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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Wednesday, February 25, 2009


Neil Arnold has been a busy little fellow recently. As well as putting the final touches to his monumental book on the mystery animals of Kent. The bloody book is getting bigger and bigger every day, and will soon make Lord of the Rings seem like a Ladybird book. But it will be worth it. However, I mean no disrespect to Neil when I say that I will be very glad to get the bloody thing off my plate. In the meantime, however, he sent us the following email last night...

New England's WCIN Radio may be well known for its jazz and folk music, but listen to what DJ Mark Lynch uncovered when he interviewed author Neil Arnold about his book, MONSTER! THE A-Z OF ZOOFORM PHENOMENA. A surreal safari indeed...winged men, varying hellhounds, Asian vampires, Noodleman, urban monster legends, the goatsucker, the Yorkshire maggot, Mothman...



Things are going really well here at the CFZ. This year has seen some amazing developments both on the bloggo and with the CFZ as a whole. However, we are ridiculously under-staffed, so if any of you have even a few hours that you could spare please get in touch. We need guest bloggers, indexers, and general cyber-dogsbodies, so don't be shy... get in touch.

Our good friend Tony Lucas has donated us scans of his collection of New Zealand cryptozoological press cuttings, none of which I had seen before, and which I suspect will be completely new to anyone who does not live in New Zealand. As soon as they have fixed our FTP access, I will be posting them to the archive department so that they can be freely downloaded by anyone who is interested.

Do YOU have a collection of crypto or fortean press cuttings? Or copies of pre 1060 fortean, cryptozoological, or natural history magazines, newsletters or journals? If so, would you consider scanning them in, and sharing them with the rest of the cryptozoological community?

Whatever you have to contribute, we want to hear from you, so please do get in touch!

GUEST BLOGGER TONY LUCAS: Giant eels in New Zealand

Tony Lucas is one of our New Zealand representatives. We first published his work in the 2008 Yearbook when he wrote us an overview of New Zealand cryptozoology. New Zealand is a particularly fascinating place because of its zoological isolation from the rest of the world.....
Tales of giant Eels abound worldwide and New Zealand has its fair share. There are two species of Eel which are endemic to New Zealand. The Long-finned Eel - Anguilla diefenbachii (Grey 1936), they are known for their great size and aggressiveness, The other is the Short-finned Eel - A schmidtii (Schmidt 1927), a shy, retiring creature more common than its long finned relative.

The largest Eel caught was officially recorded at 5ft in length and weighed an estimated 46lb. There is, however rumour of an Eel captured at Lake Waitapiti weighing 120lb. Other rumours abound from different regions of Eels reaching 7-10 feet in length, having a girth as thick as a mans thigh and weighing on average around 80-100 lbs.

How do they get so big you may well ponder? It's all to do with age and senility.
Eels can live up to 80 years, and as they age, they become a bit bone idle and defy the urge to migrate and spend the rest of their days in freshwater fattening up, growing to gargantuan proportions. These colossuses prefer to reside in slow flowing, deep, vegetation filled streams.

The females of both species are generally bigger than the males; from this we can therefore deduce any extremely large Eel is going to be female. Another supposition that can be made is the fact that the Long-finned Eel is larger than the Short-finned. It is therefore safe to infer that any Eel of giant proportions must be a female Long-finned Eel.

Both species feed on living and dead flesh.

Not having any predatory species of fish in this country, such as Pike ect, they are the top freshwater predator in the lakes and rivers. Accounts of giant Eels, or Eel-like creatures, date back to the time of early Maori colonisation. One engrossing account comes from the Bay of Plenty, in the North Island, from an area near what is now Whakatane.

A giant Eel-like creature known as Tuna Tuoro occupied a local river, it is said that its touch was able to paralyse a person. Could this be an account of some hereto unknown species of Electric Eel?

A more contemporary account refers to a farmer from the Wairarapa region of the North Island.
As is the practice on many farms, he had just dispatched a sheep to feed his dogs.

At the top of a small cliff with a stream running below it, he proceeded to dress the animal, hurling the offal over the cliff to the stream below. Suddenly, he heard a loud turmoil coming from the base of the cliff and looked below to see the water boiling as two colossal Eels tugged at each end of the scrap of offal he had just thrown over the cliff.

With the copious food supply, lack of competition and ample ideal habitat you would think more Eels of giant stature would be captured. These giants, however, stick to the deep waters and it is said are intelligent enough to know all the tricks to remain hidden from the sight of man.


