The Centre for Fortean Zoology was founded in the UK in 1992 - nearly 20 years ago. Over the past two decades it has expanded to become a truly global organisation. We opened our American office in 2001, our Australian office in 2009, and now - in our 19th year - we are proud to welcome CFZ Canada to the CFZ global family.

Sunday 29 January 2012

What Lies Within

Very regularly, interesting artifacts of long gone animals are being rediscovered across the globe-hiding in the fossil collections of our museums. Back in 2009, scientists (specifically paleontologists) documented a “new” animal hiding in storage at the ROM, Canada’s Royal Ontario Museum. 

The 500-million-year-old hurdia victoria, a sea creature, was initially recovered from Yoho National Park, near Field, B.C. by American paleontologist Charles Walcott in 1909.  Included in the find was a mysterious carapace (upper part of the exoskeleton) which Walcott recognized as that of a crustacean.  The fossils were eventually packed up and shipped to the ROM, where they floundered for quite some time.

Some parts of the remains were misidentified.  The mouth section was thought to be a whole jellyfish.  Another piece was initially identified as a sea cucumber.  Walcott tried to identify the fossils by comparing them to known species, especially living ones.  By the time Walcott was 74, he had recovered over 65,000 specimens from the Burgess Shale, a vast fossil field in the Rocky Mountains of BC.  The shale holds fossils of things that lived about 500,000,000 year ago in the Middle Cambrian period and are excellent specimens.  The Burgess Shale once lay beneath the sea deeply enough so as to not be disturbed by waves of storms, buried beneath mud flows off the Cathedral Escarpment.  This enabled preservation of soft tissue because the mud insulated the remains from decay.

Walcott’s misidentification remained intact until the 1960’s.  Alberto Simonetta, an Italian paleontologist, reinvestigated the Burgess Shale and was able to convince the scientific community that there were many more artifacts, and that Walcott’s identifications were incorrect.  Harry Blackmore Whittington, with the help of research students Derek Briggs and Simon Conway Morris of the University of Cambridge, reassessed the deposits and revealed that the fauna represented were much more diverse than Walcott had recognized.  Many of the animals present had bizarre anatomical features.  Some of the new animals were the Opabinia, with five eyes and a snout like a vacuum cleaner hose and the Hallucigenia, which walked on bilateral spines.

In the 1980s, the ROM discovered more complete examples of the hurdia victoria body. In 2009, a hundred years after the first discovery, a Canadian PhD student named Allison Daley put together the various pieces and finally revealed the actual shape. Dr. Daley is currently a post-doctorate researcher at the Palaeontology Department of the British Natural History Museum.

Hurdia was one of the largest organisms in the Cambrian oceans, reaching approximately 50 cm in length. It had a pair of spiny claws on its head and a mouth like a pineapple ring. A hollow, spike-shaped shell protruded from the front of its head but the function of this organ is unknown. The shell is empty and does not cover or protect the rest of the body. Large gills were suspended from the sides of the body on lateral lobes.  This animal was an important link in the evolution of arthropods (animals with jointed legs- crustaceans, butterflies, spiders and other insects) and their diet of beings that would evolve into mammals. 
UNESCO (The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) and Parks Canada designated the Burgess Shale as culturally and scientifically important.  This made it more difficult for scientists to quarry the fossils, but The Burgess Shale Geoscience Foundation and the ROM do have ongoing sites.  Even now samples come in faster than they can be identified and catalogued. 

The story of the hurdia victoria underscores the vast amount of information we have yet to understand.  Buried deep within not only fossil beds, but also museum storage, may be many answers to cataloguing and identifying some of the mysterious animals reported in modern times.

Further reading:

Monday 23 January 2012

新年快乐 (Happy New Year)

January 23, 2012 begins the Chinese `Year of the Dragon``.  In the Chinese 12 year cycle of zodiac years, the dragon is the only animal that is legendary—all of the other icons are known, and rather benign, animals and birds.  Additionally, this is the year of the Water Dragon.

A legend explains the sequence in which the animals were assigned. Supposedly, the 12 animals fought over the precedence of the animals in the cycle of years in the calendar, so the Chinese gods held a contest to determine the order. All the animals lined up on the bank of a river and were given the task of getting to the opposite shore. Their order in the calendar would be set by the order in which the animals managed to reach the other side. The dragon came in fifth, so is fifth in the 12 year cycle.

