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Cryptozoology : [TOP CRYPTOZOOLOGICAL STORIES OF THE YEAR 2000]

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    Source : http://www.anomalist.com/features/features.html TOP CRYPTOZOOLOGICAL STORIES OF THE YEAR 2000 by Loren Coleman The Year 2000 started out with a bang,
    Message 1 of 1 , Jan 2, 2001
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      Source : http://www.anomalist.com/features/features.html

      TOP CRYPTOZOOLOGICAL STORIES OF THE YEAR 2000

      by Loren Coleman


      The Year 2000 started out with a bang, cryptozoologically speaking. On
      January 2nd, news services reported that in the rural Malaysian village of
      Kampung Chennah, durian farmer Liong Chong Shen, 50, smelling a strong
      odor and hearing a grunt, turned to see two mystery ape-like animals
      covered in long, shiny, black and brown hair. The mawas (as they are
      locally called) stared at the startled farmer, and walked back into the
      nearby rainforest. However, as more details surfaced, the sighting had
      actually occurred a week earlier, thus taking place in 1999.

      So what were the top twelve cryptozoology stories of 2000? Here is my list
      of an even dozen important cryptozoological news events, given in
      chronological order. Two of the items, the new coelacanth discovery and
      the Skookum body cast, may be discussed for years to come.

      1. "EXTINCT" CROCODILES FOUND

      During a February-March 2000 expedition conducted by the British-based
      Fauna and Flora International, a species of crocodile previously believed
      to be extinct in the wild was found in the remote western jungles of
      Cambodia.

      Field team leader Jennifer Daltry said the researchers sighted three
      Siamese crocodiles (Crocodylus siamensis) living in rivers and marshes
      within the Cardamom mountain range near Cambodia's border with Thailand.

      Daltry remarked, "We also found large numbers of frogs, moths and
      sub-species of birds which are almost certainly new. More than a third of
      the invertebrates we found were new to science. We are going to find many
      more new species."

      Daltry also reported they heard of new sightings of the khting vor, an
      elusive forest cow with spiral horns, first described in 1994. (See number
      12 below.)

      "This is a region of global importance for wildlife," said Daltry. The
      locals did not kill Siamese crocodile, now extinct across its former range
      in Thailand, Malaysia, Vietnam and Laos, because they believed that, if
      they did, they too would die. Daltry noted, "The King of Cambodia is very
      excited about the discovery and keen for us to protect the crocodiles that
      are left." The Cambodian government, which supported the expedition, has
      declared its intention to protect the new reptilian discovery with the
      assistance of the Fauna and Flora International. (Fauna and Flora
      International is also the organization funding the search for the Orang
      Pendek, the mystery primate reported from Sumatra.)

      Another crocodilian discovery made news in Africa, again in February 2000.
      Wolfgang Böhme, of the Zoologisches Forschungsinstitut und Museum
      Alexander Koenig in Bonn, Germany, and his team, were studying reptiles in
      Southern Mauritania, in the extreme western Sahara, when they heard rumors
      of crocodiles on a nearby plateau. They sped to the site where they found
      a 20 meter-wide pond. Next to this was a Nile crocodile -- sunning itself.
      Eventually, at this underground pond, they located four Nile crocodiles
      (Crocodylus niloticus), each only 2 meters long (instead of six meters for
      their Nile relatives). It is a relict population, dating from the time
      when Sahara was a fertile savannah, about 10,000 years ago, as shown by
      Tassili prehistoric art.

      2. WISCONSIN BIGFOOT SIGHTED

      Around 5:15 a.m on March 28, 2000, James Hughes was delivering the little
      local newspaper, Black River Shopper, along County Highway H, near
      Granton, Wisconsin, when he noticed a figure standing in the ditch and
      carrying a goat. At first he took it to be a large man, but then he saw it
      was about eight feet tall and had an ape-like face.

      "He was all covered with hair, a real dark gray color, with some spots
      that looked a honey color. It was walking on two legs, and it was mighty,
      mighty, big," Hughes said. In its left hand it held what he at first took
      to be a goat, but later he wasn't sure, it might have been a little sheep.
      When the beast turned to look at him, Hughes said he floored the gas pedal
      and sped away, very scared.

      "I didn't call it in (to the Sheriff's Department) until the next day,
      because people would think I'm crazy. And I don't drink, I don't use dope,
      and I was wide awake," Hughes said.

      Hughes finally did file a report with the Clark County Sheriff's
      Department, and a deputy was dispatched to the scene but could not find
      any large footprints or other evidence.

      The Sheriff's Department said Hughes gave a very detailed description, but
      without tracks or other evidence suggesting a creature was in the area,
      the hunt ceased.

