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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Thursday, April 30, 2009


This is something that I have not seen in many years. In 1973 and 1974 I spent many happy hours watching the courtship of the brook lamprey (Lampetra planeri) in a drainage stream at Venn, just outside the village where I still live. Twenty years ago, during my final unhappy weeks as a nurse for the Mentally Handicapped, I was on a patient's outing on Exmoor and saw them again, but since then.... nothing.

This footage from 2007 not only brings back fond memories, but reassures me that one of my favourite creatures still exists in its native Devon streams..


From New Zealand the most peculiar mutation any of us have ever seen in a bird..

GUEST BLOGGER GEORGINA EDWARDS: Fox = bad, badger = good?

It is always a pleasure to welcome a new guest blogger, but this is a special pleasure, because it is the first time that we have had two generations of guest bloggers in the same family. Georgina, who was pivotally involved in the Loch Ness Investigation Bureau during the glory years, is also the mother of bloggo regular Fleur Fulcher.....

Foxes are classified as vermin, they can be legally shot. They steal and eat poultry on a comparatively small scale and occasionally take a weak new born lamb. The cost of their actions to the national economy is negligible.They keep down the rabbit, rat and mouse population and by and large do not seem to upset the natural order.

Badgers are protected, they cannot be interfered with in any way without a permit. They transmit bovine tb. The estimated cost of bovine tb to the economy in the year 2003/04 was £89 million, in compensation to farmers, research etc. Not all of this cost can be laid at the door of the national badger set, but a great deal can . The last official badger population survey was in 1997, when it was estimated that badgers had increased by 77% in the previous decade. Current evidence suggests that this increase has continued. There doesn't seem to be an agreed position as to why this should be, although a farmer friend of mine thinks it is partly due to the increased planting of maize. These tall crops allow badgers to travel along new corridors and also give them an additional food supply well into the autumn.

I live in Mid-Devon, I have a large garden and live across the road from farm and woodland. I could take you out almost any night of the year apart from deepest winter and find you a badger, most nights they go through my garden. Several times a year I have to ring the council to get them to take away a dead badger from the road outside.

I suspect that a great many supposed fox predations of poultry are actually down to badgers, although Mr. Reynard is of course the main offender Until I moved here I had no idea that badgers took as many if not more chickens in some areas, than foxes. Unlike foxes, badgers will tear their way into timber chicken houses and if cornered they can be very unpleasant. My nextdoor neighbour, who incidentally happens to be a local Lib-Dem councillor cornered one in his dressing gown at 3am, (the badger of course being in the garden not in the dressing gown).

Now I come to my real gripe. I have lived in Surrey, Hampshire, Somerset, and Dorset . In all these places I have been visited in my garden by my favourite animal the hedgehog and also sadly seen many of them dead on the road. I moved to Mid- Devon nineteen years ago, during that period I have never seen a live hedgehog. I have see a couple dead on the road and saddest of all found one that had been predated by a badger in my garden .

Having done a bit of research before writing this to ensure that I had my facts correct, I am horrified to learn that badgers are not only wiping out the hedgehogs, but are endangering bumblebees and ground nesting birds.

Now I would hate to live in this country without badgers, but would someone explain to me why badgers are protected and foxes considered vermin.


These are the first pictures of the latest rescued crow that we have fostered from Beth Tyler-King at Hartland Wildlife Rescue.

She found it in a lane near Northam. It was fluttering along the ground, very thin, and clearly in distress. It was unable to fly, and Beth has suggested that it is possible that it flew into a power line and sustaine nerve damage.

I don't know about that because I am not an expert in such things, and I

will bow to Beth's superior knowledge in such matters. He is now ensconsed in Ichabod's old aviary where he (unlike Ichabod Grim who was always a fussy eater) is wolfing down large amounts of dogfood.

Richard found a dead slow-worm in the street earlier today and we gave it to him. We are planning to try him on smaller items of roadkill, which seems to be a reasonable idea, and will save the dogfood bill a bit.

CHECK THIS OUT: Nick Redfern on Welsh Wildman (and I don't mean Oll)

This is an odd story, yet an intriguing one, too. Indeed, it almost reads like a modern-day equivalent of the "wild-men-of-the-woods"-type tales that proliferated in Britain centuries ago.Its subject matter?Namely, a shaggy-haired character roaming the woods of South Wales, and apparently living on "rabbits and berries." Who he is, no-one really seems to know. But, the chase is on to find him...

MUIRHEAD'S MYSTERIES: Octopus Invasions (and more)

Richard Muirhead is an old friend of the CFZ. I have been friends with him for 40 years now, since we were kids together in Hong Kong. He is undoubtedly one of the two best researchers I have ever met; he and Nigel Wright both have what Charlie Fort would have no doubt called a wild talent; a talent for going into a library, unearthing a stack of old newspapers, and coming back with some hitherto overlooked gem of arcane knowledge. Twice a week he wanders into the Macclesfield Public Library and comes out with enough material for a blog post..

Dear folks

Sorry I`ve been away for so long, I have no excuse so I won`t attempt to make one! I am now presenting part 1 of an archive of newspaper cuttings relating to invasions of octopi along the south coast of Britain in the early 1950s. Some of the dates are illegible as are some of the names of the newspapers (but probably the forerunner to the Brighton and Hove Leader) so I have made educated guesses. I have three reports from the 1970s. Not every report is included,only those deemed to be of interest and at the same time not the whole report.

August 16th 1950: “They`re a Catching Complaint” : Instead of the usual dabs and whiting, fishermen at the end of Brighton`s Palace Pier have been pushing ashore octopuses. On Monday no fewer than were caught were caught……Piermaster Capt.Fred Weeks told a reporter,”We are used to catching one or two each season,but this has been a most unusual crop. I`ve been on this Pier since 1928 and I`ve never known so many to be caught together…..FOOTNOTE: Largest octopus “plague” was in 1899. It had such a ruinous effect on the shell fisheries that lobster fishermen were forced to seek other employment. A more minor “plague” occurred at Brighton in December 1922 ,when the beaches were littered with thousands of dead octopuses thrown up after a storm.”

August 28th 1950: “Kill The Octopus” Other unwelcome marine “monsters” not usually frequenting our shores, have been joining in the cross-Channel swim, which again seems to prove that the Channel is warming up. B.W. Downes Castle-square Brighton”

September 8th 1950: “Octopuses (?) Lobster Pots Waters Infested”. Nothing much new on this date. “ Selsey is not the only place where the octopus plague is being experienced. It is affecting fishing on the Dorset and Devonshire coasts, and some hundreds of small ones have been washed up on the beach at Brighton.”

September 14th 1950: “Octopus Menace.” Not much of interest here, a final comment stating:

”Fishermen hope,however, that nature will solve the problem in the same way that she set it. The advent of colder weather this autumn will either kill the octopuses or drive them to warmer grounds.”

September 15th 1950 [Hants Post. No headline.] …..” It is believed that the octopuses get too crowded on the French side of the Channel where they breed and come over to the coast of Southern England….”

September 16th 1950: ”Sussex Waters Plagued by Octopuses” This month hundreds of these loathsome molluscs some measuring over three feet across,have been reported near Selsey where they are causing havoc in the shell-fishing industry….[here the journalist goes on to describe giant octopi:…. "The boats of native Japanese fishermen have been upset by such huge creatures…”

October 30th 1950: Octopus activity was also present off Worthing: “Octopus Caught” A baby octopus, about 3ft 6ins long was caught by Mr W.Belton and Mr E.Edwards in their fishing nets off Worthing early today. “It was hanging on to a red mullet.” said Mr Belton.

Here concludes part 1 of the review. I will attempt to conclude with Part 2 before I go abroad on May 9th.

