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, January 25, 2009


We are often being asked by aspiring cryptofolk what books we think that they ought to read. This is only a brief overview (and is a couple of years out of date) but I am passing it over to you. What do you think? Is there anything we have left off? Is there anything on here that you think is a real stinker. Email me on jon@eclipse.co.uk


On The Track of Unkown Animals Bernard Heuvelmans
In Search of Prehistoric Survivors Dr Karl Shuker
Beasts That Hide From Man Dr Karl Shuker
Searching for Hidden Animals Professor Roy P Mackal
Alien Animals Janet and Colin Bord
Mystery Animals of Great Britain and Ireland Graham J McEwan
Monsters John Michael Greer
Mysterious America Loren Coleman
Mysterious Australia Rex Gilroy
Modern Mysteries of Britain Janet and Colin Bord
Modern Mysteries of the World Janet and Colin Bord
Ancient Mysteries of Britain Janet and Colin Bord
Arthur C Clark's Mysterious World Simon Welfare and John Fairly
The Goblin Universe Ted Holiday
Creatures of the Outer Edge Jerome Clark and Loren Coleman
Strange Creatures from Time and Space John Keel
Monsters Among Us John Lee and Barabara Moore
The Mysterious Monsters Robert and Frances Guenette
Monster Hunter Jonathan Downes
Cryptozoology and the investigation of lesser known mystery animals Chad Arment
The Magic Zoo Peter Costello


Smaller Mystery Carnivores of the Westcountry Jonathan Downes
Cat Country Di Francis
My Highland Kellas Cats Di Francis
Big Cats loose in Britain Marcus Matthews
The King Cheetah Lena Godsall Bottriell
Mystery cats of the world Dr Karl Shuker
Extraordinary Animals revisited Dr Karl Shuker


Dragons More Than a Myth? Richard Freeman
Explore Dragons Richard Freeman
Here Be Dragons Ralph Whitlock
The Flight of Dragons Peter Dickenson
Hill of the Dragon Paul Newman
The Dragon and the Disc Ted Holiday
Mythical Monsters Charles Gould
British Dragons Jaqueline Simpson
Dragons of the West Nigel Pennick
Book of the Dragon Allen Griffiths and Judy Jeanne
The Dragon Charles Gould
The Lambton Worm and other Northumbrian Dragon Legends Paul Screeton


In The Wake of the Sea Serpents Bernard Heuvelmans
The Kraken and the Colossal Octopus Bernard Huvelmans
Caborosaurus a Survivor from the Deep Dr Ed Bousfield and Paul LeBlond
There are Giants in the Sea Michael Bright
Sea Serpents Sailors and Sceptics Grahan J McEwan
The Leviathans Tim Dinsdale
The Search for the Giant Squid Richard Ellis


The Monsters of Loch Ness Professor Roy P Mackal
The Loch Ness Story Nicholas Witchell
The Loch Ness Monster Tim Dinsdale
In Search of Ogopogo Arlene Gaal
Ogopogo the $1000,000 Monster Arlene Gaal
A Living Dinosaur? Professor Roy P Mackal
Hunting the Buru Ralph Izzard
Sea Serpents and Lake Monsters of the British Isles Paul Harrison
The Encyclopedia of the Loch Ness Monster Paul Harrison
Project Waterhorse Tim Dinsdale
In Search of Lake Monsters Peter Costello
Monstrum Tony “Doc” Shiels

The Monster of the Mere Jon Downes


Tiger Tales : Stories of the Tasmanian Tiger Col Bailey
Out of the Shadows: the Mystery Animals of Australia Tony Healy and Paul Cropper
The Tasmanian Tiger David Owen
Search for the Tasmanian Tiger Quinten Beresford
Thylacine:Tragedy of the Tasmanian Tiger Eric Guiler


Abominable Snowmen; A Legend Come To Life Ivan T Sanderson
Wildmen; The Yeti, Almas and Neanderthal Enigma Myra Shackley
In the Footsteps of the Russian Snowman Dimitri Bayanov
Tom Slick and the Search for the Yeti Loren Coleman
Bhutanese Tales of the Yeti Kunzang Choden
The Abominable Snowman Adventure Ralph Izzard
Folk Tales of Sherpa and Yeti Shiva Dhakal
Lore and Legend of the Yeti Kesar Lall
Sasquatch; The Apes Among us John Green
The Bigfoot Case Book Janet and Colin Bord
Bigfootprints Professor Grover Krantz
Sasquatch Apparitions Barbara Wasson
Bigfoot ! The True Story of Apes in America Loren Colman
Sasquatch Bigfoot the Continuing Mystery Thomas N Steenburg
The Evidence for Bigfot and other Man-Beasts Janet and Colin Bord
The Search for Bigfoot Peter Byrne


