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, December 10, 2009


When one thinks of cryptids in New Jersey, most people go no further than the Jersey Devil, which is so ubiquitous that it even lent its name to an unofficial record by the State's most lucrative cultural export - Bruce Springsteen.

However, now there is another one, albeit smaller. I have always been interested in cryptic mustelids, and so was particularly interested in this story, which was sent to us by our Pennsylvania & Maryland rep, Andrew Gable.

There is quite a bit of debate going on about its identity, with the two most common identities being mooted as a mink or a fisher. I personally think it is a sable, but over to you. What do you guys think?



Retrieverman said...

It looks like a very big dog American mink.

Compare the head shape: http://img2.photographersdirect.com/img/11917/wm/pd1483312.jpg

This is a fisher from Massachusetts:


Fishers have a broad skull and their coats are covered in banded hairs. As far as I know, they don't come in that solid chocolate color, although they can approach it.

Female fishers are about the same size as dog mink, but the male fishers are much larger. They can exceed 10 pounds in weight.

Here's a very dark brown fisher for comparison: http://www.hilltownsonline.com/Graphics/fisher4.jpg

Confusing these animals goes way back to colonial days. In the Maritimes and Maine, there was a reddish colored mink that lived by the ocean that was known as the sea mink, an entirely different species from the American mink. It was called a fishing cat, a water marten, or a "fyshe like a greyhound" (by Sir Humphrey Gilbert, I believe). When trappers went into the interior they trapped the larger species of marten, which the English may have thought was the same species. This may be the origin of the term fisher. Another (and more accepted theory) is that the French fur traders marketed fisher fur as fichet (polecat) fur. The English then took that term from the French as "fisher."

Although I have called the fisher a large marten, there is some evidence that fishers are more closely related to wolverines (or gluttons, as they are also known) and the tayra than it is to Eurasian martens. The same can be said for the American marten, which is a very beautiful animal: http://bss.sfsu.edu/holzman/courses/Fall%2003%20project/marten3.jpg

Retrieverman said...

Here's a pet Russian sable, which is a Eurasian marten: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0NA3pSUx4dw&feature=related

That's about as dark as they get.

Sable really look like American martens.

So what you have is an unusually large American mink.

Retrieverman said...

A video of a European mink (which is actually a polecat that looks like and behaves like a mink and can breed with European polecats and ferrets) and a screaming American mink: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yoPKZYJ3JW0

I think it's a big American mink in the photo.