All the same, the bones of the “Centaur of Tymfi” stands proudly on display at Tucson’s International Wildlife Museum in a just-opened exhibit. Nearby is the skull of a “griffin,” a legendary flying lion with an eagle’s skull, and the noggin of a “cyclops,” the one-eyed giant of Greek myth. Taking center stage is the centaur, designed by sculptor and zoologist Bill Willers of the University of Wisconsin at Oshkosh.
Entitled “Mythological Wildlife,” the exhibit aims to make folks think about how we know what is real, says museum director Richard White. A paleontologist, White says the exhibit also looks at how folklore might hold a few hidden scientific stories.
“Once upon a time, mythology was science,” White says, accepted as part of the natural history world as perceived by the ancients. The ancient Greek poet, Hesiod, wrote about centaurs around 700 BC. Herodotus, “The Father of Historians,” wrote about griffinsaround 500 B.C. “It’s legitimate for museums to display mythological creatures to make people question what is real and what is science today.”
A shadowy corner of scholarship called “cryptozoology,” filled with folks looking for Bigfoot or the Loch Ness monster, has put these sort of questions into disrepute. But scholars such as Stanford University’s Adrienne Mayor, author of The First Fossil Hunters: Paleontology in Greek and Roman Times, have opened wide questions about what folklore has to offer science today.
For the exhibit, for example, the “cyclops” skull on display takes its cue from the suggestion that the skull of a prehistoric elephant called a mastodon, tipped on its side, might have resembled the skull of a one-eyed giant to the ancients, including a Roman emperor who perhaps kept a mastodon skull on display. A horn-faced dinosaur called Protoceratops, may have partly inspired the griffin.
“Someone saw a man on a horseback perhaps, and couldn’t explain it,” White says. “To him, the hypothesis was that it was a centaur. Now we know better. But there are still many things we struggle to explain, even today.”
Looking at the scientific origins of legends isn’t a new idea, notes art professor Beauvais Lyons of the University of Tennessee in Knoxville, who points out that New York’s American Museum of Natural History ran a “Mythic Creatures” exhibit so popular it was extended from 2006 until 2008. And the renowned Museum of Jurassic Technology in Los Angeles has for decades blended real natural science with flights of biographical fantasy.
Lyons heads the “Hokes Archives” (as in hoax) at his university, “devoted to the fabrication and documentation of rare and unusual cultural artifacts.” The university brought “The Centaur of Volos,” created by Willers in 1980, to the university’s John C. Hodges Library. Instead of a standing centaur, the Volos display is of a centaur half-excavated from the ground in classic archaeological museum fashion.
“I am excited that Bill Willers has extended his investigations of centaur anatomy with his new upright work now in Tucson,” Lyons says. That centaur skeleton, the Centaur of Tymfi, in contrast, stands upright, the bones of a man seemingly jointed perfectly to a horse. Tymfi (TIM-fee) is the mountainous Greek village, a plaque carefully explains, where the centaur was found intact in the far recesses of a cave.
” There is an unconscious impulse to clothe bones in flesh when we first see them,” Willers says, explaining his centaur creation. With the Tymfi centaur, the plaque also offers visitors a written backstory of the legend, pure hokum of course, meant to extend the duration of time before disbelief takes over again. “I want to trigger that belief and extend it, to trigger a feeling of wonder that connects people to the natural world, to see a person like themselves as a wild animal,” says Willers.
The International Wildlife Museum is a bit unusual as well, White notes. Supported by the Safari Club International Foundation, its funding ultimately draws from hunters interested in animal conservation, and contains displays of wild animals (real ones) in most of its exhibits.
“I’m not worried about kids seeing the centaur and drawing the wrong conclusion. They have very strong senses of what is real and what is fantasy,” White says. “I’m a little worried about their parents,” he jokes.
No one is hunting for centaurs these days, of course, but science remains on the trail of all sorts of mysteries. People centuries from now will doubtless find some of those ideas credulous as well.
For now, anyone hoping to see a centaur might want to stop by Tucson sometime in the next two years, while it is on display at the museum. “After that, I’m hoping to find the centaur a good home,” Willers says, perhaps with a collector or museum. “After all, I have some ideas for other skeletons that I would like to start on.”
