Wednesday, 30 December 2015

A band of special, young stars has been discovered near the heart of the Milky Way

I really LOVE the fact that science discovers something,  then has to change its viewpoint.  I keep getting excited at what might be found next! Way back in 2008  we had this:

eso0846 — Science Release

Unprecedented 16-Year Long Study Tracks Stars Orbiting Milky Way Black Hole

10 December 2008
In a 16-year long study, using several of ESO's flagship telescopes, a team of German astronomers has produced the most detailed view ever of the surroundings of the monster lurking at our Galaxy's heart — a supermassive black hole. The research has unravelled the hidden secrets of this tumultuous region by mapping the orbits of almost 30 stars, a five-fold increase over previous studies. One of the stars has now completed a full orbit around the black hole.

By watching the motions of 28 stars orbiting the Milky Way's most central region with admirable patience and amazing precision, astronomers have been able to study the supermassive black hole lurking there. It is known as "Sagittarius A*" (pronounced "Sagittarius A star"). The new research marks the first time that the orbits of so many of these central stars have been calculated precisely and reveals information about the enigmatic formation of these stars — and about the black hole to which they are bound.

"The centre of the Galaxy is a unique laboratory where we can study the fundamental processes of strong gravity, stellar dynamics and star formation that are of great relevance to all other galactic nuclei, with a level of detail that will never be possible beyond our Galaxy," explains Reinhard Genzel, leader of the team from the Max-Planck-Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics in Garching near Munich.

The interstellar dust that fills the Galaxy blocks our direct view of the Milky Way's central region in visible light. So astronomers used infrared wavelengths that can penetrate the dust to probe the region. While this is a technological challenge, it is well worth the effort. "The Galactic Centre harbours the closest supermassive black hole known. Hence, it is the best place to study black holes in detail," argues the study's first author, Stefan Gillessen.

The team used the central stars as "test particles" by watching how they move around Sagittarius A*. Just as leaves caught in a wintry gust reveal a complex web of air currents, so does tracking the central stars show the nexus of forces at work at the Galactic Centre. These observations can then be used to infer important properties of the black hole itself, such as its mass and distance. The new study also showed that at least 95% of the mass sensed by the stars has to be in the black hole. There is thus little room left for other dark matter.

"Undoubtedly the most spectacular aspect of our long term study is that it has delivered what is now considered to be the best empirical evidence that supermassive black holes do really exist. The stellar orbits in the Galactic Centre show that the central mass concentration of four million solar masses must be a black hole, beyond any reasonable doubt," says Genzel. The observations also allow astronomers to pinpoint our distance to the centre of the Galaxy with great precision, which is now measured to be 27 000 light-years.

To build this unparalleled picture of the Milky Way's heart and calculate the orbits of the individual stars the team had to study the stars there for many years. These latest groundbreaking results therefore represent 16 years of dedicated work, which started with observations made in 1992 with the SHARP camera attached to ESO's 3.5-metre New Technology Telescope located at the La Silla observatory in Chile. More observations have subsequently been made since 2002 using two instruments mounted on ESO's 8.2 m Very Large Telescope (VLT). A total of roughly 50 nights of observing time with ESO telescopes, over the 16 years, has been used to complete this incredible set of observations.

The new work improved the accuracy by which the astronomers can measure the positions of the stars by a factor of six compared to previous studies. The final precision is 300 microarcseconds, equivalent at seeing a one euro coin from a distance of roughly 10 000 km.

For the first time the number of known stellar orbits is now large enough to look for common properties among them. "The stars in the innermost region are in random orbits, like a swarm of bees," says Gillessen. "However, further out, six of the 28 stars orbit the black hole in a disc. In this respect the new study has also confirmed explicitly earlier work in which the disc had been found, but only in a statistical sense. Ordered motion outside the central light-month, randomly oriented orbits inside – that's how the dynamics of the young stars in the Galactic Centre are best described."

One particular star, known as S2, orbits the Milky Way's centre so fast that it completed one full revolution within the 16-year period of the study. Observing one complete orbit of S2 has been a crucial contribution to the high accuracy reached and to understanding this region. Yet the mystery still remains as to how these young stars came to be in the orbits they are observed to be in today. They are much too young to have migrated far, but it seems even more improbable that they formed in their current orbits where the tidal forces of the black hole act. Excitingly, future observations are already being planned to test several theoretical models that try to solve this riddle.

"ESO still has much to look forward to," says Genzel. "For future studies in the immediate vicinity of the black hole, we need higher angular resolution than is presently possible." According to Frank Eisenhauer, principal investigator of the next generation instrument GRAVITY, ESO will soon be able to obtain that much needed resolution. "The next major advance will be to combine the light from the four 8.2-metre VLT unit telescopes – a technique known as interferometry. This will improve the accuracy of the observations by a factor 10 to 100 over what is currently possible. This combination has the potential to directly test Einstein's general relativity in the presently unexplored region close to a black hole."


These observations are the culmination of 16 years of a large monitoring campaign, begun in 1992 at ESO's New Technology Telescope with SHARP. It was then pursued at ESO's Very Large Telescope with the NACO and SINFONI instruments. These two instruments rely on the use of adaptive optics, which allows astronomers to remove the blurring effect of the atmosphere. As the centre of the Milky Way is very crowded, it is necessary to observe it with the finest resolution possible, hence, the need for adaptive optics.
Only radio signals, infrared light and X-rays can reach us from the Galactic Centre. While radio observations show mostly gas and X-ray observatories are sensitive to high energy processes, the infrared allows these stars to be observed.

