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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Friday, June 12, 2009


As promised, here is the second trenche of data sent us by Greg and Mike Warner. For those of you not aware of the ongoing saga, the story broke last sunday when a couple of Northern Irish newspapers carried the story of two explorers from Belfast and their self financed expedition to darkest Peru in search of a rumoured 120ft snake.

We were the only cryptopundits who picked up on the story, and over the next week we became involved in a dialogue with Greg and Mike. We must have done something right because, even though we disagreed with their conclusions extrapolated from the data that they sent us, they asked us to make their data available through the CFZ bloggo and allow the cryptozoological community at large to view their data and make their minds up.

We have the highest respect for Greg and Mike, we simply don't agree with them, that's all, and would love to be proved wrong.

So over the next few days we shall be publishing their data and asking your opinion on it...

For those of you who are latecomers to the saga, here are links to some of the earlier parts...

1. The original story printed by us
2. The plot thickens
3. South American newspapers which claim a titanic snake trashed a woman's house
4. Greg Warner asks Dr Chris Clark a question
5. Dale Drinnon comments
6. We finally release the pictures
7. We try to smooth over the rift with Andre Issi

CFZ PEOPLE: The kids are alright

This afternoon I wrote: "Today was Max Blake's biology A-Level exam. I hope it went OK dude. We have all been rooting for you". It turns out that he actually had three exams today, and is pleased with two of them, and thinks he was OK in the third. Well done mate.

Also, by the way, tomorrow is Fleur's birthday. Have a good one honeypie...


Over the last few days as the subject of the alleged Peruvian snake pictures, which - we believe - are most probably nothing of the kind, despite the best intentions of the two blokes who took them, one man has been dragged into the fray much against his will, and - pretty well - undeservedly.

This picture was taken by Andre Issi some years ago, and - according to the man himself - shows an 18ft anaconda, not an animal of 40m as implied by the original press story from the 2009 expedition. Poor Andre. I don't blame him for feeling a bit beleagured at the moment as, following the use of his pictures by various Northern Irish newspapers, people across the Cryptoverse mixed up his claims with those of Greg and Mike Warner.

He also claims, and once again this seems eminently reasonable, that the pictures of him brnadishing a machetre Indiana Jones style, were a "joke", and implies that because none of us can actually speak Portuguese (perfectly true) and therefore had to use computer translation software (also perfectly true) then the nuances of his article were lost in translation.

I think that this is very likely. After all, can you imagine what a non-English speaker would make of some of Richard Freeman's comedy posturings about "Johnny Foreigner" and British "spunk"? Probably wise to not even go there.

So Andre, I hope that you don't feel too badly about us. One day if you are in England or we are in Brazil we will shake hands and I will buy you a beer....


The North Devon Journal covers the painted lady migration..



CONTACT: Suzanne Peyer, smpeyer@wisc.edu, 608-262-9225; Carol Eunmi Lee, carollee@wisc.edu, 608-262-2675


MADISON - The zebra mussels that have wreaked ecological havoc on the Great Lakes are harder to find these days - not because they are dying off, but because they are being replaced by a cousin, the quagga mussel. But zebra mussels still dominate in fast-moving streams and rivers.

Research conducted by Suzanne Peyer, a doctoral candidate in the University of Wisconsin-Madison Department of Zoology, shows that physiological differences between the two species might determine which mollusk dominates in either calm or fast-moving waters.

"Zebra mussels quite rapidly colonized rivers close to the Great Lakes right after their introduction, within a year or two," Peyer explains. "Quagga mussels were introduced in the Great Lakes around 20 years ago, but they are still not found in the rivers or tend to be present in low numbers."

The mussels are similar in many ways. Their habitats overlap, and both are suspension feeders that filter water to extract their food. But the cousin species are different in many ways, too. Zebra mussels prefer to attach to a hard surface, while quagga mussels can live on soft bottoms, such as sand or silt. Zebra mussels also prefer warmer water temperatures and do not grow as big as quagga mussels.

Peyer's research focused on the ability of the mussels to attach to underlying material. Both species attach to rocks, sand, silt or each other by producing tiny but strong "byssal" threads, string-like strands of protein. These threads act as an adhesive that enable the mussels to attach to surfaces, regardless of how slippery the surface is. Byssal threads are the reason mussels are so difficult to remove from boats or water intake pipes.

