In October of 2015, at a conference in Hot Springs Montana, Author Russell Acord, and Ed Brown sat down and started planning the first International Bigfoot Conference. While they didn’t agree on everything, the one thing they all agreed on was; they had to create a conference with a purpose, and that purpose was to provide an opportunity for up and coming researchers to share the stage with some of the biggest names in the world of Bigfoot research.
They knew that if we could pull our resources together; they could create an event to rival the best ones out there. So they set out to bring in some top respected speakers to share the platform with some that have earned recognition for their own research. they started with three outstanding up and comers; Kirk Brown from California, Misty Allabaugh from Montana, and Becky Cook from Idaho. While it is hard to call any of the “Up and Comers”, they were confident they have chosen three candidates who are soon to be stars.
Now came the task of looking for the big names that could schedule the time to join them on the stage in Kennewick Washington. Ed first talked to Stacy Brown Jr, and was delighted that he was ‘all in’. Then, on the Derek Randles, Dr. Jeff Meldrum, Todd and Diane Neiss, Mitchel Townsend, Shane Corson and Gunnar Monson. But they weren’t done yet; they wanted to add world renowned cryptologists, Adam Davies and Ken Gerhard who confirmed that they were both ‘completely on board’. And while we won’t give their names just yet, they are awaiting response from a few more legends in community to round out our list of esteemed speakers and guests.
2016 International Bigfoot Conference
For more information check out their website and if you are down that way definitely join the conference. It sounds great.
Here’s some great stories of Bigfoot featuring at least one of their guests Dr Jeff Meldrum. This is the famous Skookum Cast Expedition.
A parasitoid wasp (Pteromalus puparum) (Credit: John Abbott/NPL)
Spiders turned into zombies by parasitic wasps modify their webs to serve their new masters.
When a parasitic wasp skewers an orb spider and glues an egg to its back, she sets off a chain of events that soon alters the behavior and destiny of the spider. A new study from the host-parasite pair’s Japanese homeland shows that, some time after the egg hatches, the spider abruptly abandons its former lifestyle and follows a precisely choreographed sequence of actions that modify its normal web-building activities to produce the best possible home for a developing wasp.
Zombie Web Design
Transformed by the ichneumonid wasp Reclinervellus nielseni’s sting into an obedient zombie, the orb-weaving spider Cyclosa argenteoalba does more than nourish the wasp’s larva with its own inward parts. The zombie spider serves its new master by modifying its web design to make a stronger-than-normal web devoted to the protection of the wasp’s pupal cocoon. No longer concerned with catching prey for itself, the spider reworks its web to build a hammock of extra-strong non-sticky silks that will ultimately cradle the cocoon.
Kobe University’s Keizo Takasuka and colleagues, who published their work in The Journal of Experimental Biology, painstakingly searched for spiders already parasitized by the wasp and then observed how the spiders’ behavior was affected. They also collected and observed the behavior of normal spiders.
This modified web design is actually an enhanced version of the resting web the orb spider normally builds to protect itself when molting. A spider sheds its exoskeleton in order to grow and is helpless during this time. A normal spider molts nestled in its resting web for just two days, but to accommodate the 10-day period wasps require to pupate in their cocoons, the parasitized spider builds an unusually durable web. It spends 10 hours repeating certain web-building steps over and over, reinforcing the web with additional threads until it produces a web of large-diameter silks with increased tensile strength. It leaves out the sticky stuff. Once its construction operation is complete, the zombie spider sits in the center of the web until the larva consumes the rest of its body fluids and kills it. Then the larva morphs into a pupa and emerges 10 days later as a mature wasp
Shining in the Light
The zombie spider decorates this specialized resting web with ultraviolet-reflecting silks. These deter web-destroying collisions with birds. Scientists used to think that the ultraviolet-reflecting silks in spider webs attracted prey, but their routine inclusion in resting webs of molting spiders and the webs of nocturnal spiders suggests otherwise. The fact that these particular zombie spiders, following their detailed and very pragmatic altered programming, include UV-reflecting décor in their cocoon webs while leaving out sticky fibers altogether is consistent with this view. So is the fact that the prey-capture regions of the normal orb webs studied by this Japanese team were unadorned with UV-reflecting fibers.
