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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Monday, March 09, 2009


The furore over what happened the night that The Devil (didn't) go down to Woolsery seems to be growing and growing. There newspapers are even more interested in this than they were when I didn't steal a seal head back in January. This is all part of our trivia obsessed culture, and although it is mildly amusing, it is also quite disturbing. This afternoon I had a telephone call from one of the less-salubrious national newspapers who had obviously done some in-depth research on the case (they looked me up on Wikipedia, and found that I have at times been involved with the local Church). "So you are a Christian?" the person said without bothering to introduce herself.

"I don't see what my religious views have to do with you, or anyone else" I said. "But, yes".

"And your brother is a priest?" I just grunted.

"So coming from a religious background, does this make you qualified to claim that The Devil has visited a small North Devon village?"

I began to get angry. "I have never said anything of the sort" I said. The silly bint began to get all self-righteous. "You have been writing about the night the Devil went down to Woolsery".

"For God's sake", I grunted. "It's a joke! Haven't you ever heard of the Charlie Daniels Band?"

Obviously not

So, just for the record, before the people who seem to like to take a potshot at me every time that I put my head above the parapet, read whatever is printed about us with glee:

1. The Devil did NOT come to Woolsery last weekend

2. Nobody in the CFZ has ever intimated that He did

3. I am not some weirdo fundamentalist who is claiming Demonic intervention for some peculiar reason of my own

4. The footprints found last week are of perfectly natural origin (as were the more famous ones of 1855) but we don't know what caused them just yet.

5. It is interesting that so many different explanations have been mooted for the Woolsery footprints in the week since they were photographed.

6. If we can find out conclusively what caused the Woolsery prints of 2009, we will have a pretty good idea what caused the South Devon ones of 1855, and we can put an enduring mystery to bed.

7. And, by the way, we did not put out a press release about these prints. The newspapers concerned read about the mystery online and telephoned us (that will scotch the inevitable "Jon Downes is a shameless self-publicist" rumours")

but above all (for the sake of tabloid journalists who may be reading this:

I do not know what made the footprints, but it was NOT the Hornéd One. Capisce?


These three pictures turned up in my e-mail inbox last night.

I have to say that I have never seen anything quite like this before, although Max tells me that he once saw an albino bluebottle.

So what is it? Is it:
a. An albino housefly
b. An albino of some other species of fly
c. A perfectly normal specimen of a species of fly that I have never seen before, and furthermore a species which has a milky
d. A species unknown to science
e. A genetically engineered super-fly which has escaped from a secret research laboratory and is going to spread an equally genetically engineered plague amongst the world of men
f. An abomination from the Icy Plateau of Leng
g. A fly which happens to be white and is of no possible interest to people who are more interested in bigfoot, ufos and Government conspiracies


h. None of the above.

Answers in an e-mail please

Seriously, I am extremely interested in this little insect. I have seen nothing quite like it, and I would be very interested to find out what it is.

If anyonbe out there in bloggoland comes across other unusual looking creatures, or anything else that they feel would be grist to the CFZ's increasingly complicated mill, please do not hesitate to email me on jon@eclipse.co.uk


Donside pictures, those jolly nice people responsible for Occasional Monsters have contacted me. You may remember Occasional Monsters - it is the best movie about dole queue cryptozoology, and losers with mad girlfriends that Richard and I have ever seen. In fact, it is so true to life that I am amazed that it wasn't us who wrote it in the first place. So we will do whatever we can to publicise this cinematic masterpiece, even down to cutting and pasting bits of their new releases:

Occasional Monsters has been selected for the 5th annual Faux Film Festival in Portland, Oregon, U.S.A. We are delighted.It's one of only three features to be selected, and will be screened at the Hollywood Theatre on Saturday 4th April, 9pm. More information is available from http://www.fauxfilm.com/ and http://www.occasionalmonsters.co.uk/.

We continue to have various other half-formed things in the pipeline. We will share them with you when they are ready.

Be good.

