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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Saturday, March 28, 2009


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..

This is the third trenche of bird-related clippings and consists of mostly new and rediscovered species from the mid 1990s. A twitcher's delight!


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... (and probably not that much wiser)

When I wrote Monster! The A-Z Of Zooform Phenomena, I realised that as soon as it was published more bizarre ethereal beasts would emerge from cultures across the world. The Netherlands is a greatly ignored country, a place peppered with weird and wonderful folklore pertaining to monsters.

One of my favourite zooform mysteries is the dreaded Osschaart (Osschaard, Osgaard). It is a horrifying ghoul which can take on several forms, but is mainly known for being a humanoid but with the characteristics of a bull and also horse or donkey, making this spook a classic water spirit similar in some instances to the Kelpie. Fishermen are extremely wary of this beast, for those who refuse to throw back their first catch of the night are sure to get a visit from the hideous monster. The ringing of bells, but usually the rattling of chains signifies that the creature is in the vicinity and then, from the shadows the fiend pounces, leaping onto the backs of his victims. No harm ever appears to be done to those who are on the receiving end of the beast, but just like many critters from the realm of nightmares, it seems we learn to respect and certainly fear their presence. Drunkards also seem to be prone to the attacks of the apparition.

Strangely, throughout Dutch folklore there are several apparitions whose intention it seems, is to ‘weigh down’ their victim. Such a sinister motive of course resembles the Mara, which exists in the lore of the Scandinavians as a hag-like nocturnal predator. In Dutch it is the Nachtmerrie, a horse-like beast said to sit on the chests of those during slumber. However, when discussing the Osschaart, researcher Mathijs Kroon, when I asked as to why ‘weight’ plays a major part in monster folklore, answered, “Maybe it has something to do with alcohol. Men left the pub late at night, heavily drunk in total darkness...and started walking back to their small houses in the small villages at the countryside. Legs became too heavy, walking impossible. When they finally reached home, stumbling to their doors, with their angry waiting wives, they blamed some supernatural creature for the long delay!”

Two other folkloric monsters resemble the Osschaart, the Kludde and the Lange Wapper. The former resembles a huge, phantom black bipedal hound which also roams the countryside of Flemish Belgium. It also gives off the sound of rattling chains to warn of its ominous arrival and it is said that no-one can ever outrun the hound and it also takes on the form of a ghastly black bird or large black cat covered in thick hair. It has a relation in West Brabant folklore, the Flodder, a tormenting creature which lives in ditches and ponds and leaps from these hidden places to the backs and shoulders of its victims. Strangely, particularly in Belgian lore, the Lange Wapper also has a dislike for drunken souls and exists as a trickster spook which can take on many forms, and is able to leap over houses. Another devilish form which enjoys weighing down its victims is the Stoep of Gelderland which is said to resemble the Osschaart. Its name translates as ‘short tail’ and the creature can either appear as a werewolf or dog.

To be continued….


I was driving through southern Illinois about five years ago when I saw the most enormous bird I have ever seen. It was a turkey vulture, but itseemed to be about half as big again as normal with a wingspan that I estimated as being about nine feet. This blurry picture is my only evidence, and I have been waiting to find the appropriate place t0 use it. Lindsay's article seems to be that place...

I came across this whilst browsing for something for my Literature Review.( I was avoiding writing it really)
In late September, 1992 as Kim Foley drove home late in the afternoon her two year old son, Jayson shouted, "Mommy, look at the puppy!" What she saw was not a dog, but a large bird hunched over a deer carcass. "I expected to see a dog," she explained. "But it was a very big bird eating a dead deer. It was huge!" she said, "and dark brown, almost black, an ugly beak. Looked right at us in the car, it was that tall." At the time of the sighting she was near Mt. Zion Church cemetery, south of a marsh and North White Deer Ridge in Lycoming County USA.

Thunderbirds inhabit the folklore of many regions, but are more closely associated with certain areas such as Pennsylvania, the Mississippi River valley.(Cryptozoologists use the word "thunderbird" as a convenient term for any abnormally large flying bird ).

