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, May 27, 2009



The three biggest wastes of time as I see it would be:

1) The Classic "String-of-Buoys" Sea-serpent,
2) The Water Horse and
3) The mangy dog-Chupacabras,

closely followed to my mind by Mothman, Owlman and all others of that ilk.

The Classic "String-of-buoys" is based on nothing but a wave effect in the water, whether in "Many-humped" or in "Super-otter" conformations. Several different thinngs create that effect and it is non-specific to any one cause. The vast majority of all "Water-monster" reports worldwide fall into this category. Hundreds of false reports of this type make up at least three-quarters of all the recorded reports in this category.

Water-horses are a subsection of this, but they are often cited as "The" basis for freshwater longnecked sightings such as the Loch Ness Monster. There are very clear reports of this type at Loch Ness and other places, seen entering or leaving the water. They are moose (elk in Europe) or other large deer (moose are not found in Scotland) and they leave cloven moose tracks. They often have the little stubs of horns but sometimes full moose antlers, and they are also sometimes seen swimming at sea when crossing fjords
and the like.

Mangy-dog Chupacabras and animal-mutilation reports we have just discussed. And as far as Mothman or Owlman is concerned there really is no reason to count them as anything more than exaggerated sightings of probably ordinary owls. Perhaps outsized ones, but there need be nothing more to it than that.

Now one of the biggest, most important things in Cryptozoology is a matter that falls between the cracks: the vast majority of creatures called Wildmen (or even using "Abominable Snowmen" in the broadest sense)are evidently relic hominids such as Neanderthal men. The problem in that case is they might therefore be Homo sapiens. If that is the case, then you do not have a cryptid, you cannot treat your own species as an unknown animal.

So really, technically, Cryptozoologists should not be dealing with any of those ones, either. They fall outside of their definition for being "Unknowns". And really, technically, Cryptozoologists should not be dealing in any known species of any animal, no matter where it should turn up. Hence misplaced cats are not Cryptozoological subjects. You can very easily make a field to study things such as misplaced big cats, but that is outside the field of Cryptozoology. The default explanation must always be that the misplaced animals were misplaced by some human agency. Nothing more and nothing less.

Now as to what we should be looking out for should be something along the lines of my Category I of Former Cryptozoological Checklists:

Section I of former Checklists. Section I is the category most acceptable to conventional science and for the most part contains animals very nearly like known forms, color variants of known forms, disputed forms for which there exist photographic evidence, specimens preserved in museums or mere matters of disputed taxonomic status.

This is an area of Cryptozoology in which ALL of these could be "known" species and hence not deserving of further attention by the most stringent definition of the field.

Heuvelmans List:

1. Gosse's beaked whale
2. Alua whale
3. Greek dolphin
4. Senegal dolphin
5. Illigan whale
6. Outsized giant squids [Collosal rather than Giant squids?]
7. Octopus (Otoctopus) giganteus
8. Lake Setani shark
9. Mauretanian wild dog
10. Atlas bear
11. Atlas python
12. Blue tiger, black tiger
13. Outsized reticulated pythons
14. Chinese white bear (like US Olympic black bears, which are white)
15. Kimos (pygmies on Madagascar, possibly human)
16. Ufiti and koolookamba, outsized chimpanzeess
17. Pygmy gorilla
18. Spotted lion
19. Other oddly colored African cats
20. Mngwa as a giant golden cat (which do have a streaked/spotted
and a grey phase)
21. Pygmy elephants
22. Water rhino/pygmy rhino/ African one-horned rhinoceros
23. Ethiopian ?hyrax
24. Spotted bushbuck
25. American lion (even if residual of extinct form, same species as
African lion)
26. Andean wolf
29. Felis levantina
30. Possible giant montpelier snakes
31. Quaggas (probably only a color phase of zebras in the first place)
32. Nandi bears, possibly even unknown African bears

Shuker List:

