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 30, 2009


There is a bear in Rendlesham Forest, or so says The East Anglian Daily Times.

"At least three people claim to have seen the grizzly beasts in the forest within the last week, although bears are not native to Britain. [...]

One of those who saw the creature is Jenny Pearce who said: "I was on the green at Rendlesham Forest having a picnic with my three-year-old son and his friend's family. After the picnic we stayed to play and explore the woods. While we were in the forest I saw a large animal moving through the trees ahead. i thought it was a big dog, so I picked up my son because he has never really got into dogs and gets easily scared. But as it continued away from us it was clearly not a dog. It was much bigger and there wasn't anyone there to be walking it if it was a large dog."

It will not surprise anyone to hear that I have been to Rendlesham Forest on a number of occasions. Anyone who went to the 2002, 2006 or 2007 Weird Weekends will know that Larry Warren, probably the most famous UFO contactee in modern Britain is a personal friend of mine and so is his erstwhile partner in crime Peter Robbins. And nearly anyone who has more than a passing interest in the subject will know that Larry was once a USAF Sergeant at the long defunt Air Base at Bentwaters, where in 1980 the most famous British UFO case of all time took place.

But that's not what interests me most about Rendlesham.

The area between Orford Ness and Rendlesham Forest in Suffolk is a very strange place. As well as being one of the most eastern points in the British Isles it has also been the focus for a wide range of bizarre paranormal activity. Writing in the 13th Century, Ralph of Coggeshall, described a "wild man" caught in fishing nets off Orford Castle. This creature who like so many contemporary sightings of humanoids seen in conjunction with UFOs was seemingly equally at home on land and at sea, lived at the castle for several months. The wild man is not the only item of cryptozoological interest from the Rendlesham area. The lanes of the area are reputedly haunted by giant spectral black dogs (like the one seen by Lady Rendlesham in Leiston Churchyard at the end of the nineteenth century), that pad malevolently but silently along. An even more disturbing spectre called the shug monkey, which is described by witnesses as an unholy combination of mastiff and great ape is also seen on occasion, and in recent years the forest has also been the haunt of mysterious black ‘panthers’.

An ex-girlfriend of mine - an East Anglian paranormal researcher - was in possession of some video tape which showed the paw print of some huge animal - like that of a cat or a dog, but far bigger and with strange flattened finger nails rather than claws. She thought that it was a print from an alien big cat of some description, but my immediate thought was of the semi-mystical ‘shug monkey’. When I later found that my friend and colleague Jan Scarff who was brought up in the vicinity of the air bases also knew about the so-called ‘shug-monkey’ I became even more interested, and I have been collecting reports for some years. Nick Redfern also writes about the shug monkey in Three Men seeking Monsters and between us we have built up a convincing image of a large, dark coloured shambling beast which is presumably zooform in nature.

So, did Jenny Pearce see a bear? I suppose it is a possibility. Bears have been reported in the UK over the years; in the most recent edition of Animals & Men writes about London `Bear Scares`. Bears have escaped from captivity and lived wild in the UK before now. One was reported for some years from the Wychwood in Oxfordshire. But as the legislation surrounding private animal keepers is tightened up, the chances of bears being released from captivity into the wilds of Suffolk recedes. There is always the ever present spectre of `canned hunting` - a barbaric and completely vile practrise whereby animals are realeased into the wild purely so some moron with a gun can shoot them for a trophy, but despite claims over the years, no concrete evidence has ever been presented to us for bears being used for this horrid purpose in the UK.

One researcher who shall remain nameless claimed to me about ten years ago that so many bears had been released into parts of mid Wales that there were "organised bear hunts" held every weekend. But he was an idiot, and I will not dignify his ridiculous claims by discussing them further.

No, I have a gut feeling that the creature that has been reported on three occasions in the last week is something far less tangible, and far less easy to catch. It is, I strongly suspect, the return of the shug monkey, some ten years after its last spate of appearances. I wonder what else may be about to make a comeback.

The game is afoot.

The picture, by the way, is of part of Bentwaters Air Force Base (now demolished) which was taken by me in 1997, and exposed all wrong. However, I have always liked the spookiness of it and waited for a chance to use it..



Copyright theft is neither big nor clever boys and girls. At l;east it isn't when you don't get away with it. I have spent much of today re-editing last October's `On the Track` to remove the offending piece of music.

And - for the record - here is Gram Parsons and Emmylou Harris singing `Love Hurts` - the song which caused all the problems in the first place

I will do episode 12 either later today or tomorrow, but I hope that this is not going to become a re-0ccurent motif every time I pinch music for OTT. If so, I will have to go completely legit and that goes against the grain of my copyright liberating heart..

