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.

Monday 18 November 2013

Waltzing Matilda

The internet never ceases to amaze (and disappoint) me.

"Breaking News" across my desktop today included this tidbit:

Bigfoot SHOCKING PHOTO – Sasquatch Proven? New Image and Matilda Documentary Shakes Scientific Community

In case you are, like me, completely unaware of who Matilda is, have a peek:

According to the article, this is the wedding "photo" of bigfoot and his lovely bride, Matilda.
World renowned scientist, Igor Nelson of Canada, noted that “this image is legit. I’m in shock. Matilda and Bigfoot are in it to win it.”
Now, not only have I never heard of this "world renowned scientist", he also can't be found online anywhere but in this article.   In further ridiculousness, there's this:
Although blurry, it has been thoroughly examined and proven legit to the satisfaction of 99% of the scientific community
Now, I don't know if the website in question is intended to be a spoof site like The Onion.  If so, it does it very poorly--nearly as poorly as it reports "news".  But we are in luck?!  There is a documentary!

It might be mildly amusing if it weren't so completely ridiculous and poorly done.  No, there's no link to purchase the movie.  Thank Goodness.  What's next, the abduction of Toronto Mayor Rob Ford?  Ok that's a bad example; we might actually benefit from that.

The same site offers the obituaries of many "dead" celebrities, including quotes attributed to them after death.  Faithful (and obviously gullible) readers can also peruse 146 articles on UFOs.  Not bad for a boxing site.

Is it any wonder legitimate researchers and aficionados are ridiculed?  Thanks, internet.

Monday 7 October 2013

5 Cryptids Cooler than We Have in Canada

It strikes when residents are seeking relief from the brutal summer heat by bedding down on their roofs between midnight and 4 a.m. In May 2001, New Delhi, India became paralyzed with fear when an unidentified black monkey was reportedly terrorizing the population, causing a pregnant women to fall down a staircase and forcing two panicked men to jump off of balconies. All three died, and dozens reported scratches and bites.

The Monkey Man of India is described as about four feet tall, covered in thick black hair, with a metal helmet, metal claws, glowing red eyes and three buttons on its chest.  His local name is Kala Bandar.

The Sea Monk was an evil fish monster that looked a little like a monk. It was found off the coast of Denmark, most notably in 1546.  Historian William M Johnson noted that the sea monk bears a striking resemblance to St Francis of Assisi.

In John Stow's 'Annales', he describes the capture of one: 

"A.D. 1187. Neere unto Orforde in Suffolke, certaine Fishers of the sea tooke in their nettes a Fish having the shape of a man in all pointes, which Fish was kept by Barlemew de Glanville, Custos of the castle of Orforde, in the same castle, by the space of six monthes, and more, for a wonder: He spake not a word. All manner of meates he gladly did eate, but more greedilie raw fishe, after he had crushed out all the moisture. Oftentimes he was brought to the Church where he showed no tokens of adoration. At length, when he was not well looked to, he stale away to the sea and never after appeared."

Between 1545 and 1550, the Danish king, Christian III, sent to the Holy Roman Emperor Charles V drawings of a strange animal that had been caught in the Ă˜resund (the strait between the island of  Zealand, Denmark and Sweden). The animal had “a human head and face, resembling in appearance the men with shorn heads, whom we call monks because of their solitary life; but the appearance of its lower parts, bearing a coating of scales.”
More modern researchers offer more likely explanations.   The giant squid theory was popularized by writer Richard Ellis in 'The Search for the Giant Squid'.  Cryptozoologist Bernard Heuvelmans believed the report was based on the discovery of a walrus—no less cryptological, however, as it would have been out of place. More recently, it has been suggested that it was an angel shark Squatina squatina, which is commonly called monkfish, a grey seal, a hooded seal or a monk seal. 

The Beast of Busco is a legend from  the backwoods of Indiana in 1949.  Churubusco, Indiana, experienced a series of sightings of a large turtle, “the size of a dining room table,” The snapping turtle was 15 feet long and it killed a number of farm animals before it was allegedly caught. Fulk Lake, three miles out of town on Madden Road, site of the sightings, is on private property today.  It is surrounded by brushy overgrowth, hard to see from the road, and cut off from further exploration.  

