Cryptozoology Break! The Kraken

Once the most feared creature in the Nordic Seas, the Kraken was often described by bewildered fisherman as a disproportionately large squid, or octopus, or other ferocious tentacled sea monster. The stories were usually scoffed by landlovers until the Kraken was popularized by French science fiction author, Jules Verne, in his classic novel, Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea. Eventually, in the late 19th century, the not quite so giant, giant squid were being discovered washed up on the shore, some at 40+ feet in length, confirming at least in part the nautical horror stories of the past. The giant squid remains an incredibly elusive creature, having only recently been documented alive, but the tall tales of the Kraken, a gargantuan ship-swallowing sea monster, have gradually been adapted into medium tales of a pretty darn big squid who dukes it out with whales.

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/c/c8/Giant_octopus_attacks_ship.jpg

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/c/c8/Giant_octopus_attacks_ship.jpg

 

Are You For Real?

Known as South America’s most adorable and most endangered primate, the Cotton-Top Tamarin is a monkey that must be seen to be believed. And even then you’re pushing it.

Cryptozoology Break! The Bunyip

Australia’s native Aborigines have plenty of tales involving a ferocious freshwater creature called the Bunyip, who comes out of the water at nightfall to hunt for their children. Descriptions vary greatly, from dog-faced to reptilian to starfish shaped. Since “Bunyip” actually translates to “evil spirit”, shape-shifting is probably not out of the question. But, it is more likely the Aborigines could never accurately describe it because they were busy running for their lives in the other direction. A solid survival technique in this case.

Art by Allen Douglas

Cryptozoology Break! Kongamato

In the Jiundu swamps of western Zambia, a legendary pterodactyl-like creature known as Kongamato (“overwhelmer of boats”) had been terrifying the natives for generations. This elusive creature was known to capsize boats and deliberately pursue and destroy any poor soul who laid eyes on it. A few early 20th century explorers reported seeing and often being attacked by these crazy ugly flying monsters. Similar sightings were reported from as far away as Mount Kilimanjaro. Today, the real truth about the Kongamato remains a mystery…

You say Kongamayto, I say Kongamahto, let’s get the heck outta here!

Whales vs Sharks

Okay, so we know you can tell which is which, but can you name 5 major differences between sharks and whales?

Basics: Sharks are fish, whales are mammals; sharks lay eggs and have gills, whales give birth and breathe air from above the surface. Whales move their horizontal tail-fins up and down, while sharks move their vertical tail-fins side to side. Bla bla bla! More here 🙂

Here’s one you might not know: Whales communicate through sound, which travels four times faster in water, and they orient themselves through a sort of internal sonar. Though we are not certain how sharks communicate, we do know that they have a remarkable sense that no human has ever experienced, called electroreception. Sharks have a number of tiny receptors freckled across the head and nose which can detect even the tiniest electromagnetic pulse in the water surrounding them. So, in other words, the shark knows your every move.

History Schmistory: August 19. To go where no man would dare go before…

1960 – Sputnik Program: Sputnik 5  – the Soviet Union launches a satellite with 2 dogs, 40 mice, 2 rats and a variety of plants. The first animals to be launched into orbit and return safely. Not to take anything away from the first animals ever in space, fruit flies. Seriously. They did so well we sent them back a few years ago. Poor little guys…

By Jack Dykinga, U.S. Department of Agriculture [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

By Jack Dykinga, U.S. Department of Agriculture [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

-We should give a shout to Laika, the original space dog, who unfortunately didn’t make it back. RIP widdle buddy!

Laika Monument By Laika ac from USA (Laika) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Laika Monument
By Laika ac from USA (Laika) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Monkeys vs Apes…

As the world goes Ape-y for the new Planet of the Apes movie, it is important to know why we call them apes and not monkeys. One easy distinction is that almost all species of monkey have tails while apes do not. Also, though many apes enjoy swinging through the trees like Tarzan, they actually live on the ground, whereas monkeys are arboreal (tree dwellers) and spend most of their time jumping through the tree-tops, more like squirrels.


“Hey, I’m just a monkey!”

Ludicrous Latin: Eamus navis maiore indigeret

“We’re going to need a bigger boat”

'Jaws' by Kevin Dooley, https://www.flickr.com/photos/pagedooley/, CC BY

‘Jaws’ by Kevin Dooley, https://www.flickr.com/photos/pagedooley/, CC BY

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Speaking of sharks, anybody else excited about today?

History Schmistory: February 18. Moooovin’ on up.

1930: Elm Farm Ollie, aka “Nellie Jay” becomes the first cow to fly in a fixed-wing aircraft, promoting the International Air Exposition in St. Louis, Missouri.
Ollie was also the first cow to be milked in an aircraft, producing 24 quarts of milk which were parachuted in cartons down to eager spectators.
Unfortunately, the air-milk industry failed to thrive.

 

History Schmistory: January 23. Last day in the China shop.

Engraving of the Battle of Zama by Cornelis Cort, 1567 [public domaine]

Engraving of the Battle of Zama by Cornelis Cort, 1567 [public domain]

971: In China, the war elephant corps of Southern Han are thoroughly defeated at Shao by crossbow fire from Song Dynasty troops. The remaining disheartened pachyderms relocate to Middle-earth where they enjoy a more favorable size advantage.

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