Now a look at a curious observation by the 17th century naturalist and antiquarian John Aubrey in MS Aubrey 1 in the Bodlean Library,Oxford.: “ I have been told heretofore, that in the ruins of Bampton Castle Oxfordshire have been found Scorpions….let it be further examined.”(c.1685) also, "In Warrens (?) are found rarely some stotes, quite white, that is they are ermines. My keeper of Vernditch Warren * hath showed two or three of them to me. Every Warrener knows this to be so but all stotes are white under the bellies". MS Aubrey 1.* Wiltshire-Dorset border?


The latest edition of a monthly webTV show from the CFZ and CFZtv, bringing you the latest cryptozoological, and monster hunting news from around the world. This episode brings you:

Spring at the CFZ
Weird animals of Woolsery
Possible new population of sand lizard?
Green Lizards in Dorset
Undescribed fish
"Didn't we have a lovely day the day we went to Redditch"
Behind the scenes of the new CFZ movie
Faking big cat prints
Animal Rescue: Corinna's new crow
Lots of new species of fish
New pitviper

... and lots more

OLL LEWIS: Yesterday's News Today


Thursday update time, if you want to read a digest of the latest cryptozoology news from the CFZ’s cryptozoology news blog then you’ve come to the right place.

Meet The Puppy That Glows In The Dark
Aussie lizard rolls over to avoid sex
Family of ducks march through shop to reach river
Zebrafish offer hope for treatment for motor neurone disease
A Tiny Hominid With No Place on the Family Tree
7ft Grizzly bear picked to be best man
Birds build nests from man's hair trimmings
Goodness that is (wait for it) hair-raising.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

RICHARD FREEMAN: Odd Tales from Herodotus - Part One: The Crocodile

Herodotus was a Greek Historian who lived c 490-415 BC. He traveled widely in what was the then knowN world. He was the first person to systematically collect data, test it in as much as he could and present it in a narrative to the reader. He is widely thought of the Father of history, ethnography and anthropology. Though many of his stories were thought of as hard to believe much of what he has written about as since been shown to be accurate.

Through his wandering he saw and heard many weird things such as tribes who speak in bat like squeaks and build houses of salt, Ethiopians preserving their dead in huge, hollowed out crystals and the Babylonians preserving their dead in honey.

He wrote several curious passages on animal life.

“The following account is of the crocodile. During the four winter months it takes no food. It is a four footed, amphibious creature, lays and hatches its eggs on land, where it spends the grater part of the day and says all night in the river, were the water is warmer than the nigh air and the dew. The difference in size between he young and the full-grown crocodile is greater than in any other known creature; for a crocodile’s egg is hardly bigger than a goose’s, and the young when hatched is small in proportion, yet it grows to a size of some twenty three feet long or even more. It has eyes like a pig’s but great fang like teeth in proportion to its body, and is the only animal to have no tongue and a stationary lower jaw; foe when it eats it brings the upper jaw down upon the lower. It has powerful claws and a scaly hide, which ion its back is impenetrable. It cannot see underwater, though its sight on land is remarkably sharp. One result of spending so much time in the water is that its mouth gets covered with leeches. Other animals avoid the crocodile, as do all birds with one exception-the sandpiper of Egyptian plover; this bird is of service to the crocodile and lives, in consequence, in the greatest amity with him; for when the crocodile comes ashore and lies with his mouth wide open (which he generally does facing towards he west), the bird hops in and swallows the leeches. The crocodile enjoys this and, in consequence, never hurts the bird. Some Egyptians reverence the crocodile as a sacred beast; other do not, but treat it as an enemy. The strongest belief in its sanctity is to be found in Thebes and around Lake Moeris; in these places they keep one particular crocodile, which they tame, putting rings made of glass and gold into its ears and bracelets round its front feet, and giving it special food and ceremonial offerings. In fact, while these creatures are alive they treat them with every kindness, and, when they die, embalm them and bury them in sacred tombs. On the other hand, in the neighborhood of Elephantine crocodiles were no considered sacred animals at all, but are eaten. In the Egyptian language these creatures are called champsae. The name crocodile-or lizard- was given them by the Ionians who saw they resembled the lizards commonly found on stone walls in their own country.

Of the numerous different ways of catching crocodiles I will describe the one which seems to me the most worthy to report. They bait a hook with a chine of pork and let it float out into midstream, and at the same time, sanding on the bank, take a live pig and beat it. The crocodile, hearing its squeals, makes a rush towards it. Gulps it down, and is hauled out of the water. The first thing the huntsman dies when he has got the beast on land is to plaster its eyes with mud; this done, it is dispatched easily enough-but without this precaution it will give a lot of trouble.”

Herodotus’ description is, overall quite good. His description of the symbiosis between the Nile crocodile and the Egyptian plover is the first of its kind.

He gets a few things wrong. The crocodile, like all other vertebrates moves the lower jaw not the upper. Crocodiles do have tongues and can see very well under water.


This is a new service provided by the CFZ bloggo both to publications and to you, the reading public. We invite the editors of any magazine that is on topic to the admittedly broad remit of this bloggo, to send us a shameless plug for the contents of any issue of your mag that fits on these pages...

Star attraction for cryptozoologists in the latest edition of Paranormal Magazine (June / issue 36) is an article by the CFZ’s very own zoological director, Richard Freeman.

Richard’s intriguing – and unnerving – feature, Monsters In Your Backyard, reveals that strange creatures like Bigfoot don’t always limit their activities to the wild open spaces: they have also been known to invade towns and suburban gardens.
Even dragons and lake monsters can be spotted on the edge of urban spaces. Take Nahuelito, for example, the Argentinan Nessie. Its posited habitat, a lake called Nahuel Haupi, is no longer isolated in the untrodden wilds – it’s become Argentina’s answer to Blackpool Pleasure Beach.

There’s some crypto fun to be had in Alan Friswell’s article on ‘cat-lore’ (eg, did you know invading Persians strapped pussycats to their shields to put off Bast-worshipping Egyptian soldiers?). Alan designs monsters for a living – he made the CFZ’s ‘Fiji Mermaid’, for example – so knows a thing or two about weird beasties.
To this I have added a contribution of my own on Phantom Felines – in short supply compared to paranormal pooches – while horror film fan John Stoker shines a spotlight on ghosts of the stars in Haunted Holywood. Janet Bord investigates spooky spoor – ghosts that leave tracks!
Another highlight is Steve Parson’s thorough summation of infrasound research. Low frequency sound has been blamed for making people experience apparent paranormal phenomena and Steve is doing a PhD on the subject, so knows what he’s talking about.

In addition, Nigel Watson reveals members of the Royal Family’s fascination with UFOs; Philip Mantle summarises a previously unrecorded daylight disc alert at an RAF base; ghost hunter Jason Karl chooses his ten favourite ‘old haunts’ out of the many spooky locations he has visited; and there is also a round-up on Spooky Suffolk.

Phew! No longer it takes so long to fill the bloody thing. And since this is a shameless plug (thank you Jon), I might as well add that postage in the UK is free, so if you want to give Paranormal Magazine a go and can’t find it in the shops, you won’t pay any more by ordering it off www.paranormalmagazine.co.uk

Richard Holland, Editor of Paranormal Magazine (http://www.paranormalmagazine.co.uk/) and Uncanny UK (http://www.uncannyuk.com/).

NICK REDFERN: Resolving The Edalji Affair?

Some of you may be aware of an old, notorious case that occurred many-a-moon ago in my home-country of England - and actually only about 2 miles from where I used to live.

Some less-than-informed researchers have likened it to an early animal mutilation case. But, in reality, it had far more to do with human unpleasantness.

What am I talking about?

I'll tell you: the infamous "horse-ripping"/"slashing" saga of one George Edalji, who was jailed for seven years in 1903 for savagely mutilating horses in the village of Great Wyrley. A solicitor, George (the son of an Indian Christian convert and a parish priest) was ultimately released from prison in 1906.

