Archive for November, 2021

New Species of Mastodon (Mammut pacificus) Recognized

November 26, 2021

I didn’t have time to write a new blog entry this week due to the holiday, so I am re-running 1 I posted 2.5 years ago.


I didn’t have to search for this science news.  A link to the complete scientific paper appeared on my facebook page last week, and I knew right away this important new study was blog worthy.  Some pundits complain about the way social media intrudes on privacy, but I love how information relevant to my interests is directed to me.  If people are worried about their privacy, they should not go on the internet.

For almost 100 years paleontologists thought just 1 species of mastodon occurred in North America during the Pleistocene.  They believed the American mastodon (Mammut americanum) ranged from coast-to-coast and from the Rio Grande to Alaska.  However, 10 years ago some scientists noticed mastodon skeletal material from the Rancho Labrea Tar Pits in California differed from mastodon bones found elsewhere in North America.  Mastodon bones are relatively uncommon from Rancho Labrea where they are greatly outnumbered…

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My Latest Trip to the Asian Food Store

November 19, 2021

I shop at an Asian grocery store twice a year. I am knowledgeable about food, but I can always find items that are unfamiliar to me at this store. Canned eel, jarred snake fish, stinky durian fruit, dried lotus seeds, seaweed salad, cucumber kimchi, and preserved duck eggs are some of the unusual items they carry. I was somewhat less adventurous last week. Below are some of the items I purchased.

Dried shitake mushrooms, mung beans for sprouts, chicory coffee, Thai bananas, white sweet potatoes, cherimoya, almond cookies, and 3 kinds of noodles. Not pictured are bok choy and Japanese persimmons.
A 7.3 pound duckling with the head and feet attached. This bird yielded a quart of cooking fat.
Spring rolls.

Here are a few recipes using items I purchased last week.

Leftover Roast Pork and Bok Choy Lo Mein

I forgot to take a photo of the bok choy, but Asian food stores almost always carry the highest quality bok choy a shopper can find. Dice up the meat from a leftover seasoned pork tenderloin (many grocery stores sell pre-seasoned pork loins). Sprinkle some soy sauce on the meat and brown in hot fat (I prefer bacon grease). Remove the meat and set aside. Sautee the chopped bok choy for a few minutes in the grease. Next add cooked seasoned noodles and the meat. Stir and serve.

Roast Duckling

Cut off the head and feet and feed them to your cat or dog. Remove the giblets and save for another dish. Liberally season the duckling with garlic salt. Poke holes in the skin and fat. Put the duckling on a rack and roast at 350 degrees for about 2 hours. (Oven temperatures vary so you might want to cook it for a shorter or longer time.) The duckling I bought was exceptionally large. Most of them weigh about 5 pounds. I was hoping I’d get more dark meat, but the extra weight was all fat. It yielded a quart of excellent cooking fat. I love duck. Eating duck is like eating a bacon cheeseburger. The crispy skin is like bacon, the layer of fat is like cheese, and the dark meat is like a juicy hamburger.

Home Fries Cooked in Duck Fat

Peel the potatoes and slice the potatoes into oval-shaped pieces. Melt some duck fat in an iron skillet. Place the potatoes in the hot grease, season with salt and pepper, and cover for 10 minutes. Uncover, turn the potatoes over and re-cover for 5 minutes. Take the cover off for 5 more minutes, and they will be cooked perfectly.

Leftover Duck and Hard Boiled Egg Gumbo

Remove the meat, skin, and fat from a leftover duck carcass. Set this aside. Put the duck bones in a crockpot with an onion and bay leaf and cover with 6 cups of water. Cook on low for at least 4 hours.

Make a roux with 4 tablespoons of melted duck fat and 4 tablespoons of flour. Stir until the roux is a dark brown. Dice 2 onions and 1 stalk of celery and add that to the roux. Season with an heaping teaspoon of Tony Cachere’s Cajun seasoning mix (or salt, cayenne, black pepper, and chili powder) and 1 teaspoon of paprika and stir. Sautee until the vegetables are soft. Add the 6 cups of duck stock made with the duck bones. Add 1 cup of cooked brown rice. I usually don’t add rice directly into my gumbos because it dilutes the flavor, but duck is rich and the rice reduces the greasiness of this particular gumbo. The rice will kind of disintegrate. Simmer for 2 hours. Just before serving add the reserved meat to the gumbo to heat through. To serve, put an hard-boiled egg sliced in half into a bowl and ladle the gumbo over it. Top with finely chopped green onion and parsley.

