Dr KARL SHUKER

Zoologist, media consultant, and science writer, Dr Karl Shuker is also one of the best known cryptozoologists in the world. Author of such seminal works as Mystery Cats of the World (1989), The Lost Ark: New and Rediscovered Animals of the 20th Century (1993; greatly expanded in 2012 as The Encyclopaedia of New and Rediscovered Animals), In Search of Prehistoric Survivors (1995), and more recently Extraordinary Animals Revisited (2007), Dr Shuker's Casebook (2008), Karl Shuker's Alien Zoo: From the Pages of Fortean Times (2010), Cats of Magic, Mythology, and Mystery (2012), and Mirabilis: A Carnival of Cryptozoology and Unnatural History (2013), his many fans have been badgering him to join the blogosphere for years. The CFZ Blog Network is proud to have finally persuaded him to do so.

ShukerNature - http://www.karlshuker.blogspot.com

Dr Karl Shuker's Official Website - http://www.karlshuker.com

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Saturday, 27 June 2009

A STUFFED THUNDERBIRD IN ONTARIO?

A close encounter between a thunderbird and a Piper Cub aircraft (William Rebsamen)


Following on from last week's rainbow cat posting, here's another of my 'open' (i.e. still-unresolved) cryptozoological cases for you to read - and, hopefully, pursue yourself if possible.

In 1998, I received the following fascinating information of possible relevance to North America's ongoing thunderbird or 'big bird' mystery. And this time it involves something much more substantial than a missing thunderbird photo - nothing less, in fact, than what may be a missing stuffed thunderbird!

In an email to me of 19 October 1998, Canadian correspondent Prof. Terry Matheson from Saskatchewan University stated:

"Years ago, a friend of mine who had lived in northern Ontario told me that in the town of Spanish, Ontario, there is a stuffed specimen of a huge bird that no one has ever been able to identify. The bird had (I presume) been sighted locally and killed. I wrote the town hall asking about this, but received no reply, and, although I vowed that I'd investigate whenever I happened to be in the vicinity, I've never had occasion to be there. Who knows? Although I got nowhere, an inquiry from a person with genuine credentials, an acknowledged expert such as yourself, might elicit a response. It might be worth pursuing."

Indeed it might, which is why I lost no time in following Prof. Matheson's lead in contacting the town hall in the Ontario town of Spanish noted above, but received no reply. And email searches for additional info have failed to uncover anything either.

So if there is anyone out there with info or the opportunity to shed any light on this tantalising mystery, I'd love to hear from you!


UPDATE - 3 August 2012

Today I received the following email message from Facebook friend Rebecca Tosh Xayasith, who has been very kindly investigating this case on my behalf:

"An update on the stuffed Thunderbird in Spanish, Ontario. Couldn't find much info. I did however find out, through a friend, that the nearby Massey Area Museum had never heard anything about it. He e-mailed the museum, and they did respond back. Also, the local library has heard nothing about it either. Spanish is a small town, population around 650+ people, and it is on the decline. They lose more people every year. If indeed there IS a stuffed bird, I'm wondering if it is a bird that is known to the world, but, maybe not known to the people of that area. And this town is slowly dying. I would imagine, if they had such a thing as a stuffed Thunderbird, they would use it to the town's advantage. They would attract MANY tourists if they had such a thing, and it just might save the town. So, I seriously doubt there is anything there, or anything that is unknown to the world."

Rebecca makes some very valid, pertinent points - after all, there is little doubt that a stuffed thunderbird, or any spectacularly large bird, would help in attracting tourism to any town possessing one. So, sadly, it appears that the bird has flown - at least figuratively!

If the thunderbird were the giant extinct teratorn Argentavis, this is how it would compare in size with a human (Tim Morris)



Wednesday, 17 June 2009

ANGEL AND HIS AMAZING TECHNICOLOR DREAM CAT

Tshenkutshen - Ecuador's extraordinary 'rainbow jaguar' (Tim Morris)


I was very encouraged by the number of responses, both via the blog and directly to me, that I have received in reply to my request for info re the coelacanth goblet - so much so, in fact, that I see ShukerNature as a useful forum in which to bring forward other crypto mysteries that have come to my attention but remained unresolved. So from now on, I intend to publicise a number of these here, in case somewhere out there is a reader with important new info to share.

Next up, therefore, is the following mystery cat for consideration, one that is unlike any other that I have ever encountered in the literature.

During some fieldwork in southern Ecuador’s Amazonian region in summer 1999 Spanish cryptozoologist Angel Morant Forés made enquiries as to whether this South American country also harboured any reclusive crypto-cats or other mystery beasts. As revealed in his field report of October 1999, he was staggered to learn that several hitherto-undocumented forms may indeed exist here, still evading scientific detection and description, and including one enigmatic cat of extraordinarily colourful appearance.

