; Phantoms and Monsters: Pulse of the Paranormal

Thursday, August 04, 2011

Just the Facts? - Illinois Lake Creature, Columbia Shuttle Debris Found and Rat Kills With Poison

Unknown Creature in Illinois Lake

I am not inclined to believe in the existence of the Loch Ness monster or the photos and sightings of blurred hairy creatures some call Big Foot. But I have to admit I am stumped when attempting to identify some mysterious beings that were very casually surfacing in the water of the east pond at Twin Lakes Park in Villa Park on Sunday.

I was at the Park at the north end of Ardmore to document the newest park playground equipment under construction when I noticed the water swirling in the pond. At first it appeared to be a large fish. Then I noticed another similar shape in the water several yards to the north. The two creatures were hovering just below the water’s edge and periodically breaking the surface sometimes in one place other times in two places. Both objects were alternating between moving and motionless. A few minutes after watching them I began to believe that they were turtles. Then the shapes became clearer and I could see that one of the creatures was at least 3 feet long.

If this being is a turtle or a fish in either case it will be the largest of either species I have seen in any lake, or pond. At times I thought the object was long and thin. Then the shadows from under the water appeared oval and shorter. As I tried to get the clearest view suddenly the creature swirled and created a large impulse in the water. The creature appear to dive a little then slowly rise to just below the surface again.

I took several photos with a telephoto lens and could not see clearly enough to make a decision of what it was. The second creature was no longer visible so I focused only on one for several minutes. It stayed at least 75 feet from the shoreline - and almost in the same spot I first noticed it. So getting closer to the water would be of no benefit.

I started to scan the rest of the lake hoping to find another that I could identify. I kept looking for dark shadows just below the surface. On the opposite side of the lake I noticed one very similar to the creature off shore on my side. But this shadow was larger. Much larger. The same long thin shadow. It kept getting bigger and bigger as it seemed to come closer to the surface. The object never did break the surface of the water. It stayed below and then slowly disappeared. The photos I took of this much larger shadow was at least 20-30 feet long. Objects on the opposite shoreline can be used as a reference in the photo.

What these sightings were is beyond my ability to identify. As I drove home I laughed at the prospect of an underwater creature living in a lake so close to where I lived. What is next? A furry upright animal rustling around the garbage cans at night? Whatever the answer I will find out and once and for all know what creatures live among the fishes in Twin Lakes in Villa Park. - triblocal


BBC deluged with UFO calls

The village of Cottered has been thrust into the middle of the UFO debate after a disc-shaped object was spotted early this morning (Wednesday August 4).

BBC Radio 5 Live was deluged with calls after sports reporter Mike Sewell described seeing the strange sighting as he drove through Cottered on the A507 at around 4.50am as he made his way to Stansted Airport to cover a football game in Sweden.

“I just noticed in the sky straight ahead looking like it was descending was what I thought was plane with a bright white light at the front and a couple flashing lights either side and it was coming down,” he told host Nicky Campbell during the breakfast programme.

The reporter presumed there must be an airfield nearby but the mysterious object then banked to the south in the Wood End and Ardeley direction.

He continued: “I then got a good look on it. It wasn’t a helicopter, I’m not sure what it was, but it was disc-shaped [with] at least two panelled lights – soft white lights – underneath and several flashing lights around it.

“It can’t have been a plane because it didn’t continue its journey. I wouldn’t say it hovered but it stayed in a certain area.”

The disbelieving journalist said he watched it for two or three minutes and soon after losing sight of it decided to turn back. He lost track of the object but did see a higher bright light in the sky with a bright white light.

But he says he wasn’t alone during the time of the incident – a Volkswagen was travelling along the road in front of him at the same time, the driver of which “must have seen it.”

Sally Kingsley, partner at Kingsley Bros farm which has fields surrounding the village, confirmed that they didn’t have any combine harvesters or the like operating at the time.

She said: “I did see a slight flash about 5am or 6am whilst driving up to the farm. It looked as if it was going to rain so it could have been lightning, but that’s about it,” laughing off suggestions that the paranormal was the cause.

Cottered churchwarden and de facto village historian Neville Chuck was awake at the time of the sighting, but didn’t notice bright lights in the sky.

“I didn’t see it and we’ve never had anything like this happen before as far as I know, but I’ll keep my eyes open.”

Priest-in-charge Mike Leverton said: “I’ve got seven people staying my house at the moment but no-one saw it.

“I’m certain there is a normal explanation. Cottered is on the Luton flightpath and there can be weird reflections.

“There are no aliens in the back garden as far as I know.”