The Owlman and Others Jon Downes
The Mothman Prophecies John Keel
Mothman The Facts Behind the Legend Donnie Sergent Jr
Thunderbirds:America's Living Legend of Giant Birds Mark A Hall
The Jersey Devil James F McLoy and Ray Miller
Phantom of the Pines: More Tales of the Jersey Devil James F McLoy and Ray Miller


The Chupacabras and other Mysteries Scott Corrales

Flashpoint - High Strangeness in Puerto Rico Scott Corrales
Only Fools and Goatsuckers Jon Downes

The Island of Paradise Jon Downes
Beyond the Highgate Vampire David Farrant
Vampires, Burial and Death: Folklore and Reality Paul Barber
The Vampire in Lore and Legend Montague Summers
The Vampire; A Casebook Alan Dundes
The Science of Vampires Katherine Ramsland
The Darkling: A Treatise on Slavic Vamprism Jan L Perkowski
Vampires and Vampirism: Legends from around the World Dudley Wright
The Beast of Bray Road Linda S Godfrey
Hunting the American Werewolf Linda S Godfrey
The Werewolf Book Brad Stiger
A Lycanthropy Reader: Werewolves in Western Culture Charlotte F Otten
The Werewolf in Lore and Legend Montague Summers
Werewolves Elliot O'Donnell
The Book of Werewolves Reverend Sabine Baring Gould


Guest Blogger time for Richard Freeman again. As you are probably beginning to guess, the boy Freeman has crocodiles on the brain. He is travelling up to the north of England this week to give a talk at a newly opened spooky bar in South Shields. However he has left us with a treat - a three part article about crocodile cults around the world.

Sebek was the crocodile headed god of the Egyptian pantheon. He controlled the flow of the river Nile and was associated with the fertility of the Nile delta. When the river flooded in September the delta would have been filled with crocodiles. He was also known as “the great devourer” perhaps in reference to the crocodile’s phenomenally powerful digestive system. This was seen as the natural circle, the life death and rebirth of all things. He is generally portrayed as a humanoid with a crocodile’s head.

Despite his predatory nature Sebek was a benevolent god. The son of Neith the first Egyptian god, Sebek was said to be one of only two gods who would endure forever as other god’s powers would fluctuate. He was a patron of the 13th Dynasty kings (1800 BC) many of whom were called Sebekhotep (Sebek is satisfied). His cult flourished in the delta areas such as Fayoum, Thebes and Lake Moeris. In 1900 excavations at Tebtunis uncovered a temple dedicated to Sebek 30 meters (100 feet) long and decorated with scenes of adoration, offerings, rituals, and great processions in his honor.

Another centre of his worship was Crocodilopolis (crocodile city). Here sacred crocodiles believed to be avatars of Sebek were kept in special sacred pools. They were adorned with gold, and hand fed milk and honey cakes by priests. Perhaps it is here that the idea that dragons guarded gold had its genesis. The chief of these pamper giants was known as Petersuchos. The city was said to have been founded by King Menes, first of the pharaohs. The legend tells of how he was set upon by wild dogs and fled into the waters of Lake Moeris. Here a crocodile offered to carry the king upon his back to the site that later became the city.

During the age of the New Kingdom (1400 BC) Sebek was seen as a manifestation of Ra the sun god, and Crocodilopolis became the pharaoh’s favorite city.

Crocodiles, like all sacred Egyptian animals, were mummified. Specimens from 30 cm (1 foot) hatchlings, to 5-meter (16 foot) adults have been found mummified. At Kom-Ombo small specimens were found stacked in their thousands and at the Maabdha Caves in central Egypt crocodile mummies were found stacked to a height of 9 meters (30 feet).

The idea of the crocodile / dragon as a force of evil may have also taken root in Egypt. Set was the god of darkness, associated with the sterility of the desert. He envied his brother Osiris. Their father Gib had divided Egypt between them but Set wanted the whole country. He hacked his brother Osiris to pieces then hid in the form of a crocodile.

