Saturday, February 9, 2013

Missing the Mothman

Mothman Statue.
The Mothman has a pretty famous icon in the US particularly in West Virginia. In the town of Point Pleasant (the location where the Mothman was first spotted.) rests a statue and museum in its honor and the town even hold an annual fair to commemorate the Mothman. Although Point Pleasant is often credited with the legend of the Mothman, James Renner, author of It Came From Ohio, argues that Salem, Ohio is where the mysterious Mothman was first sighted. Although it is fair to say that similar sightings can be seen for ages much further back. Renner mentions the Thunder bird and other legendary creatures of old that could have also been Mothman.
 However, I have read from various sources that the origin of the Mothman could be linked to an owl or crane. The descriptions of the Mothman given by witnesses often lack fine details and what they do remember (usually the bright glowing eyes and large feathered / mothy wings) could be attributed to large birds of the area, for instance barred owls.

In other news the Mothman Prophecies was checked out of the library, so I will sadly be able to use it as a reference for my research. Excelsior!

slim pickings

After receiving Hidden Animals, from Summit I was rather disappointed with the information pertaining to the Chupacabra. It had 2 pages on the subject and was little more than a recollection of every "Chupacabra" encounter since the 1970's. This source also proved of little use because the dates of the first Chupacabra sightings are contradictory to those I have found in a few other sources. Finishing the summary with a list of possible theories as the what the creature is this book offered little new information and no personal investigation as to the origins of the creature.

I had a lot more luck with the journal Skeptical Inquirer. I found 3 interesting articles regarding Chupacabra which unlike Hidden Animals had in text citations and sources I found very helpful. The only issue with this journal I had was a lack of variety in authors. I'm having a hard time finding anyone other than Benjamin Radford who has done extensive investigation of the Chupacabra, and this is keeping me from seeing other theories on the monster.

Werewolf Legends

Found a couple of new sites this week. been thinking more about how well the sites have been put together after our class monday.

The information itself on the site seems really good. It is also a .edu site, however the pages are very lacking of anything other than text. It is bland and not very well put together. The accounts of the different werewolf sightings/tales in Germany (if true) are really cool however.

All this site really does is explain lycanthropy and recommends a book for werewolves. Also it has quite a few ads at the top of the page which makes the site to me less credible. Seems just like dolled up wikipedia entry. The "Are you a were?" section is amusing but shows just how much this site isnt true source quality

Friday, February 8, 2013

Book in the mail

The book that I ordered on the Jersey Devil finally arrived in the mail a few days ago. I was unable to get this book from Summit, or on interlibrary loan. It exists within the Summit system, but it is checked out until the end of February, and I needed it sooner than then. It was only three dollars from AbeBooks, which seemed reasonable enough.

The book is written by James F. McGloy and Ray Miller, Jr., and it presents a history of the legend of the Jersey Devil, along with transcripts of various sightings of the creature, and an extensive bibliography in the back. I intend to use this book as my main source on the Devil, as it is the most extensively researched book in existence on the exclusive subject of the Jersey Devil. I also plan to seek further information from some of the sources that the book cites, as I expect they will provide me with more to study and critique.

Starting my paper

This week I began writing my paper. Only the introduction so far, which is always the hardest part for me. I'm working on coming up with a good overview of Bigfoot characteristics, which is difficult because so many people describe these differently. Everything from hair color to size to feet and hands vary greatly. While this is understandable because most observations are oral history rather than pictures and video, it is hard to sum everything up into one clear and concise description. I've been relying a lot on the BFRO website, which gives a pretty good outline of the species characteristics. This source has a wealth of information, but I believe still must be taken with a grain of salt. I do appreciate their honesty though. For example, this was taken from the physiology description under "Growth and Reproduction":

The infant stays with the mother until puberty at age 10 or so, measuring about 6’ in height by then. Offspring seem to be spaced about 5 years apart, as judged by the admittedly small sample of grouped footprints; 

This is pretty common throughout the website. They know there isn't a lot of scientific research being done and they aren't claiming their evidence is anything more than what it actually is. They only claim that the tracks and hair samples they have do not match those of any other known animal. I believe this gives the website a good amount of credibility. Whether everything they are saying is factual or not isn't known. So overall, this is a helpful source and I will definitely use the information for my overall description.


Thursday, February 7, 2013

With Quotes

This week has been a mixed bag for me.

After class yesterday (Wednesday), I tried searching the school's article database for stories on alien big cats. Most of what showed up was efforts to conserve big cats in their natural homes - "legitimate" big cats, if you will.

There was one article in Folklore magazine that looked promising from the database, what sounded like an overview of alien big cats and their treatment in popular culture or legend. Unfortunately, I couldn't find the physical copy of the article in the library, despite the catalogue saying that it was available.

I admit I got frustrated after that.

So I saved the links to promising articles from the database search and left it at that. I'll go through them later.


Tonight, I typed "alien big cats" into Google, with quotes. Predictably, Wikipedia came up first, but I detailed that in my last blog post (I'm hoping to get enough information together to start editing my article next week). The quotes helped, though, definitely. I found a site called "Unexplained Mysteries", a kind of encyclopedia on phenomena that (as the title suggests) can't be explained by science.

While the site itself isn't a good resource - all the articles relating to alien big cats were extremely short and general - there were links to actual newspaper stories. The first one I turned up, from The Telegraph, was very recent (January 2012). A roe deer had been killed in Woodchester Park, in a way that seemed highly indicative of big cat activity, and experts took DNA samples in the hopes of finally putting this controversy to rest. A follow-up article, however, said "the strongest genetic signal... found on the Woodchester Park carcass was from a fox". So not conclusive at all.

