Saturday, 31 December 2011
Thursday, 29 December 2011
Monday, 26 December 2011
by Guest Blogger Matthew J. Didier, PSICAN
|Minden, ON, photo by Brain St Dennis|
|Statue in Minden, ON|
Tuesday, 20 December 2011
In a small auditorium at Mount Rushmore National Memorial in the Black Hills of South Dakota, Kevin Locke, a Lakota Sioux storyteller from Standing Rock Reservation, gently strokes a braided strand of sweetgrass. Its power will help him bring forth good thoughts and feelings. Then he grips his ceremonial rattle, closes his eyes, and, as an attentive audience of Lakota Sioux children and visiting Boy Scouts listens, he sings a Lakota prayer used at the springtime Thunder Feast.
“Leciya tuwa makipanpelo. Wiyohpeyata Wakinyan Oyate kola makipanpelo.”
The words rise and fall to the sound of Locke’s rattle, and he gives it an extra flourish at the end, signaling the close.
“We sing this to welcome the Thunder Nation,” Locke explains, referring to thunderstorms. “Maybe some of you have heard the word Wakinyan before and know its meaning?”
One slender Lakota boy raises his hand. “It’s the name of our cat—he’s orange like a Thunder Being.”
Locke smiles broadly. “Good, good. That’s right, Wakinyan are the Thunder Beings, forces with power, like the Thunder Birds. They come with the big cumulus clouds in the spring to the prairies. The Wakinyan bring the rain, hail, thunder, and lightning—all the things that renew life after the winter. But in the long ago days, before humans, the Wakinyan also used these things in a big battle. And that battle was with the evil water monsters, the Unktehila.”
There were many different kinds of Unktehila, Locke continues, but most were like huge reptiles with scaly skin and horns; some were like giant lizards, and others were like serpents; some slithered on their bellies, and some had feet. “They ate each other and every other living thing, and so the Thunder Beings were given a divine mission to kill the Unktehila. That’s when the Thunder Birds came with their thunder and lightning. They struck the water monsters with lightning bolts and boiled their lakes and streams until they dried up. After that most of the Unktehila died or were very diminished in size, so that all we have left today are some small snakes and lizards. But we know the giant Unktehila lived because our people found their bones in the Badlands and along the Missouri River.”
Indeed, long before paleontologists arrived to excavate the fossils of marine reptiles, Native American peoples were carrying away enormous bones that lay exposed on the surface. For the Lakota, Cheyenne, and Kiowa (as well as many other tribes), the bones held special powers and could be used for healing or other rituals. And, as Locke explained, the bones were also “the physical manifestation of the evil forces the Unktehila represented.”
Although Locke had learned about the Unktehila from his elders and had sung the prayers of the Thunder Feast many times, he’d never seen the kinds of fossils that likely inspired the stories. So we went to the Museum of Geology at the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology in Rapid City, where skeletons of a plesiosaur and mosasaur are on display. These and other marine reptiles had lived in the ocean that covered much of North America about 75 million years ago.
“Wow,” he said, nodding appreciatively at the long-necked, fat-bodied plesiosaur. But it was the massive-jawed mosasaur that held his attention. “Now this one,” he said, pausing to size up the 29-foot-long snaky animal, with its fierce array of teeth and double-hinged lower jaw joint that allowed it to swallow large kinds of prey (including other mosasaurs). “This one is an eating machine. If our people found one of these, I’m sure they would call it Unktehila.”
And, Locke added, mosasaur-like creatures with toothy jaws and horns were often painted on the tepee covers of the Kiowa, Cheyenne, and Blackfeet. Some Native Americans had carved images of such creatures into the rocks above the Missouri River, and others had made one out of stones along the river’s banks. “Everyone who sees these knows they’re Unktehila.”
Paleontologists often find bones of pterosaurs, flying reptiles, along with the mosasaurs. Adrienne Mayor, a folklorist, suggests that pterosaur and mosasaur remains may indeed have triggered the stories of the Thunder Birds and their battle with the water monsters.
Do the Lakota, like the people who wait for Nessie to surface, regard the Unktehila as still existing? Locke hesitated. “Well, the old Unktehila were killed by the Thunder Birds. That’s what our stories say. Some people still fear large bodies of water, and they’ll say prayers to protect themselves from Unktehila when crossing the Missouri River.”
But, he went on, the power of the Unktehila lies more in what they symbolize than in any hard reality. “They were a negative force and had to be destroyed. That’s what the Thunder Birds did for the world. And that’s why it’s important for us to keep these stories alive. Because there are still negative forces—many that are even more powerful than water monsters—in the world today. We have to fight against things like alcohol and depression and materialism. These are the new Unktehila. We can fight them with our songs and music.”
And that’s why Kevin Locke sings about sea monsters for the children: To remind them of their heritage and to tell them about the ancient battle fought to bring goodness into the world.
