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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Sunday, June 07, 2009


As we came downstairs this morning we were greeted by the following headline, which has been splashed across various portions of The Internet:


and a newspaper report from a Northern Irish newspaper which told how:

"After 23 years of research including the detailed study of ancient art, cultures spanning 3000 years and three continents to the latest in satellite imaging technology, a father and son make an extraordinary trip deep into the heart of the Peruvian Amazon to confirm their theories that this is where a giant anaconda with a difference lives.

But that's precisely what Lisburn man Mike Warner (73) and his son Greg (44) have done, seeking evidence that this was the home of the Yacumama and actually capturing a picture of the creature".

I had already done the morning posts for the bloggo this morning. We have visitors this afternoon, and I wanted to have my decks clear for action. But we had to comment on this before it gets out of hand. However, as Richard says "a number of things sound wrong with this story".

  • Firstly as professional cryptozoologists we would have thought that we would have heard of Mike and Greg Warner, especially if they had been researching the giant anaconda for 23 years. They might well have been keeping their research secret however, and despite rumours to the contrary, it is not obligatory for UK cryptozoologists to be members of the CFZ, nor would we wish it to be. But one would have thought that we would have at least heard of them.
  • But the doubts don't stop there. The size attributed to the snake is truly fantastic, 40 metres (133 feet long) and 2 metres (six feet) wide. The idea of it knocking down 90 foot trees and demolishing houses sounds equaly unlikely.These, together with the huge furrows the creature is said to make make it sound much more like the minhocão - a supposed giant worm like beast from Southern Brazil and Uruguay. The minhocão supposedly uprooted trees, made furrows and destroyed houses. But it has not been reported in recent years.
  • The idea of a snake spitting water like a fire hose to knock monkeys out of trees strikes us as absurd, and may well have been inspired by the archer fish that squirts water at flies.
  • On to the photo. It does seem to show a large anaconda but nothing like the 40 metres quoted. The size of the snake is hard to judge. We only have what seems to be the prow of a canoe to compare it to. Canoes can differ greatly in size. Is this a one man canoe or a large vessel for transporting a number of people and their equipment? At the front of the boat we see what looks like tarpaulin and rope covering something so the canoe may be quite large, If this is so then the anaconda may be very big (but nothing like 40 metres).
  • If the boat is 3 to 4 feet wide then the anaconda would be 1 to 1.5 feet wide. The width to length ration of an anaconda can differ greatly between individuals and is effected by how much they have eaten. A rough estimate would put a snake of this width in the 18-25 foot range.

Now, we would like to stress that this story may be genuine, and that the peculiar aspects of it may just be the result of poor reportage, or even misprints. Neither Richard or I have any great faith in local journalists as a whole, having been misprinted and misquoted, and had complete rubbish just made up and attributed to us over the years. But as it is at the moment the stroy would seem to be too fantastic to be true.

The full story can be found at:


and no doubt the usual suspects will be attacking us by the end of the day with lines like "wot do this ppls think they is, Giant snakes rule rar!"

But we really don't care, and - believe me - we would love to be proved wrong: 130ft long snakes which spit water at monkeys would be monumentally cool beyond belief...





yacumama said...


This is Greg Warner. I was with my Father Mike when we made the discovery. He is downstairs relexing after our Sunday BBQ.

I'm both excited and surprised to see this blog. One thing we hadn't planned for was a fight to convince fellow crytozooligists. We are putting togther our paper to be submitted to scientific journals as a start of phase two of our project.

However, your questions and concerns are valid and I will bring my father upstairs soon to address these questions.

Sometimes the truth is extraordinary.


yacumama said...

