Pop Quiz: Cryptozoology!
Lest all the other podcast quiz shows get a jump on Skeptoid, today we're going to switch tracks and blatantly copycat the other guys. It's time to test not only your knowledge of cryptozoology, but also of Skeptoid; because every question we're going to ask today has been covered in a previous Skeptoid episode. I also want to encourage you not to dismiss cryptozoology as just one of those silly offshoots of skepticism that has no relevance to the daily lives of intelligent adults in the 21st century. It's true that whether or not there's a Mongolian Death Worm in your children's sandbox isn't something you need really worry yourself about, but the fact is that people take these phenomena seriously for the same reasons that they reject vaccines or seek the non-GMO food label. It's the failure to combine basic science literacy with critical thinking, and that's a problem society is no farther ahead of today than we were 100 years ago.
So let's begin. If you want time to think about each of these, just be ready to hit the pause button before I give the answer, and feel free to take as much time as you need. And don't try to look for a pattern, because I used a legit random number generator to place each correct answer.
I'm going to warm you up with an easy one. It was revealed in 1994 that the famous "Surgeon's Photo" depicting the head and neck of Nessie contentedly cruising on Loch Ness in 1934 had been a hoax constructed of wood putty on a toy submarine. However, the lead hoaxer had already told all in a newspaper article many years earlier, but nobody had noticed. In what decade was this earlier newspaper article?
The correct answer is C, the 1970s. Marmaduke Wetherell had been a serial Nessie hoaxer in the 1930s until his "surgeon's photo" finally stuck. The photo was actually taken by his son, Ian Wetherell, who told all in a 1975 newspaper article. Researchers who found it in 1993 tracked down Ian's stepbrother, Christian Spurling, who actually crafted the model.
References to this monster lurking on the Pine Barrens north of Atlantic City, New Jersey, go all the way back to the 1700s. Its genesis was said to be the devil spawn of an early American author, who was despised by many of his countrymen because he was a tory, loyal to the English crown. Who was this man?
The correct answer is C, Daniel Leeds. He had been the deputy to colonial governor Lord Cornbury who was recalled to England, leaving Leeds to withdraw from public life, whence he became better known as the publisher of The American Almanack. He was even described in print by Benjamin Franklin as "the first author south of New York."
The infamous Yeti is known to all Westerners by a single famous photo of a crisp footprint in the snow with an ice axe laid beside it for scale, and is often depicted along with a second photo showing a line of tracks going off into the distance. Who took the famous ice axe photo, and also owned the ice axe?
The correct answer is A, Eric Shipton. Shipton took the photo on a 1951 expedition when Yeti Fever was rising among Everest adventurers. An avowed practical joker, he was well known by his fellow expedition members to have spent a long time carefully crafting the print before taking the photo, a fact lost on today's echo-chamber monster authors. Many even fail to note that the print looks nothing like the goat footprints in the long trail shown in the second photo, which Shipton claimed the famous print was part of.
In the 1960s, this fake Bigfoot body, made from latex and hair and kept buried inside a block of ice in a freezer, was making the rounds at carnivals when it came to the attention of a few cryptozoologists who apparently didn't understand carnivals and took it for a real animal. Two of these were Ivan Sanderson and Bernard Heuvelmans. While Sanderson considered it a relative of Gigantopithecus, Heuvelmans assigned it what taxonomic classification of his own devise?
The correct answer is B, Homo pongoides. It literally means human ape, as pongidae is an obsolete taxon for primates. Heuvelmans considered it a likely missing link, an idea that is as obsolete as his taxonomy.
A popular urban legend states that Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin ordered his scientists to create an invincible army of simian super soldiers, incredibly strong like apes yet smart enough to follow orders. Which of these statements about this story is true?