By Dan Vergano, USA TODAY
News For Immediate Release: August 29, 2011
Tucson, Arizona – Georgia’s Governor, Nathan Deal, will be onsite at Foxhall Resort and Sporting Club to participate in the opening ceremony for the EPIC Outdoor Game Fair at 10:00 am on September 23. Governor Deal, a strong supporter of hunting, fishing and outdoor recreation, will be offering an opening address along with Safari Club International Foundation and Quail Unlimited’s senior leadership. After the opening ceremony, Governor Deal will be touring the event venue to participate in the many hands-on activities that are scheduled for the weekend. The EPIC Outdoor Game Fair will run September 23-25, 2011 in Douglasville, Georgia, just 35 minutes southwest of Atlanta.
“Having an outdoors festival of this magnitude, run by Safari Club International Foundation and Quail Unlimited that have such stature in the conservation community, is an honor for Georgia. The EPIC Outdoor Game Fair will bring so many opportunities for Georgia’s residents, and those of our neighboring states, to try their hand at all of these great outdoor pursuits,” commented Governor Deal. “An avid outdoorsman myself, I know just how important outdoorsmen and women are to this state – both through the economic impacts that hunting, fishing and wildlife recreation have and through the tremendous conservation ethic that sportsmen and women possess. This event is a tribute to their hard work and an opportunity for anyone with any interest in the great outdoors to get outside and get active.”
The 2006 National Survey of Fishing, Hunting and Wildlife Recreation found that 2.8 million Georgia residents and non-residents older than 16 fished, hunted or watched wildlife in the state spending $3.5 billion on these activities. These outdoor pursuits are an integral part of life in Georgia and the rest of the southeast and do not take into consideration other outdoor recreation activities that will be included at the EPIC Outdoor Game Fair such as equestrian sports, boating, hiking and more.
“Georgia has taken steps in recent years to protect the state’s natural, cultural and historic treasures, and we will continue to promote stewardship to ensure that Georgia retains its pristine environment for future generations of sportsmen and nature lovers,” Deal, a member of the Governor’s Sportsmen’s Caucus, continued. “Georgia’s natural resources drive tourism and support jobs around the state, particularly in economically challenged regions of the state.”
“Georgia is one of the top states in the country for hunting and fishing, thanks in large part to the wealth of opportunities and the conservation ethic within the state,” said Joe Hosmer, President of Safari Club International Foundation. “This is one of the main reasons we chose the state to host the Game Fair. The event will benefit our organization and the important conservation, education and humanitarian services we provide in this country and around the world.”
Proceeds from the EPIC Outdoor Game Fair support Safari Club International Foundation’s (SCIF) efforts to promote science–based conservation through wildlife research, capacity building in governments, youth and teacher education, and humanitarian programs that show the importance of hunting in society. Programs such as the Sportsmen Against Hunger and SafariCare provide food and healthcare services to people in need. The Sensory Safari program (that will be onsite during the EPIC Outdoor Game Fair), Safari Wish and the Disabled Hunter/Pathfinder programs serve individuals with disabilities or terminal illnesses to connect with wildlife and the great outdoors. Since 2000, SCIF has provided $47 million to these efforts and recent expenditures have exceeded $5 million annually.
The three day EPIC Outdoor Game Fair will benefit these conservation efforts all while giving participants a fun-filled weekend in the outdoors. Villages spread across Foxhall’s 1,100 acres will feature shooting, archery, dog training, fishing, equestrian sports, ATV trials, birds of prey and much more. Vendors will be scattered across the facility offering the best and newest outdoor sporting equipment. And for music lovers, the Entertainment Stage will feature Aaron Tippin and Crossin Dixon as well as several local bands.
Discounted tickets are available online only – go to the EPIC Outdoor Game Fair website (www.epicgamefair.org) to buy them today. There are also regular updates on the event blog, EPICGameFairBlog.org, Facebook, Facebook.com/EPICOutdoorGameFair and Twitter,Twitter.com/EPICGameFair.
Safari Club International Foundation (SCIF) is a 501(c)(3) charitable organization that funds and manages worldwide programs dedicated to wildlife conservation, outdoor education, and humanitarian services. Since 2000, SCIF has provided $47 million to these causes around the world. Visit www.safariclubfoundation.org for more information.