But now, more than a century on, letters from George's sister - Maud - have been uncovered at the University of Texas that offer a startling insight into the events that surrounded his conviction.

In the letters, written to BBC broadcaster and writer Hesketh Pearson in 1956, Maud offered her view that racial prejudice on the part of the police chief involved in the investigation led to George's conviction. And Maud refuted claims that the family was shunned in the village after the horse attacks.

Maud wrote: “My father and mother did very good work in the parish and were very much beloved by the parishioners. I have been to Wyrley many times since my father was vicar there and always get a good welcome from the people. I always felt that colour had a great deal to do with the Chief Constable’s attitude.”

So, if George wasn't the culprit, then who was?

For that possible answer, click right here...

OLL LEWIS: Yesterday’s News Today

Yesterday’s News Today

It’s Wednesday so that makes it more or less biscuit of the week day as well as the regular round up of news headlines from the CFZ daily cryptozoology news blog and a bad pun. Imagine if you will a tacky game show, the sort of show that might have been presented by Des O’Conner or Les Dennis, you know, not good enough for Bruce Forsyth or Bob Monkhouse but better than the sort of show that would be saddled with Michael Barrymore or Vernon Kaye. The contestant (either a woman who looks permanently angry or a man who looks like there’s quite a bit of weasel in his ancestry, your choice) is being asked to choose a prize from a ‘fabulous’ selection by Des/Les, a dolly bird and a creepy disembodied voice. After being given the choice of a state of the art Brevelle, a romantic weekend for two in the stunning new town of Milton Keynes and the mystery prize the contestant opts for the mystery prize.

“Lets find out what you’ve won!” Crows Des/Les with a knowing wink towards the audience, who have been bussed in from bingo halls up and down the land, and the dolly bird removes the cover from the mystery prizes podium with a flourish. Sitting atop the revolving blue mystery prize podium is a solitary packet of Jacobs Lemon Puffs. The audience of shrieking bingo obsessed old ladies guffaws uncontrollably as the contestant sheds a tear from their eye, cursing missing out on what might well have been their only chance to go on a weekend break somewhere as sumptuous as Milton Keynes. Never mind though eh, as the Lemon Puff is my biscuit of the week. And now, the news:

Dorothy's dog blown away
Literary cat makes library visits
Red squirrels ready for visitors
Injured Dog Set to Get Prosthetic Legs

‘Paw’ thing, hope he likes his new legs.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009


I recently brought a copy of Charles Owens’s 1742 book An Essay Towards A Natural History Of Serpents: In Two Parts. The book makes fascinating reading as it was written at a time when science and learning were replacing legend and folklore. The book is full of oddities of cryptozoological interest. This is my fifth and final collection of bits and bobs that I have found within its pages.


We have seen how Charles Owen has got things write and how he has made errors. In his book he takes it as read that several kinds of dragons exist in the world. Here I think he is correct.

“There are Marine as well as Land Dragons, of uncommon bigness: some in Ethiopia of 30 paces long, and in Phygia ten paces long.- N.B. A geometrical Pace is five foot; but if it be the lesser pace only viz he measure of two foot and a half, it must be a monstrous animal.

In the reign of Philadelphus, two Live Dragons were brought from Ethiopia to Alexandria, one 13 the other 14 Cubits long. In the reign of King Eueregetes, they took three Dragons, one seven Cubits, the other nine Cubits long. The third was carefully nursed in the Temple of Esculpius, and no creature so highly reverenced.

On the Pellonaeon Hill in Chius, was a dragon whose hideous Noise filled the Vicinity with Horror and Dread; so terrible, that none durst approach so near as to take its Dimensions. It happened, the wilderness were it lived, took fire in a storm; being involved in smoke and fire, it perished, and upon viewing its Bones, ‘twas concluded to be of monstrous Bulk.

The Ethiopian Dragons just mentioned, have no proper Name, and are only known by a Periphasis, viz Killers of Elephants. The Method is, by winding themselves about the elephants legs and thrusting their Heads up their Nostrils, sting hem and suck their blood till they are dead.

Alexander, in his Tour of the Red Sea says he saw Serpents of incredible magnitude, some about 30 Cubits long.

We read of monstrous Dragons, particularly two Draconic Monsters mentioned by Alexander’s Ambassadors, seen by them on their return from the kingdom of Abisaris, one of 80 Cubits long, the other 140.

Among serpents, Authors place Dragons; Creatures terrible and fierce in Aspect and Nature. They are divided into Apodes and Pedates, some with feet and some without them; Some are privileged with Wings, and others are destitute of Wings and feet: some are covered with sharp scales, which make a bright Appearance in some Position. Some have observed that about the Ganges, are Dragons whose Eyes sparkle like precious Stones.

Dragons are inhabitants of Africa and Asia; those of India exceed most in Largeness and Longitude: In the Tower of London, is the skin of one, which is of vast bulk. In Ethiopia they have no name for Dragons but Killers of Elephants, which is supposed to be the largest of Land-Animals.
Over the Water-gate in the City of Rhodes, there is set up the head of a dragon, which was 33 foot long, that wasted all the Country till it was slain by Deodante de Gozon, one of the Knights of St John Baptist. The Knights of hat Order had frequently attack’d it, but in vain; for its Scales being proof against all their arms, it destroyed so many of them, hat the Grand Master forbad them to engage the Monster any more.

Gozon, who after several dangerous Onsets escaped with his life, resolved to make another Trial by Stratagem; perceiving it was no where vulnerable but in the Eyes and Belly, contrived a Resemblance of a Dragon by Machine of Plastboard, of equal bulk with the dragon, and by certain strings made it leap like a true Dragon: having trained a Couple of fierce Dogs to attack it a the belly, he went out privately one morning, well armed on a managed Horse with his Dogs, and rode up to the Den, from whence the Dragon leaped furiously at him: In the Encounter, the Dogs laid hold on his belly, and forced him to lie down; upon which the valiant Knight alighted, thrust his great Sword several times into his Throat and soon killed him: upon which the Spectators drew near, and with great difficulty sever’d the Head from he Body, and lugged it into the own in Triumph.

The Conqueror was degraded for the sake of Form, because he had violated the Grand-Master’s Order; but was immediately restored, and soon after was elected Grand-Master himself; he died in the year 1335, and on his Tomb were engraven these words, Draconis Extinctor; The Destroyer of the Dragon.

The Pythian Dragon, so called from it being the Guardian of the Delphick Oracle: Its Eyes are large and sharp, and the Body painted with a Variety of Colours, as red, yellow, green and blue, and furnished with scales that are resplendent, well compacted and hard. It has been called Deucalionaeus, because in the Language of Ignorance, it was produced from the Mud left by the Deucalionian Deluge: a Serpent of prodigious Bulk.

In Asiatic-Georgia, between the Caspian and Euxine Sea, are found winged Dragons, with aserine Feet and venomous Claws; some of them are fortified with more terrible Pedestals than others: their wings are generally composed of strong, nervous membranes, which when they walk, are scarcely visible, because of their close adherence to their Lateral parts.

In the Atlantic Caves, and Mountains of Africa, is an infinite number of these winged Dragons, whose poison is so strong, that the flesh of such as are wounded by hem immediately grows soft, languid, and incurable. We read of flying serpents transported from Parts of Arabia into Egypt.

These also have been seen in Florida in America, where their wings are more flaccid, and so weak, that they cannot soar on high. Scaliger describes a certain flying serpent that was four Foot long, and as thick as a man’s arm, whose wings were cartilaginous or gristly. History accounts for one of these flying Dragons that was killed in old Aquitania in France, a Present of which was made to King Francis, as a great Rarity of the Kind.

