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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Thursday, April 09, 2009


I read about this latest report through dear Regan on Crypto Squad USA, but the actual author is a bloke called Naveed...

"From their description the only things I could figure was that it was either a large black dog that they thought was a large feline, or perhaps it was a mountain lion in in the shade. However, there are two other possibilities, which although unlikely may perhaps have been the case. "

Read on:



I am a child of the 1970s. I may have been born in 1959, but my earliest memories aren't until disoined ones in about 1961 and 1962, and I don't really remember much in a linear form until about 1964. The young people of my acquaintaince, including those in my extended family all believe that because Corinna and I were alive through the 1960s that we hung out at Carnaby Street, and drove around in minis with Union Jacks painted on the roof.

Well, I certainly didn't and if my darling wife (who is only a couple of years older than me - three in fact) did such a thing, she certainly has never told me about it. Nope, both of us first became the people we are in the decade that taste forgot. One of the first things that attracted us to each other was that we both had listened to a lot of prog rock at one time (even if these days Corinna listens to Scandinavian folk metal, and I listen to the artier end of indie), and both of us remember the days when a poster showing the back cover of Roger Dean's illustration for the Yes album Tales from Topographic Oceans was the coolest thing that you could have on your bedroom wall.

I am listening to the album now. It is pretty cool if you like that sort of thing.
The lyrics are impenetrable bollocks which are allegedly based upon bits of Autobiography of a Yogi by Paramahansa Yogananda. They made no sense in 1974, and they make no sense now, even by the standards of Yes lyrics, but if you ignore the words and treat Jon Anderson's voice as an instrument in its own right, the album flows nicely and has many rewarding moments.

But the best thing about it is the cover, and the best thing about the cover is the back, which features a small shoal of strange fish that look like an unholy hybrid between perch and salmon swimming over a futuristic landscape (or planetscape). But jsut below them, peeking out of a rocky cave just like the oriental weatherfish in my Hong Kong coldwater biotope tank, is a placoderm - a strange armoured fish from a family which died out about 359 million years ago. One of the strangest thing about these primitive fish was that they had biting plates - pointed extensions of the jawbone that perform the function of teeth. They have not been seen in any vertyebrates since.
Until now, that is.

A month or so, all the crypto websites including us, carried the story of a new species of the danionella family which has just been discovered in Burma. Everyone, including us noted that it had strange, teethlike extensions to its jaws, giving it the specific name of D.dracula, but it wasn't until today I realised that my prog rock fantasies have come true....

Read all about it..

OLL LEWIS: Yesterdays's News Today


Now, if I’ve got it right, along with the latest cryptozoology news from the CFZ daily cryptozoology news blog, it’s tea of the week day. As the weather is starting to warm up it’s time for a nice summer drink, camomile and melon. Easy enough to make, just a normal camomile tea but as you pour the hot water in plonk several cubes of honeydew melon in it and brew for 3 mins. And now for the news:

Rabbits make home under Sydney Harbour Bridge in time for Easter
Falmouth "beast" lives on
Parrot causes squawk in Florida courtroom
Another urban myth?
Castaway dog 'hunted goats' on island

I bet that pooch was ‘dog’ tired by the time he was reunited with his owners.

RICHARD FREEMAN: ugly dogs (and ugly cats)

Sam, the world’s ugliest dog, died on November 18th 2005 at the age of 14. His unique visage was known all over the world. A bred Chinese crested dog he had pearl like cataracts over his eyes, wrinkled skin that, except for an unruly mop on his head and snaggle teeth. He was likened to the Chupacabra!

His owner Susie Lockheed, had three other dogs named TatorTot, TinkerBell and PixieNoodle.

World's Ugliest Dog Contest is an annual contest at the colleseum in Petaluma, California.

Most dogs that enter are Chinese crested dogs. These are naturally weird looking. Bald except for a scraggy top knot.

Most of their teeth are pointy like the canines in other dogs

These strange little dogs my be resbonsable for some of the more oddball mystery animal reports one hears from time to time.

There are many crested dog cross breeds such as crested dog chihuahua, crested dog x pug, crested dog x shih tzu, crested dog x affenpinscher (German Monkey Dogs) and crested dog x Yorkshire terrier.

The resulting animals can look variously like plucked chickens, the ultimate evolution of the bat, rats from Sellafield, Muppets if they were made by Hammer Studios or something found stalking the woods in the Death zone around Chernobyl. Most have protruding tongues and drool like me at a female body builders contest.