Who are we?:I(Greg Warner)am not a crypozooligist,I am a government consultant.Mike ,my father is a retired printer & amateur cryptozooligist for over twenty years.His interest was sparked after first seeing a picture of a python that had swallowed a goat in India,whole,with horns sticking out of the side of the snakes body (the hunters had probably done this for the photo value)
Being 73 my father has never much relied upon the internet for his research. His research comes from books and newspapers eg.Bernard Heuvelmans "on the track of unknown animals",ancient art & texts.A very old copy of the Times Atlas proved very helpful in identifying many of the locations of interest as names often change over the years.I became involved in November 2008 when my fathers failing eyesight necessitated my support with his continued work. I found the depth & detail of his body of work to be truely astounding and encouraged him to complete the journey with a trip to the Amazon to test his theories about the existence of giant snakes(unrecognised by science).

Size and nature of the Snake:
Our research includes an article in the Diario de Pernambuco (Brazil)of a giant anaconda 80cm diameter(width of a door)and 40 meters long(c.131 feet)1948. These reports are not uncommon throughout the Amazon.When we arrived in the Peruvian Amazon we found stories of the Yacumama (mother of the waters) deeply entrenched in the native culture. One of the local tribes is the Bora Bora. Our discovery was first reported by the Belfast Telegraph and is now being picked up by journals around the UK. The journalism has been very good and reported the facts as best as can be expected but we don't have complete editorial control & a few minor details are incorrect. The photo used is a research photo not one from the expedition although we believe it has all the charictoristics of a Yacumama or Black Boa 15-20 Meters long. However our photos and video footage of the snake we found is considerably larger.In fact,it is my fathers opinion that the creature is in the process of becoming(as the locals call it)Sachamama which translates 'mother of the jungle'.At this point it becomes too heavy to move on land and only becomes mobile in water.Our shots (shared with the papers before printing for validation of the story)show it moving from a minor 'channel' through a major 'channel' and onto another minor 'channel'.Indeed the whole area has a network of minor and major channels,possibly made over the course of years.Many of the trees levelled to make these channels are indeed c.90ft in height.We photographed at low altitudes in a light aircraft during the rainy season and the whole area was flooded.We worked with a government registered guide (very respected in the area)who personally heard a "boom" in the jungle and was told by the local tribesmen he was with that this was 'the Yacumama shooting water at monkeys in the trees during high water'.In some parts of the world the natives call this animal "the gargler" & my father believes that this is where the name 'Gargoyle' comes from.

My father wants to make a few things clear at this point:

1.He has good reason to believe that if we disclose the exact location of our discovery too soon that the military will be called in as has happened before in Peru).We are engaging the authorities & hope to gain reasonable assurances for the safety of the creature and it's habitat. He believes that this amazing creature could, if handled properly, become the greatest living monument of natural history

2.We are curently working on producing a paper for the scientific community with the aim of gaining support for a second expedition in October which will involve thermal imaging to determine exact size and number of creatures in the region.

This account is factual and true and indeed our greatest challenge now is to manage this discovery with the respect & professionalism that it deserves.
Mike & Greg

yacumama said...

Boa Gigantesca knocks down floating House:

These articles made the front cover of two Amazonian Newspapers last week. We can't validate the claims but this meets all the criteria of a yacumama.

Our contacts in the Amazon sent us this translation a few days ago. It is a happy coincidence that our story broke at the same time:

"Tears down house (floating) and starts panic in two settlements", "Giant Boa at Morona cocha", 'people say the monster has big eyes, scales, and horns". "Destroyed her house and devoured her domestic animals", "Sachamama (they should say Yacumama)scares a couple of elders".

"An event almost unexplainable was what happened to a couple of elders dwellers of the sector 11 of the HUman settlement Micaela Bastidas since all of a sudden we were swung from one side to the other by something big that came out of the river, from the depth it came out like a hurrican that destroyed my poor hut, which over 50 meters now from where it used to be located, I was scared to death because I saw it, I saw it's gigantic dark black head that was going to kill me, manifested the Mrs.
Dlores Shuna, who is sure that the cause that she is homeless and only with one canoe is the mother of the island that is in front of us, there she is on the aguaje tree, finalized Mrs Dolores. that together with her spouse Artemio were helped by the neighbors of the area..........."

"Gigantic Boa unties terror.
Dwellers of the settlements El Porvenir y Micaela Bastidas, located on the Morona Cocha sector are afraid because of the presence of a gigantic boa. Antonio Mayta Aricaya, 46, fisherman of the lake Moronacocha, said that months ago in the zone there was a lot of fish but that there is non now because of the reptile.
The island always get animated at night and noise is heard on the river, everything is mysterious. Looks like the gigantic animal has the forest as camouflage to slither without being seen (noticed?), stated Mayta Aricaya.
Admin Perez Gutierrez, 26, related that all the time the island was quiet and now happens all the contrary. Even a house which was in the middle of the lake has been put down. It is the first time that this happens and the river has risen too much. In the meantime, dwellers of the two settlements don't get near the edge of the river by fear to the appearing of the animal that has been catalogued as a monster with big eyes, horns, and scales."

Greg & Mike

Sean said...

Pics or it didn't happen.

Batty said...

Greg Warner can't type.

Anonymous said...

Who, exactly,is going to pull their canoe up next to a 130 foot long snake with anger management issues?

Chris Clark said...

Since the photo shown has nothing to do with the expedition its provenance is irrelevant. I would be much more interested to see one of the shots from the aerial survey, if only to get some idea of their quality: is it an unambiguous snake, or is a large log a possibility? Knowing the height of the aircraft, focal length of the camera etc it should be possible to estimate the size even without anything to give a scale.
I don't understand the mention of thermal imaging. Thermal infrared is blocked completely by a tenth of a millimeter of water, so would show nothing that was in a lake. And why would an aquatic reptile, that has the same temperature as its surroundings, show up in the infrared?
We were thinking of looking for anacondas in Guyana next year. If there is really something here, and these two guys are happy to share their information, the CFZ should definitely think about following up this one.

Anonymous said...

I should have read the report more thoroughly, although one wonders why they would have posted the pic when they claim to have so many images of the real thing. Then again there have been past accounts of a giant Amazon snake with horns or crests over it's eyes, as described in the woefully translated newspaper stories.What about the reports of a similar snake in SE Asia, tentatively described as a member of the supposedly extinct matsoid family?
This is a verytantalizing story and Messrs. Warner owe us all some verification, sooner rather than later.

BlueDreadlock said...

i have no problem believing that a government consultant has such lousy typing skills, or that two guys might have made a hobby of hunting cryptids, or even that a gigantic unknown snake is living in peru.
i do find it really hard to believe that anyone who knows what they're talking about would think a peruvian legend may have somehow inspired gargoyles.
the word "gargoyle" comes from the french "gargouille" which means "throat" and referrs specifically to the pipe that runs through the "grotesque" (which is any ugly statue used as a kind of spiritual guardian) gargoyles were originally used to decorate drainage systems.
the noise that water makes as it comes out of the mouth (or in some cases other oriface) of the gargoyle is very like gargling, and while the two words are obviously derived from the same route, both were in common usage long before the spanish got to the americas
while i have no doubt that such a creature might end up with a nick-name like "the gargler" i find this single (false, or just incorrect?) embelishment of your story enough to question the rest of it.
as a printer and photo-manipulations specialist, i would very much like to inspect any pictures you produce.

Jon Downes said...

BlueDreadlock - can you do me a favour and e-mail me at jon@eclipse.co.uk



Tim G said...

Intriguing though this story is, I suspect it will turn out like so many others where either the photographic evidence is weak or ambiguous, or the whole story dries up and nothing more is heard. A clear, unedited, photograph of a snake of the alleged proportions would be such a groundbreaking discovery that the photograph would be of immense value to the scientific community, not to mention the international media. The fact that the photos have not yet appeared suggests to me that they are far from conclusive, though I would very much like to be proved wrong.