The story is that a farmer spotted the animal, and called the police. They came to the scene, who devised a plan to drag it from the water with chains pulled from four Clydesdales. Eventually the chains shattered, and the turtle escaped.  Another version is that 
two men from Churubusco, Ora Blue and Charley Wilson, claim to have seen the Beast of Busco while fishing in Fulk Lake.  In the first few days of March, 1949, lake owner Gale Harris claimed to have seen the giant turtle again, and was persuaded by some townspeople to try and capture the beast.  He was nearly successful on the first day. A trap of stakes and chicken wire trapped the beast in about 10 feet of water;  a video, now lost (of course),  appeared to show the creature swimming just below the surface.   On March 7th, the Columbus City newspaper reported on the search for the beast.   The next day reporters from Fort Wayne showed up and managed to get the story out to  United Press International who sent the story across the wire. On March 9th newspapers across the nation ran the reports of this giant turtle. The Fort Wayne newspapers jokingly named the creature Oscar, perhaps after Oscar Folk the original owner of Folk Lake, and also coined the name  Beast of Busco.

Harris felt that his reputation was being questioned and began a personal quest to capture the turtle On March 12th more than 200 people traveled to his farm to watch the search and the following day bumper to bumper traffic crowded the town of Churubusco on the route to Harris’ farm  Airplanes buzzed overhead. By March 14th 3,000 people trampled across Harris’ property.  It was a media circus and  impossible to tell fact from fiction because  reporters began to make things up. Sometime in April  two Indianapolis men claimed to have captured the Beast of Busco but it didn’t take long to discover what they had was a sea turtle, purchased in an attempt to cash in on the Oscar frenzy. This sea turtle however gave someone an idea though, and it wasn’t long before a female sea turtle was brought to the lake in a fruitless attempt to lure the beast out of hiding.  Harris even used dynamite charges at one point to try to drive the thing out of his lake.

The most interesting non-Canadian cryptid may not be a cryptid at all. Bloop is the name given to an ultra-low-frequency and powerful underwater sound detected by the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) in 1997. The sound's source was roughly triangulated to 50°S 100°W  (a remote point in the south Pacific Ocean west of the southern tip of South America)
The NOAA's Dr. Christopher Fox did not believe its origin was man-made or a familiar geological event such as volcanoes or earthquakes. The  audio profile of Bloop does resemble that of a living creature, but the source was a mystery because it was different from known sounds and was several times louder than a blue whale, which is the loudest recorded animal.

One suggestion is that the sound is coming from giant squid, which live at extreme depths of up to four km.  The largest dead squid on record measured about 18 metres including the length of its tentacles, but no one knows how big the creatures might grow.    Phil Lobel, a marine biologist at Boston University, doubts that giant squid are the source of Bloop.  ``Cephalopods have no gas-filled sac, so they have no way to make that type of noise,'' he said.

It is currently assumed that the sound is generated by icequakes in large icebergs, or large icebergs scraping the ocean floor. the NOAA's found and confirmed that "the frequency and time-duration characteristics of the Bloop signal are consistent, and essentially identical, to icequake signals we have recorded off Antarctica".

BUT, the deep oceans are still mostly unexplored by humans (more than 95 percent, according to the NOAA).  Conspiracy theories are abundant.,9171,127298,00.html#ixzz2h2m755h2,28804,1916160_1916151_1916134,00.html #ixzz2h2lynYIs

Tuesday 24 September 2013

Gold, Copper, and Sasquatch

Despite some criticism, environmentalists are finally starting to take Sasquatch into consideration.  Recently in the Prince George, British Columbia area, concerns have been heard relative to the environmental impact of the proposed New Prosperity gold and copper mine.  The study is a proposal by Taseko Mines to construct an open-pit facility about 125 km south of Williams Lake.  

Taseko has a lovely video outlining the plan to preserve the surroundings, specifically Fish Lake.

In it's August 27, 2013 closing statement to the Canadian EPA, Taseko addresses specific concerns about many elements of the local are.  Protection of Grizzly Bears, salmon, and Aboriginal Rights receive specific response in this statement.  Sadly, the response given the Aboriginals is at best disrespectful.  Read the document with a great deal of patience.  It should be noted that while the newspaper report touts a discussion of Sasquatch, this document does not.  Is this because the mine company disbelieves in the possibility of Bigfoot?

Member of First Nations communities brought the topic of Sasquatch to the discussion several times. When Former Esdilagh chief Thomas Billyboy said  he noticed noticed not only grizzly bears leaving the Cariboo but that  sasquatches have been leaving, too.  Angelina Stump told the panel that her people's oral history includes a time when animals, including sasquatches,  spoke directly with people.  Other references were also made, but the general rebuttal was that these claims were either ridiculous or proposed for political purposes.

One opinion piece of the subject suggests that sasquatch is a myth.  The author further suggests that

 The logic is simple. With no proof that the Sasquatch doesn't exist, it is therefore possible that it might exist and we just haven't proved its existence yet. The faulty logic is easily exposed with another example - we also haven't found one-eyed, one-horned, flying purple people eaters, either.