More information

S. Gillessen et al., Monitoring stellar orbits around the Massive Black Hole in the Galactic Center, 2008, Astrophysical Journal, in press. Link to the article.
The team is composed of Stefan Gillessen, Frank Eisenhauer, Sascha Trippe, Reinhard Genzel, Thomas Ott (MPE, Garching, Germany), Tal Alexander (Weizmann Institute of Science, Israel), and Fabrice Martins (GRAAL-CNRS, University of Montpellier, France).
Reinhard Genzel was awarded the prestigious Shaw Prize in Astronomy for 2008 for this research (see ESO Press Release eso0818).
The research team maintains a web page on this project.


But this year came this:

 A band of special, young stars has been discovered near the heart of the Milky Way

The Universe is a mysterious place – comprised of mostly dark matter and dark energy, neither of which scientists fully understand. And now, a recent study shows that even our own cosmic neighbourhood can surprise us at times. 

Reporting in this month’s Astrophysical Journal Letters, a team of astronomers identified a band of special, young stars residing in one of the last spots they expected: near the heart of the Milky Way.
The remarkable discovery suggests that some unknown force is breathing new life into our galaxy’s centre.

Before the team’s report, astronomers thought the Milky Way’s centre, also called the galactic bulge, contained mostly old stars, which have been around for billions and tens of billions of years. The team’s discovery has uncovered a completely new component of our galaxy.

By analysing nearly four years of observations done between 2010 and 2014 with the VISTA Telescope at the Paranal Observatory in Chile, the team discovered a band of 35 extremely young stars.

In the image below, the red dots represent the Cepheids, while the yellow star identifies our Sun:

111ESO- -Microsoft-WorldWide-Telescope
Credit: ESO/Microsoft WorldWide Telescope

These stars are of a particular class called Cepheids, which are famous for their pulsations that astronomers use to calculate extremely accurate distance between Earth and the star.

Each Cepheid has a unique pattern where it brightens, dims, and then repeats the cycle. Some Cepheids take days to complete a single cycle while others can take months.

“All of the 35 classical Cepheids discovered are less than 100 million years old,” Dante Minniti, who is a co-author of the paper and researcher at the University Andres Bello, Santiago, Chile, said in a European Space Agency press release. “The youngest Cepheid may even be only around 25 million years old.”
 111ESOCredit: ESO
For comparison, the Sun, which is in the prime stages of its life, is roughly 4.5 billion years old – 180 times older than the youngest Cepheid of this newly discovered group.

The team’s find “implies a continuous supply of newly formed stars in the central region of the Galaxy over the last 100 million years,” they stated in their paper.

The VISTA telescope is a powerful instrument for mapping the heart of our Milky Way galaxy, which is hidden from the human eye.
 111Dave-Young -FlickrCredit: Dave Young/Flickr
If you look toward the galactic bulge (shown above), you’ll notice that it is shrouded by dark, molecular clouds, which obstruct our view of what lies beyond.

But with VISTA, astronomers can see through the clouds as if they weren’t even there because it observes not in visible wavelengths (what humans see) but in the infrared.

Infrared radiation is not absorbed by the molecular clouds in the galactic bulge and instead passes straight through. Some of it eventually reaches Earth.

For this reason, the team has been using VISTA to map the Milky Way’s centre by seeking out Cepheid stars that lie beyond the molecular clouds. They call their project the VVV Survey.
 111Ashley-PCredit: Ashley P

Right now, our distance to the galactic bulge is uncertain. By using the pulsating nature of Cepheids, astronomers can get a better handle on this distance and eventually produce a three-dimensional map of the Milky Way’s centre.

In their latest analysis of the data VISTA has collected so far, the team identified 655 Cepheids. And when they looked at how quickly each star was pulsating, which is related to the star’s age, they were surprised to discover that 35 of their Cepheids were unusually young.

“This part of the galaxy was completely unknown until our VVV survey found it!” Minniti said.
The next step is to determine if these young stars formed where astronomers see them today, or if they migrated toward the centre from a more distant region of space.

Finding the answer will undoubtedly improve our understanding about the past and future of our galaxy as well as other galaxies like it throughout the Universe.

This article was originally published by Business Insider.

Man Goes For Drive Finds 'Dinosaur Egg'

 A glyptodont shell found in Carlos Spegazzini, Buenos Aires Province, Argentina on December 29, 2015
A glyptodont shell found in Carlos Spegazzini, Buenos Aires Province, Argentina on December 29, 2015

 A passer-by on Christmas Day found a meter-long shell on a riverbank in Argentina which may be from a glyptodont, a prehistoric kind of giant armadillo, experts said Tuesday.

A local man thought the black scaly shell was a dinosaur egg when he saw it lying in the mud, his wife Reina Coronel told AFP.

Her husband Jose Antonio Nievas found the shell beside a stream at their farm in Carlos Spegazzini, about 40 kilometers (25 miles) south of the capital Buenos Aires.

"My husband went out to the car and when he came back he said, 'Hey, I just found an egg that looks like it came from a dinosaur," she said.

"We all laughed because we thought it was a joke."

Nievas told television channel Todo Noticias he found the shell partly covered in mud and started to dig around it.

Various experts who saw television pictures of the object said it was likely to be a glyptodont shell.
"There is no doubt that it looks like a glyptodont," said paleontologist Alejandro Kramarz of the Bernadino Rivadavia Natural Sciences Museum.

"The animal became extinct thousands of years ago and it is very common to find their fossils in this region," he told AFP.

Glyptodonts are the ancestors of modern armadillos. They had big round armored shells and weighed up to a ton.

They lived in South America for tens of millions of years.

Kramarz estimated the specimen found by Nievas was relatively young at 10,000 years.

Ancient Egyptians Were Not So Dumb? Who Knew?

First we were told that civilizations such as Ancient Egypt were not that incredibly advanced. Yet they built the pyramids and more.

Ah, now they are gradually getting their "reps" up-dated bit-by-bit.  Neat.

