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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Sunday, April 05, 2009

NIGEL WRIGHT: How a stray UFOlogist wandered into the CFZ World

Following the recent excellent series, recounting one persons entry into the world of the weird weekends, I thought it might be fun to recall how I, as a simple, innocent ufologist, managed to enter the quite extraordinary world that the crew of the CFZ inhabit!!..For those of you that may be of a nervous disposition fear not! This report does not contain references to any un-earthly demons or even Tony Blair!..

Let us begin...

It all began, as most life-changing moments do, with a simple act. It was the spring of 1997. I was a cabbie in Exmouth, passing away another boring afternoon shift by listening to the radio, between radio call outs. BBC Radio Devon was broadcasting a series of spots entitled “Weird about the West”. This particular day the subject matter was UFO’s over the area. Now that WAS my bag! (As they say)

I had been “into” ufology since childhood, following an encounter with a UFO near Plympton, whilst on a caravanning holiday with my parents. The guest speaker began his piece, and to be totally honest, I was not really too impressed by the talk. I cannot recall now what it was that I did not agree with, but it must have been something important to me, because, for the first time in my entire life, I felt strongly enough about it that I stopped at the nearest phone box, and left my customer in my taxi as I rang up the studio number to complain, and make my point over the subject matter.

To my surprise, I really got on with the guest speaker, and when he invited me to come up to his place in Exeter to discuss the matter I was only too pleased to accept. So, after I had finished my call I returned to my taxi, and my none-too pleased customer!

The next customer cancelled their trip, and so I radioed in my boss, and took the rest of the day off, due to a make believe family crisis. I dashed to the address in Exeter, which the guest speaker had given me on the phone. I arrived to find a neat row of modern houses. Having arrived at the number I was very disappointed to fine no-one in!. Determined to have my say, I decided to stay put, and so I encamped myself on the doorstep, armed with my paperback and my trusty pack of fags!...

So engrossed was I in my book, that I did not notice the tall, thin man that suddenly appeared over me. “Hummn!..Hi!” he said, his voice had a slightly posh, and yet, friendly twang to it. I explained who I was, and what I was doing there, littering up their doorstep with my dog ends! I found out from him that his name was Graham, and that he was number two in the CFZ. Then, from around the top of the steps, came a tower of a guy, who, with his long hair and beard, somewhat put the fear of God up me! “You must be Nigel” he asked in a very refined and educated voice. So, that is how Jon and I first met, and the rest as they say, is history!. I went on to spend more and more time with the guys, and eventually became a full-time member of the crew. Over the years Jon and I have had many a fall out, but he and indeed the rest of the crew remain some of the nicest people I have ever met, and a pleasure to call my friends!. See what listening to the radio can do for you!!!!


I dunno how we missed these ones, but as regular readers will know, the last few days have not been the easiest that we have experienced since the beginning of the CFZ. However, when we did our round up of April Fool's jokes for this year we missed the two best:

A paper by Dr Daz, entitled Recently discovered late-surviving carnivorous reptiles probably explain the origin of the dragon myth can be found at the following page on the increasingly excellent Tetzoo blog:


It starts:

It has often been proposed that large reptiles, such as monitor lizards and crocodiles, might have provided the origin for the dragon myths of the world. There might be some truth to this, but the possibility that rather more spectacular reptiles might have played a contributing role is rather more plausible. Confirmation for this hypothesis comes from Hypoblanpied whartoni, described in 2003 from the Pleistocene of France (Freeman 2003).

It is gloriously convincing and full of in-jokes which would do a lot to fool most people not in the know. Well done dude..

The second great cryptojoke this April was pubished by Birdchick and can be found:


Long believed to be extinct,--the Carolina Parakeet, North America's only member of the parrot family -- has been discovered in the Rio Platano Biosphere Reserve in the Mosquitia region of northeastern Honduras. A photo of a Carolina Parakeet researchers named "Coqueta" now living in captivity in Honduras.A little fewer than 100 years after the last confirmed sighting of the species in the United States, a research team today announced that a small non-migratory population survives in vast areas of neotropical forest in Honduras.

This was so well done, I was convinced until I realised not only the date, but the fact the the accompanying photograph was a Jenday Conure that had been photoshopped.

Bloody brilliant, both of you


Japanese artist Katsushika Hokusai painted the picture Dream of a Fisherman’s Wife in 1820. The picture depicts a beautiful Japanese woman being sexually ravaged by a giant octopus. It may seem strange to westerners, but it is not an unusual image for Japanese culture, because somehow octopi have a hold on the Japanese imagination.
Several monster octopi turn up in their legends


In the legends of the Ainu people, the original inhabitants of Japan, this was a monster resembling a giant octopus or fish. It lurked in Funka Bay and adjacent waters off southwestern Hokkaido.

