Saturday, August 14, 2010

Pterosaurs: A Global Phenomenon


NOTE: There has been renewed interest in Pterosaur research the past few years. I have posted information as it was forwarded to me. An expedition in Papua New Guinea continues to uncover interesting anecdotal evidence. There have been a few recent videos released but these, IMO, are not convincing and depict only common native species. Nonetheless, I feel there is an excellent possibility that pterosaur-like creatures exist somewhere on Earth. I have posted most of the current information below. I realize that there is a lot to read but I felt it was essential to include it all...Lon

helium - Papua New Guinea, Southwest Pacific Ocean—The Ropen (‘demon flyer‘) is a monstrous creature that’s terrified the natives of Papua New Guinea for thousands of years. Another smaller creature, the Duah-possibly related to the Ropen-haunts some of the far flung outlying islands.

Now sensational eyewitness reports—collected by determined exploration teams seeking strong evidence of the creatures—have led serious researchers to the conclusion that two distinct animals exist.

The descriptions of both monsters match that of fabled pterosaurs—ferocious flying dinosaurs thought to be extinct for 65 million years.

Jim Blume and David Woetzel are two daring researchers that have explored the dangerous regions—including the treacherous outlying islands—where the prehistoric monsters are known to hunt their prey.

Not only have these two compiled eyewitness accounts of the creatures from frightened natives, and physical evidence of gigantic nesting sites in some of the mountainous cliff areas, both men have personally witnessed the soaring creatures—and Woetzel even shot some video footage of one.

First brought to the attention of Western missionaries following WWII, the often nocturnal flying creatures are described as having large bat-like wings, an elongated beak filled with razor teeth, sharp, tearing claws and a very long whip-like tail with a split or flange on the end.

Reports from natives and investigators indicate that the creatures glow in the dark and are clearly visible in the night sky. This phenomenon—called the ‘Ropen light’—was observed at length and videotaped by researcher David Woetzel.

It’s hypothesized the bio-luminescent glow assists the creatures’ efforts to hunt and catch fish—their primary diet—in the deep darkness of the tropical night.

The evidence for two types of living pterosaurs

Although the Ropen and Duah have strikingly similar physical characteristics, the giant Ropen inhabits Papua New Guinea while the smaller Duah stays relatively close to the outlying islands.

Other than actual modern-day sightings of the two, a surviving 16th Century maritime chart lends credence to the hypothesis of two distinctly different creatures.

The 1595 chart cautions sailors about ‘sea monsters’ and depicts various coastal regions of Earth where monsters might be found. In the area of Papua New Guinea, two ‘sea monsters’ are illustrated: one is much larger than the other, yet both have almost identical physical traits. Each have long necks, prominent head crests, tails ending with a flipper like appendage and ridges along their backs. They are shown flying above an island.

Despite the general consensus amongst orthodox zoologists that the creatures don’t exist, those that have actually traveled deep into Papua New Guinea’s primitive rain forests and tiny offshore islands are convinced the creatures are living there now—especially since they have seen them firsthand.

Furthermore, strong evidence exists that one type is very big with impressive 20-foot plus wingspans, while the smaller, island dwellers have 4 to 4 1/2-foot wingspans.

Blume and Woetzel are convinced that two different types of pterosaurs exist and the indigenous natives concur. The locals insist the Duahs are not Ropens.

Mounting evidence supports the contention that the large Ropen are living Dimorphodon pterosaurs, with dermal bumps and a head crest; while the numerous sightings of the smaller creatures that inhabit the caves of the islands dotting the Bismarck Archipelago are that of the supposedly extinct Rhamphorhynchus-a pterosaur with a wingspan of about 3 to 4 feet.

Blume’s investigations indicate that wingspans of some of the pterosaurs may reach 10 to15 feet, though several other investigators point out that natives have encountered Ropens with much larger wingspans.

Most intriguing of all, the living pterosaurs may not be exclusive to Papua New Guinea. Similar creatures have been sighted and reported on and off for centuries throughout Central Africa.

The natives in the Congo, Zambia, Angola, Kenya and Zaire call the creatures ‘Kongomato.’ They assert the reddish African version has large, leathery wings, sharp claws, a split tail, and prominent teeth.

While humans smugly believe they are the masters of this planet, the original rulers may still command some of the darker corners of this shrinking world.

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NOTE: I received an email from Jonathan Whitcomb at Live Pterosaur: "Last month I interviewed an eyewitness who lives in the Manus Island area of Papua New Guinea. More interesting than his short sighting one night is the account from an older man: The "kor" (a new name to me, probably the same species as the ropen of Umboi Island, or at least similar) creatures attacked some Japanese, during World War II, with a devastating response from those Japanese. I believe this story, for my contact seems to be credible."

The following is posted at his blog:

Japanese World War II Ship Shelled Pterosaur Caves

February 18th, 2010 at 5:29

Three days ago, I received an email from R.K. (anonymous), of the Manus Island area of Papua New Guinea. (We starting communicating earlier this month.) The nocturnal flying creatures that he described to me–I believe they are ropens–were common and were dangerous to local fishermen previous to the early 1940’s, when their numbers declined. In these northern islands, the creature is called “kor.”

Here is part of R.K.’s account of the Japanese retaliation against the creatures that had attacked them:

”...it was the japs [Japanese miliary] on the island who were attacked by the kor. They [Japanese soldiers] apparently shot several wounding them then followed them to cves [caves] and blew [blew up] the entrances. They called ships fire on the hills and pounded them for several hours.”

R.K. asks an interesting question: “I wonder if there is a record of that somewhere?” Perhaps there is an old Japanese veteran who knows about this or has written about the battle with those creatures. If so, perhaps the word used for those creatures would be “dragons."
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The Kor of Northern Papua New Guinea


R.K., of Manus Island, Papua New Guinea, reports that the glowing nocturnal flying creature of those northern islands is called “kor.” Descriptions strongly suggest that they are at least similar to the ropen of Umboi Island, perhaps the same species: glowing with various colors, a long tail, “skin all over it,” and a few creatures growing to a large size. A few American investigators (some of them exploring in some areas of Papua New Guinea) are convinced that these are living pterosaurs.

According to what R.K. has learned from some older villagers, the kor catch fish “by skimming slowly around on the ocean surface, then as the light under their wings and belly glowed bright and attracted fish, the korr would swoop in . . . ” and “they eat in flight.”

But these are not just old reports. R.K. has reported his own encounter [early 2010 report]: “Two years ago we took a boat out to investigate and could see the lights soaring over us and heard flapping of wings.”

Older web page reports of smaller “ropens” around Manus Island (as if these were a different species because of size) are questionable. One kor was large enough to kill an islander in the 1960’s (according to R.K., this was the last human death from an attack). Perhaps the reports of smaller creatures come from the larger number of younger ones. Larger ones are reported to eat turtles and even young crocodiles. Some animals continue to grow throughout their lives; perhaps the kor, on occasion, also grows to a large size.


Click for video - Three men describe the pterodactyl-like creature of Umboi Island, Papua New Guinea. They saw the giant "ropen" (about 1994) flying over Lake Pung.
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World War II Veteran Saw Giant Living "Pterodactyl"


Duane Hodgkinson, now a flight instructor in Livingston, Montana, in 1944 was stationed near Finschhafen, in what was then called New Guinea. After he and his buddy walked into a clearing, they were amazed as a large creature flew up into the air. The men soon realized that it was no bird that started to circle the clearing. It had a tail “at least ten to fifteen feet long,” (book Searching for Ropens, 2007) and a long appendage at the back of its head: apparently, a live pterosaur.

Jonathan Whitcomb, a forensic videographer, interviewed Hodgkinson, in 2004, and found his testimony credible. In 2005, Garth Guessman, another experienced ropen investigator, video-taped his own interview with Hodgkinson and the session was analyzed by Whitcomb, who became even more convinced the World War II veteran was telling the truth: The man had seen a ropen.
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INVESTIGATIONS

In late 2006, Paul Nation, of Texas, explored a remote mountainous area on the mainland of Papua New Guinea. He videotaped two lights that the local natives called "indava." Nation believed the lights were from the bioluminescence of creatures similar to the ropen of Umboi Island. The video was analyzed by a missile defense physicist who reported that the two lights on the video were not from any fires, meteors, airplanes or camera artifacts. He also reported that the image of the two lights was authentic and was not manipulated or hoaxed.

In 2007, cryptid investigator Joshua Gates went to Papua New Guinea in search of the Ropen for his TV show Destination Truth. He and his team also witnessed strange lights at night and could not confirm what they were.

In 2009, the television show Monster Quest conducted an expedition in search of the "demon flyer" but found no evidence of the creature. Later, they had a forensic video analyst examine the Paul Nation video. The analyst could not definitely conclude what was causing the lights, but ruled out vehicles and campfires believing the footage was of a pair of bioluminescent creatures perched in a tree that later take flight.

