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Beware the Bandersnatch!

PostPosted: Jan 7, 2012 5:15 pm
by Buford
What is a bandersnatch, anyway?

In late 2008, Les Cockram and Erik Amsbury came across the most curious air-breathing life form I have ever heard of in a cave. Possibly, someone here has a clue, 'cuz I don't and I'm a wildlife biologist, but then again, I have not seen the denizen. Here's is a description based on what Les has told me:

Found in Warrens Cave FL, it is a ‘bug’ having a sticky filament (web or tube) that is attached to the cave ceiling. The filament is appx 1 mm thick and 40 – 50 cm long, clear, and attached to the ceiling by a holdfast appx 7 mm L x 3 mm W x 1 mm H (I deduced dimensions from their photos) that was hard and yellow. Les didn’t notice whether the filament is solid or hollow. It appears to wave in the wind passively, but when Les placed his hand nearby, the filament lunged toward him! The middle of the filament could be drawn up by the beast to become attached to the ceiling. Les did not note whether the middle of the filament had a second filament that was used to draw up the first filament’s middle or if the middle was drawn up by another mechanism. Les and Erik turned off their lights to see if there was any glow from the feature, but no.

Les said he collected the feature and immersed it in (an unknown) alcohol, and after an overnight, the ‘insect’ had dropped out of the filament or holdfast. He didn’t note how many legs the animal had. The critter was found quite far - a 6-hr trip - from the only known entrance to the cave (the ‘back’ of the cave is another hour into the hill). It was living appx 105 ft below ground surface.

I am not the only biologist or scientist Les has shown their photos and video of the animal. A well-known cave geologist suggested it might be a snottite or related phenomenon, but Warrens Cave does not have significant sulfur or methane deposits although it does have lots of phosphate, manganese, and iron. Another contra-indicator for snottite is that this is a single strand that appears to be under the control of an invertebrate. I have seen so-called fungus fly larvae in FL caves, within hanging and draping tubes of a clear, moist mucous, but fly larvae are obvious whereas in this case the animal is cryptic. FL also has plenty of spiders in caves, and I have been working on learning and photographing them, and this does not appear to be a spider. Les sent the collection to Dr Jenn Macalady, a geomicrobiologist at Ohio State University doing astrobiology research, but she was unable to provide identification.

Les calls it ‘alien.’ I wonder if he’s generated a fantastic hoax. Look at the photographs and see for yourself:



Unfortunately, I cannot figure out how to imbed a video in this forum, but am willing to email it to anyone requesting it. The video clearly shows the filament 'lunging' at Les.

Re: Beware the Bandersnatch!

PostPosted: Jan 8, 2012 8:03 pm
by Tlaloc
"...and shun
The frumious Bandersnatch!"

Lewis Carroll from Through the Looking-Glass and What Alice Found There, 1872 ... wocky.html

Re: Beware the Bandersnatch!

PostPosted: Jan 10, 2012 6:57 pm
by Buford
I have succeeded in posting on my blog the video of the beast lunging at Les. Check it out:

We are planning a return trip to see if we can find any others.

BTW, Tlaloc, I know about Carroll's poem. Mine was a rhetorical question.

Re: Beware the Bandersnatch!

PostPosted: Mar 23, 2012 9:18 am
by Buford
Les told me in a later email that he sent the alien in alcohol to a scientist at Penn state, and after she failed to get an id on it she sent it back to him. Alas, after pressing him for the specimen, he now says all that was returned to him was "a Brine solution." I have no choice now but to conclude that his group has pulled a practical joke that I fell for. Oh well, at least they love me enough to spend all that time concocting the hoax.