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, November 30, 2009

CFZ DOWN UNDER: Panthers on the prowl


Over on CFZ Australia Mike and Ruby have been very busy. In their latest blog posting they report on the burgeoning number of `panther` sightings down under. Includes video.


Sadly, despite the fact that I have been looking forward to it all year, we shall not be able to attend the charity fish auction in Redditch next week. Max has got other committments, and the latest financial strictures mean that Corinna and I just cannot afford to get there.

So unless there is someone driving from North Devon to the Midlands next weekend and who fancies giving us a lift, we are shafted.

Oh well. Maybe next time. This bloody recession has got to end sometime.


RICHIE WEST: Perhaps Global Warming is Man-made

As a supporter of the CFZ and avid fan of Jon Downes, I have yet to offer any solo contribution to the CFZ. I support my wife's CFZ ventures, perfectly willing to remain in the background. Trained as a chemist/mathematician, receiving a BS degree from a large Texas university, I pride myself in the use of the scientific method, which leads me to write this essay.

I grew up in the sixties as an anti-establishment pro-environmentalist starting a controversial organisation called the Student Activists for a Free Environment (SAFE) at my local high school. I successfully participated in the requisite activities that made me a dully initiated member of any counter-culture group while at the university. I found myself on 'the fringe' and yet I write this article from a perspective within the CFZ again as a member of 'the fringe' within the fringe.

Recent publication of hacked email traffic reveal that several respected and renowned man-made global warming scientists have 'cooked the books.' It appears that they have manipulated their data to 'prove' the current politically correct position that if we don't do something now, our Earth will spiral into an unstoppable warming epoch instigated by man. (For the moment we will disregard the 70s environmental campaign against global cooling.) Al Gore received a Nobel Peace Prize for his work, Inconvenient Truth. Skeptical reviews [sic] of this movie have revealed 35 errors, 9 of which were questioned by a London High Court. 'The judge had stated that, if the UK Government had not agreed to send to every secondary school in England a corrected guidance note making clear the mainstream scientific position on these nine “errors”, he would have made a finding that the Government’s distribution of the film and the first draft of the guidance note earlier in 2007 to all English secondary schools had been an unlawful contravention of an Act of Parliament prohibiting the political indoctrination of children.' A good example of a glaring problem in Al Gore's data is this YouTube clip. Several MPs in the Australian parliament have resigned based on the organised deception by climate change scientists. It should be apparent even to the most naive that the world has been duped. My generation has now become 'the man.' We have shed our tie-dyed t-shirts and paisley patched jeans for the suit and perform the same mass deceptions we once protested.

In an ever vigilant quest for truth Jon has tried to keep the CFZ respectable, relying on science and the scientific method to discover truth. At times the truth has not been the most financially rewarding product for the CFZ. My desire is that the CFZ stay informed on emerging scientific data with respect to man-made global warming so as to maintain and even bolster its credibility. I ask that the CFZ be free thinkers and not be swayed by every whim of political doctrine.

Don't get me wrong. I am very concerned about what we do to our environment. I believe we are to be good stewards of what has been given to us. As much as we desire to preserve our Earth and the habitats it provides to some rapidly declining species' populations, we need to brandish the truth as our two-edged sword to combat ignorance that even our most respected climate change scientists seem to have been willing to maintain. We need to change people's hearts not control the truth.

The best way to end the man-made global warming debate is to publish the truth.

DALE DRINNON: Mackal's Searching For Hidden Animals Errata

In a couple of cases, information from Roy Mackal's book appears to have led a lot of people in the cryptozoological community astray.

In checking back with a standard reference on the subject - Mallory's Rock Art of The American Indians - it turns out that Mackal has a mistaken copy of a 'Naiataka' claimed to be from Lake Okanagon. It is not; it is from Vancouver Island.

The original rock has a crack running through it and the version that Mackal has (by way of Costello, probably) has misaligned the parts on either side of the crack.

Putting the pieces together that way makes the rest of the petrogyphs on the same rock come out wrong. I offer an alternative reconstruction here.

Mallory had said that the petroglyphs indicated that an artist was making repeated attempts to represent a visual image he had strongly in mind, which is about the same thing as saying he had a sighting. It may be more permissable to call it a Cadborosaurus than a Naiataka, and I do not know of any authoritative depictions of Na'ha'a'itikh from Lake Okanagon itself. My impression is that the name refers to a big fish, possibly a sturgeon, which is known to swallow swimmers and swimming dogs according to local legend.

The second cryptid is equally garbled, it is the Alaskan Pal-Rai-Yuk, which Mackal makes out to represent his hypothetical longnecked-shortnecked-eared-earless and flipperless seal. The actual cryptid is a pretty much straightforward sea-serpent wth a longish neck and short limbs (flippers), usually with two humps (assuming four limbs) but often with three humps (assuming six limbs) and occasionally "Many-humped (counting the wake).

One of the Pal-Rai-Yuks here is also from Mallory and another is from the standard reference A Fantastic Bestiary by Ernst and Johanna Lehner. And it is nothing exceptional for garbled accounts of little-known animals to acquire such offbeat characteristics as six limbs or variable numbers of limbs: I just so happen to also have a bestiary depiction of a sixlegged crocodile handy.

OLL LEWIS: Electrickery

One of the problems with living in a village is that utilities companies tend to ignore you as you are not as profitable as a town or city. The mobile telephone network is perhaps the most obvious example of this. If you have seen the film Hot Fuzz you might remember the bit where Simon Pegg’s character walks into the village and his mobile phone signal completely vanishes, never to return. You might think this would be an exaggeration for comic effect but it’s not; in many British towns and villages the mobile phone network is in the same state as it was in the late 80s. For technophobes and Luddites this would seem an ideal situation, but in Europe and America these days you are expected to own a mobile phone. If you sign up for Facebook or Google these days you have to verify your account with your mobile phone (presumably to check you’re not a spammer) and some computer peripherals like modems now require your mobile phone number to text you an activation code for the product (although why they can’t just write it down on the manual like they used to I don’t know), so nowadays a mobile phone and a half decent signal is as essential as a landline.