Source: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ropen


Click to video 1


Click for video 2


Click for video 3

As well, here is the YouTube page with the MonsterQuest clips - Flying Monsters

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In the second half of 2007, living-pterosaur investigators were active in a new sighting area. The location they kept secret but it's known to be on the west coast of the United States. Some of the men had been on cryptozoological expeditions in Africa or Papua New Guinea, including Scott Norman.

On one of the first nights of observation, Scott stayed up later than the other researchers. He'd been skeptical after watching an unclear video that others thought might be a pterosaur; he was sure it was just a bird. But in the early morning hours of July 19th, he saw something large fly nearby: no bird.

Silent, with stars for a background, the dark creature flew twenty feet high, over a shed only twenty feet from Scott. Although it was dark, there was no mistaking it: a wingspan of eight to ten feet, a head three to four feet long, and a two-foot-long head-crest that reminded him of a Pteranodon. The wings were more bat-like than bird-like.

How does this sighting relate to the ropen sightings in Papua New Guinea? Investigators were attracted to this area in the Western United States by a familiar eyewitness description: Flashes of light that often look like meteors but occasionally look different. Also, the landowner, who allowed the men to search on his property, had seen a large ropen-like creature in daylight.

It seems that Scott Norman is the first American cryptozoologist to see the clear form of a living pterosaur while looking for one.

A few months after his historic sighting, he fell ill; to the sorrow of many friends, relatives, and cryptozoology associates, Scott left this world for a better, where extinction itself is extinct and where life never ends.

Scott Norman's passing, on February 29th, just days before he would have turned forty-four, caused a partial disclosure of the secret living-pterosaur searches in the Western U.S.. Investigations continued through 2007 and into 2008, but the landowner insists on location-secrecy. By early 2009, some trespasser had fired a
gun at one of the creatures. The landowner has no desire for any curious crowds, even if they trespassed with no guns.

Many areas of the United States have had their sightings: New Mexico, Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, Pennsylvania, New York State, Ohio, Wisconsin, and California. Reports continue to come in about pterosaurs.

The cryptozoologist Jonathan Whitcomb continues to interview eyewitnesses of ropen-like creatures seen in the United States. He encourages cryptozoological investigations across the U.S.

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Myths and legends about creatures from the Chupacabra to the Jersey Devil to Bigfoot are everywhere, but in southern New Mexico and parts of Texas people say they've seen birds so big they seem prehistoric.

One man claims the rugged landscape near Las Cruces hides a mystery that's haunted him for several years.

Dave Zander has lived near the Doña Ana Mountains for more than 30 years spending almost all his spare time hiking, exploring and fossil hunting in the range between the Robledo and Organ mountains.

He saw something that he's unable to explain and many people find hard to believe.

He recalls the day eleven years ago when he spotted something extraordinary: two creatures perched on a mountain less than a mile away.

"These creatures were so huge they looked like the size of small planes," Dave Zander said. "All of the sudden one of them jumped off dropped off the top of the mountain, came down the front of the mountain and all the sudden these huge wings just spread out.

"I would say the wings were at least a 20-foot wingspan."

Definitely something out of the ordinary.

"Not a normal bird, definitely of a giant variety," Zander continued. "It makes you feel like it could come over and carry you off if it wanted to."

Zander witness a real-life scene out of the movie Jurassic Park?

One ancient bird in the vicinity is an Andean condor living at the Rio Grande Zoo in Albuquerque. But it's wingspan of 12 feet pales to what Zander described: birds with an unprecedented twenty-foot wingspan, with pink bald heads and all-black bodies, and feathers on their enormous wings.

There is nothing on modern record like it.

"In comparison a 20 foot wingspan would truly be a monster and something undocumented by science," cryptozoologist Ken Gerhard said. "I believe what Dave Zander may have seen are surviving teratorns."

Gerhard has made a career studying prehistoric birds.

"What's interesting the reports of these giant raptor-like birds to continue into modern times," he said. "We seem to have a large concentration of them here in the Southwest particularly in the Rio Grande Valley of Texas as well as New Mexico and parts of Arizona."

Gerhard documented many of these strange reports from all over the globe in the book "Big birds! Modern sightings of flying monsters."

The book includes sightings in different clusters over the past 30 years.

In 1972 in Maxwell in northeastern New Mexico, Ronald Monteleone of Trinidad, Colo., reported what he thought was a pterodactyl flying out of an arroyo.

In Lordsburg in the 1800s locals talked constantly about the sightings of pterosaurs.

And a picture circulated the country in 1890 out of Tombstone, Ariz., but it's never been considered totally legitimate.



"Other eyewitnesses are describing specifically giant feathered dark birds with an enormous wing span," Gerhard said.

Gerhard said his research falls into two different descriptions from witnesses. Some said the birds look like the prehistoric pterodactyl while others, like the creatures described by Zander, resemble the ancient thunderbird from Native American mythology.

You can find thunderbird images atop many totem poles and also carved into the lava rocks of the Petroglyph National Monument in Albuquerque. Similar images are found in petroglyphs all over North America.

According to legend, the thunderbird is said to have a wingspan the length of two canoes with the ability to deafen people with the sound of its flapping wings.

"It is definitely a real animal, according to the native peoples that lived here," Gerhard said. "It's not necessarily a legendary animal."
(Andean Condor)

However a word of caution comes from folks like Ben Radford, managing editor of the Skeptical Inquirer magazine, which applies scientific reason and evidence to extraordinary claims.

"There is a desire to link modern sightings with these Native American stories but the problem is they're not necessarily the same thing," Radford said.

Radford said believes the eyewitnesses saw something:

"Ultimately a lot of these sightings, whether it's these monsters, these creatures, Chupacabras, what have you, these come down to eyewitness testimony," Radford said. "They're stories, there's nothing wrong with stories, but they're just not good evidence."

Radford has debunked numerous stories about the Loch Ness monster, crop circles and Bigfoot.

He said he relies on evidence.

"You don't have bones, teeth," he continued. "You don't have any hard evidence, so you look to these stories, you look to these myths.

"We know from many scientific experiments people are notoriously unreliable about estimating things."

And in this case, Radford said he thinks Zander and the other witnesses in Texas overestimated the birds' size.

What makes the reports intriguing is that most experts agree scientists have yet to discover every species on the planet and really have no idea what is out there:

"I believe there's a good chance that a number of large prehistoric animals remain undiscovered by modern science." Gerhard said.

Radford readily concedes there are species yet to be discovered, but...

"Do I think there are giant animals and birds and creatures out there?" he said. "No."

For his part, Zander continues to keep his eyes on the skies but hasn't had a repeat visit from the creatures. The one experience has stayed with him.

"I feel honored to have seen the one sighting," he said. "I had if they're still up there still living up there and thriving, I say awesome, more power to them."


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Jeffrey Gonzalez of Sanger Paranormal forwarded the following accounts:


I received the following statements from three witnesses:

I have a cousin, who is a teacher, state that he was driving home from Fresno, CA to Sanger, CA on North Ave. when something hit the top of his car. He slowed down then came to a complete stop. He looked in his rear view mirror and noticed this 'thing' on the road behind him. The 'thing' got up and stood on two legs...then he told me he saw 2 wings. It reminded him of the movie 'Jeeper Creepers' He said it scared the $%#& out of him and he drove home at at high rate of speed, not stopping at stop signs. He has no clue on what it was. This occurred in 2008.

Another minor incident took place in 2006. Two neighbors were talking outside one night in the rural country east of Fresno. They heard what sounded like something flying overhead with large wings...a flapping of wings, but they did not see anything.

Again, another report east of Fresno. This happened to a friend of mine when he was in high school around 1955. He was helping his dad in his garage working on a vehicle when his friends showed up in an El Camino. They asked him if he wanted to go to the old bridge and mess around. This was at night but he could not because he had to help his dad. His friends took off and an hour later they came back to his garage screaming with fright...they told his father and him what happened. They were on the bridge messing around when they heard something fly over them. It sounded like it had large wings. This 'thing' was swooping down on them and they all freaked out, climbed in the El Camino and as they were driving away, this thing grabbed a hold of the back of the El Camino but was able to out run it. When they got back, my friend and his dad thought they were drinking and smoking some stuff so they decided to check the back of the vehicle. They noticed claw marks on the back. My friend knew these were real because the owner of the El Camino took pride in his car and he would never let anyone scratch his car like that. They never went back to that bridge.


The following is from Eyewitness Accounts: The Pterosaurs of Fresno County, California

One of the strangest newspaper stories from the latter years of the nineteenth century came from California. It began in the summer of 1891. Several persons from Fresno County were reported to have seen a pair of large flying creatures that resembled pterosaurs (being featherless, with reptilian snouts and fifteen foot wingspans).

The details were first published in the Selma, California, Enterprise, to which I don't currently have access, but it quickly spread to outlying newspapers. So, we can reconstruct the story from articles published by other newspapers.