Jerom Cardan informs us of some Winged Dragons he had seen at Paris, so nicely preserved, hat they very much resembled the Living; they were described with two feet, weak wings, a serpentine head and the Bigness of a Rabbit.

Among the strange animals of the East –Indies Alexander found in a Cave a monstrous Dragon which he inhabitants counted sacred, and was adored by them, and daily supplied with food: The poor, ignorant, superstitious People, humbly addrest the Conqueror, not to attack the holy place and disturb he Repose of their God. The victorious army hearing its hideous and Dreadful Roarings, were not a little terrify’d, they only saw its monstrous Head, when strech’d out of its Mansion, and its eyes appeared to them as big as a large Macedonian Buckler, a Species of defensive Armour.

It is observed by some, that Serpents at this day are highly honour’d in the Kingdom of Calicut, on this side of he Ganges, where the inhabitants call their king Samori, or Zamorin, that is Sovereign Emperor, and God upon Earth. The Dragon being a Serpent of the vigilant Tribe, was constituted and made Guardian of their Houses, of their oracular Temples, and of all their Treasures.

At Alba, in a Wood not far from Juno’s Temple, is a Dragon worshipp’d by the inhabitants, and for their great Honour, fed by Virgins, thereby intimating, that innocence was a proper Attendant on he Gods.

In Epirus, south of Macedonia, is a certain place sacred to Apollo, and wall’d about, within are kept sacred Dragons, fed likewise by a Virgin Priestess, unclothed, which they believe to be most acceptable to their idol gods; called by Juvenal, one of their own poets, wenching gods.

The Epiroticks, who highly venerated Apollo, honour’d his Temple with a consecrated Dragon, which they worshipp’d in solemn remembrance of his killing the Pythonic Serpent.

At Pella in Macedonia, the Royal Seat, and Alexander’s Birth-place, were dragons of a large bulk, but of a gentle Nature’ maintain’d at the Expense of the Government, as Creatures bearing a sacred character, and worthy of public Regard. Because may tame serpents were kept in that Place, the fabulous Poets said, Alexander was born of a Serpent.

OLL LEWIS: Yesterday’s News Today


Good morning/day/evening, would you like to see all of yesterdays cryptozoology related news from the CFZ daily cryptozoology news blog gathered together in on convenient blog posting followed by a bad pun or play on words based upon one of those stories? You could do without the pun? Well that’s tough luck as I rather enjoy it. And now, the news:

Shark fins protection welcomed
Gray whales granted rare reprieve
EU acts to save 'hungry vultures'
'Giant' hedgehog put on a diet
The economic value of honeybees

It sounds like a very good business to ‘bee’ in if you know what you’re doing.



As everybody knows, I am a great fan of Sharon the Birdchick, and so it is always an added pleasure to be able to give her blog a plug when she has an entry of cryptozoological interest. In her latest podcast she talks about her personal involvement in the hunt for the ivory billed woodpecker, and jolly interesting it is too..

Monday, April 27, 2009

The "Water Blackfella" Redux

Dale Drinnon writes: "I do not believe photoshop circa 1995 could have produced the "Water Blackfella" photo. I still hold out for its being a model: vegetation in the foreground looks mighty like plain grass to me and the appearance surface of the water seems to indicate that size to me. Of course a digital photo version of the original could well have been made later (circa 2000?) and be the version subsequently shipped around.I first saw the photo in the late 1990s myself. I thought I had an older printing in one of my books but the oldest copy I have reproduced anywhere in my library is circa 2000."

I tend to agree with you mate, and I am fairly certain that I can see lesser duckweed (Lemna minor) and Canadian pondweed (Elodea) in the background...


I just want to say a quick thank you to our two tireless indexers who are beavering away behind the scenes. Heather is working on the archiving project files, and Lee is working on the bloggo index. Hopefully there will be some stuff posted from both of them in the next week or so.

But we always need more. Do YOU fancy being an indexer? Or even more urgently.. do YOU live in North Devon and fancy spending a day or so every little while working on the CFZ Library indexing? If the answer is yes to either of these questions please email me at jon@eclipse.co.uk

Also if you have computer equipment or aquarium equipment that is syrplus to requirements please get in touch. We also want building materials, office equipment and some vinyl flooring...


It is with great pleasure that we welcome Neil Arnold to the CFZ bloggo with this first guest blog. I have known Neil for fifteen years now since he was a schoolboy with ambitions for adventure and I was an earnest young hippie who merely wanted to start a club for people interested in unknown animals. Nothing much has changed over the years. We are just both a tad older...

One of my favourite monster mysteries pertains to the Rhode Island carcass. Partial remains, measuring almost twelve-feet, of a huge aquatic creature were dredged up from the breakwater of Old Harbor in the June of ’96. 49-year-old local fisherman and conservationist Lee Scott stored the mass (Gary Hall caught the ‘monster’ which attracted more than 1,000 people), which consisted of ninety-six cartilage vertebrae, in ice before it was shipped to the National Marine Fisheries Laboratory in Narragansett.

“It smells like a dead sea monster”, commented Mr Scott at the time.
“I got the Block Ness monster in a freezer…”

Initial investigations determined the beast could well have been a sturgeon.

The mystery deepened however when World Explorer magazine in 1997 featured the story, Block Ness Monster Is Stolen -:

“The remains of a fourteen-foot (strange, considering the remains started off at twelve-feet!) , as yet to be positively identified creature have been kidnapped from their frosty holding tank near New Shoreham, Rhode Island. In June of 1996, two fishermen aboard the Mad Monk scooped up an unusual serpentine skeleton. The spine stretched longer than the two men and its narrow head with vacant eye sockets was adorned by some mighty strange looking whiskers.”

Photographs were allegedly taken of the monster by Mr Scott, but shark specialist Lisa Nathanson believed the remains belonged to a basking shark, prime candidate for many sea serpent finds over the years. However, Scott then countered the claim by stating that if it was a shark then it must be a new species. The snout of the beast measured twelve-inches but, according to Nathanson, the basking shark snout only measures six-inches.

Even so, despite the find, the local kidnappers believed that the carcass they held should never leave the island for it may never return. Of course, for a brief period the beast and the local area prospered by attracting several tourists, all eager to snap up the Block Ness t-shirts and posters.

Tragically, no-one knows what happened to the most ridiculously named sea-serpent of all.

FLEUR FULCHER: Who loves the Beetles

Over, once again to the divine Ms F. After a gap of a few weeks during which she has been about her studies, she is back and as charming as usual....

Whilst I was a bit disgusted by articles (both recent and from a few years back) about Japanese boys making male Stag Beetles fight each other, I wasn’t very surprised. Little boys of all cultures will enjoy fighting and many also enjoy making other creatures fight each other. This doesn’t mean that they will turn into serial killers or even that they perceive it as cruelty. My brother and I (when aged maybe 4 and 5) used to pull centipedes apart and feed ants to fish and so on, but we both love and respect nature now. children are, after all, far closer to being animals than we would like to think.. (and that isn’t a slight on children!)

But some types of stag beetle are getting rarer and the thought that instead of getting a chance to mate they are being made to fight each other in Japanese school cafeterias is a bit of a downer.

However there is a slight positive to this story, apparently many of the boys (and girls?) who own the fighters rear them themselves and enjoy studying them as well as the more brutal side to it. Many of them will doubtless stop the fighting and through their pets come to love the natural world and the fascinating side to many invertibrates.

Leaving Japan alone for now, what about the Stag beetles of the UK? The one that we here refer to as the stag beetle is in fact only one of about 1200 species in the family Lucanidae. Our largest beetle the Lucanus cervus is a charming and intriguing creature, even when I was a squeamish teenager I loved these particular bugs. Living in Epsom there were many of them, you’d find them pootling down the paths in the park, lurking on your (somewhat rotten) doorstep and particularly on Epsom Downs where they have an excellent stag beetle conservation scheme.
But if you happen to live anywhere in their habitat there are things you can do to help these personable little chaps.