It appears the UV-reflecting webs are God’s design to protect spider webs from being destroyed by bird collisions. Studies have shown the UV-reflecting silks really do deter bird collisions. At least one company is now manufacturing glass incorporating a web of UV-reflecting strips to prevent birds from crashing into windows. This example of biomimicry—technology based on designs found in nature—now protects birds soaring around the observation tower on the Holy Island of Lindesfarne, a center for Celtic Christianity off the coast of England dating back to the 6th century.
UV-reflecting silk is just one of many biomimetic applications the study of spiders has provided. For instance, spiders produce several different kinds of silk. A gene that produces a protein in the dragline silk of one species of orb spider has been used to produce transgenic goats that produce recoverable silk in their milk, a protein that can be used to produce fibers stronger than steel for use in artificial joints, bulletproof vests, and parachutes. Biomimetic breakthroughs in technology are imitations of God’s designs. Zombie-creating parasites like this wasp and its parasitized partner can reveal much about the common designs created by God and how even their variations and derangement can work together to perpetuate species in this sin-cursed world.
World Gone Wrong
The fallen world we live in since man sinned supplies an endless variety of examples illustrating what can go wrong. Or, from the point of view of parasitic wasps fulfilling their instinct to multiply using the best available resources, what can go right! How do such parasitic relationships develop?
Parasites survive at the expense of their victims, ordinarily sparing the life of the victim until it is no longer needed.Parasites that manipulate host behavior do so in a way to enhance their own growth or dispersion. Ichneumonid wasps ensure their larvae will be fed by recruiting insects or spiders to donate their bodily fluids to nourish wasp larvae. And the Reclinervellus wasp is not the only ichneumonid that reproduces by providing its larvae with living meals while also manipulating the spider’s web-building behavior to provide each pupa a haven. A Costa Rican wasp, for instance, Hymenoepimecis argyraphaga, follows a similar strategy utilizing the orb-weaving spider Plesiometa argyra.
In fact it was to the Ichneumonidae family of wasps that Charles Darwin referred when he wrote to botanist Asa Gray, questioning how a good God could create such a cruel system. Darwin wrote, “There seems to me too much misery in the world. I cannot persuade myself that a beneficent and omnipotent God would have designedly created the Ichneumonidae with the express intention of their feeding within the living bodies of caterpillars.”5
Darwin complained that he could not envision the cruelty of nature as part of a good God’s design, yet in order for the living things in this sin-cursed world to endure for the past 6,000 years, variations and even derangements of God’s designs have allowed life to go on. Many organisms have adapted by developing defense and attack structures. (Read more about these in “How Did Defense/Attack Structures Come About?” and entomologist Dr. Gordon Wilson’s article on “Divinely Designed Defenses.”) The study of parasites like the ichneumonid wasps will help answer Darwin’s concern by helping us understand what good purposes these organisms were designed to serve in the pre-Fall world as well as the changes that led to the development of parasitic lifestyles after the Fall. Be sure to read more about this in Dr. Matthew Ingle’s article “Parasitology and Creation.”
Spiders today are carnivores, most paralyzing prey caught in their webs and enzymatically digesting and consuming them. (It is curious that most news articles about these zombie spiders paint a horrific image of the spiders’ fate but fail to mention the daily dietary practices of spiders, which are certainly no kinder.) Carnivory and parasitism are both consequences of sin’s curse. We know from God’s Word (Genesis 1:29–30) that animals did not originally eat other animals.
