Monday, June 21, 2010

CNN on the search for sasquatch

This article asks why people search for unlikely creatures. The answers will not surprise you: it's been said many times that people need "wildness" and a sense there are still mysteries in the world. What I did not know was that one anthropologist introduced here has run 15 specimens of alleged sasqautch or "chupacabra" tissue through DNA testing, always with mundane results. That does not prove nonexistence, but it's important to know.
I think it very unlikely, if not quite impossible, we have a species of ape in North America. (The arguments of some cryptozoologists that there are two, three, or four species are something I can't swallow: I'd bet $500 even money against one sasquatch species being formally described in one of the major scientific peer-reviewed journals in the next decade, but I'd bet $1,000 we don't have two new species in 20 years.) As long as it's "not quite impossible," I cheer on the searchers and wish them the best of luck. I want to be wrong. This article echoes that sentiment.

As a side note, I never thought much of the whole "chupacabra" business. The animal is saddled with an impossible range of conflicting descriptions, and where the heck was it before the reports began in the 1990s? Add the rate at which dead dogs and racoons have been stuck with this name, and the whole thing seems pretty silly.
I do agree cryptozoologist Ken Gerhard has a point when he suggests a series of weird canines from Texas raise the possibility some odd genetic quirk is turning up in coyotes and coyote hybrids down there, producing a susceptibility to sarcoptic mange (which leaves the animal hairless), exaggerated canine teeth, and a tendency for rear legs to be longer than normal, producing a strange gait. (This would in principle be a bit like the mutations that produced king cheetahs or Scotland's enigmatic Kellas wildcat, which sports long legs, and long fangs not found in its genetic sources, the known wildcat and the domestic cat.)

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