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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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Tuesday, June 16, 2009

THERE AIN'T HALF BEEN SOME CLEVER BUSTARDS


Great bustards formed an integral part of the British fauna until their extinction 160 years ago. The UK’s Great Bustard Group has been working to bring this species back into the UK by releasing birds in Wiltshire. Ornithologists can pay a fee (about £10) to go and see the birds in their home range but in the winter they move away to new grounds before returning in the spring. They seem to move, on average, 80kms away to Dorset and Somerset but move back into groups on Salisbury plain in the spring. Males were first recorded displaying to the females in 2007, and in 2007 and 2008 females nested and laid eggs, although these proved to be infertile.
This was sooner than expected because males take 4-5 years to become sexually mature, so the signs were good for the project. As a quick side note, the Government classes Great Bustards as Alien species to the UK! But now, as paper readers and Springwatch viewers will already know, the first chicks have hatched! From two females come 3 chicks whose location is currently being kept a secret. This is obviously superb news!


As an interesting side note, I did get a text message this morning from a friend who told me that there are some Great bustards near Glastonbury in Somerset, about 15mins up the road from me. This could be very interesting and naturally, I will keep you updated.


As another side note, you can help the Great Bustard Group by buying beer. Stonehenge ales began producing Great Bustard, a 4.6% alcohol content, fruity ale first brewed to celebrate the release of the first wave of bustards into the UK in 2003. Buy a pint or a bottle and part of the profit is donated to the group to help them with their goal of continual re-introductions right up to 2013. If you are a southern wine-drinker you can donate, instead, at the GBG’s website.



http://www.greatbustard.com/index.html


http://www.stonehengeales.co.uk/great_bustard.html


NEIL ARNOLD: The Curious Case of the Kentish Carcass

I have known Neil for fifteen years now, since he was a mod schoolboy with ambitions for adventure and I was an earnest young hippie who merely wanted to start a club for people interested in unknown animals. Nothing much has changed over the years. We are just both a tad older....

I omitted a couple of excellent cases for my Mystery Animals Of The British Isles: Kent book and the case of the Greatstone ‘serpent’ was one of those tragically neglected stories. It didn’t come to my attention until reading Karl Shuker’s The Beasts That hide From Men and after that he sent me the original cuttings from the Kentish Express newspaper as he’d covered the tale in his Alien Zoo column for Fortean Times.

Greatstone-on-sea in Kent is a village on the east coast of the county, which sits close to the cinque port of New Romney. On the 14th April 1998 two boys, Neil Savage and Peter Jennings, stumbled across the remains of a strange animal. The skull, a series of large vertebrae and a mass of tissue remained of the creature. The carcass seemed to measure around eight-feet in length and resembled a small sea serpent. The Kentish Express of 19th April reported that the boys reported the find to their neighbour, a Mr Fender, who told the paper that the creature was, “…dark yellow, and has stripes running the length of it.”

He didn’t believe the beast was a conger eel as its spine appeared too thick but it seemed as though the carcass had been there a while as it gave off a rank odour. The newspaper, along with the Folkestone Herald (23rd April), pictured the boys with their discovery. Fortean researcher Paul Harris sent the cuttings to Karl Shuker who concluded that the creature was most certainly a basking shark, a fish, which when found decomposed on beaches, has often been confused with possible sea serpent forms. Shuker wrote in his column, ‘I realised that the carcass was strikingly similar to the famous Hendaye sea serpent corpse of 1951 – conclusively identified by Dr Bernard Heuvelmans as that of a basking shark. All of the tell-tale features were present – the cotton-reel-shaped vertebrae, the long triangular snout and most distinctive of all, a pair of slender curling ‘antennae’ projecting from the snout’s base. These are, in fact, the rostral cartilages, which in life, raise up the shark’s snout.’

