Sunday, 24 May 2009

Toad In The... Coal?

Frogs are probably not known for their love of coal. In fact on a list of things a frog might like, we can safely say coal probably wouldn't make it into the top 100. But nevertheless, there's a couple of bizarre incidents that suggest maybe we've got the frogs all wrong.

Eddie Marsh was a very impatient 14 year old boy living in Mclean County, Illnois. He was impatient because it was cold and he was eager to get his coal fire burning on one particular day in 1886. So he poked at the coals, trying to stoke the fire when he rashly poked a little too hard and some pieces flew out. He was about to toss a piece back into the fire when he took a second look. In his hand was a perfectly preserved tree frog (hyla).

Biologist R. W. Shufeldt said:

"I at once recognised it as a species of hyla, though I am unable to say which one. It apparently agrees in all it's external characteristics with a specimen I have of a hyla veriscolor... though it is rather smaller... It is completely mummified, and in a wonderful state of preservation, being of a dark, snuff-brown color, somewhat shrunken. I am aware that these tree frogs very often climb into some of the most unheard of places; but it struck me that it would be interesting to have some tell us if they ever heard of a hyla finding its way to the vault of a coal mine 541 feet under ground and climbing into the solid coal bed after getting there."

Not so strange you might think. Probably some sort of fossil or just plain coincidence. So how do we explain the next story from Maryland in 1906?

CUMBERLAND, Md., Dec. 23. -- John Savage, a miner in the Enterprise mine, at Buck Hill, a suburb of Lonaconing, this county, was very much astonished yesterday, he says, when, in breaking a lump of coal, a live frog jumped out of it and hopped around his feet. NY Times

Or several further stories from the UK, Sweden, France, Germany and many more places.

What are we to make of frogs obsession with coal and stone? Hmm... what do you think?

This blogger works for nothing but the joy of writing but always appreciates things bought from his wishlist

Tuesday, 19 May 2009


So I was taking my normal walk home through the wonderful part of London known as Deptford when I was struck by a sight I really thought I'd never see. Not only were two Thames Water employees standing in the middle of a busy road with nothing more than some hi-vis vests (as if that's going to save them in Deptford), but one held two dowsing rods and every so often, as cars zoomed past, they would cross and his colleague would bend over and make chalk markings on the spot.

Now, self disclosure here, I used to work for the water board (Three Valleys Water rather than Thames) and I have NEVER heard of water engineers using dowsing to locate water. Hmm... plus... who uses dowsing any more??

Time for a sharp letter to Thames Water requesting their scientific data on dowsing me thinks.

Further Reading

Flim-Flam! Psychics, ESP, Unicorns, and Other Delusions - James Randi (UK Amazon, US Amazon)

The Divining Hand: The 500 year-old Mystery of Dowsing - Christoper Bird (UK Amazon, US Amazon)

This blogger works for nothing but the joy of writing but always appreciates things bought from his wishlist

Sunday, 17 May 2009

The Rendlesham Forest Incident Revisited

Many moons ago I wrote a piece on the The Rendlesham Forest Incident but wrote it only from the viewpoint I was aware of. There are other viewpoints and I thought I'd just mention Larry Warren's version of the events which give a very different idea of what may have occurred in that forest. Check them out here.

Further Reading

Left at East Gate: A First-hand Account of the Rendlesham Forest Ufo Incident, Its Cover-up, and Investigation - Larry Warren and Peter Robbins (US Amazon,UK Amazon)

You Can't Tell the People: The Cover-up of Britain's Roswell - Georgina Bruni (US Amazon, UK Amazon)

This blogger works for nothing but the joy of writing but always appreciates things bought from his wishlist

Saturday, 9 May 2009

Megalania The Aussie Dragon

I'm now the owner of my very own Aussie dragon; his name is now Gibbs and he's (gender not confirmed, it'll be Doris if she's a girl!) a bearded dragon. Which sort of got me thinking about my favourite Aussie cryptid. Forget about the yowie, don't even bother with the bunyip. Megalania is where it's at!

Not only is megalania a real prehistoric creature. But it is possible it survived (officially) until sometime around 40,000 years ago. The earliest evidence for human habitation of Australia is from 40,000 years ago. It's a possibility that megalania and man met face to face.

So what is a megalania?

Megalania (Varanus priscus) was the largest terrestrial lizard known to science. It was probably about 3.5 metres (11 ft) long on average and weighed about 97–158 kilograms (210–350 lb). Basically; it was really very big. It was probably at the very top of the food chain, preying on creatures large and small.

So there's the "science". But what makes it worthy of our attention? Well... some say megalania is not extinct and still prowls the outback of Australia.