First, the general details from corresponding newspapers:

"Dragons in California"

"A number of persons living in the vicinity of Reedley, Fresno County, Cal., all reputable citizens, too, according to a Chronicle correspondent, swear that they have seen and hunted two dragons with wings fifteen feet long, bodies without covering of hair or feathers, head broad, bills long and wide, eyes not less than four inches in diameter, and with feet like those of an alligator somewhat, though more circular in form.

They had five toes on each foot, with a strong claw on each, and its track is eleven inches wide and nineteen inches long.

These strange creatures were first seen southeast of Selma, on the night of July 11, and their peculiar cries and the rustling of their mammoth wings were heard as late as 10 o'clock, when all became still. The dragons were last heard that night crying in the direction of King's river.

"Two nights later, A. X. Simmons's poultry yard was visited by the monsters, many of the hens being bitten in two and left partly devoured. Those who examined the dead chickens say the teeth marks on them resemble those made by a very large dog.

On July 19 a carriage loaded with picnickers was returning from a picnic on Clark's bridge, and in the clear moonlight saw the monsters plainly circling in the air and heard the rush of their pinions, snapping of their jaws and fearful cries overhead.

On Monday, July 21, Harvey Lemon and Major Henry Haight, who live just outside of Selma, going after their hogs, who fed on the tules, heard a strangling noise in the deep swale under a bridge, and in a moment, with a heavy flapping of wings, the queer creatures rose slowly from the water, flying so close to the men that the wind from the tremendous wings was plainly felt.

Their description of the monsters tallies with that of the persons who saw them on the 13th and 19th." [sic] (Frederick, Maryland, News, August 11, 1891.)

A second paper adds the following details to the account: "After they had made several appearances a party was organized to hunt them. One of them was wounded and tracked several miles and his track in the mud secured." (Salem, Ohio, Daily News, October 24, 1891.)

Next, we have a newspaper writer who has some fun with the story:

"It is the silly season of an off year and the natural consequence is an unusually heavy crop of the summer story. Ever since Judge Widney discovered the remains of a bobtailed sea serpent at Redondo beach, which stimulated the celebrated Calaveras ophidian to swallow a sixteen inch iron drill and secrete himself in a bale of hay, the thing has been going from bad to worse.

On all sides frightful monsters of the sort that figure in the well worn controversy between science and religion are reported red with [ravin] and the blood of innocents. Fresno appears to be more than usually fertile of this sort of contribution to the lore of science.

It was there the famous stone man and later, the stone woman—presumably the man's wife—were discovered, and it is from there that we hear of the high handed outrages done by a brace of pterodactyls in the swamps near Selma.

We are told that the monsters were seen on a recent moonlight night by a party of young fellas returning from a dance, and as they flew through the air 'with a fearful rush of pinions' they uttered 'weird and discordant cries which were accompanied by snapping of jaws.'

A little later a Fresno county major, engaged in herding hogs in the tule, heard a 'strange strangling noise under a bridge.' In a moment there was a heavy flapping of wings and the two monsters rose from the water and flew so near the gallant officer that 'the wind from their wings was plainly felt.' He stood it like a major.

"The major describes the dragons as resembling birds without feathers. They have long and wide bills and wings not less than fifteen feet across. Their eyes are fully four inches in diameter, although as to this particular there is a grave suspicion that the major is describing his own fine eyes.

"The scientific investigators of Fresno were not to be daunted by anything that a mere major could tell them and they made up a party to pursue and if possible, bag the monsters. Having arrived at the scene they took the wise precaution to dig holes in the ground in which they hid, no doubt to avoid any appearance of intrusion on the revels of the dragons. What they saw is best described in their own words:

"The ominous yells drew nearer, and in a few moments we heard the rush and roar of wings, so hideous that our hair almost stood on end. The two dragons came swooping down and circled round and round the pond in rapid whirls, screaming hideously all the while.

We had a good view of them while flying. Two or three times they passed within a few yards of us, and their eyes were plainly visible. We could also see that instead of bills like birds, they had snouts resembling that of the alligator, and their teeth could be seen as they snapped their jaws while passing us.

"At length they came down with a fearful plunge into the pond, and the mud and water flew as though a tree had fallen into it. "They dived and floundered around in the water, and as nearly as we could judge at the distance of thirty yards, they were about six feet long, and while wading in the water they looked not unlike gigantic frogs.

Their wings were folded and appeared like large knobs on their backs. Their eyes were the most visible parts, and seemed all the time wide open and staring.

"They were very active, and darted about among the tules and rushes catching mudhens. One of these fowl was devoured at two or three clamps of the jaws.

"This cannot be other than the offspring of the famous cross between the bulldog and the window shutter. But the wise men of Fresno are agreed in believing them to be two of the Mistakes of Moses.

"They fired a shot at the monsters, but did not insist on further hostilities. Professor Snodgrass of Selma, however, with remarkable intrepidity and at some personal risk succeeded in capturing one of their footprints in the mud, which he dug out and brought home to confound the unbeliever. The footprints have five toes and a strong claw on each.

They are eleven inches wide and nineteen inches long. The theory that this was the impression of a Fresno girl's foot is rejected by Professor Snodgrass, although his reasoning is not at all conclusive on this point. Nevertheless, his explanation of the phenomenon is most interesting to the scientific student. I quote:

"The most probable solution of the matter is that these dragons are solitary specimens of some geological animal supposed to be extinct. It most nearly fits the description of the pterodactyl, a weird nocturnal vampire, half bat, half lizard, that infested the vast swamps of the earth in the carboniferous age.

The pterodactyl is described by geologists as attaining a size often four times as large as the eagle, while the bill became a snout, and its mouth was set with ghastly teeth that devoured birds, reptiles and all small animals that came in its way.

"The professor does not explain whether the footprint was left by the half bat or the half lizard, but it is understood that in Fresno scientific circles the bat comes first and the lizard is seen later. Some of them see jackass rabbits, but it is always the same old prehistoric bat." (Extract from: Edward F. Cahill. "The Animals. Splayfooted Monsters of Fresno." Oakland, California, Tribune. August 8, 1891.)

This is followed by general notes or witticisms in various papers:

"The Selma pterodactyls have taken their place alongside of the wild man of Kings river canyon and both should be buried in that icy grave of the mountain suicide, with the Chronicle's learned editorial on the paleozoic monsters thereon as a winding sheet." (Fresno, California, Weekly Republican, August 7, 1891.)

"Those Selma Dragons.

"What is said about them at home. "The Selma Enterprise, which first gave currency to the dragon story, now has the following on the subject:

"'The Enterprise's article on the pterodactyl monster has been copied far and wide by nearly every newspaper in the country. The writer, quite naturally, has been called a liar, 4,000,000 times the last two weeks, and we are prone to believe that were there are so many of one mind, the majority must rule.

But an explanation is in order. This is how it came about. The writer, a literary man from near Sauders, like all literary men, undertook at a recent picnic to drink up all the refreshments and ice cream on the grounds.

"'After a lively time on the green he took a refreshing snooze near the labyrinthean precincts of the Rockwell marsh, solitary and alone. Awaking, his normal condition compelled him to imbibe freely of the waters of the stagnant pool, after which he sank into a slumber, interspersed with dreams of fairy land, pterodactyls, hades and damnation.

The next day he recalled with vivid reality his experience in dreamland and readily, with fluent pen, added it to his stock of literary manuscripts. It was sent in with instructions for the Enterprise editor to look over and pronounce upon it.

The foreman took it to be a correspondence from a regular contributor and ordered it printed; hence this apology. But subsequent events prove that in the vast intellectual area of this state and especially this county, there are more downright liars than you can shake a stick at.

"'Nearly every paper which printed a rehash of the monster business added a few flourishes of its own until now we have a whole drove of pterodactyls who threaten to depopulate the country. A Fresno liar sent a column and a half to the San Francisco Chronicle, which is a rank steal from the literary man over near Sanders on his pterodactyl.

Another Selma fabricator was solicited to send a thousand words on the monster, but his courage failed him and the Examiner got left, while the yell of the newsboys, "All about the Great Monster," was profitable music to the ears of the Chronicle publishers.

[Hereon] when our contributors volunteer contributions about monsters, serpents and reptiles we want them to distinctly understand that no ordinary pterodactyl yarn goes. We want a real genuine flock of icthyosaurous or nothing.'" (Fresno, California, Daily Morning Republican, August 11, 1891.)

"Our scientific contemporary speaks of 'the overlapping of geological epicycles.' This lapping is supposed to have produced the pterodactyls of Selma. That's pretty good, but Harry Watson will be amused." (Fresno, California, Weekly Republican, August 14, 1891.)

"The Tulare County Times thus quietly pokes fun of the Chronicle and its story of the Selma dragons: 'The dragons found near Selma, Fresno county, of which much has been written within the last week or two, are not dragons at all, but simply two Australian birds known in their native country as Boa.

They are a very destructive species and have not been hibernating in the "vast tule swamps of Tulare county," as the San Francisco Chronicle puts it, for the reason that there are no such swamps in this county.