On this website you can learn how to make a home for stag beetle larvae -

And if you are lucky enough to own or look after any woodland then you can do your bit by ensuring that some fallen trees remain on the ground to rot and provide the ideal habitat, also compost heaps, wood sheds and wood piles are favourites.

If you know that you do have stag beetles in your garden then you can also help them by keeping your cat indoors during breeding season as cats, magpies and badgers are the main predators of the beetle.

So in conclusion, we all like Stag Beetles, even those Japanese schoolchildren who hopefully will learn from their small charges that it is better to watch them in the wild than to make them fight.

TIM MATTHEWS: The morons in our midst

Everyone knew that the Roswell footage was a fake and yet few people bothered to even try and demonstrate this. It took efforts from myself and Philip Mantle to break the dam, so to speak, and begin to show how the footage had its origins in a cheap yet devious home grown, home made fake. Most UFO footage is either fake, or a case of mistaken identity, most ghosts aren't ghosts, and not one crop circle or similar formation has been laid down by aliens, the secret paranormal force or anything of that nature. And yet, despite our knowing this, small numbers of lunatics and believers want to take such simple matters of, in this case, flattened crops, to ridiculous extremes. The same could be said for people who believe that UFOs are alien craft, when, in fact, the better flying saucer sightings related to earthly craft flown under the cover of psychological warfare programmes operated by the military.

Against this background, we have seen the rise (and possible fall) of pseudo fakery like Most Haunted and Most Haunted Live, we have seen UFO Magazine and all its associated weirdery bite the dust and now the sensible people remaining are, it would seem, looking to groups like the CFZ for some sort of leadership and some sort of structure; a place where they can happily do their business and still retain a shred of integrity.

Into this maelstrom, where certain people want to make money at any cost (!), the credulous will always be sucked in and ripped off. The incredible will be said to be within reach and the gullible will be fooled, pay money and believe, pretty much, what they want to believe. Charlatans, fakers, forgers and friends have had a field day over the years. We have seen the Majestic 12 documents treated as gospel by American UFO researchers despite it being massively obvious that the whole thing is a fraud and a fake. The latter is, perhaps, or was, a good one, but it didn't take long for its inconsistency, illogic and fabrication to emerge.

But you can make money from such nonsense, and people do. You can get more hits on your website my making "exclusive" claims and by running "sensational stories" and nowhere has this been more obvious than within a certain segment of US counterculture and society. Some Americans, it would seem, will believe anything and the more extreme the story is the better.

We see, this week, an utterly ridiculous and frankly outrageous hoax promoted by people who really should know better. We shall call this latest insult to intelligence The Toy Goblin Conspiracy and concur that, despite all claims to the contrary, there is no father Christmas, no Mother Earth and certainly no new species of Mini Goblin haunting the shadowy world of our neo-Tolkeinesque existence.

How and why a small rubber toy could become the focus for extraordinary claims requiring extraordinary evidence is almost impossible to understand. How long could anyone be fooled by such nonsense?

First last year's bigfoot scam, where talk of scientific evidence was thrown at a cheap monkey suit in a block of ice, and now a plastic Goblin toy.

Next they'll be telling us that the Loch Ness monster attack someone whilst sitting on a toilet in Inverness........



Naomi sent us this fascinating video about a herd of albino deer in Wisconsin. It is very interesting particularly because of the sheer numbers of the=m. I suspect that I am being stupid because I have not been able to succeed in embedding the video, so - sadly - you will have to follow the link at the top of this page.


One of my favourite guest blogs over the last few weeks has been Colin Higgins from Yorkshire, who - incidentally - was the winner of the compy in January's `On the Track`, where he won my everlasting admiration by recognising Surabaya Johnny by the ever lovely Marianne Faithfull. He usually blogs about fish, but here he marks the passing of John Michell...

As a child I found one of the most diverting, not to say fearful examples of cryptic animal behaviour was loud raps on the window pane by birds. My mother interpreted these as a warning and would expound on previous occasions sudden bangs on glass coincided with grim events, usually a death in the family.

Although a conventionally religious Christian there was also a streak of animism in her outlook. A bird in the house was worst of all though such things were never spoken of clearly, one had to deduce her inferences, a spring of delicious, unlimited hypothesise for an imaginative child.
Even bird figurines were thought to be suspect as were birds in art. Perhaps she believed they were obverse representation of the holy spirit, messengers from the dark side of nature, chaos waiting to return the house to the wilderness all homes must one day become.

An approaching thunderstorm would see her turning the mirrors round and putting the cutlery away, something I believe she inherited from her own mother who’d hide the family under the stairs if lightning were nearby: nature became theatre. Everyday objects were the focus or good or bad luck; mirrors, vases, clothing, all would carry associations of events when they were acquired. Clock faces shattered when two of her female relatives died and the family shared a similar conviction the dead were just out of sight with a meaningful dialogue to be had if the living could interpret the signs.

These were private affairs and a visitor to the house wouldn’t suspect this cheerful woman harboured such a psychological grimoir. Like most teenagers I became archly rationalist and felt her superstitions were shameful, ignorant, all the while harbouring a secret fascination for their implications: a weird world, immanent but out of reach. Then one day in the 1970s I walked into a bookshop and saw a copy of John Michell and Bob Rickard’s ‘Phenomena, A Book of Wonders’ and the whole thing crystallised; life was quite as mad and fascinating as I’d once suspected.

I never knew John Michell but he and Bob Rickard had the biggest influence in turning me into what one would now describe as an anomalist. I read the article on him in the FT the day before he died an odd sensation in retrospect, though the piece must have been planned as an obit. It reminded me of another personal coincidence - I once sat through David Lynch’s ‘Straight Story’ at the same time the lead actor Richard Farnsworth (Alvin Straight) died. Weird, as they say.

Whichever hearth you’ve returned to John, I hope it’s a curious one.

CFZ AUSTRALIA: New on YouTube - Hunting the Tasmanian Tiger


Our friends and colleagues at CFZ Australia have started their own Youtube Channel. They write: We've been terribly slack in updating this blog, but rest assured behind the scenes we've been busy!We thought visitors might be interested in a couple of Youtube offerings we've just posted up. Visit our (soon to be expanded) Youtube page.

To celebrate this new project over three evenings this week we are posting their first three videios: Tonight - Hunting Australia's Tasmanian Tiger - re-discovering one of the world's most intriguing - and supposedly extinct - animals. There are scores of reports logged every year of alleged Tasmanian Tiger sightings across Tasmania and mainland Australia. We hope you enjoy this short presentation. CFZ Australia www.cfzaustralia.blogspot.com

CFZ AUSTRALIA: New on YouTube - the Radium Hill tiger


Our friends and colleagues at CFZ Australia have started their own Youtube Channel. They write: We've been terribly slack in updating this blog, but rest assured behind the scenes we've been busy!We thought visitors might be interested in a couple of Youtube offerings we've just posted up. Visit our (soon to be expanded) Youtube page.

To celebrate this new project over three evenings this week we are posting their first three videios: Tonight - the Radium Hill Tiger. The bizarre 'Radium Hill Tiger' was filmed in Australia in the early 1980s near an old disused mine. The large white cat-like animal fascinated the husband and wife filming it: "It's a lion - no, it's a tiger, a bloody tiger!"

CFZ AUSTRALIA: New on YouTube - mainland quolls


Our friends and colleagues at CFZ Australia have started their own Youtube Channel. They write: We've been terribly slack in updating this blog, but rest assured behind the scenes we've been busy!We thought visitors might be interested in a couple of Youtube offerings we've just posted up. Visit our (soon to be expanded) Youtube page.

To celebrate this new project over three evenings this week we are posting their first three videios: Tonight - Mainland quolls. These cute carnivorous marsupials sport white spots and range in colour from grey to red to black. The Eastern Quoll is thought to be extinct on the mainland since the 1960s, but in recent years unconfirmed sightings around Sydney's outskirts have fostered hopes they have survived. We hope you enjoy this presentation. CFZ Australia www.cfzaustralia.blogspot.com

RICHARD FREEMAN: Help save the polar bear

On March 11, Congress passed, and President Barack Obama signed into law, a bill giving Interior Secretary Ken Salazar the authority to immediately revoke two Bush administration rules that fundamentally undermine protections for the nation's endangered species. The first rule exempts thousands of federal activities from review under the Endangered Species Act, and the second sharply limits protections for the polar bear and other imperiled Arctic species by excluding greenhouse gas emissions outside the Arctic from regulation. Under the bill, if Secretary Salazar does not withdraw the Bush-era rules by May 9, the regulations will stay in effect. This will be a disaster for endangered species.

Right now, Interior Secretary Salazar is touring the country for public hearings on offshore oil and gas. On Tuesday he'll be in Anchorage and on Thursday he'll be in San Francisco. Center for Biological Diversity staff will be at the hearings to speak out for endangered species protections. And we'll deliver your and your friends' signatures in person to make sure Salazar gets the message.

Secretary Salazar must act immediately, or lose this precious opportunity to instantly remedy one of Bush's worst environmental attacks. Please contact Secretary Salazar and demand that he immediately revoke the Bush regulations exempting federal projects, including those that emit greenhouse gases, from scientific review, as well as the special rule for the polar bear.

We have just 25 days to make sure Salazar revokes the Bush administration's last-minute attacks on the Endangered Species Act. Help the Center for Biological Diversity gather 75,000 signatures to send Secretary Salazar by May 9. Please -- sign the petition and forward this alert to a friend now.


Anyone who knows me, and many who don't will realise that I have somewhat of an obsession with chickens and their relatives. Last week I used a flimsy excuse to show a video of a lesser prairie chicken, and was rewarded by some comments of a distinctly cryptozoological nature. Now, I am chancing my arm even further because I can think of absolutely no justification whatsoever for showing you this video, except for the fact that this is an even more magnificently absurd fowl than the one I showed you last week. Now someone please justify this for me...

CFZ ARCHIVING PROJECT: The second trenche of folklore archives

Oll has been a busy little beaver and the latest set of scanned news clippings and other stuff from the Archiving Project is ready for you to download HERE should you want to..

The CFZ Archives yeild up a mixed bag of odd folklore clippings mostly folklore reports from the Devonshire Association between 1892 and the early 1950s


As I write we are just taking receipt of an injured corvid, so forgive me that the posts are a little odd this evening.....



A very well written article about the decline of British Butterflies from the Guardian Online. I highly recommend it to everyone...

RICHARD FREEMAN: The Howick Falls Monster Hoax

There are many legends of dragon like creatures in Africa. I have investigated the Ninki-Nanka of The Gambia, a crested, giant serpent associated with rainfall. It is much feared and blamed for death and accidents even to this day. The beast is supposedly able to strike a man dead just by looking at him. Bridges swept away by rainfall and road accidents have been blamed on the Ninki-Nanka. I even heard of a whole village that was abandoned after one such creature was seen.

In lake Kariba we have Nyaminyami. This serpentine dragon god was known to natives of Rhodesia and Zambia since time in memorial. It was seen as a guardian spirit of the waters. During the construction of the Kariba dam that formed Lake Kariba, workmen were warned of he water god’s wrath. In 1958 the Nyaminyami was blamed the destruction of a large portion of the dam wall. A female supposedly ventured up the Zambezi River during a particularly bad dry season. Whilst upstream she was cut off by the construction of the dam. Workers reported seeing a large, dark object beneath the surface of the river just before the dam shuddered with a massive impact.

Huge cracks ran up the walls of the dam and part of it collapsed sending workers to their deaths in the water.

When the rainy season arrived a male was supposed to have smashed a hole in the dam freeing the female and a brood of young. Some however, allegedly remained in the lake.

One of he best know of these African dragons is he Inkanyamba of South Africa. This creature has a horse like head and a long serpentine body. Legends say that when looking for a mate an Inkanyamba will fly into he clouds. When angry they can create storms much like Asian dragons. The storms that ravaged Greytown, Ingwavuma and Pongola were blamed on Inkanyamba. The storms had tennis ball sized hailstones and 52 mile per hour winds. It made 2000 people homeless. There are even cave paintings of he horse headed serpent hat archeologists have dubbed ‘the rain animal’. It has horns on its head and a crest on its back. It is often depicted as spewing water from its mouth.

Local Zulus and hair Sangomas (witch doctors) sacrifice goats and chickens to the water god. I is also said to eat the bodies of those who drown in the falls. Over thirty years ago he Inkanyamba was blamed for the death of a Zulu girl further up river at another falls. She was playing with her friends beside the river when she was pulled under and vanished. Of course this may have been a crocodile.

Sightings of these creatures still occur from time to time.

In 1962 a Conservation Services Ranger, Mr. Buthelezi saw one on a sand bank whilst walking along the Umgein River near the Midmar Dam. It slithered off the bank as he and a friend approached.

Johannes Hlongwane was the caretaker of a caravan park near Howick Falls between 1969 and 1985. He saw the Inkanyamba twice, once in 1971 and again in 1981. It raised its head and neck thirty feet out of the water. It had a crest running along its back.

In April 2000 reports began to circulate of a monstrous snake like beast in the community of Ezitapile in South Africa’s Eastern Cape. Captain Mpofana Skwatsha of the Aliwal North police reported hat livestock became agitated when the creature was at large. It was described as yellow, with a horse like head and a body as thick as a twenty quart barrel.

The only known photograph hat purports to show Inkanyamba was taken in the wake of a sighting local man Bob Teeny in September 1995. Whilst on a viewing platform beside the falls he claimed to have seen a snake like head and neck rear up out of the water. He had no camera at the time but put up a reward for anyone who could take a snapshot of the monster. A resulting picture showed a long necked animal, apparently rising from the water. It appears to be holding waterweed in its mouth and has a distinctive banding of the skin. As soon as I saw the picture I knew it was a hoax. How? I recognized the ‘monster’ as an illustration of an Apatosaurus from a children’s book of dinosaurs published in the 1970s. I had the book myself; in fact the same picture had been used in two children’s books. Whilst recently rummaging around in a pile of old books in my grandparent’s house in came upon one of the books.

He tome in question is called ‘Know Our World; Prehistoric Life’ published by Holywell House Press in 1977 and printed and bound in Italy by New Interlitho, Milan. The picture in question appears at the bottom of page 14 and shows the dinosaur (then erroneously known as brontosaurus) wallowing in water and eating water weed (also erroneous as these creatures lived on land).
Posted above are two versions of the Howick Fall photo. One darker, one lighter. And on the left is the illustration from the book. Though the picture has been reversed you can clearly see it is the same image. The head and neck have been superimposed on to the water. Look closely and you will see the waterweed in the ‘monster’s’ mouth and the banding on the neck (meant to be rings on muscle in the original illustration).

Inkanyamba and its ilk my well exist but this is not a photograph of one.

GUEST BLOGGER NEIL ARNOLD: The continuing saga of the "Water Blackfella"

It is with great pleasure that we welcome Neil Arnold to the CFZ bloggo with this first guest blog. I have known Neil for fifteen years now since he was a schoolboy with ambitions for adventure and I was an earnest young hippie who merely wanted to start a club for people interested in unknown animals. Nothing much has changed over the years. We are just both a tad older...

I used to collect piles of magazines pertaining to cryptozoology, and have stacked in my study around ten boxes of hundreds, if not thousands of crypto-related documentaries. Among the stack of magazines I’ve found several mentions of the recently revived ‘Bigfoot’ photo as mentioned in several blog posts. Originally I could have sworn I’d seen mention of the photo in an old Strange Magazine, but have since located it in Fate and the lesser known World Explorer.

The photo is also mentioned in the December 1996 issue of Fortean Times (No. 93). As far as Fate goes, (September 1996), they feature the picture in A4 colour, on page 28, although only refer to the photo in a snippet on page 57, as the rest of the main story (written by researcher Daniel Perez) concerns a piece of Sasquatch footage shot in 1995 in California, and witnessed by a handful of people including Playboy model Anna-Marie Goddard. It’s strange that the ‘Water Blackfella’ photo has been connected to so many countries, but the facts are that the creature was allegedly photographed in July 1995 near Ashford, Washington, in the Snoqualmle National Forest. A month after the photo’s were snapped, there were several sightings of a hairy hominid at Mill Creek Road, in the Blue Mountains area of south-eastern Washington. The case became known as the Walla Walla Bigfoot.

World Explorer featured a full-length colour picture on their front cover of Volume 1, No. 9. Although the article (written by David Hatcher Childress – on page 15) pertains to the legend of the Yeti, on page 25 (page 24 has a small black and white photo of the creature) there is mention of the case, the author writes:

‘…a forest patrol officer from Tacoma, who wishes to remain anonymous for fear of losing his job, had an encounter with a giant ape-like creature and was able to take a series of 35 mm photos. The ranger then called Cliff Crook at the Sasquatch-monitoring group named Bigfoot Central.

Bigfoot Central is located in Cliff Crook’s living room in Bothell, Washington. Crook held a news conference on December 9th, 1995 to satisfy the mounting interest over the photos. Crook told the conference that the ranger had taken 14 photographs of the Sasquatch, but eight of them were dark because fleeting clouds blocked the sun on his 50 mm telephoto lens. The ranger said that he heard a splashing noise to his left while hiking along a ridge in Washington State’s Snoqualmle National Forest. He went to investigate the noise. Then, from a high bank, he observed the eight foot creature just 30 yards away in a swampy lagoon. He then short the rest of his film.

The photos are sensational, clearly depicting a hairy Bigfoot creature with its head low on a pair of massive shoulders. Not the sort of creature one wants to tangle with in a back alley or backwoods swamp. The photos have a certain Frank Frazetta-look to them that makes their authenticity seem doubtful. One photography analyst declared that he had found tiny diamond-shapes in the image indicating that it was a digitally created image. Cliff Crook countered that the analyst was examining a laser-copied print and not an original. Analysts at the World Explorer Club digital labs concluded that bright colours and “unnatural digital fracturing” led them to believe that the photo had been digitally created, probably in Photoshop. The verdict is still out and actual analysis of the original prints has yet to be released.’

I’m sure we’ll hear more about this fascinating case.

Yesterday's "water blackfella" pictures revealed

I thought they were more convincing than the original, with the possible exception being that the fern tendrils were pretty obviously not from a tree fern. However they were of course the ones that Glen Vaudrey wrote about a few weeks back.

He writes:

Jon, I sent you an email a couple of weeks ago bragging that i could produce some made at home Blackfella pictures, well here are the pictures. Sorry no great cryptozoological breakthrough involved just two quids worth of plasticene, a peice of thick wire and plenty of spare hair left after my last haircut. Maybe not the most convincing images but near enought for a quick glance".

Far more convincing than many mystery animal pictures we are sent.

OLL LEWIS: Yesterday’s News Today


It is time, once more, for your daily dose of cryptozoology news, followed by the bitter pill of a bad pun. I apologise in advance for the pun, it’s a real stinker today.

Hunting mythical creatures
Rare species birds freed at everglade sanctuary
Grain-eater species hit Cape Town
New Study Shows Widespread And Substantial Declines In Wildlife In Kenya
Alan Rodgers: conservator of the forests of East Africa
Mahouts tame rogue elephant
Cromford paw print sparks new Derbyshire big cat claims
Cat missing since 2005 is back home
Giraffe, the new star at city zoo
Keepers say, the new giraffe is head and shoulders above their other animals.

TIM MATTHEWS: Environmental Concerns

Tim Matthews is one of my best friends, and also - coincidentally - one of the most controversial figures in contemporary forteana. He has been involved with the CFZ for nearly a decade now, raising eyebrows wherever he goes.

Everybody's bothered about the environment, right? You sit there in a massive queue of holiday traffic bemoaning car drivers and how there are too many of them (wrong type of drivers in the wrong type of cars) and then you visit some rare, ancient or historical site and further damage it for years to come. We want clean water but shove tonnes of pollutants down our sinks not to mention using a host of cleaning products that certainly damage our planet over a period of years.

Harsh? I should say so and we're all guilty of it.

Sometimes, to ease our consciences, we join one of the "make you feel better about it" organisations like Greenpeace or the WWF. And, sometimes, these organsations actually do some good. For example, as I write, pressure from the WWF and allied conservation groups has managed to get Russian oil and gas engineers to stop seismic testing underwater as it affects the gray whale, a critically endangered species.

The Sakhalin Energy company, backed by Shell and Gazprom, has agreed to stop working for a brief time, to give the remaining 35 females a chance to breed, in an area just off the Sakhalin shelf by Piltun bay. Mind you, BP and Exxon still want their workers to operate in the area and they have not agreed any deal with environmentalists yet.

Recently, I was in a bookshop with a friend of mine and she said, "I love looking in old natural history books but the shame of it is when you look at the listing they're often full of animals that are extinct or serious danger."

We often sit idly by, wondering what we can do. Surely we can do more than send twenty quid to some campaigning group? Wouldn't we prefer to do something by ourselves? Imagine all the energy and effort required to make a small impact on big business. The first thing surely must be to get our children and immediate families a little more interested in natural history. What is happening in their own gardens, what can be done to encourage insects and other animals into them, what easy steps can be taken to limit their own impact on the world around them. Some of it is easy and can be done today in the house you live and some of it is down to politicians and big companies in whom we can only have marginal trust.

It is up to you to decide what to do but the best ever slogan, and call to action, must surely be, think globally, act locally. How the CFZ fits into this remains to be seen but I suspect that we all know what we should do.

Sunday, April 26, 2009


These pictures are just in. There will be more news on them tomorrow..

RICHARD FREEMAN: Giant snakes and goblins in Ecuador

Whilst waiting for the train from Exeter to Barnstaple yesterday I happened to sit down next to an exceptionally beautiful girl. I struck up a conversation with her, and it turned out that she was from Ecuador. Her name was Sandenily and she was in England for ten months. Back home she taught English and she had come over here to brush up. The first month she had spent in Brighton. For the next nine months she was going to be working in the restaurant of the Stag Hunters Inn http://www.staghunters.com/

She asked if I had ever been to South America and I told her of my hunt for the giant anaconda in Guyana. Sandenily told me hat she had not seen much wildlife outside of zoos, having never ventured into the deep jungle. However she said that two years ago a man had escaped from a jungle prison and gone on the run. He had apparently been killed and eaten by an anaconda. His carcass was found after the animal had vomited him back up!

She told me of other strange creatures she had heard of. One was a creature that looked like bigfoot but was much smaller. These ape like beasts were said to kidnap members of the opposite sex. Stories like these are widespread in South America. Indeed wherever there are sightings of relic hominids or mystery apes there are usually tales of them kidnapping and/or breeding with humans.

Another being she mentioned was he duende. Once again stories of these creatures are found in many neo-tropical countries. The duende is supposed to be a goblin, usually depicted in a pointed hat. Sandenily, who was once a journalist had to interview a girl in hospital who claimed to have been raped by a duende. The girl said I had red eyes and wore a tall, pointed hat. It’s hands and skin felt hard. She could no bring herself to describe the face. Sandenily thought she was telling the truth, as she had no reason to lie and seemed traumatized.

Sandenily said her cousin claimed to have been visited by such a creature for a number of nights. It had large dark eyes and a pointed hat. The girl had dark hair, body hair and pale skin, all things that the duende finds attractive. The duende smelled of human excrement. Her mother though the girl was possessed and took her to a shaman. The shaman told her that the only way to stop he duende coming was to eat her own excrement. That nigh the girl did as she was advised and he goblin never returned.

Finally Sandenily’s brother claimed to have seen a duende whilst at military school. He described I as short, with a tall hat and feet pointing backwards. That final detail is repeated right over Latin America and, oddly, is also attributed to he Islamic djinn.

The descriptions of the duende recall not only European goblins but also the Argentinean ‘gnome’ allegedly filmed a while ago. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=81OwP7RJ3BI



Jon will be on the Ian Collins show on TalkSport radio tonight at sometime after ten. He is talking about the mongolian death worm as well as other CFZ projects past and present. I believe that it is a phone in so you can get your chance to be rude to the old bugger.

FLEUR FULCHER: Cider with Fleurie

Over, once again to the divine Ms F. After a gap of a few weeks during which she has been about her studies, she is back and as charming as usual....

One of the things I definitely need in the garden of my dream home is an apple tree (or a few apple trees..) I’ve always been rather obsessed with apple trees to tell the truth, the cottage we lived in when I was younger had some large Bramley apple trees and an ancient half rotten sometimes wasp infested Rattler apple tree, this last was the one I claimed ownership of.

But whilst I may wish for orchards galore of traditional varieties, some people are not so keen it seems.

English heritage say that we have lost 60% of our orchards since the 1950s, this is a shame not only because it means we are making less delicious cider but also because traditional orchards are an excellent habitat for many types of wildlife.

Traditional fruit orchards are one of the places where bee numbers are not declining rapidly, the immense amount of blossoms on a fruit tree are heavenly to bees and other insect pollinators.

There is also the fact that many of the fruit varieties being lost may be unique, apple and plum varieties are often local only to one county or even town, at Killerton in Devon there are fruit trees that are found only on one historical estate. So who knows how many types have already gone forever? (whether or not they made decent cider, this is sad)

The rather pretty and odd looking Noble Chafer beetle is one of the creatures that is declining due to its liking of orchard habitat. Beetles especially like well established orchards as the trees are allowed to become old and gnarled and therefore make good homes for them. There are also often stacks of rotting wood in these habitats, ideal for even more creepy crawlies. Another rather nice looking beetle that likes orchards is the Longhorn beetle.

Birds also revel in the orchardy joy, possibly due to the edibleness of the aforementioned crawlies.

The lovely Lesser spotted woodpecker is one who particularly likes fruit trees as they provide ideal homes. Bullfinches, house sparrows and spotted flycatchers are also fans.

The areas around the trees are also important, traditionally grazed by sheep they have rarely seen pesticides or weedkillers and therefore are likely to provide a haven for plants that have become scarce elsewhere.

So if we wish to keep up the biodiversity in England, we should try our best to hang on to our remaining orchards, and therefore all the creatures that make their home there.


A few days ago this photograph was splashed across the internet and people who really should have known better were touting it as being an artefact of major cryptozoological importance. We made some facile joke about toy goblins and Adobe Photoshop and ignored it.

Oh how I love the CFZ readership. They are jolly good at hunting out answers to conundra like this.

Mark North, our one-time artist, and long time friend of us all wrote to Richard Freeman with the solution.

I may have found your answer, it is indeed a cheap stretchy rubber toy that can be found in many shops including Hawkins Bizarre where I last saw one, and thought it was the worst depiction of a werewolf I had seen since watching 'Werewolves of the Blood Moon'. Check it out http://www.stocking-fillers.co.uk/find/product-is-07917?img=_d

So the moral of this story is that, in cryptozoological terms as in everything else in life, it is wise to look before you leap.

The thing that particularly amazes me about this whole sorry episode is that there were so few people prepared to stand up and say that this image was obviously nonsense right from the start.
If we are to succeed in making cryptozoology a discipline that is taken seriously by the scientific world at large, drivel like this, and the recent water blackfella saga should be expunged across the board.

Stuff like this only serves to bring cryptozoology and allied disciplines further into disrepute, and it is about time that we as a community realised this and stopped making fools of ourselves.

OLL LEWIS:Yesterday’s News Today


It’s Sunday so time for film of the week along with the latest cryptozoology news from the CFZ daily cryptozoology news blog. This week’s film is the Shawshank Redemption because it is simply the best movie ever made, even better than the Big Lebowski (only just, mind you), If you’ve been living under a rock since 1994 and still haven’t seen it here’s a link to the trailer http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ec4dGY46_1E. And now the news:

Wandering 'gator winds up on doorstep
Bull caught on CCTV in supermarket
Albino buffalo spotted by Kenyan rangers
Pigs escape when lorry crashes yards from slaughterhouse
Sparrow's cigarette blamed for £250,000 blaze
Endangered whooping crane follows aircraft in unique migration
Huff Puff: Britain's biggest hedgehog?
Carp is the 'one that got away' after being caught and released repeatedly over 30 years

I’d be ‘carp’ing on about it for ages if I caught that fellow.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

OLL LEWIS: Yesterday’s News Today


Saturday night is music night, or possibly Saturday morning/afternoon/evening if you are a bit more eager to catch up with the latest cryptozoology news from the CFZ daily cryptozoology news blog. Today, as you read the news, kick back and listen to some of the greatest work produced by the late Scatman John: http://www.last.fm/music/Scatman+John/_/Scatman%27s+World?autostart

Remains of 'Walking Seal' Discovered
Seal in Belfast's river Lagan
NT croc shakes up NZ flight
Feline sightings spread to Pearl River
Animals that resemble each other may be different species
Does Bigfoot roam the North Country?
Live shark left outside newspaper office

This shark, swallow your far fetched scare stories whole.

Friday, April 24, 2009


John Michell, a dear friend of us all, and one of the major figures in British Forteana over the past half century has died of cancer. He was 76. I am not going to do a proper obituary of him; I am atually too upset at the moment, but I would like to remember the kind and gentle man who looked at my manuscript for "Owlman" way before it was published and gave constructive criticism, who got mildly tiddly after the launch for Merrily Harpur's big cat book, and flirted charmingly and sweetly with Corinna (who then was still my fiancee). I want to remember the man who popularised forteana in the 1960s, who taught me ribald limericks, who introduced the hippy culture to earth mysteries, and who now is never going to appear at the Weird Weekend or buy me the pint he owes me.

Rest in Peace John.


OLL LEWIS: Yesterday’s News Today


Today is Friday so that means as well as the latest cryptozoology news from the CFZ daily cryptozoology news blog, updated daily by Mr Wilson (not to be confused with the other Mr Wilson), followed by a stale old pun based upon one of the news stories, provided by yours truly, there is also the announcement of tea of the week. This week it’s been nice and sunny so I’m going to recommend Twinings green tea with jasmine, as it’s a nice refreshing brew on a hot day. And now, the news:

Eight-legged smile
'Yowie not to blame for death'
My calf's got two noses
Black cat was lucky spot for Craig
Curator on trail of sea monsters, serpents
'Missing link' fossil seal walked
The feast of Bodmin

It probably thought that it was doing it’s ‘civet’ duty by cleaning up the food that was littering the town…(Hah! Bet you expected me to just be lazy, use the story before and mutter something like “that gets my ‘seal’ of approval”, or a “but how does he smell” gag about the calf story rather than that gem, didn’t you?)