The worst example of underinvestment is from power companies, though; as far as I know Woolsery has no mains gas supply, and our electricity supply is shockingly unreliable. Despite having to be turned off during the day for about three days in a row to ‘upgrade’ the electricity system, a few months back (you may remember my blog posting back then of the trials of keeping tropical fish tanks warm all day) we continue to suffer from power-cuts.

In the last few days there have been three separate power-cuts. Thankfully none have occurred when we have been writing books or articles on PCs or all unsaved progress would have been lost (and when the power surged back into the wires there would have been a chance of damaging the computer), but there have been several problems caused by the power cuts: four lights in the aquariums have broken and the heating light for one of our turtles. Thankfully it would appear the filters and heaters are made of sterner stuff, but aquarium lights do not come cheap and with money being as tight as it is at the moment for the CFZ, replacing aquarium lights that can cost £15 a time in some shops is an expense we really could do without. This is especially annoying when it is the electricity companies’ fault they blew by operating a quite frankly shoddy and unreliable service to people in rural communities because they think that they can get away with cutting corners as there are fewer people around to complain in a village than in a city. However, we still have to pay the same for our supply as in cities so it is not fair that we should have a substandard supply and be forced to pay extra money to replace items broken because of them.

I spend every morning tending to the CFZ’s animal menagerie and I get very annoyed when things like this conspire to interfere with that and cause potential harm to the welfare of the animals. Whenever anything gets my goat I have been known to utter the words “Oooh, I shall be writing a strongly worded letter to my MP about this.” Of course, usually I say that after a siphon has gone haywire and drenched me with half a tank full of water with snapping turtle poo in it and I’m not entirely serious about writing to our local representative in parliament about that, but this time I think I will.

Not that it’ll do much good I suppose….

OLL LEWIS: Yesterday’s News Today


On this day in 1954 a meteorite hit Ann Elizabeth Hodges while she was napping on her sofa in Oak Grove, Alabama. This was the first time an extraterrestrial object is known to have hit a person and one of only two documented instances of a meteorite hitting a human.
And now the news:

Sweden: woman 'murdered' by elk, not husband
Pictured: tiny but colourful 'peacock' spider
Polish zoo lets visitors meet the Flintstones
Owner 'gives meerkats toy mother'


Sunday, November 29, 2009


I have always done my best to be truthful in these bloggoposts, and when things have been going well I have told you so. Sadly, at the moment things are not going particularly well with a whole string of problems having beset the CFZ.

The first, and biggest - of course - is money. We are approximately fifteen thousand pounds worse off each year than we were three years ago. This is basically because of the perfidy of people whom we had considered friends and whom we had trusted. I cannot go into any further details because there is a court case pending concerning the widow of one of the people who is directly responsible for our current situation, and the whole affair is sub judice. I think that it is likely that the other affair will also end in legal action, and the whole thing just makes me deeply unhappy.

We have also had a string of computer problems, which have been exacerbated by the fact that someone (and it could have been any one of six people) borrowed a vital piece of software from the folder without replacing it. We hope that this will be sorted out by Tuesday, but it does mean that various things are held up, which should not have been held up.

And of course the most emotionally draining is the current situation with Marjorie Braund and Noela Mackenzie. In the case of the former, whom I love very much, there is little that I can do except visit each day. Roy, Kaye and the boys are being magnificent. But in the case of Noela, I have been thrust into being in loco nepotensis (no doubt Ronan will correct my Latin), and as most of the powers that be who are meant to be looking after her are as much use as teats on a bull, we are doing what we can.

So things are in a state of fluz. There will be some economy measures announced in the next few days, but be assured of one thing. The CFZ will continue to do what we do, and we shall continue to do it to the best of our ability.



As you know, Oll has been working on the archiving project since early February, and he is now working on the BHM section. This 15th trenche is from 1994 and contains bits and bobs from the journal Track Record. Good stuff.



A few weeks ago our old friend Paul Cropper send us THIS PDF, which tells the improbable story of an encounter with yetis in the snowy mountains of the Himmalayas. As Dmitri Bayanov (who also received a copy) notes "It's clearly fiction, but it's source and tips are noteworthy".

I couldn't agree more, and it is a suitable ripping yarn for a cold, wet November morning.


Someone sent me a whole slew of these recently, and to my great embarrassment I cannot remember who it was. So apologies to all concerned. However, I am posting them piecemeal because I think they are very funny..

NEIL ARNOLD: The Grotesque Stickman

There are some mysteries within the field of the paranormal that simply defy any explanation. Take for instance the creepy case of the Stick Man. In 2003 a story that appeared on the message board of Fortean Times magazine, a man claimed that several years ago he'd encountered a bizarre humanoid in the Brockley area of south-east London.

Read On


One week to go till the Midland Charity Auction in Redditch on Sunday, 6th December.
15 breeders have requested auction lot letters so far & fish have started going onto the web page. During the final run-up week to the auction I'm kept busy updating this list. Remember, as always we get many species not put on this list.

We are expecting a lot of fish as is normal for the December do, so please try & get here early as we would like to get the first auction underway around 10.30am. With the nights drawing in it's nice to finish early so everyone can start the journey home in daylight. Last year's December do saw over 500 lots going under the hammer.

Please try to bring plenty of 50p, £1 & £2 coins as well as £5 notes, which are always in demand.
We have invested in a microphone & amp this year so those at the back should be able to hear us. We should have had one last auction but were let down. Now we have our own equipment.

If you need an early breakfast please let me know & I will give the figures to the girls in the kitchen. By this I mean those arriving around 9am. Please be aware this year that we have people in charge of admission fees, which are only £2. We have had to tighten up on this area. This is a charity fundraising event & we hope you understand this. Last December we raised £500 for charities so we would like to match or exceed this if possible.

The raffle makes a lot of money towards this total. If anyone can help out with some donation for prizes it would be greatly appreciated. Representatives from most associations like the BKA, BLA, BCA, catfish & probably Anabantoid will be at the do so you can chat or join them.