But just in case little green men are wandering around the village, he added: “We would welcome them into the Church of England, we welcome everybody,” saying he would offer them a cup of coffee providing they had come in peace.

A spokeswoman for Hertfordshire police said they had only received one call on the subject from a member of the public regarding the sighting.

She added: “This is not a regular occurrence but we always encourage anybody to report anything suspect – strange people, strange aircraft and the like on our non-emergency number 101.” - hertfordshiremercury


Columbia shuttle debris found in drought-stricken lake

Debris from the space shuttle Columbia, which burned up on re-entry in 2003, has turned up in a drought-stricken lake in eastern Texas.

The 1m-wide spherical tank was found in Lake Nacogdoches, near the Texas town of the same name where much of the debris initially fell.

The tank was part of the ill-fated orbiter's electrical power system and contained liquid hydrogen or oxygen.

A drought in the region has driven the lake's water levels down by nearly 3m.

A local policeman patrolling the area alerted authorities to the find.

"It had been out of the water for some time," Nacogdoches police sergeant Greg Sowell told the Associated Press. "It had been seen by local sportsmen... People didn't know what they were looking at."

Local authorities will arrange to ship the tank back to the Kennedy Space Center, where other Columbia wreckage has been collected for analysis. Nasa said about 40% of the orbiter had been recovered.

The Columbia shuttle broke up in the skies over eastern Texas in February 2003, killing all seven of its crew. The heat shield that protects the shuttle from the searing heat of re-entry was damaged on liftoff by a piece of insulating foam that broke away from an external fuel tank. - BBC


Giant African Crested Rat Kills Predators with Poisonous Hair

By utilizing the same plants that African tribesmen use to poison their arrows, the furry fury known as the African crested rat can incapacitate and even kill predators many times its size, researchers have found.

"This is the first mammal that is borrowing a deadly poison from a plant and slathering it on itself without dying," said study researcher Jonathan Kingdon, of Oxford University in England. "This is an extraordinary thing to have evolved."

Growing up in Africa, Kingdon was frequently exposed to these rats, even keeping one (very cautiously) as a pet. He had heard this animal was poisonous, but it look 30 years for him to figure out how and why this special animal kills and sickens its predators.

Hair-raising situation

Whenever a predator, like a dog, comes upon the rat and tries to eat it, the animal gets a mouthful of potentially deadly poison.

"It isn't really designed to kill. If it killed every time nothing would ever learn that this is distasteful," Kingdon said. "The way it really works is that you go away and you recover from a terrible experience and you never, ever invite that experience again."

Kingdon noted one example he's seen firsthand: When in the presence of a crested rat, a dog that previously had a run-in with one of the animals quivered in fear and wouldn't approach the innocuous- looking foot-long rat.

Evolutionary marvel

To figure out the rat's secret, Kingdon and his colleagues observed the rats in the wild and ran lab tests on a line of hairs that run along its back and seemed to have a unique structure. They also tested the chemicals in the hairs' poisons alongside that of the bark of the Acokanthera schimperi, which the rats are known to chew.

They found that to make its poison fur, the rat — which averages about 14 inches (36 cm) long — chews the bark of the A. schimperi and licks itself to store the resulting poisonous spit in specially adapted hairs. This behavior is hardwired into the animal's brain, similar to nitpicking behavior of birds or self-bathing of cats, the researchers suspect.

"What is quite clear in this animal is that it is hardwired to find the poison, it is hardwired to chew it and it is hardwired to apply it to the small area of hairs," Kingdon said. The animals apply the poisonous spit only to the specialized hairs on a small strip along its back. When threatened, the rat arches its back and uses specially adapted muscles to slick back its hair and expose the strip of poison.

Poison from this tree bark has been used by hunters to take down large prey, like elephants, for thousands of years. "Evolution has mimicked something that hunters do," Kingdon said. "It [the crested rat] is borrowing from the plant just as the hunters are borrowing from the very same plant."

Medical miracle

The hairs themselves are specially structured to absorb the poison, Kingdon found. Their outer layer is full of large holes, like a pasta strainer, and the inside is full of straight fibers that wick up liquids. "There is no other hair that is known to science that is remotely structured like these hairs," Kingdon said.

It is unknown why the rat doesn't die from chewing the poison, though it could be resistant somehow. "The rats should drop dead every time they chew this stuff but they are not," Kingdon said. "We don't have the slightest idea how that could be done."

Learning more about how this poison works could even help human medicine, since it acts by inducing heart attacks. A related chemical, called digitoxin, has been used for decades as a treatment for heart failure. - Yahoo