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Chonosuke Okamura, Visionary

The following is an article from The Annals of Improbable Research.

by Earle E. Spamer
Academy of Natural Sciences, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Time was, if one was interested in natural history he did it for the enjoyment of it. There were no professional natural- historians in the world - or at least they were not paid for the job. Gentlemen of leisure cast about the natural world, indulging themselves in the ins and outs of living things and the ups and downs of evolution. Some made startling and worthwhile contributions to science; most were deemed eccentric amusements for the rest of the world.

In the 1970s and 1980s, Chonosuke Okamura of Nagoya, Japan, took time to look at things in a different light. Sadly, he has disappeared from the scholarly publishing scene, perhaps the last of the eccentrically productive naturalists. Not wasting his energies on the formalities of peer review, he took the fast track of communication. He delivered his findings directly to numerous paleontological professional meetings in Japan (one wonders if he was treated politely as an odd uncle, or giddily as a paleontological P.D.Q. Bach). He published more extensive descriptions and analyses in the Original Reports of tile Okamura Fossil Laboratory.

The Great Discoverer
Okamura did no less than discover the Silurian Period beginnings of all vertebrate life, including humans, 425 million years ago. Nearly everything he found was a new subspecies, whether the species was extant or extinct. Some examples are Gorilla gorilla minilorientalis (gorilla), Canis familiaris minilorientalis (common dog), Homo sapiens minilorientalis (humans), Pterodactylus spectabilis minilorientalis (pterodactyl), and Brontosaurus excelus minilorientalis (a dinosaur).

Figure 2 (left) “Fossil of kissing.” (Okamura. 1980. fig. 75.) Figure 3 (right) “Marble statue of the kiss by Nagaiwa miniman” (Okalllura. 1980. fig. 76.)

(Did I mention, that they were all diminutive, discovered through the eyepiece of Okamura’s microscope? In his description of the mini-man, he wrote, "There have been no changes in the bodies of mankind since the Silurian period ... except for a growth in stature from 3.5 mm to 1,700 mm.")

Figure 4  Faces of minimen. The bottom-center face appears to be a mini-bank robber, an aspect of miniman social structure apparently not discussed by Okamura. (Okamura. 1983. fig. 4.)

Big Thoughts from Little Things
Using slabs of polished limestone from Mount Nagaiwa in lwate Prefecture, Okamura scrutinized the surfaces with a microscope. There he saw tiny shapes, which most geologists have thought to be mineral grains and the fossils of tiny foraminifera and coral fragments. But Okamura discerned that the figures resemble millimeter-sized remains of many modem animals, including human beings. He had discovered, in a world older than Lilliput, the beginnings of vertebrate evolution. He unwittingly revealed inherent flaws in both Darwmism and Creationist worldviews. He found the beginnings of modem culture, too: his "protominimen" show evidence of solid work ethics, art crafting, social nobility, theological beliefs, and hairdressing.

Okamura also saw dragons, horrific denizens of the mini-world of Mount Nagaiwa. He illustrated one disturbing example of the "Head of a miniman in the alimentary canal of a dragon." All of these things are meticulously documented in his profusely illustrated Japanese-and-English Period of the Far Eastern Minicreatures (1980),1 New Facts: Homo and All Verlebra Were Born Simultaneously in the Former Paleozoic in Japan (1983),2 and an illustrated book (1983?)3 entirely in Japanese. His life's work has been summarized in The Annals of Improbable Research (in vol. 1, no. 4 and in vol. 2, no. 4), and more widely acknowledged in book form in English, German and Italian (Abrahams, 1997, 1999). Chonosuke Okamura was awarded the Ig Nobel Prize for Biodiversity in 1997 (AIR 3:1).

Figure 6 Comparative illustrations of the head of a miniman and the skulls of a modern human and an early hominid or proto-human. (Okamura, 1983? fig. 9)

1. "Period of the Far Eastern Minicreatures." Chonosuke Okamurn, Original Report of tile Okamura Fossil Laboratory, no. 14, 1980.

2. "New Facts: Homo and All Vertebrata Were Bom Simultaniously in the Former Paleozoic in Japan," Chonosuke Okamura, Original Report of tile Okamura Fossil Laboratory, no. 15, 1983.

3. [Something entirely in Japanese.] Chonosuke Okamura. privately published, 1983?

4. The Best of Improbable Research (AIR), Marc Abrahams (ed.), W.H. Freemill and Co., New York, 1997.

5. Abrahams, Marc (ed.). Der Einfluß von Erdnußbutter auf die Erdrotation - Forschungen, die die Welt nicht braucht/Best of Improbable Research, Marc Abrahams (ed.), translated by Dr. Gabriele Herbst, Birkhäuser Verlag, Basel, 1999.

6. Abrahams, Marc (ed.). La scienza impossibile: il Meglio degli “Annals of Improbable Research” Marc Abrahams (ed.), translated by Sylvie Coyaud, Garlanti, Milano, 1999.


This article is republished with permission from the November-December 2000 issue of the Annals of Improbable Research. You can download or purchase back issues of the magazine, or subscribe to receive future issues. Or get a subscription for someone as a gift!

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