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...

Search This Blog



Click on this logo to find out more about helping CFZtv and getting some smashing rewards...


Monday, February 09, 2009



We would like to welcome Nick Redfern and his band of merry men (and women) to the CFZ Bloggo network. I don't know why I didn't think of it earlier, but after a long day's toil in the digital vinyard, I was sitting up in bed last night drinking brandy and coke and pootling about on the internet using my laptop. There were so many great articles on the CryptoSquad website that I wanted to share with the readers of the CFZ bloggo, that the only logical thing to do was to bring them online.

For example...

A slightly disturbing account of what appear to be modern manifestations of an ancient Seminole snake demon in Oklahoma; a little known zooform phenomenon Read on...

As Richard Freeman is so fond of telling us, the popular image of the yeti as being covered in white fur is completely erroneous. However there is a white coloured bigfoot type creature from Oklahoma. Read on...

A peculiar jellyfish which seems to be functionally immortal, has started colonising the world's oceans from its origins in the Caribbean. Most jellyfish die after breeding, but these peculiar animals seem to be able to regress into a juvenile polyp state and start all over again Read on...

Nick Redfern has done a remarkable job bringing together such a disparate team of researchers, and the range of topics on offer is certainly a heady brew, but the CFZ has always been a remarkably broad church (which is exactly how I always planned it).

TIM MATTHEWS: Toad in the whole

Tim Matthews is one of my best friends, and also - coincidentally - one of the most controversial figures in contemporary forteana. He has been involved with the CFZ for nearly a decade now, raising eyebrows wherever he goes.

“To dream of toads signifies unfortunate adventures. To kill a toad in a dream foretells that your judgment will be harshly criticised.”

A North Lancashire back garden many years ago and a scene of English domestic bliss as I mowed the back garden. It was a small plot but we’d managed to install a pond at the back of the space in to which we tried to encourage as much wildlife as possible. On automatic pilot, the no brain zone that accompanies mowing activity, I was suddenly jolted out of my stupor as a large Natterjack toad appeared, as if by magic, right in front of the blades. It was a male, if the markings were anything to go by (the females are normally much brighter).

I thought I’d cut the friendly toad but, as luck would have it, for me and him, I’d missed by millimetres. Sighing with relief I slowly made my way around to my new found friend and lifted him towards the pond. He didn’t seem to be moving – almost transfixed or, more likely, in shock – but after a few minutes he carried on. It occurred to me, and not for the first time, that people are the biggest threat to the many and varied creatures we find ourselves living with. In the countryside where I lived, it was sad to see the many animals killed on the roads but it was difficult to know what to do about it.

Today, despite man’s continued danger to wildlife everywhere, technology is being used to assist birds, elephants, endangered species and, now, our population of toads. From high technology to low, from supercomputers to the family down the street, it seems that all are welcome in the effort to protect them. Once upon a time toads were associated with everything from magic, folklore, the devil and fairies to female sexuality.

At the annual Toad Fair, formerly held in Dorset every May, charms and potions based on the amphibian’s “magic powers” were sold.Until the 1930s in Cambridgeshire, for example, local toad-a-mancers proclaimed their magic powers. Happily, much of this nonsense has been overtaken by the real power derived from a silicon chip and recent events include the ever popular Google Earth programme having Britain’s 700 Toad Crossings added to it. Log in; access Toad map!

Yes, indeed, toads cross roads and tracks at certain points for approximately six weeks a year. Teams of local volunteers – highly active and enthusiastic in the cause – work to ensure that, on average, between 400 and 1,000 toads in a defined area make it from A to B in safety. Dick and Suzanne Downer, from a Devon-based Toad Patrol unit tell that, in just one night, they have helped no less than 250 toads. In total they might expect to come across 1500 in a season. Their biggest challenge? Dealing with impatient and angry motorists. (Nothing new there then. Toad Rage!)

Nationally, in 2008, another 36 crossing sites were added to the database. Not only do the crossings assist the toads but scientists can more easily survey their overall numbers:

"Google Earth software is allowing wildlife experts to use new creative ways to communicate important conservation issues to an increasingly techno-savvy public," says Jules Howard, Froglife's Head of Communications. (See,
Froglife website)

We know that 35,000 toads were carried across Britain’s roads in 2008, and now, using available technology, volunteers and scientists hope that the better picture they are producing of toad activity nationwide will assist Highways officials access better information on local populations.

Next time you’re driving along a road perhaps you might check out the database first and think a little bit harder whilst moving through the Amphibian Zone...


Luckily it is not the BBC2 TV series we are talking about here, because entertaining though it would no doubt be, a half hour programme dealing with the things that Richard hates would probably be something from which the CFZ would never recover.

However, the boy-Freeman done good in this exclusive interview, which reveals (amongst other things) that he believes in dragons, likes Dr Who, and is not too keen on Star Trek.

Fancy that!