On Arrival at Stanchester Community Campus, everything appear remarkable clam and serene, the noise levels soon rose with excitement and the Hubbub as Captain Jack Sparrow (not Harkness as many had foolishly been expecting) swung through the exhibition area. MDM Securities soon had Jonathan installed at his stand and Max took the duties of guarding him from his adoring public.

I meanwhile took an altogether quieter approach and sat in the main reception ensuring that Jon was covered from afar. Daleks of various colour schemes with a desire for Human Death cruised past and people had to keep their feet out of the way, rumour has it to be run over by a Dalek make your foot “EXCRUCIATE”!

The Gym had most of the more active events with Build your own Dalek and a sales stand of Dr Who related products, including Ties which is would love to own, but I guess preaching about redemption wearing a tie offering to kill all humans might be too much of a mixed message.
A number of people passing commented on my CFZ Scarf as the stiches flew onto the needles.

Other characters passing me on the First Aid Post were CyberMen and CyberShape (08 Christmas Special), a scarecrow and 3 very dodgy looking people dressed as C3P0s sorry I mean PCSOs, it is good to see family and community events being supported by the Constabulary and this clear demonstrates the advantages of PCSOs

The Art Department had clearly been very busy building Clockwork Men, Father Christmas and K9. The weirdest moment was when a Dalek apologised and asked if some people if he could “get passed please”, “Thank you”. The event went fantastically and finished in style with a rousing chorus of Happy Birthday for Deborah’s 50th.


Just a mild service announcement: There has been a cock up on the service provider file transfer protocol front (as Reggie's brother-in-law Jimmy would no doubt have said). It seems that the FTP section of our ISP is out of action, so whereas we can all read the front page of http://www.cfz.org.uk/ I can't upload the revisions with the details of tonight's posts.

For the record, they are:

CRYPTOZOOLOGY: Naomi and Ritchie went to San Antonio, and all they brought me was this lousy Jackalope! Excellent video report from our Texas correspondents! We are all very proud of them - they have done brilliantly!
Click here for further details...

CRYPTOZOOLOGY: Muirhead is back in the archives of a north country newspaper. He finds interesting stuff about entombed bats and toads. How does the bloody man do it?
Click here for further details...

CRYPTOZOOLOGY: Over in Illinois, Derek Grebner is back! And so, it seems, are the pumas.
Click here for further details...

FORTEAN: As Redfern is wont to say - there's somethging in the woods (although I suspect that it is a publicity stunt)
Click here for further details...

Lady Henrietta is on her way over to see us, so I will endeavour to post the revisions to the front page later on if FTP access has been enabled. In the meantime...ENJOY


I am really proud of Naomi and Ritchie West. A few weeks ago they asked me if there was anything that they could do to help, and I sent them to San Antonio in search of the only shop in the world (as far as I know) that sells fortean chimeras....

They have done magnificently, and I cannot thank them enough. I have a whole string of other projects waiting for them LOLOL


My blog today covers the well known Fortean phenomenon of entombed animals,but this time with a difference: Entombed toads will be familiar to the dedicated Fortean, but entombed bats may be less familiar.

There was a case of an imprisoned bat or bat-like creature in the Forest of Dean in Gloucestershire,U.K. in the 1920s or `30s, but in a fit of paranoia about the occult (because it seemed so weird) about 15 years ago I threw the evidence, in the form of copies of the newspaper cuttings, away. So part of this blog(see below) is an attempt to make up for that error.


"A rat,of astonishing size,was lately killed at a public house in E.Clarendon,near Guildford (1) it measured from the tip of the nose to the end of the tail,2 feet 3 inches,and was of proportionate bulk." Macclesfield Courier and Stockport Express or Cheshire General Advertiser.(MC & S.E or C.G.A.)March 21st 1812.p.3

"We are informed by a correspondent,that a bat was lately discovered at Astbury (2) in a solid block of stone quaried seven feet from the surface. The bat is described as having ears 7/8 (? figures unclear) of an inch in diameter and curvated like a ram`s horn;it was much larger than the common bat, and on exposure to the air seemed to languish. We shall be obliged to any naturalist amongst our numerous readers, who can inform us what species of bat can live in stone, or what kind of stone is sufficiently porous to permit animal respiration." MC & S.E. or C.G.A. March 21st 1812.p.3

