Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Johar Goverment Investigates Giant Cyclops!

(New Straits Times)
YES, the Johor Government wants to get to the bottom of the Bigfoot mystery. Bigfoot has managed to evade capture and has instead captured headlines. So far, all evidence of Bigfoot’s existence has been unpersuasive.

The Bigfoot mania is not new. Humanoid ape-like creatures have been sighted for centuries in many parts of the world. In the forests of North America, there have been sightings of Skunk Ape, Momo, Grassman and Woods Devil.

One of the earliest sightings of the footprints was in 1811 by a Canadian trader in Alberta. By the 1950s, the sightings were said to be almost regular. There are also similar tales of mythical giant apes in the oral traditions of Europe.

In Asia, there is the Abominable Snowman, or the Yeti, in the Himalayas; and Australia, the Yowie Man. Could Bigfoot or Hantu Jarang Gigi (snaggle toothed ghost) be the Malaysian version?

While the National Geographic (Oct 23, 2003) reported that thousands of people claim to have seen the hairy hominoid, the evidence of its existence remains fuzzy.

There are few clear photographs of the oversized beast. No bones have been found. Instead, countless pranksters have admitted faking footprints. Still, some are convinced of its existence.

As the debate rages on, Malaysians were awakened to the possibility of another legendary creature — this one a one-eyed beast. In this case, it resembles the Cyclops, the creature in Greek mythology.

It is said to have a single eye in the middle of the forehead and belongs to a race of giants with a foul disposition. As primordial sons of Sky (Uranus) and Earth (Gaia), the first generation goes by various names, such as Brontes (thunderer), Steropes (flasher) and Arges (brightener). Volcanoes were believed to be the aftermath of their underground work, giving their names to their vocation as the first smiths and metal workers.

The most famous Cyclops perhaps is Polyphemus, the one-eyed son of Poseidon and Thoosa. He was left blinded after fighting with Homer’s Odysseus who was also king of Ithaca.

Homer described the Cyclops as barbarous and pastoral savages who ate humans. This is sometimes seen as an allegory of the barbarians, the non-Greeks.

The subsequent generation of Cyclops such as Telemus (seer), after losing the skill of metallurgy, became a band of lawless shepherds in Sicily.

One hypothesis about the origin of the Cyclops’ single eye has its roots in the story that in ancient times, smiths wore an eye patch over one eye. This was to prevent them from being blinded in both eyes by flying sparks while working as smiths.

Yet another possible origin for the Cyclops legend points to the prehistoric dwarf elephant skulls — about twice the size of a human skull said to have been found by the Greeks in Crete.

Due to the large central nasal cavity (for the trunk) in the skull, it might have been believed that this was a large, single, eye-socket. This, however, could be a misidentification of the mundane creature.

Still, there is another type of Cyclops that belongs to the animated TV series, Futurama, where there is a she-character that resembles a Cyclops, named Turanga Leela.

Apart from her one eye, she is almost a normal human.

At another level though, the use of the word Cyclops is more real. It refers to species of crustacea related to lobsters, crabs and shrimps. These invertebrates with a hard outer shell are named after the Cyclops because, like the mythical creature, the microscopic animals have only one eye.

Given all the uncertainty over Bigfoot, it would be equally interesting to track down the Cyclops in our midst, just like the search for the Bigfoot. Interested anyone?

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Hapsburgs Reclaim Dracula's Castle!

More than 60 years after it was seized by communists, the Romanian government is to hand back one of the country's most popular tourist sites, the fabled Dracula Castle, to its former owner, the culture minister said Tuesday.

The hand-over ceremony will take place Friday noon in the 14th century castle's museum deep within the fortress in Transylvania, said minister Adrian Iorgulescu at a news conference.

The castle, worth an estimated US$25 million (euro19.6 million), was owned by the late Queen Marie and bequeathed to her daughter Princess Ileana in 1938. It was confiscated by communists in 1948 and fell into disrepair.