The club have now bought a marquee so next June's auction will be bigger. We are looking at some interesting ways to fill this & are working with various people at the moment.

If you are bringing the kids why not bring some bread & feed the birds on the pool, which has ducks, moorhens, gulls, swans & even great crested grebe?

OLL LEWIS: Yesterday’s News Today


Those of you who have been following the progress of the story of the discovery of the tomb of Tutankhamun by Howard Carter in 1922 via this column will be interested to know that today is the anniversary of the day he first opened the tomb to the public. Today was also the day in 1972 that the video game Pong was first released.
And now for some news and a bad pun:

Cows stampede through quiet housing estate
Table for zoo, sir?
Loch Ness Monster 'family-friendly' to boost tourism
Puffer fish Russian roulette ends as scientists breed non-lethal version
Couple tries to crack case of mystery egg
What an egg-citing mystery.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

CFZ PEOPLE: Noela Mackenzie and Marjorie Braund

Much of this week has been taken up with visiting and caring for these two dear ladies, who are very dear to me, and much loved members of the CFZ family.

Mrs Braund is as well as can be expected. She seems to enjoy our daily visits. Yesterday we took Shosh and Gavin with us, and although she was convinced that Shosh's mother was my ex-wife, she was pleased to hear about Shosh's adventures as a newly qualified vet.

Noela was moved to Bideford Hospital yesterday. We shall be going in to visit her later.

Both ladies look so fragile and vulnerable, like baby birds in the nest, that one's heart aches not to be able to do more for them. The picture, by the way, is of Noela at my 45th birthday party at a long defunct Russian restaurant in Exeter. She distinguished herself by eating an enormous meal and drinking prodigous amounts of vodka, which would not have shamed a burly man half her age. She was, by the way, 82 at the time....

CFZ PEOPLE: Lisa Dowley

Richard telephoned yesterday evening. We are sad to report that Lisa Dowley has had a small stroke. We do not know any further details, but she is apparently recovering well.

Your thoughts and prayers are appreciated.


Looking back at some archives of Nessie news I came across these items:

'Monster spotter applauds £2m Ness clean-up By Claire Doughty
Published: 02 November, 2006

NESSIE will have clearer water to swim in after millions of pounds was invested in cleaning up her ‘home’. And, it is hoped, the improvements to the Loch Ness Monster’s surroundings will lead to more sightings. Scottish Water have just completed two projects worth over £2 million in the world famous stretch of water. Modern waste water treatment works have been installed at Foyers on the south shore of the loch, and at Balnain, near Drumnadrochit, on the north shore. Both works discharge a cleaner effluent into the rivers Foyers and Enrick, which flow into Nessie’s abode.

Gary Campbell, president of The Official Loch Ness Monster Fan Club, welcomed the news. He said: ‘It is great to see this improvement in the quality of Nessie’s habitat. There have only been a few sightings this year and I’m sure that cleaner water will mean Nessie is seen more .
‘Seriously, this is good news for the many Nessie hunters who visit the area. A cleaner environment will encourage them to return.’ Nessie fan club president Gary Campbell is hopeful the cleaner water will make for more sightings.

Sheila Campbell-Lloyd, Scottish Water’s regional manager in the Highlands, added: ‘This is a brilliant example of Scottish Water investing to ensure that the Highlands remains a great place to live and visit. A cleaner environment makes for a better experience and that in turn should benefit the important tourist trade in the area.’

The £1.8 million treatment works located in Lower Foyers, near the lochside, has two septic tanks and filters which provide secondary treatment, which separates solid and liquid waste and is filtered down to produce a high quality effluent. It replaces a number of outdated septic tanks around Lower and Upper Foyers. By reducing the number of discharges to just one, the environment is now much more pleasant and the river and the loch are now much cleaner. At Balnain, the £300,000 project involves a new septic tank and reed bed system which protects the environment and boosts the water quality in the River Enrick. Scottish Water says reed beds use natural methods to break down sewage and recycle it into clean water. They don’t use any chemicals and reduce the risk of flooding, minimise odours, blend in well with the environment and provide habitats for wildlife.

The most recent Nessie sighting was last month when a young English couple holidaying in the Highlands claimed they encountered Nessie twice during their stay. Nick Thurston and his fiance Emma Louise Jones won a holiday to the Highland capital and spotted the monster whilst on a cruise. Their second sighting was a week later whilst driving near to Urquhart Castle. '

Here is a sighting from 2007:
'Sidney Wilson was in the city with his wife Janet when they decided on a cruise down the loch to take in the sights. And it was as they approached Urquhart Castle that he ended up taking this intriguing photograph. Sidney, who comes from Nottingham, said: "I was just taking pictures of everything as we sailed down the loch. "As we approached the castle, two power boats appeared and circled us at speed, leaving a large wash in their wake. "Thinking that it would make a good photograph, I fired off two quick shots and on the second, there appeared to be something in the water." After enlarging the image, Sidney could swear he could see a head and fin in the boat's wash. "After showing the image to staff at the National Hotel in Dingwall, they advised us to contact the Highland News," he added. The sighting took place on Tuesday, March 27. The earliest claimed reference to Nessie is taken from the history of St Columba in which it is said he saved the life of a Pict who was being attacked by the monster. The first modern sighting occurred on May 2, 1933. A report in a local newspaper claimed a Mr and Mrs John Mackay saw "an enormous animal rolling and plunging on the surface". '

Well, the clean water doesn’t seem to have done the trick as there seem to have been less sightings since this was done. The sighting from 2007 looks like a seal; as there is no indication of size, I think that is what it would be put down to. I wonder if there have been fewer sightings or if people are just reluctant to report them


Our group's Online Fundraising Campaign has just kicked off and your participation is the key to our success!

