Friday, 30 December 2011

Ayers Rock (Uluru) dingoes under the microscope

One of Australia's most infamous deaths - the disappearance of baby Azaria Chamberlain at Ayers Rock (now known as Uluru) - saw an innocent woman sent to jail before the real culprit, a dingo, was put firmly in the frame.

The inquest will be the fourth into the infant's death, which drew international attention after her mother, Lindy Chamberlain-Creighton, was convicted of murder in 1982 and sentenced to life imprisonment. She was later freed and the conviction quashed.

Azaria's parents have always maintained she was taken from their tent by a dingo. The case has gripped the public imagination for decades, prompting several dramatisations, including a 1988 movie starring Meryl Streep.

Thursday, 29 December 2011

More devils join mainland Ark project

Another 50 Tasmanian devils were released at the Devil Ark sanctuary in the Barrington Tops, in NSW last week in preparation for the breeding season.

Ten of the devils were brought from Tasmania, and will help to boost the genetic stock at the park.

The devils have been configured into breeding groups of between six and eight for the breeding season, which starts in February.

About 90 devils now live at the Devil Ark project.

Wednesday, 28 December 2011

Croc cuts lawnmower's grass

Zookeeper Billy Collett was one of two men attacked by a five-metre croc named Elvis at a reptile park north of Sydney after they went into its enclosure about 8am today.

The men - who used their lawnmowers as a barrier when the hulking beast lunged - escaped unharmed, before later executing a daring rescue mission to retrieve the mower.

"It happened that fast, it was that scary. I'm just glad to be alive," Mr Collett told reporters in Gosford.

"We'd just started mowing, the croc's sitting about five foot away from me in the water, then next second he's attached to the end of the mower, dragging it in, and almost taking me into the drink with him.

"My heart almost jumped out of my chest."

Tim Faulkner, who was also inside the enclosure at the time of the attack, said his co-worker was lucky to be alive.

"I had to scream at Billy to let the mower go, because he was thinking about the mower preservation more than his own self-preservation," Mr Faulkner told reporters.

"The croc obviously had a hold of it and both of them would have gone in the water.

"When a croc's got something like that you let him have it ... it's 500 kilos of muscle."

Elvis - who lost two teeth in the encounter with the mower - was acquired by the park in 2008 after causing grief in Darwin harbour by climbing onto fishing boats.

Some of the croc's teeth measure up to 9cm in length.

Friday, 23 December 2011

Merry Christmas!

Mystery of 25 dead ponies solved

A man has been charged with animal cruelty after 25 dead ponies were found near a cliff in northern NSW last week.

The bodies of the 25 ponies were discovered by police at a cliff near a truck parking bay about three kilometres south of Old Ben Lomond Road, off the New England Highway on the Ben Lomond Range in Glen Innes on Saturday, December 16.

Investigators allege 35 ponies were being transported in a removalist truck from Kingstown on the Northern Tablelands to the north coast when some of them died from inadequate ventilation in the vehicle. Two ponies survived and were inspected by investigators in northern NSW, police said.

Michael Sharland and the search for the Thylacine

In 1938, Michael Sharland led a Royal Zoological Society trip to the western Tasmania in search of the thylacine. They found evidence of existence of the thylacine, bringing back stories, photographs and casts of footprints (though they did not see an actual animal). 

In his report, Sharland recommended that an area of the NW be reserved for the protection of the thylacine. These photographs were taken by Sharland of thylacines in the Hobart Zoo (above) and of the hunt (below).


Tasmanian Expedition Described

Describing an expedition made late In 1938 to the country between the Gordon River and the Frenchman's Cap, a booklet by M. S. R. Sharland, of Sydney, entitled "In Search of the Thylacine," contains much interesting information about the fast-disappearing marsupial wolf, or, as it is more commonly known, the Tasmanian "tiger".

Mr. Sharland explains that the thylacine exists today as but a remnant of the numbers which, 50 or so years ago, roamed the countryside, feeding on marsupials and sheep. Today it is seen only by the few trappers and prospectors who venture into the remote parts of Tasmania.

Mr. Sharland is an expert on Tasmanian fauna, and his opinions and recommendations must he seriously considered. On this expedition he represented the Royal Zoological Society, and his principal object was to determine to what extent the country was inhabited by the thylacine and to examine the area generally to decide whether it was suitable for a faunal sanctuary.

