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...


Saturday, March 14, 2009

from tony lucas

Uncle Jon has a cold alright
Poor old chap's one hell of a sight.
I'm sure after Corinna's ministations and care
Jon's postings will be back to their usual Flair.


It's sunday morning, at this point in time,
everyone seems to be talking in rhyme,
so rather than commit some bad social sin
I suppose that I had better join in
Helen Lester email'd me last night
with the URL of this website
No Jokes about the License Fee,
'cos the CFZ have made the BBC!



Thanks to Gail-Nina Anderson

LINDSAY SELBY: The Devil Went Down to Woolsery

The devil went down to Woolsery
Jon Downes and co were in hot pursuit
They sought it here, they sought it there
Following the devil's boots

The trail went on for yards
Prints dotted here and yon
A hoax was on the cards
I think I know the answer cried Jon

A fox, a deer, followed by a rabbit or two
Gave the appearance of the devil's shoe
With that he and his band of Fortean types
Went back to the pub and had a few pints.

A bit of bad poetry to lighten the weekend lol


FROM OUR ARCHIVES: Large Copper at Kendal Museum

Another one from the archived of the CFZ Picture Library, and this time a sad one. Some weeks ago Fleur got all emotional at writing about her feelings on handling the leg bone of a long extinct aurochs. Here is a long extinct British butterfly, and what makes it worse is that it is one of the few species, the extinction of which can be blamed largely on over collecting by zealous naturalists.

Apologies to all...

I have never made any secret of the fact that I am disabled, not of the fact that my health is slowly but inexorably deteriorating. I have been unwell for the last few days, and although it is nothing particularly serious, only a coldy thing of some sort, it shows no sign of abating.

So forgive me for not firing on all four cylinders at the moment. I feel lousy and have spent quite a lot of the last few days in bed, and indeed I am going back to bed in a few minutes. If you have written to me over the past few days, forgive me for not having replied yet.

I expect that I shall be back on track in a few days time......


A very young (and quite thin) looking Jon Downes from 1995, talking about the black dogs of Buckfastleigh to Ruth Langsford...


Oll has been jolly busy and the latest set of scanned news clippings and other stuff from the Archiving Project is ready for you to download HERE should you want to..

It is the first lot of archives concerning birds...


I have been a supporter, and - until NatWest screwed up my bank accounts a year or so back - a member of the Tortoise Trust for more years than I care to remember. Probably for longer than there has been a CFZ. I always do what I can to support them, so it is goodd to be able to publicise their new forum...

We are very pleased to announce that the new Tortoisetrust Forum is now online.

We have had many requests to do this, but until recently, did not feel the time was quite right. We wanted to make sure that when we did do it, it would perform to a high standard and would be easy and reliable in use. We would like to thank our secret beta-testers who have made sure everything works and have helped us to develop a forum that the Tortoise Trust can be proud of.

Just a few words about what we expect of users.

This is a forum to discuss all aspects of tortoise care, conservation, and captive breeding. It has many useful facilities including personal private mailboxes, and allows inline images and photos, etc. If you have used forums before, you should find it fairly intuitive.

It is (sadly) necessary to point out that bad behaviour on this forum, of any kind, will not be tolerated. In fact, our moderators have a zero-tolerance policy which is to be strictly enforced. We want this to be a safe and educational resource. Those persons who are banned from Tortoise Trust mailing lists are also banned from the forum. A full list of the rules can be read in the Tortoise Trust Announcements section on the new forum itself. You can argue and debate all manner of tortoise topics politely until you turn blue in the face - but if the air turns
blue you will be history.

We will gradually be adding in new features and resources over the next few weeks. We have some interesting things planned that we think will make this a really useful new site, quite different from anything else currently available. It is also the only forum where you can receive "official" support and advice direct from the Tortoise Trust.

Two areas of the site are access by password only. One is an areas for exclusive use of our rehoming volunteers. The other is the new Algerian and Tunisian tortoise studbook/captive breeding support group. We will be making a fresh announcement about these areas shortly and those who need access will then receive the relevant passwords.