Recent winners include Minnie Me, who looks like a chihuahua who has been put through a threshing macine. Lil Biggles, a crested shih-tzu mix who resembles a cross between a giant pinkie and the Mekon and hass recently given birth to some sausage-like puppies. Munchkin, a daemonic looking sphere of hair, teeth, and eyeballs. Genie, who looks like the lovechild of ‘Animal’ from he Muppet Show and a diseased battery hen. Miss Ellie a sort of anteater meets plucked turkey. Squiggy, who is a mix of Chinese Crested and Japanese Chin but sort of looks like a futuristic, flightless bat. Mr Magoo who looks like the child of Jimmy Edwards and a naked mole rat.

And what do I think of these ugly mutts? I think they are just too darling for words!

If you think that only dogs are ugly then I’ve included a picture of an ugly cat. Bald except for a ridge of spiky hair down its spine. It looks even more like the chupacabra than Sam did!


From Wikipedia: Although hairless dogs have been found in many places in the world, it is unlikely that the origins of the modern Chinese Crested are in China. In the 1920s, Debrorah Woods and Ida Garrett jointly created the 'Crest Haven Kennel' and began to purposefully breed and record the lineages of their Chinese Crested dogs. Their dogs are the true foundation of every Chinese Crested alive today. They founded the American Hairless Dog Club in 1959, which was eventually incorporated into the American Chinese Crested Club (ACCC) in 1978. The ACCC became the US parent club for the breed when the Chinese Crested was recognised by the American Kennel Club thirteen years later, in 1991.

The Chinese Crested was officially recognised by the Fédération Cynologique Internationale[13] in 1987, by The Kennel Club (UK) in 1981, by the American Kennel Club in 1991,[14] and by the Australian National Kennel Council in 1995.

The Chinese Crested breed, either in purebred form or as a hybrid with chihuahua, has won all eight of the previous World's Ugliest Dog Contests.

The Mexican hairless dog or Xolo, however is native to Mexico, Central and South America and the Caribbean. Archaeological evidence shows that the breed existed in the New World for more than 3,500 years. Most likely, early forerunners of the Xolo originated as spontaneous hairless mutations of indigenous New World dogs. Hairlessness may have offered a survival advantage in tropical regions. Their value in ancient native cultures is evidenced by their frequent appearance in the art and artifacts produced by the Colima, Aztec and Toltec civilizations in Mexico.



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...

If there’s one thing that irritates me, it’s when sceptical folk who harp on about ‘big cats’ in the UK, say stupid things like, “If there are big cats out there, why haven’t I seen one ?”, or, “Where’s the evidence ?”, and, “Surely there’d be bodies ?”

Of course, if we rely on the evidence which the newspapers obtain then those sad little sceptics have every right to so ignorant, but I’ve always felt that as each year more than two-hundred people report to me sightings across the south-east, in court this would be good enough voice to condemn a person for a crime. And yes, there have been bodies, as chronicled in my new book MYSTERY ANIMALS OF THE BRITISH ISLES: KENT. Evidence is in abundance - sheep kills (sheep dragged up into trees) – bloody dogs and their trampolines!, paw-prints, faeces, and in my case, personal encounters and film footage.

I recently spoke to an old mate who told that around 2000 he’d been driving through the marshes at Romney one night when he clipped the back end of a black, Labrador-sized animal which resembled the cat he’d never believed in. I’ve known of incidents where black leopards have been splattered over the road (M25 near Surrey), written cars off (Dover), and cats have also been shot dead (Sheppey & Higham). Of course, sceptics, perched behind their PC’s all day want a body on their lap, but would it still be sufficient proof ? Of course, not, the idiot brigade would soon say, “Well, maybe it was just a one-off escapee.”

Predators such as the black leopard are extremely elusive, mainly hunting at night on dark, remote roads. Foxes and badgers certainly turn up as road kill, but how many of them are out there in comparison to large cats ?

Other strange animals have also turned up on the roads. The most fascinating case comes from 1980 when a motorist and passenger were travelling through East Kent, when suddenly an Indian nilgai antelope leapt a hedge and came crashing through the windscreen. Both witnesses were killed instantly. I even spoke to the mother of one of the men that was killed.

More known cases have turned up dead crocodiles in Wales, and also a pond in London. A strange lizard was also found dead in a road in the capital, a leopard cat was shot dead in 1988 at Devon and in 1981 fishermen from Aberdeenshire were amazed to find a dead elephant floating in the sea of the Scottish coast. And these sceptics want bodies….

