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...

Search This Blog



Click on this logo to find out more about helping CFZtv and getting some smashing rewards...


Thursday, March 26, 2009



After my request for any information about a British Sunday paper article from the 1970’s, describing an expedition into a previously unexplored jungle region, Richard F sent me this great piece detailing the British Trans-American Expedition from 1972.


It’s extremely interesting, particularly the bit about the chap with appendicitis, but overall, I feel that there too many details that just don’t fit. For starters, the Trans-American campaign involved a large team of people, and overland vehicles. The article that I remember reading described a small group that were trying to negotiate virgin rainforest which was so dense that they had to cut their way through, surely rendering the use of cars impractical.

Also, the Trans-American trip took the expedition across a large chunk of South America, whereas the team that I read about were only exploring a single--albeit very large--part of the jungle which had so far proved inaccessible. Giant spiders are certainly mentioned in the Trans-American report, but are not given any special attention, certainly not to the point of being photographed to give evidence of their great size. In the article in the Sunday paper, the picture of the monster spider appeared to have legs at least a foot long, making it considerably larger than the ‘dinner plate’ dimensions described in the Trans-American article. Other strange creatures, such as the frog that rolled downhill are not mentioned at all by the Trans-American
team, but were one of the main points of interest in the Sunday paper story.

The bit about the guy with appendicitis does seem amazingly coincidental, could it be that stomach trouble was a common complaint among 70's jungle explorers? Could it have been people connected to him that saw the giant spider and kept it to themselves until they got
home? I doubt it somehow...

So while the Trans-American expedition does seem tantalisingly close, I’m sure that the article that I read described something else, some other journey into mystery that I sincerely hope will be solved soon. So if anyone has information of any kind, don’t be shy……

While we’re on the subject of past recollections, does anyone remember a British children’s TV series from the earlier part of the 1970’s called either Great Mysteries, or Unsolved Mysteries? It was on the BBC, and was presented by Magnus Magusson, before he did Mastermind. It
was on for about six weeks, each edition dealing with subjects such as sea serpents, ghosts, and ancient curses. I remember the sea serpent edition with great clarity, as it included clips from Harryhausen’s The Beast From 20,000 Fathoms. It was the first programme I ever saw that
explored Fortean themes, and I loved it. Does anyone else have memories of it?


Tabitca said...

Ridgeway was the only other British explorer about that time in that sort of area. This is his book, don't know if it is still avaiable:

Ridgway, John, Amazon Journey: From the Source to the Sea, 1972

If it was in the news of the world it could have been more made up than true, or exaggerated.The biggest spider in the world is supposed to be the goliath bird eating spider which is 12 inches across.Someone here may know a bigger one but it's the one that springs to mind.
sorry can't be more help.will check out the university archives next time I am in to see if they have anything.

dinosaurman said...

Hi Tabitca.

Your mention of British explorers made me realise that I had neglected to mention the fact that I don't actually remember the nationality of the expedition members, so I suppose they could have come from anywhere in the world.

Yes, the news of the world was not exactly renowned for the accuracy of it's reportage, but the details of this particular story were presumably checkable, and of course the spider had been photographed, so that would have had to have been faked, although I'm not too sure that I would have put that past them....

I've seen pictures of huge goliath spiders, and I think you're right about it being the biggest. If the newspaper story was true, perhaps it was some gigantic specimen of a related species.

Tabitca said...


my online browsing of the university library catalogue led me to the above site. It lists most books written by and about explorers and expeditions to the area. It may turn up the one you are looking for. good luck.