Crocodiles were still being worshipped up until AD 335 when Monotheism, Christian, then Muslim put an end to Sebeks` reign. Some superstitions still hung on until relatively recently. In certain areas of Egypt it was believed that crocodiles would never attack Christians, only Muslims. Christians would bathe in parts of the Nile frequented by crocodiles whilst Muslims would not dare.

Amazingly, though no longer actually worshiped in Egypt, crocodiles were still given human sacrifices. Whenever a canal was being dug, virgins were sacrificed to appease the crocodiles. This was also thought to ensure a continuing supply of water for the surrounding crops. The practice was continued until AD 642.

In sub-Saharan Africa the crocodile still exerts a supernatural grip on the minds of humans. Many tribes believe that charms made from body parts of crocodiles, especially man-eaters, can give them immunity from crocodile attack. The belief is particularly strong in the Thongas of northern Zululand. They credit the crocodile with bringing rain (much like the eastern dragon). Crocodile fat is used as a charm against lightning strikes. Gastroliths (stones swallowed by crocodiles) are used in divination and to foretell the deaths of chiefs.

The association with crocodiles and blindness was again found by noted Dark Continent explorer David Livingstone. The people of the Ba-Kuena or crocodile clan of South Africa believed that contact with crocodiles caused swelling of the eyes and blindness. Despite believing crocodiles to be ancestor spirits they feared them greatly. Anyone who actually survived a crocodile attack was ostracised from the tribe, as it was believed the victim was tainted with sin.

In Benin crocodiles were believed to contain evil spirits. Many were kept in ponds at the Royal Palace where priests placated them with offerings. Also in Benin along the Mono River a crocodile priest sired a child with a different woman once per year. The baby was fed to the sacred crocodile as an appeasement.

In the Gambia there are several pools existing today that still contain sacred crocodiles. The most notable are at Kartong and Katchikalli. Women who have trouble in conceiving bathe in the pools, protected from the crocodiles by wooden screens. If she conceives she will bring her child back to the pool and show it to the crocodiles whist thanking them for their help. Wrestlers also bathe in the pools to bring them luck in bouts, as do businessmen before important transactions.

Human sacrifice to sacred crocodiles has been practiced in several parts of Africa. British missionary Rev J.Rosco described a crocodile cult he stumbled across in Lake Victoria, Uganda. The high priest would mimic the movements of the sacred beasts and call them out onto the lakeshore. Here prisoners, with their arms and legs broken, would be staked out. The crocodiles emerged and devoured the hapless victims. It was believed that the fishermen of the tribe could then cross the lake safely.

Crocodiles were often said to be the familiars of witchdoctors. Another missionary Rev W. Holman Bently recorded such beliefs around 1900 in the Congo. Natives considered crocodiles in themselves to be harmless creatures. They would attend fish traps and swim in waters known to be inhabited by crocodiles without hesitation. When a crocodile ate someone they said it had been bewitched. They would subsequently hunt down and kill the sorcerer.

Henry Stanley uncovered an even odder bit of folklore on Ukerewe Island in Lake Victoria. The chief of the neighboring Ukara Island was said to be able to control crocodiles. One lived in his hut as tame as a dog. The chief grew enamored of a member of the harem of the chief of Ukerewe and sent out a crocodile to kidnap her. The reptile seized the girl and carried her unharmed across eight miles of water to Ukara.

When Stanley expressed doubt, he was told that the father of the current chief of Ukerewe had also owned a trained crocodile that had stolen an Arab’s wife and brought her home. There was a belief on the Island that a dead person’s soul could be transformed into a crocodile and that only bewitched crocodiles attacked humans.

The Konde, who inhabited the northern end of Lake Nyassa had similar folklore. If someone was thought to be causing man eating among crocodiles by magic they were placed in a fish trap alive and left for the crocodiles to eat.

Most people will have heard of the Leopard Men, but far fewer of the Crocodile Men. This was a secret society that flourished in Sierra Leone and the Ivory Coast. Initiates dressed in crocodile masks and skins. They moved around the rivers in crocodile shaped canoes and worshipped crocodile idols. They killed victims to get their hair, lungs, and brain, which were eaten in magical rites.

In some parts of Africa crocodiles were looked upon as judges. On the White Nile at Malaka, the Shilluk tribe allowed men accused of adultery to swim the river. If they were attacked they were deemed guilty and the crocodile was the executioner.