It was inherited by Dominic van Hapsburg, a New York architect who will be at the ceremony on Friday, said Iorgulescu. The Hapsburgs ruled Romania for a period starting in the late 17th century. Under the agreement, the owner will not be allowed to make any changes to the castle for the next three years, Iorgulescu said.

Restoration work began in the late 1980s and was partially completed in 1993. It is now one of Romania's top tourist destinations.

While known and marketed as "Dracula's Castle,'' the Bran Castle never belonged to Prince Vlad the Impaler, who inspired Bram Stoker's Count Dracula character, but the prince is thought to have visited the medieval fortress.

The Gothic fortress, perched on a rock, has appeared in numerous Dracula movies.

At the gates of Bran Castle, peasants sell Dracula sweaters hand-knitted from the thick wool of local sheep, cheesecloth blouses, and Vampire wine. Bran Castle is the most famous of 15 citadels and fortresses in the area, which were built by peasants to keep out marauding armies of Turks and Tartars and cruel local medieval lords.

Another former royal property, the Peles Castle, built in the late 19th century in the mountain town of Sinaia, will be returned to former King Michael, who owned it before it was confiscated by the communist regime in 1948.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Entire Mammoth Skeleton Found In Russia!


A whole mammoth skeleton has been found in Russia’s southern Krasnoyarsk Region, Itar-Tass said Tuesday.

Local fishermen found the practically intact skeleton on the shore of a dam lake when the flood waters retreated, archeologist Alexander Kerzhayev said.

“The find has retained a backbone, a skull with teeth and a tusk and other anatomic details,” Kerzhayev said.

“It was an adult mammoth, judging by the size of bones it was at least 50 years old.”

The archeologist said the animal had probably died of an illness.

A whole mammoth skeleton is a rare and valuable find, but the Krasnoyarsk skeleton is likely to be lost again. To preserve the bones, affected by water, a complicated technical procedure is required. Since the archeological community cannot afford it, most of the skeleton will be lost, except for several parts that will go on disp
lay in the local museum.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Rabid Bat Bites Bargain Boot Buyer!


A rabid bat crawled out from under a rack at a discount shoe store and bit a 6-year-old boy on the foot, officials said.

The incident occurred Tuesday at a Payless Shoe Source. Workers from the Kern County Animal Control Services Division captured the bat and it tested positive for rabies, said Animal Control Division Chief Denise Haynes.

The virus is potentially fatal but the boy is undergoing treatment and "doing fine," said Claudia Jonah, an assistant health officer with the county Department of Public Health Services.

Treatment includes at least one shot of antibodies and five booster shots during the next month, she said.

Patricia Delgado, a worker at the Payless store, said Wednesday that she couldn't comment on the incident. The Bakersfield Californian said it was unable to reach the company's corporate headquarters.

Until this week, it had been more than a year since somebody in the county had been treated for a bite from a rabid animal, Jonah said.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Florida Rocked By Gator Attacks!

Three fatal alligator attacks have spread fear in the US state of Florida.

The first victim was a jogger whose body was found in a canal on the Sunshine State's Atlantic Coast, the second was snorkelling in a recreation area near Lake George in central Florida and the third was found in a canal about 20 miles north of St. Petersburg on Gulf Coast.

Trapper Todd Hardwick said he was not surprised alligators were coming out because it was the breeding season and recent dry, hot weather was causing alligators to head closer to populated areas in search of food and habitat.

He rejected calls for more alligator hunting, saying the problem was caused by the destruction of their habitat.

He said: "We can't just keep developing wetlands for homes and shopping centres and then wonder why we are up to our ears in alligators."

Before the most recent attacks, only 17 alligator-related deaths had been recorded in Florida since 1948, according to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

South Western Pteradon Terrifies Texans!

Cryptozoologist mulls theories on ‘Big Bird’

The Brownsville Herald

May 8, 2006 — Hidden in the shadows outside of civilization, monsters are believed by some to exist.