      Nevertheless, the report circled the globe and became one of the first
      widely reported Bigfoot sightings of 2000.

      3. SEA SERPENT SIGHTED OFF NEWFOUNDLAND

      Cape Bonavista, Newfoundland, Canada, was the location of a classic Sea
      Serpent sighting during the first week of April 2000.

      While on a morning drive along the cape, Bob Crewe came upon a creature
      like nothing he had ever seen before. "I saw its body in the water
      measuring about 30 feet across, just lying there and moving slightly,"
      said Crewe, who had stopped his truck on a cliff overlooking the ocean, in
      an area not far from an attraction known as The Dungeon and an old rock
      formation known locally as the Viking.

      "It looked something like a rock in the water, but I knew there was no
      rock there. I blew the horn and it stuck its head out of the water. It had
      a long neck about four or five feet."

      Crewe said that from what he could see of the creature amid ripples in the
      water, it looked something like a huge snake which had some kind of
      "snout" on its head.

      "I wish I had a camera aboard," said Crewe. "It took off towards the
      lighthouse (at the tip of the cape) with its head still out of the water,
      tilted slightly forward. It seemed like it was using its body to push
      itself along and it was going very fast."

      Some have suggested he saw a giant squid. Crewe, however, says what he saw
      was nothing as simple as that.

      "It wasn't a giant squid. I know that for sure," he said. "I wasn't close
      enough to see scaly skin or eyes or any detail like that. All I know is
      that was a strange creature, and it's a big ocean that could contain a lot
      of strange things we've never seen."

      4. SEARCH FOR THE TSUCHINOKO CONDUCTED

      In 2000, Yoshii, Okayama, Japan was in the news again, as people were
      flocking to the region to hunt for the tsuchinoko, a chirping reptile-like
      cryptid bearing at least some resemblance to a snake or a long, thick
      lizard. A 20 million yen reward from the Yoshii Municipal Government was
      the source of all the excitement.

      Tsuchinoko fever hit Yoshii on May 21 after a farmer cutting grass swore
      he saw a snake-like creature with a face resembling the cartoon cat
      Doraemon slither across his field. The farmer slashed the creature with
      his weed whipper, but it fled into a nearby stream and escaped. Four days
      later, 72-year-old Hideko Takashima was talking with a couple of friends
      in Yoshii when she found what she thought was one of the creatures lying
      dead next to the stream a tsuchinoko reportedly had dived into to escape
      from the farmer. She picked it up and buried it.

      Yoshii Municipal Government officials heard the rumors of a tsuchinoko and
      headed out to look over the local woman's find. They exhumed the body and
      forwarded it to Kawasaki University of Medical Welfare to be examined.
      Kuniyasu Sato, the professor who analyzed the reptile, said that the
      animal may indeed have been the tsuchinoko, but "scientifically speaking,
      it was a kind of snake."

      Meanwhile, Mitsuko Arima, an 82-year-old from Yoshii, says she saw a
      tsuchinoko swimming along a river on the morning of June 15.

      "I was surprised. I just pointed at it and asked 'Who are you? Who are
      you?' It didn't answer me, but just stared. It had a round face and didn't
      take its eyes off me. I can still see the eyes now. They were big and
      round and it looked like they were floating on the water," Arima says.
      "I've lived over 80 years, but I'd never seen anything like that in
      my life."

      No one collected the reward in 2000.

      5. SUMMER OF SASQUATCH BECAME A MEDIA STORM

      For some reason, perhaps from being bored by the US Presidential Campaign
      of 2000, the American press rediscovered Bigfoot and devoted a summer of
      media attention to a dozen Sasquatch sightings.

      One of the foremost incidents occurred on June 27, when Gene Sampson found
      giant footprints behind his home on the Hoh Indian Reservation, near Port
      Angeles, Washington. Hearing strange "bam, bam" noises, Sampson
      searched and found two sets of footprints, which he measured at 14 inches
      and 17-1/2 inches in length, and 7 and 8 inches in width. Cliff Crook, a
      local Bigfooter, made casts of the prints. While Idaho professor Jeff
      Meldrum wondered as to the worth of the tracks, Grover Krantz, Bigfoot
      researcher and retired Washington State University anthropology professor,
      said he sensed the footprints on the Hoh reservation indicated one male
      and one female Sasquatch.

      But the sightings at the Hoh Reservation were only one of many that had
      received even-handed publicity since May 7, 2000, when near Troutdale,
      Oregon, along the Sandy River, campers found a set of Bigfoot tracks in
      the wilderness there. Other news items told of the June 16th, Darrington,
      Snohomish County, Washington find of giant bare footprints along the
      Mountain Loop Highway, and the June 24th discovery of large Sasquatch
      footprints in Olympic National Park.