GUEST BLOGGER NEIL ARNOLD: The Highgate Vampire Re-Visited

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...

I read with interest a month or ago Richard Freeman’s mention of the Highgate ‘vampire’. After many years researching the case, and attempting strip away the drama to reveal the bare bones, it seems that the spectre is still active in the cemetery. Although guided tours are now enforced, and the cemetery is fortified, the legend of the ‘vampire’ has never diminished, and yet it remains one of the world’s greatest, yet understated of mysteries.

It seems unlikely that much of what has been written in the past about the events was true. However, there were indeed reports of a tall, dark and possibly red-eyed spectre which mainly loitered around the North Gate of the Western cemetery. There were a handful of fox deaths, but probably unrelated, and much of what else occurred, from the finding of a skeleton in a vehicle, to a monster spider which, when staked, turned into a woman, zombies, Satanism, attacks on reporters, etc, etc, all seems rather sensationalised. Whatever took place in that gothic burial ground, certainly fed upon the news coverage, it gorged itself upon the snowball effect of media and public frenzy, and indulged itself on mass hysteria. The drama dissipated eventually around the early ‘70s.

Then, in the summer of 2005 came a strange report from a local resident of Highgate. He’d been living in the village for more than a decade and never experienced anything odd, let alone heard of the horrors of the past. During this season, he’d walked home late from a local public house, up Swains Lane, which runs alongside the cemetery and divides the Western and Eastern cemeteries. As he approached the vicinity of the North Gate he could make a darkly adorned figure. It was a warm night and the ‘man’ seemed to have a long overcoat on and a black hat perched upon his head. The witness added: “As I drew level with him and was about to walk pass, I could swear I heard him say to me "Good evening, sir." In what sounded at first like a strange accent, but which I later thought, just sounded "old fashioned".

"The other peculiarity about his greeting was it didn't seem to come from his direction as such, but rather seemed to be whispered right next to my ear. Which, given the ordinariness of the words, still gave me a jolt. I continued past him for about a further 50 yards down the lane and just as I was about to turn right into my road - something made me turn round. Looking up the rise from where I was standing, he was now on the other side of the road, nearer to Highgate Cemetery West. From my position, I couldn't see his feet, but the next moment he seemed to glide straight back across the road at right angles to me a go clean through the cemetery gates on the opposite side of the lane (East Cemetery) and disappear.”

Another witness, a woman, recalled how she saw a black figure by the North Gate recently, which she took at first to be a branch broken from a tree, but as she approached in her car, she noticed it was a tall man in a black coat and hat. Whatever lurks in Highgate it’s not a monster and never has been, but it could well be a very malevolent spirit. Or, if you believe the tour guides who speak of the original legend, a Hammer Horror extra!!!

GUEST BLOGGER NEIL ARNOLD: The Monster of Clapham Woods

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...

For several decades Clapham Woods in West Sussex, has been the subject of many a dark whisper and wicked rumour. Tales of ghosts, murders and black magic often emerge from the ancient woods, and I’ve been stalking the shadows as part of research for my Sussex-based monster book.

My favourite and certainly, creepiest story pertaining to Sussex, and there are many, concerns a sighting of a truly dreadful creature. This manifestation even made the Littlehampton Gazette, in 1975 around the autumn. Even national radio and the popular topical BBC programme Nationwide, featured the story. At the time the area was caught up in a flap of high strangeness. News crews, journalists, UFO investigators, and paranormal enthusiasts flocked to the area, but rarely after dark.

Two dogs had gone missing in the area, and when researchers stumbled across a footprint measuring eight-inches long and almost four-inches wide, but showing four-claw mark indentations (and a fifth claw mark towards the rear of the main pad), it was clear that something bizarre was going on. Twelve inches in front of the print, was another, almost identical print. The investigators were equipped with a Geiger counter, as well as other paraphernalia. Suddenly, the needle of the counter began to act oddly when the counter was swept over the prints, and then, from the darkness a grey pillar of mist appeared. With the main A27 road in ear shot, the researchers decided it best to head for home, but then the monster appeared. The hazy shaft of mist before them took on the form of a great bear-like creature.

The apparition then faded within ten seconds.

From then on Clapham Woods would become known for its paranormal activity. It was once rumoured that a bear cult operated clandestinely in the thickets, and maybe they’d raised some kind of tulpa-like energy forever to haunt the shadows of the ‘birdless grove’.