Mr. Sharland stresses the fact that the thylacine is no longer a menace to   sheep owners, since it is now isolated in remote parts of the State, and that the animal possesses a unique scientific value. Sanctuaries are needed for its protection in areas whore it is likely to be affected adversely by encroaching settlement. He suggests that the area comprising the Raglan and Collingwood ranges and the north-western slopes of the Frenchman's Cap might be set aside as a sanctuary.

Thursday, 22 December 2011

Tasmanian beach yields familiar fossil

When Hobart couple Bob and Penny Tyson went fossil-hunting on a Tasmanian beach, they weren't expecting to find a rare 250-million-year-old specimen embedded in the rocks.

The remains were of a dicynodont, an early ancestor of modern-day mammals, and it was the first specimen to ever be discovered so far south.

Roughly the size of a cow, the plant-eating animal had two tusks and a horny beak.

Queensland Museum palaeontologist Andrew Rozefelds says they lived on every continent, including Antarctica. But until now, the only Australian specimen was found in Queensland almost 30 years ago.

The fossil is now being stored at the Tasmanian Museum.

Wednesday, 21 December 2011

Mystery surrounds discovery of 25 dead ponies

The discovery of 25 dead ponies in remote bushland has stumped police and veterinarians and horrified locals.

The gruesome discovery, just off the New England Highway near Glen Innes, in the state's north-west, was made after police received a tip-off at the weekend. Twenty-two of the bodies were grouped together while a smaller group of three lay a few metres away at the bottom of a cliff.

The carcasses were too decayed for any kind of toxicology testing, and there were no obvious wounds or injuries that might account for how the animals died.

The animals also bore no brands or other identifying marks that might help trace ownership.

"I've never seen anything of this magnitude. It was a disturbing scene," Inspector Rod Shoesmith, of Armidale police station, said.

Officers photographed the animals then buried their remains at the site. They believe a small- to medium-sized truck was used to dump the ponies.

Anyone who noticed suspicious or unusual behaviour in the area is urged to contact Glen Innes Police or Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.

Tuesday, 20 December 2011

Rogue human-killing sharks 'only in Hollywood'

Monster serial-killing sharks only belong in Hollywood, according to shark expert Christopher Neff, who says there is no scientific basis for the fear instilled in people by the famous Jaws films.

Neff's October article was rehashed this week in part for an article for WA Today about the string of fatalities in Western Australian waters during 2011 that sparked fears of a "rogue shark" operating along its coast. But Neff poo-poos the theory:

"Following a string of fatal shark attacks in the 1920s, the NSW government commissioned a Shark Menace Committee. It concluded that "sharks do not patrol the beaches on the off-chance of occasionally devouring human prey" and the government said the best way to reduce risk was to educate people about where they went swimming and what times of day.

"The messages of 1929 still provide options today. Sharks are following prey, such as whales, dolphins, bait fish and seals, and governments have choices following shark attacks that can educate the public to reduce personal risk based on their behaviour.

"Four factors can be reviewed to reduce risk: environmental conditions (stay out of the water after or before storms, at dawn or dusk); ecological conditions (avoid areas with bait fish, dolphins, seals and whales); personal behaviour (be conscious of how far out you are and how long you've been in the water, and avoid shiny jewellery); and lastly shark behaviour (sharks are curious and defensive; we are in the way, not on the menu)."

Monday, 19 December 2011

This Bearded Dragon loves his iPad...

Here's a short video that's been immensely popular lately on Youtube - an Australian bearded dragon 'going for broke' trying to eat digital ants as they run down the screen of its owner's iPad in the game 'Ant Crusher'.

Now we've seen everything!

Friday, 16 December 2011

Revisiting the Mt George Yowie

A sketch of the hairy creature the women saw.
Yesterday we brought you the story of a potential case of mistaken identity involving the 2009 yowie sighting at Mt George, NSW.

The witnesses recreate what they saw at the roadside.
Manning River police now believe that the two witnesses, Faye Burke and Alana Garrett, may have actually seen the afro-enhanced silhouette of fugitive Malcolm Naden.

But let's revisit what the two women claimed in the aftermath of their sighting:

"I looked back up at the road and I saw ahead in the headlights this big hairy animal thing on the side of the winding road," Faye said. "It was about eight foot tall and four foot wide."