      Then on July 1, the true media storm began when a psychologist reported
      seeing Bigfoot while hiking, with his family, near the Oregon Caves
      National Monument, Selma, Oregon.

      "It was very tall, it was very hairy," Johnson said. "It was nothing else
      but a Sasquatch. I swear to God. I lived a lot of years in Alaska. I've
      been chased by a grizzly bear. This was no bear."

      When Grants Pass psychologist Matthew Johnson says he heard grunts,
      smelled something musky, and then saw Bigfoot, the press listened. Media
      attention to Johnson's sighting was the big event of the summer, if one
      was to judge by how much press, radio, and television coverage the
      sighting received. Johnson was interviewed widely, appeared on several
      morning and news programs, and was videotaped by international and
      national teams of filmmakers. His sighting was taken very seriously,
      although some within the Bigfoot study ranks were upset that a Ph. D.
      would be treated so nobly by the press when dozens of truck drivers',
      farmers', and hunters' reports are ignored every week by the media.

      The incident did catch the attention of some Bigfoot researchers in
      Northern California who spent parts of the summer retracing the Johnson
      family's steps along the monument's Big Tree Trail. Johnson said the first
      group of searchers, accompanied by a monument ranger, soon after the July
      1st incident, found some partial prints in the area.

      Based on the number of sightings recorded in the Pacific Northwest, their
      well-documented nature, and the fact the local and national media were
      more willing to take Bigfoot sightings seriously than in the proceeding
      two decades, this was clearly the "Summer of Sasquatch."

      6. GIANT ARKANSAS SNAKE ENCOUNTERED

      Reports of a giant snake that had been eating animals in Little River
      County, Arkansas, near the village of Foreman, caused local officials to
      take notice in July 2000. An animal rescue group, the Arkansas Wildlife
      Rescue and Rehabilitation Association, was summoned from Pulaski County to
      try to catch the snake, reportedly 30-foot-long.

      While Arkansas Game and Fish Commission officials remained skeptical,
      residents of Foreman and nearby communities reported that something
      definitely was eating small animals in the area. One resident reported
      that a pet goose named "Miss Daisy" died after being bitten by a snake
      under her right wing. Bullfrogs have vanished in a pond; fish in two more.
      Cranes and herons that once perched on the edge of Terry and Wedia
      Landsell's pond have relocated. Wedia Landsell said some of her cats have
      disappeared, too.

      "When you get asked at the Taco Bell about it, you know something is up,"
      said Jim Williamson, editor of the weekly Little River News.

      Although Game and Fish officials have suggested that what residents have
      seen is an oversized cottonmouth, Wedia Landsell said this is no normal
      snake. "I've seen a lot of snakes, but nothing this big," Landsell said,
      who has seen "it early in the morning or late in the evening."

      7. SKOOKUM SASQUATCH BODY CAST TAKEN

      The Native American word skookum is another name for Sasquatch or Bigfoot,
      and settlers in the West employed it to name geographical sites. There are
      over two hundred Skookum place names found in Oregon, Washington State,
      British Columbia, Idaho, and Alaska. During September, 2000, Richard Noll
      and twelve other individuals on an expedition looking for evidence of
      Bigfoot made a remarkable find, as chance would have it, near Skookum
      Meadow in the Gifford Pinchot National Forest in southern Washington
      state. In a mud trap they created, they obtained a half-body print of a
      Sasquatch.

      To attract one of the creatures, the team set out food, spread pheromones
      and played tape recordings thought to be the calls of other Bigfoot. After
      placing locally grown apples in a muddy spot one evening, the
      investigators returned the next morning to find an impression which, they
      conclude, shows the left forearm, hip, thigh and heel of a large primate.
      They believe the impression was made as the creature sat down and reached
      over to pick up the bait. The imprint of a hairy buttocks in the mud is
      the strongest hint yet that Bigfoot is roaming the American Pacific
      Northwest, according to the Bigfoot Field Researchers Organization (BFRO),
      which sponsored the expedition.

      Anthropologist Jeff Meldrum of Idaho State University, in a story
      published in New Scientist (23 December 2000) noted that the imprint seems
      to have been made by a large, hair-covered hominid more than 2.5 meters
      tall. Meldrum found markings that look like human dermal patterns (such as
      those found on human feet) on the heel print.

      "All we're trying to say at this stage is that there's evidence that
      justifies objective consideration," Meldrum said.

