A few years ago I read an article in the Guardian newspaper, about a strange blob that had been found on a beach in Argentina. It stated that scientists had identified the blubbery mass as belonging to a marine invertebrate, although it went on to suggest that as the oceans are largely unexplored there are many cryptozoological mysteries still to be encountered. The writer, Tim Radford, provided an example:
Creatures hitherto unknown to science still pop up at intervals along shores and estuaries. The Chinese in 1992 reported a mysterious river-borne creature that made for food, enveloped it and moved on. It turned out to be a carnivorous fungus called a slime mould. Normally these are tiny and hang around in compost heaps and rotting logs. This one was the size of a St Bernard dog and seemed to swim in the Shaanxi river.
Now this strikes me as fascinating, just as much now as it did then. Hang on a second, are there really huge deadly slime moulds patrolling Chinese rivers and if so, do the Chinese have their own version of the much missed Steve Irwin, risking life and engulfment in the belly of a slime mould? At the time I was quite intrigued and wrote an email off to Mr Science Ed asking what his sources were and why I'd not seen this on David Attenborough. Although I no longer have his reply, it was something like, 'my source was Reuters and I got stuck in a tube before my deadline...' which I have always thought was a poor response from a newspaper that has a reputation for good journalism.
Herein lies the lesson. How many people read that article and to this day believe that there are St Bernard size blobs terrorising the Chinese? Do such things exist? I don't know, but I doubt it very much!Go Top