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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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Thursday, March 12, 2009

COMPETITION WINNER

I shouldn't have worried. It took less than an hour from me posting a worried note that I couldn't think of a stupid pun about Richard Holland's lunchtime posting about an encounter with giant snakes in 19th Century Wales, when reader Steve Puckett came to my rescue..

There once was a carter from Wrexham
When giant snakes started to vex'im.
He need not worry
If he would just scurry
And procure a witch to hex'em.




We need more stuff like this in contemporary cryptozoology...

THE DEVIL WENT DOWN TO WOOLSERY: Today's Press Coverage (2)



Western Morning News (12th March 2009)

THE DEVIL WENT DOWN TO WOOLSERY: Today's Press Coverage (1)

North Devon Journal (12th March 2009)

ALBINO BIRDS FROM THE KENDAL MUSEUM

Yesterday Richard Muirhead asked a rhetorical question. "What HAPPENS to all these preserved Fortean specimens?!" he asked angrily.

Well they don't all disappear forever. Some regional museums, for example, still have remarkable collections of exhibits of fortean interest. However many of these collections are just not in tune with current tastes, so they are kept off show, like these gloriously bizarre albino birds from Kendal Museum...













GUEST BLOGGER ALAN FRISWELL: THE FORGOTTEN TALE OF THE RED SEA SERPENT

Alan first came to my notice when he turned up at our stall at last November's Unconvention. He was clutching a box that had once held a plastic Christmas Tree. He thrust it at me, and said "Here's your mermaid".

I vaguely remembered Richard F having said that one of his mates had offered to make us a feegee mermaid, but I had forgotten all about it. Sad to say, so many people offer to do stuff for us, and then fail to deliver, that I had got into the habit of treating all such offers cum grano salis, but the advent of Alan shows that I should not be such a cynical old sod. Now he has become a guest blogger..

Yes, I had a genuine cryptozoological story all along, and I had forgotten all about it.

I have known Richard F. for years, and yet this tale had somehow languished in the storeroom of my mind for all that time, and inexplicably I had never thought to mention it to him. I have heard of the putative Fortean phenomena of selective memory-loss in witnesses when reporting anomalous experiences; as if various manifestations of the ‘paranormal’ - yeah, I hate that word too - book of the damned seek to retain anonymity by ‘blocking’ the cognizable impulse of the brain to report information, so producing a form of temporary ‘amnesia’. Well I don’t know about that, but I think that it’ is more likely to be down to sunspot activity in Dagenham, or indeed the potency of the local Stella Artois. That’s my usual excuse anyway.

It all began in the 1970’s when my sister’s boyfriend Alfie - soon to become my brother-in-law -used to come round for Sunday tea. We’d all be sitting there, eating whelks or whatever, listening to the top twenty on Radio One - this of course, was in those far-off golden days when the top twenty was actually worth listening to - and generally having a jolly time.

Alfie of course, knew that I was fascinated by Harryhausen, and monsters in general, and one particular Sunday teatime, he casually said: “I saw a sea-serpent once”. My jaw fell into my plate of Lea-on-Sea cockles, or whatever seafood extravaganza my dad had purchased from
the local shellfish stall, and I tried to keep calm - I was only a kid after all.

“You saw WHAT???!!!

“Yeah, I saw a sea-serpent once, it swam right past me. Scared the living crap out of me”.

“When, where, how”?

And so, with David Essex providing backing vocals on wonderful Radio One, Alfie proceeded to relate the story of his own glimpse into one of the stranger corners of our world.

In the late 1960’s, Alfie was working near Jeddah, in Saudi Arabia. He was an electrician, and had been employed by an aircraft manufacturer to install navigation and radar systems into aeroplane cockpits. He and a bunch of fellow workers were living in a local hotel, and being young
blokes away from home, had participated in various ‘adventures’, some of which were funny, and some downright terrifying.

One chap who lived upstairs in the hotel would get drunk off his face on the fiendish local brew, and take pot shots at the door with his Colt 45 automatic if anyone knocked - Alfie was amazed at how easy it was to get hold of guns in Saudi Arabia - and Alfie and his mates would bet money on who would have the ‘bottle’ to go up and knock, and brave the chances of getting their head blown off.

Alfie was always an enthusiastic sea fisherman, and so the Red Sea, which was only minutes away, naturally held a special fascination for him. The Red Sea stretches between Africa and Asia, connecting to the ocean in the south through the Gulf of Arden and Bab el Mandeb. To the north, it ends in the Sinai Peninsula, the Gulf of Aqapa, and the Gulf of Suez, which leads out to the Suez canal. It is around 1900 KM in length, and over 300 KM at it’s broadest point. Considered by some to be the most abundantly rich sea on earth, the Red Sea boasts a kaleidoscopic parade of colour and spectacle, containing more than 1100 species of fish, including rays, lion-fish, barracuda, and 44 species of shark.

All this was a dream come true to such a passionate fisherman as Alfie, and so much of his free time was spent cruising the azure waves, waiting for supper to appear.