In July 1979, Rex Gilroy investigated supposed megalania footprints left in a recently plowed field. . About thirty tracks were in the ground, but unfortunately Gilroy was only able to make a cast of one due to rain. There's a picture here. A megalania big enough to leave a footprint that big would be quite a fearsome beast!

More famously later in 1979, Frank Gordon (claimed by sources to be a herpetologist but I cannot independently locate him or his trade), while doing field work in the Wattagan Mountains, started the engine in his vehicle and a nearby 'log' scampered off. What he had thought was a log was actually a lizard about thirty feet in length.

There are also a few other sightings recorded here. And alas this is where we must awake from our daydreaming of giant monsters for something worrying here raises it's head. In my research I've found NO story that doesn't in some way lead back to Rex Gilroy. His own websites show he is a very prolific research of all many of fortean curiosities in Australia, which is nothing in itself worrying. But why are there no independent stories and sightings?

I enjoy wondering if "recently" extinct creatures might just have survived into the modern age. People sometimes forget how big the world is, and how little of it humans see. My own personal experiences of moving to London has found most city folk don't even know what a cow is like let alone a wild animal. So I can believe in the survival of many creatures. BUT until I can see some other sources of sightings of the megalania I have to think it might just be too much a case of one man's quest and less about the truth (no aspersions on Mr Gilroy's character meant, I don't think he is intentionally lying or misleading).

Further Reading

Dragons in the Dust: The Paleobiology of the Giant Monitor Lizard Megalania - Ralph E. Molnar (US Amazon, UK Amazon)

This blogger works for nothing but the joy of writing but always appreciates things bought from his wishlist

Friday, 8 May 2009

Black Triangle UFOs

As seen over Belgium

The word UFO is almost synonymous with "flying saucer" in the public consciousness. But as I'm sure you know they come in all sorts of shapes and sizes from the phantom airships, through cigar shapes, flying balls of light and spheres. But the cool one, the X-Files generation UFO, is the black triangle.

Triangular UFOs are not a recent development in ufology (check out a full history here). In fact they are almost as old as our favourite phantom airships, dating back to the 19th Century. One of the first sightings occurred on the 3rd of July 1882 when two luminous triangles, and then later two dark triangles appeared in front of the moon.

On the 12th of July 1946 3 very small silvery triangles were observed in Sweden.

The closer to the modern day we get the more detailed the reports become:

1953: Cleveland, Ohio; Don P. Hollister, a technical writer for the Goodyear Aircraft Corporation, saw a UFO pass overhead 6:30pm, September 7. While waxing his car in the backyard, Hollister happened to glance up and noticed a grayish-blue object directly overhead, headed north. The sky was completely overcast, and the UFO appeared to be at less than 3000 feet altitude. It was shaped roughly like an equilateral triangle, but rounded somewhat on the sides and angles, and was rotating around a central axis. The UFO continued on over the visible horizon at constant velocity, disappearing from view after about 5 seconds.

It's interesting because this report from Ohio resembles (except for time of day!) this video report below from Florida. It seems to rotate around a central axis too (the only thing that really makes this video somewhat remarkable).

In 1954 a triangle over Gemeaux, France got a mention in a CIA report. In 1962 two triangular UFOs got reported in the USAF's Project Blue Book.

But it was in the late eighties/early nineties that the triangles stopped being just random reports among various other UFO reports and started their very own "UFO flap". In Belgium of all places...

After that? Well... ever heard of the Phoenix Lights? And as sightings of the craft increase, some people have even claimed to see on on Google Maps, although I think that's just wishful thinking. Look at it. It's not a flying object. It's not a solid object. It's a triangle shaped piece of cleared ground. Anyway...

So. We have reports of triangles in the sky. But what are they? Of course some say aliens, but these are often more likely to be considered military hardware than most other UFOs.

Could it be that these are in fact spy planes called TR-3Bs? Sort of a step up from the black helicopters I suppose. Perhaps they are furthering the cause of the New World Order, or something cooked up during the Cold War to help spy on the Soviets.

Or perhaps they are just normal planes. At night. Which people think are triangular because it's dark.

As always, Dear Constant Reader, that's for you to think about.

Further Reading

Are We Being Watched?: True Mysteries of Triangles and Hidden Lights - Margaret A. Harvey (UK Amazon, US Amazon)

The Black Triangle Abduction - Bill Foster, Peggy Foster and Nadine Wheeler (UK Amazon, US Amazon)

UFO Sightings: The Evidence - Robert Sheaffer (UK Amazon, US Amazon)

This blogger works for nothing but the joy of writing but always appreciates things bought from his wishlist

Sunday, 3 May 2009

Nazi UFOs: Not Just In Antarctica

The Nazis; don't you wish they'd just die already? If it's not bad enough having to sit through years of Nazi history levels, hearing about their bombing raids and V weapons from my great aunt and being forced to endure a never ending series of rubbish movies about them, we also have to deal with a multitude of conspiracy theories about them: did their leaders escape to South America/Antarctica/the Moon (some did make it out but not as far as the Moon me thinks)? Did they really kill so many Jews (YES, and they weren't even content just with the Jews, they took out millions of other people from many different groups while they were at it)? And did they create and use flying saucers during (and perhaps after) the Third Reich?