On the island of Madagascar similar beliefs called Tangem- voay were held. Here crocodiles were known as “voay” and credited with the ability to distinguish between right and wrong. It was said that they never attacked anyone with a clear conscience. Many times an accused, in the heat of a legal debate would rise up and shout “May the voay eat me if, if I have done what I am accused of” and make for the nearest river. In one case a girl was said to be having an affair with a slave and was condemned to trial by voay. On a full moon night she entered a river close to an island inhabited by voay then submerged herself three times. She was not attacked, and her accuser was ordered to pay heavy indemnity.

The Nile crocodile is the only large predator on Madagascar so much folklore has been woven around it. It is said that a prosperous village once stood on the shores of Lake Anivorano in the north of the island. One day a weary traveller came to the village and asked for a drink of water. He had gruff refusals all around except for one old woman who gave him a drink. The stranger warned the woman and her family to move away from the lake. He was a sorcerer who caused the waters to rise and engulf the village. The ill-mannered inhabitants were all turned into crocodiles.

In another story set in the lands of the Antandroy tribe, a woman was said to have been caught in a fish trap with a crocodile. She married the voay and they had two sons who founded the Zafandravoay tribe - the sons of the crocodile. These people are said never to harm a crocodile and in turn are never attacked by one. When a Zafandravoay dies a nail is hammered into his head to stop his body from walking. Once he is placed in a tomb the nail is removed and the body is free to go to the river and become a crocodile.

In former times the entrails of dead kings of the Sakalave people were fed to the crocodiles of Lake Komakoma. The crocodiles were looked on as ancestors and never hunted unless one of them killed a human first. If a crocodile had to be killed in such a way it would be buried with great ceremony and much lamenting. Women would let down their hair in morning and the men beg the voays` spirit for forgiveness.

The French naturalist Chapelier, who visited the island over 180 years ago, knew of a chief in the Bay of Antongil who regarded a gigantic crocodile that lived in nearby pool as his ancestor. Each year he sacrificed one young man and one young woman to the beast. Bedecked in jewellery they were hung over the pond until the huge reptile came to devour them.


Those of you who have been following the discussions on the bloggo about the strange cat in Yemen will have noticed some very interesting comments from an Australian lady. She has asked to remain nameless because of her job which involves culling feral cats in Australia - cats which are decimating the native wildlife. She feels, and I can quite see where she is coming from here, that what she does might well be misinterpreted by animal lovers, and she does not want to let herself in for a torrent of hate mail.

I am quite happy to protect her anonymity, because - like any sensible zoologist - I am aware that, sadly, such things have to be done. But, in the course of an email conversation I asked her if she had any information about the `giant` feral cats that have been reported in the past few years...

Certainly not in my part of the world, where a large FERAL cat would be 5kg, but there are always reports coming out of Victoria, Australia, about big cat sightings, and these are accompanied by stories of explanation – usually circus escapes, or, more recently, I read about a supposed WW2 group of American soldiers in Oz who had some sort of large cat mascot which escaped. I don’t chase up these stories: they just appear as 2 or 3 lines on my weekly ‘feral cat’ search results. I scan and delete them. There is an awful lot of urban mythology about ‘big’ cats, and these days, with all the photo change programmes available to all of us, one should maintain a healthy scepticism about the validity of both the story and the photo. Perhaps you could include VICTORIA in your searches.

There are a couple of hunting magazines from the Northern Territory which occasional carry photos of feral cats killed most commonly, as a by-product of feral pig shooting. I’ll try to track down the titles. They’re a tad lurid for my taste, but may just have a photo of a large cat.

There has been a lot of feral cat control work done in and around Roxby Downs, Sth Oz, with a very famous fund-raising photo of a dissected feral cat with some 47 identifiable Oz animals in its belly. I haven’t had the same luck with my dissections, and the gross smell is rather off-putting (and it’s just for my curiosity: no-one pays me), so it’s not common for me to do a dissection.

