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, May 07, 2009

NICK REDFERN: Snaking Around the Cemetery...

Well, yet again there is high-strangeness afoot in the woods of Britain's Cannock Chase - and specifically in the vicinity of its German Cemetery.

As regular readers will know, the cemetery in question has been a veritable hotbed of weirdness for years: Bigfoot, werewolves, hairy-sprites, ghosts, marauding black-cats, and spectral black-dogs have all been seen roaming amongst the old war-graves.

But, now there's a new player in town: a giant snake that has been seen slithering around the area. As the story shows, this is not the first time that similar beasts have been seen on the Chase (I investigated a case myself a number of years ago that reportedly occurred in the blisteringly hot-summer of 1976).

So, what are people seeing? Are they regular snakes or something else? From the descriptions, they could perhaps be pythons. However, the problem is that such creatures would not last long when the cold, harsh winter sets in.

And yet such creatures have been seen for years on the Chase, which begs the questions: if they are regular snakes, how are they surviving those aforementioned harsh winters year-after-year? And why are the snakes (like all of the other odd beasts seen on the Chase) now homing in on the German Cemetery?

Truly a mystery of Fortean proportions!

RICHARD MUIRHEAD: Good news for lepidopterists

Some of you may remember that on May 27th this year the massive and interesting collection of butterflies accumulated by Charles Rothschild and housed for many years at Harrow School was to be auctioned, much to the chagrin of many commentators including our own Jon Downes who got rather vitriolic about the whole affair.

Well the good news is that the auction has been cancelled. The collection has been bought by a collector in its entirety and will be kept as one body in the United Kingdom. This news was given to me by a spokeswoman at the Tetbury office of the auctioneers Bonhams today, May 7th.

This news should please lepidopterists everywhere and fulfils the wish of Hitoshi Takano:

“Hitoshi Takano, a Harrow old boy and consultant for the sale,remembers his joy at finding out the Harrow butterflies existed……Takano hopes the butterflies will be bought as a job lot-the estimate for the 27 May sale is £60,000 to £80,000-and by someone who can keep them together and allow public access and study.” (The Guardian February 23rd 2009)

JAN EDWARDS: What is it?

The other day Jan asked:

"What is this animal? It has long back legs. It has a white mark on its head. It has a light-coloured tummy. It has a dark patch under each eye. It’s just over a week old and its eyes are just starting to open".

It is a wild European rabbit. The dark patch under the eyes and the white patch on the head are common variants, just mentioned to throw folks off their guard. It is just over a week old, and it (and 4 other siblings) are being fostered by a domestic rabbit with 5 babies of her own, which are the same age.


The boy Freeman is a most peculiar fellow, and gets interested in the most peculiar things...

An 89 year old war veteran was being eaten alive by mice in a nursing home in south west Queensland. The rodents chewed through his ears and head as he feebly tried to brush them off. He was literally being eaten alive and almost died. The man' daughter complained to her MP Ray Hopper, who liken
ed the situation to something in the Third World. The man was bed-ridden and had limited communication ability so he could not tell anyone about the rodentine onslaught.

Queensland's Health Minister Paul Lucas has apologized to the victim and his family, and offered to relocate other residents of the facility.

It is surprising how rats and mice, in some conditions can behave like the rodents in James Herbert’s books. I recall, back in the 1980s, reading of an old woman who had suffered a stroke but was still alive and conscious. As she lay helpless rats gnawed the flesh from her shoulder blades.

Back in June 1881, in Philadelphia, Mrs. Theodore Fritz left a five week old infant with her two daughters aged 3 and 5 whilst she was out on an errand. Neighbors heard the child screaming but found he doors locked. Upon her return Mrs. Fritz saw a huge rat on the bed next to her child. It leapt off and escaped through a hole in the wall. He babies whole face was almost entirely eaten and one arm gnawed to the bone. There were bite marks all over it.

On December 13, 2006, in Kirkland, Washington, USA. A King County sheriff's deputy responded to a complaint about rats at a Kirkland-area home. She found his carcass being eaten by rats.On Monday, the deputy found a decomposed body, believed to be that of 67-year-old Thomas Harold Stone, on a bed in an upstairs bedroom. She wrote that body was being eaten by rats as she watched and one ran between her feet while she was there. Neighbors had repeatedly complained that rats were a problem at Stone's home and the Health Department had ordered him to clean up his rat-infested property. He was reclusive and told the neighbors rats were his friends. A
neighbour recently complained again to King County Councilwoman Jane Hague who called Sheriff Sue Rahr who sent the deputy to the home.
The deputy wrote that she could smell faeces from the curb and the house was covered in waste, filth and rats.

