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 14, 2009

MUIRHEAD'S MYSTERIES: White starlings and a cure for vipers

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..

Now that Easter is over I`m returning with Fortean zoology from the Macclesfield Courier.

Now we`re up to January 1814:

"RARA AVIS-On Tuesday se`enight a person of Boston (1) shot a white starling, which was one of a flock of birds of the ordinary colour,flying in the pastures round that town. Being only slightly wounded, it is yet alive. The gunner observed another white starling in the flock."
(1) Boston is, by the way, the town in Lincolnshire
Macclesfield Courier. January 22nd 1814.p.2
"Prof. Mangeli (?) has published in the Milan Journal, a long report upon the action of the venom of vipers. He states, as the result of his experience, the ammonite is the only sovereign remedy for the bite of those reptiles, and that opium and musk, which have been hitherto prescribed, have no certain effect".


Well it hasn't but the remittance advice thingy has come through. The CFZ has lived to fight another day. I am sorry to be melodramatic, but it was that close.

TIM MATTHEWS: Still everything to play for

Tim Matthews is one of my best friends, and also - coincidentally - one of the most controversial figures in contemporary forteana. He has been involved with the CFZ for nearly a decade now, raising eyebrows wherever he goes.

It is still all to play for, so come to us all ye that are heavy laden and work with the CFZ. I remember back in the good old bad old days of X Files hysteria that many of us, me inlcuded, took ourselves far too seriously and forgot that This Thing Of Ours could and should be fun. I mean, what is the point if it isn't? Making a difference has to be enlightening as well entertaining. What amuses me, in a kind of black way, is the story I read today on the BBC website about yet another momentous discovery - this time a new population of a rare species of Orangutan in wildest Borneo.

Cryptozoologists were not leading the way, or the fray, and were following the primates rear whilst Regular Scientists (they who scoff at our feeble efforts), acting on tip offs from locals, discovered a tightly packed arrangement of nests where up to 2,000 of these creatures are said to live. A 17-hour journey to the location included ten hours by car, five hours in a boat and a couple more hours hiking. Now you can't travel that distance on the internet can you?

On the same day that it is claimed that "most Britons" believe in "heaven" it seems that we more chance of convincing people to go to church than becoming active in the scientific disciplines. It also seems that more and more of our time should be spent getting involved with regular scientific and similar practical activities because the Crypto crew are simply not engaging with the right people to make discoveries. The question that needs to be asked is whether this is a cottage industry for the promotion of dodgy folklore or a serious effort intended to push back the boundaries of human knowledge. We'd be better joining in with other people's expeditions, wouldn't we?

Mind you, this is one in the eye for all those 'orrible skeptical specimens that haunt the fringes of our subject and who are oft heard to proclaim that "there is nothing more to discover" or that "it's all myths and folklore". Tell that to Eric Meijaard of Nature Conservancy Indonesia whose team not only found the new rare species but is also working as hard as it can to protect the area in question from destructive human activity including massive deforestation and palm oil production from local sources.


OLL LEWIS: Yesterday’s News Today


Welcome to the Tuesday morning cryptozoology news update courtesy of the CFZ cryptozoology news blog. Here is the news:

Denver Paranormal Science Examiner: Cattle Mutilations, a homegrown Colorado phenomena
Not Guilty Plea In Bizarre Animal Cruelty Case - NE USA
'Big cat' seen in Kings Langley
More evidence of big cat on the prowl
North Walsham Panther
New orangutan population found in Indonesia

The scientists weren’t ‘monkey’ing around when they were looking for orangutans, but they went ape when they found them