Dragon – / () (Yang, 1st Trine, Fixed Element Wood): Magnanimous, stately, vigorous, strong, self-assured, proud, noble, direct, dignified, eccentric, intellectual, fiery, passionate, decisive, pioneering, artistic, generous, loyal. Can be tactless, arrogant, imperious, tyrannical, demanding, intolerant, dogmatic, violent, impetuous, brash.

In Chinese mythology and folklore, there are many dragon tales.  About 5,000 years ago, when tribes were fighting one another. The tribe of the Yellow Emperor fought and won wars over other tribes and combined the totems, including the phoenix, the lion, the snake, the scorpion and the tiger, to form the dragon totem. "So that's why when you look at the dragon claws, they are like claws of the lions and tigers mixed. The tail is almost like a scorpion. The body is like a snake being flexible … and the head would be just like the big lion head," says Paul Ng, a feng shui master in Richmond Hill, Ontario. "In other words, they combined totems of many powerful animals into one that flies like the fiery bird, the phoenix. It's quite a mixed basket. It incorporates the most powerful things of all kinds of creatures into one. That's why people love it, because if you're a dragon, you're everything."  This belief is so prevalent that many Asians try to be married or have a child during dragon years

Chinese water dragons began picking up momentum as pets about 1995.  They originate from southern China, Vietnam, Thailand and Cambodia. Over the years there has been an increase in captive breeding by private owners.  If they are well taken care of, green water dragons can live up to 16 years.  Adult males grow to 3 feet; females measure approximately 2 feet. The tail is flattened, banded brown and green, and ends in a point  The tail makes up 75 percent of their length.  Water dragons have well-developed legs and the front legs climb and grasp branches, while the muscular back legs aid in climbing and swimming.  Water dragons also jump and can run very quickly, often just using their hind legs.

In Canada, dragons tend to be of the fruit or boat variety.  Some say that in Keppenfelt Bay, near Barrie, Ontario, there may be a sort of dragon in the water.  Many zoologist and other specialists in aquatics label reported unusual animals in Canadian lakes and streams as `Chinese Water Dragons`.  Doing so, however, is a clear sign that the source is not knowledgeable about such things.  Chinese water dragons (Physignathus cocincinus) only grow to about three feet, and while their name might suggest they are aquatic, most of their time is spent on land.  They are called water dragons because they live near the water, not in it.
Dragons are favorites in mythology.  We’ve tamed and captured them, ridden them across the sky, and saved damsels from their fiery breath.  Early science documented them as follows:

Scientific Description 1658

“        There be some dragons which have wings and no feet, some again have both feet and wings, and some neither feet nor wings, but are only distinguished from the common sort of Serpents by the comb growing upon their heads, and the beard under their cheeks. Gyllius, Pierius, and Gervinus . . . do affirm that a Dragon is of a black colour, the belly somewhat green, and very beautiful to behold, having a treble row of teeth in their mouths upon every jaw, and with most bright and clear-seeing eyes, which caused the Poets to say in their writings that these dragons are the watchful keepers of Treasures. They have also two dewlaps growing under their chin, and hanging down like a beard, which are of a red colour: their bodies are set all over with very sharp scales, and over their eyes stand certain flexible eyelids. When they gape wide with their mouth, and thrust forth their tongue, their teeth seem very much to resemble the teeth of wild Swine: And their necks have many times gross thick hair growing upon them, much like unto the bristles of a wild Boar.

Their mouth, (especially of the most tamable Dragons) is but little, not much bigger than a pipe, through which they draw in their breath, for they wound not with their mouth, but with their tails, only beating with them when they are angry. But the Indian, Ethiopian, and Phrygian dragons have very wide mouths, through which they often swallow in whole fowls and beasts. Their tongue is cloven as it were double, and the Investigators of nature do say that they have fifteen teeth of a side. The males have combs on their heads, but the females have none, and they are likewise distinguished by their beards.” - Historie of Foure-Footed Beasts (1658) By: Edward Topsell

It does seem unlikely that these sorts of mythological, flying, fire breathing dragons ever existed.  Biologically, no animal can create fire in its mouth.  Certainly beings of the size in folklore would not be able to fly. An animal the size of a classical dragon would require wings so large that it couldn’t flap them!  Of course the final “nail in the coffin” of dragon lore is that there have never been fossil/skeletal remains found.  It would be easy to stamp the case as closed based on those facts alone.