Strange symbols, time lapses, animal sacrifice, phantom hounds, secret societies and several obscure cults. Clapham Woods is certainly one of those special places. Blue Bell Hill in Kent, and Cannock Chase in Staffordshire seem to offer similar bouts of high strangeness, whether in the form of strange animal sightings or peculiar activity and folklore. Whether by strange coincidence, the grounds of Verdley Castle, situated also in West Sussex, are supposedly haunted by a giant bear. It is alleged to have been the last bear in England.



It is true that many worthy researchers before me have tried to discover the connections between supposedly different types of paranormal phenomena. There is tantalizing glimpses of connections via such effects as EMF disturbance etc, but the many various types of paranormal events led most to conclude that we were dealing with many different forms of phenomena.

However, I for one never held this “many strands” viewpoint. For me the one main clue lay in the fact that different forms of paranormal event often occurred in a given area, at the same time. These phenomena of contained sightings led to the “windows” theory in ufology, that is to say, an area that is susceptible to multiple UFO sightings in any one period of time. Because of the separatist nature of the many disciplines involved in paranormal research, the investigators tended to concentrate, quite rightly, on their own subject matter, seldom did anyone try to see if any other form of paranormal event had taken place in that given area, at the same time as the UFO sightings. In our book “The Rising of the Moon” Jon Downes and I discovered that in our own “back yard” as it were, just such events did happen!

Not only did the area of East Devon suffer multiple UFO sightings at given times, but it also had cases of big cat sightings, ghosts, and disappearances, all occurring within the same time frame. These differing cases of paranormal and cyptozoologial events occurring at the same time and place MUST have a connection.

Not just East Devon suffer these “coincides” of multiple paranormal events. Let’s take a look at Cannock chase, in the Midlands. I first visited this area whilst I was part of a CFZ team, looking for weird crocodiles on the loose! When Jon said that he was going to visit the chase, I was delighted! Since this area is well know to most British ufologists as being of great interest. Upon first glance I recall saying to someone just how much the chase resembled Woodbury common, near my home in Exmouth, Devon. Woodbury common had been the location of many a UFO and big cat report. The geology of the two different places looked to me, as an untrained layperson, as being very similar. Both contained forests of pine trees, separated by gravely areas. At the time it did not immediately occur to me that the two might also have more than their geology in common. However, after returning home, and pondering over the sample EMF readings that Jon and our team had taken at sites at Cannock, these having shown “blips” of EMF activity at sites known to have suffered paranormal events, that I began to wonder if Woodbury and Cannock chase were related in some way?

OLL LEWIS: Be Ceffyl Near Water

Apart from the fact that his puns are terrible and he has an obsession with the more surreal side of Internet culture, Oll Lewis hasn't put a foot wrong since we started this bloggo-thing. Because of his interest in things aquatic he has been co-ordinating the lake and sea monster news for the CFZ for some years now, and as regular readers of this bloggo will already know he is letting this obsession spill over online. However, he also has an obsession with Wales - no, not the big, spouting, there-she-blows type, but the principality..

Creatures called water-horses pop up in many different mythologies around the world. The Scottish form is probably the most well known and is also known as the kelpie. Kelpie are often described as being of similar appearance to a horse but with a constantly moist and dripping mane and occasionally seal or elephant like skin instead of fur. This skin is cold and clammy to the touch and should one be foolish enough to attempt to ride a kelpie the skin becomes adhesive making the rider stick to the beast before it invariably runs into water to drown its rider.

The Welsh form of the water-horse is known as ‘ceffyl dŵr’ to avoid confusion with the kelpie and other forms of water horse. The ceffyl dŵr looks exactly like a normal horse according to folklore and the only clue that it is anything different is that it is seen near water. These water horses are usually depicted as being a lot less dangerous than their Scottish counterparts, some are even helpful to men.

One such helpful horse was seen late one night by an old man in Flemingston, Glamorgan. The creature was luminous and took the form of a horse of average size being rode by a very long legged man. The water horse guided the man across the marshland near the river Thaw, showing him the quickest route out of the marsh where it was safe to tread. Not long after the man had made it to safe ground a freak tide washed in flooding the marsh, and the whole valley. Were it not be for the horse, guiding him quickly and safely out of the marsh, the man claimed, he would certainly have been drowned.