Hello all! We are starting a new fundraising event online to help out the rescue. We are working to raise funds to acquire our 501c3 status, then to have some extra funds to go towards vet expenses for some of the dogs we receive who need some extra medical attention that we are unable to pay for ourselves at this time. If your unable to participate please pass this email on! Thanks & hugs, Lanette

You can help by inviting your friends and family to shop at our online magazine store. They can choose from over 650 magazine subscriptions at up to 85% savings, and our group will get up to 40% of each purchase amount!

And magazines are a great gift idea!

Click here to participate! And you can get great prizes too! When you invite 12 people and sell one magazine subscription, you get a FREE movie ticket redeemable online! And for a limited time, there are monthly $200 cash prizes to be given away to top sellers!

Participate now!

REGAN LEE: Cattle Mutes


Reposted from The Orange Orb:

Cattle mutilations made the mainstream news today: Creepy string of calf mutilations mystify Colorado rancher, police This item seems to be making all the rounds; it appeared in our local paper, Eugene's Register Guard.

The dead calves had their skins peeled back and organs cleared from the rib cage. One calf had its tongue removed.But rancher Manuel Sanchez has found no signs of human attackers, such as footprints or ATV tracks. And there are no signs of an animal attack by a coyote or mountain lion. Usually predators leave pools or blood or drag marks from carrying away the livestock."There's nothing really to go by," said Sanchez, who's ranched for nearly 50 years. "I can't figure it out."Colorado's San Luis Valley has been the home of supreme high strangeness for literally hundreds of years. Cattle mutilations, UFOs, even Bigfoot, and a whole lot of other Fortean and weird events. Paranormal researcher Chris O'Brien has written three books on the strange happenings in the area in his "Haunted Valley" series: Secrets of the Mysterious Valley, Mysteriosu Valley, and Enter the Valley. (O'Brien's Stalking the Tricksters: Shapeshifters, Skinwalkers, Dark Adepts and 2012 is his recent work, released about a month or so back.) O'Brien isn't mentioned in the news item but Chuck Zukowski of UFOnut.com is. On Zukowski's site there is a report, along with graphic photos, of the mutilations.In the news item references are made to UFOs and aliens and the odd history of the place:

When something like this happens, there's always talk of UFO's and alien visits. Neither believe in that, either. But some may look upward for an explanation. The San Luis Valley is a place where an unexplained horse mutilation maintains celebrity status 40 years after its death because of mysterious circumstances. It also has a UFO watchtower sitting on the roadside near Hooper. Interesting this item made it into the national news stream, along with references to UFOs.

OLL LEWIS: Yesterday’s News Today


On this day in 1520 three of Magellan’s ships sailed from the Atlantic to the Pacific Ocean, becoming the first Europeans ever to do so.
And now for a spot of news:

No answers yet for calf mutilations near San Luis
Pet pig puts wind up family as farting prompts gas leak fears
Dirty pig.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Anserine Activity

I see from your headline of 25th November that Lindsay Selby has a quick gander. I have always felt the goose family make good pets. It is nice to see someone looking after one.


The early 1990s was a good time for cryptozoologists and other scientists in south-east Asia, particularly in Cambodia and Vietnam where the Kting Voar, “also known as the Khting Vor, Linh Duong or Snake-eating Cow (Pseudonovibos spiralis) is a bovid mammal reputed to exist in Cambodia and Vietnam…The Kting Voar is normally described as a cow-like animal with peculiar twisting horns about 45 centimetres (20 inches) long. Anecdotal descriptions of the animal mention a spotted pelage. Folklore claims that it has a connection with snakes.

Kting Voar is the animal`s Cambodian name. This was erroeneously translated in the West as `jungle sheep`, leading to a mistaken assumption that the animal was related to sheep and goats. In fact the name means `liana-horned gaur`(a gaur is a species of wild Asian cow).

Adding to the confusion, the Vietnamese name linh duong, meaning`antelope` or `gnu`, was once reported to refer to this animal. However, this is in fact a local name for the Mainland Serow.

Other Kampuchean names possibly include kting sipuoh (`snake-eating cattle`) and khting pos.

“For Western scientists, the first evidence supporting existence was a set of horns found by biologist Wolfgang Peter in a Ho Chi Minc City market. ( W. P. Peter and A. Feller. Horns of an unknown bovid species from Vietnam (Mammalia: Ruminantia ) Faun. Abh. MusTierkd. Dresden 19,247-253.)…All supposed Kting Voar specimens that were subject to Dna analysis to date have turned out to be articially shaped Kting Voar specimens that were subject to DNA analysis to date have turned out to be artificially shaped cattle horns…The most likely explanation, given the DNA results and the unusual spotted fur (which is well known in domesticated, but unknown in wild cattle), seem to be that modern specimens at least are cattle horns shaped by a complicated technique in order to serve as anti-snake talismans…There is also an earlier report of British tiger-hunters in the first part of the 20th century, who observed Kting Voar and shot two as tiger bait… The existence of the Kting Voar is far more likely than that of other cryptids. IUCN Red List of threatened species lists it as endangered, stating “The existence and systematic position of Pseudonovibos spiralis is currently being debated. There are undoubtedly manufactured trophies (“fakes”) in circulation, but the precautionary principle requires us to assume that the species did exist and may still exist.” (1)

In the abstract to their paper `Chinese sources suggest early knowledge of the `unknown` ungulate (Pseudonovibos spiralis) from Vietnam and Cambodia`, Alastair A. Macdonald and Lixin N.Yang stated `A survey of historical Chinese encyclopaedias, compilations and textbooks from the Ming and early Qing dynasties (14th to 18th centuries ) was carried out for information that might fit an animal from Vietnam and Cambodia which is known only from its distinctive horns. These horns have a raised, rib-like pattern of rings round much of their length, and a backward curl of the horn`s tip. One illustrated text found in the San Cai Tu Hui, a compilation of knowledge by Wang Chi and his son Wang Si Yi (1607), seems to bear a close resemblance to the information which has recently been gathered during field trips in Cambodia and Vietnam`. The authors conclude that additional information on endemic animals in the region may be found in the writings of that part of the world….