The birds were imported to this country by the Kaweah colonists, at great expense, and were expected to work their destructive arts on the government horses and mules in the Sequoia national park, but having been ordered "off the grass" in that section by a United States [herd] agent, wandered into Fresno county in search of something green.

As they are working toward San Francisco, the Chronicle editor will do well to keep indoors.'" (also, Fresno, California, Weekly Republican, August 14, 1891.) "What has become of the pterodactyls?" (Fresno, California, Weekly Republican, August 28, 1891.) Like so many reports of mystery animals, there were no additional sightings and interest died down. For the next few years, though, the pterosaur story became part of a running gag among regional newspapers.

"A San Bernardino man with the d.t.'s has seen a monster twenty times as large as J. B. Daniels' pterodactyl." (Fresno, California, Bee, June 5, 1892.)

In speaking of a yarn involving a November field of wheat and poppies, one paper declares, "This takes the stocking off old man Maxwell and his pterodactyl story." (Fresno, California, Bee, December 4, 1892.)

Then, a pseudonymous writer (Consomme), describes in a letter to the editor some of the strange fauna of Fresno county, including: "First—the pterodactyl, of Fresno dragon (latin, dragonis alligatis wingis), found only in the neighborhood of Selma, is a reprehensible, hirsute winged alligator. In size about equal to the common 2-year-old Durham heifer.

Is carnivorous and lives mostly on mud hens and the spawn of the house cat. It has an elongated body covered with fur like the sealskin of commerce. A tail similar to the musk-ox. Its most curious feature is a pair of bat-like wings growing out of the middle of its back and from twenty to thirty feet in length.

"The animal's head is almost exactly like that of the alligator. Its mouth is armed with eight rows of teeth about three inches in length. It is supposed to be the descendent of the ancient pterodactyl, crossed with the gnu or horned horse, known to have once been common in these parts. It can be tamed and is very useful, when chloroformed and its wings clipped, as its fur is as fine as the fur-bearing seal, while its pedal extremities (it has legs like those of the wolf) are a great delicacy, highly prized by the natives of Selma." (Extract from Fresno, California, Weekly Republican, December 23, 1892.)

"Editor Dewey of the Sanger Herald, was in Fresno yesterday. He says the quality of Sanger's whisky has improved and no more pterodactyls are seen there now." (Fresno, California, Bee, October 3, 1893.)

"A committee of the board of supervisors, accompanied by County Surveyor Hoxie and N. L. F. Bachman of The Republican, left Fresno yesterday morning on route to the Sequoia mills, where they will view the new mountain road completed there, with the object of determining whether it has been constructed according to contract. ... Bachman is on a tour of adventure, and is expected to slaughter a grizzly or capture a pterodactyl alive ere he returns." (Fresno, California, Weekly Republican, November 17, 1893.)

"C. J. Walker is here from the town of the pterodactyls." (Fresno, California, Weekly Republican, October 5, 1894.) "This is a great county for productiveness. It produces raisins, grain and pterodactyls for the rest of the world. ..." (Fresno, California, Bee, November 20, 1894.)

At present, the story shows certain hallmarks of classic newspaper fiction, but whether this is due to embellishments as the story passed from paper to paper is uncertain. Without seeing the original story, I can't rule out the possibility that the initial sighting was based on misidentification of a known bird species (e.g., sandhill crane).

The description sounds too much like an early paleontologist's imaginative recreation to be given serious consideration as a "living pterosaur." It was easy enough for an enterprising writer to make up a story with details like five-toed feet and large eyes from Cuvier's work or other commonly published material. (And, often, that's what they did, even with non-fiction "scientific" essays.)

It would be interesting to track down the original Enterprise story; it should answer a few questions. The trouble with newspaper research is access—and this one is not yet online. (If anyone lives near Selma, California, the public library there should have it on microfilm. I'd appreciate a copy.)

One name in the above notes is of particular interest, though there is little to go on for definitive conclusions. J. B. Daniels was a local real estate agent who earned the nickname "Pterodactyl" Daniels. At this point, I don't know whether he was responsible for the original story (as witness or writer), or just began telling tall tales related to the pterodactyl story. (I suspect he was the pseudonymous Consomme.)

Whatever the connection, within a few years of this event, Daniels ran afoul of the law with some real estate dealings and disappeared, just like the pterodactyls of Fresno County, California.

Pterosaurs: A Global Phenomenon

Fortean / Oddball News - 8/14/2010

Stingrays Invade South Padre Island, Texas...100+ People Injured

krgv - Authorities on South Padre Island say they have received reports of at least 100 people being injured by stingrays within the past four days.

The South Padre Island fire chief states calm water brings the stingrays closer to shore.

Burney Baskett says, “When the water gets calm, they tend to come in. This just happens to be the right time of year, the right type of weather conditions. And we just had a lot of people on the beach, and, you know, good season for stingrays apparently.”

Baskett explains the stingrays attack when they're stepped on. He tells us there are simple things you can do to protect yourself. “Instead of walking like you normally walk, you need to shuffle your feet and just scoot them along on the sand," he explains.

The fire chief says this will alert stingrays that someone is approaching, so they can get out of the way.

He adds as long as the waves are calm, stingrays may be hanging out along the shore with the rest of us.

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Lightning Strikes 13-Year-Old Boy at 13:13 on Friday the 13th

dailymail - For some people 13 is an unlucky number.

St John Ambulance volunteers improved the luck of a 13-year-old boy when they treated him after he was struck by lightning - at 13:13 on Friday 13.

The boy was struck at Lowestoft Seafront Air Festival today, Firday 13th, and it was only while the ambulance team was treating him that they noticed the time - 1.13pm.

The unnamed buy suffered a minor burn and was taken to James Paget Hospital, where he is expected to make a full recovery.

Two other people have been treated at the event today for lightning strikes - they were all holding umbrellas at the time.

Rex Clarke, who leads the team of St John Ambulance volunteers at the event, said: ‘There’d been very heavy rain all day, but this afternoon we saw a big flash of lightning over the sea and a loud clap of thunder.

'We got a call that someone had been struck by lightning so we immediately sent our paramedics to the scene, followed by an ambulance. Lightning strikes can cause cardiac arrest, but when our volunteers arrived the boy was conscious and breathing.

'We treated two more injuries from lightning burns in the space of twenty minutes - all three people were holding umbrellas at the time, which acts as a conductor for electricity.'

Clive James, first aid expert at St John Ambulance, says: ‘The biggest risk of a lightning strike is that it could stop the heart and breathing.

'If this happens, you need to start CPR immediately and call for an ambulance. Other likely effects are burns - which happened in this case - or injuries from being knocked down by the force.

'If the person can walk, move away from the area immediately as lightning can strike in the same place.’

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Cancer-Curing Tree Claims Aussie 'Farmer Ray'


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"It has actions that will kill cancer cells. It kills bacteria. It sedates. It's a sedative"

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Pennsylvania Woman Receives 21 Years of House Arrest in Order to Repay Theft

townhall - An office manager who admitted stealing $475,000 from her employer has been sentenced to 21 years of house arrest so she can work to repay it.

Lanette Sansoni's unusual sentence came after her ex-boss said he was more interested in restitution than jail time, her lawyer said.

"This was just a creative compromise," defense attorney A. Charles Peruto Jr. said Thursday. "I think it will encourage her to pay it off, so the judge was pretty smart about it."

Peruto, a veteran defense lawyer in the region, guessed the two-decade term may be a record for house arrest in Pennsylvania. State officials could not immediately confirm that.

Sansoni, 40, has repaid about $275,000 after selling her home in Warminster, just north of Philadelphia, and moving in with her mother. She will remain on house arrest until the remaining $200,000 is repaid to Kenneth Slomine, who owned JRS Settlement Services, a title company in Lower Moreland Township.

Montgomery County Judge Joseph A. Smyth on Wednesday set a payment schedule of $750 a month, which works out to about 21 years.

Sansoni can leave home to work but could go to jail if the payments stop. She has a job paying $700 a week, Peruto said, but he wouldn't disclose what it is.

Prosecutors had argued for incarceration for Sansoni, who also served as a title clerk at JRS before it went bust because of her theft.

"This is a case that just cried out for jail time," said Assistant District Attorney Steven Bunn, who called Sansoni's crimes "egregious."

"She's not stealing to make ends meet," Bunn said. "She was buying luxury vacations, designer handbags, designer jewelry, and basically living the high life while this company went under."

Sansoni earned $60,000 a year plus benefits managing Slomine's small family business. About six people lost their jobs when the company closed, including Slomine and his wife and son.

Sansoni began working for the company in 2003 and started skimming from various accounts three years later. She used the proceeds to pay off several credit cards, including nearly $17,000 racked up on her daughter's card and nearly $47,000 on her mother's account, said Slomine's lawyer, Gregg Cotler.

The credit card company raised the first red flags about the possible fraud, said Cotler, who called Sansoni's sentence "unusual."

"He (Slomine) was conflicted by the fact that if she were to serve an extended sentence, that would mean she wasn't working and generating money and wasn't able to pay the money back," Cotler said.

