Tuesday, 18 September 2007

Giant flightless barn owls of the Bahamas

Palaeontologist Dr Darren Naish was at the CFZ's Weird Weekend (August 19 2007) on the overlap between crytozoology and the mainstream. He pointed out that former 'cryptids' (mystery animals not known to science) include the lowland gorilla - a mythical creature until 1840, the mountain gorilla - a mystery until 1901, the okapi - the stuff of legend until 1900 and the komodo dragon, not formally described until 1912, but with reports collected since 1840. Over 45 new primate species have been described in the last 20 years.

Darren described some of the weird island fauna that the fossil record has thrown up. These include the pointy-head horned tortoises of New Caledonia, and chickhairnie - a group of large bipedal Carribean tree-dwelling animals like giant barn owls that could turn their heads right round, and similar flightless Bahamian running owls encountered by early humans in the islands.

Darren 'fessed up to having a collection of toy dinosaurs which he said numbered a thousand, see pictures of Darren's toy dinosaur collection here, which certainly puts my dinosaur collection of a mere 300-odd in the shade.

Weird Weekend's newest year-old instant tradition is to finish up with a humorous talk by Ronan Coughlan, which wasn't really about cryptozoology at all, indeed, it was so bizarre I don't know what it was about. CFZ Director Jon Downes rounded off by quoting the father of cryptozoology Bernard Heuvelmans, 'The great days of zoology are not yet done.'

1 comment:

Darren Naish said...

The toy collection isn't 'a' thousand: it's in _the thousands_ :)