Historically, however, dragons exist in many cultures.  There are logs and records that turn up in different cultures all over the ancient world, and with the same features and attributes. If such a creature did not ever exist, why do all the pictures, paintings, carvings, embroideries, and descriptions match even though those cultures did not communicate at the time? From thousands of years ago until just a few hundred years ago, they have been cited and described in detail by people from New Zealand to the Inuit of northern Canada.  Marco Polo noted in his records of his trips to China that the royal family kept dragons for ceremonies.

A researcher who was looking into the municipal records of a small village in ancient China, noted how there was casual mention of dragons quite often. He cited one case where an outlying village had been bothered by a bear, and so the leader of the main town took some hunters on a two week excursion to kill it. About a kilometer down the road, they were attacked by a dragon.  They killed it with spear and arrows, but since there were just heading out they decided not to carry the carcass with them. By the time they came that way again, 2 weeks later, the dragon’s body had deteriorated badly so they left it permanently. It became a marker on the road telling travellers how far they were from town. Over the course of the next few months, it quickly dissolved.  Within 2 years, the bones themselves had dissolved as well and no skeleton remained.  Biologists researched and analysed the stories and determined that there are certain metabolic processes that could create acids that would dissolve the tissues like that even after death. These acids would be produced along with certain gases, specifically hydrogen.

One expert biologist who has speculated on the subject of whether dragons were real is Dr. Peter Hogarth, Senior Biologist of the University of York, in the UK. He is considered the world’s foremost authority on the real-life possibility of dragons. Dr. Hogarth and other biologists determined that an animal could conceivably have 4 stomachs like a cow, but generate gases in them that would create enough buoyancy to help lift the animal into the air, almost like a balloon, as some birds have. This would allow the animal to have shorter, smaller wings since they didn’t have to work as hard to lift the entire weight of the animal. The wings would mostly be used to take off and maneuver which reduces the size necessary to within more reasonable limits.
Hydrogen, when mixed with platinum powder, and oxygen of the air, will ignite into flames at room temperature. Scientists postulate that  when the creature needed to dive to attack, it would have to expel some of its gasses in order to reduce buoyancy. Expelling gasses would have meant igniting into flames from the mouth.  Additionally, some animals are quite resistant to flame (and radiation and other things) so it is conceivable that the dragon, if it “breathed fire” would not burn itself.

“Super-rats” of South America and India became resistant to fire when they burned the sugar cane fields. They also became resistant to poisons, and virtually every method devised to kill them except hitting them with a club. Resistance to heat and flame is evolutionarily possible and even pre-existent in other species. The Pompeii worm, (Alvinella pompejana) discovered in 1980, can tolerate water temperatures of up to 80 degrees centigrade.

The same metabolism that would create hydrogen in internal sacs, which would also create fire when expelled and mixed with air, is also highly caustic.  These natural acids would dissolve the body and skeleton quickly.

From a Cryptological standpoint, perhaps this “Year of the Dragon” will bring new discoveries.  May the Jade Emperor bless you and  yours and reveal his secrets to all who are searching.  新年快

Wednesday 18 January 2012

The RCMP and Sasquatch

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) is the Canadian national public safety service for all of Canada. It provides national,federal, provincial and municipal policing, including services to 184Aboriginal communities and three international airports. Their duties are varied, and sometimes, rather odd.

In May 1873, the Parliament of Canada established a central police force and one hundred and fifty new recruits headed to Manitoba for training. Since then, the size and scopeof the RCMP has changed and improved and currently their main focus is onserious or organized crime and national security. From time to time, however, these highlytrained officers get a report of a Sasquatch.

The last weekend of October 1974, a witness in Mackenzie, BCsaw what he first thought was a large black stump leaning against the trunk ofa large pine tree about 500 to 600 feet away. As he approached, the tall black haired creature on two legsmoved to hide behind the tree. Witness fired a shot over the creature's headand it turned and ran very fast straight down a steep hill. The witness then reported the incident to thelocal RCMP. Two years later, theManitoba RCMP received a rash of reports from Poplar River. Officers interviewed witnesses at PoplarRiver Reserve and filed this statement:

"Several people were interviewed and they all statedthat the animal was approximately seven to eight feet tall and was very broadat the shoulders. It had the general body structure of a man only many timeslarger. A foot cast was taken of the foot impression that was left behind bythe so-called monster and is held at this detachment. It measures 16 inches by5 inches, and has only 3 toes. It's fur is a glossy gray color and it has whitehair on it's head. They stated that it was very powerfully built and one manreported that he saw it swimming. To date there have been no further reports ofsightings in our area. It should be noted that this so-called monster seemedvery inquisitive towards the people and would come around the houses on thesettlement and look in doors and windows." ...1976 Norway House RCMPReport (Rocky Mountain Mounted Police)

Christmas 2008 brought reports of the hairy beast from CacheCreek, BC. The report was made bysomeone who claimed their father was following behind a pickup that hit thecreature. Both drivers got out, and there was this big hairy thing laying inthe road. The report goes on to say themen loaded the creature, still alive, into the back of the pickup truck, andthey were taking it to the RCMP in Cache Creek. Ashcroft RCMP Sgt. Dave Prentice says he has seen plenty of Sasquatchesin area “although none of them have been real.” Rumours circulated that the creaturewas being kept on ice somewhere in the dark recesses of the RCMP Detachment.Prentice says the only cooler they have is the little fridge in the lunchroomand while they do keep blood samples in there from time to time, there havebeen no Sasquatches. Mounties nearPinawa, Manitoba did catch a Sasquatch in 2007, but the creature turned out tobe an 18-year-old Winnipeg man wearing a hairy gorilla mask. No charges were laid.

According to John Kirk, no other police force has had todeal with more cryptids than the RCMP. In 1977, a Greyhound bus driven by Pat Lindquist, a reserve officer withthe Vancouver Police Department, stopped short near Lake Erroch B.C. when whatappeared to be a sasquatch crossed the road in front of the vehicle. He got outof the bus and chased the alleged Sasquatch. On the side of the road he foundlarge footprints, but lost the creature as it disappeared into the bush. Rene Dahinden was called in to investigatethe sighting and found that the RCMP was conducting an investigation. Dahinden examined the tracks and said thatthey were genuine and that Lindquist must have seen a Sasquatch. Then four young men from the Vancouversuburbs stepped forward and confessed that they had hoaxed the wholeaffair. Again, no charges were laid, butDahinden resolved to never be fooled again.

Cpl. Annie Linteau, Communication Officer for E Division(Vancouver), was contacted about current RCMP protocol and stated:

“I can confirm that an investigative file is generated as aresult of any incident reported to the police. The file is then assigned to a member for investigation. Based on the circumstances of the incidentand if the incident appears to be related to an animal, police will advise theirlocal conservation office for follow-up.”

When asked what the protocol would be if someone were toshoot a suspected Bigfoot, she replied,
“I am really not in a position to comment asto what sanctions someone may receive as a result of a shooting incident. All I can say is that it is theresponsibility of the police to investigate any shootings. All investigative findings would then be sentto the Prosecution Services for their assessment as to whether or not chargesare appropriate.”

A very similar response comes from Manitoba:

“The RCMP in Manitoba do not track reports of Bigfootsightings per say, so I cannot provide a number for the province.

I can tell you thatthe RCMP takes all calls seriously. In any complaint of a wild animal orunknown creature sighting, the safety of the public would be our firstpriority. The investigation would more likely be turned over to ManitobaConservation and Water Stewardship to follow up.” (Cpl. Miles Hiebert, DDivision)

While it still seems that the Mounties always get their man,it may be up to wildlife professionals to get us a Sasquatch.

Many thanks to theRCMP officers who allowed me their comments and were gracious and respectful intheir correspondence.

Thursday 12 January 2012

An Appreciation of Rene Dahinden

By Dale Drinnon

First of all came Ivan Sanderson's book on Abominable Snowmen: I discovered that in my local library in the late 1960s, before the book was a decade old, and at the same time as I discovered Tim Dinsdale's Loch Ness Monster. But actually the next book I saw on Bigfoot was Rene Dahinden's Sasquatch. John Napier's book on Bigfoot had come out as magazine excerpts at the time and although I already knew of his work as an Anthropologist, it was only  after I had a copy of Dahinden's book that I got a copy of Napier's book. So for many years I was impressed by Dahinden more than by John Green or by any of the other Sasquatch-hunters, and probably his opinion that some of the Sasquatch tracks were left by Neanderthals influenced my opinion that there actually was a second category of Bigfoots in North America, a sort of American Almas.