      Some critics have commented the imprint is nothing more than an elk body
      imprint. The study of the cast is on-going.

      8. YOWIE FILMED

      Australian businessman, amateur cameraman, and bushwalker Steve Piper
      captured on videotape a mystery animal he thinks was the Yowie (an apelike
      unknown primate) while in the Brindabella ranges, south of Canberra, in
      September 2000. Piper was filming what he thought was a big kangaroo in a
      gully, when he realized it was far too large to be a kangaroo.

      "I zoomed in and couldn't believe my eyes: this massive creature was
      trampling through the undergrowth, it looked like it had a limp," Piper
      said.

      In September, the bewildered Piper delivered the footage to Dean
      Harrison's Australian Hominid Research group investigating possible Yowie
      sightings. On October 1st, several Australian researchers (Tony Healy, Tim
      the Yowie Man, Neil Frost and Paul Cropper) and visiting US Bigfoot News
      editor Danny Perez all viewed the video and visited the site of the
      filming. The video shows a large, bulky, dark, bipedal hairy figure
      limping slowly through bush in a roadside gully for several seconds.

      Reports are that the film is inconclusive, and early news that it was the
      best film since the 1967 Bluff Creek, California, footage of a Bigfoot
      seem overstated. The video is reportedly short, shaky, and ambiguous.

      9. AMERICAN MYSTERY CATS REPORTED

      Large mystery felines and giant black panthers appeared to be popping up
      all across the United States in October 2000.

      A rash of reported sightings of a catlike creature in Windham County,
      Vermont, prompted a part-time employee with the state Fish and Wildlife
      Department to begin interviewing people who say they had seen the animal.

      Meanwhile, the giant black cat of Waupaca County, Wisconsin was the talk
      of the area. One of the cats passed in front of a car just below a
      Northport, Wisconsin hill on State 54. Len Wohlrabe, 76, of Readfield,
      said, "At first I thought it was somebody's black Labrador, but then I got
      a good look at it as it ran off. It was a big cat, I have no doubt about
      that."

      Wohlrabe's description was similar to others given by people who reported
      seeing the cat. They all said it had a large head, long body and long tail
      and was definitely feline. Wohlrabe estimated the weight at 200 pounds.

      Also, during October, half-dozen witnesses said Peoria, Illinois's
      historic Springdale Cemetery was being haunted, not by ghosts but by a
      cougar that was stalking deer among the headstones by moonlight. Described
      as "very muscular, very large" and a "large brown cat," the mystery feline
      was spotted in the cemetery, on a nearby residential street, and at the
      back gate of the Peoria Journal-Star newspaper. One local said he saw it
      jump a deer.

      A cougar killed by a train in southwest Illinois in July, after testing,
      was found to be wild; the feline's origins remained a mystery at year's
      end.

      10. THIRD POPULATION OF COELACANTHS DISCOVERED

      The 1938-1952 rediscovery by zoology of the supposedly 65 million year
      extinct coelacanth (Latimeria chalumnae) in the Comoros islands off East
      Africa has been hailed as a success story in Cryptozoology. Native peoples
      had known about the fish (gombessa), thus demonstrating the tenet that
      local traditions can be used as a source of information by
      cryptozoologists and that as-yet-to-be discovered animals remain as
      surprises for modern scientists. Then, with great fanfare, in 1998, a new
      coelacanth species was discovered off Sulawesi, Indonesia by Mark Erdmann,
      Arnaz Mehta, Om Lameh Sonathan, and their Indonesian colleagues.

      But who could imagine that a third population would shift the coelacanth
      focus back to Africa in 2000?

      In October 2000 South African diver, Pieter Venter, while searching at 104
      meters (320 feet) below the surface at Sodwana, a bay renowned for its
      reefs off South Africa, came upon three coelacanths. On November 27, he
      again observed three coelacanths (possibly the same three or three
      different ones) at a depth of 115 meters (350 feet), in an area 800 meters
      (half a mile) from the shore. He was able to capture all three on
      videotape.

      Dr. Phil Heemstra of the JLB Smith Institute of Ichthyology positively
      identified the species as a coelacanth. The discovery of three (or
      possibly six) specimens in the same location was flashed worldwide as
      evidence for the existence of a distinct, native population off Sodwana.
      The group of divers who made the discovery are Pieter Venter, Peter Smith,
      Dennis Harding, Peter Timm, Erna Smith, Etienne le Roux, Christo
      Serfontein and Martin Bench. Unfortunately, the discovery was marred by
      tragedy as one of Venter's team died after surfacing without proper
      decompression. Dennis Harding, a 34-year-old diver from Gauteng, died
      after filming the fish. (Rehan Bouwer, a 46-year-old diver from Gauteng
      who died in the sea off Sodwana in June 1998, had also been searching for
      the world's oldest and elusive fish.)

