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, December 20, 2009

OLL LEWIS: 5 Questions on… Cryptozoology - Karl Shuker

Today’s guest is Dr Karl Shuker. Dr Shuker is one of the most well known and respected cryptozoologists and Forteans alive today and has recently added another string to his bow with the publication this Christmas of his poetry book Star Steeds and Other Dreams.
So, Dr Karl Shuker, here are your 5 Questions on… Cryptozoology:

1) How did you first become interested in cryptozoology?

When I was given a copy of Dr Bernard Heuvelmans's On the Track of Unknown Animals as a present when I was about 12-14 years old. I'd always been interested in unusual and mythological animals, but after reading this book I was totally hooked!

2) Have you ever personally seen a cryptid or secondary evidence of a cryptid, if so can you please describe your encounter?

In 2006 I visited the island bird sanctuary of Tiritiri Matangi off Auckland, New Zealand, home to many endangered bird species, including the famous takahe, once believed extinct but rediscovered 50 years later, and which I was fortunate enough to see. Moreover, I also saw two large quails, which at the time I simply assumed were bigger-than-usual Australian quails, which had been introduced to New Zealand as its own bigger native quail had become extinct in the 19th Century. However, months later I was stunned to learn that scientists were planning to investigate the quails on Tiritiri as they suspected that these unusually large birds may actually be surviving specimens of the supposedly long-extinct New Zealand quail! So I might well have seen a species currently classed as extinct!

3) Which cryptids do you think are the most likely to be scientifically discovered and described some day, and why?

I think that the orang pendek and the thylacine are among the likeliest, because of the remarkable evidence collected by Adam Davies, the CFZ and others for the orang pendek indicating that it is a species separate from all known species to date, and because of the many excellent, reliable sightings of thylacine-like beasts made over the years, even by game wardens.
4) Which cryptids do you think are the least likely to exist?

I am not happy with some of the categories of sea serpent formulated by Heuvelmans, such as the many-finned sea serpent being an armoured archaeocete and the long-neck being a tail-less giant seal.

5) If you had to pick your favourite cryptozoological book (not including books you may have written yourself) what would you choose?

It would have to be the book that started it all for me - Dr Bernard Heuvelmans's On the Track of Unknown Animals, which I've read countless times but still enjoy as much as ever.

1 comment:

Dale Drinnon said...

Good to hear from Karl Shuker.

I could not agree more wholeheartedly with Shuker over Heuvelmans' categories of Sea-Serpents. I got a copy of In The Wake Of Sea_Serpents while I was in High School and immediately began ripping through the reports doing several statistical analyses by his types, by local area and then finally overall and worldwide. For a while I was content to let his categories stand and simply add others, but the Long-Necked and Manyfinned categories were the first to go, and soon after followed by the Super-otter and Many-humped: as with several others, I merged the Merhorse and Longnecked categories, but unlike others I allowed the two most obvious sightings of Longnecked sealions to stand: the Island of Hoy Sea-Serpent of 1918 and the one seen by Conder's men in Tasmania. I soon also found that the drawing of the Hoy SS was done by his wife, not done with any great skill as an artist, and that the proportions did not match the description: in particular the body should be longer and the neck shorter. I was still willing for Heuvelmans' genus name of Megophias to stand however.
The much larger category properly called LongNecked is much more likely a Plesiosaur, as Karl states in his book on Prehistoric Survivors. This is partly doe to anatomical considerations including the fact that no mammal should have that kind of a head and neck (LongNecked Seaserpents have a dinosaurian ratio of brain to body size)

Some of the Super-eel sightings describe the "Many-finned" appearance of the back fins and in fact several Native peoples of the world portray it as a gigantic eel with the series of dorsal fins. For that reason I tend to classify those sightings as a kind of eel as well, and there are sightings within that category that are definitely tightly-knit small schools of cetaceans.