According to folklore, a large primate stalks the Pacific Northwest and a giant reptile lurks in the depths of a Scottish lake.

And in South Texas, people carefully watch the skies for Big Bird, a flying creature that terrorized the area in 1976.

“This bird’s got a habit of going after people,” said Guadalupe Cantu III, an eye witness. “This is strictly a nighttime bird, though. ... From 11 o’clock on, everybody’s bait.”


San Benito in particular seemed a hotbed for Big Bird reports. Many residents of the La Paloma Colonia have heard of the creature they call the demon bird.
“As a child I heard it one Christmas eve, really Christmas day at 1 o’clock in the morning,” said Cantu, now 50. “It made more and more noise so my grandfather went out and cussed it. ... It was a strange noise, like a couple of cats, like one voice mixed with another voice.”

As a child in San Benito, Cantu had heard of the bird, but he was surprised by its size and that it showed no fear of guns or dogs.

The bird Cantu saw seemed to stand about 8 feet tall and was solid black, although parts of its body seemed to reflect more light. It was stood vertically with stooped shoulders.

“With the face I thought I was looking at a skeleton, but it was the eyes and nose (of a skull),” he said. “It did not flap its wings, it just glided.”

Alex Resendez, 66, saw the creature three times in the 1970s. Twice he caught fleeting glimpses of the beast over Brownsville, and the third time, he saw it in broad daylight near his rural McCook area home.

“I never seen a bird that big,” he said. “He was brownish, like dirt. ... He does not have long legs and does not stand like other birds.”

What struck him most were the bird’s large eyes that shone like black glass, with red markings underneath. The beak was also peculiar.

“You have to look close because his beak is very transparent,” Resendez said. “If you see it real fast, you’re going to think he ain’t got no beak.”

In all, the brown bird seemed to stand over 4 feet tall. After being spooked by a charging bull, the bird spread its large wings and pushed off the ground with its feet.

“He was very swift, very nice, like a glider,” Resendez said. “This bird, he never flaps his wings.”

The wing underside was surprisingly colorful to Resendez, appearing with blue and white stripes.

“It was the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen.”


Descriptions of Big Bird often follow the same pattern: it is dark in color, featherless or smoothly feathered, has a long thin beak or no beak at all, short legs and long tail.

Farst took a pragmatic approach.

“At certain times of year we have wood storks here, which are large gangly birds, about 4½ feet tall,” he said. “They are more black and white than brownish and have a long curving bill.”

He offered alternative possibilities such as a sand hill crane or brown pelican, but said the distinctive features described by witnesses don’t always match with known animals.

As several cattle mutilations were reported in 1976, Resendez believes they might be related to the Big Bird sightings.

“I thought maybe this bird goes after these cows, drives his beak in there, takes samples, then goes upstairs where maybe there is a UFO,” he said. “It’s so well made, nobody could tell it was a robot, but I don’t know.”

Gerhard has heard theories ranging from a giant owl to a giant bat, but he has his own ideas.

“The other theory that I’m pursuing with my book is probably a little more out there,” the cryptozoologist said. “That’s the possibility of living pterosaurs.”

Winged reptiles and contemporaries of the dinosaurs, pterosaurs are believed to have met extinction more than 64 million years ago, but some cryptozoologists see the creatures as possible Big Bird explanations.

“It seems to jibe with most of the reports I’ve collected,” Gerhard said, adding that the Kongamato of Africa and Ropen of Papua, New Guinea, both supposedly mythical creatures, are said to have reptile-like features.

Farst doubts a large flying reptile could go undiscovered, but said there are some birds that behave similarly to the Big Bird.

“The best and biggest flying birds that we have would be like the Andean Condor from South America,” he said. “They can jump and launch themselves into the air to take off, but usually they do this off the side of a cliff.”

Gliding without a cliff, or preliminary flapping, would be highly unusual, he said.