Quail Unlimited® is the oldest national, nonprofit conservation organization dedicated to the management of America’s wild quail. Known as “America’s Leader In Quail Conservation SM,” QU’s overall vision is to restore America’s quail populations for future generations. The organization’s core values include the wise stewardship of our land and its resources, and the continuation of our proud heritage of conservation, therefore, leaving a legacy and firm foundation for our youth and families to build upon.
March 2, 2011
Dear Mr. Hosmer:
Let me express my deep sincere appreication to you and your team for generous hospitality that I experienced during Safari Club International 39th annual convention in Reno, Nevada from January 26-29, 2011.
It was great honor for me to be a part of a great community and participate in such comprehensive platform. In addition, I had fruitful meetings with other respected members of Safal Club International Foundation and politicial establishment.
The Republic of Tajikistan takes into consideration active engagement of SCI in Tajikistan in hunting, conservation and wildllife management values its cooperation with SCI stands ready to further enhance and deepend them. Tajikistan is thankful for SCI for its sincere commitment towards improvement of wildlife management in Tajikistan.
Please, accept my heartfel gratitude for the Award, I was honored to receive the International Legislator of the Year from SCI and the Award is a Trophy to be proud of and it has special place in my heart.
With sincere regards,
Washington, DC – The Safari Club International Foundation (SCIF) raised $205,000 for wildlife conservation through the sale of seven exclusive tags. The auctions for the conservation tags were held during the Safari Club International 2011 Annual Hunters’ Convention.
“I am truly excited to see the amazing response from SCI’s members for the 2011 Conservation Tags,” said SCIF President Joseph Hosmer. “These auction tags are one way SCI members directly contribute to the success of our sustainable management of wildlife in the United States. SCIF will continue to provide more conservation tags to the SCI membership, and thus increase our on-the-ground conservation funding for years to come!”
The 2011 conservation tags included: Arizona Chairman’s tag hunt for Rocky Mountain elk for one hunter, donated by the White Mountain Apache Tribe Wildlife & Outdoor Recreation; Navajo Nation special Rocky Mountain mule deer tag donated by the Navajo Nation Department of Fish and Wildlife; Navajo Nation desert bighorn sheep tag donated by the Navajo Nation Department of Fish and Wildlife; 2011 Pennsylvania Conservation Elk Tag; 2011 Alaska Governor’s Tok Management Area Dall sheep permit; Montana Blackfeet Reservation bighorn sheep tag; and the Wyoming Governor’s 2011 Shiras moose license.
The Independent Charities Seal of Excellence is awarded to the members of Independent Charities of America and Local Independent Charities of America that have, upon rigorous independent review, been able to certify, document, and demonstrate on an annual basis that they meet the highest standards of public accountability, program effectiveness, and cost effectiveness. These standards include those required by the US Government for inclusion in the Combined Federal Campaign, probably the most exclusive fund drive in the world. Of the 1,000,000 charities operating in the United States today, it is estimated that fewer than 50,000 or 5 percent, meet or exceed these standards, and, of those, fewer than 2,000 have been awarded the Seal.
Original posting source: http://www.theoutdoorwire.com/
Pronghorns are reasserting themselves as the fastest land mammals in Washington, thanks to a sportsmen’s group that joined with the Yakama Nation for an end run around state bureaucracy and environmental red tape.
Volunteers from Safari Club International and tribal members released 99 of the prairie speedsters recently on the Yakama Indian Reservation after trucking them 700 miles from their capture site in Nevada.
Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife officials said they are supportive of the reintroduction. However, by not involving the state agency in the pronghorn capture and release, the Yakamas avoided dealing in advance with issues that get sticky for government agencies.
The remote potential for introducing disease to livestock already had been raised as an issue by the Washington Cattlemen’s Association.
Other agricultural groups were concerned about the pronghorn’s inclination to leave the sagebrush country for irrigated alfalfa and grain crops when foraging gets tough.
The Yakama Nation would not allow its members or wildlife biologists to be interviewed for this story despite numerous requests.
Pronghorns, also known as antelope, are a unique North American mammal that thrives in sage country and wide-open spaces where they can leave danger in the dust at speeds of 50-60 mph.
The largest populations are in Wyoming and Montana, but they are plentiful enough for big-game hunting in all of the Western states, except Washington.
Pronghorn numbers in their traditional range once rivaled those of the bison, said Andrew Jakes, pronghorn researcher at the University of Calgary. They hit bottom at less than 13,000 animals in the early 20th century, but wildlife management has brought them back to about 1.2 million animals roaming sagebrush and native prairie from northern Mexico to southern Alberta, he said.