Papyrus Reveals Ancient Egyptian Astronomical Knowledge

Photo credit: ITSARIYAPHON CHAIKULAP/Shutterstock

Researchers from the University of Helsinki have proposed that ancient Egyptians 3,000 years ago were the first to record the variability of a distant star – and their records could provide useful information for astronomers today.

A new paper published in PLOS ONE explains how the Egyptian Cairo Calendar from 1244 to 1163 B.C. describes the variability of a binary star system called Algol. In the calendar, there are two significant periods of time for two gods – 29.6 and 2.85 days. The former relates to the period of the Moon, while the latter almost perfectly matches the variability of Algol – which today is 2.867 days, or two days, 20 hours, and 49 minutes.

This theory had been proposed in 2013 but, understandably, had been met with some skepticism. However, the researchers now say they are more confident in their claims, and say that Algol relates to the deity Horus.

“I would have serious doubts, if someone claimed, for example, that the Bible contains information about water in Mars,” said lead author Lauri Jetsu in a statement. “We claimed that Ancient Egyptian religious texts contain astrophysical information about Algol. It was no surprise to us that there were, and there still are, sceptics.”

Shown is an extract of the Cairo Calendar papyrus, used courtesy of Lauri Jetsu

An eclipsing binary is a pair of stars that, as viewed from Earth, rotate around each other and block each other's light. Thus, this particular star dims regularly in brightness as it orbits its companion. Algol is found in the constellation Perseus about 92.8 light-years from us; the larger star is about 3.5 times the radius of the Sun, and the smaller about 2.7. They are separated by about 0.062 astronomical units (AU, one AU is the Earth-Sun distance).

The variability of Algol, which can be seen with the naked eye, was thought to have been first recorded by Italian astronomer Geminiano Montanari in 1667, although it was not until 1783 that British astronomer John Goodricke suggested another object may be the cause of the dimming. Based on this latest assumption, however, the record for discovery of this star's variability may have to be re-awarded.

Perhaps most interestingly, the discovery reveals that the variability of the star has decreased very slightly over three millennia, by about 0.017 days. Rather than being an error, the researchers postulate that this could be due to the transfer of mass between the two stars affecting their orbits.

“In fact, this would be the first observation that confirms the period increase of Algol and it also gives an estimate of the mass transfer rate,” added Jetsu, possibly providing an important tool for astronomers today to learn more about eclipsing binaries.

"Ninja Lanternshark"

Well, I keep writing that there are still plenty of things to discover in seas, lakes, rivers and oceans...but I still think the name is silly.

Shark Files: New Species "Ninja Lanternshark" Making Waves
There’s a new shark species in the water with a cool name and social media fans. Dubbed “Ninja Lanternshark,” the creature was found by researchers from the Ocean Science Foundation and described in a paper just published in the organization’s journal.

The find, which has lately hit the "trending" charts on Facebook, was based on the collection of eight specimens from the Pacific Coast of Central America. Its sleek appearance and stealthy ways helped earn the creature the common name “Ninja Lanternshark,” while its scientific name (Etmopterus benchleyi) is a tip of the hat to ”Jaws” author Peter Benchley, according to Hakai Magazine.

The name is more than just cool to the scientists. Lead researcher Victoria Vásquez told the publication that she wanted the new shark to stand out with “an interesting story,” given that lanternsharks are little known to the general public. Her team's find was the first documentation of that type of shark off Central America.

According to the researchers, the new shark was observed at depths of about 2,700 feet to 4,700 feet. It runs about 1.5 feet long and uses special skin structures to give off a faint glow that helps it blend in with the inky, low-light surroundings where its prey can be found (a stealth characteristic that helped win the shark the “ninja” moniker).

via Hakai Magazine

The 2009 Gympie "Big Cat" Tracks (Australia)

It was a rather odd event.  I was used to doing radio programmes in the UK as a guest talking about UK "big cat" sightings. In one year I did 40 of these guest spots.  I was also once interviewed by a radio station in Eire and one in Germany -in English, as well as on British Forces Radio.

At about 0200 hrs I was trying to rest and the phone rang.  Who rings at 0200 hrs?  A strong Australian accent said "hello" then asked if I was the "UK Police Service wildlife advisor?" I pointed out I was a UK Police Forces Consultant but not an actual police officer.  Didn't matter apparently.  I was asked to hold on and then another man spoke and asked whether I was "aware of Gympie?"  To be honest I had no idea what he was talking about and I suspected a hoax but asked for a few details.

An alleged "big cat" sighting in Australia. Right.  I was told a photograph of some plaster casts would be sent and asked to not be "over zealous" by going to the Press which hurt somewhat.  The scan arrived within a few  minutes and I looked the casts over and it was quite obvious what they were casts of.

Why ask a naturalist in the UK?  But they were happy with what I told them.  Who the caller was I cannot say -that would be a real breach of confidentiality but let's say a Government official.

Then out of the blue a Dr Scott Burnett sends me the same photograph and account.  He was interested in what I made of them?  I cannot release the actual email exchange but I sent Dr. Burnett the same report I'd emailed the earlier Government official.  I also pointed out that, since Dr. Burnett said he was unaware of Big Cat sightings in Australia, that he look at specific cases for which there were very good and clear plaster casts of paw prints.

That was it.

I'd had similar before with Dublin but it was all private.  But now, a chance to see what I made of the infamous Gympiue Tracks and I have deleted the name of the organisation Dr. Burnett worked for.

Notes On Gympie [Australia] Plaster Casts Of Alleged Large Cat Spoor

Terry Hooper
Exotic Animals Register [EAR] UK

Based on scans of photographs of casts forwarded by:

Dr Scott Burnett
Lecturer - Wildlife Ecology


Having seen a recording of the ABC News item on the Gympie, Queensland, alleged big cat sighting I approached several Australian groups who had reported on the incident to see whether they could furnish me with photographs of the casts shown.  The only two who responded were quite negative.