“That would indicate that it would be something that we don’t have in this world at this time,” he said. “If I had to bet any of my hard earned money, I would be willing to bet odds of a 1,000-to-1 against there being a critter like this. .... I wish you’d prove me wrong. I’d love to see something like this.”

Livsey believes Big Bird to be an actual bird, albeit one not known to modern man. The extinct Teratorn is believed to have wingspans over a dozen feet.

“This does have to be a monster or a giant flying reptile,” he said. “I believe we’re talking something terrestrial here. I do believe in UFOs, and I was a witness to a UFO event, but I do not believe this was some kind of extra-terrestrial.”

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

follow up: CRA Allays Rampaging Chimp Fears!

Stella Brewer Marsden, the founding chairperson of the Chimpanzee Rehabilitation Association (CRA), has reassured the general public that the chimpanzees centre on the Baboon Island in the River Gambia National Park will inflict no harm on anyone.

She however urged visitors to the island to distance themselves from the landscape of the island, as the chimps could jump onto their boats if they get too close to the island. She gave this assurance after a chimpanzee escaped from the Tacuguma Sanctuary in Sierra Leone and claimed a life. According to her, the CRA is responsible for these chimps and would like to reassure the public that this type of accident, a result of the chimps escaping, cannot happen at River Gambia National Park (RGNP). She noted that the CRA's chimpanzee live on large, forested islands surrounded by deep water at all states of the tide. She noted that chimpanzees cannot swim and it will be impossible for them to escape to the mainland and thus be a danger to innocent members of the public.

She asserted that this incident does highlight the need for the CRA to be constantly vigilant to ensure that unauthorised boats do not approach too close to the island on which the chimps live and to remind all tour operators to ensure that their staff members are made aware of the need to take on board experienced CRA staff when passing through the Baboon Islands. She said independent boat operators should also be aware of this necessity. "If all boats passing between the islands of the National Park heed to this requirement and cooperate, then there will be no danger of any chimpanzee accidentally getting into a vessel and causing a chimpanzee related tragedy in The Gambia," she said.

Ms Brewer highlighted that the existence of the chimpanzees and the success of this thirty-five year old chimp project are assets which are assisting, in a practical and sustainable way, with rural development in the CRD (Central River Division), adding that the CRA has recently opened a small visitor facility -Badi Mayo- that allows people to stay in a degree of comfort and safety and view the chimps, hippos, crocodiles (and if very lucky the West African manatee), red colobus, green vervet, baboons plus of course The Gambia's varied birdlife. According to her, all the income from Badi Mayo goes towards ensuring the long-term welfare of the chimps and protecting the habitat in which they live with any balance going to associated community development.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Driverless Cars To Storm City Streets!

Just months after awarding $2 million for a sport utility vehicle that drove itself over more than 100 miles of open road, the Pentagon on Monday unveiled a bigger, richer challenge for self-driving vehicles that can negotiate city traffic.

Veterans of the Defense Advance Research Projects Agency's earlier "Grand Challenges" said the technologies developed for the next contest will clearly benefit the U.S. military, which has set the goal of automating a third of its ground vehicles by 2015. But they said the innovations could have an even bigger impact on driving in America.

"It might fundamentally alter the way we use our highways and save trillions of dollars," said Sebastian Thrun, the Stanford University computer-science professor whose team won the Grand Challenge race last October.

This time around, autonomous vehicles would run a simulated military supply mission in a mock urban area. To succeed, the vehicles would have to complete a 60-mile course safely in less than six hours, obeying traffic laws and avoiding obstacles while they merge with moving traffic, negotiate intersections and even pull into and back out of parking spaces.

"Grand Challenge 2005 proved that autonomous ground vehicles can travel significant distances and reach their destination, just as you or I would drive from once city to the next," DARPA Director Tony Tether said in Monday's announcement (PDF file). "After the success of this event, we believe the robotics community is ready to tackle vehicle operation inside city limits."