This may not be a genuine traditional story though because Flemingston was, for a long time, the home of Iolo Morganog. Anyone familiar with my writings on afanc, gwibers and other Welsh mystery animals will be aware of just how often his name crops up. Iolo was a genius, responsible for many aspects of the revival of Welsh culture and wrote some of the best poetry ever written in Welsh. The problem was that he just couldn’t take criticism so often presented his poems as new finds from past masters, often these forgeries were so perfect in style and prose that they were only discovered to be fakes after Iolo’s death. As well as forging poetry he also forged folklore, inventing many tales himself, and it takes quite some dedication to separate Iolo’s stories from genuine folklore. Anyway, I digress, back to the subject of water horses.

As well as benevolent ceffyl dŵr there are stories about some that acted as pranksters. One such creature was witnessed in the Glyn Neath area near Swansea, by waterfalls where the rivers Perddyn, Little Neath, Mellte, and Hepste meet a traveller happened upon a magnificent white stallion. Weary from a long journey, after checking that there were no other people in the immediate area, the traveller decided to take the animal so he would be able to undertake the rest of his journey in relative comfort.

Nothing could have prepared him for what was said to have happened next. The horse rose into the air and carried the hapless traveller miles away from his destination, as far as Llandewi Brevi, before dissipating into mist. The traveller was quite shaken by all this and finally arrived at his destination a great deal later than he would have done, which probably served him right for being willing to take a horse that wasn’t his in the first place.

Another tale told about a ceffyl dŵr is much more like a kelpie myth and is one of the few stories in Welsh folklore that features a horse intent on causeing harm. The Horse was said to have inhabited the area around Carmarthan Bay. This grey horse seemed, like most water horses, indistinguishable from any normal horse apart from the fact that it did not appear to have an owner and it was said to wait for any victim gullible enough to fall for its innocent appearance. One such person came in the form of a cocky English carter who scoffed at the local’s wariness of the animal. Not believing a word of the local’s suspicions and presumably not wanting to look a gift horse in the mouth the man decided that he would use the horse to drive his cart and thereby claim ownership of the beast. The plan worked well, until the man led the horse to the spot on the shore where he had found it. The horse ran off into the sea, cart and its driver along with it and neither was ever seen again.

The water-horse is probably among the least likely of all strange creatures in European folklore to actually exist, given their fantastical attributes like flying or glowing in the dark for example, but some accounts of the kelpie might be loosely based on misadventures with seals. The real purpose of water horse myths however was likely just to make people think twice before taking a horse when its owner might not be around.


These two photographs were taken some years ago (just before Corinna and I got married) at Farnham Birdworld, and show what I think are white pelicans (Pelecanus onocrotalus) but could be American white pelicans (Pelecanus erythrorhynchos) I cannot remember which.

My query, in fact the whole reason for posting these pictures does not actually have anything to do with what species they are, but actually concerns the weird bulgy things above their beaks on what their foreheads would be if I was going to be ridiculously anthropomorphic which I'm not. What they hell are they? Ironically I took photographs of these particular birds because the bulgy bits were lease prominent and at the time I was looking for stock pictures for the CFZ photo library, rather than for pictures of weirdness for the ongoing teratology discussions here on the bloggo.

I have no idea where to start looking for information on the subject, and thought that in the best traditions of Esther Rantzen (whom, I met once, and who was a charming woman) that I would throw the question open to you guys and girls in the bloggo readership.


This photograph was taken at Farnham Birdworld a couple of years ago. And, yes, of course my wife is a fantastic bird, but can you identify the others?

They are, of course, a moa, an elephant bird, and a phorusrhacos. They have three things in common: they are flightless, they are extinct and they are monumentally groovy, but the competition this time in order to win a free year's membership to the CFZ (including a four issue sub to Animals & Men, or a free year's subscription to The Amateur Naturalist (depending on which variety of CFZ agit prop interests you most) be the first person to email me telling me WHEN each species became extinct...

Good luck

The seventh lot of bird related clippings from the archives

Oll has been a busy little beaver 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 seventh trenche of bird-related clippings which are, once again, mostly about moas.

It is strange, but I haven't actually looked into our clippings archive boxes for years - some of them not since Alison (my first wife) cut them out and put them into the files in the first place about fifteen years ago, and I had no idea that we had so much Moa stuff.

Water Blackfella?


It is certainly a hoax, but this is not what is interesting about the recent story (see CFZ newslink above) about a semi aquatic Australian BHM.

