When Pennsylvanians refer to an “Allegheny alligator,” they normally mean Necturus maculosus, a foot-and-a-half long dark salamander, with external, Christmas-tree-like red gills. But this week there have been two sightings reported of a real six-to-seven foot alligator (Alligator mississipiensis) in Western Pennsylvania’s Monongahela River, the one which joins the Allegheny River at Pittsburgh to form the Ohio.
The Southwest Regional Police Department is investigating an unconfirmed sighting of an alligator in the Monongahela River in Belle Vernon, Fayette County.
Authorities said a man on a boat reported that he saw what he believed was an alligator around midnight Tuesday.
He described the animal as approximately 6 to 7 feet long, swimming upstream against the current.
â€œHe saw what he believed to be a log, going upstream about 10 or 15 feet from the shoreline,â€ Southwest Regional Police Chief John Hartman said. â€œHe took his spotlight out and shined it on the log. He said he saw the head of an alligator, about 7 inches out of the water, two eyes and a tail.â€
Upon investigation, police determined that a possible earlier sighting of the animal was made at approximately 2 p.m. Tuesday.
â€œI didnâ€™t see teeth or anything. I didnâ€™t think it was an alligator or nothing,â€ said Josh Adams.
Adams said he was applying for a job when he experienced the interesting sighting.
â€œAfter I put in my application, I went for a little walk. I seen a little duck and thought, â€˜Awe, thatâ€™s cool,â€™ then it went under real fast and it didnâ€™t come back up,â€ said Adams.
Southwest Regional Police Department is working with the U.S. Coast Guard, the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission and the Pittsburgh Zoo.
Neighbors said theyâ€™re glad authorities are taking this seriously, because they are, too.
But how the heck could a gator survive the bitter cold winter we just had in Pennsylvania?
A 13-member truth committee appointed by the municipality of FljÃ³tsdalsherad, Iceland recently voted seven to six that a video (see below) taken by Hjortur Kjerulf at a river near his farm in February of 2012 was a real image of the LagarfljÃ³tsormur, an Icelandic equivalent of Scotland’s Loch Ness Monster first described in the Icelandic Annals of 1345.
As the result of the vote, Hjortur Kjerulf received a 500,000 Icelandic kroner (equivalent to $4163.20 at today’s exchange rate) prize established in 1997 as a reward for any real film or image of the wyrm.
In 2012, they put out a call to museums and individuals for cryptid hair samples. What usually happens is a person hears one howling, and â€œthen they see a clump of hair caught in a bush, and say â€˜Aha, thatâ€™s come from the Bigfoot,â€™â€ Sykes tells National Geographic. They received 57 samples.
After weeding out plant matter and glass fibers, they selected 36 for genetic analysis. Over half came from the US; the rest are from Russian and South Asia. The team methodically cleaned 2-4 centimeter shaft samples, and then amplified the ribosomal mitochondrial DNA 12S fragment — a snippet commonly used for species identification. Some failed to yield DNA sequences, and the team ended up with 30 recovered sequences, which they compared with GenBank data. They got a 100 percent match for each one.
Most samples attributed to hairy beast-men were identified as known species living in their normal geographical range: 10 were brown or black bears, four came from some canine, and the rest were raccoons, horses, cows, sheep, deer, a goat-like serow, and a porcupine. One Texan sample came back as human (very unlikely Neanderthal). The sample that supposedly came from the Sumatran orang pendek (Indonesian for â€œshort personâ€) turned out to be Malaysian tapir.
But thereâ€™s more! Two Himalayan yeti samples — one from Ladakh, India, and the other from Bhutan — came from a mystery bear whose closest genetic affinity is to an ancient polar bear, based on DNA from the jawbone of a Paleolithic Ursus maritimus who lived 40,000 years ago. The golden-brown Ladakh sample was collected by a hunter four decades ago when he thought he shot an abnormally aggressive brown bear. The reddish-brown Bhutan sample came from what was known to be a migyhur (or yeti) nest in a bamboo forest 3,500 meters in the air. The researchers suspect these hairs came from unrecognized bear species, color variants of polar bears, or maybe a polar bear x brown bear hybrid (pizzlies!), though they canâ€™t know for sure without genomic sequence data.