The Illustrated Police News reported a similar case in the 1870s.


A most appalling discovery was made last week in the town of Haverball. The circumstances of the case are both remarkable and horrible to the last degree. The facts are as follows:

For some months past a man named William Laslett, his wife, and a daughter (a girl about thirteen years of age) have occupied two rooms on the basement story of a house in Princess Street. Laslett, it appears, is a traveling hawker in the hardware line; he keeps a horse and cart, with which he travels from town to town, and has been accustomed to be absent from home six or eight weeks at a time. Occasionally, he would take with him his daughter on his traveling expeditions, but more frequently his wife accompanied him.

He left Princess Street with the latter seven weeks ago, Jane Laslett the daughter remaining behind. The young girl was seen by her neighbors for a few days after her parents had departed, when all of a sudden she was missed. The doors of both rooms in the occupation of the Laslett's were locked, and the natural inference was that Jane had left to join her parents, and she had been known to do so before on more than one occasion. Weeks passed over; the suspicions of the other occupants of the house that something was amiss became stronger every day.

An unpleasant and sickening odou
r crept up the staircase and found its way into the several apartments. On Monday last, a carpenter who occupied one of the upper rooms was prevailed upon to break open the door, which led to those on the basement, whereupon he was horror struck at the sight presented to him.

Upon the door being burst open, a legion of rats scampered in all directions. The greater portion of the body of the poor girl had been devoured by the rats. The medical gentlemen who have since made a post mortem examination, concur in the opinion that Jane Laslett died suddenly from disease of the heart of long standing - that her death had in all probability taken place some weeks back, since which time the rats had been feeding on the body.

The father and mother have not yet returned, nor do the neighbou
rs know where to communicate with them.

Well it seems like the old guy in Queensland had a narrow squeak!

LINDSAY SELBY: Ho Ho for Hobbits

Scientists have found more evidence that the Indonesian "Hobbit" skeletons belong to a new species of human - and not modern pygmies. The 3ft (one metre) tall, 30kg (65lbs) humans roamed the Indonesian island of Flores, perhaps up to 8,000 years ago. Since the discovery, researchers have argued vehemently as to the identity of these diminutive people. Two papers in the journal Nature now support the idea they were an entirely new species of human.

The team, which discovered the tiny remains in Liang Bua cave on Flores, contends that the population belongs to the species Homo floresiensis - separate from our own grouping Homo sapiens. They argue that the "Hobbits" are descended from a prehistoric species of human - perhaps Homo erectus - which reached island South-East Asia more than a million years ago.

See arguments for and against here: http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn17081-bigfoot-hobbit-could-be-ancient-island-human.ht

And more here:


TERATOLOGY: Another collection of strangeness

The other day we posted a collection of pictures of lusus naturae which had been sent us by Fleur, and marvelled at the fact that somehow the dear girl had managed to find a wallage of pictures of freaks of nature which were almost unbearably cute.

However this latest trenche of pics come from Richard Freeman, gothboy of this parish, and so the pictures are far from cute, and like the man himslef, somewhat disturbing.
If any of the readers of this blog have every read a book called Dancers at the end of Time by Michael Moorcock, they will no doubt recall a character called Lord Mongrove. Now you will know what it has been like living with Richard for the past eleven or twelve years.



According to Maxy the baby cockroaches that arrived into the world yesterday are almost certainly the Madagascan hissers rather than the undescribed species.

However Graham took this lovely photograph yesterday which shows several adult Madagascan hissing cockroaches, an adult of the undescribed species, and two of the babies, and I reproduce it here purely because it shows the wide differences in morphology between the two spoecies (and also what my poor dear wife has to put up with us keeping in her kitchen)

OLL LEWIS: Yesterday’s News Today


It’s Thursday and it’s time for another update on the latest stories from the CFZ daily cryptozoology news blog. You’ll be glad to know that yesterday’s biscuit conundrum has been solved too, see the comments section for yesterday’s yesterday’s news today for more details. And now, the news:

Bigfoot hobbit could be ancient island human
Identifies about 200 new species of amphibians in Madagascar
The suspect was caught because he was spotted acting a bit ‘flighty’.