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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Monday, May 04, 2009


The bird that I posted at lunchtime was actually a night heron, and I am mildly embarrassed not to have recognised it as such. I have been kicking myself all afternoon because when I was a boy, there was a small heronry in the tall forest trees opposite our building in Hong Kong, and the inhabitants included night herons, albeit of a different species.

Here, for your delectation, is another video of one of these delightful birds..

CFZ ARCHIVING PROJECT: The Fourth Trenche of Folklore 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..

The CFZ Archives yeild up a mixed bag of odd folklore clippings mostly folklore reports from the Devonshire Association between 1892 and the early 1950s, but also another trenche of original press cuttings concerning the Cherry Brook Valley episode from the late 1970s when a number of dead ponies were found under peculiar circumstances...

RICHARD FREEMAN: Between a rock and a hard place; the story of the Senaku Mole

The Senkaku Islands lie northeast of Taiwan, due west of Okinawa, and due north of the end of the Ryukyu Islands in the East China Sea. They are little known in the west and are uninhabited.
They were first mentioned in the Ming Dynasty book Voyage with the Tail Wind and appear on a map from the same period. The group consists of four main islands and three large, rocky outcrops. Their collective land area amounts to only 2.7 square miles.
In 1979 a single specimen of a mole was discovered on the largest of the island group, Uotsuri-jima. It was found to be a new species and named Mogera uchidai, the Senkaku mole. This type specimen is the only known example of the animal. A survey conducted in 1991 found no moles but did find a tunnel.

In 1978 a pair of goats, one of the most ecologically damaging species, was introduced to the island. These have bred and now the goats are a menace to the islands ecology including the moles who have one of the most restricted ranges of any animal in the world.
Most of Uotsuri-jima is covered with subtropical forest dominated by Livistona chinensis, and there are cloud forests at higher elevations it has only recently been described and very little is known about its ecology.

The island range is currently caught up in a dispute with China and Taiwan on one side and Japan on the other.
Unsurprisingly the dispute is down to the fact that two Japanese scientists said that there may be large reservoirs of oil off the islands, currently controlled by Japan.
In the 15th century the former Ming Dynasty general Zheng Chenggong drove Dutch from the whole area and set up the Kingdom of Chenggong, based on Taiwan but including the Senkaku Islands. The Kingdom remained faithful the defeated Ming Dynasty and existed from 1661 to 1683 when Zheng Chenggong’s grandson, Zheng Keshuang was defeated by Qing Dynasty who now ruled mainland China.
After the Chinese lost the first Sino-Japanese war in 1895 they were forced to hand over Taiwan
and related territories in the Treaty of Shimonoseki.
During WW2 the US controlled the area. After the war 1945, all "unequal treaties" forced on China were declared void, including the Treaty of Shimonoseki In 1972, however the US handed the Senkaku Islands back to Japan.
No one cared much until the possible discovery of oil off the islands.

The goat population on Uotsuri-jima needs to be wiped out as it may constitute a threat to the Senkaku mole who must be considered endangered by sheer dint of it’s restricted range (no to mention the fact that only one has ever been see). Also another dedicated expedition in search of the mole, to find out if it still exists and what kind of population it has, needs to be carried out. This may prove difficult, but far from imposable under the current political situation.

If China wins the dispute it will doubtless drill for oil and set up a base on the island. This will mean curtains for any surviving Senkaku moles.

The little animals are caught between a rock and a hard place. Currently with China held at bay oil drilling is unlikely. But so long as the goats remain on the island, he moles are under threat.


There is a new species of Vietnamese pit viper (Protobothrops trungkhanhensis). That’s jolly nice, but the case actually presents some interesting Fortean characteristics, because for some reason known only to the Gods of the internet, every single news item that we have found about the snake describes it erroneously as a brand new species of “rattlesnake”.

Well rattlesnakes are indeed a subgrouping of pit vipers, but whereas all rattlesnakes are pit vipers, not all pit vipers are rattlesnakes, and not only is the new species not a rattlesnake, all rattlesnake species are found exclusively in the New World.

The thing that is both interesting and worrying is the way that the completely erroneous information has been disseminated willy nilly across the internet.

Even www.wildlifeextra.com who are a generally excellent source for information write:

“The newly discovered rattle-snake is named Protobothrops trungkhanhensis Orlov, Ryabov & Nguyen. The snake is relatively small when compared to other Protobothrops species, being only 733mm in length, with a small triangle-shaped head.

Nguyen Thien Tao, curator of amphibians and reptiles of the Vietnam Nature Museum who co-authored of the discovery, said that this is the fourth species of rattle-snake of the Protobothrops family found in Vietnam.”

One of two things has happened, as far as I can see. Either there was a cock-up early on, probably in the translation between English and Russian (one can imagine a bored sub-editor doing a cursory Google search and assuming that because rattlesnakes are pit vipers the reverse holds true) or - more disturbingly - there is an entire culture of journalists just cutting and pasting other people’s information.

Now, I am very aware of the Biblical quotation about `casting the first stone` at this point. Some years ago, during one of my more spectacular bouts of uncontrolled bipolar activity, I had a job working for a natural history partwork.

I blotted my copybook seriously by resorting to the aforementioned cut and paste techniques, and was sacked. In my defence I was as mad as a bagful of cheese at the time and I have no real recollection of the events in question, but I will freely put my hands up and say mea cu;pa.

But that was long before I had any pretensions to being a reputable scientific journalist, and the fact that the rattlesnake identification has been used on so many occasions to describe this totally un-rattlesnake (it doesn’t even have a rattle for goodness sake) is a little disturbing.

The other explanation is that there has been a major re-evaluation of the taxonomy of pit vipers, and both Richard’s and my information is out of date, and we are just making idiots of ourselves by making an issue of this case. It is certainly a possibility.


Just a brief reminder that time is running out for the bloggo `Big Three` series. We are launching a new series, and we want YOU to get involved. Each of the regular blogging crew will be writing a brief essay on the three mystery animals that intrigue them most, and why.

There are only a couple of rules:

1. The three cryptids must be ones that have some chance of existing. Not purely mythological creatures or something esoteric from a movie or comic book.
2. Make them different. I would very much rather not have three long necked lake monsters from three adjacent lakes

Apart from that, its up to you. So get blogging!

MATTHEW OSBORNE (CFZ First Aid Officer): Top tip for how to avoid swine flu


OLL LEWIS: Yesterday’s News Today


It’s Monday, so how about a movie recommendation with the Cryptozoology news update today? Well, If you are currently saying “yes, please.” or launching into a diatribe about how such a thing would make you vomit with sheer unadulterated rage it matters not as I’m typing this up last night, so I’m going to recommend you a film anyway. My film of the week is “Zodiac” a surprising number of people actually haven’t seen this film, which to my mind is the best serial killer investigation movie ever made, even better than Red Dragon and Silence Of The Lambs, and based on true events. Here’s the trailer for you to watch after you’ve read the news and today’s blog postings: http://www.imdb.com/video/screenplay/vi2012152601/
And now, the news:

Va., W.Va. scientists study unexplained fish kills
Monster Rats Pouring Out of Harvard
'Loch Ness' monster fossil found on Lyme coast
To Fathom a Colony’s Talk and Toil, Studying Insects One by One
Scientists sound the alarm that wildcats face wipeout

It’s rumoured that if the Scottish government fails to act it could start up a series of wildcat strikes.