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Saturday, September 8, 2012

Cryptids and other interesting fauna

To anyone that reads this blog on a regular basis, sorry that it has taken so long to get a new one out.  I recently began teaching 8th grade science, and it's an experience that I won't soon forget.   Things have been pretty damn chaotic.  Hopefully, it'll calm down soon.  But to the loyal folks, thank you for hanging in there.

The first topic I wanted to talk about is an example of bigfoots (bigfeet mayhaps?)  and cars not being a good mix.   The article can be found at http://news.blogs.cnn.com/2012/08/28/bigfoot-hoax-ends-in-death-authorities-say/?iref=allsearch .  The basic gist of the story is that a guy was running around dressed as a bigfoot as was hit by a car, was killed.  This does actually bring up the debate about killing any cryptids.  Texas basically said that because they don't exist, it is legal to shoot a bigfoot.  Kinda mind numbing logic on the surface, but if you think about it, it does make sense.  Hunting regulations are designed to manage the populations of game animals and native wildlife.  Texas said that because there is no definitive proof that bogfoots actually exist, there are no regulations or limits on them.  Thats fine.  Unfortunately, this statement has 2 immediate effects.  The first is that it seems to send the message that there are bigfoots running around Texas.  I will admit that I have seen some really tall guys down there, but unless some bigfoot group is using a lot of Nair or electrolysis treatments, I don't think they count.  The second problem is that some people prefer to shoot first and to hell with the questions.  On one episode of Monster Hunters on the chupacabra, a boy in Texas stated "I didn't know what it was, so I shot it."  I am worried that this may lead to people being shot because they thought it would be funny to scare people by running around in the woods dressed in a gilly suit or a bigfoot costume.  I don't feel that cryptids should recieve protective status like Nessie and several others have in recent years, but I do feel that Texas handled the question badly.  They could have simply said that there is no proof that they exist, and odds are if you see one, it's probably a person in a suit, so use common sense and don't just shoot at it.  I'll admit I was intrigued by the story at first, but as I thought about it more, I realized that aside from a perfectly good practical joke going horribly wrong,  it was a waste of a human life.

If you listen to a lot of skeptic or believer podcasts, Monster Hunters, Monster Quest, or anything of that ilk, you've probably heard the terms cryptid, crypto, and cryptozoologist.  I have met a lot of people that hear the terms and don't really know what they mean.  Cryptid basically means a hidden animal, and therefore a cryptozoologist is a person that studies a hidden animal.  Some people use the term crypto instead of cryptid, or they use it as a plural form.  I will be the first to admit that I am fascinated by the stories around these "animals", but I don't think that it is likely they exist.  Loch Ness for example is not a very likely site for a breeding population of plesiasaurs.  First of all, it's too small to contain an animal of that size for a long period of time, let alone a breeding population.  Secondly, it is too recently formed by about 30 million years.  For the chupacabra, you can actually trace the story back to the first report in Puerto Rico in 1995.  In the scant 17 years, it has undergone a major change from an alien like creature (for those of you old enough, think Species) to a hairless canine.  Ben Radford from the Monster Talk podcast spent 5 years researching this case and has determined, as well as wildlife biologists, that it is normally a canine with mange that most people report as a chupacabra.  And now for the big man on campus, Bigfoot.  As populated as the country is, as many people that fly, walk, drive, ride horses, or otherwise travel the country, you think that we would have found definite, undeniable proof that these creatures exist.  I personally find it highly unlikely that a large enough population needed to continue a species would remain undiscovered.  I will admit that it would be really cool if they did, but I doubt it.  There is a slight chance that they do, but the odds are better for navigating an asteroid field with Imperial TIE fighters right behind you.  I have spent a lot of my life tracking animals in the woods and rural areas around here, and we do have stories of bigfoot in Oklahoma,.  I have seen cougars, wolves, bobcats, coyotes, deer, elk, bears, and even a monkey one time.  I have been to sites that bigfoot has been spotted, looked at the "tracks", spoor, and claw marks.  I have yet to find any proof that to me would say Bigfoot was here!  The tracks a lot of the time are where a rock has been turned over by a cow or a deer, or even a fisherman or even a natural depresson in the ground, the spoor a lot of times comes from coyotes or feral dogs, and the claw marks end up being deer rubs or bears clawing at the trees.  And something about the show bigfoot hunters that really gets me, other than the head of a non-profit with the last name of "Moneymaker" is how in the hell do they "know" the habits, behaviors, and even sexual preferences of bigfoot(feets?)  Someone clear this up for me.  It has been bugging the hell out of me for a long time)  There is no empirical evidence, no studies on living animals, not even a really bad documentary on animal planet.  How can they say that bigfoot are omnivores, herbivores, or carnivores?  How can they say that they build shelters, hunt, cross roads, or eat jerky? 

The other story I wanted to talk about briefly is about "mutant" mosquitos.  The article is titled
"Mutant mosquito' plan slammed" .  Basically, it is an attempt to control mosquito populations in Florida by releasing a genetically modified male mosquito that is designed to die early.  People are upset because they are claiming, and rightfully so, that they don't want to be a lab rat in a companies experiment.  The mosquitos had already been through clinical trials, and were found to be safe for release.  As of this writing, I have not found any more info on the plan, so if anyone out there in internetland has any, I would appreciate knowing what came of this.  I know this article is a bit old, and it has been sitting in my to write about list, but this is the first chance I've had to write on it, let alone the bit of research I was able to do. 

Like I said, thanks to anyone that kept checking the blog, and I hope the long wait didn't cause too many of you out there to lose hope.  Like I said, hopefully, I hope to get back on a more regular schedule on these.  Until next time, be good, be safe, a keep an open mind.

The Skeptical Okie

6 comments:

  1. I'm skeptical about Bigfoot but i do believe in some of the Indian legends around this state and I've had my own un-explainable experiences before.

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  2. Do you mean the legends concerning the wild men? I've heard those also, and similar ones from the Apache and Navajo tribes. They were one of the things that actually got me interested in cryptids.

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  3. yeah...but more like the legend of the stigini and deer lady, and also superstitions like if you see an owl you will have bad luck or someone will die. i don't if these are true but i would love to find out.

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  4. I've also heard about the mosquito project. It was to control populations in Florida
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  5. Oh and another thing i thought the mosquitos weren't supposed to die early it was that they were engineered to not be able to fertilize the females eggs so that over time the population would decrease.

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  6. I'm not familiar with the stigini, but I have heard of the deer lady. As for the owls and bad luck or death following, I've seen hundreds of them and I have known quite a few people that keep them as pets. Our lives are no better nor any worse than anyone else's, so from a personal anecdote, I would say that one is false. With the mosquitos, the information I had at the time was that they were engineered to have a shorter life span so that they died before they had a chance to fertilize the females. The link for the story is broken, and I am unable to find the original article anywhere. Also, it was a press release, so they could have gotten some information wrong. If I am able to find it, I will post a new link here.

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