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 29, 2009

RICHARD FREEMAN: Odd Tales from Herodotus - Part One: The Crocodile

Herodotus was a Greek Historian who lived c 490-415 BC. He traveled widely in what was the then knowN world. He was the first person to systematically collect data, test it in as much as he could and present it in a narrative to the reader. He is widely thought of the Father of history, ethnography and anthropology. Though many of his stories were thought of as hard to believe much of what he has written about as since been shown to be accurate.

Through his wandering he saw and heard many weird things such as tribes who speak in bat like squeaks and build houses of salt, Ethiopians preserving their dead in huge, hollowed out crystals and the Babylonians preserving their dead in honey.

He wrote several curious passages on animal life.

“The following account is of the crocodile. During the four winter months it takes no food. It is a four footed, amphibious creature, lays and hatches its eggs on land, where it spends the grater part of the day and says all night in the river, were the water is warmer than the nigh air and the dew. The difference in size between he young and the full-grown crocodile is greater than in any other known creature; for a crocodile’s egg is hardly bigger than a goose’s, and the young when hatched is small in proportion, yet it grows to a size of some twenty three feet long or even more. It has eyes like a pig’s but great fang like teeth in proportion to its body, and is the only animal to have no tongue and a stationary lower jaw; foe when it eats it brings the upper jaw down upon the lower. It has powerful claws and a scaly hide, which ion its back is impenetrable. It cannot see underwater, though its sight on land is remarkably sharp. One result of spending so much time in the water is that its mouth gets covered with leeches. Other animals avoid the crocodile, as do all birds with one exception-the sandpiper of Egyptian plover; this bird is of service to the crocodile and lives, in consequence, in the greatest amity with him; for when the crocodile comes ashore and lies with his mouth wide open (which he generally does facing towards he west), the bird hops in and swallows the leeches. The crocodile enjoys this and, in consequence, never hurts the bird. Some Egyptians reverence the crocodile as a sacred beast; other do not, but treat it as an enemy. The strongest belief in its sanctity is to be found in Thebes and around Lake Moeris; in these places they keep one particular crocodile, which they tame, putting rings made of glass and gold into its ears and bracelets round its front feet, and giving it special food and ceremonial offerings. In fact, while these creatures are alive they treat them with every kindness, and, when they die, embalm them and bury them in sacred tombs. On the other hand, in the neighborhood of Elephantine crocodiles were no considered sacred animals at all, but are eaten. In the Egyptian language these creatures are called champsae. The name crocodile-or lizard- was given them by the Ionians who saw they resembled the lizards commonly found on stone walls in their own country.

Of the numerous different ways of catching crocodiles I will describe the one which seems to me the most worthy to report. They bait a hook with a chine of pork and let it float out into midstream, and at the same time, sanding on the bank, take a live pig and beat it. The crocodile, hearing its squeals, makes a rush towards it. Gulps it down, and is hauled out of the water. The first thing the huntsman dies when he has got the beast on land is to plaster its eyes with mud; this done, it is dispatched easily enough-but without this precaution it will give a lot of trouble.”

Herodotus’ description is, overall quite good. His description of the symbiosis between the Nile crocodile and the Egyptian plover is the first of its kind.

He gets a few things wrong. The crocodile, like all other vertebrates moves the lower jaw not the upper. Crocodiles do have tongues and can see very well under water.


This is a new service provided by the CFZ bloggo both to publications and to you, the reading public. We invite the editors of any magazine that is on topic to the admittedly broad remit of this bloggo, to send us a shameless plug for the contents of any issue of your mag that fits on these pages...

Star attraction for cryptozoologists in the latest edition of Paranormal Magazine (June / issue 36) is an article by the CFZ’s very own zoological director, Richard Freeman.

Richard’s intriguing – and unnerving – feature, Monsters In Your Backyard, reveals that strange creatures like Bigfoot don’t always limit their activities to the wild open spaces: they have also been known to invade towns and suburban gardens.
Even dragons and lake monsters can be spotted on the edge of urban spaces. Take Nahuelito, for example, the Argentinan Nessie. Its posited habitat, a lake called Nahuel Haupi, is no longer isolated in the untrodden wilds – it’s become Argentina’s answer to Blackpool Pleasure Beach.

There’s some crypto fun to be had in Alan Friswell’s article on ‘cat-lore’ (eg, did you know invading Persians strapped pussycats to their shields to put off Bast-worshipping Egyptian soldiers?). Alan designs monsters for a living – he made the CFZ’s ‘Fiji Mermaid’, for example – so knows a thing or two about weird beasties.
To this I have added a contribution of my own on Phantom Felines – in short supply compared to paranormal pooches – while horror film fan John Stoker shines a spotlight on ghosts of the stars in Haunted Holywood. Janet Bord investigates spooky spoor – ghosts that leave tracks!
Another highlight is Steve Parson’s thorough summation of infrasound research. Low frequency sound has been blamed for making people experience apparent paranormal phenomena and Steve is doing a PhD on the subject, so knows what he’s talking about.

In addition, Nigel Watson reveals members of the Royal Family’s fascination with UFOs; Philip Mantle summarises a previously unrecorded daylight disc alert at an RAF base; ghost hunter Jason Karl chooses his ten favourite ‘old haunts’ out of the many spooky locations he has visited; and there is also a round-up on Spooky Suffolk.

Phew! No longer it takes so long to fill the bloody thing. And since this is a shameless plug (thank you Jon), I might as well add that postage in the UK is free, so if you want to give Paranormal Magazine a go and can’t find it in the shops, you won’t pay any more by ordering it off www.paranormalmagazine.co.uk

Richard Holland, Editor of Paranormal Magazine (http://www.paranormalmagazine.co.uk/) and Uncanny UK (http://www.uncannyuk.com/).

NICK REDFERN: Resolving The Edalji Affair?

Some of you may be aware of an old, notorious case that occurred many-a-moon ago in my home-country of England - and actually only about 2 miles from where I used to live.

Some less-than-informed researchers have likened it to an early animal mutilation case. But, in reality, it had far more to do with human unpleasantness.

What am I talking about?

I'll tell you: the infamous "horse-ripping"/"slashing" saga of one George Edalji, who was jailed for seven years in 1903 for savagely mutilating horses in the village of Great Wyrley. A solicitor, George (the son of an Indian Christian convert and a parish priest) was ultimately released from prison in 1906.

But now, more than a century on, letters from George's sister - Maud - have been uncovered at the University of Texas that offer a startling insight into the events that surrounded his conviction.

In the letters, written to BBC broadcaster and writer Hesketh Pearson in 1956, Maud offered her view that racial prejudice on the part of the police chief involved in the investigation led to George's conviction. And Maud refuted claims that the family was shunned in the village after the horse attacks.

Maud wrote: “My father and mother did very good work in the parish and were very much beloved by the parishioners. I have been to Wyrley many times since my father was vicar there and always get a good welcome from the people. I always felt that colour had a great deal to do with the Chief Constable’s attitude.”

So, if George wasn't the culprit, then who was?

For that possible answer, click right here...

OLL LEWIS: Yesterday’s News Today

Yesterday’s News Today

It’s Wednesday so that makes it more or less biscuit of the week day as well as the regular round up of news headlines from the CFZ daily cryptozoology news blog and a bad pun. Imagine if you will a tacky game show, the sort of show that might have been presented by Des O’Conner or Les Dennis, you know, not good enough for Bruce Forsyth or Bob Monkhouse but better than the sort of show that would be saddled with Michael Barrymore or Vernon Kaye. The contestant (either a woman who looks permanently angry or a man who looks like there’s quite a bit of weasel in his ancestry, your choice) is being asked to choose a prize from a ‘fabulous’ selection by Des/Les, a dolly bird and a creepy disembodied voice. After being given the choice of a state of the art Brevelle, a romantic weekend for two in the stunning new town of Milton Keynes and the mystery prize the contestant opts for the mystery prize.

“Lets find out what you’ve won!” Crows Des/Les with a knowing wink towards the audience, who have been bussed in from bingo halls up and down the land, and the dolly bird removes the cover from the mystery prizes podium with a flourish. Sitting atop the revolving blue mystery prize podium is a solitary packet of Jacobs Lemon Puffs. The audience of shrieking bingo obsessed old ladies guffaws uncontrollably as the contestant sheds a tear from their eye, cursing missing out on what might well have been their only chance to go on a weekend break somewhere as sumptuous as Milton Keynes. Never mind though eh, as the Lemon Puff is my biscuit of the week. And now, the news:

Dorothy's dog blown away
Literary cat makes library visits
Red squirrels ready for visitors
Injured Dog Set to Get Prosthetic Legs

‘Paw’ thing, hope he likes his new legs.