"A live toad was found eight feet below the surface in a solid whitestone rock,in a quarry near Lochrutton (3)" MC & S.E. or C.G.A. June 6th 1812. p.3

(1) Surrey (2) Cheshire (3) Dumfries

Forests of Mystery

Twice a day I do the bloggo postings, and part of my routine is to post details of these updates on Usenet and Facebook. Today, on the `Cryptozoology` page on Facebook, I found the following posting:

Hi everyone! My name is Dewey Lansing and there's been some odd happenings at the Cascade Forest Research Center in Tillamook, Oregon (where I work) that I think it falls into the cryptozoology catagory. For more information please visit my website at http://www.forestsofmystery.com/

I am always on the lookout for new stories, so I followed the link and was highly impressed by what I found. I don't believe a word of it, but it is massively entertaining. The quality of the filming and the scope of the various interlinked websites imply that this is a promo for a TV Show or movcie rather than just a hoax, but it is incredibly well done and I want to know what happens next.

Check it out....


Our friend Jack Ashby of the Grant Museum of Zoology, (who by the way, is the latest duide to be added to the ever increasing bill for this year's Weird Weekend) seems to have supernatural powers, and we would strongly urge any visitors to this remarkable zoological collection to take some garlic and a silver bullet with them just in case,

As we reported the other day, no sooner had Jack announced a forthcoming lecture bemoaning the dearth of werewolves in contemporary culture, than werewolves started popping out of the woodwork and appearing allover the CFZ bloggo. We originally thought that this was just a coincidence, but now - after the latest werewolf news - that Jack Ashby has to be to blame.
The pensive looking lady above is Kelly Martins Becker of Sao Paulop, Brazil, who claims to have been attacked in the night of January 28 by "an animal that looked like a big dog, that was standing on its back feet and walked as if it were a man". She made a sketch of the creature.
According to the complaint, the creature scratched the face and arms of the victim. The police informed that Kelly underwent medical examination, where the wounds were confirmed. Officers also claim they will investigate if someone is using a werewolf costume to scare people.


So, nexct time you are in Gower Street, London, and you see an angry mob with pitchforks, or possibly a Brazilian Police Van full of riotsuited Brazilian policemen, you will know why.

Or possibly you should just go and visit the museum anyway, because Jack is a lovely guy and the museum is fantastic. Tell them we sent you, but remember, keep to the paths, and
don't go at a full moon...

MAX BLAKE: Saving Sandelia - how YOU can help

Because very little has happened with regards to either alien animals, or ABCs, it is I think, time to look at some new and interesting species turning up in the pet trade, focussing on fish. I have found two very different groups of animals undergoing resurgence at the moment, the first is a group of fish called the Snakeheads or Channidae, and a very strange looking anabantoid called Sandelia capensis.
As you will have read, Jon and I went to Wildwoods at the weekend. I knew this place was good, but I didn’t expect to see this number of snakeheads here! I will swiftly explain, as an article in The Amateur Naturalist #7 explains, I adore snakeheads. They are very attractive looking animals, but with some serious intelligence (for fish) which endears them to me. It is odd that their family contains only two genera, the Asian Channa and African Parachanna, who are very similar indeed, both fulfilling the same role of predator on small fish and aquatic invertebrates in their eco-systems. Now, new species of this fish turn up in the trade with comparative regularity (two newly described species, C. ornatipinnis and C. pluchra, turned up in the aquatics trade almost a month after they were described), but I didn’t expect the ridiculous amount of undiscribed species for sale at Wildwoods. We have:
i. Channa sp. 'Platinum', a stunning fish seeing it’s first time appearance in the UK. It could be a new species, but it looks to me to be a striking colour form of C. striata, itself not a common fish. (below)

ii. Channa sp. 'Assam blue', the smallest snakehead found so far at a maximum of only 4”. I myself keep one of these stunners, and it is one of my favourite fish. (left)

iii. Channa sp. 'Meghalaya Leopard', an incredible fish with complex colouration as well as a high dorsal fin which reminds me of a giant species called C. barca (indeed, this rare fish once fetched a price of £4,000 for an adult pair!).

iv. Channa punctata “fluoro green”, a new colour morph of a described species, this deserves to be here because it is, err, striking! (see top)
I’m sure there were more there, but I can only find these four on their website. This was in addition to a host of new L-number plecs (large catfish with sucking mouths adapted to scraping algae from rocks and sunken logs) and the assortment of other animals. I will add, that should some of you be interested in snakeheads for your community tank, I will point out that they are highly predatory and will eat fish under 1/3 of their size, and are often aggressive to similar looking fish. The price of the new species varies, but Channa sp. “Platinum” (left) will set you back £130! They are very easy to keep though, and will live for over 10 years. This particular individual will eventually get to over a foot long.

