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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Tuesday, April 07, 2009


Encounters with the Beast; True Reports of Werewolves, Man-Beasts and Other Unexplained Creatures by Linda S. Godfrey, an excerpt from the forthcoming book:

The creature does not rest. That means I may not languish, either. It comes skulking through my e-mails, prowling inside my phone, sneaking up inside stamped envelopes posted from Maine. The reports are legion, and often quite demanding. People see the Beast and they want to know what it is and what it wants. But what they most urgently seek is some logical reason why they were chosen to see that unidentifiable things are out there, and humans don’t know everything yet.

Being human myself, I don’t know everything about this beast, either. Not even after seventeen years of research, expeditions, interviews, reports, expert polygraphing of witnesses and much writing of books. There simply is no irrefutable evidence. But I do have some ideas. Most of them settle somewhere to either slope of the great divide, natural animal or supernatural thing? A cryptozoological beast, or, as J.K. Rowling has so whimsically put it, “magizoological?” But for all I or anyone knows, it could actually be something that straddles both categories.

What I do have is a mountain of reports of encounters. Many are from Wisconsin and Michigan, my main theater of operation, but surprising numbers of them come from all parts of the United States and other countries. And they grow steadily, averaging two to three per week.

My first book, The Beast of Bray Road (2003), looked at all the incidents I had learned about in the first decade.. The second book, Hunting the American Werewolf (2006), told all the new incidents that came to me after “Beast’s” publication. In only three years, there were over twice as many witnesses as I covered in “Beast.”And now, another three years has passed and the accordion file where I stash sightings reports has expanded to bursting.

It helped a great deal that the History Channel’s popular Monsterquest show featured Hunting as the basis of their American Werewolf episode. But most of the people who tell their tales of shock and wonder at meeting a wolf that walks upright still seem reluctant, often referred by relatives or friends. They often say they simply wish to confess their experience to someone who won’t say they are crazy. And they are in no danger there. No matter how weird their experience may be, I’ve almost always heard weirder.

Furry things with bat-wings that dive-bomb old pickup trucks? A pint-sized T-rex scrimmaging through a cornfield near Sheboygan? White canines that vaporize before a witness’s astounded eyes? Werewolves slumming in the sewers of Minot, North Dakota?

Heard ‘em all.

And just as I did in the introduction of Hunting, I wish to make it perfectly clear that these are eyewitness reports, which in themselves are not science! The evidence is mostly anecdotal, save for some photographs of footprints and those witnesses who have passed the tests of the most competent polygraph expert the History Channel could find. (And no, I don’t think that any of the were-blob photos presently circulating on the Internet, particularly those of something brown that may or may not be holding a small white dog, are good enough to prove that the Manwolf exists.)

But hundreds of witnesses say that it does. And mini-T-rexes and Man Bats aside, these observations of Manwolves and Dog Men remain surprisingly consistent in both appearance and behavior. Something that stands between five and seven feet tall, covered in shaggy fur ranging from gray to very dark brown, long-snouted, pointy-eared, and able to get around on two or four feet and switch between the modes easily…this is what most people report. Many see the creature holding or eating animal carrion, and although it often bluffs a chase or attack, in almost every case (the one exception a man in Quebec Province, Canada, whose hip was grazed by an errant fang) the creature retreats as soon as the witness is either scared senseless or departs the scene.

I would expect far greater variation if people were making up stories.

And I would expect far fewer reports.

Frankly, I would expect that such creatures did not exist at all. But judging by my emails, I am wrong. Something exists, and it looks rather like a werewolf. And it has been around for some time. The reports are not always new, but indeed often range back several decades.
One that I received very recently involved an incident dating from summer, 1970, in Hardin, Illinois, about 40 miles north of St. Louis. The experiencer was ten years old at the time and was outside his family's farmhouse alone one evening, enjoying a stroll through their peach orchard, when he heard something following him, rustling through the leaves when he walked and stopping when he stopped. He began to run for his house and as he neared it, the family dog lit out after whatever had been chasing him. The dog soon returned, tail between its legs.
The boy stayed on his porch to watch for the creature, and eventually saw it step out from the orchard. He wrote, "The dogs all barked at it but kept quite a distance away.. It looked like a German shepherd or wolf walking on its hind legs, appearing to be 7-8 feet tall. Its fur was dark, even where the lights from the front porch and the driveway were shining on it."
The creature stood there for a minute or so on its hind legs, glancing around, then turned and ran on its hind legs down a nearby road. When he finally went inside and told his family about the incident, he was met with predictable laughter.

"I was astounded when I watched the episode of Monsterquest regarding the creature in Wisconsin," he added. He also noted that there were reports of Bigfoot around that area at the time but that he was certain this was not Bigfoot.