Our neighbour has a record of nearly 1200 FERAL cats over 7 years he has trapped, and I think the maximum weight was a tad under 7kg. In general, feral cats are between 2.3kg and 4.8kg, and quite fine-boned animals – nothing like the stories that abound, of giant cats, but here, feral cats simply don’t need to grow big to exist, they just need to get to adulthood, and they have no natural enemies – I have photos of the very neat turning out of feral cat-predated lamb, wallaby and echidna carcases which are the hallmark signs of cat predation, unlike, say, large raptors which pull off chunks of skin/fur and discard these pieces around the carcass. We did trap one very obese feral cat last year – just fat, not large in length, but as it was trapped miles from any other home, had no collar or tattoo, and behaved in a wild manner, it, too, went the way of the rest.

By the way, I have many snaps of non-target species release including birds, possums, echidnas and goannas. We only cull feral cats.

Most recently, we were part of a committed group of folk who agitated successfully against the importation of the hybrid Savannah cat into Australia, and remain vigilant for professional cat breeders who continue to lobby our government for their importation.

There is an excellent video called ’10 million wild cats’ about the problem of feral cats in Australia. I commend it to you. Your local librarian should be able to obtain a copy for you.

FEATURED BOOK: Dinosaurs and other prehistoric animals on stamps by Dr Karl Shuker

Welcome to a new feature on the CFZ Bloggo. Each week or so we are going to spotlight three of the books from CFZ Press, almost at random, in what could be seen as a cynical marketing ploy, or an attenpt by a tiny publishing house to give a little more exposure to their books. Remember that we are a non profit making organisation, and that any money we do make goes straight back in to fund our programme of research..

There has never been a more popular time for dinosaurs and all things dinosaurian. From blockbuster films packed with breathtaking CGI effects, children's television and video cartoons, computer games, CD-ROMs, animatronic museum exhibitions, and theme parks, to countless books, magazines, toys large and small, ornaments, collectabilia, and even fun lines in confectionery and other edibles, prehistoric paraphernalia continues to scale new heights of desirability worldwide. But nowhere is this more apparent than within the philatelic world - where the issuing in recent years by an ever-increasing number of countries around the globe of handsome, highly-prized stamp sets depicting a spectacular array of dinosaurs and other prehistoric animals is matched only by the corresponding increase of thematic collectors eager to amass an eyecatching, comprehensive menagerie of palaeontological monsters that the custodians of Jurassic Park could only dream about!

It all began in 1951, when India issued a red 2-anna stamp depicting a pair of prehistoric elephants known as stegodonts, to commemorate the Centenary of India's Geological Survey. This was the very first stamp to illustrate a prehistoric species of animal. The following year, Algeria included a red 15-franc ammonite stamp in its issue celebrating the 19th International Geological Convention, held in Algiers. And in 1958, a highly significant philatelic milestone was reached, with the issuing of the world's first dinosaur stamp, by China, depicting a Lufengosaurus. The rest, as they say, is history. Today, well over 500 sets of stamps portraying all manner of dinosaurs and a multifarious assemblage of other archaic animals have been issued, with a substantial proportion of these having appeared within the last decade alone - confirming the escalating interest among collectors in this exciting thematic subject.

And who can blame them? After all, where else but in the pages of a stamp album could stegosaurs and plesiosaurs, tyrannosaurs and sabre-tooth tigers, brachiosaurs, mammoths, belemnites, ground sloths, giant birds, and ichthyosaurs jostle for attention with velociraptors and trilobites, dimetrodonts and diplodocuses, mosasaurs, woolly rhinoceroses, Archaeopteryx, titanosaurs, iguanodontids, ammonites, giant sea scorpions, and innumerable other fascinating denizens of our planet's distant past?

Following the long-established tradition of thematic stamp catalogues that have been produced by a wide range of publishers down through the years, it is hoped that this latest catalogue – which provides an exhaustive , definitive listing of stamps depicting dinosaurs and other prehistoric animals issued by countries throughout the world - will encourage new thematic collectors to pursue their interest in dinosaurs and other prehistoric creatures not only on screen, in books, or in museums but also via the ever-fascinating world of philately.

Paperback: 264 pages
Publisher: CFZ Press (7 Nov 2008)
Language English
ISBN-10: 1905723342
ISBN-13: 978-1905723348
Product Dimensions: 23.1 x 15.5 x 1.8 cm


FEATURED BOOK: The 2009 CFZ Yearbook

Welcome to a new feature on the CFZ Bloggo. Each week or so we are going to spotlight three of the books from CFZ Press, almost at random, in what could be seen as a cynical marketing ploy, or an attenpt by a tiny publishing house to give a little more exposure to their books. Remember that we are a non profit making organisation, and that any money we do make goes straight back in to fund our programme of research..