Alana said they yelled out "holy hell" along with a list of other unmentionable words. "We panicked," they said.

"I couldn't turn the car around because I had the trailer and the road was too narrow," Faye said. "I was s**t-scared and thought I better not mess with this thing in case it lifts the trailer up and tips us over the bank edge."

Keeping her foot on the accelerator and speeding past the thing, Faye said she turned to Alana and said: "Did you see that? She said in a scared voice: 'Do you mean that thing that looked like a Big Foot?' I said: No it was a Yowie." And Alana screamed back: "Same thing!".

"After we reached the top of the hill I wanted to turn around and get a photo with my mobile phone," Faye said.

But Alana was too scared to go back. She said if the passenger window had been wound down she could have reached out and touched it.

Faye and Alana said the hairy thing stood perfectly still "like it was at attention".

"Its back was facing us and it was looking into the embankment next to the road and it had dark chocolate brown hair which was all matted," Alana said.

They described the creature that they saw as being "eight foot tall, four foot wide" with dark matted hair.

Hardly comparable to Naden's description, which has him at 177cm tall - five foot 10 in the old scale.

The pair also mention they were fearful the creature might lift the trailer and tip their car over the edge of the steep embankment.

It seems unlikely that driving past a man of average height would invoke the same level of fear. And even given the fact Naden now apparently sports an impressive afro, grown during his years on the run, could his new 'do really be mistaken for a thick body-covering coat of hair?

So once again we revisit yesterday's question - Hairy Man or hairy man?

Thursday, 15 December 2011

Yowie may have been 'most wanted' fugitive

One for the 'Hmmmmmm' files...

Bush fugitive Malcolm Naden (pictured below) may have been as far east as Mount George in August 2009 when two women saw what they believed was a "yowie" on Nowendoc Road, police believe.

The Manning River Times reported at the time that the two women were approaching Connelly's Creek Gap "just the other side of Mt George" at 7.30pm and saw "a big hairy animal thing" illuminated in their headlights on the side of the winding road.

Faye Burke and Alana Garnett from Wingham said the hairy thing stood perfectly still "like it was at attention" and had dark "chocolate brown hair which was all matted."

Researcher Paul Cropper investigated the Mount George sighting in 2009 and you can read about the case over at his excellent site, (in fact, you should really buy the book he co-authored with Tony Healy on the subject of bipedal beasts, The Yowie: In Search of Australia's Bigfoot).

So what do you think? Hairy Man or a hairy man?

Wednesday, 14 December 2011

Facial tumour disease spreads in Tasmania

The deadly facial tumour cancer plaguing the Tasmanian Devil has been found in an area thought to be free of the disease.

The disease has been confirmed across more than 60 percent of Tasmania, but it came as a surprise that it was found in one animal in the Zeehan area in the state's west.

The furry marsupials were declared endangered in 2009 after the contagious cancer began sweeping through the population, disfiguring their faces so badly they are unable to eat and starve to death.

Estimates suggest that some 70 percent of devils have already been lost to the infectious disease, which is spread by biting.

Tuesday, 13 December 2011

Cut the Devil some slack for Christmas

The folk at the Devil Ark are looking for help in supporting their 90 endangered charges.

Almost a year after it was established on a 500hectare site in the Upper Hunter, the ark is playing a vital role in ensuring the survival of the Tasmanian devil.

It costs about $2 a day to feed a devil and $200 a year to treat it for parasites, ticks and worms. All up, it costs about $900 year to keep each devil healthy.

Visit the Devil Ark here.

Monday, 12 December 2011

Platypus pays the price for litterbugs

Why pollution and wildlife in Australia don't mix well.

This small, perfectly formed platypus was found dead in a creek by a Richmond, NSW resident, the second platypus to be discovered dead in the western Sydney local catchment area in recent weeks - a victim of discarded rubbish.

Friday, 9 December 2011

The cheeky fox and the yowie men

If you spend enough time in the Australian bush you'll see all kinds of animals - many of them not native. This very tame - or game - fox made friends with some Canberra yowie hunters and visited their campsite for a cheeky feed of bacon and sausages!

The intrepid cryptid hunters did come across a bit of strangeness in the wilderness - what looked to be an unusual print and a strange 'structure' of sticks. Or was it?