Saturday, 17 December 2011
|Reindeer Games was released in 2000|
Sunday, 11 December 2011
Saturday, 3 December 2011
Fish Dropped From Sky?
Dundas Seeks Explanation of Alleged Phenomenon -- Small Boy Prank?
Dundas, Feb. 26 -- In common with many other centres rain fell here yesterday afternoon, and several hours later residents were astonished to observe small fish, about the size of baiting minnows, near the vicinity of Victoria and Market streets. The small fish, it is said, did not come from the sewers, nor were they washed from the creek, which passed through the town.
James W. Dickson, a resident of the town, believes that the fish fell with the rain from the sky. He procured specimens and intends to seek scientific opinion for the phenomenon.
Professor B. A. Bensley of the University of Toronto, declares that it is unlikely that the fish fell from the sky. "My opinion is that some small boy got hold of these fish in some way and dumped them on the street," he said.
"It may be that all bodies of water in Canada on Feb. 27th were not all frozen solid, but certainly supplies of minnows were not very available. This is the point on which I am seeking information.... It seems incredible that the minnows of Dundas had origin anywhere in Canada, or could have been carried from some far southern point, without scattering. To most minds it will seem incredible that the creatures dropped to the earth from a body of water somewhere in space beyond this earth, because interplanetary space is supposed to be intensely, if not absolutely, cold. I have many data that indicated otherwise."
The story took on a life of its own and soon there were reports of dead minnows on third story window ledges. Various versions of the story appear on internet websites—without the perfectly reasonable explanation. Likely old Dundas, Ontario residents still tell their grandchildren yarns about the day it rained minnows.
Sunday, 27 November 2011
- Size doesn't really matter. We're more interested in content and clarity than length.
- General interest zoology, biology, and other 'ologies are welcome. Just try to keep it in a relative Fortean Zoology/Cryptozoology scope. This study is multidisciplinary so there are lots of options.
- Canadian references are helpful--Canada has just about every sort of known crypto links so it should be easy to find a reference
- Cite your sources and add links of further value
- Send to firstname.lastname@example.org in plain text, pdf or word format.
You don't have to be a scientist or scholar! Why not write about your favorite Canadian Crypto Topic and see your name in print!
Read More: (the bottom two links are very helpful)
Wednesday, 16 November 2011
Breakfast Television, CityTV Toronto’s popular morning show, has caused yet another stir in Ontario. When locals “discovered an alligator” in a local pond, CityTV and BT made it news. Now they’re at it again, and the possibility of an odd creature in Ontario has got people talking. In a casual conversation, host Kevin Frankish mentioned that there “have been roadrunners sighted in Ontario.” In the few hours since, I have received more than a dozen emails asking if this is true. The simple answer is…maybe.
Three years ago, two men who live on the Bruce Peninsula reported seeing a Greater Roadrunner. One of the men is a Texas native and well familiar with roadrunners. It seems unlikely that his visual record would be wrong. The greater roadrunner (Geococcyx californianus) is an essentially flightless bird. It has wings, but they are weak and render this species of cuckoo virtually grounded. They live and breed in the southern US and Mexico build platform nests in the brush and on cactus. Roadrunners do not migrate and need little water. They eat fruit, insects, seeds, and small reptiles and it kills the larger prey by a swift blow of its beak to the back of the neck, or by holding the prey in its beak and bashing it against rocks. It stands about a foot tall, with a body that is brown with black streaks and sometimes pink dots. Its breast is tan or white, as is its belly, and its crest is mostly brown. Both males and females have a patch of bare skin behind each eye which is orange and blue in the female and orange and white in the male. They have four toes on each foot, two forward and two back, and from beak to tail’s end, the bird is about two feet long, half of which is tail.would be wrong. The second man spotted a roadrunner nearly 20km away within 24 hours of the first sighting, Given that these birds can run up to 42 km per hour it is possible that this was the same bird.
Researchers suggest that the actual bird sighted was not a roadrunner. One researcher suggested that it was” a partridge” which is what the locals call the Spruce Grouse. Ruffled Grouse are also plentiful in Ontario and the suggestion was made that this explained the sighting. Ontario is home to the Black Billed Cuckoo, a relative of the roadrunner but very much smaller, so it is possible that this bird was one of those. By virtue of the bird running a fair distance on the ground and not “ducking” its head as it did so implies that it was not one of these regular Ontario bird species. Several comparison photos are below to let you make your own decision. Since Ontario gets regular shipments of food from Mexico and the southern US, it is plausible that this bird caught a ride and ended up in the colder climate by mistake.
I spoke with the Ministry of Natural Resources in both the Bruce County area and near Peterborough and they have no reports of roadrunners in Ontario. Biologists havesaid the harsh winter climate would be deadly to the species, and an abundance of predatory mammals would make survival even more difficult.
Nobody is calling the witnesses cuckoo, but we do suggest that maybe the bird sighted wasn’t one either.