The Centre For Fortean Zoology Yearbook is a collection of papers and essays too long and detailed for publication in the CFZ Journal Animals & Men. With contributions from both well-known researchers, and relative newcomers to the field, the Yearbook provides a forum where new theories can be expounded, and work on little-known cryptids discussed.

5. Introduction
7. Statement of Core Belief
9. In the wake of the winged sea serpent by Theo Paijmans
21. Star Rot - Rot from the stars? Or a load of old rot by Jon Downes
29. The Tarasque by Richard Muirhead
35. Prologue to Michael Woodley’s article
39. Human diversity and hominology by Michael Woodley
61. The mystery cryptic animal of northern New South Wales by Gary Opit
81. Folkloric creatures of Philadelphia and the immediate counties by Neil Arnold
91. Strange animals in Snowdonia by Oll Lewis
113. The Black Tapir of Brevet - a Malayan Mystery Beast Resurrected by Dr Karl Shuker
119. Spiritualism and UFO Mythology by Dr David Waldron
129. Monstrous Montana by Michael Newton
137. Bellissimo Beasts: Cryptozoology Italia by Neil Arnold
155. `Jack` the Horse Ripper by Jon Downes
163. Telegram from Oz: 2008 at the Australian branch of the CFZ by Ruby Lang
165. CFZ:USA 2008 by Nick Redfern
173. CFZ Annual Report 2008
181. CFZ: 2008 - the year in pictures

Paperback: 208 pages
Publisher: CFZ Press (7 Jan 2009)
Language English
ISBN-10: 1905723377
ISBN-13: 978-1905723379
Product Dimensions: 23.4 x 15.6 x 1.1 cm

FEATURED BOOK: Island of Paradise by Jon Downes

Welcome to a new feature on the CFZ Bloggo. Each week or so we are going to spotlight three of the books from CFZ Press, almost at random, in whatAdd Image could be seen as a cynical marketing ploy, or an attenpt by a tiny publishing house to give a little more exposure to their books. Remember that we are a non profit making organisation, and that any money we do make goes straight back in to fund our programme of research..

So, let's start off with a book of which I am rather fond. My latest tome, Island of Paradise which tells the story of my two expeditions to Puerto Rico in search of the grotesque, blood-sucking, chupacabra. In the end I come up with a theory which I think will prove to be correct, and along the way I encounter crashed UFOs (and remember boys and girls, an unidentified flying object is non necessarily an alien spacecraft, and in this case it almost certainly isn't anithing of the sort), and various other biological mysteries, as well as a political scandal which could have got me into some serious trouble.

The publisher blurb reads:

"In his first book of original research for four years, Jon Downes visits the Antillean island of Puerto Rico, to which he has led two expeditions - in 1998 and 2004. Together with noted researcher Nick Redfern he goes in search of the grotesque vampiric chupacabra, believing that it can - finally - be categorised within a zoological frame of reference rather than a purely paranormal one. Along the way he uncovers mystery after mystery, has a run in with terrorists, art historians, and even has his garden buzzed by a UFO. By turns both terrifying and funny, this remarkable book is a real tour de force by one of the world's foremost cryptozoological researchers."

All very flattering, but I am rather fond of this book. It took me four years to write on and off. I started it on a laptop in a hotel room in Puerto Rico, and four years later - four years during which I nursed my father through his final illness, met and married Corinna, set up CFZ Press and moved the CFZ into our present location in my old family home in North Devon, I finished it.
Here - just for fun - is a chunk of the prologue to give you a feel of the book:

"It was early evening as the surprisingly tiny Boeing 757 flew steadily through the Caribbean dusk. Below us were the blue crystal waters, which in my childhood storybooks were populated by cannibal kings, fearsome pirates, and man-eating sharks. As I have never really grown up, my imagination still tended to view these waters in much the same manner as I had done in my pre-teens. However, as my Socio-political vistas broadened, and my favourite reading started to include Che Guevera, and to my eternal embarrassment, for a few months during my teens, Charles Berlitz, the heroes of the glorious workers and peasants counter-revolution, `Papa` Doc Duvalier, and the Bermuda Triangle, joined Robinson Crusoe, Sir Francis Drake, Biggles, and the cast of Treasure Island in my mental seascape of the Caribbean oceans.