Results. Illustrations and brief descriptions of goat-like animals were found in many of the books and manuscripts consulted. Most of them clearly referred to species present in northern China and Mongolia. However, one illustrated text found in the San Cai Tu Hui (Wang Chi & Wang Si Yi,1607) seemed to bear a closer resemblance to the information which has been gathered in Cambodia and Vietnam. (2)

I hope Jon and I will be able to use these old Chinese encyclopaedias for our future book The Mystery Animals of Hong Kong, which we hope to start writing in a few years.

1. Wikipedia. Kting Voar. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kting_Voar [accessed November 26th 2009]
2. A.A.Macdonald and L.N.Yang. Chinese sources suggest early knowledge of the `unknown` ungulate (Pseudonovibos spiralis) from Vietnam and Cambodia Journal of Zoology (1997) 241 pp 523-524.

Muirhead`s Mysteries will be taking a short break until next Tuesday due to a hectic schedule.

Thanks to Darren Naish who provided me with the document on early Chinese knowledge of the Cambodian-Vietnamese ungulate

Bob-Dylan I Dreamed I Saw Saint Augustine

I dreamed I saw Saint Augustine
Alive as you or me
Tearing through these quarters
In the utmost misery
With a blanket underneath his arm
And a coat of solid gold
Searching for the very souls
Whom already had been sold



From You Tube: 'Filmed in the Penryn River, a pair of dividing birds, what are they?' For 'DIVIDING' presumably read 'DIVING', but the question still stands.

By the way, Tony S. once told me that Penryn was known as `Shagtown` because of all the cormorants that live there. Has anyone else heard this?



Host: George Noory
Guests: Neil Arnold

Folklore researcher Neil Arnold will discuss his study of a surreal safari of monsters including winged humanoids, sky serpents, paranormal 'manimals,' hellhounds, and other creatures.


Monster! - The A-Z OF Zooform Phenomena
Mystery Animals of the British Isles: Kent


As you know, Oll has been working on the archiving project since early February, and he is now working on the BHM section. This 14th trenche is from 1993 and is an entire edition of Track Record #36. Good stuff.



Center for Biological Diversity
Center for Biological Diversity

Give a gift to nature and support the Center's work.

Spring pygmy sunfish

Share Endangered Earth Online.

Bid with your lid: Learn how Stonyfield Farm Organic Yogurt will help the Center when you vote for us.

Feds Forewarned: Stop Neglecting Mexican Wolves

Last Friday, the Center for Biological Diversity warned the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service that we'll sue if it doesn't consider special protections for the Mexican gray wolf. In August, we filed a scientific petition to place this highly imperiled subspecies on the endangered species list separate from gray wolves nationwide. The Mexican wolf needs this distinction to ensure the development of a new recovery plan, which would lay out criteria for how many animals and what distribution are needed to deem it secure enough to remove from the endangered species list. But it's been more than 90 days since our petition, and the Service is still illegally ignoring it -- while genetic diversity in Mexican wolves continues to decline.

"The Mexican gray wolf has fallen through the cracks and is receiving insufficient protection," said Michael Robinson of the Center. "Timely action is essential."

Get more from the Associated Press.

Emergency Safeguards Sought for Rare Sunfish

This Tuesday, the Center for Biological Diversity and an independent biologist filed a scientific petition to immediately protect the minute, extremely rare spring pygmy sunfish under the Endangered Species Act. Once present in three populations, the sunfish is now barely clinging to life in a single population within just five miles of Alabama's Beaverdam Springs complex. Without protection, the tiny remaining population of this tiny fish could be wiped out by urban sprawl, poor agricultural practices, and streamside vegetation clearance.

The spring pygmy sunfish has already been presumed extinct twice since its discovery in 1937. It's one of 110 Alabama fish species that desperately need federal protection -- and soon -- to survive.

Check out our press release and learn more about the spring pygmy sunfish.

Cutthroat Trout Defended From Cutthroat Politics

Challenging a flawed Bush policy that warps the science behind the Endangered Species Act, this Tuesday the Center for Biological Diversity sued to earn protections for the crimson-bellied Colorado River cutthroat trout. Though the Center filed a scientific petition to protect the imperiled fish, in 2007 the Bush administration denied our petition based on a policy letting it consider only the trout's current range -- and not the vastly larger area it used to occupy. Even while denying the fish protection, Bush's U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service acknowledged that the species has been eliminated from 87 percent of its historic range and is still seriously threatened by habitat destruction, nonnative trout, and climate change.

Our trout lawsuit is one of 55 we've filed in a campaign to overturn politically tainted endangered species decisions made throughout the Bush administration. So far, we've won reversals in all completed cases.

Peruse our press release and learn more about our campaign to clean up the Bush legacy.

Center to Sue Over Blue Whale Killings

To save the largest animals on Earth from some of the largest -- and most deadly -- vessels at sea, last week the Center for Biological Diversity and allies, represented by the Environmental Defense Center, warned the feds we'll sue over their failure to protect blue whales from deadly collisions with ships. According to the 1998 Blue Whale Recovery Plan -- which the feds must legally heed for the sake of the species' survival and recovery -- the National Marine Fisheries Service needs to take steps to eliminate or reduce blue whale mortalities from ship strikes. But despite the documented ship-strike deaths of at least five blue whales off Southern California in 2007 and two more this fall, the agency has done nothing to address the problem for more than a decade.

Hunted to near-extinction by the mid-20th century, blue whale populations have inched their way toward recovery. But now they're faced with a host of new threats, including not only death by ship strike but also climate change, ocean acidification, and ocean noise pollution.

Get more from Marine Science Today.

Agency Hauled to Court for Two Bay-Delta Fish

Taking a stand for two of the most important -- and endangered -- fish in the San Francisco Bay-Delta, this month the Center sued the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for failing to properly protect the longfin smelt and delta smelt. Formerly abundant throughout the San Francisco estuary, both smelt are now at unprecedented low numbers. And the plight of these tiny fish -- both at the base of the food chain -- has implications for the health of the entire Bay-Delta ecosystem, including runs of salmon, steelhead, and sturgeon. The Center filed a scientific petition in 2006 to upgrade the delta smelt's status from "threatened" to "endangered" under the Endangered Species Act; we petitioned for protection for the longfin smelt in 2007. The Fish and Wildlife Service responded that it wouldn't protect the longfin smelt -- and the agency hasn't responded to our delta smelt petition at all. If we're to stop the "smeltdown in the Delta," both fish must be sufficiently protected as soon as possible.