1. Dimorphic beaked whale
2. St. Helena elephant seals
3. Beebee's manta
4. Planetosphaera pelagica
5. Lophenteropneusts
6. Deep-sea spider
7. Bigfin squid
8. The thing (giant polychaete worm)
9. Horned Sunda wildcat, possibly only pathological
10. Venomous blackfish
11.. Hungarian reed wolf
12. Greek chameleon
13. Steller's white sea-raven
14. Qattara cheetah
15. Tailed loris
16. Pale Loris
17. Chuti/Nepalese hyena
18. Seah malong poo
19. Horned jackal, possibly only pathological
20. Quang khen
21. Mangden
22. Kting voar
23. Argus bipunctatus
24. Elephant-dung bat
25. Giant bushbaby
26. Australian Tasmanian devils
27. Sapo de loma (I basically do not see how this differs from the common
Marine Toad)
28. Yamamaya (possibly ony a Clouded leopard)
29. Malagnira (ultrasmall lemur)
30. Senegal stone partridge
31. Sudd gallinule
32. Kenyan black swift
33. Green touraco
34. Mexican ruffed cat (presumably a Lynx-variant)
35. Van Roosmalen's jaguar
36. Tigerstriped Peruvian cat
37. Speckled jaguar
38. Yama puma
39. Peruvian jungle lion
40. Pygmy brown bear
41. Mitla ('catlike dog')
42. 6 forms of Birds-of-paradise
43. Delcourt's giant gecko
44. Shamanu
45. Bornean babyrusa
46. Schomburgk's deer
47. Pink headed duck
48. Eastern puma (including its darker color variant)
49. Arizona (and Southern USA) jaguar
50. Nesophrontid insectivores
51. Glaucus macaw
52. Domench's Pseudo-goat (clawed goat, also possibly deformed)
53. Dobhar-Chu or Master-otter

These are the things that Cryptozoology is most likely to actually produce eventually. They are mostly rather mundane and unspectacular.

The bigger things that are still within reach are in Category III:

Category III of former Checklists : This category is one that deserves more attention. It centers around cryptids that appear not to be identifiable as known species, but are not so far different that they stand out as glaringly odd.

Heuvelmans List:

1.Highfin sperm whale
2.Antarctic saberfin whale (possibly related)
3. Double-dorsal finned dolphins
4. African unknown sirenians
5. Lake Titicaca seal/manatee
6. Gigantic anaconda
7. Minhocao
8. The "mysterious beast", a probable giant catfish
9. New Britain migo
10. Celebes unknown crocodile
11. Tatzelwurm
12. Tzuchinoko (Japanese unknown snake, possibly Angkistrodon)
13. Ahool, giant bat of the Orient
14. "Olitiau", giant bat of Africa
15. Outsized African pythons
16. South American apes ("Ameranthropoides")
17. Marquesan rail
18 Lau (as African giant catfish; reports also tend to sound like crested
19. Jhoors and Burus, unknown monitors of India
20. possible similar African forms (nguma-monene is possibly related)
21. Megalotaria defined as a small residuum of giant sea lion reports.

Shuker List:

1.Trinity Alps giant salamander
2. Antarctic Narwhal
3. Two-backfinned Mysticete
4.Palmyra fish (type of killer whale?)
5. Scott's dolphin
6. Giant rattail
7. Beebee's Abyssal fishes
8. Giant woebegong "Ground shark"
9. Percy Fawcett's "toothless shark" (South American catfish, poss. related to
"Mysterious beast")
10. Genaprugwirion, Welsh large unknown lizard (just as likely a large agamid as
a tuatara)
11. Van Roosmalen's tapir
12. Jetete
13. Black wattleless guan
15. Alovot
16. Kondlo
17. Sasao
18. Goodenough black bird of paradise
19. O'shea's Papuan viper
20. Cigau

Category II in between covers Living Fossils which is a special category. There needs to be a determination about whether the species are the same as known fossil species and the length of time that they were suposed to be extinct is a factor in how likely they are to turn up again. Recently-extinct creatures are no big deal, long-extinct ones are a very big deal. However, if they are actually known species they also fall outside of the definition of Cryptozoology and they are not properly called Cryptids.

The entire issue hinges on several assumptions among them being how we determine species and if the forms when located actually are going to be defined as new species. There is also the problem of predicting the likelihood of discovery for unknowns. Both assumptions could well be unknowable at this time.

THE CATS OF UPPER MINSTER: Episode 4 - Chickens coming home

The other week, as an amusing one-off Tim Matthews, wrote a silly short story spoofing some of the more ridiculous exploits of various self-styled big cat researchers over the years.
It was so popular that he wrote another one, and now - by public demand - it has become a serial. Every other day will see an episode of Timmo's new Fortean soap opera The Cats of Upper Minster. And having read the first few episodes I can confirm that it is bloody smashing and highly amusing. "I'll carry on until it stops being funny" says Tim, and you can't say fairer than that!