      While the media and some coelacanth chroniclers spoke of this as the
      "third" population discovered, South African coelacanth expert Robin
      Stobbs has pointed out that the Sodwana coelacanth discovery is actually
      the fourth established and verified population group. The third was the
      one based on the capture of two specimens from deep-set nets near Toliara,
      Madagascar, in 1995 and 1996/7.

      Meanwhile, cryptozoologist Michel Raynal noted that the new Sodwana
      discoveries should stimulate searchers in 2001, based on past evidence, to
      look for relict coelacanth populations in the Gulf of Mexico and in the
      Caribbean.

      11. THAI "HAIRY MAMMOTHS" REPORTEDLY PHOTOGRAPHED

      On December 6, 2000 came one of the more incredible media stories of the
      year. Australian news sources stated that Thai scientists were going into
      Thailand's northern jungles to investigate sightings of large hairy
      elephants resembling the long-extinct woolly mammoth. The search was
      triggered by the release of aerial photographs of the mysterious beasts
      taken by Princess Rangsrinopadorn Yukol, who has a keen interest in forest
      and wildlife conservation. The blurry images sparked excitement among
      those who believe the animals may be a new elephant species, or even
      long-lost descendents of the Pleistocene mammoth.

      "I'm not absolutely convinced that the pachyderms are the same species as
      the mammoths, but I think the possibility is high," elephant specialist
      and veterinarian Prasit Molichart told The Nation newspaper. "This is a
      great discovery."

      But other elephant experts dismissed the idea of a new species of
      pachyderm. "It's just not possible. There's no way that it's a new
      species," said Richard Lair from the Elephant Conversation Center in the
      northern town of Lampang. He noted that the supposed "mammoths" may be
      really just young elephants that have not completely shed their baby hair.

      "When they're born, elephants almost always have a lot of hair. Some
      elephants keep the hair longer than others, and from what I saw in the
      photos, it looks like that was the case here," he said.

      12. LOST WORLD TAKES ONE BACK -- OR DOES IT?

      In the 1990s, a vast area dubbed the "Lost World" of Indochina revealed
      for the first time many never-before seen species, well-known to the
      native peoples but completely new to scientists. But in mid-December 2000,
      French zoologists said one of the new discoveries never existed in the
      first place.

      Pseudonovibos spiralis, supposedly a rare species of wild steer native to
      the mist-shrouded highlands of Cambodia and Vietnam is the animal in
      question. The ruminant was first "identified" by two German zoologists who
      found a pair of lyre-shaped, twisted horns with markings unlike those of
      any other animal. The horns, spotted in markets in Ho Chi Minh City and Da
      Lat, appeared to be that of a medium-sized member of the bovid family. Two
      sets of similar horns were collected in Cambodia, near the border with
      Vietnam.

      Locals called the creature linh duong, Vietnamese for mountain goat, or
      khting vor in Khmer, which means "wild cow with horns like lianas". They
      told how the shadowy animal still survived in the mountainous central
      districts of Vietnam and in north-eastern Cambodia.

      Similar types of horns found in the region in the 1920s were believed at
      the time to be those of an immature female kouprey, a kind of ox. But on
      the basis of the new material, the Germans concluded that the horns were
      quite different and belonged to a completely "new and previously unknown
      bovid". They named the animal Pseudonovibos spiralis after its
      spindle-shaped horns.

      The new animal, "the last large mammal discovered in the 20th century,"
      was one of the prizes coming out of the "Lost World." Since no photographs
      existed, artists sketched their imagined reconstruction of a medium-sized
      buffalo with twisted horns.

      But the linh duong never existed, say naturalist Arnoult Seveau of the
      Zoological Society of Paris, Herbert Thomas, a palaeontologist and bovid
      specialist at the College de France, and biochemist Alexandre Hassanin of
      the Paris-VI University. After a study of horns collected in Cambodia in
      1999, and some comparable ones from Indochina of the 1920s, the team said
      the artifacts are a hoax manufactured from the horns of vulgar cattle.

      "Pseudonovibos spiralis is simply a forgery," the trio stated in a
      December press release.

      But the story is not over, according to Professor Robert Timm of the
      University of Kansas, who has written on the taxonomy of P. spiralis. He
      told cryptozoologist Matt Bille, "There is NO doubt in my mind that P.
      spiralis is a real animal, a valid taxon. The specimens we have here are
      very clear."

      Copyright 2001 Loren Coleman
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