The 19th century Englishman and missionary John Batchelor, who lived among the Ainu , wrote firsthand a journal entry of an alleged actual incident concerning an apparent Akkorokamui in his book The Ainu and their Folklore.
In the morning, we found the whole village under a cloud. Three men, it was said, were out trying to catch swordfish, when all at once a great sea monster, with large staring eyes, appeared in front of them and proceeded to attack the boat. A desperate fight ensued. The monster was round in shape, and emitted a dark fluid and noxious odor. The three men fled in dismay, not so much indeed for fear, they say, but on account of the dreadful smell. However that may have been, they were so scared that the next morning all three refused to get up and eat; they were lying in their beds pale and trembling.
Another old 19th century account was made by a Japanese fisherman and was translated by cryptozoologist Brent Swancer.
And I saw ahead something huge and red undulating under the waves. I at first thought my eyes deceived me and that I was merely seeing the reflection of sun upon the water, but as I approached, I could see that in fact it was an enormous monster, 80 meters in length at least, with large, thick tentacles as big around as a man’s torso. The thing fixed me with a huge, staring eye before sinking out of sight into the depths.

Thomas Beal, a surgeon on a British Whaling ship, described being attacked by a huge octopus whilst on the Bonin Islands off southern Japan in 1835. He was rescued by his shipmates.
Another Englishman, Arthur Grimbal was also attacked but saved by his colleagues.

The Pacific octopus may reach 7 meters across the tentacle span but it does not seem large or aggressive enough to account for these sightings. Could we be dealing with a huge, unknown species?


In early legends from Okayama prefecture, Nurarihyon (whose name means slippery and strange) was an aquatic yokai from the Seto Inland Sea. He was said to look like a giant octopus or jellyfish and dived beneath the surface if humans came too close.

By the Edo period Nurarihyon had radically changed. He was then supposed to be the supreme commander of the yokai. For all this he is an unassuming, harmless and rather pleasant fellow. He resembled a green skinned man with an enlarged head shaped somewhat like a cabbage. In the evenings he entered people’s housed and drank their tea and smoked their tobacco. His manner is so confident he was never questioned.

Tako no nana ashi

An octopus with seven legs. These odd tentacled cephelopods haunted the seashore of Chubu District in the Edo period. They crawled up onto land to dig into graves and feast on rotting flesh.


A human headed octopus captured by fishermen during the Meiji period. Make you wonder whether H P Lovecraft read old Japanese texts.

MUIRHEAD'S MYSTERIES: Feathered fish and eagle tales

Richard Muirhead is an old friend of the CFZ. I have been friends with him for 40 years now, since we were kids together in Hong Kong. He is undoubtedly one of the two best researchers I have ever met; he and Nigel Wright both have what Charlie Fort would have no doubt called a wild talent; a talent for going into a library, unearthing a stack of old newspapers, and coming back with some hitherto overlooked gem of arcane knowledge. Twice a week he wanders into the Macclesfield Public Library and comes out with enough material for a blog post..

In response to Jon`s plea for more effort on the blog front,I have decided to submit three between now, (Sunday afternoon) and next Thursday evening, so here we go.I n a strange coincidence,a few hours before I read the blog of a few days ago (sorry,I forgot to note down the exact date) about the furry fish, I noticed the following:
(I had that morning over the phone asked to use the microwave instead of the microfilm. D`oh!)

"Mr Brougham,of the museum,Maryport (1) who got lately (?) into his possesion a fish covered with feathers, has since caught one covered with hair." Macclesfield Courier. December 11th 1813 p.2

(1) There are two Maryports in the United Kingdom. One is in Dumfries and Galloway, Scotland the other in Cumbria on the coast. A Google search on "Maryport Museum" uncovered a Maritime Museum in the latter Maryport, with a whales tooth etc. So I e-mailed them yesterday, Saturday April 4th, to ask them about the above mentioned fishes and I await, in hope, a reply.

"A fine eagle was killed on Friday se`night by the game-keeper of T.Thornhill Esq of Riddlesworth (2) In length from the end of the beak to the end of the tail, was three feet,the breadth,when its wings were extending,seven feet one inch,its weight nine pounds."Macclesfield Courier January 15th 1914 p.2
(2) Riddlesworth is in Norfolk

Those with a good memory amongst you will recall that a few weeks ago I recorded another huge eagle, this time near Stockport,Cheshire.

On Tuesday April 14th I hope to go to my bookish haunt; the Newspaper Library in North London to look at a County Mayo newspaper, or Achill Island paper if the latter exist. This is really because I am interested in the cryptid the Achill Island wolf. Between now and next Thursday I will have a more definite date/geographical location in Ireland of whatever newspaper I will look at.
Search requests for any cryptid to:richmuirhead@ntlworld.com please.

Finaly,if anyone has Fortean Studies vol.7 I am willing to spend up to £40 on it o.n.o.


At last - five days late - here is the April episode of On The Track, and those jolly nice people at Warner Music Group will be glad to know that I didn't pinch any of their music this time. However I forgot to do a competition this month or even to announce that Mark from Ireland won last months cmpy for the second month in a row....