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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Wednesday, April 08, 2009

FROM THE ARCHIVES: An unjustifiably obscure black dog encounter

In the Transactions of the Devonshire Association Vol 12, 1880 is the following story:

"The Black Dog that Hunts the Moor” - A few years ago two ladies from the North of England made a tour of pleasure into the county of Devon. In their journeyings they rode on the outside of the coach from Okehampton to Tavistock, in order that they might see some portion of the far-famed Dartmoor. Twilight came on whilst they were crossing the moor. Suddenly their attention was aroused by the agitation and excitement of the coachman, who in terror exclaimed, "There, there do you see that?" On being questioned as to what he meant, he pointed with his whip to some creature that was running along by the side of his horses, saying, "There is the black dog that hunts the moor."

Terrified at the sight, he lashed his horses in». a gallop in order to escape from the weird "black dog that hunts the moor," which suddenly vanished.I congratulated my lady friends on their good fortune in having been thus made acquainted with a bit of the "Folk-Lore" of Devon. J. F.WILKEY.


For those of you who wondered why there was no lunchtime post to Usenet, or even worse, why the email you sent me remains unanswered, wonder no more. No, it is not because of the mild hangover I had this morning, and it is not because I have gone into a terminal decline during the few days whilst Corinna is in Hatfield with my eldest step-daughter. I miss her terribly, but she will be back tomorrow, and I am not one of those pathetic husbands who have to be with their better halves 24/7, 365 days a year.

Nope, the answer is far more prosaid than that. It is just that for some bizarre reason BTinternet reset my password, and I have been without Outlook Express for the last 24 hours. It is back now, but I have too big a backlog of post with which to deal, to even attempt to get it all sorted tonight.

So, if you are miffed that there was no lunchtime Usenet post, or cross that I haven't answered your email, feel secure in the knowledge that normal service is imminent again....


This will, I think, amuse you... Now go and read Island of Paradise


To continue on the multi-headed teratological theme of the last few days, here is a picture from the CFZ archives. I took it in the early 1990s at the old Plymouth Aquarium. It is a two-headed shark (a dogfish of some kind, a nursehound I think, if my memory serves me well).

There must be a decent pun for a suitable headline for this story, but I'm damned if I can think of one. What's the betting that either Tony Lucas or Oll will deliver the goods.


I don't know whether it is because I have a hangover fit for The Devil, (Corinna is visiting Shosh in Hatfield, and I had a late night, first with Graham, and then - online - with Naomi. So it is all HER fault) but the narrator of this piece is spectacularly iriitating even by TV presenter standards. However this segment includes pricesless footage of one of the freakiest angler fish thatI have ever seen..


Whilst Barry the polychaete worm at the aquarium in Newquay is certainly a smashing looking creature, he is not as singular as one might have thought. They can be quite aggressive, and related species are even found in British waters.

The aggression of large polychaetes should not be underestimated. Whilst on a residential course at Dale Fort, near Haverfordwest in Wales during my time studying zoology at university, I was studying the effects of osmosis on marine worms.

We had captured a number of large specimens of the king ragworm (Nereis virens ). The largest was as long as my forearm and as thick as my finger. Whilst releasing them back into the sea after the experiment was finished the big individual coiled round at attempted to bite me with pincers the size of rose thorns. It narrowly missed.
I have no doubt they could easily devour small fish

GLEN VAUDREY: Looking for the great Auk

The last confirmed sighting of a happy and lively looking Great Auk took place on the Icelandic island of Eldey on 3 June 1844 and how do we know it is the last confirmed sighting, we have the bodies to prove it. Unfortunately the witnesses to this last sighting happened to be a couple of hunters who had just dispatched the birds. It is unlikely that they even knew the importance of that days hunt.

Like many reckless acts of violence it would come to be regretted in the years to come and such was this case. Iceland may have played host to the last known populations of this remarkable bird but it was left without a single example of this most well adapted of sea birds.

It would be 1971 before Iceland would acquire its very own Great Auk buying one at a London auction for the princely sum of £9,000 which was at the time a world record price for a stuffed bird. Unlike the last bird leaving the island in a crate the new example was flown back to Iceland first class and received a hero’s welcome upon arrival in Reykjavik, with flags flying and children given the afternoon of to mark the occasion.

Fast forward twenty one years to a rain soaked, cold and dark Thursday afternoon early in November and you would find me wandering around the back streets of Reykjavik looking for the mortal remains of this seventies avian superstar.

Aided by nothing more than a small soggy map to guide me to the Museum of Natural History I was rather surprised to find that the museum was behind a solid looking door in a building that for all the world looked like a disused warehouse. After climbing a concrete flight of stairs I arrived at the entrance paid my handful of kr√≥na to a rather startled little old man at the door he appeared a little surprised at the prospect of a visitor. I was soon hunting through the display cases full of rock types and lava samples all very interesting I am sure but they didn’t really float my boat.

The search was not in vane because there in a glass cabinet in a far corner of the room proudly stood the Great Auk, looking if truth be said rather moth eaten. I couldn’t help but feel that while it arrival might have been heralded, it was now in danger of being forgotten. And as on my way back to the hotel I passed the whaling boats tied up in the harbour I suspected that the lesson of the birds extinction may also have been forgotten.

OLL LEWIS: Yesterday’s News Today


Good morning (or possibly afternoon) I hope you’re sitting comfortably because here’s the Cryptozoology news digest (from the CFZ daily news blog), incorporating the daily bad pun:

Surgery for lion with deadly hairball
Satellite images could be used 'to predict animal extinction threat from climate change'
Sea mollusks taste their memories to build shells
Will Europe at last unite to combat thousands of alien invaders?
Panther on prowl in Pembs?
Gorilla's gift is egg-actly right

The pun in the last headline was a bit ‘egg’cruciating, but still, a ‘yoke’ is a ‘yoke’ I guess. (Remember to read this segment tomorrow as well for more ‘egg’tremly bad puns).