The picture has been kicking around for well over a year. I first saw it described as an "almasty" from somewhere in Kazakhstan early last summer when I was looking for images that I could pinch to illustrate the then forthcoming Russian Almasty expedition.

Now it has turned up in Australia, and it is supposedly a hominid called the "Water Blackfella". Now I have never heard this term, and a Google search could only come up with the one instance of it being used. But two interesting things come to mind.
Firstly, although we know thatAustralia is as hidebound with political correctness as we are in the UK, as this recent story shows, but it is hard to imagine any regional paper in the UK using such a term, although - much to my surprise - according to Wikipedia (which is, one has to admit, not the best and unbiased source for factual material, but was all that we had available):

Blackfella (also spelled blackfellah, black fella, or black fellah) is an informal term used in Australian English to refer to Indigenous Australians. It derives from "black fellow," referring to their dark skin. It is generally considered to be a neutral term, and is used by both white and black Australians.

But the most important thing about this story is, that although I have never heard the term before, it is strikingly similar to a South American term "Negroes of the Water" used to describe malicious small humaniform entities, including some described in Charles Bowen's seminal 1969 book The Humanoids which is sadly out of print.

Despite its irritating obsession with the idea that any non-human humaniform creature has to be from outer space, and a dreadful cover, it is an absolutely marvellous book which I wholeheartedly recommend to you all.

However "Water Blackfella" and "Negroes of the Water"? Coincidence? Probably, but an interesting one.


I am not quite sure why David "Geordie Dave" Curtis, a CFZ stalwart for years and one of my closest friends is quite so angry, but he sent this cutting to me with the following note: Dear Jon,I think I may move to Devon after all. See what I have to bloody put up with! Regards Davy.C

Peppa Pig is apparently a UK based animated TV series, and not having either children or a functional TV set that I actually ever watch it has somehow slipped beneath my radar. Luckily anthropomorphic little girl pigs never turn up in the saloon bar of the Farmer's Arms, which is one of the only places outside the CFZ grounds that I ever stray to, so I am relatively lucky I suppose. Poor David.


Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear...

Look what awaited me in my email in-box this morning. Should Max be

a) Congratulated for not listening to Gangsta Rap like so many other eighteen year olds,
b) Congratulated for finding a crypto-related song I had not heard before,
c) Coshed over the head and sent to a CFZ re-education camp where he is force fed a diet of Scott Walker, Nico and Wildman Fisher

Answers on a postcard please

PS At least he doesn't listen to all that electronic stuff like Tim Matthews does

MUIRHEAD'S MYSTERIES: Tortoises in Essex, and a letter from Ken Livingstone

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..

Dear folks,
It`s time for my update from the improbable world of Richard Muirhead. This evening I am giving the Macclesfield Courier a brief skip (we will resume with it after Easter) and turning to a letter I written on May 7th 1997 when I was living as a student in Oxford. (Not at Oxford University I hasten to add, but at Oxford Brookes University where I was doing my MA) I also publish for the first time a very brief and absolutely genuine letter to me about newts from Ken Livingstone M.P. as he then was in response to mine to him asking-was the “effet” a newt, or not?

Dear Mr Muirhead

By luck I saw your letter about tortoises in the wild in a recent issue of the Cambridge Evening News. I hope the following information helps you.

Between 1959 and 1964 my uncle kept a caravan for weekend and holiday use at Great Gibcracks Farm,near Chelmsford in Essex.The farm was about half a mile from the road, up a long and rutted drive. It was an extraordinary place, an Edwardian model farm built by an eccentric who placed busts of Dante and other poets in copses,had a swimming pool dug and planted exotic trees and shrubs.By the 1960s it was falling to pieces about the current owner.

Beyond the farm were two cottages and then woodland.The nearest houses to the farm,apart from the cottages,were almost a mile away.

In late May or early June 1964 my younger brother,Nigel,and I found a tortoise moving along a furrow in a ploughed field immediately alongside the farm.(The field had been ploughed at Easter then left.) I can`t be more precise about the date; I do know that I`d been given a weekend away from preparing for the O levels looming over me.

The tortoise just fitted on my palm so would have been almost 6” long. We had kept several tortoises as pets in the past;this one had a darker shell than I could recall seeing before and yellow mottling between the eyes.It appeared to be a spur thighed tortoise.