Read more in the San Francisco Chronicle.

Save Dugongs, Coral Reef From Demise

In Okinawa, Japan, almost 400 types of coral form reefs supporting more than 1,000 species of fish, sea turtles, and marine mammals. But now, the U.S. Department of Defense is planning to build a military airbase near Henoko village, right on top a healthy coral reef that alone sustains at least nine species threatened with extinction, including the imperiled hawksbill, loggerhead, and green sea turtles and the Okinawa dugong -- a rare saltwater manatee of which only about 50 remain. Due to global warming, ocean acidification, and pollution, Okinawa's coral reefs are already threatened with collapse; more than half have disappeared in the past 10 years.

The Center for Biological Diversity and allies from both sides of the Pacific filed suit against the Department of Defense, and last year, a judge ruled against the agency -- but plans are still moving forward. The U.S. government must abandon them if the dugong and other species in the Henoko Bay ecosystem are to survive.

Take action now to tell decision-makers the airbase must not be built. Then learn more about the Okinawa dugong and the Center's work in Japan.

Scientific American Battle to Save Condor

This week, the Center for Biological Diversity's work for California condors in Arizona caught the eye of Scientific American, which highlighted the endangered birds' extreme danger in the face of lead poisoning. Although numerous Arizona hunters -- about 70 percent -- are voluntarily using nonlead bullets to protect the birds (thanks to state incentives and education), lead bullets are still legal within the condor range. Any condor that scavenges carrion shot with just one of these lead bullets can die from lead poisoning -- currently the number-one threat to the species, which was brought almost to extinction in the 1980s. "It doesn't take many hunters using lead ammo to poison a significant number of birds," said the Center's Jeff Miller in an interview. "One flock of birds on a carcass can create an immediate crisis."

The Center and allies' Get the Lead Out campaign won a requirement for nonlead ammunition throughout the condor's range in California in 2007. Now, the Center is working to expand that requirement nationally. But the NRA denies lead poisoning hurts condors, and the group has hired lobbyists and lawyers to stop us from making other states lead-free.

Thanks to all who donated to our Condor Defense Fund -- with your help, we'll defeat the NRA in defense of condors, other wildlife, and even humans who are affected by lead contamination.

Read more in Scientific American.

"If My Name Was Not Mojib Latif, My Name Would Be Global Warming"

Global warming skeptics--notably conservative windbag and Washington Post columnist George Will -- have been using research by leading climate scientist Mojib Latif to deny that global warming is happening. Because Latif's study shows that global temperatures have recently held fairly steady at very high levels, Will and others have said that means the Earth is actually now cooling and it's fine and good to keep spewing fossil-fuel pollution into the atmosphere.

Latif's response? Um, no. The recent plateau is very hot and dangerous compared to long-term trends, and is caused by global warming. Recent ocean currents have held the temperature relatively steady, but that's a temporary offsetting of the warming being locked in by continued greenhouse gas emissions.

Is Latif a global warming skeptic? No, "If my name was not Mojib Latif, my name would be global warming." Now that's a global warming expert.

Listen to an interview with Latif on National Public Radio and take action to fight global warming with the Clean Air Act now.

Forget Black Friday -- Give Greenly With the Center

Yes, it's almost Black Friday, the day millions of people nationwide dive head first into holiday consumption -- with dark consequences for the Earth, from the greenhouse gases emitted in driving to stores, manufacturing products, and shipping gifts to the trees cut down and the landfills filled for the sake of wrapping paper and packaging. But you don't have to hop in a car and head for the mall to get started on your holiday shopping right away. All you have to do is shop with the Center for Biological Diversity online from your home -- and help us save species at the same time. That way, instead of contributing to the holidays' environmental havoc, you'll be helping to counteract it.

We don't sell polar bear and wolf plush toys made in China, but the Center baseball cap is pretty cool.

Get gifts for your loved ones and Mother Earth at the same time through our Green Giving Guide now.

KierĂ¡n Suckling
Executive Director

Photo credits: spring pygmy sunfish (c) Conservation Fisheries Inc.; Mexican gray wolves by Val Halstad, Wolf Haven International; spring pygmy sunfish (c) Conservation Fisheries Inc.; Colorado River cutthroat trout courtesy Wyoming Game and Fish; blue whale courtesy NOAA; delta smelt by B. Moose Peterson, USFWS; Okinawa dugong (c) Suehiro Nitta; California condor courtesy USFWS; coal-fired power plant courtesy Wikimedia Commons/Adilettante; gifts courtesy Wikimedia Commons/Kevin Gay under the GNU free documentation license.

The Center for Biological Diversity sends newsletters and action alerts through DemocracyinAction.org. Let us know if you'd like to change your email list preferences or stop receiving action alerts and newsletters from us. Change your address or review your profile here.

OLL LEWIS: Yesterday’s News Today


On this day in history the first Eddystone Lighthouse was destroyed by the great storm of 1703 and Harvey Milk was assassinated in 1978.
Now for the cryptozoology news:

Humpback Horror: Camel Chaos In Oz
Giraffe suffers from crick in the neck
Baby gibbon gets surrogate mother
Tourists robbed by baboons
I want to be a ham-star

They’re really hamming it up for the cameras.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009


In the depths of my archives I found a story titled `The Dragon Farm` from a book called Avery Memorial. It was written by someone calling themselves 'C.C.C.' All other details are unknown. There is an Avery near Midhurst in West Sussex and one near Southampton. I have a vague memory of finding this short account whilst working in Warwickshire in the mid 1990s but I am not absolutely sure. However, the mention of Alcester (`Roman fort on the river Alne`) would seem to confirm the Warwickshire connection. The following is an abridged version.