Thursday, 10 November 2011
Is it Ogo? Is it not? Is it Ogo? Is it not? Recently a BC gentleman named Richard Huls taped something in the water at Lake Okanagan in BC. The national news media, then the international news media, immediately ran with the story that he had seen the famous lake monster.
The problem is, that isn’t what he said. Mr. Huls claimed only to have taped/photographed SOMEthing in the water that he felt certain was not a simple wave. One source claims the video has over 200,000 views on YouTube, but I was unable to substantiate that. It was, however, featured on the top rated morning show Good Morning America. MSNBC proclaimed Huls was offering “proof” of Ogopogo. Mr. Huls actually said, however, that he had a recording that showed something living in the water—something large that did not parallel the waves—and that he believes in the existence of the lake monster. Those are very different statements. I applaud Mr Huls for his open mind and careful words; not so much praise for media outlets who sensationalize and take great liberty with quotes.
The best film of the probable creature is actually one shot in 1968 by Arthur Folden. The Huls video is problematic for several reasons, not the least of which is its poor quality. As skepdebunker Ben Radford notes, at about the 39 second point, the film seems to show two objects rather than one, floating just below the water. Realistically, this could be just an example of some of the thousands of logs in the Lake. On the other hand, a marathon swimmer claimed that in 2000 two large creatures swam with him in the lake. The lake has been searched and no concrete evidence has surfaced. Witnesses still continue to report the 40+ foot long serpent.
Saturday, 5 November 2011
The 1793 sighting, from near Sandusky, Ohio, came from the captain of the sloop Felicity. This ship was built in Michigan in 1774 and had a crew of six men. She carried two swivel guns and belonged to His Majesty George III. The captain was shooting ducks and sighted what he described as a large snake, more than 16 feet long. Three more sightings came in from ships in 1817, and the water snake was reported to be copper in color and up to 30 feet long. At one point muskets were fired at “Bessie” with no visible effect. The third sighting was by two brothers named Dusseau and occurred near Toledo, Ohio, on the far western shores of Lake Erie. They claimed to have come across a creature between 20 and 30 feet long, writhing on the beach. They described it as looking like a large sturgeon with arms. The brothers fled the area and when they returned the animal was gone, presumably reclaimed by the waves. What was left on the beach they described as scales about the size of silver dollars.
In 1892, the entire crew of a ship witnessed rough water about half a mile ahead while en route from Buffalo, NY to Toledo, OH. When they came up on the waves, they described “viciously sparkling eyes on a creature that was 50 feet long and 4 feet in circumference. Four years later, at Crystal Beach near Fort Erie, Ontario, four witnesses reported watching a creature with a head like a dog for about 45 minutes before it disappeared into the lake near nightfall. Reports continue through the decades, and as early as last summer (2011) reports continue to come in from reliable, sane people.
(photo from 1993 Weekly World Report)
What is Bessie? Certainly she lives in local legend, and many stories may have little basis in fact. Witness testimony, however, cannot be discounted in many reports. In 1969, a gentleman named Jim Schindler came within 6 feet of the creature near South Bass Island. In 1989, something was captured by sonar that was about 35 feet long and cigar shaped, swimming about 30 feet down. She has been reported looking like a snake, a sturgeon, and even a porpoise. Some descriptions say her mouth forms a grin, which would be similar to a bottle-nose whale. A whale in Lake Erie is unlikely though, and porpoises are not fresh water animals. Seals and otters have been documented in nearby Lake Ontario and there is access between the lakes so technically, it is possible for them to be in Lake Erie. Neither animal grows to the size reported; in fact they are nothing like a snake in shape.
There is one report of an injury. In 2001 near Port Dover, a woman was bitten and a six inch set of puncture wounds was documented. It is likely that this is from a bowfin, who are known to protect their nests quite aggressively. Given that Bessie is reported to be huge, certainly the victim would have seen her attacker as she was swimming in quite shallow water. Dr. Harold Hynscht, who treated the wounds from this victim and two others a few days later, said he had no idea what would have made the marks even though he was an experienced diver and was familiar with local aquatics. With the upper and lower bites 6 inches apart, the mouth would have to be quite large.
What is most disturbing, however, is the rapid decline of the health of Lake Erie. Since the 1990s, the lake has become infested with a poisonous algae, causing significant decline in the oxygen in the water. Local fish are dying and invasive mussel species are increasing, and agricultural pollutants are problematic. Lake Erie is home to 50 percent of the fish in the Great Lakes, even though it contains only 2 per cent of the water. What was once a rich feeding ground for Bessie is quickly becoming toxic and barren. Additionally, the water level in Lake Erie is declining, due in part to increased shoreline projects to accommodate commercial ventures in the western basin. Pollutants and declining water levels also increase the overall temperature of the lake, so if Bessie is a cold water creature this could put her in even more peril.
Here’s hoping the lake can sustain her until she can be scientifically studied.
History of Detroit and Wayne County and early Michigan, By Silas Farmer, ISBN-10: 0810333260