So what did spiders eat? We cannot be dogmatic about the behavior of pre-Fall animals 6,000 years removed from our ability to observe them, but we can reasonably speculate that they could have subsisted on pollen grains caught in their webs. This is not idle speculation. While spiders today are not generally herbivorous, a mostly herbivorous spider living on the Bullhorn acacia tree feeds on the tree’s Beltian bodies.6 And a 2013 study found that 25% of the diet of the juvenile orb-weaving spiders analyzed consisted of pollen grains caught in their webs. The pollen grains in the study were large enough to require active digestion by the spiders’ extraoral enzymes and were likely consumed while the spiders were recycling their webs.7 Thus it is no stretch to propose that before the Fall spiders wereherbivorous, and spider webs may have originally functioned as pollen catchers.
But what about parasites like the ichneumonid wasps? If God did not originally design these wasps to turn their hosts into zombies, how did they get to be that way? While we cannot go back and observe the process by which an animal, plant, or fungus became a parasite, we can be confident that all the original created kinds of organisms fulfilled helpful, not harmful, roles in the good world God made. Since the Fall, a combination of mutations and other genetic mechanisms, phenotypic plasticity, natural selection, and environmental changes that have altered available resources have produced many harmful varieties of organisms as well as created both symbiotic and parasiticrelationships that ultimately ensure the survival of many species that might otherwise become extinct.
And if the incidence of parasitism in this Japanese pair is any indication, the spider population is not exactly being decimated by the predations of parasitic wasps. It took Keizo Takasuka’s team many days to find 23 parasitized spiders among the 1,615 spiders they inspected.8 Similarly, in a study of zombie ants last year, scientists found that a parasitic fungus infected only a small percentage of the carpenter ants in its ecosystem in order to survive. (Read more about it in “Zombie Ants and Genesis.”) Thus in the post-Fall world in which we live, carpenter ant populations survive to decompose dead wood, wasps survive to continue their valuable pollinating activities, and plenty of spiders survive to continue controlling insect populations.
Usurping the Normal, Not Evolving the New
Further research is needed to discover the chemical agent(s) the wasp or its larva uses to induce the spider’s zombification, causing it to repeat various steps in the normal web-building process over and over while eliminating others. However, a spider’s hormones normally trigger the molting process for which the spider builds a resting web. Therefore, Takasuka and colleagues suspect the wasp is injecting a chemical that mimics the hormone that normally directs the spider to molt.
The same is true of a behavior-altering virus that induces zombie-like behavior in gypsy moth caterpillars. It deactivates their molting hormone, prompting infected caterpillars to climb to treetops where they die and rain their viral load over a wide area. (See “Parasites Affect Behavior of Moths.”)
None of these parasitic relationships or zombie-generating species result from molecules-to-man evolution. This parasitic partnership is an example of an extended phenotype—all the effects a wasp’s gene has, including its effects on another organism (the spider). Parasitic wasps are still wasps, just a family of wasps that now depends on a rather elaborate form of carnivory to reproduce. The spider is still a spider, and even its behavior is a modification of an existing one. Indeed, if these wasps are able to supply a biochemical mimic of the spider’s own hormone, as the authors suggest, such a biochemical similarity exists because all creatures share a common Designer. These and other extraordinary variations were designed by our wise God to be somehow manifested after the Fall. Even though these insidious lifecycles highlight the ugliness of death due to sin’s curse, they still allow the created kinds to reproduce in a fallen world.
Fossils shed light on bizarre reptile. A crocodile-sized creature that lived 242 million years ago was the first known vegetarian marine reptile, according to new fossil evidence.
Two specimens unearthed in China reveal details of the animal’s skull and how it fed.
Named Atopodentatus, scientists say its hammer-shaped skull helped it to feed on underwater plants.
Only a handful of marine reptiles, living or extinct, are known to be herbivores.
Dr Nick Fraser of National Museums Scotland, who worked on the fossil, said it belongs in the pages of a children’s storybook by Dr Seuss, which depicts animals with a strange jumble of features.
The reptile was “a bizarre, bizarre animal”, he explained.
“We envisage it scraping algae and the like off rocks underwater.
“Herbivorous marine reptiles are very rare – this is the oldest record that we know of.”
The first fossils of the creature were discovered a few years ago.
