onsdag den 25. november 2015

There shall be beetles and cockroaches

According to Bernard Heuvelmans cryptozoology is all about unexpected animals - large and small. Is doesn't have to be big scary monsters every time, so with that in mind, I thought I would report on yeat another couple of additions to the Danish fauna, and this time within one of my favourite subjects - microcryptozoology.


The littlest ant-lover
October 25th. just one months ago, Danish entomologist Poul Ulrik was talking a walk at a place called Dybbølsbro, close to Copenhagen Central trainstation. Noticing a loose paving-slab, he turned it over and saw first of all, a large number of ants, but also in among the ants, a tiny 3 mm long cricket. On closer inspection this turned out to be of a specied called Myrmecophilus acervorum. Myrmecophilus means ant-lover, so the tiny animal was not just a piece of prey for the ants, but a voluntary inhabitant in their nest. M. acervorum has been found in the nests of at least 20 different ant species. It is fairly common and widespread in Europe, but has never been found in Denmark before. Until now, that is...


150 years in the dark
And then we have this gorgeous thing. This is a tortoise beetle called Pilemostoma fastuosa, and in my humble opinion it could easily have come from a tropical forest somewhere. This individual was actually found on a beach in Southeastern Denmark on November 23rd. in the various plantmatter and other debris that had washed ashore following a stormy couple of days with water levels more than 1 meter above normal. This is not just a rare animal, this is a VERY rare animal. In actual fact this is the first time it has been seen in Denmark for more than 150 years. Just goes to show hos careful you have to be, when you deem an animal (especially a small one) extinct. It was found by naturalist Klaus Bek Nielsen, and it is far from the first time he has found super-rarities like this, but then again he spends most of his time sifting through as much leaf-litter, plant-debris, mouldy pine-needles and abandoned ants-nest as he can lay his hands on.

tirsdag den 17. november 2015

The days of the jackal

The first day of the jackal was the 6th. of June 2015, when a driver passing the town of Karup in Western Denmark noticed what he thought was a strange looking dog lying at the edge of the road. Intrigued the man stopped for a closer look only to ascertain two things – the animal was dead, but only recently so, and it was indeed a very strange looking dog, about fox-like in stature, but a bit bigger. The man considered leaving the animal to the crows, but on a whin decided to put it in the boot of his car and take it away with him.

So off he went, to the home of a friend who is an experienced hunter. He couldn’t identify the animal either, but he did have a large freezer, into which the animal was put. Next stage was the showing of said weird animal to various interested parties, none of which was able to identify it with any degree of certainty. It was clear that closer examination was called for. 3 months and various DNA-analysis and tests later came…

The second day of the jackal on Sep. 10th, when the people of Denmark was informed, that yet another large carnivorous mammal had entered the country. To some people it was a bit much, coming so soon after the official reappearance of the wolf in Denmark in 2012 after an absence of a couple of centuries. Anyway – as it turned out, the animal was a golden jackal (Canis aureus), and although its presence was quite a surprise, it was not totally unexpected. The jackals normal distribution range is quite a bit to the southeast of Denmark, but the jackal population in Central and Southeastern Europe has been growing in recent years, and as jackals are great wanderers, some animals had already been sighted far away from their normal ranges. Some has been seen in Germany, and a few brave individuals has even gotten as far north as Eastern Finland.
Strangeley enough I have received a couple of sightings of ”large golden brownish/grey foxes” from southern Denmark within the last coulpe of yeatrs, which I haven’t been able to explain. Well-  maybe I can now.

An then things got a little bit weird.

Because although it was fairly clear the animal was equipped in such a way as to be deemed male, it didn’t seem to have any testicles. Under these circumstances it could conceivably be a former castrated captive that somehow had escaped from somewhere.

So, time for a detailed dissection/autopsy to set the scene for:

(Pictures of the dead animal and the actual autopsy can be found at: http://www.vet.dtu.dk/Nyheder/2015/10/Guldsjakal-er-blevet-obduceret-paa-DTU-Veterinaerinstituttet?id=587cafad-8880-4570-9932-84f2a113066c)

The third day of the jackal, in fact October 20th, when it was finally announced, that the animal did indeed have testicles – they had just been knocked into the abdomen when the animal was hit by the car that killed it.

So in other words – yet another large mammal joins the official list of Danish species! Not bad.