Thursday, 8 December 2011

Cane toads invading Sydney

The Daily Telegraph has a great story about the steady southern migration of the Cane Toad, an introduced and highly destructive creature that is now turning up all over Sydney - a long way from where it was first introduced in the cane fields of Queensland (via Hawaii).

The story is based on the collection of a single specimen - a chihuahua-sized toad found in a Quakers Hill backyard - but CFZ Australia has reported on the invasion of the city by the tenacious toad before.

Thylacine continues to be a frustrating mystery has an interesting essay on the Thylacine entitled Not a Wolf but a Tiger.

"Thylacinus cynocephalus goes by a few different names – the marsupial wolf, the Tasmanian tiger, or, simply, the thylacine. Whatever you choose to call the species, though, this peculiar, striped marsupial is simultaneously a potent symbol of convergent evolution and the ecological destruction our own species is capable of. Thousands of years of competition with dingoes and humans contributed to the predator’s extinction on mainland Australia, and intense hunting by Tasmanians intent on protecting their sheep – combined with supplementary pressures like habitat destruction – wiped out the last of the thylacines during the 1930’s. (Some believe that a few of these marsupials might still survive, but these hopes are likely in vain.)"

The interesting article goes on to discuss the Thylacine's elbow bones and the likelihood it was in fact an ambush predator rather than a pursuit predator, which gives us all something to think about - in other words it may have had more in common with the felis family than the canid when hunting. Read on here.

Fans of all things Thyacine might also enjoy CFZ Australia's video celebrating the enigmatic marsupial.

Wednesday, 7 December 2011

Are modern-day monsters just primal memories?

Bigfoot. Werewolves. Vampires. Succubi. Water monsters. Dragons. Are they merely all embroidered primal memories, part of an innate 'predator identification' system that keeps modern humans hyper vigilant to the threat of potential predators?

Do these frightening creatures only exist in our imaginations - terrifying memories of a time when humans were prey for a range of fierce predators? this week has an interesting article entitled 'why we invented monsters', revisiting a not entirely original premise that stories about dragons, ape men and other frightening beasts are merely echoes from the days of our primitive ancestors, who regularly witnessed dinosaurs and other creatures attacking and eating their brethren. The article's author Paul A. Trout, in discussing his new book on the same subject, Deadly Powers: Animal Predators and the Mythic Imagination, writes:

"Monsters fill the mythic landscape. In Hawaiian myth, there is a human with a “shark-mouth” in the middle of his back. In Aboriginal myth, there is a creature with the body of a human, the head of a snake, and the suckers of an octopus. In South American myth, there is the were-jaguar; in Native American myth, there are flying heads, human-devouring eagles, predatory owl-men, water-cannibals, horned snakes, giant turtles, monster bats, and even a human-eating leech as large as a house. In Greek myth, one finds Polyphemus, the one-eyed cannibal giant; the Minotaur, a monstrous human-bull hybrid that consumes sacrificial victims in the “bowels” of the subterranean Labyrinth; and Scylla, the six-headed serpent who wears a belt of dogs’ heads ravenously braying for meat...

"Every day over the course of several million years, our ancestors saw (and heard) living creatures being torn apart and devoured by hungry animals — with some victims still kicking as they were eviscerated and dismembered. No wonder our brains are wired to make us dread this awful fate, and that the stories we tell ourselves reflect this dread and attempt to express it — press it out.

"The archetype of the monster is an expression of this primal fear writ large, exaggerated and intensified to an outlandish degree. But why does this primal fear take the form of a “monster,” that is, a predatory creature that grotesquely mixes animal or human-and-animal physical features? In what way did our experiences as a prey species contribute to the formation of the mythic monster ?"

Trout's article reminded us of another book recently brought to our attention, out for a couple of years now, Them and Us by Danny Vendramini, which raises the spectre of cannibal neanderthals, who he argues terrorised early man, raping and killing (and in some cases eating) hapless humans.

We're still awaiting our copy in the mail, but in his book, the Australian-based Vendramini examines, among other things, the pervasive belief in ferocious nocturnal predators that prey on humans after dark. He reveals it to be yet another vestige of Neanderthal predation. We fear dark forests because Neanderthals were nocturnal hunters. You can download sample chapters for here.