High Fashion Crypto


I want to thank Stephanie from the Facebook Cryptozoology group for the following story, because - despite what you may have heard - I do not spend my days wandering about girl's fashion websites in search of a story. However, I think that the items in this young lady's online store are very impressive. She writes:

"Hi -- My name is Erika and this is my store.I sell hand-screenprinted shirts; I cut every design out by hand and stencil them personally. Every shirt is different and unique.At the moment I'm creating shirts of extinct creatures, printed on garments which are either 100% organic or rescued from a thrift store -- I try to lessen the impact I have on the environment as much as possible.Since making every shirt takes a lot of time, the number of custom orders I can make are very limited. That doesn't mean that I don't do them, though; please message me or email me at rubyseeds@gmail.com for details."

They include images of quaggas (like the one above), passenger pigeons and thylacines, and to my mind (bearing in mind that I am an old git who is nearly fifty, who's wife and stepdaughters say has no fashion sense whatsoever) they are charming. Check them out, and tell them that the CFZ sent you.

RICHARD FREEMAN: Thylacine Cave Art and Sightings

The thylacine aka Tasmanian wolf aka Tasmanian tiger was chosen as the CFZ's emblem with good reason. Gerald Durrell chose the dodo as the symbol of the Jersy Wildlife Preservation Trust because it was an emblem of extinction - we chose the thylacine as an emblem of survival.

Officially classed as extinct, there is little doubt that the beast is still around. Film, photos and literally thousands of witnesses make the thylacine the healthest extinct' animal around.

Last September some Aborigional art work depicting this amazing marsupial carnivore was uncovered. Archeologist Ken Mulvaney has found no less than 12 thylacine carvings along a 20km strech of the Pilbara Coast of Western Australia.

The state Government had lodged strong opposition to proposed National Heritage listing to protect the rock art. It had cited “grave consequences” for Australia’s largest resource project, the North West Shelf LNG planton the peninsula.

But Mr Mulvaney, who is also president of the Australian Rock Art Research Association, said the rock art needed urgent legal protection from industrial expansion and acid rain that was eroding rock surfaces.

“You cannot say any of the art is safe, and we don’t know what other carvings are out there because no survey has been done in areas earmarked by the WA Government for industrial estates,” he said..

Mr Mulvaney said it was cultural vandalism to continue promoting industry in an area where the world’s greatest rock art had been created over a 20,000-year period. “The Burrup continues to reveal highly significant petroglyphs, both in a scientific and aesthetic sense,” he said.

There was a spate of sightings on the outskirts of Portland in 2006 /7. One witness, Portland resident, Anthony Ersello, who saidhe saw a strange dog-like animal sitting in the middle of the Princes Highway on the outskirts of town near the Shell service station.

“I’d been walking home from a party, had one beer and was walking home when I saw it on the road sitting in the middle of the intersection. It kept staring into the distance and then looked at me,”.
The animal had a pointed face, chunky shoulders, stripes and its hind was long and lean.“I wanted to take a photo with my phone but it had been raining and the wet road made a reflection. I got to about 15 metres then it ran into the bushes.I didn’t know what it was. It looked like a bit of a dog but it didn’t really look like one.”

Another Portland resident, who did not want to be identified, reported two separate thylacine sightings in the past year and believed the tigers regularly crossed farms and pups had been spotted.

In December 2007, Portland woman, Robyn Nagorcka shot 30 seconds of video footage of a brown, dog like animal with stripes along it's hindquarters.

Some have tried to pass the film off as a fox with mange but a still from the film shown in the Hamilton Spectator shows an animal with a thick, stiff tail and kangaroo like hind legs.I It even appears to have the distinctive muscles on the lower jaw. Ms Ms Nagorcka herself said it was too big to be a fox and was he size of an alsation dog.

If any further analysis on the footage has been done, we have not heard about it.

OLL LEWIS:Yesterday’s News Today


The CFZ daily cryptozoology news blog has been updated and it is my sworn duty, nay quest, to bring these updates to you in the form of a blogo article in the form of little blue links, a movie recommendation and a bad pun. This weeks recommended movie is Darkman http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0099365/ and yesterday’s cryptozoology news was:

Jack Horner's Plan to Bring Dinosaurs Back to Life
Spanish town cancels bullfighting
'War' on poisonous Australia toad

Ask not for whom the bell ‘toads’ it ‘toads’ for thee…


When writing these pages I often feel like an old-fashioned harbinger of doom - like one of those
sad old blokes who used to hang around outside Leicester Square Tube Station brandishing a
placard which informed the world that “The End is Nigh!”.

Many fish species that have become extinct within the last few years. Sadly, the list continues to grow each year. But it’s not all doom and gloom; new species are discovered regularly, and species thought to be extinct are also sometimes

The Dwarf Loach, Chain Botia, or Chain Loach (Yasuhikotakia sidthimunki, formerly Botia
) is a popular freshwater tropical fish in aquariums and belongs to to the Cobitidae family. It grows up to 3in in captivity, and 5in in the wild. It prefers water with temperature 77 to 86F (25 - 30C), pH 6.5 to 6.9 dGH to 8.0. It is omnivorous with diets including live crustaceans, insects, snails, etc. The Dwarf Loach is found in the Mae Klong river and River Kwai, Western Thailand. This species is endangered and is a protected species in Thailand. It was thought to be extinct in the wild until recently rediscovered in Sangkhla Buri.