One thing most reports and articles don't mention is that there is precedence.  In the US, the state of Washington, Sasquatch is protected. The US Fish and Wildlife Service lists Bigfoot as an endangered species.  Most North American agencies have prohibitions against killing species that are as yet undefined.  Specifically, in Lake Champlain, Champy is now protected by law on both sides of the lake.  In the early 1980s Port Henry, NY, the State of Vermont, and the New York State Assembly and Senate passed resolutions protecting the "mythological" beast. 

While one side proposes that "absence of evidence is not evidence of absence" a la Carl Sagan  the other side calls this false logic. They have misinterpreted the meaning to be that the 'absence of evidence might still be proof of existence" and therefore discard the whole idea.  In the case of Sasquatch et al, I would suggest that the absence of evidence might be evidence of a need for better research and open-mindedness--especially when proposed against a blatant earth scarring project.

Sunday 15 September 2013

Nothing to See Here

It has been an extraordinarily slow crypto-news year here in Canada.  We've had a couple of nibbles, but aside from the guy investigating Bigfoot in an Ontario pot field and a strange noise out of BC, it's a matter of All's Quiet on the Northern Front.

Some year's are like this.  The local fauna just doesn't come out to play with the Cryptozoologists.  Bessie keeps to her depths and Sasquatch is building a bunker to hide from the recently crowd-sourced drone project.  FoxNews called the latest Canadian bigfoot video too inconclusive--and they are the masters of making mountains out of molehills.

So instead of the molehills of Canadian Cryptozoology, I offer you today an unusual Canadian Mole.

Yes, that is an actual photo of an actual animal.  Meet our Star-nosed mole.  This ugly darling is about the size of a hamster and can be found in the wetlands of the east coast to western Ontario (and sometimes eastern Manitoba). That scary snout actually has twenty-two finger like appendages that are more flexible and more sensitive than any other animal on earth.  Like other moles, it burrows (yes, even through snow).  It is also quite an accomplished swimmer.  Both talents come in handy when hiding from hawks and owls.

These moles eat mostly worms, but enjoy other delicacies as well.  Leeches and other aquatic insects make up about 30% of its diet, with the occasion land based insect, mollusk or small fish making up the rest.  In that way, they contribute to the health of soil as grubs can become a problem if not kept in check.  Fortunately this guy is not usually found in places where humans are so there really isn't a need to control their population.  This is a good thing too, as they are resistant to just about everything but trapping.

Cultural habits of these gregarious creatures are difficult to study. Pairs have been found together, suggesting monogamy, but large colonies are also quite common, even nearby to found pairs.  Sometimes groups as large as thirty are found. They don't make many vocal sounds, but they do have large ear openings so perhaps they have a level of communication science has yet to uncover.  During mating season, the emit a odor described as "exceedingly rank and nauseous."

I think I would rather meet a Sasquatch.

Pleasant dreams!

Sunday 1 September 2013

Just for Fun

First, this is not Canadian.  But it is from Olympia, Washington, which is about 110 miles from the British Columbia border.  Second, it's not by any stretch a reasonable representation of the big hair biped we all know and love.  But it is cute, and it's for a decent cause.

The videos below are to promote Washington State's Department of Natural Resources "Discover Pass".  This special permit is needed by everyone who wants to visit the state parks; and by everyone, we mean EVERYone.

Have a look, and a smile.

Wednesday 7 August 2013

Give Us Some Real Evidence

Oh Sasquatch Ontario (aka Mike Patterson) disappoint us.

I'll give you that the audio is interesting.  Even entertaining. But proof?  Hardly.

First, no location is given.  Now, I live in Ontario and I know when it starts getting light enough to see on August 2.  I'm not buying that you could see nothing at all.  Tell us your approximate location and we'll verify your dawn time and the weather on that day.

Second, the recording is pretty darned clear.  Unless the animal was right on the mike, there should be much more ambient sound and a bit of measurable echo.  Could we hear it raw please?  And certainly without the set up commentary that is very leading.

Third, a name?  Really?  From this piece, you're proposing that this particular Bigfoot has graced your recording with its name.  You suggest this has happened because you have become so friendly with the phenomena that there is a dialogue.  You have been asking for a name, and the Sasquatch was not only comfortable with your audible presence but also understands English and is capable of responding to your request.

I won't go so far as to accuse these folks of hoaxing.  I would suggest, however, that is not the best place to release a "discovery of biblical proportions."  Further, this "evidence" fails to meet the most basic standards--qualify, quantify and qualityassure.

Tim Ervick, among many others, is going out of his way to distance himself from Patterson, saying,
First off he has no connection to Ontario Wildlife Field Research run by myself and no connection to Ontario Bigfoot or Ontario Sasquatch groups. These are well established groups that would never endorse or knowingly participate in such an obvious hoax. 
Mike P has a burden of proof that some have mentioned to him only to be answered with his arrogant and condescending attitude. Serious red flags to anyone serious on the subject.

And from Tim Fasano,
I suspected from the beginning these guys were running scam. They were finding Bigfoot evidence on EVERY trip into the woods. HINT: when finding Bigfoot seems as easy as finding animals at a zoo, that should raise a red flag.
Mike--you seem to be a great wildlife photographer.  Don't quit your day job.

Decisions, Decisions...

Is it crypto?  I find myself asking that quite a lot these days.  I work with both hauntings phenomena and cryptozoology and sometimes it is very hard to figure out which is which.

One of my current cases involves a First Nations community in Ontario.  Several things have been reported, some of which are clearly ghostly in nature.  There are a couple, however, that test my theories from the very beginning.  One is a report of “little people”.  We’re not talking about just one or two small-ish folks.  The report is a virtual colony of small humanoids that behave in very human fashion.  They aren’t gnomes, or fairies, or any of the other typical “wee folk”, just pint sized humans.  The reports of this colony go back over 75 years!  Clearly crypto?  Not so fast.  How would we know?  It would seem that the litmus test for cryptozoology would be physical evidence.  If we could find a body, or some other sorts of artifacts, then perhaps this would put this solidly in the crypto category.  Sasquatch, however, has left us no such definitive proof and we still place him in this realm.

Another report in this area is that of a man with hooved feet.  He walks upright and looks into windows.  He also reportedly leaves tracks.  Does his ability to alter the ground in this way make him a cryptid?  And what about “shape shifters”?

Generally, for most cryptozoologists, it comes down to a belief system.  Many think that the idea of ghosts is ridiculous, yet firmly believe in Bessie or the Loch Ness Monster.  Since cryptozoology is generally more of a science based endeavor, skeptics are more likely to lean toward acceptance.  As the research into hauntings continues to blossom, however, more and more scientific method and results are being reported by investigators.

I struggle with this classification system quite a lot with the reports of Mothman specifically.  In this case, there are not only elements of cryptozoology and hauntings, but also strong evidence of UFO involvement.  Should we pick a path and stick to it or would the subject be better served by a team (or a person) of all three specialties?

I’m greatly interested in your feedback on this.  What makes a cryptid a cryptid?

Sunday 21 July 2013


I want to state right off the bat that I don't write this to ridicule anyone.

Day before yesterday, a blogger at wrote a piece on Sasquatch.  The post has since been completely removed, so I can't tell you who wrote it or what it said, but from the news update I got it appears to have been an excited retelling of a "news" story in The Sage, an online satire from Canada that is quite similar to The Onion.

In the original Sage story, whose headline reads

Alberta: Bow Valley flooding exposes rotting carcass of a Sasquatch.

Legendary Cryptid believed to be a surviving Gigantopithecus,

seems to tell the story of a hiker, northwest of Canmore, Alberta.  This hiker purportedly found the rotting corpse of a "sasquatch" that had been uncovered in the mass flooding in southern Alberta.  The article even goes so far as to quote a "Coren Lowman", noted Cryptozoologist.

The first problem with this story is that it is from The Sage. The website clearly states that it is satire, so either the author didn't notice that, or they do not know what satire is.  Additionally, The Sage prints a disclaimer stating the items are "satire and faux" and for humor only.  Sadly, we have become accustomed to this level of research--simply looking at the headlines and briefly scanning content before rebroadcasting.

The second problem is from The Sage.  No, I don't fault them for being creative, it's just that this particular article is not funny.  The flooding in Alberta was devastating.  People lost their homes, their livelihoods, and in some cases, their lives.  This disaster just isn't good fodder for humor, at least not just a few weeks from the event.  To find Alberta Sasquatch humor isn't difficult--Google Todd Standing.

The third problem is a combination of the two.  Just a few days after The Sage ran its story, it was picked up by,, and other sites.  Most of those sites made no claim of it being satire or false in any way.  I have to wonder, did they think they were reporting truth?  

This is how legends and hoaxes get started.  Someone thinks they are being funny, or smarter than others and out to fool the world, and starts silliness like this without regard to the serious study OR the locals who have to deal with the fallout.

Let's be a little more responsible than this.  Let's read the whole article, the whole page, the public opinion of a publication or website or get the background of the author before we start playing this game of "telephone" that is corrupt even before the first pass.

It might also be good to remember that if it seems amazing and remarkable, especially in a field that studies the amazing and remarkable, it probably is.

Wednesday 3 July 2013

Breaking News on the Ketchum DNA

The Huffington Post and The Examiner are both reporting today that the DNA presented by veterinarian Melba Ketchum as Big Foot DNA, is actually opossum.  Houston Chronicle reporter Eric Berger sent some of Ketchum's DNA samples to an independent geneticist for analysis.  It wasn't pretty.

Ketchum told Huffington Post:
"He's just out there to create drama."
"This is unbelievable -- my study is a legitimate study," she said. "There's no credibility in his study whatsoever ... There's jealousy out there."
Ketchum wants a new independent study done to prove her results are solid and Berger's are skewed.  She wants to watch the testing herself because she believes Berger may have switched the samples.  

Nothing like a little Big Foot drama to start the month for fireworks.

Saturday 29 June 2013

Finding the Midnight Toker

Last week the Toronto Star (6/20/2013) carried a story about a researcher who was arrested while hunting Sasquatch.  He claims he was “bullied” by an officer of the law.

Let’s look at this.

Last August, Tim Marczenko,  a member of Ontario Wildlife Field Research,  was in the woods near Brock Township, Durham Region, Ontario.  He claims, according to the story, that he is researching suspected Bigfoot tracks in the area.  Additionally, Mr. Marczenko is a media person.  His LinkedIn profile says he is an Executive Assistant at Rhombus Media, Inc. in Toronto.

Constable Aukema dismissed Marczhenko’s story as “bulls--t” and demanded to know if he had an accomplice with him. He then seized a survival knife found in the rental car.  The officer told Mr. Marczenko he’d heard the same Bigfoot story from people arrested for drug crimes in the area. 

“He threatened me many times, saying he was going to tow my car or charge me with trespassing or concealing a weapon,” Mr. Marczenko said. He said that when the officer found the knife in the rental car, “He said I was lucky I didn’t get a gun in my face.”

I wouldn’t call those threats.  Seems like pretty standard stuff to me.

The Durham police reviewed the complaint that Marczenko was treated poorly.  They admitted Mr. Marczenko’s survival knife was seized in error, but found no misconduct on the part of the officer. Mr. Marczenko has appealed that finding to a police oversight agency.  All this because they thought he was a nut?

“I was shocked and insulted by the way they handled my complaint,” he said. “My rights were violated.
“I feel an apology needs to come from the officer and the department for not taking this seriously.”
Ontario Wildlife Field Research has a reported membership of 106.  Two of these are featured on the website, as are some internet radio shows and a YouTube channel.  Mr. Marczenko is not easily found on the site.  In fact, I never did locate a reference to him.

This presents a problem, for if the police had simply checked the website and there had been a list of recognized researchers, his story would have held up. Legitimate researchers leave a paper/internet trail.  If they don’t, then they should be working under someone who does. 

A second problem here is that the “suspicious person” was reported to police by the neighbors.  If he had permission to be on this land, the locals would know it or he would have some sort of written permission to be there.  Otherwise it is called Trespassing, and that is a criminal offense.  Even if the forest was “Crown Lands” or “National Forest”, you have to be there only with permission.  Mr Marczenko was indeed charged with trespassing.

The article states that a “survival knife” was removed by police.  Now, as a field researcher, I can tell you that this is a key piece of equipment to have in the field.  Even a good hiker should carry one.  Why the nice officers confiscated that I do not know nor can I support unless he in some way threatened them.  The article states that vegetation was found in his car…the officers said it looked like marijuana.  Hrmmm.  Why was there vegetation in the car at all?  And was it clearly tagged as evidence for research?  Not likely.  If it were, the officers would have been (or should have been) more respectful.

Mr Marczenko says he was “bullied” by officers.  That the officer called him a liar and accused him of doing something criminal, namely being a marijuana grower.  He was ridiculed for saying he was a Bigfoot Investigator.  Who among us has not been through THAT particular conversation?  Marcello Truzzi (September 6, 1935 – February 2, 2003) was a professor of sociology at New College of Florida and later at Eastern Michigan University.  He was one of the founders of CISCOP (Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal).  He is credited with the quote “Extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof."  Certainly, wandering alone in the forest and claiming to be a Bigfoot Hunter is an extraordinary claim.  It would have served him, and the rest of us, to have shown understanding of the ridicule and provided SOME kind of proof that this was the purpose.