First of all came Ivan Sanderson's book on Abominable Snowmen: I discovered that in my local library in the late 1960s, before the book was a decade old, and at the same time as I discovered Tim Dinsdale's Loch Ness Monster. But actually the next book I saw on Bigfoot was Rene Dahinden's Sasquatch. John Napier's book on Bigfoot had come out as magazine excerpts at the time and although I already knew of his work as an Anthropologist, it was only  after I had a copy of Dahinden's book that I got a copy of Napier's book. So for many years I was impressed by Dahinden more than by John Green or by any of the other Sasquatch-hunters, and probably his opinion that some of the Sasquatch tracks were left by Neanderthals influenced my opinion that there actually was a second category of Bigfoots in North America, a sort of American Almas.

Tracking the sasquatch
Broadcast Date: Dec. 21, 1976
Rene Dahinden was probably Canada's only full-time sasquatch hunter. Since 1957 the Swiss immigrant's sole pursuit was to seek out the legendary hairy giant of the B.C. forest. He took hundreds of footprint casts and owned a share of the world's only Sasquatch film, but never managed to catch a glimpse of the beast. Even so, Dahinden was convinced the sasquatch is real. "I will keep on searching 'til I find the damn thing," he told CBC Television's The Fifth Estate in 1976.

Dahinden's obsession broke up his family and forced an austere lifestyle on him. Every penny he earned went straight to his search. He carefully followed up every sighting and found witness reports dating back to 1811. Despite Dahinden's efforts to prove the sasquatch exists, scientists are skeptical. "We have no skulls, no bones, nothing," says one. "Just these nebulous footprints which can be manufactured, or films which can be manufactured."

A review of his book Sasquatch:
Who, or what, left footprints that could only have been made by creatures weighing up to a thousand pounds and standing as tall as ten feet? Do they really exist? Or are the many sightings spanning thousands of miles and hundreds of years merely to be explained away by the authorities as bad dreams and, worse, hoaxes? In this fascinating and probing book, Don Hunter examines these and other bewildering questions. In association with Rene Dahinden, a now legendary Canadian Sasquatch hunter who has spent decades tracking down these elusive humanoids, author Hunter chronicles the exhaustive research carried out by layman and scholar alike in the quest for the truth about the North American Abominable snowman. For centuries, the Native People of British Columbia and the Northwest United States have incorporated the Sasquatch into their legends, and many today are still firmly convinced of its existence. But only when scores of people begin attesting to face-to-face meetings with the Sasquatch (some of the eye-witnesses offer photographs and film to prove it), and only when fully documented footprints measuring up to eighteen inches in length, separated by six-foot strides, began appearing in locales as diverse as Nahanni and California, did non-believers and scoffers start to pay more attention to this anthropological phenomenon.
Dahinden's meticulous research in the hands of one of Western Canada's most respected and accomplished authors and journalists, Don Hunter, becomes a compelling, entertaining story of one of the world's remaining great mysteries.
- ---
Rene Dahinden knows more about this mystery than anyone.
Reviewer: A reader posting to
I personally knew Rene Dahinden, have been to his home,and spent time in the woods with him searching for sasquatch. He is a serious,quiet man. He has spent most of his life investigating this mysterious creature. The amount of data he has compiled is amazing.Rene is not one given to exaggeration,he always tells it like it is. When it comes to big foot, he doesn't need to embellish.Rene is the reason the only legitimate film ever taken of bigfoot exists.It was Rene's information that led Roger Patterson to Bluff Creek,California in the 1960s. Many people have seen the short footage taken by Patterson, few know Rene Dahinden's involvement. This book is factual.If you want to explore the mystery behind 100s of years of lore,read Rene's book.You will be educated,entertained and amazed.

And Dahinden's biography and obituary
Rene Dahinden came to Canada from Switzerland in the 1950’s and went to work in a dairy farm in Alberta. Inspired by the 1953 Daily Mail News Expedition to find the Yeti ( Abominable Snowman) in Nepal, Rene opined that it would, indeed, be something to be part of such an expedition.It was at this point that a co-worker confided ..that he didn't have to go half way around the world to find those creatures. There were lots of them just over the mountains in BC. The they history.!

Rene Dahinden came to BC in search of the Sasquatch. He was probably Canada's only full-time Sasquatch hunter, back in those days.From the late 50's onward it became his sole goal to seek out the Sasquatch and bring one into the scientific light.
Up and down the PNW he investigated sightings and made casts. Into the 60's and 70's and 80's it was, René Dahinden's accented voice which was the loudest at meeting halls, auditoriums and symposiums. Where ever researchers were seen to gather, Dahinden could be counted upon to turn up and be brash and opinionated. He could not suffer those, that he considered to be, foolish people. 