Peruto said he expects Sansoni to pay off the debt early and be released from house arrest.

"I wouldn't be shocked," he said, "if it was paid off in a couple of years."

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Rabid Vampire Bats Have Bitten Over 500 People in Peru

Peru's health ministry has sent emergency teams to a remote Amazon region to battle an outbreak of rabies spread by vampire bats. Four children in the Awajun indigenous tribe died after being bitten by the bloodsucking mammals.

Health workers have given rabies vaccine to more than 500 people who have also been attacked. Some experts have linked mass vampire bat attacks on people in the Amazon to deforestation. The rabies outbreak is focused on the community of Urakusa in the north-eastern Peruvian Amazon, close to the border with Ecuador.

The indigenous community appealed for help after being unable to explain the illness that had killed the children. The health ministry said it had sent three medical teams to treat and vaccinate people who had been bitten.

Most of the affected population had now been vaccinated, it said, although a few had refused treatment. Vampire bats usually feed on wildlife or livestock, but are sometimes known to turn to humans for food, particularly in areas where their rainforest habitat has been destroyed. Some local people have suggested this latest outbreak of attacks may be linked to the unusually low temperatures the Peruvian Amazon in recent years.

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Super Cell Storm


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A massive super cell storm quickly closes in over a Helsinki, Finland beach.

Fortean / Oddball News - 8/14/2010

Friday, August 13, 2010

The Mothman Cometh: John Keel's Reports

The following are the Mothman humanoid / cryptid encounter reports collected by ufologist John Keel (The Mothman Prophecies) two years prior to the Silver Bridge collapsed on December 15, 1967. The bridge connected the towns of Point Pleasant, West Virginia and Gallipolis, Ohio over the Ohio River. Some of these reports are not from the area of the bridge collapse but seem to describe a similar entity. As well, some of the reports are from the general area of the bridge collapse but describe entities other than a Mothman-like being. Not all of these accounts were contained in The Mothman Prophecies. Can these reports be related to the Mothman phenomenon?

- Gallipolis, Ohio - early 1966 - night: A woman who lived in a farm had reported her cattle being mutilated by unknown assailants. One night she went out armed with a shotgun to investigate and encountered several tall men wearing white coveralls. She chased them but they ran very fast and were able to easily jump over the fences.

- Point Pleasant, West Virginia - March 1966 - daytime: A "reliable woman" said that she had observed a silver disc hovering above a Point Pleasant school. A male figure in a tight fitting silver coverall was "standing" (floating) outside the open door of the object in midair, gazing intently into the school playground. He had pointed features and shoulder-length hair. A similar object, she said, landed sometime later in the yard behind her home, and was witnessed by her teenaged children. A similar being was seen in this occasion as well.

- Salt Lake City, Utah - July 18, 1966: Residents of this Mormon community reported seeing a bird "about as big as a Piper Cub airplane" circle the area. Some people ran for cover while others ran for their telephones.

- Scott, Mississippi - September 1 1966 - 2:00pm: Mrs James Ikart reported seeing what looked like a man fluttering about the sky. Several other people also said they had seen it. No other information.

- Point Pleasant, West Virginia - November 1 1966: A national guardsman saw a large brownish man-shaped figure on the limb of a tree. No other information.

- Gallipolis, Ohio - November 2, 1966 - 8:00pm: The witness was out behind her building getting ready to go home when there was a sudden flash directly above her. A large cylinder shape object then appeared and landed on the nearby parking lot. The object was completely silent and the witness was unable to move as two men descended from the object and walked towards her. The men were normal looking but heavily tanned with pointed noses, pointed chins, and high cheekbones, they wore coverall like uniforms. They asked the witness several mundane questions using a singsong high-pitched voice; they then walked back to their craft, which took off at high speed. The witness lived in a farm and had been having problems with missing cattle around the same time.

- Near Parkersburg, West Virginia - November 2, 1966 - night: Two men traveling by car on highway 77 watched an elongated object descend from the sky directly in front of their vehicle. They stopped the car and saw a man emerged from the object and walk over to them. The man was human looking and was grinning broadly. He was wearing a black coat and kept his arms folded out of sight under his armpits. The black-garbed stranger asked them several pointless questions before returning to the dark cylinder shaped craft, which quickly rose and disappeared into the sky. This incident occurred on the same night as the Woodrow Derenberger contact-landing case in the same general area.

- Clendenin, West Virginia - November 12, 1966 - daytime: Five men were digging a grave in a cemetery near Clendenin when something that looked like "a brown human being" fluttered from some nearby trees & maneuvered low over their heads. It was in sight for about a minute.

- Salem, West Virginia - November 14, 1966 - 10:30pm: Newell Partridge was sitting at home when suddenly the TV blanked out. A real fine herringbone pattern appeared on the tube, and at the same time the set started a loud whining noise, winding up to a high pitch, peaking and breaking off, as if you were on a musical scale. It sounded like a generator winding up. Outside on the porch, his dog Bandit began wailing. Partridge picked up a flashlight and went outside to investigate. The dog was sitting at the end of the porch, howling down toward the hay barn in the bottom. Partridge shined the light in that direction, and it picked up two red circles, or eyes, which looked like bicycle reflectors. There was something about the eyes that was difficult to explain. The eyes were huge, plainly visible at a distance of 150 yards. As soon as the flashlight picked out the "eyes" Bandit snarled and ran toward them. A "cold chill" swept over the man and he felt a wave of fear, which kept him from following the dog. That night he slept with a loaded gun beside his bed. The next day he went looking for his dog. They found tracks. At the approximate position of the "eyes" he found a large number of dog tracks. The tracks were going in a circle, as if the dog had been chasing his tail. Then the tracks vanished, the dog was never seen again.

- Point Pleasant, West Virginia - November 16, 1966 - 9:00pm: Mr. & Mrs Raymond Wamsley & Mrs Marcella Bennett were driving to the house of Ralph Thomas, they saw a big red light maneuvering over the TNT dump area. When they arrived & gout out, a "big gray thing bigger than a man, with glowing red eyes" rose up from the ground. They ran into the house, but the creature shuffled onto the porch & peered into windows. It was gone by the time police arrived.

- Point Pleasant, West Virginia - November 16, 1966 - midnight: Mr. & Mrs Steve Mallette & Mr. & Mrs Roger Scarberry reported that their car was followed about midnight by a gray "bird like creature" 6-7 ft tall with a 10 foot wingspan. When the car headlights struck, its eyes, 2" in diameter, glowed red. It finally scurried into a field and disappeared.

- Cheshire, Ohio - November 17, 1966 - night: On Route 7, a gray man shaped creature with red eyes & a 10-foot wingspread pursued a boy's car. No other information.

- Point Pleasant, West Virginia - November 18, 1966 - night: Capt. Paul Yoder & B Enochs saw a huge bird like creature, with big red eyes, in the TNT dump area. No other information.

- Campbell's Creek, West Virginia - November 20, 1966: Six teenagers saw a gray man sized creature with red eyes flying over the area. No other information.

- Charleston, West Virginia - November 21, 1966 - 10:15pm: Richard West called police to report that a "batman" was sitting on a roof next to his house. "It looks like a man 6 ft tall & has a wingspread of 6-8 ft," he said. "It had great big red eyes. It flew straight up like a helicopter.

- Point Pleasant, West Virginia - November 24, 1966 - 7:15am: Mr. Thomas Ury was driving home in daylight when the "Mothman," a bird-like creature 6 ft tall and with a 10 ft wing spread, circled over his car. He speeded up to 70-75 mph, but it kept up with him. He had been in the area of the TNT dumpsite.

- Point Pleasant, West Virginia - November 24, 1966 - night: Mary Myer, a reporter, saw the glowing red eyes of the "Mothman" when she visited an abandoned power plant in Point Pleasant, where it had been seen before.

- St. Albans, West Virginia - November 26, 1966 - evening: Mrs Ruth Foster saw the "Mothman" standing on her front lawn. It was about 6 ft tall and had a "funny little face" with "big red eyes that popped out." She screamed and ran into the house.

- New Haven, West Virginia - November 27, 1966 - 10:30am: Miss Connie Carpenter saw the "Mothman," a tall figure in gray, standing on a golf course. It unfolded 10-foot wings & flew directly at her windshield; she saw its red eyes; then it veered off & disappeared. Her eyes were red, swollen, & itchy for 2 weeks afterwards.

- St. Albans, West Virginia - November 27, 1966 - night: 13-year old Sheila Cain and her sister were walking home when they saw a being standing by the road; it was 7 ft tall, and gray & white with big red eyes. They screamed & ran home; it flew low over them.

- Gallipolis, Ohio - December 4, 1966 - 3:00pm: At the Gallipolis Airport, 5 pilots saw what at first they took for an airplane. It was a winged form about 300 ft up, traveling at 70 mph without flapping its wide wings; it had a long neck & was turning its head from side to side.