I then read a number of online stories stating that Dr Scott Burnett of the University of the Sunshine Coast had been provided with casts from the area.  I contacted Dr Burnett by email and he speedily sent along a photograph of the casts alongside a 6 cm long plastic case.

Initially, the casts look messy and are obviously taken from a dirt/stone covered location.  As cats can, in certain circumstances, leave behind a trace of claw my first move was to enlarge the scanned image as much as possible without losing detail.  This was not of great benefit as in several places there were deep indentations where the animals pads had stepped on stones.

The very important rear paw lobe was unclear to a degree that no three back lobes were visible.

I then drew around the enlarged scan images so that any prominent features could be seen.  The drawings were then negatised to make them solid black.  The features then became easily recognised.

The following is based on these drawings and constantly cross-checking with the scanned images.

Cast A had one very prominent ID Marker [001] which is consistent with a claw on a dogs pad.  Nothing else of this nature could be seen on Cast A and this looks as though stones prevented them making an imprint at that spot of ground.

Cast B has four very clear ID Markers -002,003,004 and 005.

Cast C had two very clear ID Markers [006 and 008] while 007 is quite clearly giving the pad a smooth pointed look.

ID Markers 009 and 010 are noted as “possible” because the detail was not perfect.  That said, the shape that can be seen is consistent with a canid pad.

Looking then at the entire spoor the spread of pads [toes] and rear pad placement are very canid.  The measurement can be assessed as between 6-8 cms and, although Cast B looks a little larger this is consistent with the poor quality of casting and the terrain conditions at the time are unknown.


The press photographs and TV images of Mr. Colin Rossow all show the cast he has being held away from himself and close to the camera which gives a false impression of great size.  That said, the cast is very clearly showing ID Marker claws and the spoor is without doubt that of a dog.

The Gympie casts I have looked at are clearly canid and I would say a medium sized dog created the spoor.

I have been involved in cases in the UK where casts were taken at the point a clearly identified leopard was sighted walking.  The persons involved in the close proximity sightings were what we would classify as High Quality witnesses including safari park keepers and a zoologist.  The spoor casts, however, were from a single or several canids: the cats had left no real tracks as they had all been close to hard, dry ground near hedgerows and a later search revealed only one partial large felid spoor.  It could well be the case with these casts but to remain neutral I have asked for no case history, etc., just spoor images.

Although I have seen some very compelling spoor photographs/casts from Australia in the past that were without doubt from large non-native felids, there is no evidence of any such animal based on these spoor.

For comparison I have included Mr.Colin Rossow in a photograph with his cast, the image I used for my analysis herein and the ID Marker sheet, as well as Leopard, Puma and Dog track guides.

I would be very interested to hear/see any future evidence forwarded and claiming to belong to large non-native cats.

Above: Mr. Colin Rossow of Gympie and his spoor cast showing it to clearly be from a canid.

Casts of the Gympie spoor forwarded for analysis.
Above: Gympie spoor track ID Markers.

Above:Leopard tracks
Above: Puma tracks –note the three rear lobes on this and the leopard tracks.

Above: Dog tracks –note the similarities to the Gympie tracks.

A hard copy of this document can be forwarded if required.

Terry Hooper
EAR Co-ordinator
16th March, 2009

The British "Bigfoot"

I have heard nothing after appealing for first hand witnesses.  Looking at the "data base" some things stand out like sore thumbs that have septicaemia.  I have also looked at the "photographic evidence" and my thoughts on that....

I made a straight forward honest appeal and offered to look at evidence and eye-witness testimony. I got a very rude and insulting response. That is it.

I have left the date open until 31st January, 2016 for any eye witnesses to get in contact with me, if nothing by then I have to go with what is touted as "evidence" and make conclusions based on that.

So the offer is still open.

Tuesday, 29 December 2015

Pursuing The Strange And Weird

Bearing in mind today's giant squid story and the fact that I have books to sell...time for a commercial break!

Although all three of my books have dealt with unidentified creatures of the seas, this one expanded on that to make it a good, fully referenced read.

Pursuing The Strange And Weird -A Naturalist's Viewpoint

Pursuing The Strange & Weird:A Naturalists Viewpoint

Terry Hooper-Scharf
249 Pages
Price: £15.00
UP DATE -From Dead Aquatic (Humanoid) Creatures, the giant squid and yet undiscovered sea creatures; submarine and ships crews encountering true leviathans.

There is a fully expanded section which also refers to the so-called ‘Ningen’ sightings and video footage.

Extinct animals at sea that have been re-discovered. The subject of Sasquatch and other mystery Hominids around the world is dealt with including a look at the “Sasquatch-killer”, Justin Smeja.
Dr. Bryan Sykes and his DNA test results for TVs The Bigfoot Files as well as the controversial Erickson Project and Dr. Melba Ketchum’s Even more controversial Sasquatch DNA test results.
Also included are two early French UFO entity cases that still baffle. Ghosts, strange creatures and the Star-Child hoax. All dealt with by the naturalist and pursuer of the strange and weird 

A Giant squid makes a rare appearance in Japan

Incredible footage of a juvenile 12 footer but it was alive and even guided out of the harbour by a diver.  Well done that diver!

Now,if only the press and idiots would stop calling anything big in the sea a "monster"!

According to The Washington Post online:

A giant squid made its way into Japan's Toyama Bay on Christmas Eve, treating onlookers to a rare sighting of the magnificent creature. Japan seems to be the place to find these staggeringly large beasts: The first-ever images of a giant squid in the wild were snapped off the coast of the Ogasawara Islands in 2004, and the first film of a living adult came from the same area in 2012.

CNN reports that one intrepid diver had a close encounter with the real-life sea monster.