It was named Atopodentatus unicus, which is Latin for “unique strangely toothed”.
A reconstruction of the animal’s head
New fossils unearthed in China’s Yunnan Province by Chun Li of the Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology and Paleoanthropology in Beijing give a detailed picture of the animal’s skull.
The discoveries, unveiled in the journal, Science Advances, show that rather than having a zipper-like snout as previously thought, the animal had a wide hammer-headed jaw filled with peg-like front teeth.
Scientists used clay to make a model of the jaw to work out how the animal fed.
“To figure out how the jaw fit together and how the animal actually fed, we bought some children’s clay, kind of like Play-Doh, and rebuilt it with toothpicks to represent the teeth,” said co-researcher Olivier Rieppel of the Field Museum in Chicago.
“We looked at how the upper and lower jaw locked together, and that’s how we proceeded and described it.”
He said Atopodentatus also helps tell a bigger story about the world’s largest mass extinction 252 million years ago.
It lived at a time when the Earth was recovering from the loss of 90% of all marine mammals.
“The existence of specialised animals like Atopodentatus unicus shows us that life recovered and diversified more quickly than previously thought,” he said.
“And it’s definitely a reptile that no one would have thought to exist – look at it, it’s crazy!”
What you can make with clay and toothpicks
Other bizarre sea and river monsters
There are still many strange creatures lurking in the waters around the world. From the Monster of Lake Van in Turkey to the various unidentified creatures that live off the west of of Britain, the Golden Gate San Fransisco Bay monster to the Altamaha-ha river monster of Georgia in the USA.
Here’s a video from Animal X Natural Mystery Unit that looks at sea and river monsters.
just a few of the dogs destined for the dinner plate
For the Yulin dog meat festival, dogs are stolen from their owners, then beaten or bled to death. They’re hung upside down from hooks, a slit cut from their anus and skin ripped off their bodies, then sold to be eaten.
The suffering must be unbearable — new research shows that in terms of emotion, dogs’ brains are much like ours, something dog owners and lovers understand well. When we see dogs for what they are — living beings with thoughts and feelings — the torture they endure at this ‘festival’ becomes inexcusable.
these poor, terrified dogs
Thousands of Chinese citizens have protested the festival, but authorities won’t act until they see how badly it’s hurting China’s global image, which they’ve been working hard to improve. That’s where we come in. Let’s show the Chinese government that the world is calling on them to stop this puppy slaughter immediately!
When our numbers are great enough, Avaaz will take out ads, work with influential celebrities, run the first independent national poll on dog-eating in China, and put this issue on front pages everywhere until Chinese authorities act. Add your name and tell everyone.
Sign the petition to stop this cruel and wicked festival.
A spokesman for Worcestershire Wildlife Trust told The Mail: “It is always possible that there is a panther, or other big cat, in our countryside but there hasn’t yet been any firm evidence to prove that they’re there.”
Werewolf stories go back centuries. The most famous was in France. The Beast of Gevaudan which killed around 300 people. Check out the documentary.
Prof Bert Roberts, from the University of Wollongong, Australia, says the new dating actually resolves what had always been a head-scratcher: how it was possible for floresiensis to survive for 30,000 to 40,000 years after modern humans are believed to have passed through Indonesia.
“Well, it now seems we weren’t living alongside this little species for very long, if at all. And once again it smells of modern humans having a role in the downfall of yet another species,” he told BBC News.
“Every time modern humans arrived somewhere new, it tended to be bad news for the endemic fauna. Things would go pear-shaped pretty quickly.”
H. floresiensis – A sensational finding on Flores Island
Work continues to excavate the sediments in Liang Bua Cave
Remains of individuals discovered 6m below Liang Bua cave surface in 2003
Officially announced in 2004; Lord of the Rings films popular at the time
Fully grown, a H. floresiensis adult probably stood about a metre tall
Brain was extremely small – the size of a chimpanzee’s (about 400 cu cm)
Hobbits may be a dwarf version of the archaic species Homo erectus
New dating work suggests they disappeared around 50,000 years ago
Other animals such as pygmy ‘elephants’ also go missing at this time
Arrival of modern humans could have pressured them all into extinction
This does not mean we necessarily killed the Hobbits; it may just have been that we made life miserable for them.