One blisteringly hot evening, he had persuaded some of his mates to join him on a night-fishing trip. The temperature was far too high for the customary messing-around in the hotel, so the prospect of a cool ocean breeze - and a few onboard beers - was especially appealing. They set out in a fifteen-foot (four metre) boat, with a small outboard motor, and took it out about a quarter of a mile from shore. The ocean was calm, almost flat, and a huge half-moon rose above the dimming twilight. They fished for about an hour, and by now the sky was completely dark, the moon providing the only illumination. They had caught some fish, and had gutted the catch, throwing the debris overboard. One of Alfie’s mates said that he had heard a splash behind the boat, and as they listened, they could hear something about twenty feet behind them. By throwing the fish guts overboard, they had been effectively setting-up a chum line, and Alfie wondered if a shark had taken an interest in their activities. As both tiger sharks and hammerheads are resident in the Red Sea, sailors in small boats have to exercise caution, and Alfie turned his torch on to the surface of the water. He could see a disturbance of splashes and small waves that was moving closer, and they all realised that whatever it was, it was considerably larger than any shark. They had no guns on board, their only potential weapons being the knives they had used to gut the fish.

There was suddenly a huge splash, and their boat was rocked by the displacement of water. They crouched down in the boat, and as they did, an enormous head and neck rose from the sea. Alfie said: “I’ve never been so terrified in my life. I was absolutely sh****g myself. We all just sat back in the boat, and hoped it wouldn’t notice us. It was like a dinosaur. The head was about two feet long, and looked just like a giant snake. It was covered in scales, and the eyes were obviously reptilian, not like a fish at all. It never opened it’s mouth, but you could see the jaws going all the way behind its eyes like a lizard.

The neck was at least ten feet out of the water, and although I had dropped the torch, the beam fell on the neck as it went by, and you could see the muscles standing out. This thing was built like a brick sh**house, and if it had decided to attack, we’d have been finished, but the thing just swam by, as if nothing was happening. It even gave us a look as it went past, as if to say: “What’s the matter with you lot”? As it looked at us, I could see the head straight-on. It was either a giant sea-snake, or something prehistoric. The funny thing was, was that you’d think that it would smell of dead fish, or something horrible, but there was a clean, kind of antiseptic smell that came from it. As it swam away, the head slowly submerged, and it disappeared. None of us saw if there was a body behind the neck like some sort of dinosaur, or if it had a snake-like body, but we got back to shore in about ten seconds flat, and that was the last time I ever went out on the water after dark, or even in the daytime on a small boat.”

Over the years, I have repeatedly asked Alfie about the incident, and his story has never changed. He believes that whatever sort of creature it was, it was attracted by the blood and fish guts that they had thrown overboard, and luckily, when it didn’t find anything recognisably edible, went quietly on it’s way. The Red Sea is home to many large creatures, such as the sea cow and the moray eel, which can achieve a size of three metres in length, but Alfie is an experienced sea fisherman, and I have to trust that he knows what he saw. Besides, sea cows don’t stick their heads out of the water by ten feet, and Alfie swears that the thing he saw would turn any moray eel - which he has caught in the past - into cat food.

As an interesting epilogue to this story. A few months after Alfie had first told me this tale, the late lamented Amicus Films, the company responsible for some of my favourite horror flicks such as Tales From The Crypt and The Vault Of Horror, released The Land That Time Forgot,
from the story by Edgar Rice Burroughs. The production was quite a low-budget affair, with puppet techniques being employed for the dinosaurs rather than stop-motion, and the primeval world of Caprona looking more like Hyde Park than a prehistoric wasteland at the ends of the earth.

But for all that, it wasn’t so bad, with some nice sculptures and model effects, and I’ll go a long way for a dinosaur movie - or so I‘ve been told.

So anyway, it was around Easter-time when the film was released, and we were all watching a film programme - Barry Norman, I think, when what should appear but a clip from The Land That Time Forgot. In the sequence, Doug McClure and some sailors are standing on the deck of a German submarine, when a giant plesiosaur rises from the depths and attacks the men, before being repelled - and killed - by machine-gun fire. As this came on, Alfie pointed at the plesiosaur and said: “That’ s it! That’s the bastard right there! That’s exactly what it looked like!”

Over to you cryptozoology bods, I think…..

OLL LEWIS: Yesterday's News Today

http://cryptozoologynews.blogspot.com/

Good morning, it’s time once again to update you all on the latest happenings on the CFZ daily news blog. Before I do so though, its biscuit of the week time.
This weeks biscuit is the rich tea… only joking, that vile flavourless filth does not even deserve to be classed as a biscuit, honestly calling a rich tea a biscuit is like calling ‘big bang theory’ a comedy; technically it's true, but only because nobody dies at the end. Our true biscuit of the week is the noble Jammy Dodger, revel in its jammy enriched goodness (eat enough jammy dodgers a day and the jam counts as one of those 5 fruit and veg portions a day that the government insist we must eat OR DIE, probably).
Anyway, news:

Spinning Around: The Pup Chasing Its Tail
Novel Electric Signals In Plants Induced By Wounding Plant
Croc wins over shark jaws down
Droppings may shed light on tigers mystery
No scat of hope for tiger
Sheriff investigates cattle shootings
Space Heaters in Caves Could Protect Bats From Mysterious Disease
'Pig Brain Mist' Disease Mystery Concludes
Spider-Killer Wasp, Eyeless Crustacean Found
Monkey mums bow to pester power
Poached skins matched to tigers
Texas-sized tract of single-celled clones
And
'Dracula' fish shows baby teeth

The chance for me to tell vampire related puns twice in a week ‘Haz’ to be ‘Le-stat’isticly improbable at best, but maybe I should just draw an ‘Evanga-line’ under the vampire related stuff for a while as I’m already starting to scrape the barrel, I wouldn’t want anyone reading this to start getting ‘cross’.