"My curiosity was way bigger than fear, so I jumped into the water and go close to it," Akinobu Kimura told CNN. "This squid was not damaged and looked lively, spurting ink and trying to entangle his tentacles around me. I guided the squid toward to the ocean, several hundred meters from the area it was found in, and it disappeared into the deep sea."
It may seem massive, but the squid seen in the footage above is probably pretty young. It's estimated to be just over 12 feet long, and giant squid are thought to grow over three times that size. Researchers used to think that the giant squid Architeuthis dux (which is the only species of giant squid, as far as anyone can tell) could grow over 60 feet long, but a recent study of the available literature found no evidence to support this. In fact, since most of the giant squid seen by humans have been long-dead specimens, it's quite plausible that they might have stretched out as their tissues weakened.

But the 40 or so feet long they've been confirmed to reach is still pretty impressive. Heck, the 12 feet our buddy in the video above has reached is already pretty freaky looking.

Architeuthis dux may be the longest squid in the sea (or the longest we know about, anyway) but the colossal squid (Mesonychoteuthis hamiltoni) is the biggest in terms of mass. Scientists dissected a 770-pound colossal squid back in 2014, and you can check out our recap of the gross-but-awesome event here.

Monday, 28 December 2015

Says It All

A Walk On The Not-So-Wild Side

 Illustration (c)2015 Terry Hooper-Scharf

As a little aside I thought I'd post this since I found it yesterday in a file.  Someone I knew wanted an illustration to go with an abduction report in a UK publication.  They were in a panic -could I "pull one together?"    I think the final illo (never returned -pre scan and computers!) I used more solid black on.

Interesting what you find in old files!

Well, Bigfoot Hunters Find Something Unexpected On Their Game Cam!

I miss a lot of things because my brain does too much!  So when I set up this blog I thought people might kindly alert me to things.

No one ever does, though, so I missed this from last September!
Not Bigfoot, but pretty dang rare: A Humboldt marten | Photo: Bluff Creek Project

Bigfoot Hunters Find Something Unexpected In Del Norte County

Myths die hard in the wilds of the Klamath and Trinity mountains. Though the majority of biologists agree that the large, hominid-appearing creature known as "Bigfoot" is a flight of fancy, the cryptic creature has its diehard defenders. And a few of them just made an important contribution to California wildlife science -- though not in a way they expected.

It'd be hard to think of a better place for a large, human-shaped wild animal to remain undetected in California than the interior of Humboldt and Del Norte counties, whose steep, rugged terrain and thick forests provide unparalleled wildlife habitat. And in fact, the one mental image most North Americans have of Bigfoot comes from a film shot at Bluff Creek, a tributary of the Klamath River in Del Norte County. The so-called "Patterson-Gimlin film" is controversial, with many biologists calling it a hoax, a sentiment shared even by some Bigfoot believers.

But there's been no slam-dunk debunking of the Patterson-Gimlin film, so a group calling itself the Bluff Creek Project has been setting up camera traps along the stretch of Bluff Creek where the 1967 film was shot, in hopes of getting better, less-shaky footage of the critter... or of getting none at all, to confirm most biologists' suspicions. And those camera traps have been quite productive. They haven't caught any images of Bigfoot so far, but they have captured two images of a creature so rare it was thought extinct not too long ago.

That animal isn't a seven-foot ape with large feet: it's an adorable little member of the weasel family known as the Humboldt marten.

The marten, known to science as Martes caurina humboldtensis, once ranged through the California redwood belt from Sonoma County north to coastal Oregon. Now it's down to fewer than 200 individuals, which is no surprise given that the little weasel has lost something like 95 percent of its habitat to logging and other industry.

In fact, the Humboldt marten is so rare that for a few decades, it was thought to have gone extinct... until a few individuals were sighted in 1996. It's so rare, in fact, that very few photographs of the marten exist, as evidenced by our reusing the one Humboldt marten photo we could find in our previous coverage of the animal.

As we mention in that previous coverage, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service decided in April not to give the marten protection under the U.S. Endangered Species Act. That decision prompted a perhaps predictable reaction. In early September, two wildlife protection groups, the Center for Biological Diversity and the Environmental Protection Information Center (EPIC) , to notify the agency they'd be taking it to court to force it to reconsider its decision.

Just a week after EPIC and the Center notified USFWS they'd be hauling them into court, the Bluff Creek Project posted new camera trap photos from the Patterson-Gimlin site on its blog. The team's camera had caught at least two images of a Humboldt marten. One showed a marten scampering in a light dusting of snow, and another, clearer image showing an animal in almost the same spot during warmer weather.

The marten in winter | Photo: Bluff Creek Project
Capturing the images at all was a fluke, according to The Bluff Creek Project's Jamie Wayne. "Truth be told we have been catching glimpses of [martens] for years," writes Wayne. "Our cameras are set about two feet off of the ground and the triggers are not set to fire on small animals. The only reason we captured this one is because the camera had malfunctioned."

That malfunction caused the camera, which was pointing lower than intended, to record more than 1,200 images between October 2014 and this past June, filling 8.4 gigabytes of space on the camera's card. (For those of you who've noticed the discrepancy between this story and the timestamp on that winter photo above, it also reset the camera's clock back about 8 months.)

That's a lot of images to sort through, and Wayne writes that he understandably didn't get to them right away.
I retrieved the camera in late June of 2015 and check[ed] the photos. I saw that it had taken thousands and scanned a few in the field, I never thought much of them. It's been a busy summer for me working in Redwood National Park so I hadn't gone through all the still photos. I started working on it last week and I noticed the marten.
Aside from the two clear marten photos, the camera also captured a few more marten candidates too blurry for positive ID, as well as deer, bears, a great blue heron, and -- according to Wayne -- lots of shots of running water.