Not all sightings are in the past, however. I am always excited to receive a report that is only a few days old, and in an accessible area. One came to me in late June, 2007. On June 26, just four days before I received the report, five young people decided to take a late-night stroll on a dead-end lane that led from a residential street between South Milwaukee and Racine to a steep bluff overlooking Lake Michigan. Between the streetlight that marked the end of Fitzsimmons Road proper and the bluff lay both areas of thick woods and open fields, some planted with corn.

Brianne Virgin, 22, Jonathan Hart, 25, and Jonathan's brother Benjamin Hart, 18, along with two 18-year old friends of Ben's, Breonna and Shawna (last names withheld), heard a high-pitched, drawn out scream coming from somewhere in the cornfield to the north of the road.. (To the south is a wheat field.) It sounded like a woman, said Brianne, yet they knew it was not human. They had walked about half the length of the road, still adjacent to the cornfield and not far from the small woods that lead to the cliff, when Ben spotted a pair of almond, yellowish eyes glaring at them from the brush. That was all his two friends, Breonna and Shawna needed to hear to return to the car.

Brianne, Ben and John stood there, Brianne's flashlight also trained on the eyes, which appeared to belong to some kind of furry, canid creature crouching on all fours. To their amazement it rose onto its hind legs and faced them. Its chest and stomach area were light tan, its doglike legs and forelimbs and face darker "clay" brown, said Brianne. Its fur was shaggy. Ben, who stands over six feet tall, said the creature was as tall or taller than he was.

The creature then moved one forelimb as if getting ready to come toward them, and the three humans shrieked and turned to run back to the car. Ben was in the lead, followed by Brianne and then John. They could hear its feet hitting the ground with the weight and rythm of a biped, but faster than a human's feet would go, they said.

At one point, the creature caught up to John, close enough that he could feel its body heat and that he "felt its presence." Then it grazed his shirt with its paws, leaving two sets of triple 5/8" slashes about one inch apart on the back of his button-front, "Cheech and Chong Up in Smoke" shirt. John said that he felt warm at the point where he was touched, but the rest of his body felt cold, "goose-bumpey and shivery." His skin was not scratched. He kept going. At a short distance before they reached the barrier and street light, they no longer heard the footsteps and turned to see the creature had vanished back into the cornfield. They got in the car and left. (I have the clawed shirt in my possession.)

All during the chase, they said, they kept hearing the same type of scream they'd heard at first in the field, but lower pitched and "more aggressive." They could not tell as they ran if it was coming from the field or the creature chasing them. Also as they ran, Brianne turned several times to turn her flashlight on John and the creature. They left immediately and told the Hart men's mother about the incident. Their mother told me the 18-year old sobbed as he told the story and was truly frightened. Their mother's sister was the one who finally contacted me.

I met with John, Brianne, Ben and the woman who contacted me at the site, and we walked the road together. The three young people stated they had not been drinking or using drugs of any sort. I found some 3-inch canine prints near the cliff's edge that may have been made by a large dog, but something far more exciting turned up on the edge of the woods near the cornfield on the north side of the road. There was a mud puddle about six feet wide which contained clear prints of the same canine animal found on the cliff, a deer that appeared to have bounded from the puddle in surprise, and a longer, three-toed print (about 8 inches) that doesn't fit any animal I know of (see photo).

The late filmmaker John Gage, who was working on a Beast of Bray Road documentary before his death in a car accident last year, also interviewed the witnesses on site and told me he was satisfied they were telling the truth.

The location fits very well with a sightings pattern I've established that leads down along the shore of Lake Michigan from north of Sheboygan through the edges of Milwaukee and Racine, into Illinois (even the Great Lakes Naval Base!), edges the southwestern border of Indiana and on up to Michigan where sighting clusters peak around Kalamazoo and again about an hour south of Traverse City.

This route is also well sprinkled with ancient and enigmatic Native American soil structures; animal-shaped effigy mounds in Wisconsin and down into Illinois, and the strange geometric "garden beds," so-called because their designs reminded settlers of formal English gardens, in the Kalamazoo area.

Whether these structures have anything to do with the creatures has yet to be resolved. Those who believe the Manwolves are supernatural may posit that they are somehow related to guardian figures common to many religious beliefs of indigenous people. (I've written much about this in both "Beast of Bray Road" and "Hunting the American Werewolf.") But there is also an argument to be made for the idea of natural creatures that travel along the same water-rich sites that Native Americans believed sacred, and where they thus erected their carefully crafted earth works. Holy sites and watering holes were often the same places, and still may be.