In the 30th of March 1950 edition of "Der Spiegel" an interesting interview was featured supplementary to a story regarding the ongoing mystery of sightings of flying saucers. The interview was with Rudolph Schriever who claimed to have been part of a team who was developing blueprints for a rotor powered flying saucer during the later stages of the Second World War.

Der Spiegel mock up of supposed flying saucer

It operated by means of rotors moving around the sides of the cockpit, rather than above like in a helicopter, and was being designed to travel at supersonic speeds.

Artists impression

If you forget it was being designed by an evil empire then it's actually a rather cool concept, but even "Captain" Schriever was clear that it had never gotten beyond the research stage.

Whilst Major Rudolf Lusar devoted little space in his book German Secret Weapons of the Second World War to flying saucers he seems to suggest something more:

Flying saucers have been whirling round the world since 1947, suddenly turning up here and there, soaring in and darting off again at unprecedented speed with flames encircling the rim of the saucer's disc. They have been located by radar, pursued by fighters and yet nobody has so far succeeded in establishing the existence of such a 'flying saucer' or managed to ram or shoot one down. The public, even the experts, are perplexed by an ostensible mystery or a technical miracle. But slowly the truth is coming out that even during the war German research workers and scientists made the first moves in the direction of these ''flying saucers''. They built and tested such near-miraculous contraptions. Experts and collaborators in this work confirm that the first projects, called "flying discs", were undertaken in 1941. The designs for these ''flying discs'' were drawn up by the German experts Schriever, Habermohl and Miethe, and the Italian Bellonzo. Habernohl and Schriever chose a wide-surface ring which rotated round a fixed, cupola-shaped cockpit. The ring consisted of adjustable wing-discs which could be brought into appropriate position for the take-off' or horizontal flight. respectively. Miethe developed a discus-shaped plate of a diameter of 42m in which adjustable jets were inserted. Schriever and Habermohl, who worked in Prague, took off with the first "flying disc'' on February 14, 1945. Within three minutes they climbed to an altitude of I2,400m and reached a speed of 2,000 km/h in horizontal flight (!) It was intended ultimately to achieve speeds of 4,000 km/h.

Unsurprisingly it seems Major Lusar was being somewhat loose with the truth and drew on several different Nazi UFO news stories to get his information. Check out this page for extensive info on the different articles and Major Lusar's full copy on flying saucers. However the influence of his book, and of the articles from the '50s that inspired his writing, on the subject of Nazi UFOs has become so embedded most sites seem to take them at face value. Take a look at this site for some sceptical views and remember there is no physical evidence to support this programme which some have dubbed the "V-7". Which means now I've got to go and find out what the V4, the V5 and the V6 supposedly were. Darn it.

Well the concept of the V-7 is a lot saner than some of the other gumph out there. Some believer that the Nazi's were helped by extraterrestrials. One statistic that kept being mentioned in a recent "UFO Hunters" episode was that the Germans were "25 years ahead in terms of science and technology" as opposed to the rest of the planet. Have you ever heard such painfully idiotic and naive comments? So they were 25 years ahead of us in terms of what exactly? What did they have that without their help we wouldn't have got until 1970? And if they were why the hell didn't they win? I cannot bring myself to go into the details today, I'll save it for another day when I able to put up with historical inaccuracy and lack of even a pretense of being bothered about evidence. Can you tell UFO Hunters rubs me up the wrong way? Do they not understand that their constantly biased approach to evidence gathering is totally off putting to any sane lay person tuning in? Are they in fact a secret Government conspiracy to persuade us that all Ufologists are in fact narcissistic loons? If so, it's working.

My great aunt once saw a V-2 strike the house across the allotments from the house she still lives in. Sort of moment in time that lives with you especially as she knew the people who died very well. If I were to ask her whether the Nazi's would have hesitated to use any new alien tech to conquer their enemies I think I already know her answer. But anyway more of that when we return to this subject some other time.

Further Reading

"German Secret Weapons of the Second World War" - Rudolf Lusar (UK Amazon, US Amazon)

Nazi International: The Nazis' Postwar Plan to Control Finance, Conflict, Physics and Space - Joesph P. Farrell (UK Amazon, US Amazon)

This blogger works for nothing but the joy of writing but always appreciates things bought from his wishlist