Peyer collected both mussel species from Lake Michigan. In the lab, she subjected the mussels to different water velocities that simulated river flow conditions. Her research results supported her hypothesis that zebra mussels are able to produce more byssal threads than quagga mussels, enabling them to attach more securely to underlying material. They are also better able to hang on where water is flowing, such as in a river or stream.

"The results were that zebra mussels produced byssal threads at about twice the rate of quagga mussels," Peyer says. "Zebra mussels can ramp up their byssal thread production under different flows."

A statistical model Peyer developed also predicted that, with increasing velocity, zebra mussels produce more threads than quagga mussels.

According to this model, the zebra mussels show high plasticity, or the ability to adapt to changing environmental conditions. Plasticity can be an adaptive characteristic that allows an organism to survive under new conditions. In this case, the new condition is increased flow.

Zebra mussels are also able to stay attached better. At the highest velocity, only 10 percent of the zebra mussels detached, but 60-70 percent of the quagga mussels detached.

Results from her research, funded by the UW-Madison Sea Grant Institute, is published in the July 1 issue of the Journal of Experimental Biology.

According to Peyer's research adviser, Professor Carol Eunmi Lee at the UW-Madison Center of Rapid Evolution, no one has previously looked at differences in attachment between these species as an explanation for their distribution patterns in North America.

"It's the first time somebody actually went and systematically looked at functional differences between the two species that would explain the different kinds of substrate that they could invade," she says. "In that sense, Suzanne has produced a really elegant and clever study. It has very concrete hypotheses and results."

Zebra mussels were first introduced in the Great Lakes in the late 1980s, hitchhiking their way into North America in the ballast water of ships from the Caspian and Black Seas. Within a few years, zebra mussels had colonized shallow water, beaches and water-intake pipes in layers up to 8 inches thick. Although quagga mussels came onto the scene a few years later, they have recently become the dominant species in calm waters of the Great Lakes.

These mussels have permanently changed the ecosystem. Before the mussels invaded, Lake Michigan water was mostly cloudy and millions of tiny microorganisms provided a food base for fish. Because the mussels filter the microorganisms, the waters today are surprisingly clear, allowing light to penetrate to greater depths, which in turn promotes prolific, nuisance algae blooms.

Quagga mussels may be the reason Diporea, a small shrimp-like species that serves as a food source for larger fish, is no longer abundant. The whitefish that feed on Diporea are growing to less than half of their expected size.

Both Peyer and Lee hope that understanding the biological differences between the two mussel species will help those who manage the Great Lakes.

"We need to be aware of the distinct differences between the two species," Peyer says. "If we understand the differences in their biology, we might help to make management more efficient and more effective in the end."


After a week of negotiations with Mike and Greg Warner, the CFZ has the exclusive rights to release all the pictures from their Peruvian expedition.

Greg sent these with the following message: "These are the two shots we got that we believe is Yacumama or giant anaconda. It looks like the head to me and part of the body surfacing at the other side of the channel."

Unfortunately, although Richard and I have examined all the pictures in depth, and have spent a long time discussing the matter both by telephone and e-mail with Greg, we disagree completely with their conclusions and believe that these pictures show nothing more than a natural formation of mud or sand.

However, at this point, may we say that we are not for a moment doubting Greg and Mike's sincerity.

They appear to be very nice people who have worked very hard, and have always been open and honest with us. We, too, have always tried to behave like gentlemen, and the whole affair has been conducted in a scientific and civilised manner.

We are surprised that over the last week or so as this story has broken, that we were the only cryptozoological website to give them the courtesy of examining their evidence. Indeed we were the only cryptozoological website to bother covering this story. When you think of the torrents of press such ridiculous claims as last year's Georgia bigfoot, the two Montauk Monsters, and this year's ludicrous Quatari goblin got, I find this highly peculiar. In fact, I don't understand it at all.

When we first saw these photographs, Richard wrote to Greg:

Dear Greg

Thank you for sending over the photographs and co-ordinates.

I have spent the morning looking over them. I said that I would be totally honest in my assessment, and I will be.

I can see nothing in any of these photographs to indicate a giant snake. The picture of the creature's head with another part of the body protruding out of the water further on, looks to me like a sandbank or lump of mud. It, to my eyes at least, does not resemble a snake. Perhaps if the image had been sharper it may have revealed more.