Today, however, as an overweight bearded zoologist, my daydreams went back only half a century to the days when another overweight bearded zoologist - my hero, Gerald Durrell - flew towards another South American airport, and described the delightfully laissez faire attitude of the locals aboard the plane. He wrote how this had been the only aeroplane on which he had travelled, on which he had had to share the cabin space with crates of chickens, and even a trussed-up pig, which were accompanying their owners on the journey.

I looked around me, and like my hero, took a hearty swig from a large tumbler of iced gin and tonic. In these less earthy days there were no chickens and no pig, but the rest of my co-passengers were remarkably familiar to me from Gerald’s writings.

There was the big jolly black lady nearly as wide as she was tall, with her hair bound tightly in a brightly coloured bandana and surrounded by a gaggle of small children.

There was the old farmer returning to his homeland after a visit to relatives in New York.

There were the throngs of children and young people whose chatter was irresistibly reminiscent of the noises of the rainforest, which I would be hearing in only a few short days. The chirruping of cicadas, the raucous squeaking of the mountain tree frogs, and the delightful splishity splashity sound of the tiny mountain waterfalls.

But there were new additions to the human landscape before me. Additions, which I felt that perhaps my mentor would not have recognised, but which I think might have amused him. Sitting near the exit doors on the starboard side were three tall thin and grim looking `Yardies` (well they looked like them anyway). Dark glasses, shoulder-length dreadlocks, and leather jackets, they glowered at the rest of the plane like predatory spiders perched in the corner of their web. A few seats away from them were four young Latino youths, whose t-shirts proclaimed that they were returning from a New York rappers’ convention, joyously shouting rhyming couplets at each other, like tropical birds trading squawks in mid-air. Try as I might I could not make out the words, they were lost forever in the hubbub of humanity, but as I looked around me, and saw specimens from all walks of human life; the policeman handcuffed to his prisoner, the off-duty soldiers on furlough, and even the tall, painfully thin and very old man reading a German newspaper in the corner and looking for all the world like the popular image of a fugitive Nazi war criminal, (when he was certainly just a respectable businessman on holiday), I realised that my mentor had been right; one can learn just as much about animal behaviour by watching an aircraft cabin full of people, as one can do in the most teeming jungle.

We landed at Luis Munoz Marin International Airport just as the last few glimmers of the tropical sun set below the horizon. Surprisingly, for an immigration lounge in an American controlled airport post-9/11, it was practically empty. On the mainland, everywhere you looked there would be policemen and military personnel, often brandishing machine guns, and always glowering at each and everyone of the people who filed past them brandishing their passports as if each one was a potential terrorist. Here there was just a jolly fat black bloke in a uniform which reminded me irresistably of that worn by the park-keeper in one of the old Beano comic strips of the 1960s. I proffered him my passport and he just smiled. “Shit man, you don’t need to do that here”, he grinned. I grinned back and clutching my hand luggage which contained my medication, cigarettes, a change of clothing, half a dozen cds, and a litre and a half of Jack Daniels, and what the bloke on the train the previous day had euphemistically described as a `light picnic lunch` in a garishly coloured paper bag, I made my way to the baggage collection.

Suddenly it was as if I had been transported into the middle of a comedy funfair as designed by Heironymous Bosch. It was chaos. All the people that I had noticed on the aeroplane had converged upon the baggage collection console, and were alternately overjoyed to see their property again, or outraged when - like me - they were told that it had been diverted in transit to Anchorage, Alaska, or some likewise exotic location. The four-man rapping crew had no sooner collected their baggage when out came a beatbox, on came a complex pattern of resounding breakbeats, and they started to dance and sing. The enormous black lady with her hoard of children started to sway rythmically in time to the music, and before long the baggage console was deserted as everybody, including the Martin Boorman lookalike, and the three `Yardies`, decided to stop what they were doing, and watch the free cabaret.

A highly flustered looking individual wearing an American Airlines uniform started to take the flight details of everybody whose luggage had become mislaid, and when it came to my turn I gave my forwarding address as the Windchimes Tavern on Toft Street, San Juan, and oblivious of the fact that I was truly a stranger in a strange land - I had only one change of clothing, and nothing but a litre and a half of whisky, a British Rail pork pie, and $40 to sustain me, I made my way into the night."