Added further to the problem is that of him having a rental car.  Now, having a rental car isn’t a crime.  It’s not even unreasonable to expect in an out of town investigation of some distance.  This location, however, is not a far distance from his home.  While not damning evidence of wrongdoing, I can see how the police might have found it curious.

Mr Marczenko was doing what is typically called an “onsite investigation”.  He was also doing it badly.  First and foremost, he failed to get permission to be on the property.  Second, he went alone. Third, he went to a location openly known to be the location of illegal enterprise.  Had he bothered to interview any of the locals, as a good researcher would, then he would have known the reputation.  Further, he did so with no researcher identification, no clearly marked evidence collection, a knife he didn’t bother to tell the officer about before they searched, and a rental car

Mr. Marczenko was eventually released, and warned to stay away from the area.  He was charged with trespassing and fined.  He paid the fine.  Now he says,
“I want the (trespassing) charge dropped,” he said. “I also want to be reimbursed for the trespassing fine.”
“I felt helpless, alone, attacked,” Mr. Marczenko said.

 “The involved officer’s conduct . . . did not amount to discreditable conduct and I therefore find the complainant’s allegations with respect to these issues as unsubstantiated,” Inspector George Dmytruk wrote in a final report.  “Constable Aukema did detain Mr. Marczenko, however, the detention was required to conduct a complete and thorough criminal investigation,” the report says.

The officer said he was suspicious of the “exceptionally flustered” Mr. Marczenko and that he noticed vegetation resembling marijuana leaves in the rental car (there’s no evidence any pot was found in the car).
“I had a reasonable suspicion that Marczenko was in the area for a nefarious purpose, more specifically the purpose of tending to an outdoor marijuana grow,” Const. Aukema said.

The officer did not specifically address Mr. Marczenko’s claim that he could have had a “gun in his face,” but said he told him “trying to conceal a knife from a police officer who is actively approaching his vehicle was a horrible decision.”

Mr. Marczenko, suck it up.  The rest of us?  Let this serve as a reminder of what could happen if we skip the important stuff—like permission and proper identification.

Wednesday 22 May 2013

You Don't Know Jacko

George Tilbury was a real person, born in England in 1853.  He really did live in Yale, BC.  Just a few years after this below article appeared, he was living in Vancouver.  He arrived in Quebec City in 1879, having come from England via Liverpool.  Just 5 years later, he would be in BC, acting as caregiver to Jacko, the BC gorilla.

Daily Colonist ran the story of a small hominid captured by a crew of railway workers in British Columbia during the summer of 1884.  It was described as “Something of the gorilla type standing four feet seven inches in height and weighing 127.”  Jacko had long hair, black and about an inch long, and looked human except for this hair which covered everything except hands and feet.  His forearm was reportedly much longer than a human one, and that is probably what gave him a gorilla image.  The beast was captured while lying hurt next to the railroad tracks and taken to the local jail, where Mr. Tilbury was to care for it.

The Mainland Guardian of July 9, 1884 (New Westminster, BC), mentioned the story and noted: “The ‘What Is It’ is the subject of conversation in town. How the story originated, and by whom, is hard for one to conjecture. Absurdity is written on the face of it. The fact of the matter is, that no such animal was caught, and how the Colonist was duped in such a manner, and by such a story, is strange.”

On July 11, 1884, the British Columbian (also a New Westminster newspaper) reported that some 200 people had gone to the jail to view Jacko, but that the “only wild man visible” was a man, presumably Tilsbury, who they laughingly called the “governor of the goal [jail], who completely exhausted his patience” answering questions from the crowd.  He is said to have told them the injured Jacko escaped just prior to the arrival of the townsfolk.

During the 1950s, a BC news reporter named Brian McKelvie became interested in Sasquatch reports of his current day that were being carried by his local papers. McKelvie searched for reports from the beginnings of the locality and found the Colonist article. McKelvie then told researchers John Green and RenĂ© Dahinden.   At that time it was believed that this was the only record of the event due to a fire that had destroyed other area newspapers in archive.

John Green continued digging, however, and discovered microfilm of British Columbia newspapers from the 1880s in the University of British Columbia, as listed above.  He then spent several years interviewing old-timers in Western Canada about their earlier Sasquatch encounters.  One of the interviewees was August Castle, who confirmed the story had been popular in his youth.

Later, Dr. Myra Shackley conducted research on hominoids and it has been widely reported that Dr. Shackley “did perhaps the most exhaustive effort in the search for Jacko.”   Her work, however, is simply an overview of the work of John Green. The claim that it is hers shows a failure to do actual research. The Castle interview was conducted in 1958, by Green, when Castle was 80 years old.  At that time, Dr. Shackley was 13 years old and living in England.  While her research on Neanderthal populations in Mongolia might warrant the title “exhaustive”, those who attribute the Jacko findings to her are mistaken.
Some enthusiasts continue to retell the story of Jacko as if it was a real report, but most serious researchers have labeled it “news fiction”, not unlike our modern day tabloid stories.