The Daily Mail reports that, late last year, an ordinary Briton playing with Apples maps decided to check out the satellite images of Loch Ness and found the above catfish-like image.
Andrew Dixon, 26, a charity worker for the Great North Air Ambulance, from Darlington, County Durham, said: â€˜It was a total fluke that I found it. I was looking at satellite images of my town and then just thought Iâ€™d have a look at Loch Ness.
â€˜The first thing that came into my head when I saw it was, â€œThatâ€™s the Loch Ness Monsterâ€. It was the shape of it, I thought it had to be something more than a shadow.
Research by a British scientist has concluded that the legendary Himalayan yeti may in fact be a sub-species of brown bear.
DNA tests on hair samples carried out by Oxford University genetics professor Bryan Sykes found that they matched those from an ancient polar bear.
He subjected the hairs to the most advanced tests available.
He says the most likely explanation for the myth is that the animal is a hybrid of polar bears and brown bears.
Prof Sykes told the BBC that there may be a real biological animal behind the yeti myth.
“I think this bear, which nobody has seen alive,… may still be there and may have quite a lot of polar bear in it,” he said.
“It may be some sort of hybrid and if its behaviour is different from normal bears, which is what eyewitnesses report, then I think that may well be the source of the mystery and the source of the legend.”
Prof Sykes conducted the DNA tests on hairs from two unidentified animals, one from Ladakh – in northern India on the west of the Himalayas – and the other from Bhutan, 1,285km (800 miles) further east.
The results were then compared with the genomes of other animals that are stored on a database of all published DNA sequences.
Suspected yeti footprints in Nepal Suspected yeti footprints – such as these in Nepal – are regularly photographed
Prof Sykes found that he had a 100% match with a sample from an ancient polar bear jawbone found in Svalbard, Norway, that dates back to between 40,000 and 120,000 years ago – a time when the polar bear and closely related brown bear were separating as different species.
The species are closely related and are known to interbreed where their territories overlap.
The sample from Ladakh came from the mummified remains of a creature shot by a hunter around 40 years ago, while the second sample was in the form of a single hair, found in a bamboo forest by an expedition of filmmakers around 10 years ago.
Prof Sykes said that his results were “completely unexpected” and that more work needed to be done interpreting them.
Alleged Nazi archives photo, dated 18 December 1942, of U-boats and very large shark off Capetown
The Discovery Channel happens to be reporting, by the strangest kind of coincidence, just at the beginning of “Shark Week,” several pieces of evidence suggesting that the giant Megalodon shark (fl. roughly 28 to 1.5 million years ago, during the Cenozoic Era, late Oligocene to early Pleistocene) is still with us.
NYM last September linked reports of sightings by US forces in Afghanistan of a mysterious large wild cat.
Michael Yon (who I’m reluctantly linking, despite his being on my shit list these days for devoting so much of his blogging recently to narcissistic attempts to play crusading journalist taking on the American military high command) has fresh photos from someone in the field today.
The pictures (taken from a helipcopter north of Kandahar) are clearly of a Jungle Cat (Felix chaus), an Asian critter a bit larger than a lynx or bobcat (20-24″ — 48 to 61 centimeters) running 22-37″ — 55 to 94 centimeters in length. The body color and tail markings are pretty distinctive. Try Google Images for comparable pictures.
Brody thought this infrared image might be a caracal.
Michael Yon mixes a front-lines combat story into his report of American sightings of an unidentified large cat in Kandahar province, Aghanistan.
There is much talk about â€œjaguarsâ€ or â€œcougarsâ€ among the troops here. At least a dozen American Soldiers claim they have seen gigantic cats in these flatlands. â€œGiganticâ€ being defined as roughly the size of a German Shepherd. During a mission, I asked about these mysterious big cats. Several US Soldiers insistedâ€”completely insistedâ€”they were eyewitnesses. The Afghan soldiers chuckled, saying their American counterparts were hallucinating. The Americans remained adamant. The inevitable follow-up questions came. â€œHow do you know what a cougar even looks like? Have you ever seen one before?â€ An Afghan commander said to a particularly persistent American, â€œYou saw a sheep.â€
â€œNo, it was a big cat!â€ replied the American.
â€œYou maybe saw a donkey,â€ conceded the Afghan.
