Posted by: Loren Coleman on September 2nd, 2008
Ben Radford, lecturing in Buffalo, New York, on Bigfoot., shown with the dubious Cliff Crook photograph.
Now and then, it is time for everyone’s cryptozoological new species awareness to be challenged.
What a better way to do it today than to have you, the readers, answer an incredibly silly statement from the managing editor of Skeptical Inquirer Benjamin Radford. Or a terrible misquote from Ben Radford.
Ben Radford, in the wake of the Georgia Bigfoot hoax, just couldn’t help himself again (or an editor couldn’t), and Discovery.com recently published a thin essay entitled “Ten Reasons Why Bigfoot’s a Bust.” I shall deal with the other reasons he cites some other time, but for today, your mission, if you decide to take it: Answer the Skeptic.
Point #8 is broad, generally cryptozoological, and needs to be addressed as a quiz.
8. The Katydid Couldn’t Hide.
Dozens of new species, previously unknown to science, are discovered each year. But for the most part, they are tiny: microorganisms and insects such as the newly discovered katydid [not] pictured here. Could Bigfoot really hide in such a peopled world?
“The last large animal to be found was probably the giant panda, and that was 100 years ago,” said Radford. “There has not been a single new creature that doesn’t fit the recognized taxonomy discovered in the last century, there just simply hasn’t.”
Okay, let’s look at Radford’s comment.
Was the “last large animal found” actually or “probably” the giant panda? Was that “100 years ago”?
Has there “not been a single new creature…discovered in the last century”? Is it true “there just simply hasn’t”?
What is “the recognized taxonomy” mean to Ben Radford?
Actually, this doesn’t really seem like fighting fair with Radford, as he is so badly wrong in his zoology here.
First, let’s take the giant panda. Radford’s a bit off on his facts.
The giant panda, which was ethnoknown for hundreds of years in Asia, was first made known to the Western Science in 1869 by the French missionary Armand David, who received a skin from a hunter on March 11, 1869. The giant panda was then formally named Ailuropoda melanoleuca (David, 1869), so thus it was (not “probably” but actually) “discovered” and added to “recognized taxonomy” over 139 years ago.
Perhaps Radford is confusing “discovery” with Westerners seeing, killing, and capturing the first giant pandas?
1916 – German zoologist Hugo Weigold was the first Westerner to observe a live giant panda.
1929 – Kermit and Theodore Roosevelt, Jr., became the first Westerners to shoot a giant panda.
1936 – Ruth Harkness became the first Westerner to bring back a live giant panda to a zoo.
The Brookfield Zoo’s original Su-Lin of 1936.
Ruth Harkness helps introduce Su-Lin to the second live-captured giant panda, Mei-Meil at Chicago’s Brookfield Zoo. Photo courtesy of Mary Lobisco.
Needless to say, Asians had done all of the above for centuries before Westerners “confirmed” the “discovery” of the giant panda.
But the political undertones aside, how can Ben Radford know so little about zoology to make a statement and say that no new “large animals” have been discovered in the last 100 years.
So, Cryptomundians, let’s start of a list of your favorite “large animals” that have been discovered from 1908-2008. That’s right, despite the great examples of the okapi (1901), mountain gorilla (1902), dwarf siamang (1903) and giant forest hog (1904), all of those large new species were discovered after the giant panda, so they will be kept off the list because they were only first known in the West more than 100 years ago.
There are dozens of examples, however, so share as many as you wish.
Have at it…