“Foxes!” bawled Tony East. “You must be joking.” The glass collector cum occasional barman had come outside to see what all the fuss was about. Once news of the Channel X TV truck’s arrival started to spread a crowd of fascinated onlookers gathered outside The Minster public house. “What’s going on,” they wanted to know. “Has there been a murder!”

“Not quite,” fumed farmer Adam Barton, “although somebody might be killing the truth pretty soon. From what I can see poor old Marj’s dog saw something, barked at it, slipped its lead and now we have every nutter within 100 miles descending on our village. Utterly ridiculous. I mean what next? Crop circles, UFOs, the Devil Rides Out? Give me strength!”

Just as Adam was launching into a tirade about “damned outsiders” the biggest outsider of the lot pushed his way through the crowd, past the TV truck and towards the pub. Big, brash, boresome and with an overinflated sense of his own importance, The General, with briefcase in hand, waved a sheaf of papers in the general direction of a reporter who was chatting with his roving cameraman.
He loved it, and he loved himself.
“Laydees and Genelmun,” he bawled his East London accent. “I have here definitive proof that something major has gone on here. There is certainly something here for science. I can show a link between major paranormal events and local sightings of mystery animals. What we have here is a window area of great significance to the world as a whole!”

“Window area my arse,” said Richard Barton, Adam’s son and not a young man with any time for stories of the weird and not so wonderful. All he, and most villagers cared about, was the Good Life, and ill-educated morons spouting X Files theories was not his thing.

“Excuse me,” said The General. “As a local farmer you will be able to attest to several animal mutilations of your sheep by predators unknown. This has been happening for at least 40 years and the farming community has been covering it up, or is involved!”

Despite the obvious illogic of The General’s claim, Richard Barton noted that the only Predators around here were newshounds and foxes, and that he was off to do some farming and forget about the “nonsense” that being spouted outside the village hostelry. The General, brushing down his camo jacket for an upcoming live link with Channel X’s 3 O’Clock News, assembled a small group of supporters to give the impression that he did indeed head up an organisation and that people did indeed take him seriously. He even put on a pair of sunglasses and despite the fact that these made him look like a part-time doorman for a social club he was loving it. Far too much.
Just then Billy The Burger Man emerged. Driving an old Ford Transit van with camouflaged paint and a hatch in the side (for serving his customers in a layby off the A30 near Okehampton) Billy was the wheels of the ABC Team operation and had seen a big cat on Dartmoor as a child. He owned walkie talkies and a CB radio. Real and unfortunate name Billy Poison, his wife PAM (so written as she was loud, obnoxious and had been having an ongoing affair with The General for several years) and he were Big Cats Research stalwarts. They had been there, at the beginning, when a dozen members of the Fortean Research Centre split when its Chairman, Don Brown, told them they were a bunch of useless wasters and would never amount to anything.

Billy, Pam and The General were self-styled Real Militants of Big Cat Research. Yes, their annual report contained numerous spelling errors and rarely incorporated paragraphs but they had better night vision cameras, better camo gear and better pictures of big cats in the wild, or so they claimed. They also had a good website and forum, too, as The General could design websites and made a bit of money doing it from the attic from his old mum’s house in West Ham.

“Billy, me old mate", shouted the General, smiling. “I knew you wouldn’t let us down. Now then mate, get the van ova 'ere and we can stand in front of it for the interview. We’re live in five, buddy.” One of The General’s bad habits was, when excited, to start talking in a pseudo-American accent, something he’d perhaps learned from Billy, whose main claim to fame was reaching a man in Detroit on an illegal Single Side Band radio once in 1996. Nothing to do with big cats but he liked the idea of tracking things down. That’s what real men do. And he truly believed in Rambo and Professional Wrestling.

“We don’t have bigfoot,” he’d tell people at the Big Cats Research annual conference held at an old pub near the layby he worked at off the A30, “but we do have Big Cats and we’re the hunters, they’re the prey.”

“We’re on in five, four, three, two, one,” said the reporter, Ron Jeremy. The General scraped his hair back off his forehead and waited for his next moment of vain glory...

OLL LEWIS: Yesterday's News Today

Yesterday’s News Today

What happened in the world of cryptozoology yesterday? This happened:

Duke could be world's tallest horse after growth spurt
Seven-legged calf dies after birth
Monkey business
Mysterious winged cat baffles animal experts
Why do cats want to play Hamlet? So they can give the ‘Tabby’ or not ‘Tabby’ speech.