Tuesday 14 May 2013

Newbies in the Midst

Paranormal Conference season has begun for 2013 and I’m pleased that people are taking a real interest in Cryptozoology.  In the past, these conferences have leaned toward psychic readings and ghost gadgets.  In the past few years, though, serious researcher in all facets of the field are making a difference;  in spite of the demoralizing representation on television.

A couple of weeks ago I spoke at a conference in Lynchburg, VA.  The topic of crypto was new to them.  Certainly they had heard of Bigfoot et al, but they had never heard of the very real, very serious study of such phenomenon.  It was a bit like seeing a baby take its first step.  Grown adults soaked in the wonder that is Fortean zoology with almost desperate thirst.  I felt honored to be the water-bearer.

The questions at these events continue to be more thoughtful.  Gone are the “Do you think bigfoot attacks people” questions.  Now, they ask about how to recover evidence and what sort of testing to do.  We talked about potential diet of lake and sea creatures.  We talked about the aerodynamics of a creature who, like Mothman, could fly without flapping its wings.  We talked about bone structure, and of course DNA.  It was a joy to behold.

Several years ago when I first started lecturing on the topic, a self-proclaimed skeptic challenged my opinion.  The crowd waited expectantly for me to get angry and rebut.  Instead, I asked him what his opinion was and we talked openly about it.  Both of us learned from that, but more importantly the onlookers learned that professionals can have different—even conflicting—opinions and that the research is far from standard.  That is something that is glaringly missing in most paranormal specialties.

Cryptozoology grows, and the researchers grow.  The findings become more important, more tangible.  Then the onlookers start getting intrigued.  Could funding for real research be far behind?

Sunday 21 April 2013

Tales of Tetrapods

A Canadian group has listed the story below on their Facebook page and some of the comments made me wonder if this is a cryptid or an alien.  Often when  we hear the word “Reptilian” we think of shape-shifting aliens in sci-fi stories.  David Icke, a conspiracy theorist, has even claimed that many of the world leaders are, or are possessed by, reptilians. 

Miami-Dade Law Enforcement worker   Albert S Rosales, a Facebook user, posted this account on the Paranormal Studies and Investigations page.

Reptilian encounter, Ontario, Canada, 1978
Location. St. Catherines, Ontario, Canada Date: summer 1978 Time: late evening Lee Nigro was driving along a dark road near an area that is fairly well wooded. He was accompanied by his friend Churcho in the passenger seat when they spotted what Lee at first took to be a tall man standing in the middle of the road several yards ahead, apparently indifferent to the fact that a vehicle was moving towards “him”. Lee supposedly blared the horn frantically, since he believed he had the right of way, but still this “man” showed no interest in budging from “his” precarious spot in the middle of the road. As a result, Lee---who was known as being very tough and no-nonsense when the situation called for it---had to swerve his car aside in the road so that he didn’t hit this “man,” and could very well have had a serious accident as a result. Incensed at this individual for the near disaster, Lee Nigro got out of the car to angrily confront the man, only to realize to his horror---and that of his passenger, who could now fully see the figure illuminated in the headlights of the stopped car---that he was not confronting a human being at all. When asked what it looked like he answered, “Like an alligator” but he insisted that it stood on two feet like a man. Lee Nigro very explicitly claimed that the encountered humanoid had reptilian features and not the far more ‘familiar’ hairy hominid or ape-like type of creature. He never used the word Bigfoot to describe it, instead he insisted the creature he saw looked like something akin to a humanoid alligator with scaly, hairless reptilian skin. Unfortunately it was not confirmed if the creature’s hairless skin was green or some other hue. Then came the final part of the confrontation. While Lee Nigro’s passenger panicked and claimed that he tried to hide under the dashboard of the car, Nigro quickly grabbed a baseball bat he kept handy in the car if needed and struck the creature with it---only to find it had no effect whatsoever. After Lee Nigro struck the creature with the
bat, it knocked the weapon out of his hand, and he wisely rushed into the car, shut the door, hastily started the vehicle up again, and hit the accelerator. Just as he took off, the reptilian cryptid apparently leaped on the hood of the car, then just as quickly leaped off again as the vehicle started moving forward. It then ran into the nearby trees on the side of the road, disappearing from sight even as Lee Nigro hightailed it out of the area.