Still, a fascinating find and a discovery that would not have been out of place in my book in the section ‘From The Depths’ where I document several eye-witness reports of huge sea creatures. Whilst many corpses found on beaches can be identified as known species, eye-witness testimony seems to suggest that there are still unknown beasts which roam the coastal areas of the UK.

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This has to be one of the best singles ads ever printed. It is reported to have been listed in the Atlanta Journal.

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NICK REDFERN: Head to Head with a "Chupa"

Most of you who read this blog have, I'm sure, heard the dark tales of the so-called "Texas Chupacabras" - those weird, hairless canines that have been seen roaming the woods of the Lone Star State for the last few years.

Well, as you may also know, over the course of the last few years, I have made several trips to Puerto Rico looking for the island's very own vampire, which in some ways, resembles the Texas Chupacabras but that in other ways, is acutely different.

Anyway, that thorny and controversial issue aside, in the latter part of last year I gave a lecture for the San Antonio chapter of the Mutual UFO Network (MUFON).

And who should come along to the lecture? None other than MUFON legend and former head of the group, Walt Andrus.
But, there's more...

Walt brought along with him to my presentation nothing less than the skull of one of the hairless whatsits killed in Texas, that many believe to be a cousin of the blood-sucking beast of Puerto Rico. The skull had been donated to Walt by its former owner.
And there's even more!

Imagine my surprise when, a week or so ago, John Schwab (who currently runs the San Antonio MUFON group) emailed me to say that Walt wished to donate the skull to me - a skull that has just now arrived at my Arlington, Texas home.

Mercifully, I suspect the mailman had no idea at all of the monstrous form that he was depositing on my doorstep...

So now; thanks to Walt, John, Julie and all at SA MUFON; an honest-to-goodness Texas Chupacabras (or hairless dog, depending on your own, personal opinion...) sits proudly upon my office desk.

And as evidence, here is a photo of the monstrous critter (I'm on the left; the monstrous critter is on the right...) taken earlier this evening.

My wife, Dana, utterly hates it already.... :)

FRISWELL'S FREAKY FEATURES: Training Elephants for fun and profit

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 (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.

I think that we all have suspicions about that way that animals are treated when they are being 'trained' for circuses, exhibitions and the entertainment industry in general but when we see the way it's done in its full, cold-blooded reality, it can inspire us to think very dark thoughts about our own species....






Modern Mechanics, July, 1931

LINDSAY SELBY: The Big Grey Man of Ben MacDhui

The big grey man is often said to be Scotland’s bigfoot and the stories go back hundreds of years.
In the 17th Century, a man of the clan Murray was reported as having captured a wild man in Craigiebarns Rocks and a chained wildman still appears in his family's heraldic shield. The next written report I could find was in 1791.

Poet James Hogg, known as the `Ettrick Shepherd`, described seeing a huge figure on Ben Macdhui whilst tending his sheep. As he watched the halo, which had formed around him due to the combination of sunshine and the mist, he looked up and saw a huge, looming figure. He fled, not stopping until he reached some of his fellow shepherds. Hogg later said he believed that the phenomenon, which had so frightened him was, in fact, an uncommon natural phenomena known as the ‘Brocken Spectre’ and was a reflection of himself caused by the weather conditions - so could the grey man be just an effect of climatic conditions?

At 1309 metres (4296 feet) high , Ben MacDhui is the highest peak in the Cairngorms and the second highest peak in Scotland. Many mountaineers and locals are certain that the regions of the Cairngorms and Skye harbour an entity known locally as 'Fear Liath Mor' (meaning big grey man). Sightings of the Big Grey Man have been rare but 'eye-witness' descriptions of his appearance describe him as being around ten feet tall, covered in hair, with very long arms and legs. ( Remind you of anything?)