We know there are big cats in Afghanistan. This is widely accepted as fact, yet big cats are not reported living in the Zhari District of Kandahar Province. We know there are polar bears in the United States. But if you find yourself stumbling out of the Florida Everglades, ripping moss from your hair while mumbling that you saw a polar bear, locals might ask you to sit under a shade tree and enjoy an iced tea and a nap. A polar bear in Florida is as likely as an alligator in Alaska.
Snow Leopards have been photographed this year in Afghanistan, but the climate and geography in the Wakhan Corridor is extremely dissimilar, and far less populated than Zhari. We are in hot, dry country, just a short drive from the Dasht-i-Margo or â€œThe Desert of Death.â€ I visited this desert in the spring of 2006 and dozens of times since.
The Afghan Soldiers refute any suggestion that there are big cats here in Kandahar. â€œNo way,â€ they say, â€œimpossible.â€ American Soldiers insist they have seen them by naked eye, by weapon optics, and by thermal optics that can zoom with amazing clarity. I look through these kinds of optics almost every day, and to be sure, they are so precise itâ€™s hard to conceive anyone mistaking a sheep or donkey for a big cat. But even when Soldiers agree another Soldier may have seen a big cat, the discussion turns to, â€œHow long did you see it? A second? Ten seconds? A minute?â€ Sometimes they see it for minutes at a time. Two Soldiers in separate locations claimed they saw large cats jump over high walls. One Soldier told me he saw two cats at the same time. Troops in different outfits who are miles apart are reporting seeing these cats from around Panjwai and Zhari. …
I asked TJ what color is the cat heâ€™s been seeing. He sees the cat almost every morning, and itâ€™s brown and has spots or stripes. He said it stays about 300 or 400 meters away, and sometimes hangs out for up to twenty minutes. I asked if heâ€™d stake it out with me if I came back, because with my camera gear we can practically get its eye color from 400 meters. He said sure, come back and weâ€™ll stake it out.
It might not be long until we settle the question of the Kandahar Cougar.
Ben Brody, another embedded reporter working in the same area wrote a similar report back in June.
Last summer when I spent two weeks at Combat Outpost Lakokhel in Zhari District, a few soldiers there swore they had seen a mountain lion-sized cat stalking around their guard towers at night. While I believed they thought they had seen such an animal, I privately felt they were probably seeing a big, sneaky stray dog.
Now I am embedded with soldiers at Combat Outpost Sangsar, just a couple miles from Lakokhel, and the sightings persist. Last night the patrol I was out with spotted two of the cats circling them in the dusty gloom, using their thermal imagers. I don’t have high-tech equipment like that so I couldn’t see them firsthand.
One of the soldiers managed to capture a few photos of the cats on his imager, and I in turn photographed its eyepiece. The thermal images, while a bit indistinct, appear to show two adult Caracals walking 40 meters from an American infantry squad.
The cats followed us for several hours, always keeping their distance but occasionally uttering a low growl, casting a shadow of dread over the dark fields. As we passed a farm compound a lonely hound howled at the column of soldiers, likely unaware of the great cats slinking through the shadows who could easily make a meal of him.
Despite soldiers’ hyperbolic reports that the cats are “seven feet long and around 300 pounds,” Caracals weigh about 40 pounds.
Another really bad game camera photo accompanied by an unpersuasive narrative of skepticism and reluctant public release. This time from Minnesota, a long, long way from the original theoretical range of the imaginary North American elusive and unknown large primate.
I don’t think it requires any apparatus more complicated than the eye to recognize the posture of a man underneath what is obviously a suit.
Tim Kedrowski and his sons, Peter and Casey, say they aren’t pushovers for Bigfoot stories. But a frame on a game trail camera set up on their hunting land north of Remer, Minn. has left them wondering.
“To us, it’s very hard because we lean toward the skeptical type,” Kedrowski said in a telephone interview from his Rice, Minn., home.
But after checking with neighbors and any other hunters who might have been walking through the dense woods at 7:20 p.m. on the rainy night of Oct. 24, he said they couldn’t imagine what else the image could be. Tim said he considered ideas from a bear to a bow hunter in a fuzzy suit. But the arm and hand couldn’t be a bear’s, or its upright gait. And there is no evidence in the photo of a bow or flashlight a hunter might be using to track a wounded deer. …
Casey Kedrowski said he and his brother had gone out to the family’s hunting shack prior to deer season to bring in firewood and make other preparations. They set up a game trail camera to see what might be wandering around their property.
