Half a century ago, Belgian Zoologist Bernard Heuvelmans first codified cryptozoology in his book On the Track of Unknown Animals.

The Centre for Fortean Zoology (CFZ) are still on the track, and have been since 1992. But as if chasing unknown animals wasn't enough, we are involved in education, conservation, and good old-fashioned natural history! We already have three journals, the largest cryptozoological publishing house in the world, CFZtv, and the largest cryptozoological conference in the English-speaking world, but in January 2009 someone suggested that we started a daily online magazine! The CFZ bloggo is a collaborative effort by a coalition of members, friends, and supporters of the CFZ, and covers all the subjects with which we deal, with a smattering of music, high strangeness and surreal humour to make up the mix.

It is edited by CFZ Director Jon Downes, and subbed by the lovely Lizzy Bitakara'mire (formerly Clancy), scourge of improper syntax. The daily newsblog is edited by Corinna Downes, head administratrix of the CFZ, and the indexing is done by Lee Canty and Kathy Imbriani. There is regular news from the CFZ Mystery Cat study group, and regular fortean bird news from 'The Watcher of the Skies'. Regular bloggers include Dr Karl Shuker, Dale Drinnon, Richard Muirhead and Richard Freeman.The CFZ bloggo is updated daily, and there's nothing quite like it anywhere else. Come and join us...

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Saturday, January 31, 2009

GUEST BLOGGER FLEUR FULCHER: Battletoads - beleaguered batrachians and ambushed anurans

Over, once again to the divine Ms F. Charming as usual, she is taking up cudgels on behalf of the poor downtrodden amphibians of the planet. They are in crisis - but there is good news as well...

Worldwide things are looking dire on the amphibian front, the Chytrid disease has been spreading fast and there is as yet no treatment, one billion frogs also end up as food for humans each year, or used in traditional medicines and rituals.

Yet there are still pieces of good news from the amphibian world, an expedition by Frontiers has discovered 15 new species in Tanzania’s remote mountain forests. Some of these are bizarre looking, brightly coloured and covered in lumps, bumps and growths. But the most unusual characteristic displayed by the newly found Nectophrynoides toads is that they give birth to live offspring rather than laying eggs.
As well as these toads there is a new type of very cute looking burrowing toad belonging to the genus Probreviceps, unfortunately, this little toad is already in danger from habitat loss, the ecologically important forests in which it lives are rapidly being felled.
The success of this expedition shows the need for more exploration into the more remote forests, valleys and mountains to record and protect the animal inhabitants of these places before their homes vanish forever.

If these adorable lumpy bumpy and burrowing toads are not enough to catch your attention to the plight facing our planet’s amphibians then perhaps the ever photogenic tree frog will do the trick, the new one found in Tanzania is from the genus Leptopelis, and I cannot imagine looking into its huge browny gold eyes and telling it I don’t care about frogs and their kin.

It is unfortunate that there are many types of amphibian that are heading towards the same fate as the famous golden toad, but this does not have to happen, if a cure can be found for the disease, important habitats protected and responsible collecting methods for the food and pet trades enforced then who knows how many new species we will find in the future. If those things are not done then it is almost inevitable that many species of amphibian will disappear before science, (and the rest of us) has even had a chance to see them.

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