Team Donside

GUEST BLOGGER MIKE HALLOWELL: The Geordie Lizard Man and others

First of all, my apologies for the hiatus between my last blog and this one; Casa Hallowell is currently undergoing a refit of monumental proportions, which involves the laying of new floors, a new bathroom and kitchen being fitted, a complete replumbing and rewiring and a multitude of other improvements, including the addition of a curious new form of energy called "electricity". Whether the rest of the British Isles will follow suit and also avail themselves of this new wonder is yet to be seen.
In my last blog, I mentioned the fact that two witnesses had come forward, both of whom claim to have espied a strange "lizard man"; one in Northumberland, and the other somewhat closer to home. I'm still investigating these claims, and have not, as yet, satisfied myself that they are entirely genuine. I believe they are at this juncture, mainly because the experients do not seem to know each other. Both appear to be perfectly sincere, and the intriguing thing is that their descriptions of the creature tally almost perfectly.

Witness A described the creature as five ft. in height, brown/green in colour and scaled. The beast, he said, was essentially anthropomorphic, but also possessed a tail, had no discernible ears and sported a reddish, serrated crest upon its head and spine. Its face was "snout-like" and resembled that of a German Shepherd in shape. I contacted him again several days ago, and asked him to relate to me once again his sighting in detail. His account is as follows, minus some details regarding the exact location which I am withholding at this time:

Last summer - one Sunday in July, as he recalls - Witness A left his home in Northumberland and drove to a remote spot further north to engage in a spot of rambling. He arrived at his destination and parked his car at approximately 1040hrs, and then walked up a path which took him between two small hillocks. In his backpack was a flask of tea and a packet of biscuits.

After walking between the hillocks, Witness A came across a large area covered with shrub, and scattered amongst it were a number of small, boggy areas filled with peat. He noticed that as he walked forward the ground was becoming increasingly waterlogged and spongy. Suddenly, to his right, he saw what he at first thought was a man running across the ground "at high speed". He estimates that he was approximately twenty yards away from him, and was puzzled as he could not see where he had came from.

"He seemed to come out of nowhere", the witness told me, "as if he had suddenly popped up out of the ground".

Witness A told me that the creature - by now he'd realised that it certainly wasn't human - had a gait that was perfectly human-like: "There wasn't anything funny about the way he ran. If it hadn't been for his strange appearance I would have thought it was just a man".

Within seconds the creature had crossed the path of Witness A and gave no indication of being aware that he was not alone. It was, said the witness, "as if I wasn't there". The witness also recalled seeing occasional splashes of water near the creature's feet as it disturbed the boggy ground beneath him. Then, without warning, he claimed that it, "just seemed to sink into the ground, as if he had fallen into a hole. There was no noise or anything...he just disappeared."

Witness A then retraced his steps, found his car and proceeded to drive home. His ramble had been of incredibly short duration, but the incident had removed any desire to prolong it.

Witness A said that although the creature had not threatened him or even looked in his direction, he was extremely frightened. He remembers his heart beating incredibly fast and said that his mouth dried up so much that, even if he'd wanted to speak or shout, he would have been unable to.

In my last blog I appealed for anyone who had heard similar tales to come forward. No one has done so. This may simply be because no one else has spotted the creature - the area Witness A was in is quite remote - or simply because the creature never existed in the first place.

I have still to verify Witness B's testimony and ascertain further details of his own sighting, but its intriguing to think that he may have seen the same creature. Geographically I think its unlikely, but who knows.

I'd also like to appeal to any cryptozoological fanatics out there to get in touch if they know of any other "lizard man" sightings from around the globe with which I can compare this one.

Well, must dash - Bob the builder, Terry the tiler and Pete the plasterer have just arrived...

OLL LEWIS: Yesterday’s news today


Time for another update on yesterdays happenings on the CFZ daily news blog. A fine assortment of stories they are today too, ranging from fossils to chupacabra.

Cattle Mutilations: Puzzled Farmers Talked to Authorities, Veterinarians and the FBI
Tales of found bones — and, oh yes, la chupacabra
Famous naturalist: Evidence of Bigfoot 'convincing'
Oldest fossil brain find is 'really bizarre'
Reports: Large, hairy two-legged animal seen
Could There be Real Monster Bats?

Instead of making a pun of my own I think it’d be best to quote a fine joke from Paul ‘Mr Biffo’ Rose at this point:

Q> What do you call a giant bat?
A> Super Beast 47