Product details
Paperback: 284 pages
Publisher: CFZ Press (14 Jun 2008)
Language English
ISBN-10: 1905723326
ISBN-13: 978-1905723324
Product Dimensions: 23.1 x 15.5 x 1.8 cm


SHOOP DA BLOOP: Reds On The Seabeds?

Apart from the fact that his puns are terrible and he has an obsession with the more surreal side of Internet culture, Oll Lewis hasn't put a foot wrong since we started this bloggo-thing. Because of his interest in things aquatic he has been co-ordinating the lake and sea monster news for the CFZ for some years now, and as regular readers of this bloggo will already know he is letting this obsession spill over online..

When I asked on another website if there was any cryptozoological topic they would like to see looked at by me for this blog one of the suggestions was something called
The Bloop

The bloop is not an animal, rather an anomalous sound. It was picked up by the American government’s autonomous hydrophonic array in 1997 and was heard intermittently throughout the summer of that year. The sound was heard by hydrophones over a distance of 5000 km and is of a very low frequency. The sound wave produced has, according to scientists working with the American governments NOAA listening stations, the sort of waveform you would expect from a biological source.

And therein lies the mystery… for a deep sea mammal, like a whale, to have produced the sound it would have had to have been much larger than a blue whale. Scientists at the time suggested that the sounds may have been made by giant squid. However, there are no known species of giant squid, or any other cephalopod, large enough to be able to produce such a sound either. Since 1997, when the squid theory was first proposed, it has also been proved that neither giant nor colossal squid are capable of producing low frequency sounds like this and it is thought, like most other squid, that their main method of communication with each other is via sight, using their chromatophores to change colour in complex moving patterns.

But before we can proclaim that this must be the cry of some Jörmungandr-like beast, we have to consider the other possibilities too and just why the bloop was only heard over one summer, over 10 years ago and has remained silent ever since. The most obvious question to start with is, can we be sure that the source of the sound was an animal? The answer to that question is no, the scientists just said it was the sort of waveform you would expect from a biological source and did not say it was definitely from a biological source. The scientists did rule out seismic activity but that is not the only non-biological source the sound could have had. Equipment failure was also ruled out because the bloop was heard over several hydrophones on a number of occasions.

A possible non-biological source of the bloop could be linked to the very thing the autonomous hydrophonic array was set up to monitor. It was set up not to listen out for whale song or undersea seismic activity but to listen for Enemy submarine craft and provide their approximate locations in case of any possible threat to America. In other words, a sort of marine precursor of the ‘Star Wars’ programme that Russia is vehemently opposed to today. It is certainly within the realms of possibility that a government, other than that of the United States, had decided that it would be wise to test out just how accurate the American’s new monitoring system was using equipment that could produce suspicious sounds and see if the Americans detected them, and if they did how long would it take them to zero in on the source of the sound and investigate it. Tests like this would expose weak points and flaws in the system should your country wish to evade detection on the array, or mask your submarine’s presence as something else. The fact that the sound was said to have been the same every time it was transmitted over the summer does tend to lend itself to having been an artificially created sound, and if it was being created by a man made object, then it need not have been created by something larger than a blue whale. There have also been several other distinctly different anomalous low frequency sounds picked up over sustained periods in other parts of the array, which is what one might expect if someone were testing the limits of the array.

However, this theory is just as speculative as the bloop being the call of a gigantic beast and essentially that’s the problem with any theory - to explain the source of the sound. Maybe someday the bloop will be heard again and we might start to get some answers.


So, you may ask: what is Crypto Squad USA?

Well, that's a very good question.

No, Crypto Squad USA is not a bunch of super-heroes - but they are pretty close!

When I moved to the US to live in 2001, Jon asked me to take on the task of opening, running, and coordinating a US office of the CFZ - which I was, of course, very pleased to do.

But, as CFZ-USA began to grow, it quickly became apparent that regional representatives were needed to cope with the huge amount of field-work and investigations that were required.

So, that's precisely what Crypto Squad USA is: namely, a dedicated band of people seeking out all-things strange and monstrous on behalf of the CFZ-USA Office, and making the data available to one and all.

And you'll get to learn all about those same people and their work at the official blog of Crypto Squad USA.

Also: if you're interested in becoming a regional investigator for the US Office of the CFZ, let me know! We're always looking to get new people involved.

You can contact me at the official blog of Crypto Squad USA: