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, March 08, 2009


Thankfully, my email accounts (two of them) are almost back to normal since leaving cryptolist. I can see your entries on the CFZ blog (the links work) but I still cannot add comments.

BTW, Mike, my partner and co-owner in many of my groups, was plagued by the same security breech in his email account after I had my problem and we are working on a joint complaint to yahoo now after I helped him get restarted with a new account and a new backup one. Mike is the fellow I mentioned to you (and Karl Shuker) that lives in London is looking into setting me up in production for the UK.

I did have some remarks on your recent blogs.

Firstly, the Devil's footprints in Devonshire were evidently not made by "a" creature, but by several, and the thing is, several different animals make tracks that can look like that when melted. In our own yard, I often see melted rabbit AND squirrel tracks that come out like that. I think Rupert Gould was also of that opinion.

The Neanderthal thing is a matter of some controversy and matters a good deal on whether you classify Neands as a separate species. A lot of people DO think they are still around, including as members of the general population. When I was working on my degree, our Physical Anthropolgy textbook was written by Milford Walpoff (U of Michigan), who actually considers himself to be a living Neanderthal. I met him at one of the conventions I worked on as a student and we had a quite cordial discussion on his theories.

The Water Leaper is obviously a freshwater Stingray. Stingrays are "Toad-faced". I told you about that before.
BTW, I looked up Rupert Gould's chapter on the Devonshire Devil's Hoofprints: he has a footnote at the end which shows that it would have been physically impossible for one creature to have made ALL the tracks on that one night: there must have been several of them, whatever they were.

GUEST BLOGGER BETH TYLER-KING: Millie's story (Part Two)

People at the last Weird Weekend will have noticed a bric-a-brac stall incongrously situated between a bookstall and a specialisr publisher.

Behind the stall you would have seen a pretty young lady called Beth, and on the sunday she was joined by two newborn kittens which were - I think - a bigger draw to Weird Weekenders of all ages than anyone except possibly Ronan.

Her name is Beth Tyler-King and for years she has been involved in Wildlife Rescue, first in Bristol, and now in Hartland. She has become a good friend of the CFZ, and like all our friends she has been persuaded to write for the bloggo...

After I had finished the last story I wrote about Millie I realised over time that I had forgotten bits and pieces about her, so I will mention them in this section now!

One thing I noticed about Millie was her passion and her insistence for having everything on the floor, and I mean everything….. I would often wake up in the morning to find that all the cat beds were on the floor, all seat cushions from the dining chairs on the floor and even if my coat had been flung around the back of a chair, that would invariably be on the floor as well! (Not to mention any tea towels lying about, scourers, and perhaps the salt shaker…….)

Millie liked EVERYTHING on the floor……

She has two boxes in the Conservatory filled with her toys and every morning, every single one of these toys would be out of the box and on the floor as well. It’s like clearing up after a toddler! The “throw overs” that covered the settee and armchairs would be partly dragged onto the floor as well. I would trot around “Millies room” picking up after her and she would be running rings round me leaping up as if to say “Leave that there, I like it there, oh you always have to ruin everything for me you horrible person”! Sometimes to be deliberately naughty, after I had cleared all her toys up she would drag another toy out the toy box, run off and then drop it on the floor some metres away, turn to look at me insolently as if to say “And that’s staying there okay, so there!” She made me laugh so much every day.

I soon learnt that that was one of Millie’s quirks and foibles and if she was having fun insisting on having everything on the floor then who was I to stop her? I never minded tidying up really!

One day I was doing the washing up and I stood backwards only to hear a little yelp. I had stood on Millies foot! She ran to the kitchen doorway and I leaned towards her and said “Oh Millie I am so sorry!” Her response was to shake her injured paw at me in absolute disgust (I am sure she had a frown on her forehead!) and she ran off. I followed her into the conservatory and sat down besides her on her settee where she was licking her “injured” paw. I picked it up in my hand gently and said “Oh Millie, is this the bad paw?”. Amazingly she snatched her paw out my hand and promptly offered me her other paw as if to say “It’s this one if you don’t mind”! I had to smile, she was so intelligent and you had to be there to believe it.

If Millie wanted food (and believe me she had plenty accessible to her) she would stand behind me if I was doing the washing up or making a cup of tea and dig furiously at my bottom. (I KNOW my bottom now has deep ridges in the rolls of fat) I would then get out some of her favourite tripe, give her some and she would hurtle off with it to eat in peace. Well not always….. If Harley my male four month old kitten saw this happen he would dash off after her and literally just take it out her mouth and she would let him! It was unbelievable that she just backed off and let this little kitten, about a third of the size she was just take food out of her mouth!

Once Millie came into the kitchen just after I had given her some food but seconds later she was back as if to say “Mum, Harleys pinched my food!” I followed her into the conservatory to find Harley tossing the tripe all over the floor and having great fun. I retrieved the tripe and gave it back to Millie who then proceeded to dash behind the sofa to eat her offering and I would have to pick Harley up frequently so that she could eat alone.

In the conservatory I had the Tv on 24/7 mainly so the hum would keep Millie company. I would often find her lying on her back in her armchair, half hanging off the edge, watching Tv upside down. She was so amusing.

One of Millies favourite games was the “Upside Down game”. She liked you to sit half on the edge of her armchair while she laid upside down behind you and she liked you to play with her tummy, paws and face while she wriggled all over the place like a puppy. Once I was sitting in “her” chair watching “her” Tv when Millie dived behind me and with all her little strength proceeded to push me forwards with her muzzle until I was sitting on the edge of her chair, she was obviously telling me she wanted to play the Upside Game again which we did!

If ever I had visitors Millie would make her own mind up about them but she has never bitten anyone, ever. Some people she would immediately come up to and put her little paws up on their laps but some people she would take at least 15 minutes deciding if they were axe murderers or not. If I ever picked Millie up so that people could stroke her, she never ever snapped in fright. She trusted me implicitly and although I could sense she was nervous she was always as good as gold. A real sweetheart.

I was warned once by someone not long after Millie arrived here that “when she grew into an adult she would turn vicious and kill all my cats”. Well foxes mature at 9 months old and considering Millie is now nearly a year old I think I can safely say that this will hopefully not happen. Millie has never shown any vicious tendencies, has grown up with my dogs and cats and plays with my four month old kittens as if they are her siblings. Millie has enhanced my life there is no doubt about that. I cannot imagine life without her now.

(TOP IMAGE: Millie and Harley take posession of an armchair)

(BOTTOM IMAGE: Millie looks somewhat disapproving at the concept of purple fox coats)

GUEST BLOGGER NEIL ARNOLD: The Rochester Rabbit Ripper

It is with great pleasure that we welcome Neil Arnold to the CFZ bloggo with this first guest blog. I have known Neil for fifteen years now since he was a schoolboy with ambitions for adventure and I was an earnest young hippie who merely wanted to start a club for people interested in unknown animals. Nothing much has changed over the years. We are just both a tad older...

Who, or what, is the Rochester rabbit ripper ? That’s the question I was asking myself after an investigation on the outskirts of historic Rochester. Now, Rochester, with it’s Dickensian association, is a beautiful place, but under the cloak of darkness weird stuff happens.
Over the course of a few years there’s been sightings of large cats, unidentified swimming objects in the river, black magic coven’s accused of sacrificing goats, piles of large pet dogs found crushed and scratched in the local woods, and now this.

The so-called Rochester Rabbit Ripper was behind the discovery of a severely mutilated domestic cat in a neighbouring village. An elderly couple awoke one morning (4th March 2009) to find the grisly remains in their garden. The remaining body parts were put in a wheelie bin. The following morning the half-eaten remains of a rabbit were found and sniffed out by their dog. Now, this poor dog certainly wasn’t responsible. For one, it’s blind. Two, it is on its last legs and can hardly walk. Fur was strewn about the garden, but one of the neighbours mentioned he’d never seen a rabbit in his garden all the time he’d lived there, however, rabbits would certainly have been in abundance in the flanking overgrown alleyway and pathway which runs along the river Medway. Some ‘thing’ had eaten the rabbit, leaving its back legs, and the couple phoned me. I arrived at the scene expecting to clear the mystery up in no time, but experience usually tells me that something weird is going to happen.

So, I checked out the remains which the elderly gent’ had thrown in the bin with dog excrement, and prodded my way through. A neighbour was quick to arrive and mentioned a few nights previous he’d been in his kitchen at around 11:00 pm, looked out his back garden and saw the rear end of a massive black cat which slinked away. So, maybe the so-called ‘beast’ of Blue Bell Hill had struck again, this animal being a black leopard said to prowl the neighbouring villages. I went into the neighbour’s house whilst the elderly couple went for a drive. After half an hour I decided to make for the woodland pathway, but as I left the house, I glanced towards the elderly couple’s gate and saw their crippled and blind Alsatian munching something. It was half a rabbit!

Now, it wasn’t the same rabbit because I had this slain bunny in a bag, but somehow, a new rabbit had appeared from nowhere. Within the last thirty or so minutes. The dog was crunching bones and lapping at the meal with difficulty, but the poor, hungry mutt wasn’t allowed to eat such a meal as it was on a special diet, and certainly couldn’t have gotten round the garden to catch a rabbit. Even though no-one had seen rabbits in their garden, probably because rabbits couldn’t gain access, it was a mystifying triangle. Had, whilst I was in the neighbour’s house, a black leopard dumped another rabbit in the garden, eaten half of it, but somehow, the crippled dog picked up the scent, even though the dog couldn’t get down the steps of the garden. Or, had there never been a black leopard, but instead a dog gorging itself on local rabbits and domestic cats ? Unlikely. When I got home I received a call from the elderly couple who were mystified as to how their dog had gotten another rabbit, but did mention that sometimes ‘things’ were thrown over the fence for the dog to eat ? However, who on earth had been hunting rabbits, and chucking their rear end over a fence ? It was all confusing, and so the saga continues…until the next mysterious kill.

Graham Inglis has, once again, been moseying about on the Nature Blog Network..

My first view of the “harbour seal duck killer” in action was at Darren Naish’s Tetrapod Zoology blog - http://scienceblogs.com/tetrapodzoology/2009/03/a_duck-killing_harbour_seal.php

The sequence of photos was featured in the Telegraph and are linked from Darren’s blog. Being quite keen on photography myself, I know how difficult it can be to get a good picture of wildlife action. Folks on the BBC Wildlife programmes are managing it more and more, these days - but that’s with highly advanced photographic and video technology. Meanwile, I still struggle along with my £45 Casio digital.

Science Daily - http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/02/090223121359.htm – includes a look at ongoing investigations of bioluminescence: the phenomenon of light emission by living organisms.

“Jenny Krönström, a researcher at the Department of Zoology of the University of Gothenburg has put another piece of the jigsaw puzzle in place by investigating the light organs of marine jellyfish, crustaceans and fish. In her thesis she reveals that krill, the luminescent crustacean, is equipped with special muscles that regulate light intensity through contraction and relaxation.”

A blog on CBS News -

http://www.cbsnews.com/blogs/2009/03/06/politics/politicalhotsheet/entry4849589.shtml – updates us on a decision by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to remove gray wolves from the list of threatened and endangered species. Almost wiped out from the US, a conservation programme was established, and was a success: so successful that plans to remove gray wolves from the list were proposed in 2008. the matter went to the courts. Now, says CBS, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar is supporting the Fish and Wildlife Service move.

The CFZ has sometimes been asked, how does one become a zoologist? A site called eHow (How To Do Just About Everything) offers tips on this question - http://www.ehow.com/how_4830969_job-experience-as-zoologist.html

They do follow the conventional academia route - and, yes, it involves hard work!

Pine Martens in Co. Durham...

After my comments on Jan Edward's post yesterday in which she mused on the possibility that there might be a pine marten roaming the countryside near her animal sanctuary, she wrote this:

"Apparently there were 2 killed on the road a few miles from here recently. I’ve never seen one, but I hope they are making a comeback."

Now, I know nothing about this at all, but would be very grateful if anyone were to be able to tell me more about these incidents, or indeed any other record of English pione martens since 1995. Please let me know anything that you can...

RICHARD FREEMAN: The Worst Loch Ness "documentary" ever!

Neil Arnold recently sent me some DVDs of cryptozoological documentories. Amongst these was a 1976 film called 'The Legend of Loch Ness'. It was produced by Richard Martin and narrated by Auther Franz.

The list of errors and downright lies in this programe beggers belief. There are numerous shots of a yellow submarine (not the famous Viperfish) and divers whom we are told are on an expedition diving in Loch Ness. The waters are crystal clear, not peat-soaked like the waters of the Loch. On top of this there are marine fish, sea urchins, and giant kelp found only in the Pacific Ocean.

We are shown film of a blue shark and told it is a bull shark. The narrator cheefuly tells us that bull sharks have a snake-like head and long thin body. Actualy they have a broad head and squat body. He then goes on to tell us that they grow to 25 feet long. In fact the biggest bull shark ever recirded was about 11 feet long. The reson for all this?

...The Loch Ness Monster might be a shark!

Later we are show film of brown bears eating salmon, and told that the monster might hibernate like a bear. The narrator goes on to tell us that the last bear in Scotland was killed in the 1800s! Bears were hunted out in the UK around 800 years ago.

Finally, they boast that their diving crew got exclusive film of the monster swimming past their cameras. We see the close up of a fishes eye then an extreme close-up of what looks like an ordinary-sized eel swimming very close to the camera.

Once again this is in clear water.

It's not so much the zoological inacuracies that get my back up, but the barefaced lies - like claiming to have filmed in the Loch when the footage comes from the Pacific coast of North America, and claiming they have filmed the monster when all they have is a close up of a marine eel.

GUES BLOGGER NIGEL WRIGHT: That Old Devil strikes again

I had intended to have finished off my next blog for the CFZ Bloggo a few days ago, but due to the rather interesting news about new “Devil’s footprints” appearing in North Devon, a few days ago, I have decided to re-write my article. May I, at this early point, add my own comment on this new case. One thing of which I am certain is that I totally agree with Jon when he states that this is NOT a case of the devil actually appearing in our beautiful county! I am sure that there is a perfectly natural explanation for this new appearance, as well as the case from the 19th century.

So, just what did occur in Devon, all those years ago? Well, here are the bare facts of the case; in so much as we know them. On the 8th February 1855 sometime between midnight and 6a.m. mysterious footprints appeared in deep snow, between Littleham village, in East Devon and Totnes, in the South Hams of Devon. These “footprints were cloven-shaped, and seemed to run one in front of another. The distance these prints ran for was truly amazing, as was the objects they seemed to climb over. In one instance they went over a 14ft high wall! Many “explanations” were offered at the time, raging from the just plausible to the downright ridiculous! For instance, someone, who must of suffered from a very over-active imagination, offered the answer that an hot air balloon had trailed a print-making device over the area, on the end of a rope, at night!. Fine flying indeed!

What is not so well known is that this is not the first of this type of event to have occurred in the UK. Way back, in the year 1205 (19th July to be precise) a series of strange “footprints” appeared during a violent electric storm. So, whatever the cause of these mysterious visitors really is, it appears to happen a lot more often than we thought. Nor is these phenomena restricted to the UK, there are reports of similar events happening all over the known world.

Why is this particular case so interesting to me? Well, I happen to live in Littleham! And the church in the village is where the footprints started from. So this is a case that happened not a mile from my front door. The whole area of East Devon is steeped in cases of extreme weirdness. From waves of UFO activity to black cat sightings and disappearances, and much, much more! But that, as they say, is a completely different story.

OLL LEWIS: Yesterday’s news today


Do you like big cats? What about out of place big cats roaming the moors and woods of Britain? Well hopefully you do because there was a bumper crop of big cat reports posted to he CFZ daily news blog today, dating as far back as November. Here’s the news:

New Fenland big cat sighting
Police hunt mystery big cat after woman, 74, is wounded in attacks
'Big cats' caught on camera prowling forest
Big cats caught on camera
Big cats seen in Forest of Dean
Another Big Cat sighting in Glenrothes
Residential sightings of Cannock Chase panther
Big cats on prowl?
Could a big cat be to blame for death of Olivia the ostrich?
The Beast is back!
Did we come face-to-face with elusive beast on our own doorstep?
Weird Paw Print Found in Snow - is it Wolds Panther?
The snarling 'Beast of Buchan' captured alive in chicken shed
History Channel in Garo Hills for ‘Monster Quest’
Go wild in the great outdoors
Ahead of his time, Darwin, still an influence
Silencing the Lambs: Scientists Target Sheep Belching to Cut Methane

I hope they treat the sheep in that test in a humane manner and don’t go ‘ram’ing them full of drugs or something, anyway, I do wish we could chat longer, but... I'm having an old friend for dinner. Bye.