It's no Bigfoot, but it's still a big deal. Regardless of what you think about the likelihood of Bigfoot's existence -- personally, I doubt they exist but I agree with primatologist Jane Goodall that it would be nice if they were real -- the fact that the Bigfoot legend has inspired people to get out and record rare California wildlife seems an undeniable Good Thing.

For the record: an earlier version of this article wrongly suggested that Jane Goodall doesn't believe Bigfoot exists. Apparently, as evidenced in a video provided by a commenter, she does. I regret the error.


Okay, it isn't Sasquatch but it is a great "re-discovery" worth noting.

Lacheln's Achill Wolf

Interesting finds for which I make no guarantees since there is no original source on the German site.
 Above: "Ein Wulf auf Achill Insel" c.1903
Below:"Canis lupus auf Achill Insel" c 1870


Saturday, 26 December 2015

So, HOW Bright Is "Eye Shine"?

People get confused when they hear someone on a TV programme say something like "I see eye-shine!" and don't understand just how bright it can be.  So, two basic examples: a fox and a cat.

No flash was used on the camera (I'd never do that to a nocturnal animal) just a torch shone toward them.


Black (Melanistic) Puma?

Of course, the 'experts' ("X" =The Unknown and "spurt" is a drip under pressure) say "impossible!" when it comes to a black puma. Because they have not read about one and they offer up all reasons WHY a puma like look black but is not -wet fur is usually a good one.

I have, in over three decades, spoken to people who have seen "the black panther" on the loose in the UK.  They were close enough to give very clear descriptions.  But while talking to them my mind was asking "What the hell are they talking about?"

You see, a puma looks different to a leopard -black or otherwise.  So when observers add details that we naturalists call "pointers" (they help identify an animal) and you question them on these and you ask "Are you sure it was not just very dark grey -in the light the fur--" and a rather indignant response is: "Excuse me. It was ten feet from me in broad daylight and I have perfectly good eye-sight" then you have to conclude that they saw a black puma.

I can hear the idiots screaming "NO SUCH THING!!" right now.

People talked to me about the "that puma" others have seen and give perfect descriptions of a melanistic leopard (or "panther"). That is acceptable.

Whether farmer, police officers, members of the Armed Forces, doctors, nurses, naturalists and zoologists -whoever, so long as they report black leopards no problem. But a black puma? No, no, no, no!

I received a phone call one day from a man who was driving through a Welsh border area and took a wrong turning.  As he slowed to try and turn on the dual carriageway he stopped the car.  Several yards ahead of him, in the clearest conditions possible was a large black cat.  The cat stood and looked at the driver before moving over the central road barrier and away.  The man immediately got out of the car and walked slowly to where the cat had stood (next to the central road barrier) and used a tape measure to get length, height, etc.  The man made a few enquiries and the localpolice gave him my contact details.

I spoke to the man who told me the size and estimated weight of the "melanistic puma" which was odd because most observers never say "melanistic" just black.  I checked with a biologist who was interested in UK cat sightings.  He laughed and said the man had obviously seen a panther and assumed that it was a puma.  I was told to explain to him why it could not be a puma.

So, I called back the observer and explained what the biologist had said. I won't give his exact words but he pointed out that had it been a panther he would never have gotten out of the car to take the measurements.  I pointed out that it was difficult to get anyone to believe that there were black pumas was there even the possibility of mistake?  There wasn't.  The man described the facil markings of the puma and point-for-point all the pointers.

I was told that a letter was on its way to me with all the details.  I was then told the observers full name -I only had his surname at first.  He was a Professor, a senior lecturer in zoology and biology and had workede at very well known universities and had done work in the United States and Canada -the latter involved work with pumas. He had also been a UK government advisor and when I heard his full name (I'm still waiting to hear whether I can give it in a book I'm working on) I think the blood drained from my face because he was very reputable.  I was asked to get the biologist to phone him if he doubted the Professor's word.  I certainly did not.  The biologist?  Apparently insisted it "must be a leopard" but refused to contact the professor to correct him.

I really have no idea why certain people will scream til dooms-day that you cannot have a melanistic puma.  There is no scientific reason why there should not be and melanism occurs in pumas in certain regions -where they were trapped and transported to the UK/Europe for zoological gardens as well as travelling menageries.

Even old hunters noted shooting black pumas in South America and give very good descriptions -this was "sport" shooting and before handy carry-anywhere cameras but some had detailed sketches made.  If a hunter(s) who hunted and knew pumas from the United States says they shot a black puma then I believe it.  There is absolutely no reason why they would lie about it because it was no big thing, just "another cat" and so what if it was black?  They were interested in telling how they lay in wait or came across the cat and killed it, weighed it and measured it and that's it.  Somewhere in a private collection there may well be a mounted head or stuffed puma gathering dust.

Thousands hunted and shot cats and there is no problem until some know-it-all jackanape's today says "NO! It could not be black!!"

After all, there are very dark brown pumas around and some in zoos.  Citing and continuing to pass along dogma is NOT science.  It is stupidity.  Let's not get into a long list of what top zoologists said were "absolutely impossible" but then turned out not to be.


And the photo above is not photo-shopped.  It is of a genuine very dark brown leopard though it is being used and cited as a very dark brown puma and this one is in a recognised US zoological garden.

Your Last Chance To Buy Classics Before They Are Deleted For Good!

Let's not get into the "whys?" and "What??"  Come February these books will be deleted and unless some paying publisher picks upon them they will gather no more dust.

Some Things Strange & Sinister (2013 -up-dated)

Some Things Strange & Sinister
A4 Format
358 pages
Heavily illustrated
Price: £15.00
After more than 30 years as an investigator and more than forty as a naturalist,the author has opened some of the many files he has accumulated dealing with such things as.. 
The Terrifying Events At The Lamb Inn, The Ghosts Of All Saints Church, Dead Aquatic Creatures of Canvey Island, captured bigfoot like creatures in India -all exclusively presented for the first time and with new added research previously unseen. 
PLUS a vastly expanded section on Spring-heeled Jack! 
Photographs, maps, line drawings and up-dated to make 358 pages looking at Things truly Strange and Sinister. 
Cryptozoologist,Ghost Hunter,Ufologist or Fortean:this book has something for everyone -including the just plain inquisitive! 