Known to the Shuar Indians in the Macas region (Morona-Santiago province) as the tshenkutshen, this incredible cryptid is reputed to be the size of a jaguar, and black in colour, but ornately decorated with several stripes of different colours – black, white, red, and yellow – on its chest, “just like a rainbow”, in the words of one native hunter interviewed by Angel.

Said to inhabit the Trans-Cutucú region, Sierra de Cutucú, and the Sangay volcano area near Chiguaza, Ecuador’s mystifying rainbow cat is described by the Shuar as having monkey-like forepaws and being an exceptionally good tree-climber, leaping from tree-trunk to tree-trunk at great speed, and greatly feared as an extremely dangerous animal. One such cat may well have been killed in 1959 by Policarpio Rivadeneira, a Macas settler, while walking through the rainforest of Cerro Kilamo, a low mountain near the Abanico River. He had seen the creature leaping from tree to tree and, scared that it would attack him, shot it.

When he examined it, he discovered that it was a jaguar-sized cat, but instantly distinguishable from all cats that he had ever seen by virtue of the series of multicoloured stripes running across its chest, and also by its simian forepaws. Sadly, Rivadeneira does not appear to have retained the creature’s carcase, or even its pelt, so as yet there is no physical evidence available to support the existence of this fascinating felid.

Does anyone else know anything about this remarkable crypto-cat? If so, please send in details. Also, if there are any crypto-artists out there who would like to prepare a piece of artwork portraying this beautiful animal, I'd love to see it - it would certainly make a spectacular subject!

Tuesday, 9 June 2009

SETTING THE SEAL ON THE COELACANTH GOBLET - YOUR ASSISTANCE IS REQUESTED!


Coelacanth (William M. Rebsamen)


I've made this request for info before, but to no avail. However, I don't give up easily, so here we go again!

In 1996, French crypto-correspondent Michel Raynal sent me details of a remarkable Spanish goblet described to him (and also sketched) by one of his own contacts. The goblet in question is supposed to date from the 17th Century and depicts a strange fish that greatly resembles the modern-day coelacanth Latimeria chalumnae, which remained undiscovered by science until December 1938, and has never been caught off European waters - only off South Africa, Mozambique, Madagascar, and (mostly) the Comoro Islands. (A second, closely-related species was captured off Sulawesi, Indonesia, during the late 1990s.)

Does the goblet provide evidence, therefore, for an unknown Latimeria population existing in the seas around Spain, or even Mexico - if the goblet was of Mexican origin but was brought back to Spain at a later date?

Michel's correspondent stated that the mystifying goblet was on display in the Carnegie Museum of Natural History at Pittsburgh, and that, emphasising the similarity of its portrayed fish to Latimeria, a specimen of Latimeria preserved in formaldehyde was exhibited alongside the goblet, with a caption asking whether there could indeed be coelacanths in the Atlantic still undiscovered by science. Greatly intrigued by this, on 30 April I wrote to the museum to request further details concerning the goblet - its origin, previous ownership, opinions from the museum's zoologists, whether any photos of it could be made available to me - and on 9 May I received a kind but very unexpected reply from Elizabeth A. Hill, Collection Manager of the museum's Section of Vertebrate Paleontology.

According to Ms Hill, the goblet was not on display there, and she could find no information that the museum had ever possessed such an item! Moreover, its Recent (i.e. modern-day) fish collection was disposed of many years ago to another museum, which meant that it does not exhibit any fish in formaldehyde. As a further check, Hill contacted the museum's Anthropology Division, which holds a collection of glassware, just in case the goblet was here instead, but it was not - nor did its records have any listing of anything fitting its description that had arrived there on long-term loan from another museum.

Indeed, the only remotely similar item on display in the Carnegie Museum of Natural History proved to be a small blue and white Wedgwood plate with Latimeria itself in the centre - according to its label, this plate was presented to the museum by the Buten Museum of Wedgwood in Merion, Pennsylvania.

I can only assume that if the story of the goblet is genuine, Michel's correspondent was mistaken as to which museum was displaying it - which is where you, gentle readers, come in! If anyone out there has seen this goblet while visiting a museum in the U.S.A. (or anywhere else, for that matter), I would greatly welcome details. Who knows - we may even have another 'quest for the thunderbird photo' in the makings here!

Tuesday, 2 June 2009

THE STAMP OF CRYPTOZOOLOGICAL APPROVAL

In addition to the most comprehensive listing of palaeontological animal stamps ever published, my book Dinosaurs and Other Prehistoric Animals on Stamps (CFZ Press, 2008) contains an entire illustrated appendix devoted to cryptozoological animal stamps. To prevent the book from being inordinately expensive to produce, all pictures in it were reproduced in b/w, but the originals were in colour.


And so I have pleasure in presenting here, for the first time anywhere, the original colour versions of some of the crypto stamps and First Day Covers featured in my book. They include various new and rediscovered species, and a number of current cryptids. I hope that you enjoy seeing them.