Modern humans could have outcompeted the little people for the best food resources and land, for example.
The Liang Bua cave on the island of Flores where the Hobbit fossils were unearthed continues to be investigated.
The intervening years have seen researchers dig down through new areas, to get a better picture of how the sediments are structured.
It now transpires that the first floresiensis specimens were lodged just below an unconformity – a missing, eroded layer of material.
The absence of this sediment made the context of the 2003 finds appear younger than they actually were.
Various dating technologies have subsequently been applied to the contents of the cave – charcoal, sediments, flowstones, volcanic ash and even the H. floresiensis bones themselves – to help build a new timeline.
This points to the skeletal remains of floresiensis being between about 100,000 and 60,000 years old.
“But then we have some stone tools that were 50,000 years old and these were very likely made by Hobbits,” explained Prof Roberts.
“We say ‘very likely’, not because they were small stone tools able to fit in their hands, but because they were made from a volcanic rock called silicified tuff, which they seemed to prefer.
“When modern humans came through that region, we used stone tools made of chert, for example.
“So, 50,000 years ago is when the Hobbits disappear, as far as we can determine. But then we haven’t excavated the whole cave yet.”
The Hobbits were found in sediments aged between 100,000 and 60,000 years ago
One of the key implications of the new dating is that it fells one of the early counter-theories about the origin of the Hobbits – that they might not have been a separate species but merely a diseased form of modern human.
But if the Hobbits were living on Flores 100,000 years ago, this view is no longer tenable: no modern humans have been recorded in south-east Asia so far back in time.
Prof Chris Stringer, from the Natural History Museum in London, UK, is an expert on ancient humans.
He agrees that the new research helps straighten out the story of the Hobbits, and makes it much more likely that we were involved in their extinction somehow.
“The other fascinating and tricky thing to think about is the possibility of interbreeding. We know modern humans interbred with Neanderthals and Denisovans (other archaic human species), so could they have got together with floresiensis? Are there people on Earth today who have a little bit of Hobbit DNA in them? You couldn’t rule it out.”
By News from Elsewhere…
…as found by BBC Monitoring
Contractors at a site in southern New Zealand have made an unexpected find while digging a trench – dozens of bones belonging to a long-extinct species of giant bird.
Workers spotted the bones during excavations in an area of South Canterbury which was once swamp land, the Stuff.co.nz website reports. They’ve been identified as belonging to a female South Island giant moa, an enormous flightless bird which roamed the area for millennia. One of the bones is thought to belong to a smaller male moa.
Stumbling upon moa bones is increasingly rare, according to South Canterbury Museum director Philip Howe. “This is quite a significant find because in this day and age we’re not finding moa bones all round the place like people did maybe 100 years ago,” he tells the site. “A discovery is quite a chance thing – it’s not something you can just hope to go out and find.”
Project manager Dave Sutton says the small size of the trench dug by his team made the discovery even more unlikely. “It’s not every day you dig a hole and find a moa,” he says. “Only one small hole and this is the result.”
Among the nine species of moa, the largest stood at about 2m (6.5ft) tall and weighed a whopping 250kg (550lb), while others were closer to the size of a turkey. Unlike other flightless birds, moa had lost all trace of ever having wings. They were hunted to extinction after Polynesian colonists arrived in New Zealand around AD1300.
How the newly excavated moa met their end isn’t clear. But Mr Howe says finding remains of both a male and female “begs the question: was this the tragic outcome of a Sunday picnic at the swamp with the moa family?”
Moa, extinct or not?
The moa is thought to have been eaten to extinction by New Zealand’s Maori people. But there are those who disagree. Like the people who claim to have seen one. Here’s a story of two me who claim to have seen a moa on New Zealand’s South Island.