We went to the farm,the cottages and then to the houses nearest the field but no one knew anything about the tortoise.Using the local bush telegraph we let people living farther away know but the tortoise was never claimed and became our pet,with the name Shostakovich-why that name was selected I can`t remember.Shostakovich was found dead in summer,1967.

In 1980 Nigel mentioned he had talked with a man who lived in a village called Bicknacre in the 1950s and 1960s;Bicknacre is not far from Gt.Gibcracks and we sometimes walked there through the woods.The man said that he twice found tortoises in the fields but had never traced their owners.Sadly,Nigel died in 1990 and I remember no details,like the man`s name.

I hope that your research is fruitful;the adjustment of animals to British conditions has always interested me.I have wondered if the Surrey puma and Exmoor beast are abandoned pets that are now acclimatized.I am sure you know about the scorpions that colonized the railways station at Ongar in Essex.

It would be more interesting though to discover native tortoises and native pumas. I hope one day to read about your research.

Yours sincerely.
J.S. Holford-Miettinen

I rang a Cambridge number about 2 months ago to try and find out more about the tortoises but got no reply. Now for “Red Ken`s” letter, it is very brief:

April 22nd 1996

“Dear Richard Muirhead Thank you for your letter of 15 April about the terms eft or evvet. They were just other names for newts-not crocodiles or anything else.

Yours sincerely,Ken Livingstone.

I have a lot of respect for a person as busy as he must have been to reply like this, albeit briefly. After Easter I will continue with the Macclesfield Courier and octopus invasions of the south coast of Britain,an historical approach. Bye for now and Happy Easter! Rich.


Whoops. I totally forgot about it, but here is the third, and final, part of the Dr Strangely Strange concert in London in February. It consists of the second side of Kip of the Serenes (including an absolutely transcendent version of Ship of Fools which had not been played live since 1970 or 1971, and some encores. Go and buy their records, they really are VERY VERY good.


This is only the 41st megamouth shark ever found, and - as all the newspapers, and cryptopundits across the world delighted in telling us yesterday - it ended up sauteed in coconut milk as a delicious meal.

That is not what I am blogging about today, well not directly. In recent months there have been several other stories such as this, where rare, rediscovered, or other such singular beasts have been caught only to be consigned to the cooking pot.

I am afraid that I find the tone of such stories vaguely racist. I was brought up under the final days of the British Empire, an institution which is these day is treated by many people as if it were a branch of NAMBLA, and I could speak Cantonese before I could speak English (and still dream in Cantonese now), and the number of people from all manner of our former colonies who sent me letters of condolence when my parents died from Fiji, New Caledonia, Nigeria, Hong Kong, Kenya and various parts of the West Indies, have proved to me at least that the portions of the erstwhile empire in which my parents operated must have been doing something right.

From my earliest days I was taught (by parents, Amah, and teachers) that one does not sneer at people from different cultures just because they don't do things the way that you do, and that is something that I have always tried to do throughout my life. And it is something that the CFZ has always done, which is why, although I think that the natural world would be a much better place if indigenous people did not eat bushmeat (or whatever the Phillipino equivelant is), I ain't gonna point fingers.

But that is not why I am blogging.

The reason that I am blogging this is because, as you know I am not very well at the moment, and yesterday I went to bed early having taken my medication. Now, I have not taken recreational drugs for some years, and have not taken them regularly since the early days of the current decade, but remember well enough what it felt like to be stoned. And last night my quetiapine (possibly in conjunction with a sustaining curry and a mild hangover) got me completely wasted, and I put on some psychedelic music to celebrate. Lying in bed listening to Scott 3 and pootling about on my laptop, I found this following video on YouTube, and became convinced of one important, and - I think - possibly overlooked scientific truism.

The megamouth shark looks like an elongated tadpole made of plasticene, and last night I was convinced that it had been made by the late Tony Hart!

OLL LEWIS: Yesterday’s News Today


Today, as well as the update on the latest cryptozoology news from the CFZ daily cryptozoology news blog, its biscuit of the week day. This week’s biscuit is the noble penguin, as well as the biscuit itself it also offers you the prospect of impressing ladies by collecting all the different wrappers of penguins wearing bowler hats or snorkels and displaying them in an album. Go on admit it ladies, that sort of dedication in a man would seriously impress you. Anyway gentlemen, and ladies when you rejoin us after your penguin wrapper album fantasy induced lie down, here is the news:

Newly discovered Noble's Pygmy Frog
Expert adds to wildcat find debate
Rare crocs make Florida comeback
Incredible images as giant snake eats croc
Tiny frog from the elfin forests
Philippine fishermen net and eat rare megamouth shark
Hobbit brain small, but organized for complex intelligence

When asked how certain they were about the hobbits being clever the scientists replied that they were totally ‘Shire’.