Perhaps the most famous tale of the Thunderbird comes from 1977 in Lawndale, Illinois. It was here that on July 25, 1977 towards 9:00 pm a group of three boys were in the backyard. They saw two large birds coming, and as the birds came in closer they went after the boys. Two of the boys escaped, but the third, Marlon Lowe, did not. One of the birds clamped onto his shoulder with its claws and proceeded to lift the ten year old boy about two feet off the ground for a distance of at least 30 yards. With screams of distress calling adults outside and coupled with a series of blows by the 65-pound boy, the bird finally released him. The boy was relatively unharmed, but traumatised. Nothing was ever found as an explanation for this.

Two weeks after Kim Foley’s sighting in 1992 Dave Sims and children, Zach and Casey, saw a large bird , in Clinton County, "It flew ahead of the truck and disappeared in the trees," he said. "I know the hawks around here, but I never saw this one before," Sims continued. "I've heard `thunderbird' stories but chalked that up to regional folklore. I don't know if this was or not, but it was a big, dark gray bird, and flew faster than 55 mph."

So are prehistoric birds roaming the skies of America? There have been tales told for many years by Native Americans of such birds. What about other parts of the world, well the Ropen of New Guinea springs to mind.

Duane Hodgkinson, now a flight instructor in Livingston, Montana, in 1944 was stationed near Finschhafen, in what was then called New Guinea. After he and his friend walked into a clearing, they were amazed as a large creature flew up into the air. The men soon realized that it was no bird that started to circle the clearing. It had a tail “at least ten to fifteen feet long,” (book Searching for Ropens, 2007) and a long appendage at the back of its head: apparently, a live pterosaur. This is not the only story and natives to the area talk of being attacked by giant bats.
So could giant birds from an earlier era be responsible for these attacks? The Thunderbird could be a sort of very large eagle , like the sea eagle and the Ropen could be giant bats, so both species are feasible. There have been stories of large eagles carrying away small livestock so they could lift a child. Still though, the thought of a pterosaur, still alive, is so exciting and would truly be a wonder of the world, if unlikely.


The CFZ is a very broad church. Its membership and associates include three Peers of the Realm (two of whom are distantly related to the Royal family), various eminent scientists, famous authors and researchers, at least two rock stars and a plethora of less famous musicians, lots of artists, more computer programmers than you can shake a stick at, various second hand book dealers, at least four publishers, two convicted drug dealers (one of whom who is in prison as we speak), at least three other inmates of prisons in the UK or the USA, three ex members of the IRA, several people with far right wing affiliations, four Christian priests/padres/vicars/preachers, an imam, members of at least seven religions, and Lord knows how many ethnic groups, and people ranging in age from eleven to 87. We also have a male stripper.

Now, what a person does in his or her private life is none 0f my affair, and quite a few of the people listed above are close friends of mine, and as far as the stripper is concerned - I have known him since he was in his late teens.

The only reason that he and his profession are mentioned here on the bloggo on this particular saturday night is because he has written a book about his adventures, and how he has used his stripping career to finance his cryptozoological researches, and although not for the faint hearted, it is a surprisingly good read.

Nick is a good writer, and I have been publishing his work in Animals & Men and the CFZ Yearbooks for years now. Indeed we are planning to publish another book of his, about zoological predators (I had to promise Corinna that he would keep his kit on in the cover picture) later this year.

It gives a dispassionate account of a world that most of us never knew existed and a lifestyle that I cannot imagine, but one is left with the impression of a decent man (albeit a decent man with more than the average amount of demons) who has adopted a non-standard lifestyle in order to do non-standard things with his life. It is jaw-dropping at times, and tells me more than I wished to know about the life of someone that I have considered a friend ever since the CFZ started, but I am glad that I read it.



Nick Redfern sent us this a few weeks ago. Cannock Chase seems to be one of those strange window areas which occur across the globe, where far more than average strange things seem to happen. Those cynics who believe that this paradigm is directly related to trhe presence in an area of a diligent researcher should perhaps eat their words on remembering that Redders has been living in Texas for years now.