- Point Pleasant, West Virginia - December 6, 1966 - night: Two adults, one a high school teacher, were driving near the local TNT dump site when they saw a giant gray man like figure with glowing red eyes.

- Near Gallipolis, Ohio - December 7, 1966 - night: Four women driving on Route 33 saw a brownish silver man-shaped flying creature with glowing red eyes. No other information.

- Point Pleasant, West Virginia - January 11, 1967 - daytime: Mrs Park McDaniel was outside her home when she saw what she first took to be a small plane approaching; as it drew closer she saw it was man-shaped and had wings. The creature swooped low over the witness and circled above a nearby building before going out of sight.

- Point Pleasant, West Virginia - Spring 1967 - various: Several local residents saw three very tall, dark complexioned men in the area. These men knocked on doors late at night, purportedly selling magazines. They spoke fluent unaccented English and were described as "good-looking" with heavily tanned skin. Their height and broadness impressed the witnesses the most. These men were always on foot; apparently they did not have a car.

- Bogle Ridge, West Virginia - March 1967 - late night: A man and a woman were out parked in an isolated area "sky watching" when they saw a group of red, green and white lights descend from the sky and land in a nearby gully. Moments later there was a bright flash of light and the man's face began tingling. He then heard voices outside the car and there was a sudden knock on the car window. Outside they both saw a man holding a red light standing by the car. Using mental telepathy the strange figure asked the male witness several questions then told him to leave the car, the witness was then led off into the darkness. Several personal items were missing from the witness upon returning to the vehicle.

- Point Pleasant, West Virginia - March 1967 - late night: 16-year old Linda Lilly woke up one night and saw a large figure towering over her bed. "It was a man," she said. " A big man. Very broad. I couldn't see his faced very well but I could see that he was grinning at me." Linda got up from bed with a terrible scream. She cried out there was a man in her room. "He walked around the bed and stood right over me". Linda declared, "I screamed again and hid under the covers, when I looked again he was gone." She then ran into her mother's room. When asked for a full description of the man, Linda said she thought he had been wearing "a checkered shirt". Around the same time, her mother, Doris Lilly began to receive strange phone calls at home. Each evening around 1700 her phone would ring, and when she answered she heard only a bizarre metallic voice speaking in an incomprehensible language. It was guttural and rapid. These calls came only when she was alone.

- Near Chief Cornstalk Hunting Grounds, West Virginia - April 1967 - night: On a rainy night a man was driving along Route 2 when a large black form rose from the woods and flew over his car. "It was at least ten feet wide," he claimed. He stepped on the gas but it kept right up with him at about 70 mph. It then moved ahead of him and turned toward the river.

- Near Gallipolis Ferry, West Virginia - April 7, 1967 - 11:15pm: Mabel McDaniel, John Keel, and two other women went to a hill, when they spotted the usual reddish glow on a nearby hill. A second one popped up a short distance from the first. Keel flashed his light at them but nothing happened. So he climbed a fence and walked into a field to try to get a closer look. As he crossed the field he suddenly noticed a pale bluish ball of light hovering high in the trees of an orchard behind the nearby farmhouse. The light moved about from tree to tee as though it were following Keel's movements. He flashed his light at it and it flared with a dazzling brilliance, dimmed, and vanished. The lights on the southern ridge also brightened for a moment and then went out. Coming back to the car, Keel found all three women in a very frightened state. Later they related how they had seen a very tall man in the field, which climbed over a fence then crossed behind their vehicle. Terrified they locked the doors and ran the windows up.

- Near Point Pleasant, West Virginia - October 1967 - night: Three men driving along Route 2 sighted a tall broad shouldered dark caped man walking besides the road. They stopped and looked back but the figure had disappeared. There were open fields on both sides of the road.

- Point Pleasant, West Virginia - November 2, 1967 - late night: A woman working in her kitchen heard a loud squeaking sound coming from outside, she looked out and saw a huge shadow spreading across the grass, and then a figure described as tall, man-shaped, and gray in color appeared. It glided quickly across a field and disappeared into the woods.

- Point Pleasant, West Virginia - December 22, 1967 - late afternoon: Soon after the local Silver Bridge had tragically collapsed killing dozens, Mary Hyre, a local newspaper stringer sat in her office sifting through the list of casualties, when two strangers walked in the office. They seemed almost like twins, both were short, with dark complexions, & somewhat Oriental in appearance. Both wore black overcoats. They seemed only interested on the UFO activity in the area and asked several peculiar questions, including: "What would you do if someone did order you to stop writing about flying saucers?" Mrs Hyre did not see them leave. Later that afternoon another stranger walked into the office. He was slightly built, about five feet-seven inches tall, with black piercing eyes and unruly black hair. His complexion was even darker that the previous two visitors & he also looked Oriental. His hands were especially unusual, with unduly long tapering fingers. He wore a cheap looking ill-fitting suit, and his tie was knotted in an odd fashion way. He did not wear an overcoat, despite the fierce cold outside. He spoke in a peculiar stammering monotone and argued with Mrs Hyre about UFO's. He soon left and later visited the home of several local witnesses.

NOTE: What is the Mothman? Is it a terrestrial being...a hybrid...an alien...or an angel? Were the point Pleasant sightings a form of mass hysteria? Who were the strange men roaming around the town? I have my theory but I hesitate to state it...at least for now. Lon

The Mothman Cometh: John Keel's Reports

Ancestral Spirits Still Reside In Gothic House

whtimes - The pen is mightier than the sword – an iconic proverb coined by Victorian novelist, poet and playwright Edward Bulwer-Lytton in 1839.

It’s a phrase which makes regular appearances to this very day; just like its creator, the ghost of whom is said to haunt the gothic Times Territory stately home where he once lived.

Lord David Cobbold, the great-great-grandson of Bulwer-Lytton, made the revelation about Knebworth House on the BBC Radio 4 show Desert Island Discs.

The 73-year-old told how he hears the whispers of his ancestor and other spectres on the estate, which has been home to the Lytton family since 1490.

“I hear them and feel their presence but my wife sees them,” he said.

“I have the feeling that Bulwer-Lytton is still there.”

Lord Cobbold, who established Knebworth’s tradition of hosting rock concerts back in the 1970s, added: “It’s the spirit of the house.

“You just feel that this is a rather special place to be.”

Born in London in May 1803, Edward Bulwer-Lytton attended Cambridge University before becoming a Member of Parliament and a prolific novelist.

His many popular books include The Caxtons and The Last Days of Pompeii.

He was created Baron Lytton of Knebworth in 1866 and died at Torquay, in Devon, in 1873.

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The Legends of Knebworth House, Hertfordshire


Victorian novelist, poet and playwright Edward Bulwer-Lytton

Knebworth has a number of legends and ghost stories, it was home to Sir Bulwer Lytton, the Victorian author with an avid interest in the occult. He was certainly involved with many people who were major players in occult thought from that time, including Eliphas Levi, the famous French Magus who visited Knebworth on several occasions. Bulwer invited the famous medium Daniel Dunglass Home to Knebworth, they held a séance with a group of friends, which is said to have resulted in some strange phenomena.

Edward Bulwer-Lytton had strong ties with the house so it is not surprising to find that his presence is still felt there. His study remains much as it was when he was alive and visitors speak of strange uneasy feelings when they are in there. This feeling pervades both the study and the adjoining drawing room and is so strong that cleaning staff refuse to work there on their own.

An older tradition suggests that the house is haunted by a radiant or yellow boy, a spirit attached to the Lytton family and a relatively common ghost of old families and family castles. The appearance of the boy is said to foretell a rise to power but a violent death. Lord Castlereagh is said to have been the last one to see him, the spectre drew its fingers across its throat in front of him. In 1822 Lord Castlereagh committed suicide by cutting his own throat.

The house is also said to be haunted by the noise of spinning, said to originate from a spirit called Spinning Jenny who was locked away in a room to keep her from a lover of low birth. According to Jennifer Westwood in her scholarly book 'Albion' Paladin, 1987, the story was invented around 1800 by a Miss James, a guest at a Christmas party. As the story goes, Jenny Spinner was a young girl who was working on the estate in the 18th Century. For reasons unknown she was imprisoned in Knebworth House's east wing (no longer standing) with nothing to do but spin yarn for cloth. The grounds for her imprisonment are unclear but it is popularly believed in the village that one of Lytton's wily forebears locked the girl up after she fell pregnant with his child. The scandal that a love child would have caused was enough to ensure that poor Jenny Spinner was locked away. Ask a local and they will tell you that Jenny went mad and died in her room.

The story, as with all good tales of ghouls and goblins, does not end there. Since her death, the sound of a spinning wheel can sometimes be heard throughout the halls of Knebworth House. The news the spinning portends is not good, for it is said that when spinning is heard the death of a Lytton is imminent.

Other ghosts include a girl with long blond hair who haunts the Queen Elizabeth room. Recently an American guest woke to find the girl leaning over her. She may be the same ghost that haunts the picture gallery and has occasionally been seen though no one knows who she is.