'Though I had often heard of The Dragon Farm and the curious chimney-piece preserved there, it was not until recently that I had an opportunity of paying it a visit. The house I found to be an old half-timbered one,standing upon a base of stone-work, and moated on its hill side. From the number of perpendiculars in the timber work and the form of the angle-pieces it would appear to be a place of some antiquity, though not belonging to the Saurian period as the local tradition would imply.

'The place derives its name from two so-called dragons,carved in oak, on an otherwise plain chimney-piece in one of the rooms, and the story told of them is as follows:- In that extinct age when the dragon and the wyvern, the cockatrice and the fire-drake, to say nothing of gigantic serpents, griffons &c,existed upon the earth, there lived at the farm house a certain man who had large flocks of sheep. To his great mortification, however, these, instead of increasing, decreased in number to an alarming extent. Whither the missing ones went he could not tell, and the rangers, woodwards and verdurers (?) of Feckenham assured him that they had not strayed in the forest; neither could he find about his own pastures any trace of their having been torn by wolves. In his distress he went to consult a holy man who simply bade him “Watch and pray”, and he therefore set his shepherds to watch while he betook himself to his beads. On the night following, the shepherd came to his master and told him that two evil beasts were dragging away some lambs, whereupon the men armed themselves with (with “guns” says one of my informants) and were quickly in pursuit. They followed the ravening creatures and saw them disappear with their prey through a hole in the butt of an enormous oak tree. Having found the den of the spoilers they quickly shot them, and the flocks thenceforth began to increase. On examining the tree they found the trunk quite hollow, and there was room within to turn a coach round!

'It was in commemoration of this strange occurrence,says the tradition, that the two so-called dragons were carved over the chimney-piece at the farm. An inspection, however, of the carving will show any one versed in such matters that it is a piece of very good work of the time of James I. Did not the date 1614 on a shield inform us positively of this.

'The creatures themselves should have been described as serpents rather than dragons; their tails, barbed at the ends, are interlaced, and the eyes in their regardant heads glare fiercely at each other; the teeth, however are those of a crocodile, though the tongue ends in what is intended to represent a sting. This kind of nondescript is not unfrequent in our neighbourhood and examples may be seen at Tookey`s Farm, at Alcester, and elsewhere.' (1)

A web site about the Ropen, Papua New Guinea`s supposed living pterosaur, says: 'What do dragons and pterosaurs have in common? Celtic dragons had arrows at the end of their tails, which may relate to ptero-saur tails. What about Rhamphorhynchoid pterosaur tails? Are not dragon tails also long? Perhaps most noteworthy are the wings: both pterosaurs and flying dragons have featherless wings' (2)

1. C.C.C. No. 247. The Dragon Farm. Avery Memorial. Date unknown
2.. Are Dragons Pterosaurs? http://www.objectiveness.com/dragons-1/ [accessed November 25 2009]

Talking Heads-Animals

I`m mad….And that`s a fact
I found out…Animals don`t help
Animals think…They`re pretty smart
Shit on the ground…See in the dark
They wander around like a crazy dog
Make a mistake in the parking lot
Always bumping into things
Always let you down down down down

SOSTRATUS WINSTON: Not quite cryptid horse

The horse is a relatively well known animal all over the world now. True, there are countries that have only adopted them in the last few centuries - much of South America, if I remember correctly, was horseless till the Spanish arrived. However, since the CFZ is interested in conservation as well as the hunt for survivors of extinct species and more mysterious critters, I thought perhaps you might be interested in this.

The shire horse, I'm sure most of you are aware, is that singularly large breed that used to pull wagons and canal boats along the tow path before mechanisation. These monstrous (in the original sense of the word) beasts of burden can stand at as much as six feet in height (or seventeen hands in hippological parlance), weigh up to 235 stones (3300lbs), and are basically the brick-s**t-house of the horsey family.

Now, they are not an obvious contender for 'cryptid of the week' but shires are endangered. In fact, some experts fear the situation of the British shire horse is critical. These majestic creatures have been around in some form or another since William the Conqueror brought their ancestors over with the Norman invasion. They may not be necessary to industry as they once were, but they are a remarkable creature and it would be a dreadful loss if they were to die out completely. I have two of my own: Norbert and Hartland, and I can report that they are wonderfully docile.

UK-based charity The Rare Breeds Survival Trust, and the American organisations Equus Survival Trust and American Livestock Breeds Conservancy hope the decline in this species (and indeed the other animals they champion) can be turned around. Details of how you might help can be found on their websites. And please do think about it. We might just be able to stop a beautiful creature from going the same way as the dodo.



Center for Biological Diversity

Center for Biological Diversity

Dear reader,

Does the talking head of Big Agriculture belong in charge of America's agricultural trade relations? Obama thinks so. Despite claiming that lobbyists wouldn't find jobs in his White House, Obama recently nominated former pesticide lobbyist Islam Siddiqui to be Chief Agriculture Negotiator at the U.S. Trade Representative's office.

Siddiqui's record is abysmal. He led the development of the first national organic labeling standards, which allowed sewage-sludge fertilized, genetically modified, and irradiated food to be labeled as organic before public outcry forced more stringent standards. Siddiqui currently works for CropLife America, a pesticide and biotechnology trade group that fights to weaken environmental laws and treaties and keep persistent organic pollutants like DDT in use.

Siddiqui's pro-pesticide group launched a petition campaign chiding Michelle Obama for planting an organic, pesticide-free garden and lobbied to allow pesticide testing on children. CropLife America also intervened in a Center for Biological Diversity lawsuit to protect endangered species from pesticide exposure. CropLife America's Web site declares that pesticides "contribute to biodiversity conservation" and "positively impact" endangered species. No one told that to the California tiger salamander, delta smelt, and countless other species that have been sickened and killed by toxic pesticides.

Siddiqui's agenda is a threat to biodiversity and human health worldwide. The planet can't afford to have Big Agriculture's talking head in charge of America's agricultural trade relations.