Archeologists have dated pronghorn bones found in central Washington at 500 to 13,000 years old. Lewis and Clark reported pronghorns as being native to the Columbia plain during the westward portion of their expedition.
Other than that, the pronghorn’s existence and disappearance in Washington is sketchy until the state wildlife agency made three attempts to reintroduce the critters in the 1900s.
The most recent reintroduction efforts were sparked by Safari Club International chapters around the state starting about seven years ago.
“The state never said they didn’t want the antelope, but the proposal always seemed to get the slip-through,” said Glenn Rasmussen, SCI-Central Washington member from Wapato.
SCI chapters from Puget Sound to Central Washington paid $42,000 for the WDFW to complete a pronghorn habitat assessment that was completed in June 2006, said Joe Greenhaw, Puget Sound Chapter president at the time.
That was after the Puget Sound Chapter had funded feasibility studies as early as 2004.
“The (Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife) kept wanting more environmental impact statements and what all,” Rasmussen said. “Finally, the chapters said no more, since no one in the state could guarantee that there would be antelope on the ground after all the money was spent.”
However, the Yakama Nation also had been looking into reintroducing pronghorns on its 1.2-million acre reservation. Once the SCI funding source joined with the Yakama Nation’s sovereign right to do pretty much what it chooses on its own land, the reintroduction was almost as speedy as a pronghorn.
“Basically, this is the Yakama Nation’s project and we’re just arranging the financing,” Rasmussen said. Much of the money, including the $25,000 paid to Nevada for the capture operation, was donated from Shikar Safari Club, a group of wealthy sportsmen not related to Safari Club International, he said.
The tribe has the advantage of being free from complying with certain environmental laws and environmental impact statement requirements, said Donny Martorello, WDFW big-game manager in Olympia.
“They’re an independent nation,” he said. “We don’t have jurisdiction over their actions.
“We’d been working with the conservation and hunting groups and we completed a habitat assessment in 2006. We confirmed that pronghorns are indigenous to the state and that we have the habitat for them.
“But the next step was an environmental impact statement and that’s expensive – probably $50,000-$100,000 – and there was no guarantee that we could move forward once it was completed.”
Strapped for money and staff time, and not eager for another source of crop-damage claims, the agency suggested that SCI put the pronghorn reintroduction on the back burner, Martorello said.
“The Yakamas have been working for several years to get pronghorns on the ground, so we know they’re up to speed,” Martorello said. “We’re supportive of it.”
The Washington Cattlemen’s Association is concerned about the potential for introducing brucellosis or tuberculosis, said Jack Field, the association’s executive vice president.
“And I certainly hope the habitat is able to sustain the antelope on an annual basis so they don’t end up on neighboring crop lands around Toppenish or Patterson,” he said.
“Unfortunately, there’s not a lot of information. It’s not been a very transparent thing considering all the parties that may be affected by this action.”
Jason Kelly, spokesman for the Washington Department of Agriculture’s state veterinarians, echoed Fish and Wildlife officials.
“The state does not have any jurisdiction on animals moving into the Yakama Reservation,” he said. “We’re ready to work with the tribe but they’re not required to seek our permission.”
Kelly said the state veterinarians were aware that pronghorns were coming in.
“Our understanding is that tribal officials and Nevada where conducting animal health testing,” he said. “The tribe would need to make a decision on what to do if any of the animals tested positive.”
Peregrine Wolff, Nevada state wildlife veterinarian based in Reno, said blood samples she drew from pronghorns delivered to Washington are being tested for brucellosis and possibly for tuberculosis, although it might be several weeks after the animals were released in Washington before results are available.
Martorello said it was too early to say how pronghorns might be managed in the future.
“If they take – and I think they will given the advances wildlife biologists have made in reintroducing species – there’s a potential for allowing some pronghorn hunting,” he said.
“If the pronghorns start colonizing outside the reservation, we’d probably approach them the same way we’ve looked at moose moving in from Idaho. We would start managing, and hunting is one of the tools we use.”
— Document online: The “Assessment of Pronghorn Habitat Potential in Eastern Washington,” funded by Safari Club International and produced by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, is available on the WDFW website at tinyurl.com/WA-pronghorn.