Thursday, November 11, 2010

Several versions of the comparison between the alleged Sasquatch female in the Patterson-Gimlin film footage and an ordinary human male in a movie gorilla costume. The Man in a Suit has shorter arms and the fit of the suit is looser than Patty's pelt. The braincase is dramatically smaller in Patty's case, probably in Homo erectus brain size. The cranium of the human in the suit is a good deal larger.

You can test this against as many test runs of a normal human in a gorilla costume or even a "Blobsquatch" image of a human in a gorilla costume. Homo sapiens has an expanded cranium like a light bulb up on top. And the Patterson female does not have nearly so large of a braincase.

If it needs to be pointed out, a human's head inside a hooded mask of a gorilla costume is not going to have a proportionately smaller head inside the suit than he had before he put the mask on.

The last pasteup, Image 1 shows the direct comparison in proportionate sizes of the Patterson female (blow up of a still from the film footage, right) and the skulls of Homo erectus above and Homo sapiens below. I have excised the top of the head from the still and put it in the top center. This section begins at the top of the eye sockets, goes around the top and then cuts off at the back of the neck, level of where the ears would be. You cannot have a human skull in any alternate position when the face is fitted to the mask, human faces do not flex off the skulls. And this interpretation of the size of the face and head are in proportion to the body. Now you can have a suit with a fat padded belly trying to make the head look smaller by illusion, but that would not shrink the actual size of the face or cranium as a fraction of the total height, nor can it possibly change the way they fit together.

In my opinon, not only is the braincase INSIDE the peaked head deficient below the normal range of Homo sapiens, it is probably even deficient for an erectus, proportionately speaking. And the peak of the head cannot be any part of the head that has brains in it, in any event the braincase would be further down. And if it is supposed to be a peaked hood worn with a mask, then the peaked part most decidedly would not be any part of the head that would have any brains in it. The cranium MUST be lower down than the point on top.

This is not an argument that is original to me, Grover Krantz and other supporters of the film have been saying this all along.
I defer to Krantz and submit that the creature depicted in the film footage is possibly a surviving Gigantopithecus.

And that is based purely on anatomy alone: all other arguments alleging impropriety on patterson's part, or "suspicious circumstances" of any sort, actually have no further bearing on the case nor yet any relevance to the evaluation of the anatomy depicted in the film footage itself.

Friday, May 25, 2007

CFZ Press is happy to announce the launch of a new periodical called Exotic Pets. However, although the title may seem self-explanatory, we hope the magazine will do more than ‘it says on the tin’.

Initially coming out four times a year, the magazine will feature authoritative articles on keeping herps and inverts, the more unusual fish, and even exotic mammals and birds. However, although we intend to be the definitive magazine for those who believe in the responsible keeping of exotic pets, we want to do more than that.

For 100 years, from the mid-19th Century, natural history was the premier British hobby. Over the last 50 years it has declined in popularity for a number of reasons, most notably that killing living creatures for a hobby is quite rightly no longer seen as ethical. With the technological advances of the 21st Century, however, everything has changed. With a digital camera one can have a butterfly collection for example, and with the advent of cheap air travel, places once only accessible by the Gerald Durrells of this world, can be visited by everybody. Suddenly, the amateur naturalist can come into his, or her, own, and there has never been a better time for people to get involved. Amateur naturalists across the world are carrying out valuable research, and participating in essential breeding programmes. If you are interested, this magazine is for you.

The first issue (out in June) features articles on the megamantis: a giant species from the Cameroons, keeping African fruit beetles, glass snakes – huge European relatives of the slow-worm, amphiumas – peculiar aquatic salamanders, and much, much more. For a sample, post-free, issue send £3.75 ($8 US), by cheque (payable to Jonathan Downes) or by Paypal using our account: Or for a four issue per year subscription, the cost will be £15.00 ($30 US).

Watch this space….