The house and the grounds are well worth a visit, a nearby wooded area has some Bronze Age round barrows, evidence of older occupation in the area.

Sources:
www.questforghosts.com
www.whtimes.co.uk
www.mysteriousbritain.co.uk
www.bbc.co.uk
www.litgothic.com


Ancestral Spirits Still Reside In Gothic House

Fortean / Oddball News - 8/13/2010


The Age of Austerity Challenges Stonehenge

nytimesThe prehistoric monument of Stonehenge stands tall in the British countryside as one of the last remnants of the Neolithic Age. Recently it has also become the latest symbol of another era: the new fiscal austerity.

Renovations — including a plan to replace the site’s run-down visitors center with one almost five times bigger and to close a busy road that runs along the 5,000-year-old monument — had to be mothballed in June. The British government had suddenly withdrawn £10 million, or $16 million, in financing for the project as part of a budget squeeze.

Stonehenge, once a temple with giant stone slabs aligned in a circle to mark the passage of the sun, is among the most prominent victims of the government’s spending cuts. The decision was heavily criticized by local lawmakers, especially because Stonehenge, a Unesco World Heritage site, was part of London’s successful bid to host the 2012 Olympic Games.

The shabby visitors center there now is already too small for the 950,000 people who visit Stonehenge each year, let alone the additional onslaught of tourists expected for the Games, the lawmakers say.

“It’s a disgrace,” said Ian West, a Wiltshire councilor. “The visitor facilities are definitely not fit for purpose.”

Alan Brown, who was visiting from Australia this week, agreed. “They should really treat this site as the best prehistoric site,” Mr. Brown said. “There is so much more they could do to improve it.”

Stonehenge is the busiest tourist attraction in Britain’s southwest, topping even Windsor Castle. But no major improvements have been made to the facilities there since they were built 40 years ago.

For now, portable toilets lead from a crammed parking lot, via a makeshift souvenir shop in a tent, to a ticket office opposite a small kiosk that sells coffee and snacks.

The overhaul was scheduled for next spring. Plans by the architectural firm Denton Corker Marshall would keep the stone monument itself unchanged. But the current ticket office and shop would be demolished and a new visitors center would be built on the other side of the monument, about two and a half kilometers, or 1.5 miles, from the stones.

The center would include a shop almost five times the size of the current one, a proper restaurant, three times as many parking spots and an exhibition space to provide more information about Stonehenge’s history.

A transit system would shuttle visitors between the center and the stones while footpaths would encourage tourists to walk to the monument and explore the surrounding burial hills. The closed road would be grassed over to improve the surrounding landscape.

Last year, the £27 million project won the backing of former Prime Minister Gordon Brown. After more than 25 years of bickering with local communities about how and where to build the new center, planning permission was granted in January. Construction was supposed to start next year and be completed in time for the Olympics — but the economic downturn has changed those plans.

The new prime minister, David Cameron, has reversed many of his predecessor’s promises as part of a program to cut more than £99 billion annually over the next five years to help close a gaping budget deficit. The financing for Stonehenge fell in the first round of cuts, worth about £6.2 billion, from the budget for the current year, along with support for a hospital and the British Film Institute.

“We are frustrated and disappointed,” Peter Carson, head of Stonehenge, said, standing in a windowless office at the site surrounded by boxes filled with toys and other souvenirs from the gift shop. It is now unclear whether someone else may step in to pay for the new visitors center.

English Heritage, a partly government-financed organization that owns Stonehenge and more than 400 other historic sites in the country, is now aggressively looking for private donations. But the economic downturn has made the endeavor more difficult.

Gary Norman, a tourist from Phoenix, said it was obvious that the visitors center was too small, but he acknowledged that “right now, with a global recession, £10 million is a lot of money.”

Hunched over architectural renderings of the new center, Loraine Knowles, Stonehenge’s project director, said she was disappointed that the government had withdrawn money while continuing to support museums in London, like the Tate and the British Museum.

But Ms. Knowles said she was hopeful that English Heritage could raise the money elsewhere. Stonehenge, she said, could then also become “a shining example of how philanthropy could work.”

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Oregon's Monster Mushroom Is World's Biggest Living Thing

independent - The largest living organism ever found has been discovered in an ancient American forest.

The Armillaria ostoyae, popularly known as the honey mushroom, started from a single spore too small to see without a microscope. It has been spreading its black shoestring filaments, called rhizomorphs, through the forest for an estimated 2,400 years, killing trees as it grows. It now covers 2,200 acres (880 hectares) of the Malheur National Forest, in eastern Oregon.

The outline of the giant fungus stretches 3.5 miles (5.6 kilometres) across, and it extends an average of three feet (one metre) into the ground. It covers an area as big as 1,665 football fields.

The discovery came after Catherine Parks, a scientist at the Pacific Northwest Research Station in La Grande, Oregon, in 1998 heard about a big tree die-off from root rot in the forest east of Prairie City.

Using aerial photos, Ms Parks staked out an area of dying trees and collected root samples from 112. She identified the fungus through DNA testing. Then, by comparing cultures of the fungus grown from the 112 samples, she determined that 61 were from the same organism, meaning a single fungus had grown bigger than anything anyone had ever described before.

On the surface, the only evidence of the fungus are clumps of golden mushrooms that pop up in the autumn with the rain. "They are edible, but they don't taste the best," said Tina Dreisbach, a botanist and mycologist with the US Forest Service in Corvallis, Oregon. "I would put lots of butter and garlic on them."

Digging into the roots of an affected tree, something that looks like white latex paint can be seen. These are mats of mycelium, which draw water and carbohydrates from the tree to feed the fungus and interfere with the tree's absorption of water and nutrients. The long rhizomorphs that stretch into the soil invade tree roots through a combination of pressure and enzyme action.

In 1992, another Armillaria ostoyae was found in Washington state covering 1,500 acres, near Mount Adams, making it the largest known organism at the time.

"We just decided to go out looking for one bigger than the last claim," said Gregory Filip, associate professor of integrated forest protection at Oregon State University, and an expert in Armillaria. "There hasn't been anything measured with any scientific technique that has shown any plant or animal to be larger than this."

He said scientists want to learn to control Armillaria because it kills trees, but they also realise it has served a purpose in nature for millions of years.

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Silk 'Invisibility Cloak' Created By Scientists

telegraph - At the moment the cloak only works for light outside the visible spectrum, in the terahertz band between radio and infrared. But its developers, at Boston University and Tufts University, believe that it could be made to work at far smaller wavelengths, possibly even including visible light, according to Discovery News.

The researchers hope it will have applications in medical science, as well as opening the possibility of making people or objects invisible.

The "metamaterial" is made of silk covered in tiny gold structures, each a tiny spiral known as a "split ring resonator" or SSR. SSRs have fascinating effects on light - they can absorb, or reflect, all the light at a given wavelength, or bend that light around an object. The silk metamaterial has 10,000 SSRs per square centimetre.

Normally, terahertz waves would pass through silk unaffected. But the new meta-silk resonated when the light struck it.

Since silk is "biocompatible" - it doesn't spark an immune reaction when implanted in the human body - the meta-silk can be used widely in medicine. Fiorenzo Omenetto, one of the Tufts researchers, told Discovery: "This is an unusual angle for a metamaterial because of silk's ability to interface with the human body."

While the researchers say it could be used for Harry Potter-style invisibility cloaks for whole people, the medical angle is its most promising one. Radiologists could cloak organs in the material, allowing them to see past to the hidden parts behind. It could also be used as a blood glucose sensor for diabetes sufferers: as the levels of glucose change, so will the metamaterial. The change can be transmitted as radio (or other) waves and detected by a mobile phone.

Last year, British researchers at Imperial College London and the University of Southampton were given a £4.9 million grant to investigate metamaterials and their possible applications in medicine, defence, security and communication.

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Thousands Of Dead Fish Line Jersey Shore

nbcphiliadelphia - Tens of thousands of dead fish are lining the Jersey Shore -- as far as the eye can see -- beginning at High’s Beach along the Delaware Bay in Middle Township Wednesday.

“Once you figured out what it was, the smell hit you,” Flavia Scotto of Burlington, N.J. said about the bizarre fish kill.

Believed to be peanut bunker fish -- a bait fish -- each measures about three-inches long and they all appear to be the same species.

“It looked like a foam coming in and then I said, ‘Oh, a few fish,’ then, ‘No! It’s all fish,’” Christine Cummings said about her 7 a.m. walk on the beach Wednesday.

The thousands of stinky corpses washed up over night, as there was no sign of them Tuesday.

“It’s scary,” Cummings said. “We were swimming in this since last week and it was wonderful. Nice and clean.”

The N.J. Department of Environmental Protection has launched an investigation into the kill. Officials say initial water tests show no sign of toxic phytoplankton like red tide. They are still measuring oxygen levels.

While the DEP investigates, area residents and renters wait to see what explanation officials will have for them. But until then, they must hold their noses.