Foreword by Travis L. Whitehurst
  1.     de occultis non judicat ecclesia                                                                     
  2.     The Bristol Rocking Horse
  3.     The Terrifying Events At The Lamb Inn
  4.     The Coonian Ghost
  5.     The Ghosts Of All Saints Church
  6.     His Luminous Chamber
  7.     The Late Reverend Dr. Blomberg
  8.     And More Ghost Stories
  9.     The Thomas B. Cumpston Case
  10.     The Chupacabra
  11.     The Strange Case Of The Gotherington Gargoyle
  12.     What’s Tall,Hairy And Vanishes?
  13.     Mystery Beasts Of Ireland
  14.     The Creature Of The Dump
  15.     The Strange Creature Of Repton Woods
  16.     The Bizarre Legends,Crimes And Truth About Spring Heeled Jack
  17.     The Black Beast Of Darmstadt
  18.     The Nameless Thing Of Berkley Square
  19.     The Terrifying Case Of The U.S. Naval Transport
  20.     The Case Of The Ghost Lear Jet
  21.     Ghost Planes,Crashes And Dead Aquatic Creatures
  22.     The Mitchison Loch Ness Monster Video
  23.     From The Deep Below To The Air Above –USOs
  24.     Aerial Encounters Over Austria
  25.     A Crashed UFO In 1790?
  26.     Angel Hair
  27.     Quimper-Corentin:Where “Thunder Fell”
  28.     Strange Aliens From Space
  29.     The Llandrillo ‘Saucer’ And Other Crash Retrievals
  30.     Transient Lunar Phenomena,Alien Structures And Moon Vegetation
  31.     Whiddon Down-Saint-Jean-du-Guard:Impossible Correlations?
  32.     The Venezuelan Horror
A Final Word.

Alleged piece of crashed UFO from Berwyn Mountains, Wales.

 Some More Things Strange & Sinister 

Some More Things Strange & Sinister

Terry Hooper-Scharf
327 Pages 
Heavily illustrated
Price: £15.00
Follow-up to the hugely successful Some Things Strange & Sinister.

For those interested in Ufology, cryptozoology, hominology, unusual natural history, ghosts and mysteries in general.

The secret history of gorillas in the UK -before they were officially  'discovered'. The history of  the Wild men of Europe, the UK and US: something that in the 1800s become very "pop culture"  Very pop culture and totally forgotten today!

Hominology. Sasquatch and Bigfoot -is there evidence for their existence?  No sitting on the fence here -the Patterson-Gimlin film is looked at as well as other evidence.  The Author's conclusions? You might be surprised.

Giant snakes. Amazons. The Giant serpent of Carthage. The Girt Dog of Ennerdale -another big cult 'creature' amongst paranormal and cryptozoological circles. The Beast of Gevaudan -what was it and were there really descendents of the creature in the 19th century -one of which was actually brought to London? 

  Believe it or not more than one incident of historical crocodiles cases in the UK.  In fact, far more than even the Author had thought .

And, after more than a century of claims by 'researchers' that it no longer exists: The Silent City of Alaska and the near legendary 'lost' photograph taken of it.

  This and much more. Updated with extra pages and photographs.


Introduction:Investigation And Research Is Not Debunking      4

Gorillas:Pre-‘Discovery’ To Discovery And Beyond       9

The Barking Beast Of Bath:The Facts!            40

 Primates –Escapes and Hunts            51

 The Mystery Bili Ape       74

Just What Is Oliver?             85

Whatever Happened To The Texas Wild Woman?      92

The Wild Man Of Hungary            96

A Funny Wild Man Story?            97

The Case Of The Bohemian Wild Man         98

The Long Tailed Wild Man Of Kentucky      100

The Wild Man Of Marcross Cwm         101

The Wild Man Of Wallingford         103

The Wild Man Of Indiana         105

The Wild Man That Was Then Wasn’t    107

The Wild Man’s A Yowie!     110

Wild Man Or Bigfoot?         115

The Running Bear, Or Wild Man –Or Sasquatch? 117

The Wild Man Who Rode A Horse!    118

The Indiana Captive Wild Man    120

The Terrifying Wild Man Of Kansas 121

The Wild Man Of Petit Quevilly     125

Where Strikes The Wild Man Of Galicia?    126

What Was The “African Udilacus”?     128

The Wisconsin Wild Man –The End Of  An Era   131

The Yeti Of Bourganeuf     133

A Monstrous Man-Toad    144

Of Cokadrilles And Saints     145

More Crocodile Stories     151

The Suffolk Flying Killer  159

The Giant Serpent Of Carthage    163

Another Giant African Snake    167

Mystery Constrictors Of Texas And Canada!   169

The Giant Kentuckian Snake    173

The U-Boat And The Sea Monster    175

The Beast Of Faudiere –Mystery Killer    179

The “Girt Dog” Of Ennerdale    180

The Beast Of Gevaudan       201

The Greenwich Park Elemental    225

The Montauk Monster       228

The Carancas Meteorite –Bringer Of Doom?        241

The New England Darkness                         251

Medieval “Skyships” –“From The Sea Above”      258

Bristol –Seen In The Skies Of Alaska?             263

The shark Eating Monster             276
The Ghost Photograph That Cannot Be Explained?    282 
Two Cases From The Borderline                286
Tales From A German Wood              275
Flower-Stealing Aliens               294

What Landed At Gatton?              297
The Crawfordville Monster            300

The Mystery Of The Raifuku Maru          305
Attack Of The Amazons!               309

The Case Of The British Bigfoot          319

Pursuing The Strange And Weird -A Naturalist's Viewpoint (2014 up-date)

Pursuing The Strange & Weird:A Naturalists Viewpoint

Terry Hooper-Scharf
249 Pages
Price: £15.00
UP DATE -From Dead Aquatic (Humanoid) Creatures, the giant squid and yet undiscovered sea creatures; submarine and ships crews encountering true leviathans.

