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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Monday, June 08, 2009

LARS THOMAS: The Scales have fallen... or something

Dr Lars Thomas who today joins the bloggo community is one of the CFZ's oldest friends and most longstanding members. He lives in Copenhagen, Denmark and has helped us in the past by having our expedition samples' DNA tested. He is a leading expert in the cryptozoology of Scandinavia and is currently working on a book on these cryptids for the CFZ that we are eagerly anticipating.

Denmark has never been a country to make herpetologists foam at the mouth. Our herpetofauna is distinctly meager – two snakes: the adder and the common grass snake, the slowworm, two lizards, and a tiny handful of frogs and toads. They are fairly unevenly distributed, as Denmark consists mainly of islands – American author Bill Bryson likened the look of Denmark to a plate dropped from a considerable height onto a hard floor – so some parts of Denmark completely lacks species that are extremely common elsewhere. Things have been rather quiet for a considerable number of years, but just during the last few months, everything appears to have gone beserk. Maybe not exactly cryptozoologial, but distinctly weird.

There is always the escapees of course. We get our fair share of those, but this year... The odd python or garter snake gone walk-about is nothing new, but a king cobra in the central square in Copenhagen? And what about the two boys who claimed to have seen a rattle snake on a field outside Roskilde some 30 km’s west of Copenhagen? And then we have the very weird ones – like the couple going home by car from a meeting in Herning in western Denmark. It was late at night in the middle of April, and when they were getting close to their house, they suddenly saw a naked and rather curvy girl standing in the middle of the road, carrying a very large green snake draped over her shoulders. The couple stopped the car, but when they got out to investigate, the girl and the snake had both disappeared.

And even the common species are behaving strangely. All the books on Danish wildlife will tell you that the grass snake are not to be found on the large islands off the southwest coast of Denmark, but nevertheless scores of people now claim to have seen it on the island of Rømø. In places where adders have not been seen in years, they are now suddenly starting to appear in droves, and we even have people claming sightings of 2 and 3 feet long slowworms! None of these have been longer than normal when investigated, but still.

And the lizards – oh wow. Some have cropped up in rather special places – one on the 7th. floor of a block of flats in the outskirts of Copenhagen, and some have been sporting unusual colours – blues, reds and orange, and in one case two tails.

The amphibians have been breeding like mad as well – in some cases tadpole counts have have been off the charts. In tiny ponds where you will normally only find a couple of hundred or maybe a couple of thousand tadpoles the numbers have been up way beyond 50.000 and sometimes even more.

Oh yes – all the other creatures are behaving rather strangely too. The fox for instance was exterminated on the extreme easterly Danish island of Bornholm many years ago, but just this years it has been seen on Bornholm at least 15 times. And the bugs and assorted smal beasties – oh, to be an entomologist! Something like 30 species never seen in Denmark before, has been found during the last year or so, and several rare or fairly rare species have started to crop up in the most unexpected places too.

The stagbeetle hasn’t been seen in Denmark for something like 40 years – lo and behold, suddenly it appeared in a garden just north of Copenhagen. The blue oilbeetle, something rather special in these parts, has suddenly decided to show its fat behind far more than usual. I found my first specimen a few days ago, never having seen one in Denmark before.

Central Copenhagen where I live, is not exactly a zoological haven, but nevertheless I have found 11 species of ladybird beetles in an area, where one would normally only find the common 7-spot variety. I know the climate is changing, but come on! I am sure Charles Fort is laughing himself silly in whatever heavenly libraries he hangs out these days.

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