Please contact your senators today and ask them to vote against the confirmation of Islam Siddiqui as Chief Agricultural Negotiator.
Urgent action is needed -- the vote could happen in the next two days.

Click here to find out more and take action.

If you have trouble following the link, go to http://salsa.democracyinaction.org/dia/track.jsp?v=2&c=9yfqR0vprAgY2kujbhKW6wuavRc%2BHNfW.

Sample letter:

Subject: Reject Siddiqui as Chief Agricultural Negotiator

I am writing to urge you to vote against the confirmation of Islam Siddiqui as Chief Agricultural Negotiator at the U.S. Trade Representative's office.

Siddiqui is a former pesticide lobbyist and is currently the vice president of science and regulatory affairs at CropLife America, an industry trade group representing virtually all of the pesticide and biotech corporations in the nation. Siddiqui is the voice of Big Agriculture -- an industry that has increased debt for farmers, polluted waterways, spread genetically-modified "superweeds," and threatened public health and the lives of farm workers. The chemicals that CropLife's member corporations produce are correlated with developmental abnormalities, endocrine and reproductive disorders, acute poisonings, cancers, and death in wildlife and humans. CropLife America advocates for the continued use of methyl bromide, which destroys the ozone layer, and for the continued use of persistent organic pollutants which jeopardize human health.

The fossil-fuel, chemical, and water-intensive farming methods championed by Siddiqui's Big Agriculture are exacerbating global energy, food, and biodiversity crises. These crises are further worsened by current trade agreements that promote transnational corporate control of the food system at the expense of impoverished communities and small farmers. Siddiqui's confirmation would tighten corporate control of the food supply and continue to force unfair trade agreements and inappropriate technologies onto the world's poorest countries. I strongly urge you to vote against his confirmation.

Please take action immediately.

Donate now to support our work.

Crop dusting photo courtesy CDC.

The Center for Biological Diversity sends newsletters and action alerts through DemocracyinAction.org. Let us know if you'd like to change your email list preferences or stop receiving action alerts and newsletters from us. Change your address or review your profile here.

Center for Biological Diversity

P.O. Box 710

Tucson, AZ 85702


DALE DRINNON: The Great Auk and the Greater Auk

In this case there is something of a muddle to clean up, with the case of a well-known extinction at the hand of humans that might not have been so complete, conflation of an unusual cryptid ordinarily lumped in with a larger but widely reported cryptid category, and a very obscure connection to a generally uncirculated piece of local folklore from a far-distant place that provides the substantiation to an otherwise daft idea.

In this case the more widely known cryptid is called the Boobrie, which has made the migration to several Fantasy role-playing games (as have several other legendary creatures).

There is a section about it in the book In Search of Lake Monsters by Peter Costello (1974) and several sources consider it to be a form of Water Horse based on assumption alone. Costello speaks of it on page 134. In this case it was like a great northern diver (loon) with an extra white stripe on its head and neck, the back being otherwise dark, but with a white breast.

In the quoted sighting from the 1860s the neck was two feet eleven inches long and the circumference was two feet (meaning about eight inches thick). The beak was seventeen inches long and hooked at the end. It had large black webbed feet with claws and it was rumoured to bellow like a bull and eat lambs and otters.

The Wikipedia and Answers.com entries on the Boobrie are not very informative: they state that:

The boobrie is a mythical water bird of Scottish Highlands folklore. It is said to be similar to a great northern diver, but with white markings and the ability to roar.

The creature is the metamorphosed form of the each uisge [Wikipedia questions this as unverified] and haunts lochs and salt wells. The Boobrie is a fabulous giant water-bird who haunts the lakes and salt-wells of Argyllshire (now Strathclyde). It has webbed feet and a harsh voice, and is capable of gobbling up sheep and cattle.

I noticed the change from otters to cattle in the last statement.

One of the things that featured in Boobrie reports was the allegation that it went ashore and left huge three-toed tracks: for that reason I had asked Ivan Sanderson in a letter sent before he died if he thought it was a type of Three-toes.

I received no reply but in fact he did die very shortly after that, and I suspect that would have been what he thought anyway.

I subsequently made the suggestion that a type of Great Auk blown up twice the ordinary dimensions would match the dimensions of the Boobrie's head and neck pretty exactly, and that it would be the closest to the description of the beak as long and thick with something of a hook at the end.

That is where the matter was left for several years until it came up again at the Frontiers of Zoology group, and then there was a corroborating matter of a similar Inuit legendary creature from around Alaska, said to be an amphibious seabird as large as a man, black on the back and white in front, and said to be the lover of Sedna, controller of the creatures in the sea (there is also a Thunderbird form for the legendary bird in question, but that is a separate matter).

I found a mention of the legend in the Larousse Encyclopedia of Mythology (1959, I own a copy), but better still, at that point in the search I found actual depictions of the unknown bird in question (the sculpture shown here was the best one)

During the Age of Mammals and about the time that there actually were giant penguins such as Sanderson mentions, there were other swimming birds at least as large in the North Pacific: these were related to cormorants and are called Plotopterids. Very meagre fossil evidence also suggsts that there was a similarly large great auk in the Atlantic at the same time. In this case I think the testimonial evidence does indicate that there was such a thing as a Greater Auk, of about twice the dimensions of the more usual Great Auk, much rarer but exterminated in Scotland at about the same time the last Great Auk reports were being recorded there. About the size of a Plotopterid or a giant Penguin, and some of them persisted on the far end of the Arctic Ocean, around Alaska. Whether there are any left there (or indeed if there are still any Great Auks remaining in the same general area) is another matter that is unresolved because the testimonial evidence in more recent decades is negligible.

[Note: the Boobrie illustration I used was from a FRPG site and I chose it as the best among several candidates. I have amended it very slightly in order to restore the actually-reported hooked end to the bill, but I have left the original artist's name on it. If the artist has any complaints about my doing that, the decision was mine alone and done for the sole purpose of bringing the illustration more in line with tradition. The other illustrations I saw were all wading-bird Diatrymas, which is specifically NOT what was being described]