So herewith, without any comments, is a report of a strange flying man from this intriguing part of rural Staffordshire. Will this be the first of many such sightings? Or will it prove to be a one-off.

GLEN VAUDREY: The phantom rabbit of Crank

Glen is one of the newer additions to the bloggo family. He wrote to me out of the blue last year to ask wherther we wanted a Western Isles volume in our Mystery Animals of Britain series. We argeed that we did indeed want one, and commissioned him. What we were not expecting was such a bloody good writer and all round nice guy, who - by the way - is writing several other volumes for us...

While searching around for reports for the Mystery Animals of Lancashire book I came across a tale of a most terrible apparition that is said to haunt the lanes of the delightfully named hamlet of Crank. While some areas are subject to the prowling of mystery big cats and others suffer the paw prints of phantom hounds Crank on the other hand gets a white rabbit. Not a giant talking rabbit but a vengeful doom-foretelling bunny.

Like many a phantom dog this zooform has its own legendary foundation. The story goes that way back in the 17th century there was a nameless old woman who occupied a hovel within the hamlet of Crank which she shared with her daughter Jenny and Jenny’s pet rabbit. Fitting for the time the old woman was soon branded a witch by a neighbouring farmer by the name of Pullen who was convinced that he had been bewitched by her. Local belief had it that by drawing blood from the witch the spell would be broken and it was to this end that Pullen and his accomplice Dick Piers broke into the old woman’s cottage. Rather clumsily they awoke Jenny with the racket as they attempted to cut the old woman’s arm, not wanting to hang around Jenny ran off into the night taking her rabbit with her. She was pursued by Piers and while she managed to evade capture she succumbed to exhaustion and was found dead in the chapel. Her white rabbit didn’t fare much better as it was beaten to death. Of course just because you’ve beaten the bunny to pulp it doesn’t mean that it won’t come after you.

It was only a month later when the white rabbit appeared and started to follow Piers around the hamlet eventually being held responsible for driving him to commit suicide in Billinge Hill quarry. But the vengeful bunny wasn’t finished there as it now set about hounding Pullen who was to be seen being pursued across the fields until he died frightened and exhausted by the chase.

While the white rabbit may not be a headless hell hound it is still rumoured to haunt the area foretelling doom upon its sighting, but I wonder if this particular zooform has really anything to do with the little old lady or if she was just an invention to explain the presence of the ghostly white rabbit.


Just received:
"This morning, 25th. March, I received the not unexpected dreaded telephone call from Tony's wife, Pauline, to tell me the sad news of Tony's peaceful passing just about midnight yesterday. He had been looked after at home by Pauline and family coupled with professional nursing care, since last August when he was diagnosed with a terminal brain tumour.For those wishing to know of the funeral arrangements, it will take place next Tuesday, the 31st. of March at 12.45 at the Parish Church of Linton which is close by Grassington, Nr. Skipton, North Yorkshire."

OLL LEWIS: Yesterday’s News Today


Your patience has been rewarded for today, as well as the cryptozoology news update from the CFZ daily news blog, is tea of the week day. This weeks tea is first flush Darjeeling and if you’re ever in London I recommend popping into Harrods for this, it is one of the teas their plantations do particularly well. Anyway news, there’s a lot of it today:

Germany's Stone Age Cannibalism
Prehistoric-looking fish hooked by stunned schoolboy
Millions of fish shoal in seconds
Crabs 'sense and remember pain'
Bid to aid daddy longlegs numbers
Shepherds reveal viral ad secrets
Third cattle mutilation found in county
Mutilated Cows Still A Big Mystery
USA TV focus on new Nessie mystery
Toxic toads targeted in Australia's 'Toad Day Out'
Rabid bobcat walks into bar, attacks patrons
So monsters of the deep really could exist!
Elephant angel mystery solved
Mystery solved of elephant in Belfast back yard
Shaun gets a scare from 'alien' catfish

Scared by a catfish, eh? What a ‘pussy’.