From many accounts, the passing years without results weighed heavily upon Rene Dahinden's shoulders. And the elusive ape creature tasked him at every turn. Friendships were fleeting in the wake of his, now souring, disposition.

For all of his time and effort, he owned a share of the world's only Sasquatch film, but never managed to catch a glimpse of the critter. Even so, he never for a moment allowed his faith in the creature to falter. "I will keep on searching 'til I find the damn thing," he told CBC Television in 1976. 

Dahinden had taken the mystery of the Sasquatch to a world class level. Touring and knocking on the doors of all who might listen. But through his best efforts, the scientific community remained unmoved.
His foray into the world of Sasquatch had left him a sad and bitter person. Often this is the outcome with obsessions. With a long broken family and now earning barley enough to keep his hopes for his quest alive... every penny he earned went straight to his search. He carefully followed up every sighting and found witness reports dating back two hundred years.. 

He died in 2001, after almost half a century of following ridge lines, mountain slopes, and narrow valleys, with nothing to show for his time or effort. Mysteries, whether they are lost mines, treasures, or hidden creatures can take their toll on the unlucky who overstay their alloted time for pursuit of such.
I never met Rene Dahinden, and although I know a number of people who have, it saddens me that I never got the chance to shake his hand. His passing left a huge void in this field of endeavor!
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Saturday 7 January 2012

MacFarlane’s Bear

In 1864, Inuit hunters shot and killed an enormous yellow-furred bear in Canada’s Northwest Territories.  They gave the skin and skull to naturalist Robert MacFarlane, who then shipped them to the Smithsonian Institution.

Robert MacFarlane was the same person as Roderick Ross McFarlane of the Hudson’s Bay Company.  McFarlane is historically noted to be a mercantile operative for the company and an arctic naturalist.  He established Fort Anderson for HBC in 1861 to facilitate trade with the Inuit.  Five years later the Fort closed due to declining revenues, probably caused by a measles epidemic that killed many in the area.  Fort Anderson, on the Anderson River, was located about halfway between Great Bear Lake and the Beaufort Bay area of the Arctic Ocean.  The bear was shot at Sachs Harbor and Fort Anderson was the closest trading post at the time.  The Smithsonian recently retooled the MacFarlane donations into a collection of over 5000 items designated in a special study of Inuit history.

At the Smithsonian, the items were stored away and forgotten until the early 1900’s.  At the time of the acquisition of the bear, the Smithsonian was only 20 years old.  Interestingly, shortly after the bear arrived at the museum, they suffered a devastating fire.  Because the bear was deep in storage and not on display, it was spared any damage.

In 1918, Dr. Clinton Hart Merriam researched the remains.  He proposed they were from a new species and not a brown bear at all. He named it Vetularctos inopinatus, calling it the "ancient unexpected bear."  Dr. Merriam was the first chief of the Division of Economic Ornithology and Mammalogy of the United States Department of Agriculture, which evolved into the National Wildlife Research Center and the United States Fish and Wildlife Service.  He was also one of the original founders of the  National Geographic Society.  Through the course of his research, he proposed many different species of brown bears.

It was not originally believed that brown bears and polar bears interbred and formed hybrid, but this has since been confirmed.  MacFarlane’s bear has pale tan fur and an oddly shaped skull which is consistent with known brown/polar hybrids.  To date, no DNA testing has been done on this specimen to confirm that it was indeed this pairing rather than a new species.  If it turns out to be a hybrid the scientific names Vetularctos and Ursus inopinatus would become invalid under the ICZN.

Dr. Blaine W. Schubert (of East Tennessee State University) was allowed to examine the skull (although the Institute did not allow the examination to be filmed). Schubert stated that he was "100% sure" that it was the skull of a young, female brown bear and "actually, not a particularly large individual."  It should be noted, however, that Dr. Schubert is primarily a Paleontologist with specialties in Cave Paleontology and evolution of short faced bears.  While his knowledge is extensive and his opinion valuable, he is not an expert in Arctic bears nor their prehistoric forefathers.

In 1984, E. Raymond Hall synonymized U. inopinatus with U. arctos horribilis, the normal grizzly bear.  Dr. Hall was influential in vertebrate zoology until his death in 1986.