There is even some evidence that the creature has returned to Bray Road after about a ten-year absence. A Milwaukee nurse, her teenage daughter and daughter's friend saw a bipedal, wolf-like animal leap out of the corn there in October, 2004, and in spring of 2008, a man observed it run from a mobile home park not far from where Bray Road intersects Hwy. NN. He followed it in his car as it headed back toward Bray Road, and his last view of it was as it scrambled up a slight incline into some bushes. He noted his friends in the mobile home park had recently complained of cats going missing.

These few incidents are just a tiny sample of reports received, and I am convinced that the phenomenon is far from ended. There are simply too many reports, too widespread over space and time, too many unrelated and credible witnesses, for the bulk of sightings of this upright, unknown canine to be hoaxed (although individuals have tried this on certain rare occasions).

To my mind, the only thing to do with a creature that does not rest is to continue to observe it.

Linda S. Godfrey, excerpted by permission


I haven't yet read this book - Freaks of Nature: What Anomalies Tell Us About Development And Evolution by Mark S. Blumberg - but it looks to be a very good one.

As the publisher tells us:

"In most respects, Abigail and Brittany Hensel are normal American twins. Born and raised in a small town, they enjoy a close relationship, though each has her own tastes and personality. But the Hensels also share a body. Their two heads sit side-by-side on a single torso, with two arms and two legs. They have not only survived, but have developed into athletic, graceful young women. And that, writes Mark S. Blumberg, opens an extraordinary window onto human development and evolution.

"In Freaks of Nature, Blumberg turns a scientist's eye on the oddities of nature, showing how a subject once relegated to the sideshow can help explain some of the deepest complexities of biology. Why, for example, does a two-headed human so resemble a two-headed minnow? What we need to understand, Blumberg argues, is that anomalies are the natural products of development, and it is through developmental mechanisms that evolution works. Freaks of Nature induces a kind of intellectual vertigo as it upends our intuitive understanding of biology. What really is an anomaly? Why is a limbless human a "freak," but a limbless reptile-a snake-a successful variation?

"What we see as deformities, Blumberg writes, are merely alternative paths for development, which challenge both the creature itself and our ability to fit it into our familiar categories. Rather than mere dead-ends, many anomalies prove surprisingly survivable--as in the case of the goat without forelimbs that learned to walk upright. Blumberg explains how such variations occur, and points to the success of the Hensel sisters and the goat as examples of the extraordinary flexibility inherent in individual development. In taking seriously a subject that has often been shunned as discomfiting and embarrassing, Mark Blumberg sheds new light on how individuals--and entire species--develop, survive, and evolve."

RICHARD FREEMAN: The Mob has Spoken - Crocodiles are the new Paedophiles?

Crocodiles, more exactly man-eating crocodiles have been in the news lately. Recently, an Australian girl was killed by a crocodile whilst swimming in a lagoon in the Black Jungle Conservation Reserve. This is a wildlife reserve known to be inhabited by crocodiles. Who's fault is this, the crocodile for being a crocodile? Or the people for being stupid enough to swim in an area which is supposedly strictly access controlled?
As far as we are concerned, to allow one's eleven year old child, together with other children to wander, and worse to swim, in a place whose very existence is to conserve potentially lethal predators is nothing less than child abuse.

But the public don't see that.
Recently an Indo-Pacific crocodile, estimated to be a titanic thirty feet long killed a girl. She was on her way to a floating school on the Agusan Marsh in the Philippines. The reaction of the public was both hysterical and stupid, recalling the torch-bearing mobs of peasants in Hammer films.

Below are some of the actual comments as they appeared on the Sky News website.

In reaction to exactly this story, I achieved success for the first time, aftsr many efforts, in getting a newspaper letter published, in the Metro, calling for deliberate extermination of all the human predator anmals. Humans don't deserve to be called an intelligent species until we can be morally decisive enough over something so simple and obvious, as the right of self-defence to wipe out our own predators. The anger I feel at this not already having been a priority policy for centuries, is all-consuming beyond belief. It is murder, including of children, for stupid selfish Western conservationists who don't have to live in any danger themselves, to go around raising money to actually protect these monsters. Posted By:Maurice Frank

this is a sick attack whether its natural or not if it was ur lil girl and this happend you would be sayin something diffrent my opinion is that i would blow the whole river up to piesces and find that ******* crock and send it back to hell. Posted By: adil

i think they should kil all the crocadille exept for ones in enclosers they are dangeros and have killed to many children Posted By: laura

The spellings have been left as they were. These morons can't even string a sentance together. Whenever I think I can't despise the general public any more, the dim-witted self-serving idiots prove me wrong. It is semi-literate morons who should be eradicated, not crocodiles. They do far more harm to the progression of the human race.
The crocodile was only following its instincts as a predator. It's an animal not a pedophile (as the hysteria around it might make you think). If we kill off all potentially dangerous animals, then ecosystems will collapse even faster than they are already doing. If the crocodile was indeed thirty feet long, then it is a global treasure. Very few of this size are still around. It should be preserved at all costs.