There is a fully expanded section which also refers to the so-called ‘Ningen’ sightings and video footage.

Extinct animals at sea that have been re-discovered. The subject of Sasquatch and other mystery Hominids around the world is dealt with including a look at the “Sasquatch-killer”, Justin Smeja.
Dr. Bryan Sykes and his DNA test results for TVs The Bigfoot Files as well as the controversial Erickson Project and Dr. Melba Ketchum’s Even more controversial Sasquatch DNA test results.
Also included are two early French UFO entity cases that still baffle. Ghosts, strange creatures and the Star-Child hoax. All dealt with by the naturalist and pursuer of the strange and weird 


Introduction –I Am Quite Normal      4

                                       Things Of The Sea

Those U.S.O., Sea Monsters, Giant Squid And Things That Go “Bloop”   11

Giant Jelly-fish  * Shark-killing Giant Jelly-fish *  Steller’s Sea Cow *  Carribean Seal *  Sharks * Thought Extinct and “re-discovered” * Giant Squid *  Giant Octopus * Light Wheels In The Sea * Unidentified Submarine Objects (USOs) * “Bloop” * Ribbon Fish * Dead Aquatic (Humanoid) Creatures *  Mermaids *  Angler Fish * Sea Serpents* Sea Monsters Past and Present.

 Things On Land

On The Scientific 'Need' To Kill A Sasquatch   111

Dmitri Bayanov and the anti “kill a Sasquatch” argument and John Green and John Steenburg on the need to kill a Sasquatch: is it necessary to kill an individual of what might be a rare relic population of hominids?

The Texas Bigfoot Research Conservancy Has Blood On Its Hands   117

The TBRC has now claimed to have shot and wounded Sasquatch creatures.  The Bigfoot community is up in arms that an organisation set up to research and conserve these creatures is apparently turning to the gun to “scientifically prove” the Sasquatch is real by producing a body. 

On Gathering Hard evidence  122

Rather than kill a Sasquatch or any other unknown creature is there an alternative to prove they exist? The simple answer is “yes”.

The Patterson-Gimlin Film  129

Filmed in 1967, the brief footage of “Patty” was shaky and split the scientific community in two regarding its authenticity.  With the film now digitally cleaned, image steadied and modern scientific techniques used to analyse it why is it getting harder to believe it is a hoax?

No, South America Does Not Have A Sasquatch  142

South America from Patagonia up to Mexico has its own set of mysterious hominid creatures from the Mapirangua to Ucu.  The comparisons between the Yeti, Sasquatch and these creatures are striking; from basic tools to habitat.

Tales From A German Wood  152

Raccoon-like dogs, a mystery primate and much more seem to have focussed on a little village in Germany.

The Strange Case Of The Gotherington Gargoyle  156

UFO reports and the sighting by an off duty fireman of what he could only describe as a “hideous gargoyle” creature.

The Strange Creature of Repton Wood  165 

UFO sightings and a report of a strange, bi-pedal fox-like creature that vanished into the ground!

The Star Child Hoax  170  
The ‘alien-human hybrid’ hoax exposed but what was the “Chicken Man” –a real alien hybrid?

The Strange Creature On The Beach 188

Just what did a couple on holiday photograph on a German beach –a strange creature from out of time and space?

Photographic Evidence That Dinosaurs Exist?  195

The Kasai Rex photographs said to have been taken in the 1930s in two different parts of Africa are said to show dinosaurs still existed.  And what of the hunt for the African Brontosaurus –and what happened to Stevens?

First Ever UFO Photograph Or Proof Of Early Airships?  206

It is claimed to be the first ever UFO photograph and was taken on a mountain top in the United States in 1870 –the best evidence of UFOs in the past or experimental airship flights?

Two Early French Entity Cases 212

Did Masse encounter a landed flying saucer in 1965 and see two entities? And why did he vow never to reveal what happened during the encounter –taking the secret to his grave?  And what of Dewilde in 1954 –was he paralysed by a UFO while the occupants went about their business? Did his dog die because of the encounter?

End Word  221

Sasquatch DNA evidence breakthrough?  Did Justin Smeja deliberately shoot two Sasquatch creatures and will the evidence prove it?  How you can help gather information on the strange and weird.

 The Bizarre Legends, Crimes And Truth About Spring Heeled Jack (2014)

The Truth About Spring-Heeled Jack  
Terry Hooper-Scharf

53 Pages 
 Dimensions (centimetres) 20.98 wide x 29.69 tall  (A4)
fully illustrated and referenced
Price: £7.00
The terror and mystery created by “Jack The Ripper” has been the subject of countless books, magazine articles as well as movies and TV documentaries. Ask anyone if they have ever heard of Jack The Ripper and it is doubtful anyone would respond with a “no idea.” 

By that same token, ask people who “Spring-heeled Jack” was and you would be lucky to find anyone who had ever heard of him. 

Spring-heeled Jack was the subject (loosely) of a film The Curse of the Wraydons (1946) and Dominic Keating also appeared as Spring Heeled Jack in the 2010 film Sherlock Holmes by The Asylum film company. The character has also featured in both American and British comic books and a number of books, for both children and adults. 

But the fact that the Springald held the country –not just London– in a grip of terror much longer that the Ripper did is all but forgotten except for some half-truths and fanciful theories. 

Now be prepared to read the full story of Spring Heeled Jack