Saturday, January 20, 2007

I had an email the other day from someone remonstrating with me that I haven't posted on this particular blog for a heck of a long time. They are, of course, completely right.

Yesterday, I wrote on my main blog about the goings-on at the CFZ over the last few months, and why, perforce, my blogging activities have been somewhat curtailed of late. In fact, the more I think of it, there are various people I know who have voluminous blogs which are updated several times a day, and which probably stretch to something in the region of half a million words a year. Now, I don't know how they do it, but I suspect that some like Loren Coleman are driven, ever so slightly obsessed - as am I - and get very little sleep. I am incredibly impressed with the sheer volume of material that Loren gets up in his blog, and I really don't know how he does it.

Other bloggers, who shall remain nameless, are convinced that the general public are going to be fascinated with the dull minutae of their tedious little lives, and, although in a world where a vacuuous guttersnipe like Jady Goody can ammass a reputed £7million fortune, quite possibly I am wrong, and people are indeed interested in a blow-by-blow account of the daily events in these people's lives. Even so, for these people to blog with such gusto and enthusiasm, and in such a volume, would suggest that they do practically nothing else but sit at the computer tapping away.

I hope that I do not sound too horribly conceited here. After all, I publish a blog (three in fact), which is - at least in part - an account of my ongoing activities, but I do so for one important reason. Because the CFZ is funded by public subscription, I feel that we have a duty to let everyone know what we are doing with their money!

However, I have drifted dreadfully from the main point of this blog entry. Before I got distracted and wandered off along different thought trails (which is something, I am afraid, I am wont to do), I was trying to explain why I haven't done an entry on the `Wild Woolsery` blog for such a ridiculously long time.

Basically, although the CFZ has a long term committment to researching, and publishing, material on the local ecology here in North Devon, we have been very busy in the last few months with getting our publishing schedule up to date, and preparing arrangements for the visitor centre which will start construction here next week. In all this hurly burly of activity there has been practically no time for any natural history work at all.

However, I am sitting here in my studt, typing this, listening to an album called Brain Capers by a band called Mott the Hoople, that most people have forgotten abot, and looking out onto the garden.

Even though it is onlya few weeks since Christmas, and the whole of North Devon has been battered alkmost into submission by a succession of brutal gales, the first signs of life are beginning to be visible in the garden. The snowdrops are out, the first green shoots of the daffodils are beginning to poke tentatively through the soil, and the lawn is even beginning to look ever so slightly shaggy.

One thing is noticeable, however: the world is beginning to make sense again. Althpugh it has been a very mild winder, and - believe it or not - there has been one of the rose bushes that has flowered against all odds for most of the winter, this year things seem to be happening in their proper season a bit more.

At the end of 2005 we had the first frogspawn before Christmas, and by this time last year - just before my father was taken into hospital for his final illness - there was frogspawn in every ditch we passed. This year, the first frogspawn reported in the village was in the garden of Ivy Cottage, by the Rev Gerald Smith, at the end of last week. Unlike last year, there are no signs that the birds are beginning nexting, and the world (or at least Woolsery) aooears to be having a more conventional January than usual.

OK, it could be argued that last year, when the frogs spawned in December, and the birds nested in January, the cold spell in February killed the whole lot, and that is why there ain't any to be seen here this year, but I think that his would be un-necessarily pessimistic. I hope that it merely means that Mother Nature is repairing herself, and that the ecosystem is returniong to some semblance of normality.

One mildly interesting aside that occurred to the boys (and girls) of the CFZ during last year's long, cold winter, was that maybe the prolific early spawning by the common frog has a purpose. Maybe the first batch of tadpoles are meant to die prematurely in order to introduce a burst of protein into the ecosystem? After all, the frogs seemed to spawn again quite happily at the beginning of March, and this time the tadpoles hatched and matured perfectly normally.

It makes you think, doesn't it?