The new forum is now online: www.tortoisetrustforum.org

Take a look around (you can view, but not post as a guest) and if you like it, register. You will then have access to posting privileges and messaging, etc. Al memberships have to be manually approved (to guard against spammers, etc.) so there might be a short delay between applying and your account being activated. We do expect you to use your REAL NAME on this forum. False ID's and multiple personalities are prohibited. Our view is that we always put our names to what we say, and we expect the same in return. It is only polite.


Andy Highfield



It is always a pleasure to introduce you to a new Guest Blogger. Gwilym James first impacted onto the cryptoverse (hey, I think I invented a new term there, and if something as ungainly as `blogosphere` can become international parlance, then I am sure that `cryptoverse` can become the accepted term for the er... cryptoo, universey place thingy) when he became involved in a hunt for a crocodile in Swansea last year...

Back when I was engaged in hunting the elusive Swansea crocodile in 2008 a hunt which resulted in no solid evidence but did produce some media interest, amongst the various reports I received concerning the lake was the idea that a large eel seen in the lake by a local angler was behind the sighting.

Giant eels are an ongoing element in many of the weird lake monster stories in the UK. Suggestions that Nessie is one or more particularly large eels has been made a number of times over the years and the CFZ’s Richard Freeman is a prominent supporter of this idea of monstrous eunuch eels. The CFZ made an expedition in search of large eels in the Lake District in Windermere and Coniston water recounted in Eel or No Eel and Oll Lewis heard reports of monster eels in Langorse Lake as well.

A glance back through the historical record reveals that some rather large eels have been caught in the past in the UK and I thought I would gather some here. The current angling UK Eel Record: 11lb 2oz (5.03kg) [www.specimen-angler.co.uk]. This compares nicely to the report by Frank Buckland.

“The largest fresh-water eel I ever examined and cast was a magnificent specimen sent in May, 1878, by Mr. John Welch, eel salesmen, Billingsgate. It measured 4ft. 4in. in length, 10in. round and weighed just upon 10lbs. It was taken in the river Mole.” in "Natural History of British Fishes" (1880).

This eel is put to shame by the evidence seen by William Yarrell noted in "A History of British Fishes" (1836):

“I saw at Cambridge the preserved skins of two which weighed together fifty pounds; the heaviest twenty-seven pounds, the second twenty-three pounds. They were taken on draining a fen-dyke at Wisbeach.”

East Anglian Fen eels and indeed pike were previously well known for their size and abundance. As an old rhyme says:

Ankholme eels and Witham Pike,
In all England are nane syke.

Further proof of this comes from The Annual Register, 1827 p.30:

“Large Eels.—Two fishermen exhibited last week at Peterborough and some neighbouring places, two immensely large smelt eels, male and female, which were taken in Gunthorpe Gowt [Gunthorpe Sluice] in the parish of Tidd St. Mary, Lincolnshire. The male weighed 31 lb.., was 19 inches in circumference, and five feet three inches in length: the female weighed two stone, was 18 inches in circumference, and of the same length as the male. It is supposed that these two immense creatures had inhabited a cavity in a drain, near to the place where they were taken, for many years, and that the last hot and dry summer having forced them from their old haunt, they strayed into the salt water, and there became sick and blind, in which state they were captured.—Macclesfield Herald.”

Now this report is about triple the current UK eel angling record. Who knows what other monster eels are out there?

The recent post by TONY LUCAS: Giant eels in New Zealand shows how monster eels have been important in other cultures. There are signs this may have been the case once in the UK for at a Holy Well Ffynnon Gybi, or St. Cybi's Well, in the parish of Llangybi, Gwynedd in the nineteenth century a local remembered the fuss when “one day in the village at a mischievous person having taken a very large eel out of the well. Many of the old people, he said, felt that much of the virtue of the well was probably taken away with the eel. To see it coiling about their limbs when they went into the water was a good sign: so he gave one to understand.” Celtic Folklore: Welsh and Manx By John Rhys [1900] Given that Holy Wells are believed to be connected to sites of pagan worship this evidence is interesting giving rise to notions of strange rites of ancient druidic eel worship.


