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Fishermonkeys?

Recently we learned about some orangutans that showed a proclivity for swimming and fishing.

Now we have another example of fishing primates.

Researchers recently observed a group of long-tailed macaques (Macaca fascicularis) engaging in fishing behavior. The species had been known to occasionally forage for crabs and insects, but never for fish.

The macaques were observed along rivers scooping fish and eating them with their hands.

Researchers were amazed not only by the behavior, but that it had gone unobserved in the species until just recently. Also, the behavior obviously indicates an ability to adapt to an altering environment and food supply.

Cynics have often scoffed at reported accounts of sasquatches exhibiting similar behavior, declaring that such behavior is outside the behavioral scope of non-human primates. Recent observations of non-human primates (chimps, baboons, orangs and now macaques) engaged in fishing behavior clearly indicate that such thinking is flawed.

Source: AP News - My Way 
   

The Bigger Thicket Update

The Big Thicket Association recently published another brief update regarding the six-term Congressman Kevin Brady (R - 8th District of Texas) and his efforts at enhancing the 100,000-acre Big Thicket National Preserve. According to the piece, the congressman has filed HR 5891 with three primary goals: connect, expand and preserve the Big Thicket. 

Last month, the TBRC published a news item about the congressman's efforts with a link to the Big Thicket Association's website. 

Apparently, Congressman Brady is not only interested in protecting the special area, but is seeking ways to spur "family-friendly eco-tourism," which would bring in perhaps a million visitors a year as well as increase interest in the area and its surrounding communities. 

Congressman Brady recently presented the Big Thicket National Preserve with a check for $1.25 million for land acquisition and has asked Congress to increase that amount by another $4.75 million. 

The TBRC applauds the honorable congressman's efforts.

Source: The Big Thicket Association

Read HR 5891.

   

Baseball and Bigfoot

This year, the Northwest Arkansas Naturals, a new minor league baseball AA affiliate of the Kansas City Royals,  proudly announced the arrival of their new mascot, "Strike," a baseball-loving bigfoot from somewhere in the Ozarks.  

As explained on the team's website, the six-foot nine-inch "Strike" or "Ozark Howler" apparently was encountered on a road near the park by two of the park's groundskeepers. The creature was so excited that baseball had finally come to Northwest Arkansas that it decided to take up residence in the woods just south of the team's Arvest Ballpark. 

Since it was baseball that enticed "Strike" out of his reclusive hiding, perhaps the TBRC should consider using baseballs as bait with camera traps? Or maybe just build a baseball park in the Big Thicket?

Source: Northwest Arkansas Naturals

   

Great Apes That Swim?

The great apes, particularly orangutans (Pongo pygmaeus - Bornean; Pongo abelii - Sumatran), continue to exhibit behavior that is truly amazing. Recently, orangutans were observed by naturalists swimming across a river to gain access to their favorite fruit. Orangutans, like the other non-human great apes, were long thought to be non-swimmers.
 
Observers thought they had seen it all until they observed the orangutans, thought to be almost exclusively herbivorous, spearfishing with sticks and eating the fish. The orangutans even went so far as to steal fish from fishermen. The observers thought that the orangutans had learned the behavior from watching humans. The unexpected behavior has been caught in photos featured in the book Thinkers of the Jungle, by Gerd Schuster, Willie Smits and Jay Ullal.

These acts would not be the first incredible stunts performed by the amazingly intelligent orangutan, an ape that many contend is actually the second most intelligent species on the planet. Orangutans, known to animal trainers and primatologists around the world as the best escape artists that nature has to offer, are frequently known to pick locks, break out of cages and set other orangutans free. They are also seen stealing boats and paddling across rivers. 

The more that orangutans are observed exhibiting such intelligent and human-like behavior, the less contrived that putative wood ape behavior sounds. Cynics have long dismissed the reported swimming, fish-eating behavior of the wood ape as products of overactive human imaginations, because, among other reasons, such behavior had no precedent among non-human great apes.

Sources: Timesonline. Can Animals Think, Time Magazine Online. Orangutan (Sheppard Software).
   

86 the Choppers

In the April 2008 As the Woodpecker Flies update from Cornell University, researchers involved with the search for the Ivory-billed Woodpecker (IBW) report that aerial surveys proved to be an unproductive approach to documenting large woodpeckers. 

As stated in the article, "Aerial surveys depend on the woodpeckers being flushed by the approaching helicopter so the birds can be spotted as they fly away. But few of the woodpeckers along the flight path of the helicopter actually flush, making this an ineffective way to search." Researchers estimated that the survey team missed 90% or more of Pileated Woodpeckers.