Algansea barbata, the Lerma chub, is found in the headwaters of the headwaters of the Rio Lerma, Mexico. Algansea barbata was last collected in 1964, and last seen only eight years later, but its extinction was not suggested until 1998. However eight specimens (five males and three
females) of Algansea barbata Alvarez and Cortés, 1964 were caught in a lateral channel to Rio Sila, Tiacaque, Jocotitlán, State of Mexico (19º 40' N and 99º 42' W) in April of 1999. This extends the known range for the species in the State of Mexico toward the most southern population's northeast limit (13 Km to the NE of Ixtlahuaca, on highway 55, NNW of Toluca, State of Mexico) and it is the first record since 1972

The parasitic Miller Lake Lamprey (Lampetra minima) was thought to have gone Extinct in
about 1958. This was as a result of a deliberate chemical treatment of Miller Lake (the only
known location at the time) to exterminate this species to prevent predation on introduced trout fingerlings. However, in 1992, an adult lamprey collected in the Williamson River was identified as L. minima, and, in 1996, unidentified lamprey were collected in Miller Creek, the outflow stream of Miller Lake. Subsequent surveys in the summers of 1997–1999 reconfirmed the species extinction in Miller Lake but lead to the discovery of several subpopulations of L. minima within and outside the Miller Lake sub-basin (Lorion et al. 2000).

The rediscovery of this species was only brought to the attention of the IUCN Red List Programme in 2004. It is provisionally listed as Data Deficient - pending a reassessment of its status.

Formerly thought to be endemic to Miller Lake (16km northeast of Mt. Thielson), Klamath County, Oregon. Recent surveys documented subpopulations in Miller Creek, Jack Creek, and the upper sections of the Williamson and Sycan rivers (Lorion et al. 2000).

In 2002 biologists with Conservation Fisheries, Inc. (CFI), a Knoxville-based non-profit organization, recently found a single specimen of the slender chub while conducting a fish survey in northeast Tennessee. This find is the culmination of years of hitherto-fruitless searching.
"We were ecstatic," said Pat Rakes, co-director of CFI, "It's a wonderful feeling to be out there for so long, searching and searching, and then coming up with something."

The slender chub, a federally protected fish, is known only from the Clinch and Powell Rivers in
northeast Tennessee and southwest Virginia. It was last seen in the Clinch River in the mid-
1990s; it hasn't been seen in the Powell River since the early 1980s.

The lone fish, about the length of a human finger, is now in an aquarium at CFI's headquarters,
eating voraciously, while biologists hope to find a mate to begin the propagation process. The biologists at CFI have been key players in efforts to restore the aquatic biodiversity of the
Southern Appalachians. Their Knoxville facility, with its numerous aquariums full of rare and
imperilled fishes, is the site of captive propagation efforts being carried out for numerous fish species.

A rare fish that had not been seen by scientists for over 50 years has been rediscovered in
Auckland, New Zealand. The threatened Black mudfish, Neochanna diversus, is listed on the
current IUCN Redlist for fishes, but hasn't been seen since shortly after the species was originally described in 1949. However, a recent survey of the Te Henga and Tomarata wetlands revealed a population of Neochanna diversus alive and well.

Grant Barnes, Project Leader for Auckland Regional Council's State of Environment monitoring programme says that the new discovery of Neochanna says a lot about the health of the ecosystem. He told the news website Scoop: "Freshwater fish are sensitive to a wide range of environmental impacts such as habitat loss, pollution and sedimentation."

Neochanna diversus is a galaxiid, and a member of the Osmeriformes order. It gets its common name from its ability to spend part of the year in a state of aestivation when its pool dries up.

So it ain’t all doom and gloom. The natural world still has plenty of surprises in store for
us. Watch this space...


It was Matt Osborne that first alerted me to the fact that there was a problem with On The Track - our monthly webTV show. He wrote to me over the weekend. Did I know that the soundtracks had been removed fron the episodes?

I panicked, rushed to YouTube, and checked the last few episodes. Everything was OK. Feeling smug, I wrote back to Matty and said so, but this morning he wrote back and told me to check out #12 (September 2008). The soundtrack has indeed been removed from this and #13 for copyright violation.

It is true, and to be quite honest I can do nothing about it. Mea Culpa. I decided to use Gram Parson's `Love Hurts` to accompany my piece about the loss of Tessie (the CFZ doggie Mk 2), and "Warren Zevon's `Mr Bad Example` for the Georgia Bigfoot debacle. On both occasions I did not apply for copyright clearance and I deserve what I got. I have been doing this for ages and I thought that I could get away with it.

So, apologies for the temporary glitch in service. I will be re-editing both episodes to remove the hooky music, and hopefully normal service will be resumed relatively soon.