HC addendum Source: direct from Chris N Type: E Comments: Source is nephew of Lee Nigro

Another Canadian reptilian, the Thetis Lake monster, was first reported just outside of Victoria, British Columbia in 1972.  A local man attempted to explain the phenomenon with reports of misplacing a domesticated Tegu lizard near the area a year prior, but a Tegu lizard wouldn't survive a Canadian winter and the original description differs too greatly from the lizard. Two of the original four witnesses of this monster recently came forward and admitted that they had fabricated the encounter. More on the Thetis Lake story can be found here.

Reptilian cryptids are not entirely unheard of.  The Cherufe in Chile is described as a large reptilian humanoid creature or dragon. Cryptozoological investigators consider the possibility that the legends of the Cherufe may be based  on sightings of an actual biological entity.    In the "original" Mapuche legend, the Cherufe is described as a giant snake that lives under the sea floor to generate seaquakes and tsunamis. The Peruvian equivalent to the Cherufe would be called by the name Pachamama (Earth mother).  In Peru it is sometimes represented as a separate cryptid that Karl Shuker equates to the Minhocao (giant earthworm). Giant serpents, especially in this area, are thought to have been originally mythological explanations for natural phenomena or even religious concepts.

The Lizard Man of Scape Ore Swamp is said to inhabit the swampland in and around Lee County, South Carolina.  Some say it also appears along with the sewers near the swamp.  He is described as 7 feet (2.1 m) tall, bipedal, and muscular, covered in dark hair with scaly lizard like skin on hands, feet and face.  It is said to be quite strong and may have a tail with six spikes. The first reported sighting was made by Christopher Davis, a 17 year old local, who said he encountered the creature while driving home from work at 2 AM on June 29, 1988.  The sheriff's department made several plaster casts of what appeared to be three-toed footprints which measured 14 inches (36 cm) in length.  South Carolina Marine Resources Department spokesperson Johnny Evans said the tracks neither matched, nor could be mistaken for, the footprints of any recorded animal. In October 2005, a woman in Newberry, South Carolina reported to the police that she had seen two creatures resembling the Lizard Man outside her home. In February 2008, a couple in Bishopville, South Carolina reported damage to their vehicle,  blood, and the disappearance of some of their cats. Some have claimed that this is the "return" of the Lizard Man, but the blood traces from the Rawsons' vehicle were sent to a Veterinary lab and were found to be from a domestic dog.  In 2011, another couple reported that their car had been mauled by something tall and the former Lee County Sheriff stated that the damage on the car looks much like the damage from earlier incidents.

The Loveland Frog (or Loveland Lizard), in Loveland, Ohio, was supposedly sighted by a police officer in 1972. The police officer later stated that the incident had been blown out of proportion and was in fact was a large lizard, less than 3 feet in length.  In 1955, another Ohio man claimed he was driving along the Miami river, and saw three of these creatures grouped together. He claimed they had wrinkles on their heads instead of hair.  He said one was holding a wand-like spark-emitting device.

Jake the Alligator man is the most famous inhabitant of Long Beach, Washington. He is a mummified half man half alligator  that toured as a circus attraction. In 1967 the Marsh family purchased him he now resides in Marsh’s Free Museum.  The Long Beach Merchants Association began throwing an Annual 75th Birthday Bash for Jake. The event takes place the first weekend in August this year it will fall on August 2nd and 3rd 2013.  He also has a Facebook page.  Most believe he is fashioned in the same way as the Fiji Mermaid, but no real study has been done on the oddity.

The Flatwoods monster (also referred to as the “Braxton County Monster” or "Lizard Monster") was sighted in the town of Flatwoods in Braxton County, West Virginia, United States on September 12.  It is described as being man-shaped and clad in a dark (possibly green) pleated skirt; and some accounts record that the creature had no visible arms.  Others describe it as having short, stubby arms; ending in long, claw-like fingers.  Closely associated with a UFO flap in the area, the Flatwoods Monsters is generally thought to be alien, but should be studied as a cryptid as well given the  the shape, movement, and sounds reported by witnesses were consistent with the silhouette, flight pattern, and call of a startled barn owl perched on a tree limb.  In fact, debunker Joe Nickel and others believe that an owl, in conjunction with a known meteor appearance on that date, is responsible for the story.  Nevertheless, the local sherrif investigated but found no solid evidence anything unusual had happened, despite the many reports from solid citizens. Many US Government resources were also used in initial investigations. I have had the great pleasure to meet and talk with researcher Frank Feschino, Jr who has written extensively on this subject, albeit from a UFO perspective.  I highly recommend the new version of his book.

Whether these reptilians are alien or cryptozoological, their stories are often out of this world!