The correct answer is A, Soviet scientists did work on crossing apes and humans, but there's no evidence that Stalin ever had anything to do with it, or that the program had super soldiers as an objective. Russian biologist Il'ya Ivanovich Ivanov was a pioneer in artificial insemination of animals for agricultural and industrial purposes. For decades he tried to create a program to cross humans with either gorillas or chimpanzees via artificial insemination, but never had any success.
Czech author Ivan Mackerle spent decades in the late 20th century introducing European audiences to the Mongolian legend of the Death Worm, a creature said to live in the sand and kill with either an electric shock or a sprayed venom. He was also a retired automotive engineer, so it's no wonder that he drove around Mongolia in what amphibious vehicle?
The correct answer is A, the VW Type 166 Schwimmwagen, the most-produced amphibious car in history but today one of the rarest and most desirable. This question was no fair, as there's no way you'd know that, unless you listened to the episode. I only included it because I love them and totally want one. The interesting thing about Mackerle was not his car, but that his work really helped to boost translation of Mongolian literature. As an outlier of East-Central Asian languages that's written in the Cyrillic alphabet, very little of it had been translated, and mostly only into Russian.
A famous photograph depicting a group of Civil War soldiers posing with the corpse of a pterodactyl has been floating around the Internet for nearly 20 years, with some Creationists alleging that it constitutes proof that humans and dinosaurs coexisted. Turns out the photo was digital art made for what television show?
The correct answer is C, FreakyLinks. This was included in my episode, but at the time there were still some holes in the story. After the episode came out, it reached the attention of a number of people who worked on the show and filled in some details like the digital version being created because the actors who posed for the original shot with an actual model pterodactyl hadn't signed releases authorizing the photo's use on the show.
Reported in the mass media for years as the sound made by an enormous unknown sea monster, this mysterious ocean sound was finally identified by NOAA in 2012.
It turns out the Bloop, when heard at its actual speed 16 times slower, was:
The correct answer is B, an icequake. Other sounds have been identified as icebergs dragging along the bottom, such as this one, nicknamed Julia:
And here is a volcanic vent, nicknamed Upsweep:
Arkansas' own version of Bigfoot became a phenomenon in 1971 when the first books and articles about it were published, soon resulting in the 1973 docudrama movie The Legend of Boggy Creek. Called the Fouke Monster, after the town where the stories were centered, this beastie left footprints that differed from standard Bigfoot casts in what way?
The correct answer is B, three toes. Not only that, the prints were very long and thin, with those three long thin toes all the same length and protruding straight from the end of the foot. However in later years, after the story was publicized by the movie, more conventional Bigfoot-like tracks have been found. A cynic might suggest that it's almost as if some hoaxing hooligans finally got their act together and stepped up their game.
For a long time, some cryptozoologists have suggested that relic Neanderthals may have survived in the Himalayan foothills, perhaps accounting for stories of the Yeti, and quite probably accounting for stories of the Almas, a wild creature said to be smaller and more humanlike than the Yeti. In the mid 1800s, a female Almas named Zana was captured and kept captive at a village, and even bore children to some of the village men. She never learned to speak and was said to be dark, hairy, averse to clothing, and immensely strong. The skull of one of her children was preserved, and she even has living descendants. DNA testing was finally done on some of them in 2013. Which of the following facts about Zana's genome is true?
The correct answer is B, no evidence was found that Zana was unusual in any way. Her ancestry was 100% Sub-Saharan African, making it most likely that she had been a slave brought to the region by Ottoman traders — and then, evidently, regularly raped by the men in the village. It's possible that an intellectual disability had been responsible for her language deficit and other reported behaviors.
So how did you do? If you got 8 or more right, then you are a crazed cryptozoology nut and should seek help. If you got any fewer, then you're clearly not listening to enough Skeptoid. Either way, more Skeptoid podcasts are the answer for you. But really, the same could be said of anyone. I would love to know how you did on this quiz, so please, let me know on Twitter at @BrianDunning, or on Facebook at Skeptoid Podcast.
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