The Mysterious Pygmy Man of Northern Sumatra and Digital Fakery

November 12, 2021

Cryptozoology is a waste of time. >99% of the time when a mysterious creature is spotted or caught on camera, it is determined to be an existing species or a fake. Bigfoot is a man in an ape suit. The television show, The Unexplained, lately airing on The Travel Channel, included a segment with a video showing a mysterious pygmy-like humanoid running away from motorcycle riders on a dirt road in the jungles of Sumatra. The video was released on social media during March of 2017 by Fred Pastrana who puts videos of his off road motor cycle riding club on Twitter. Allegedly, his club was riding on a dirt road in Sumatra when they encountered a strange pygmy-like man who ran away and disappeared in the tall grass. The lead motorcycle rider tipped over when the pygmy first appeared.

Analysts on the television show speculated the pygmy belonged to a surviving band of the Mante tribe that was thought to have gone extinct through interbreeding with the general population. However, analysts noticed the figure was too small even for a pygmy but could not be a child because it was built like an adult. Instead, they speculated the figure could be an individual related to the extinct species of human known as Homo floriensis. This species is believed to have been a dwarf offshoot of Homo erectus that lived on the Indonesian island of Flores between 190,000 years BP-50,000 years BP when they were probably wiped out by newly arriving Homo sapiens. H. floriensis grew to 3 feet 7 inches tall, and they used stone tools similar to those used by Australopithicus. Some anthropologists speculate H. floriensis might still exist and recent survivors are the source for a local legend, the ebu gogo–the cannibalistic grandmother. According to the legend, the ebu gogo are a tribe of small people who ate everything including farmer’s crops and the farmers themselves. They had a mumbling language, and the women had long breasts that they draped over their shoulders when they ran.

I carefully analyzed the video (watch it here ), and I suggest it is some form of digital fakery. The video is shot by a man in a trailing motorcycle. He is filming straight ahead and comes upon the lead motorcycle which allegedly crashed when first encountering the pygmy. There is something suspicious about this scene–the pygmy is nowhere to be seen in the frame.

Supposedly the cyclist crashed when he saw the pygmy man come out of the forest, but there is no pygmy man in this frame.

Next, the trailing motorcyclist briefly points the camera at the ground and when he points it straight again, the creature is suddenly in the frame. This is a clever trick because it disguises the insertion of a phony 3-D animated figure into the frame. The figure runs faster than an Olympic sprinter while the motorcyclist follows. The figure is wearing some kind of weird hat reminiscent of a video game character based on the Greek God Mercury. The hat doesn’t fall off, despite his amazingly fast sprint down the road. Finally, the figure disappears into the grass. The Indonesian government actually wasted money looking for this tribe in order to determine how to protect a people who don’t really exist. Maybe someone who plays video games will recognize what game this figure is from.

This is the first shot of the pygmy man. Just before this frame, the camera man cleverly points the camera to the ground before pointing it straight again. This is so the video doesn’t obviously look fake when they insert this image into the video.
Note the size comparison. The figure is too small to be a modern day pygmy, leading some to speculate that it is a surviving individual of an extinct species of dwarf man known as Homo floriensis. Instead, I suggest it is totally fake.
He’s clearly wearing some kind of weird hat. Why doesn’t the hat fall off when he is running this fast?
The figure slips into the tall grass never to be seen again. I suggest the figure is an image from a video game inserted into this video.

New Species of Miocene Saber-tooth Recognized (Machairodus lahayishupup)

November 5, 2021

Scientists recently recognized a new species of saber-tooth cat from specimens found in museum collections. Specimens of this species were originally excavated from sites in Texas, Idaho, California, and Oregon. Although only 7 specimens of this species are known to science, scientists were able to diagnose it as a new species based on the dimensions of the arm bones. Skulls and fangs have yet to be found, and all we know about it comes from arm and jaw bones. Scientist gave the species the unpronounceable scientific name of Machairodus lahayishupup. One of the specimens was found on the Umatilla Indian Reservation, and the scientists decided to honor the Indians by giving it the name lahayishupup, meaning ancient cat in the Cayuse Indian language. I say thumbs down for giving it such an unpronounceable name.

Artist’s rendition of the newly recognized species of Miocene saber-tooth. This artist forgot to draw the fangs.
Fossilized arm bone of the Miocene saber-tooth.
Fossilized jaw bone of the Miocene saber-tooth. Skulls and fangs of this species have not been discovered yet.

Scientists believe the species lived from 9 million years BP to 5.5 million years BP during the late Miocene. Individuals averaged 600 pounds and may have reached weights of 900 pounds. Potential prey species in North America included rhinos, horses, tapirs, camels, and giant ground sloths. It was likely an ambush predator that lived in semi-tropical woodlands. Most of North America was semi-tropical then. At the time similar species occurred in Eurasia and Africa. This species may have been ancestral or related to the ancestor of the well known Smilodon fatalis and the lesser known Homotherium latidens both of the late Pleistocene.


Orcutt, J. and J. Calede

“Quantitative Analysis of Feliform Humeri Reveal the Existence of a Very Large Cat in North America during the Miocene”

Journal of Mammalian Evolution (28) 2021