We’re breaking out the rum ration this week, as we are in a celebratory frame of mind. The reason? Your visual organs are currently consuming the 26th issue of ‘Blather’ – half a year old today. Now, on with the entertainment…
In ‘Baltic, Missing Links, Globs‘, Blather discussed news reports concerning the elusive Sumatran orang pendek, a primate which is alleged to have the ability to walk upright, a ‘talent’ previously only attributed to humans. What was especially curious about this spate of journalism was there seemed to be no good reason for the orang pendek to be in the news at this point in time – the report of Debbie Martyr’s 1994 sighting seemed to be be a little late. . . which led Blather to wonder what all the fuss was about – and what sparked it all off. Author and cryptozoologist Loren Coleman was making similar enquiries, and it is with pride that this weeks’s Blather includes his report on the Sumatran orang pendek.
Sumatra Special Report #1
An Orang Pendek Update
Several individuals have emailed me asking if I knew where we all could view the new photograph of the orang pendek. Many times we find ourselves at the mercy of receiving our information on faraway inquiries and expeditions only via news reports. Generally the news media does a decent job getting their facts correct.
Earlier in October, newspapers from London to Melbourne shocked the world with articles containing such words as these about the orang pendek: “The creature stumbled across the wire, triggering the camera shutter, capturing its image on film. . . This was a picture of an ape walking almost erect, a creature with a long red mane, that could be man’s nearest cousin, a new species of primate that could re-write the books on evolutionary theory. As the pictures filtered out to the world’s zoologists and anthropologists, the debate began.” (Age, Melbourne, Australia, 18 October 1997, p. 6; also see article for London Sunday Times, 12 October 1997.)
Needless to say, the continuing news out of Sumatra was so startling that I felt it important to doublecheck the facts of the report with the folks in the field. I was hoping, if a photograph had been obtained, to learn how soon it would be released. What I have discovered, however, is very upsetting. The newspapers not only jumped the gun, but apparently got much of what they were reporting allegedly extremely wrong. The expedition informs me that they have seen and cast footprints, but they have NO new clear photograph. Indeed, the two earlier fuzzy pictures referred to in other media reports were suspect from day one, but expedition members had to investigate for months to confirm and dismiss them as fakes.
The truth of the matter is that orang pendeks have not been seen for over a year and half, and none have been near the expedition members for some time, let alone walked through a camera trap. There are some intriguing hints of new information that may be publicized any day, and an orang pendek may pop into the main camp in the near future to be captured on video, but, as of right now, it is all a waiting game.
[Due to the sensitive nature of this information, users of this news should please contact Loren Coleman before reproducing or redistribution of this data. Copyright 1997 Loren Coleman]
An indignant Bigfoot, yesterday
On November 4th, Agence France-Presse released through Nando Times an article titled ‘Abominable snowman, once the rage, is now out of fashion’, concerning the apparent lack of success of the recent yeti conference at Moscow’s Darwin Museum. Valentin Sapunov, a biologist from Saint Petersburg lamented that few people could make it to the conference as they could not afford the travel costs, and that no one was prepared to supply funds to potential delegates. The main thrust of the report implied that the interest in bigfoot, yetis etc. has waned, but Blather is inclined to challenge this attitude as simply being an ‘angle’ for an otherwise lacklustre news report. Surely the intense coverage of the orang pendek story during the last three weeks would suggest that interest in the existence of these shy creatures has not diminished in the least. Yet more encouraging is the news from Loren that the National University of Vietnam, Hanoi has just set up a Center for Cryptozoology. Assistant Professor Tran Hong Viet of Teachers College, mentioned in Blather 1.16 ‘New Animals from Vietnam‘ is the Director.
MEXICAN LAKE MONSTER? EH, NO.
Earlier this week, Blather was alerted to a Mexican cryptozoology site hosted by one Leopoldo Bolanos, which has reports of an alleged lake monster in Valle De Santiago in the Mexican state of Guanajuato. Which according to the local people is a manifestation of ‘Chan’, a god of protection. Interestingly enough, to depict the creature described, Leopoldo has purloined a [link no longer works] of an apatosaurus from ‘[link no longer works] The Dinosaur Web Pages’. The [link no longer works] apatosaurus is better known as the brontosaurus, a confusion born of vertabrae fusion and scientific nomenclature.
The second picture is well nigh impossible to draw a conclusion from, featuring an indistinct shadow in a tiny muddy pond. Even compared with Irish reports (Irish lake monsters have a curious habit of being reported as keeping residence in what are best described as ‘puddles’), it seems a bit small for supporting a ‘monster’. Worse still, the photo is badly pixelated, which lends nothing to its credibility.
Even more apocryphal is photograph number three, allegedly taken in 1958, after an earthquake. Look upon it and weep, for it appears to Blather that someone has pasted in a brontosaurus, sorry, apatosaurus, on a picture of a lake, followed by an indiscriminate motion blur and a lighting and shadowing arrangement which are also rather dubious. The apatosaurus (Jurassic period) was *not* aquatic, whereas the plesiosaurus – in this case the long-necked elasmosaur – of the Jurassic and Crutaceous peroids was.
Long necked plesiosaurus – elasmosaur
Comments welcome. . .
In conclusion, let us share with you an addendum to Blather 1.24, ‘The Smoking Cannon‘, which featured a discussion of skyborne sailing ships in ancient Irish texts. Folklorist Leslie Ellen Jones has since stumbled across the following on page 11 of Daibhi O Croinin’s ‘Early Medieval Ireland 400-1200‘ (Longman, 1995 ISBN: 0582015650):
‘The Annals of Ulster, for example, in the year AD 749 report that ships were seen in the air (some said above the monastery of Clonmacnois). Other sources report a similar episode at Teltown, during the reign of Congalach mac Maele Mithig (d. AD 956), when a ship appeared in the air above a market fair (oenach) and a member of the crew cast a spear down at a salmon below. When he came down to retrieve the spear a man on the ground took hold of him, whereupon the man from above said: ‘Let me go! I’m being drowned!’ Congalach ordered that the man be released and he scurried back up to his shipmates, ‘who were all that time looking down, and were laughing together.’ Well they might. There is no point in trying to explore the Otherworld with the apparatus and outlook of the science laboratory: flying ships are not subject to the laws of quantum mechanics.”
Leslie adds that ‘the actual text and translation of this episode is cited as being in Myles Dillon, 1960, “Laud Misc. 610”, ‘Celtica’, pp. 64-76, and Kuno Meyer, 1908, “Irish mirabilia in the Norse ‘Speculum Regale'”, ‘Eriu’, vol. 4, part 1, pp. 1-16.’
Irish magazine Hot Press recently referred to Blather as being ‘vaguely anorakesque’, in what appears to be a complimentary review. Many thanks -although I would have preferred ‘tongue-in-cheek tweediness’, I’ll refrain from dusting off the dueling pistols for a while yet.
Hopefully next week’s issue will feature a smattering of gossip and scandal from this Saturday’s (8th November) IUFOPRA UFO Conference, here in Dublin. Assuming, of course, that this Blatherskite has not been assassinated in the interim.