Vendramini, a self-described Darwinian scholar, has put together this short video about his book, and it makes for interesting viewing - 

But his refreshing treatise doesn't quite stretch to explaining, for example, anything about multiple witness sightings or physical trace evidence left behind in many bigfoot (and other cryptid) cases. Or deal in yet-to-be-discovered species of ape, for that matter. Yet. The book may well cover those topics, in which case we will update this post with our thoughts.

So is Bigfoot a living breathing archetype perhaps? If we all mimic storybook hero Peter Pan and say "I do believe in Bigfoot! I do! I do!" will it make it thus? We'd love to hear what you think.

Tuesday, 6 December 2011

Tiger mascot puts on a grrrrreat show

Well here's something you don't see every day - and for those intrigued by the legendary 'American troop mascot theory' often mentioned in Australian big cat lore, it's quite a treat to see an actual big cat getting up close with some military hardware.

Australian Royal Navy sailors from 816 squadron, also known as the Fighting Tigers, dropped into Australia Zoo on Sunday to play with teenage tiger Bashii.

But the eight-man crew from HMAS Albatross at Nowra in New South Wales were kept at bay until the 98kg four-year-old Sumatran tiger had checked out their chopper.

After the sailors’ dramatic arrival, landing their 10-tonne chopper behind the Beerwah tourist attraction, they made a $500 donation to the Wildlife Warriors tiger conservation program. 

Monday, 5 December 2011

Scientists save Tasmanian Devil eggs, sperm

The eggs and sperm of Tasmanian devils have been collected and frozen for the first time by scientists at Taronga Western Plains Zoo at Dubbo, in NSW, according to The Age.

With the species threatened by a virulent facial cancer, scientists hope to carry out an artificial insemination trial among captive devils to try to ensure that they do not become extinct like the Tasmanian tiger.

Thylacine exhibition the jewel in new museum's crown

Artefacts from the days when Thylacines still called Tasmania home form the centre piece of a revamped museum in Swansea, Tasmania.

Labor member for Lyons, Rebecca White MP, tonight praised the Glamorgan Spring Bay community for their work at the official opening of the revamped East Coast Heritage Museum and Visitor Centre in Swansea.

“To have this significant heritage building redeveloped to provide the community with this resource is a wonderful achievement,” Ms White said.

“The East Coast Heritage Museum is the custodian of an important and significant collection representing the history of Swansea and the Glamorgan area.

“It was first used as a museum as early as 1923, when it was known as the War Memorial Museum, and today the collection continues to include a compelling display incorporating all of Australia’s military conflicts.”

Ms White said the museum’s displays had also been enhanced by items loaned from the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery (TMAG) and the Queen Victoria Museum and Art Gallery.

“The museum’s Thylacine exhibition includes a Thylacine jawbone pincushion, c.1900, from TMAG’s collection and a cast of a Thylacine skull kindly loaned by QVMAG,” Ms White said.

“Highlights of the museum’s collection on display include a beautifully crafted 18th century dress from the Louisa Meredith collection, and a vicious Tasmanian Tiger trap as used on the local property The Bend.”

Ms White said the redevelopment had been made possible with funding from the Tasmanian Community Fund, Arts Tasmania, Glamorgan Spring Bay Council, and guidance and advice from Heritage Tasmania, Arts Tasmania’s Small Museums and Collections Program and a range of organisations and individuals.

The East Coast Heritage Museum and Visitor Centre is open to the public seven days a week from this week.

Friday, 2 December 2011

On the Track - Episode 52

It's here - the last one for the year!

And for those who love a dash of Monkees with their monkeys, or rather, mystery apes, you'll be very entertained! I must confess to being a fan of both :-)

So here it is, the latest episode of the CFZ's monthly webTV show, bringing you the latest cryptozoological, and monster hunting news from around the world.

This episode brings you:

CFZ in winter
Rutland Falconry Centre
Barn Owls across the Atlantic
Eagle Owls
Sahar Dimus obituary and appeal
Dezy Marak obituary and appeal
Uncon 2011
CFZ Library
Meet Morticia
Thylacine skulls
Orang Pendek
Hey hey we're not the Monkees
Corinna looks at out of place birds
New and Rediscovered: Rediscovered frog
New and Rediscovered: New ferret badger
New and Rediscovered: New bat


Related Posts with Thumbnails

Recommended Reading