The CFZ publicity machine is rumbling into action for Neil Arnold's remarkably good book The Mystery Animals of Kent. Not only does our campaign start immediately after Easter, but dear old Redders has completely pre-empted us with posts about this book on two of his own blogs. Check 'em out, they are really rather interesting, and they make the point that editing this bloody book was one of the dardest things that I have ever done - mainly because, it was almost impossible to cut anything out! There will almost certainly be a second volume at some point, purely because there is so much more to tell...


From a cultural point of view, we have always been interested in the depictions of monsters and unknown animals in art. Here, Richard Freeman, interviews Nick Walters, a Dr Who writer about his work combining the world's most popular science fiction TV show with cryptozoology.

The interview took place in February at Microcon - the Exeter University Science Fiction Convention at which they were both speakers


I am trying to adapt the old adage about the one-eyed man in the land of the blind, as quoted by Tom Waits on Singapore. But I am finding it increaingly difficult. How does: "In the land of the mad, the bipolar bloke who only hallucinates some of the time, seems relatively sane"? No, it doesn't grab you by the short and curlies does it?
I have never made any secret of the fact that I have mental health problems. Like a large proportion of the human race, especially in the increasingly complicated and stressful society of the Western World, my faculties ain't what they should be. No, let's stop pussyfooting around. Some of the time I am as mad as a bagful of cheese, and I am sure that my leadership of the CFZ has reflected that sad fact on occasions through the years.
However, at least as far as our activities with animal welfare are concerned, we behaving reasonably normally. Reasonably normally, that is, compared to PETA.
What the hell is happening to animnal welfare organisations? As shown in these pages, the RSPCA has mutated from a benign organisation that gave out information leaflets about tortoises with shell rot, and helped old ladies who could not afford to spay their pussy. But PETA, these days at least, are just barnpots.
They were formed in 1980, and combated the fur trade, vivisection and cruel sports by litigation and high profile demonstrations, which often involved a pretty female celebrity taking her clothes off. Woo Hoo!!! There should be more public nudity in animal rights. But recently, like so many other organisations, they have started to become victims of their own dogma and have started making such ridiculous public statements that it is hard to take them seriously.

In october last year they started a campaign to rename all members of the petromyzontidae, chondrichthyes, or the superclass osteichthyes as "sea-kittens" rather than "fish". Hmmmmmm.
"If everyone started calling fish 'sea kittens,' they'd be a lot less likely to violently kill them for food, painfully hook them for 'sport,' or cruelly confine them to aquariums," a spokeswoman said.

Christ on a Bike!!!

(By the way, at the point may I digress? The last time my brother heard me come out with that expression, he solemnly pointed out that there was no tradition of two wheeled transport in the Holy Land 2,000 years ago. He should know; being a vicar he is an expert. However, if there is any archaeological evidence to the contrary please let me know).

But back to PETA. Their latest idiocy is even more of an own-goal. It has been 25 years since a synthesiser pop duo consiting of a dour northerner who had once edited the Captain Britain comics, and a bloke wearing shades who always stood still, first hit the public consciousness. Yes, Ladies and Gentlemen, the Pet Shop Boys hit the British consciousness. Since it has been proved that the band are NOT named after an unpleasant activity involving gerbils and vaseline, what have they got to do with animal rights? Neil Tennant is after all a national treasure.

Well not to PETA. BBC news this morning reads:

Pop group Pet Shop Boys have revealed they have turned down a request by animal rights group Peta to rename themselves the Rescue Shelter Boys. "Peta Europe has written to Pet Shop Boys with a request they are unable to agree to," reads a post on the band's official website. But the band admits the request "raises an issue worth thinking about".

Peta's letter requests the name change due to the cruelty which they allege takes place in the pet trade. If the band were to agree to the name change, it continues, it would "encourage your millions of fans to consider giving a home to an abandoned or unwanted animal from an animal shelter".

PETA have done one of two things here. They are either bonkers, or they have been very subtle, and by making a deliberately stupid request, got publicity from all sorts of people (like me, for example) who would not normally have covered their campaign.

Now that is clever.

PS The Pet Shop Boys 10th studio album Yes has just been released, and it certainly has its moments