Casey said he and his brother were the only people who knew where the camera was located. They took the camera down when deer season started, and a couple of weeks later checked on what they had caught.
When they came to the picture of the long-armed creature walking upright, Casey said, “We just looked at each other. Each of us thought we were playing a trick on each other.”
When they determined that neither of them had pulled a prank on the other, they checked to see if anyone had been in the area that night. Tim said the only neighbors were two elderly hunters in their own shack, neither of whom matched the size and appearance of the creature caught on camera.
However, he said, when he asked the men about the night the camera clicked on the mystery, they said they had gone out about 2 a.m. to use the outhouse and had heard strange squealing noises. Tim said he asked them to show him the direction of the sounds. They pointed to the area where the camera had been, although they had no idea of its location.
Tim said he just released the photo and permission for its publication last weekend.
The photo itself is unconvincing and displays many of the attributes associated with previous “man in an ape suit” photos and YouTube videos. Note the lack of articulation on the back of the legs where the thigh meets the knee and continues to the calf. The “fur” has the draped appearance of a pant leg – not the musculature of a wild animal. The hands have the rubbery look of an ape from a 1930s Bela Lugosi B-movie. Notably, the face of the “creature” is blocked by a small tree, conveniently obscuring any facial details, the most difficult part of a costume to fake effectively.
Despite the “internet sensation” claim, Ananova is really the only news source on this one.
A photograph purporting to show a 55ft snake found in a forest in China has become an internet sensation.
It was originally posted in a thread on the website of the People’s Daily, the official Communist Party newspaper in China.
The thread claimed the snake was one of two enormous boas found by workers clearing forest for a new road outside Guping city, Jiangxi province.
They apparently woke up the sleeping snakes during attempts to bulldoze a huge mound of earth.
“On the third dig, the operator found there was blood amongst the soil, and with a further dig, a dying snake appeared,” said the post.
“At the same time, another gold coloured giant boa appeared with its mouth wide open. The driver was paralysed with fear, while the other workers ran for their lives.
“By the time the workers came back, the wounded boa had died, while the other snake had disappeared. The bulldozer operator was so sick that he couldn’t even stand up.”
The post claimed that the digger driver was so traumatised that he suffered a heart attack on his way to hospital and later died.
The dead snake was 55ft (16.7m) long, weighed 300kg and was estimated to be 140 years old, according to the post.
However, local government officials in Guiping say the story and photograph are almost certainly a hoax as giant boas are not native to the area.
Anannova seems to have gotten the story from QuirkyChina, which claims to be quoting the People’s Daily for November 11th, but no such story turn up in a search of the English language edition of the paper’s web-site.
The use of the term “boa” is obviously inaccurate. Boa constrictors are native to the New World. The visible markings on the snake’s back, I think, identify it clearly enough as a reticulated python. And Chinese English news reports do clearly routinely refer to pythons (native to Asia) as “boas.”
This 40 k. (88 lbs.), 4 m. (13′) long reticulated python found by Yunnan villagers in this October 22, 2006 story is referred to as a “giant boa.”
There is a problem with range. Guping is a bit north of the generally described range of Python reticulatus.
Wikipedia estimated range of Reticulated Python (Python reticulatus)
Jiangxi Province, China
And there is a problem with the size. The photograph is obviously calculated to mislead. The snake is hanging from the bucket in the extreme foreground in an effort to induce viewers to take the people and cab behind as an indication of scale. If someone could identify the model of the backhoe, and could determine the actual size of the digging bucket, it would be pretty easy to come up with a more accurate estimate of the actual size of the snake.
Estimates of how large reticulated pythons can grow vary. Wikipedia says “more than 28 feet (8.7 m),” quoting Murphy/Henderson (1997). Wall (1926) proposes 30′ (9.14 m.). Oliver (1958) goes all the way up to 33′ (10.06 m.).
Yet, there is a news agency account, dated January 8, 2004, describing the capture in Indonesia of a nearly 49 foot (14.9 m.), 990 pound (450 k.) monster reticulated python, complete with 0:33 video.