Now, for something slightly different: endangered fish. I found, lurking in a corner along with some rasboras, some odd looking fish which attracted my attention. They were not colourful, active or exceptionally strange looking (characteristics which normally attract people to fish), but they were intriguing. I vaguely remembered the scientific name, but I couldn’t remember what with (Wildwoods tends to overload your senses, so you forget almost everything you know about fish). There were a form of Perch like fish (with spiny rays in their dorsal fin), and they looked to me like dwarf cichlids (they were most certainly not though). I guessed that they were from one of the strange families that one rarely encounters in aquaria, so, I bought one. I enquired about them, and found out that they were captive bred in Germany (the Germans can breed anything aquatic), originated in South Africa, it’s name was Sandelia capensis, grew up to 8”, were Anabantoids and were endangered in the wild. Endangered fish, in an aquatics shop? Strange.

The one I got (I could not afford more) settled into his new aquarium, acquainted himself with his tankmates (including a pugnacious Arulius barb and a very rare snakehead) and decided to ignore them. Good thought I, here we have a nice looking display fish who should be pretty damn hansom when he grows up. I pottered upstairs to my books to find out more about him. It turns out he is a relative of the climbing perches (Anabas and Ctenopoma) but it has evolved from the parent stock to rely less on it’s labyrinth organ (an organ which allows the fish to breath atmospheric air, an adaption to water with low amounts of dissolved oxygen) and more on its gills. This was the reason I had not twigged that it was an anabantoid in the shop, none of the fish had come up for air!

I then realised, David Marshal, a very good writer on tropical fish, had penned an article in Exotic Pets magazine about climbing perches, and had mentioned the genus Sandelia. This was the moment that I realised that I had a very rare fish in aquarium circles in my house, and one that I had been interested in keeping for a while, but one that I knew I never would. How wrong was I!

I read through the article, and then read “Sadly these fish, seldom seen in aquarium circles, are some of the most highly endangered creatures on the African continent and only remain in existence due to the work of a small number of dedicated local naturalists”. Bloody hell! thought I. After researching, I found that C. bainsii, the other species in the genus, was highly endangered and at threat from large introduced Clarias catfishes. C. capensis (my species) is listed by the IUCN as being “Data Deficient”, but that its population was decreasing. This was justified because “Several different lineages have been discovered in this species that requires a taxonomic revision. Several of these lineages will be threatened with extinction, but no reliable assessment can be made without understanding the distribution and taxonomic status of these lineages.”. It seems then, that the lineage I have could be extremely rare indeed, or “merely” Near Threatened.

Hummmm. I began researching how to breed them after that, and it looks to be fairly straightforward, but the only trouble is sexing the blighters, when sexually mature (from the small size of 2.5”) and in the breeding season, the males darken in colour and you can easily tell them apart. The problem comes in trying to get both sexes, you can’t do it with just one fish! So, I gave my idea to Jon: to breed this species, whether it is endangered or not, and try and do our bit to save a species. Are you with us? All we need are donations to help us buy fish at £17 each, but we will be able to get them a fair bit cheaper if we buy the lot. Will you do your bit to help?

Do you want to help us work with this rare and beautiful fish? If every person who visited this site yesterday gave a pound or a couple of dollars, we would have more than enough to set up a Sandelia breeding project, and have enough money left to carry out all the refurbishment we need to do to bring our other tanks up to scratch. Please be generous...

OLL LEWIS: Yesterday's news today

Just time before I shuffle off to bed to update you on the news stories uploaded to the CFZ’s news blog on the 24th of Feb.

Four news stories were posted yesterday: A new sighting of the Whitby big cat (seen by a man lucky enough to have seen it a year before), an out of place bird in Hawaii, a new discovery relating to a fish with amazing eyes, and a 3 metre long oarfish that has been discovered washed up on Tynemouth beach.
It’s only the 4th oarfish that has washed up on a British beach since 1981, so I suppose you could call it a pretty ‘oar’some discovery, apparently scientists are going to perform an ‘oar’topsy on it too.