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, September 06, 2009

TEXAS BLUE DOG PROJECT: Field Report 5th September by Naomi West

Another anomalous dog has turned up here in Texas this week. This poor creature was poisoned after signs of animal mischief in someone's barn, and while I would advocate a much more humane method of pest control, I would prefer to see one of them trapped live for a change.

The barn’s owner was cousin to a student of taxidermist Jerry Ayer. Mr Ayer now has the creature in his possession, and Richie and I were privileged to meet with him today to see what we could obtain for the CFZ. We found the creature already skinned and mostly mounted, but the carcass was perfectly intact.

Part of the excitement over seeing a whole carcass was that in our research on Devin McAnally’s “Elmendorf Beast”, or Texas Blue Dog, we have had only bones to study. We have had to rely solely upon McAnally’s description and a few pictures to see the anomalous features that, besides hairless skin, included upper fangs and tiger-like claws that extended from very small feet. However, one look at the creature today told me that it was not the same creature as Devin’s.

First of all, I saw nothing that anyone
could call 'blue.' The skin, while mostly hairless, was closer to a
faded black/ dark chocolate. But the two most telling deviations from the Elmendorf Blue Dog were the feet and teeth, both of which were typically canine. Like the Elmendorf creature, there was some sparse hair along the top of the spine, which Mr Ayer said was identical to coyote hair. Mr Ayer, who has mounted more than his share of coyotes, said that the only 'uncoyote-like' feature was the bald and very wrinkled skin; he pointed out where the neck fell into many folds.

The creature did in fact look exactly like a coyote in every way, minus the skin. She was extremely thin with every vertebra visible, but without fur it is hard to say if she was malnourished. Mr Ayer says the skin does not appear to be afflicted with mange.

Mr Ayer, who doesn't believe in mythical creatures, rued the media exploitation of the 'chupacabra' hype, and was pleased with the CFZ's scientific approach.

We were able to collect some tissue and bone for the CFZ and are anxious for the results.

Now, if I could only learn to say laBORatory....

I cannot tell you how proud I am of Naomi and Richie, especially Naomi who wrote to me: "It WAS hard on me seeing the poor thing skinned, knowing he was poisoned, etc. But I didn't leave or throw up, even when the guy drilled through the skull and got bits of bone and brain all over the place. You would have been proud." I am very proud indeed, my dear. The girl has done good!

This is what cryptozoology SHOULD be about: fieldwork, and gathering hard evidence, not sitting back in armchairs and writing self-serving nonsense (says he, sitting back in his armchair and writing self-serving nonsense). We agree with Mr Ayer, that it is appalling that a perfectly natural (though undeniably fascinating, 'cause I have been fascinated by it for five years now) subject such as the Blue Dogs of Texas, has got mixed up with and contaminated by all sorts of quasi-paranormal nonsense...

Watch this space - things are only going to get better

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