Thursday, February 22, 2007

Of Dragons and Dinosaurs - Part 3

Thus announced the December 8th, 1901 edition of the Brooklyn Daily Eagle, telling the strange story of a hunter's discovery in the Florida Everglades of what appeared to be an actual living dinosaur. The event is described in the article as follows:

Interestingly enough there is a dash of what seems like conspiracy thrown into the equation as well:

This article from 1901 is an amazing historical piece, not just because of the alleged shooting of a dinosaur, but because it effectively describes the field of cryptozoology decades before the likes of Sanderson and Heuvelmans. As told to the paper by an anomoyous source either within or connected to the group, it discusses a secret group of scientists who, according to the article, worked in secret to uncover living fossils and provide proof for their beliefs that many mythological creatures, such as dragons and griffins, were in fact based on medieval sightings of these living fossils. It then goes on to state that, given the type of climates that dinosaurs are known to have preferred, this group of scientists narrowed down the possible areas to search in in North America to two different areas: the Florida Everglades and, interestingly enough, the Dismal Swamp, between Virginia and North Carolina. Of these two, the Everglades seemed the more probable of the two, and thus the shooting as described above was the alleged result.

Why wasn't this discovery, and also the alleged discovery of proof of living mammoths, made public and announced to the world? The anomoyous source explains as follows:

The cryptozoological literature has spoken for years about the rumors of surving mammoths in Alaska and Siberia, and indeed there are documented newspaper accounts from over a century ago that discuss sightings of such animals. There are even accounts of brave explorers killing surviving mammoths to gather their skins and pelts, though such claims are few and far in between and some have been exposed as hoaxes. The newspaper's mysterious source goes on to describe one such hunting expedition that led to the death of a mammoth and the obtainment of its body as proof. As the source describes the final moments of the hunt:

What eventually happened to the remains?:

The newspaper account, when compared to the known hoax cited above, seems possibly to be a hoax, and that may indeed be the likely explanation for the whole piece, as newpaper hoaxes were notorious in the early days. However, assuming for the sake of argument that it is true and a valid report, could there have actually been a secret group of cryptozoologists going on expeditions back in the late 19th-early 20th centuries and obtaining the proof that modern cryptozoologists have struggled to obtain ever since? To put it into a larger context, can we believe any of the previously discussed reports dealing with dragons and dinosaurs to be true, or are they all newspaper hoaxes? Are some true, and others fake? If they are true, then what are we dealing with here? Some type of zooform phenomena, some now-extinct undiscovered animals, or something else? What do you think?

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