The toppled trees and areas of destruction look like rain damage. Rainforest trees are notoriously shallow-rooted and easily ripped up by floods.

There may well be huge snakes in the area, indeed I believe that the green anaconda gets far larger than we imagine. However, I can't conceive of us getting funding for a second expedition on the back of these pictures. I'm sorry to sound so negative but I have to be honest. There are far more disappointments in cryptozoology than there are triumphs.

I wish you the best of luck with any further endeavours you embark upon.



Greg wrote back:

Hi Richard/Jon

I appreciate the time you spent on this even though I can’t accept ‘looks like a sandbank’ as an informed answer. There is no sand as this area is heavily flooded as you can see almost to the top of some trees.

To be honest, I was hoping for something more scientific with an analysis and opinion on all the evidence supplied to you but I respect your opinion and believe that you are sincere.
You guys have been fair with us so I want to offer you the same courtesy and keep to our deal.
It’s time to put this to the court of public opinion so my father has agreed to let you publish all the data we sent you on the condition that it is presented as our data (Mike Warner & Greg Warner) without subjective opinions from either party and it is presented in full (all the images we supplied with annotations also). Let people decide for themselves.

There are still questions that need answered and someone out there may have some interesting views on the matter:

  • What happened in Nueva Tacna?
  • Why are all these ‘major and ‘minor’ interconnecting channels running through the area?
  • What is this creature if it moves on video and disappears from the channel if it isn’t a reptile?
  • What happened in Morona Cocha last week when the “Black Boa” destroyed a house on the lake?
  • What is this shape in the middle of the area on Google, coincidence?
  • Why do the locals persist with accounts of the Yacumama in the area?
  • The evidence we supplied is only a sample of what we have but it is a start.
We give your permission place these all the material on your CFZ site. I also, suggest that you copy our email correspondence also so that there is full transparency.

Please ensure all private information like email addresses and telephone numbers are deleted please. If anyone wants to contact us then they can do it through CFZ. We are continuing our work in the area and are sending someone to interview villagers in the settlements of Morona Cocha although we must make it clear that we do not believe this is the same creature from the Napo/Amazon.

Ultimately, we would like to go back to the Napo/Amazon and survey the area more, with better equipment and a helicopter rather than a Cesna but we’ll see how things pan out.

Kind regards

Greg & Mike

We will be releasing all the rest of the material over the next few days, and invite the bloggo readership to submit their opinions. This, we believe, is one of the first times that an expedition's findings are going to be laid open to public scrutiny in this matter, and we hope that Greg and Mike's gentlemanly behaviour will be reciprocated by anyone who cares to join in the debate.


The other day, Alan Friswell, the bloke who made the CFZ Feegee Mermaid, and also the guy responsible for some of the most elegantly macabre bloggo postings, wrote me an email.

He had an idea for a new series for the bloggo. Quite simply he has an enormous collection of macabre, fortean, odd, and disturbing magazine and newspaper articles, and he proposed to post them up on the bloggo.

Alan Writes: "Yes! welcome to Friswell's Freaky Features! An ongoing spot on the CFZ blog page where you will encounter the fun, the freaky, the frightening, and on occasion, the downright horrifying. Many of these items are from almost forgotten archives, and no doubt should, in many cases, have stayed forgotten. But no chance of that on this site! So be prepared to be amazed by the bizarre manifestations of nature, the abberations of the natural world, and the complete, and on occasion mind-bending insanity of collective humanity. read on....."

What a smashing idea, we thought, and so with a burst of alliteration that will - I hope - make Dr Shuker proud of me, here we go.

This horrific tale of radioactive dogs comes from Modern Mechanics, April, 1956.

OLL LEWIS: Yesterday's News Today

Yesterday’s News Today

It’s fascinating fact Friday! Today’s fascinating Friday fact is:

The male angler fish (Photocorynus spiniceps) is, at around 6mm long when fully grown, the smallest vertebrate in the world. It is almost half a million times smaller than a fully grown female and fuses it’s body to the females for life. Because of this when they were first discovered it was presumed that the male was a parasite of a different species.

And now, the news:

Little Egret Chicks at Wildwood
Frogs species discovered living in elephant dung
Mysterious Striped Dolphin found stranded on Kailua Beach
USPCA investigates ‘big cats’ sighting
Dolphins travel record distance to Ireland

How do dolphins make decisions?
‘Flipper’ coin.