Project scientist Martjan Lammertink said that ground teams of six searchers were just as efficient as the helicopter crew at finding Pileated Woodpeckers. However, an advantage of ground teams is that they "can do other things - conduct playbacks, look for cavities and feeding sign, and count other bird species of interest."

The TBRC often receives recommendations to use a variety of unconventional approaches to document the sasquatch. Perhaps this experience from the IBW research effort provides a lesson in the value of traditional techniques.

Source: As the Woodpecker Flies, Cornell Lab of Ornithology. 

   

East Texas' Prodigal Son

Texas has historically been home to the American black bear (Ursus americanus), with several subspecies found in different parts of the state:  U. a. eremicus (Mexican Black Bear) and U. a. amblyceps (New Mexico Black Bear) in West Texas; and U. a. luteolus (Louisiana Black Bear) in East Texas.

The Louisiana Black Bear ranged over most of East Texas, but was ostensibly extirpated from there in the early 1900s. While at one time its population thrived, it seemed likely that the Louisiana Black Bear in East Texas had finally succumbed to overhunting.

Through the years, federal, state and academic lists of wildlife did not include any mention of black bears in East Texas except perhaps as once having thrived there. A small population of the black bear in the Trans-Pecos region in far West Texas was acknowledged by state and federal authorities, but the rest of Texas was officially devoid of any remaining black bear population. In spite of this, rumors persisted among hunters and rural citizens of the Louisiana Black Bear's continued existence in the most remote parts of East Texas, especially along the Louisiana-Texas state line and in the Big Thicket.

In recent years, there has been a gradual and growing movement of acknowledgement of the black bear's eventual return to East Texas as populations in bordering states seemed to be thriving. It had to be just a matter of time, it was reasoned, before East Texas would once again be home to the black bear, even though a growing number of East Texans (and South Texans) were already claiming personal familiarity with black bears.

Texas Parks and Wildlife began to take reported sightings of the black bear in East Texas seriously, developing a sightings report form for encounters with the species.

Well, it now appears that tomorrow is today; take a peek at Texas Parks and Wildlife's brochure Bear Safety in Mind (pdf).

   

Like Tom Slick, We Just Want to Know

"He won't quit because you know there's no such word as 'fail' to Tom Slick."

To the generation growing up in the late sixties and early seventies, those words may evoke memories of the cartoon hero and his versatile Thunderbolt Greaseslapper, but they could just as easily have applied to the real life, but little known, Texas millionaire Tom Slick, Jr.

Among the many interests pursued in his short but very adventurous life, Tom Slick sought to validate the existence of the sasquatch and the yeti. Considering his other noteworthy accomplishments, one must wonder what might have been.

The author of a recent article about Tom Slick in Country World, a Texas online publication, suggests that were he alive, "Slick might have hooked up with or even founded the Texas Bigfoot Research Conservancy, which carries on Slick's interests."

Quite a compliment.

   

Today the Wolverine - Tomorrow the Sasquatch?

A fascinating article appeared on Wednesday, 5 March 2008, regarding the documentation of the first occurrence of the wolverine in California since the 1920s. Oregon State University graduate student Katie Moriarity obtained a photograph using a camera trap in the Tahoe National Forest, in northern California.

This stunning news has generated great excitement in many quarters. In other circles, however, the reaction has been less enthusiastic. Tahoe National Forest public affairs officer Ann Wrestling indicated that U.S. Forestry Service officials in Washington, D.C., told her not to comment about the wolverine.

The TBRC conducts searches for sasquatch evidence using camera traps such as those employed in the Sierras. As with the wolverine, highly credible witnesses report seeing large bipedal primates; the absence of evidence does not necessarily mean a species does not exist. Given enough time, equipment, and luck, perhaps another unexpected discovery will soon be announced. 

Read the full story here.

See the photo here.

   

WANTED: Arkies and Okies

The TBRC is in need of field investigators, particularly from Arkansas and Oklahoma to assist in talking and meeting with witnesses, as well as assisting in field projects in extremely remote areas. Qualified applicants should be skeptical, but at the same time enthusiastic, inquisitive and open-minded. Interested individuals should also be in good physical condition. Commitment and the ability to cooperate and work as part of a team are the most critical traits.

Join the team. Help the TBRC turn today's mystery into tomorrow's discovery.

   

Leading Scientist Names Bigfoot Tracks

Jeff Meldrum, Ph. D., Idaho State University, TBRC Board of Advisors, has given sasquatch tracks a new label, Anthropoidipes ameriborealis (literally "North American ape foot"), in his just-published paper, Ichnotaxonomy of Giant Hominid Tracks in North America.

Download PDF

   

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