Animals kill for food. Only humans and chimpanzees kill for spite. People who live cheek by jowl with dangerous animals, need to take precautions not kill all the predators. What a bland little world we would live in if every crocodile, shark, python, wolf, bear and big-cat were exterminated.

As we take up more land and kill off more prey species there will be more attacks. We cannot expect animals to live on fresh air! It is the 21st Century, and surely the appaling notion, fed by misinterpretation of religious tracts, that we are somehow 'better' than other animals, or that other animals exist only for man's use, should have been forgotten years ago.


This has got to be one of the most amazing animals I have ever seen. It is a bilby - the largest of the bandicoots, and I think I am in love...


North Carolina has a plethora of strange animals, as our NC rep Shane Lea will tell you. However, can one of them do this amount of damage to an innocent SUV? Oh yes, I hear you say, there is no such thing as an innocent SUV.

We post the following story because it is mildly interesting, but we would like you all to know that it has taken an almost superhuman effort to refrain from making stupid jokes, sarcastic comments, or indulging in other negative behaviour...

RICHARD FREEMAN: Snakes and Freaky Fauna - Part Two: Serpents

I recently brought a copy of Charles Owens’s 1742 book An Essay Towards A Natural History Of Serpents: In Two Parts. The book makes fascinating reading as it was written at a time when science and learning were replacing legend and folklore. The book is full of oddities of cryptozoological interest. This is my second collection of bits and bobs that I have found within its pages.

Charles Owen lists a number of snakes in his book. Some are identifiable with modern species.

“The Cerastes is a serpent of the viperine kind; it belongs to the Libyan and Nubian family. Its teeth are like those of a viper, and it brings its successors into the world after the same manner.
Its constitution is very dry which refines and exalts its poison and make it more dangerous; the wound is generally attended with distraction and a continual pricking as with needles. Some say tis of a whitish colour, others arenaceous; it loves sandy habitations were it surprises the unwary traveler: And all agree tis of a most cruel nature; and therefore in some places twas made the executioner of malefactors.

Some say tis of the aspick kind, as the Arabians; in length a cubit of more with two little horns on the head, resembling snail shells.”

It seems that Owen is describing the horned viper here. But others seem to defy modern description,

“The Acontia is called by the Latins Sepens jacularis and by some the flying serpent, because of the celerity of its motion. A certain person in Cato’s army call’d Paulus was slain not by the poison, but by the violence of its blow: probably on the lateral part of the skull.

Authors are not agreed about its dimensions. Ambrosinus, speaking of one he had seen in the Bononian Museum says tis about the thickness of a staff, and about three feet long: it is found in Egypt, its wounds are dreadful, being attended by putrefaction and defluxion of the flesh.

That which Bellonius saw was three palms long or sixteen inches and one finger’s breath.

It lies in wait under bushes from whence it rushes out unawares at passengers: Before it leaps at the prey, it lies on the ground and turns itself around, to give greater spring to the motion, by which they do execution at twenty cubits distance.”

“The Dipsas or Dipsacus is a little venomous reptile of the aspick kind, less than a viper but kills sooner, and is most remarkable in this, that when it bites, the poison brings an unquenchable thirst on the person effected, who finding no relief, runs to water and drinks till he bursts asunder.

The poetic historian observes how Aulus, an ensign bearer in the Roman army in Africa was slain by this serpent, at first he felt little or no pain from the bite, but as soon as it began to operate he was scorched to death. Galen calls this serpent Diabetes, and Aegineta dipsacus from the incurable thirst that accompanies the bite: By others it is called Situla, because of the burning heat caused by the wound.

It is about a cubit in length and lives in marshes and shallow waters; it dwells in Arabia, Rhodes, Africa and especially Libya, were from branches of the venomous family live of camel’s fleas and locusts dried in the sun.”

OLL LEWISH: Yesterday’s News Today

Yesterday’s News Today

Are you ready for an update on the latest cryptozological news from the CFZ daily cryptozoology news blog? Hope so, because here it is:

Children Discover Mysterious Creature
Large 'cat' photographed near woodland
Russian scientists use Google maps to find yeti
US documentarists in search of "Lake Van Monster" in Turkey
Couple saved by rabbit
Castaway: Dog survives five-month island ordeal
Piggy bank savings go down a Storm
Dog cheats death by chocolate cake
Pollack's name changed to Colin
Hen lays green eggs

Green eggs? By ‘Seuss’, that’s odd.