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: 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.

Cryptozoology Break: The Unicorn

unicorn-245642_640Who knows exactly how the unicorn was gradually ascribed its girly connotation… Possibly it started in medieval times when it was believed that the unicorn could be tamed by only the purest of maidens. Regardless, the legend of the unicorn goes waaaaay back, much much further than She-Ra and My Little Pony. Archeologists have discovered depictions of a one-horned-horsey-creature on cave walls dating back to the Paleolithic era, around 14,000 BC. In many forms, the unicorn pops up in folklore across nearly every ancient region you can think of, often as a creature to be feared. From the Nordics to the Middle East to Africa to the Far East, the unicorn has donned many names and a variety of manifestations: Dragon-like, larger than an elephant, glowing red eyes,  glowing blue eyes, with the body of a bull, the hooves of a deer, the tail of a lion, the beard of a goat; faster than a wildebeest, more ferocious than a tiger, and more elusive than Cleopatra on roller skates; while its trademark horn runs the gamut from short and black to long, sharp and super-sparkly. Famed writers throughout history have avowed the unicorns existence, from Aristotle to Pliny the Elder to Confucius to Genghis Khan to Julius Caesar to the dudes who wrote the Bible! Even Marco Polo swears he saw one while traveling the Silk Road, though we’re pretty sure it was just a Rhinoceros. (Don’t tell him we said that.) So what do you think? Could they have possibly existed? Or are we just beating a dead unicorn. HA HA HA! In any event, we think it’s time to bring the unicorn back to a place of gender-neutral allurement…

THIS JUST IN: Unicorn poop is apparently rainbow colored and tastes delicious…

History Schmistory: January 4. An Elephant Never Forgets…, [public domain]

1903: Topsy, an old circus elephant, is electrocuted by Thomas Edison in an effort to shed light on the “dangers” of AC current, during the much publicized War of Currents campaign. More proof that Thomas Edison had no soul. Just look at the guy…

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 (], via Wikimedia Commons

Laika Monument
By Laika ac from USA (Laika) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

GO THERE! More monkey business…

November 27th is the date for this year’s Monkey Buffet Festival  in Lopburi, Thailand, a Hindu festival where hundreds of free roaming long-tailed macaques are set loose on a mountainous smorgasbord of delectables. The offering symbolizes an ancient story from the Ramayana in which the hero, Rama, offers a gift of land, the very land on which Lopburi sits, to his friend Hanuman, the Monkey King. Perfect excuse to monkey around for a day.


Cryptozoology Break! Ahool.

Deep in the rainforest of Java, Indonesia, lurks a creature called the Ahool, first described in 1925, by Dr. Ernest Bartels, as a bat-like primate with claws, red eyes, grey fur, a 10 ft wingspan and a distinctive call; “AhOOOoool!” The Ahool is a beast that apparently prefers fish but would gladly devour some human flesh, as it was reported to have done in Zambia in 1956 to a poor, unsuspecting engineer who barely made it out alive. Stay out of the rainforest folks!


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