through the scientific paper Nature, which details an interesting discovery regarding the behavior and lifestyle our closest extinct relatives. A team of researchers from the United States and Australia announced in the paper that they have gained the ability to calculate when Neanderthal juveniles began weaning (to become accustomed to a diet other than a mother's milk) through examination of fossil teeth. Intriguingly, this new examination technique was partially based off of information from studies of modern Homo sapiens and monkey teeth. By examining the traces of barium in the tooth, which can help determine when a primate had an exclusive diet of milk and when it began and completed the weaning process, the researchers were able to determine that juvenile Neanderthals stopped having a milk exclusive diet after seven months. This pattern of seven months of an exclusive milk diet and seven months of a supplementation diet away from milk is intriguingly similar to that of modern day Homo sapiens, thus revealing more similarities between Neanderthals and our own species. To read more about this extremely interesting breakthrough in Neanderthal research and the techniques which were used to accomplish it, click the link below:
Monkey teeth help reveal Neanderthal weaning

Friday, May 24, 2013

Possible Genetic Evidence for Texas Panthers and a Problem of Poor Scientific Attitude

A magnification of the unidentified hair from Michael Mayes and a painting by William Rebsamen.
In February, I shared an article from my research associate Michael Mayes's site Texas Cryptid Hunter. In the article, Mr. Mayes wrote about a report which he received from a man who claimed to have hit an animal which looked like a black panther with his car near Madisonville, Texas. The animal was reported to have a large body which was large enought to dent the car that hit it, a feline face, and reflective blue eyes. Intriguingly, tufts of black hair were allegedly collected from the grill and bumper of the car by the witness, and were sent to Michael Mayes. Michael consulted a friend of his who is an experienced hunter, trapper, and naturalist and has a degree in Animal Science from Tarleton State University to analyze the hair. Although he is not a professional hair analyst, Michael's friend owns his own microscope and has taught himself to quickly identify the hair of most common American mammals.
Magnification of one of the hair shafts from Michael Mayes's blog.
Could this be the evidence that American black panther investigators, such as myself, have waited for?

Monday, May 20, 2013

A Fantastic New Blog Logo by Thomas Finley!

The Old and Rather Unoriginal Looking Bizarre Zoology Blog Logo
I have recently befriended an artist and cryptozoological researcher on Facebook named Thomas Finley. Thomas resides in Essex, England and has been creating some truly amazing artwork which I have often featured in my blog articles. Recently, I decided that the old logo for the Bizarre Zoology blog is far too unoriginal and unexciting for a blog which I hope will instill wonder and curiosity for the natural world in people. It had been created through copy and pasting, and I have come to realize how unprofessional it looks. As a fan of Thomas Finley's art, which has become quite popular in the cryptozoological "community", I had decided to ask him if he would be willing to create a logo for me. I just received the final painting today, and I could not be more satisfied with how it turned out!

Friday, May 17, 2013

Comparisons Between "Sea Serpents" and Mammal Anatomy [Updated]

A painting by Thomas Finley, based off of a sighting of an alleged unknown animal in Loch Ness which appears to have exhibited rather mammalian features.
I have recently been working on creating comparative images between photographs or eyewitness drawings which are allegedly of the unknown aquatic animals known as "sea serpents" and anatomy of known animal species. While some people may feel that this is a waste of time or is subject to error, I think that making such comparisons may help us gain a better idea of what these animals are and thus may possibly allow us to eventually be able to predict where their likely habitats and behaviors would be. I had originally posted these comparative images to the Bizarre Zoology Facebook page, but I thought that it may be beneficial to viewers if I shared them here. The reports of long-necked unknown animals which suggest that these animals have body hair, whiskers, horn-like structures or pinnae (ears), dorsal humps, wide mouths, an undulating swimming motion, toleration of cold water, neck flexibility in the vertical plane, and toleration of changes in environmental salinity relating to fresh or salt water indicate to some researchers that these animals are mammals, and I have thus chosen to compare the photographs of these alleged unknown long-necked animals in this article to mammal anatomy. I specifically compared this data to anatomy of sea lions, as most subscribers to the mammal hypothesis feel that reports and evidence suggest that these animals are most likely long-necked pinnipeds which are of the family Otariidae. However, I have also included a comparison with a drawing depicting a short necked "sea serpent" and have found it to also be similar to the anatomy of a species of marine mammal (Basilosaurus cetoides).

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

New Specimen Revolutionizes Icthyosaur Paleobiology

A life restoration of Malawania by Bob Nicholls and C. M. Kosemen.
The fossils of a new species of icthyosaur, a fast swimming and likely warm blooded species of dolphin-shaped marine reptile, found in Iraq have changed the view of paleontologists on these peculiar animals. Prior to this discovery, it was generally thought that a series of extinction events during the Jurassic period had caused this group to eventually die out and lessen in diversity. However, the partial skeleton of this new species named Malawania anachronus supports the existence of a previously unknown lineage of Cretaceous ichthyosaurs. An extremely interesting detail of this discovery is that Malawania appears to be a member of an icthyosaur lineage which was thought to have gone extinct during the Jurassic period, making it an ancient example of a 'living fossil'. The typical textbook definition of a 'living fossil' is an organism that has remained essentially unchanged from earlier geologic times and whose close relatives are usually extinct. Thus, the discovery of Malawania as an archaic relict of a lineage of Jurassic icthyosaurs demonstrates that these marine reptiles were likely still diverse during the early Cretaceous, which further adds to the importance of this amazing discovery. To read more about this intriguing fossil discovery, click the link below:
Fossil saved from mule track revolutionizes understanding of ancient dolphin-like marine reptile
Also read this article by paleozoologist Dr. Darren Naish, who was a coauthor on the paper which detailed the discovery of this bizarre reptile. It delves even further into the events which lead up to this discovery and why it is so important:

Friday, May 3, 2013

Panthers with Bizarre "Cobweb" Pelts

This article by zoologist Dr. Karl Shuker is about a strange and extraordinary looking black panther which lived at the Glasgow Zoo. This black panther had a strange feature which was a "sprinkling" of white hairs among its black pelt. The origin of this bizarre feature remained a mystery for years, and it has only been documented in one other captive black panther. Please click on the link below to read more about this interesting feline event.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Possible Last Common Ancestor of Modern Great Apes Discovered

A species of ancient great ape which lived in Spain was recently unearthed and named Pierolapithecus catalaunicus. Pierolapithecus catalaunicus lived approximately 11.9 million years ago, and scientists have announced that it was possibly the last common ancestor of the modern great ape species (chimpanzees, gorillas, bonobos, orangutans, and humans). A recent examination of this ape's pelvis bone by an anatomy expert now suggests that it had intriguing features which give clues as to the evolution of modern great apes. Please read this article for more information on this exciting discovery:
Fossil of great ape sheds light on evolution