But maybe it doesn't matter if alien big cats don't exist. This newspaper article points out that for every news story about them, more peoples' interest is piqued, and that could potentially bring more money into the national parks.

I found several other newspaper articles, some with embedded video, but the one I really want to share is this one, a short video that almost has me convinced that alien big cats exist. The investigators made a life-sized big cat cutout, took it into the field where the original footage was captured, and compared the two.

Searching for Nessie

Over the past week I've been watching some of the video material I found, mainly Incident at Loch Ness, a mockumentary (IMDB link here) and two episodes of Monsterquest, 101 and 301 (Youtube links here and here-this Youtube user has all 4 seasons posted). These resources have a common theme of people going out to look for Nessie/Champ (as MQ101 is about Champ, "America's Loch Ness Monster") with varying levels of success.

Incident at Loch Ness is a movie within a movie, as it starts out as a documentary of Werner Hertzog's career and his newest expedition to find the Loch Ness Monster, which is being filmed as a documentary produced by Zak Penn. Various shenanigans ensue, including Penn attempting to hoax the expedition by hiring a fake cryptozoologist (as he puts it, "you wanted obsessed and credible. Well, that's pretty much impossible"), having an assistant build a Nessie model to float as a sighting, and hiring a model/actress to be a "sonar expert" and jump into the Loch (!) in a tiny American flag bikini (!!). Hertzog becomes increasingly irritated by Penn's hijinks, but continues the expedition anyway. While on the loch, the crew see what is supposed to be Nessie and are attacked by something, eventually clinging to the wreckage of their boat until tourists rescue them, under direction from Penn, who previously escaped the attack by stealing the lifeboat. Two of the crew supposedly died, but Herzog was able to capture a blurry image of the Nessie using camera in a waterproof rig.

Since none of the cast/crew are listed as dead in the IMDB listing, it's pretty obvious that this isn't a real account, but it does reflect many of the sightings and common stories of Nessie: that it's alive and well in the Loch, has a long neck and snakelike head, is a very large animal, and is aggressive if provoked.

In the Monsterquest episodes I watched, a character from I@LN appears: Adrian Shine, a marine biologist at the Loch Ness centre. Although Nessie is only the subject of one MQ episode (301, "Death of the Loch Ness Monster"), I also watched the first episode, "America's Loch Ness Monster", about Champ, the lake monster of Lake Champlain in New England, since I thought it might have some similar theories. Episode 301 focused on the final expedition of Robert Rines, a lawyer from Massachusetts who was best known for his search for Nessie, which started with a 1972 sighting. This expedition focused on finding a Nessie carcass, as Rines believed that the creature must have died out due to lack of sonar readings and decline in eyewitness reports. Although his expeditions led to multiple theories and intriguing photographs, they ultimately failed to uncover anything concrete. As with most MQ episodes, nothing results from the investigation, but it "continues", as they say at the end of each episode.

Although these shows were entertaining to watch, I think they are more on the side of not being credible. Obviously I@LN is a mockumentary, not meant to take seriously, but the MQ episodes are as well. In each episode, they give you a preface or background on the 'monster', then do an elaborate investigation that ultimately results in nothing. While it was on air, MQ must have been a great source of money to monster-hunters, since the true believers are the ones who want to spend the time looking but maybe don't have the equipment necessary.

How to Become a Mermaid

Today I found an article on WikiHow on How to become a Mermaid. Wiki How explains that becoming a mermaid is a multiple step process and if you act like a Mermaid and believe enough, then you could actually become a Mermaid yourself.  Reasons why I think this article is bogus. 1. The steps are crap. How am I going to become a mermaid if I sing well and drink 8 glasses of water a day? 2. The video link is broken which is really frustrating especially because I thought there was going to be an awesome video of someone turning into a Mermaid. 3. There are no resources. How do the authors (whoever they are) know that these steps will work? There are many more reasons why I think that this article is bologna but it was funny to read. Remember- If you really want to become a mermaid all you have to do is BELIEVE. Eat, drink, and sleep with the thought of mermaids. It will come true if you truly want it to.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Reality vs. Imagination

Here are my thoughts for this week: I am finding that in relation to the thunderbird, most people see them as really big birds that merely don’t exist, as one source I found stated, “It certainly doesn't take much imagination to invent ‘something just like that bird over there, only bigger.’”  I see this statement as both something true, but people do tend to underestimate things. Just because something is easy to imagine, doesn’t mean it never really existed.

This could be compared to saying that in a few hundred years when people look back, and say the Golden Eagle is extinct. Yes, they actually exist as seen now, but for this example’s purpose, let’s just say that some people believe that they did not exist because of the mere size of the bird and the fact that they were trained at times to hunt wolves. 

Yes – a bird having the ability to take down a wolf may seem a little crazy, but it’s a fact. While there is no physical proof that thunderbirds actually existed, to write the animal off by a mere fact of seemingly unlikely features.

Times are also very different from now and when Thunderbird sightings have been recorded to occur. Whereas now if we see something odd or cool or out of the ordinary, we can take out our cell phones and click! Proof. However in the past these kinds of technology did not exist – how can we be sure that people did or did not see a thunderbird when they said they did?

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Plesiosaur or Something Else?

Most scientists thought the Loch Ness Monster to be a plesiosaur but others say that Loch Ness is too cold and doesn't have a high enough abundance of fish to support a meat eating reptile like the plesiosaur.

It would make more sense if some animal from the sea found it's way into the Loch as one scientist theory is. Researcher Adrian Shine's theory is that a "navigationally challenged Atlantic sturgeon" could have been the source of all the monster talk. If this was the case, however, the sturgeon would be long gone by now leaving nothing but the myth of the Loch Ness Monster behind.