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Moth Trapping

Ever since I was 14, and used to go out collecting butterflies and moths with my friend Paul Sherborne (where are you dude? I haven't seen you since 1977), I have wanted a moth trap. However, all the books (and more recently websites), that I consulted have told me that the sort that I wanted was called a Robinson Trap, and it has always been prohibitively expensive. Then - a few weeks ago -I was staying with Corinna, and whilst she was out at work I was pottering about on the internet. I discovered a company called Bioquip , and it turned out that they sold moth traps.

However, they, too, recommended a Robinson Trap, and eventhough they were cheaper than their competitors by a long mile, they still charged over two hundred quid plus VAT, but they did sell a range of other traps, including something called a Johnson Trap, and as the total cost was only about eighty quid, I took a deep breath and bought one. Due to a series of cock ups involving those awfully nice people at my bank, the trap didn'tarrive 'till yesterday when I was nursing a hangover after spending an evening of high jinks with the folks who are setting up our web based TV set-up (but that is another story).

As the day progressed I got more and more glum. As many of you know I am bipolar, and as alchohol is a depressent I have cut down seriously on the amount of the fermented grape that I consume. However, I do drink on social occasions, and the social occasion on friday night had been a very convivial one indeed. As a result I was inclined towards negativity anyway, and by dusk I had managed to convince myself that my penny pinching had probably meant that my new moth trap was gonna be a disaster. "I should have waited until I could afford a Robinson Trap", I mused with the black dog firmly ensconced on my shoulder. Then I thought that if I waited until I could pay out two and a half ton on a moth trap then I would never get one. After all I had never been able to get one in the past third of a century since Paul and I sat out in the garden and plotted what we would do when we could finally get one. So I became even more depressed.

That afternoon David (our saturday boy, who is the same age as I was when I first wanted a moth trap) came along with his mate Tully. They are in the process of rehearsing a rock band to play at the school concert next week. Much to my great amusement (and mild embarrassment) they are playing one of the songs which I recorded with Lionel Fanthorpe and my band The Amphibians from Outer Space some seven years ago. And a jolly good job they are doing of it as well. But I digress. I don't think that either of them realised how bloody miserable I was feeling, and they did a really good job in the garden. As an afterthought I asked them to set up the moth trap, which they did, and then went home a fiver richer, to prepare for the school dance that evening...
I went to bed, and woke up a few hours later feeling a little better. As dusk fell I was talking to Corinna on the telephone. She really is a wonderful woman because when I told her that I had to truncate the conversation in order to test out my moth trap, she demurred with a ladylike grin (which I could hear in her voice down the `phone).
Mark switched the moth trap on, and for a while nothing happened. We sat at the little circular wrought iron table that we have put beneath the trees. It is a perfect place to sit on warm summer evenings, listening to the little sounds of the garden at night, smoking cigarettes and looking into the middle distance. Graham came out and joined us for a few minutes, before drifting off - a little like a creature of the night himself - to take photographs of what was going on on his digital camera.

Now, I don't know whether this was a result of my slightly hungover psyche, or whether in an overdose of emotion following England's World Cup defeat, Graham was in somewhat of a whimsical mood, but I am sure I heard the words "fairy grotto" muttered in a gruff voice from behind the trees.

Nothing much had happened after about forty minutes and I was getting bored. We had attracted and caught numerous midges and some small tortrix moths, but nothing of interest, when something large and yellow fluttered into view, hovered briefly above the trap and then flew in. It was a swallowtailed moth (Ourapteryx sambucaria) a common but striking species.

We caught and photographed it, and then suddenly the floodgates opened.

There were moths everywhere! Without exaggeration, it was like a feeding frenzy of sharks! Mark and I were in the middle of a mothy maelstrom, as these ashen winged children of the night swooped in from all directions attracted and befuddled by the ultraviolet rays of the Mercury Vapour bulb. We caught in excess of forty species, including a rare and beautiful large elephant hawk moth - a species I have never seen alive before in its adult state!

We are presently cataloguing and photographing what we have prior to releasing them again, and going through the whole process again tonight.