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California Surfer Films Great White Sharks Circling His Board

Me my Shark and I from Chuck Patterson on Vimeo


Click for video

With a video camera attached to a 9-foot pole, surfer Chuck Patterson filmed two huge great white sharks measuring 9-fet and 7-feet, respectively, circling beneath his surfboard in the waters off San Diego.

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Madness in the Fast Lane


Click for video 1

Click for video 2

Clcik for video 3

Click for video 4

In 2008, BBC cameras filmed two Swedish sisters throwing themselves into traffic on the M6. When it was shown on BBC One, nearly 7 million viewers were glued to their screens, and millions more watched it later on YouTube.

The footage was shocking. One previewer wrote "On no account miss this documentary. It opens with what is perhaps the most extraordinary footage I've seen on TV".

But this amazing footage was only part of an even more incredible story, one which could not be told at the time for legal reasons.

Now, two years later, this documentary reveals the full story of the hours just before the cameras captured that motorway footage, and the even more chilling story of what happened over next 72 hours, which left one of the sisters fleeing the scene of a crime, after she had stabbed a man through the chest.

Those who were at the centre of this fascinating legal case, including the police and Crown prosecution service, reveal the complex issues involved in both bringing charges and taking this disturbing case to trial.

A leading criminal psychiatrist, Dr. Nigel Eastman, explains the difficulties the judicial system has in achieving justice and deciding punishment when dealing with mental illness.

Fortean / Oddball News - 8/13/2010

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Fortean / Oddball News - 8/12/2010





Magnificent Auroras As Solar Storms Hit Earth

Every once in a while, the third rock from the Sun gets buffeted by a storm originating from its solar guardian. Energized particles rain down upon the Earth, and like water down a hill, flow down the planet’s magnetic field lines toward the Poles. As this deluge of particles collides with atoms in our atmosphere, light energy is released, and a rainbow of shimmering colors hangs over the ends of the Earth

Last week’s northern lights—which lasted a few days—were products of a large burst of plasma, or charged gas, from the sun known as a coronal mass ejection. A NASA orbiter called the Solar Dynamics Observatory saw last Sunday’s eruption, which was aimed directly at Earth and sparked predictions of a shimmering sky show.

Now it seems aurora fans may be in for another treat: A solar flare spotted Saturday by NASA’s Solar and Heliospheric Observatory was even more powerful than the previous eruption. Although this time the bulk of the plasma burst isn’t aimed right at Earth, scientists say it could still trigger another round of colorful auroras.

In the Northern Hemisphere, auroras are more commonly seen at high latitudes near the Arctic Circle, such as northern Alaska, Canada, and Scandinavia.

But scientists predicted that last Sunday’s strong burst would bring the light show to slightly lower parts of the globe. In fact, sky-watchers were snapping pictures of auroras as far south as Oslo, Lake Manitoba in Canada, and Lake Superior (map) in the United States.

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Factual Nazi Plot To Unleash Demonic Forces Inspire New Film

For a film about Nazi demons battling the Allies in World War II, The Devil's Rock contains a surprising amount of fact.

Director Paul Campion's first feature film is being shot in Wellington until August 21 at locations in Island Bay and Wrights Hill.

In the film, two Kiwi commandos, sent to the Channel Islands to destroy German gun emplacements and distract Hitler's forces away from Normandy, discover a Nazi occult plot to unleash demonic forces to win the war.

Campion said his script was inspired by real historical events.

"It is contrived around real events. The Channel Islands were the only British territory occupied by the Germans ... so the fortifications actually exist.

"And the book of black magic actually exists in the Channel Islands ... I found it in a vault, this gigantic 250-year-old book of black magic. But the demon's not real."

Campion said more witches were hanged in the Channel Islands than in any other part of Europe in medieval times, so the area had a supernatural heritage.

Neither Campion nor the New Zealand Film Commission would disclose the film's budget, saying only that it was a "low budget" production.

Campion has secured well-known Kiwi actors for the four lead roles, including Outrageous Fortune's Craig Hall, and Matthew Sunderland, who played mass murderer David Gray in Out of the Blue.

Weta Workshop has created the film's gory props, including half-devoured corpses. "There are not many extras because most of them are dead," Campion said.

Directing has been his dream career for years, but he said he was feeling the pressure over the movie's debut.

"It's definitely more nerves than excitement at the moment – I'll be excited when I'm sitting in the cinema."

His next project is a British sci-fi film called Further Instructions, about a family who wake on Christmas Day to find their house boarded up with steel, trapping them inside.

Campion is a former illustrator and effects artist who moved from London to Wellington to work for Weta Digital on the Lord of the Rings trilogy.

He stayed on and has since become a New Zealand citizen.

He has directed two award-winning short films, Night of the Hell Hamsters and Eel Girl. The Devil's Rock is scheduled for release early next year.

NOTE: 'Hellboy' anyone? Lon

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New Bearded Monkey Species Discovered

treehugger - Scientists Thomas Defler, Marta Bueno and Javier García have discovered a new species of monkey in the Caquetá region of southern Colombia. The region, which is part of the Amazon rainforest, had been inaccessible for years due to a violent insurgence.

The violence subsided three years ago, allowing García--a native of Caquetá--to explore the Colombian Amazon. Using a GPS to traverse the upper Caquetá River, García found 13 different groups of titi monkeys, which have a very complex call.

"This discovery is extremely exciting because we had heard about this animal, but for a long time we could not confirm if it was different from other titis. We now know that this is a unique species, and it shows the rich diversity of life that is still to be discovered in the Amazon," said Dr. Defler.

The Callicebus caquetensisis is about the size of a cat with grayish-brown hair, but is missing the white bar on its forehead common to other titis. It's most distinct feature is its bushy red beard. Unlike most primates, but common to all titis, they are monogamous with tightly knit families.

However, the news of this discovery is tarnished by the fact that the titi faces extinction. It is estimated that less than 250 Caquetá titi monkeys exist. A healthy population would be in the thousands. The dwindling population is due to deforestation as their habitat has been turned into agricultural land.

"This discovery is particularly important because it reminds us that we should celebrate the diversity of earth but also we must take action now to preserve it," said José Vicente Rodríguez, head of science at Conservation International in Colombia and president of the Colombia Association of Zoology. "When world leaders meet later this year in Japan for the Convention on Biological Diversity, they must commit to the creation of many more protected areas if we want to ensure the survival of threatened creatures like this in the Amazon and around the world."

With an extremely low population, the monkey should qualify as a critically endangered species according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

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Four Sisters Deliver Four Babies In Four Days


They call the maternity ward at Westlake Hospital in Melrose Park "The Family Birthplace" — and now for especially good reason. Three sisters delivered their babies at the hospital within hours of each other on Friday and Saturday, under the care of the same physician.

"It was a surprise for everyone," said Saby Pazos of Bellwood, who gave birth on Friday to a 7-pound, 8-ounce son, Abel Brian, a couple of hours before her sister, Leslie Pazos of Stone Park, delivered a 7-pound, 1-ounce girl, Ashley Mishell. The next day, third sister Lilian Sepulveda of Franklin Park joined her family at the hospital for the scheduled caesarean section birth of 8-pound, 3-ounce daughter Emily Marie.

"It's very unusual, but wonderful at the same time," said Dr. Jean Alexandre Jr., who saw each of the sisters from prenatal care to delivery. The triple family birth is a first for the 58-year-old community hospital, where 1,200 babies are delivered each year, said spokeswoman Molly Gaus.

At a news conference on Tuesday, the beaming sisters, who each have previous children, said they weren't trying to get pregnant at the same time but are delighted that the cousins will grow up together. The sisters' maternal connection is not limited to Melrose Park, either. A fourth sister, who lives in California, also had a baby on Monday — a boy, Jonathan, delivered by doctors there. "I couldn't make it to California," Alexandre joked.

Video Link

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Psychic Looking For Girl Finds Adult Remains

sky - A psychic trying to find a missing six-year-old girl in Australia has discovered a woman's torso in bushland.

The woman alerted police to the area in Sydney's west because she had a premonition about Kiesha Abrahams - the youngster who was reported missing 12 days ago.

A dismembered body was found near the edge of Eastern Creek at Doonside. The head, arms and legs are still missing.

The psychic told officers she had a feeling they would find something of interest in the area, especially relating to Kiesha.

"It's quite interesting that there's a woman and she had a sense or feeling it was worth her while to come to this particular part of the park," said Detective Chief Inspector Pamela Young.

"We're still exploring that, it's certainly an interesting proposition of hers."

A post-mortem investigation on the torso is under way and police believe it could be that of a woman missing for almost two months.

Officers are said to be contacting the relatives of Kristi McDougall, missing since June 19.

She vanished after telling friends she was on her way to the Ermington area of Sydney.

Kiesha was last seen by her mother Kirsti at the family home in Mount Druitt, western Sydney.

Mrs Abrahams and her partner Robert Smith have both been interviewed by police and deny any involvement in her disappearance.

Detectives investigating the case have said they were treating all the young girl's immediate family as suspects.

Fortean / Oddball News - 8/12/2010
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