Continuing with a tried and tested formula, here is another photograph from my favourite weird museum in downtown San Antonio. Skulls of the three largest land animals; the rhino, elephant and hippo, repose side by side on a table at the Buckhorn Museum. However, once again, the image sparked the imagination of young Freeman...
"In times past the skull and bones of extinct megafauna have been interpreted as belonging to dragons, giants and other legendary beasts.

According to legend a dragon haunted Klagenfurt (the ford of lament) until it was killed by the Duke of Carinthia who used a bull's carcass studded with iron spikes as bait. The dragon’s skull was unearthed in 1353 and put on display in the town hall. I was not until 1840 that palaeontologist Franz Unger identified it as the skull of a woolly rhinoceros.

Apollonis of Tyana, a first century traveller records Asia as being full of dragons both in the mountains and swamps. The monsters had gemstones in their heads. He wrote of seeing many dragon skulls preserved in ‘Paraka’ (probably modern Peshawar).

What he may have seen were fossil skulls of large animals such as the 25 foot crocodile Leptorrhynchus crassidens and the extinct giraffes Sivatherium giganteum. The bone may well have been replaced by selenite crystals giving rise to the idea of precious stones in the beast’s heads.

Another legendary beat, the griffon may have it’s origins in even older fossils.

Folklorist and science historian Adrienne Mayor suggests that fossil skeletons of Protoceratops and other beaked dinosaurs, found by ancient Scythian nomads who mined gold in the Tian Shan and Altai Mopuntains of Central Asia, may have given rise to stories of the griffin. Griffins were described as lion-sized quadrupeds with large claws and a eagle-like beak; they laid their eggs in nests on the ground.

Greek writers began describing the griffin around 675 B.C., at the same time the Greeks first made contact with Scythians. Griffins were described as guarding the gold deposits in the arid hills and red sandstone formations of the wilderness. The region of Mongolia and China where many Protoceratops fossils are found is rich in gold runoff from the neighboring mountains, lending some credence to the theory that these fossils were the basis of griffin myths.
Another Greek myth was that of the Cyclops, a race of one eyed giants, the most famous of which, Ployphemus, was tackled by the hero Odysseus. The notion of one eyesd giants may have come from the early descovery of the skulls of fossil pigmy elephants. These cow sized creaures live on a number of Mediterranean islands including Cyprus, Malta, Crete, Sicily, Sardinia, the Cyclades Islands and the Dodecanese Islands. The skull is vaugley human-shaped and the tusks were mistaken for fangs. The nasal opening in the elepghant’s skull, were the trunk muscles attach, looks, to the layman like a huge eye socket.

Dinosaur bones may have given rise to the idea that Chinese dragon shed and regrow their bones along with their skin. Dinosaur bones were ground up and used as medicine
, the dragon being a sacred animal in China. Different coloured bones were used to make medicine for dfferent parts of the body. In 1916 Irwin J O’Mally and he British Consul M Hewlett were shown a dragon skeleton at a cave called Shen K’a Tzu (the holy shrine) along the Ichang Gorge. His description of the 70 foot skeleton is transparently that of a sauropod dinosaur

OLL LEWIS: Yesterday's News Today


It’s time for the CFZ daily news blog update once more and there are quite a lot of stories to go through today. Before I do so there is the most important matter of this weeks recommended tea; this week it is Assam tea.

Early 'Peking Man' was older, colder, study says
Chimps use geometry to navigate the jungle
Unique coastal wolves merit protection, study concludes
Study Shows Human Sounds May Harm Or Kill Fish
Wind Turbines May Force Zoo To Close
Did someone mention Jaws? Zoologist swims with Lioness
Monkeys 'teach infants to floss'
Zoo denies plans to feed hippos to tigers
Nagging bird keeps sticking her beak in
Used couch came with furry stowaway
Sasquatch expert following footprint discovery
Sasquatch linked to mysterious footprints
The truth ... is furry?
Bigfoot sightings keep the legend alive in Michigan
Hen adopts puppies

How cute, I bet those puppies are ‘cock’-a-hoop with their new mum.