Thank you Bioquip! The trap succeeded beyond my wildest dreams, and although I am sure that one day I shall be able to afford a Robinson Trap, which (everyone assures me) will nearly double the amount of creatures I can trap, I doubt whether I shall actually do it. I don't know what I would do with that many moths!

(To view the pictures of our moths so far, go to the appropriate section of our Wild Woolsery picture library, and marvel at the diversity of what flies around each night in my own back garden)

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Water Beetles
I am not the only writer who finds these earnest little insects irrisistibly fascinating, for reasons best known to hereself (and she ain't gonna tell us because she is dead), the late, great Nancy Mitford called one of her volumes of anthology `The Water Beetle`, and I like to think that it is because, as children, she and her sisters
(including the future Lady Diana Moseley, and the poor doomed Unity), were as fascinated by these creatures as I was as a child. However, there is probably a far more prosaic explanation - there usually is.
When I was a boy, the ponds and ditches around Woolsery contained a dazzling range of these creatures, ranging from the tiny whirligig beetles, to the enormous Dytisticus marginalis, and it was one of my plans on aquiring a digital camera, to set up a range of pond tanks, so that I could study and photograph these tiny beasts at my leisure...
... but sadly, either I am looking back at the mid 1970s with more than usually rose-coloured spectacles, or something drastic has happened to the water beetle population around here, `cos they are singularly absent. However, today I caught three small black and gold beetles, (Platambus maculatus) I think, in a sluggish stream just past Huddisford. I look forward to continuing my acquaintance with this handsome insect...

A stream near Huddisford, about 100 yards from where we caught the water beetles

`Trawling` for insects....

This afternoon it was bloody hot, and although I had enormous amounts of things that I should have been doing back in the office, I decided to skive. Hastily grabbing Dave (our Saturday boy), Oll (the Ecologist(), and Mark (Assistant Director), I bundled them and a couple of butterfly nets and some jam jars into the car and set off...

It was Oll who suggested that we try this rather interesting variation of the old fashioned beatuing-net which served generations of entomologists so very well, and I have to admit that I was well impressed by what we managed to catch..

A shield bug (Coreus marginatus)

Araniella cucurbitina

We caught various other things including two species of bug, two small oil beetles, various click beetles,and some exquisitely beautiful iridescent flower beetles. They are all too small for me to photograph, but I hope that Graham shall be able to tomorrow..
When I was a little boy, my favourite book was G.A.K.Herklots' Hong Kong Countryside, in which he exhorted his readers:

"No-one who loves the countryside should face the new year without making at least this one good resolution - to keep a diary day by day. This would not be a social diary, but a record of flowers and birds seen in the country, of seed-sowing in the garden, and of all the little events of interest in the world of nature. As January succeeded January, I solemnly vowed each year to write down what I had seen, and heard and done. Never have I fulfilled the vow as I should have wished; but others may be more resolute."

I first read those words forty years ago in 1966, and they inspired me well. But not well enough. I have intended to keep such a journal for something like forty years, I have never actually got around to doing it. OK, I have published about a dozen volumes of my vaguely autobiographical writings which include my ramblings within natural history at home and abroad, but I have never actually done a nature diary.

....and I don't suppose that I will be about to start one now, either.

However, as anyone who has read my inky fingered scribblings here or elsewhere probably knows, I returned to my old family home in rural North Devon a year ago. I relocated the CFZ up here, and am using this as a base for our cryptozoological researches across the globe. However, I am also rediscovering one of the vocations of my youth; that of the amateur naturalist, and armed with a digital camera (the killing jar is somewhat passe now), we roam the same fields and lanes which I explored when young, in search of the same creatures which fascinated me as a child.

This blog is intended as a home for the pictures we take, and for us to record our findings as we make them. I haven't actually thought this through particularly, so I have no idea how these pictures will eventually be displayed, and I am sure that the whole affair will develop organically. But enough waffle, and on with the show......