The Big Grey Man was first brought to the media’s notice when eminent climber Professor Norman Collie made an announcement to the members of the Annual General Meeting of the Cairngorm Club during their 1925 gathering. He reported that in 1891 he had been descending from this mountain's summit through heavy mist when suddenly: "I began to hear the sound of noises in the loose rock behind me coming down from the natural cairn on the high plateau. Every few steps I took, I heard a crunch, and then another crunch as if someone was walking after me but taking steps three or four times the length of my own."

Dismissing this as an aural hallucination, he continued, but so did the mysterious steps. Gradually he became more and more apprehensive, until he was seized with terror and fled blindly down the mountain for five miles until he reached Rothiemurchus Forest. Although he was unable to catch any real sight of it, Collie was left with a sinister impression of being stalked by a huge and menacing creature. He vowed never to return to Ben Macdhui alone and remained convinced that there was "something very queer about the top of Ben MacDhui".

Following his disclosure he received a letter from Dr A.M.Kellas detailing his experience on that mountain. Dr Kellas and his brother Henry were on the mountain close to the summit when they saw a "giant figure" approaching them from the direction of the cairn. For a moment it disappeared from sight, as it moved into a dip, but the men did not wait to see it reappear and ran as fast as they could to get off the mountain.

Hugh Welsh, in 1904, was camping with his brother by the summit cairn of Ben Macdhui. He said he heard the type of footsteps, which later, others described as being the big grey man. They heard the noise both at night and in daylight, describing it as being like "slurring footsteps as if someone was walking through water-saturated gravel." Welsh also recalled they were "Frequently conscious of ‘something’ near us, an eerie sensation of apprehension, but not of fear as others seem to have experienced." They talked to the head stalker at Derry Lodge and he said to them, "That would have been the Fear Liath Mor you heard." (Fear Liath Mor is Gaelic for ‘Big Grey Man’ ).

Then, in the last century, George Hall, in his book Leaves From A Rambler’s Diary, told of the experience of an unnamed friend who worked in the Cairngorms. The account was sketchy but it seems the friend had an odd experience on Ben Macdhui involving a ‘presence’ which frightened him to such an extent he left the mountain, after which the sensation faded.

The Cairngorm Club Journal for 1921 noted a recent letter to the Aberdeen Free Press in which the writer, "....called attention to a myth prevalent in Upper Deeside to the effect that a big spectral figure has been seen at various times during the last five years walking about on the tops of the Cairngorms. When approached, so the story goes, the figure disappears."

Then, in 1924, Dr Ernest A. Baker’s book The Highlands With Rope and Rucksack was published. Baker also related the experience of a friend whose job took him into the mountains. Alone on Ben Macdhui one day he became aware of a terrifying presence, which he said "disturbed him in a manner which was beyond his experience." Baker’s friend fled Ben Macdhui. Baker also reports how one mountain climber had told him that he would under no circumstances spend any time on Ben Macdhui alone; even in daylight.

Another story was related to the author of The Big Grey Man of Ben MacDhui: a man called Richard Frere. He told of a friend of his who decided to spend a night camping on the top of the mountain. In his tent near the cairn he began to suffer a feeling of morbidity and a sense of unreality but finally fell asleep. He woke up with moonlight shining through a gap into his tent and suddenly realized that he could see something brownish between himself and the moon. Horrified, he froze and waited for the thing to move away. When it did, he looked out into the brilliant moonlight and saw a large brown creature 'swaggering' away down the mountain side. He said the creature had "an air of insolent strength" about it. Incredibly, he estimated the height of the thing to be twenty feet and described it as having an erect posture, broad shoulders and a tapering waist.

Another author - Wendy Wood - author of The Secret of Spey, said she was approaching the pass of Lairig Ghru in winter, whereupon she heard a voice. She described the voice as being of "gigantic resonance" and reminiscent of Gaelic. After a brief look around the local area to see if she could find the person she had heard speaking, she realized that she was, indeed, alone. When she walked away she could hear footsteps following her as if immediately behind. At first she thought the footfalls to be echoes of her own but then noticed that they did not coincide or correspond to her own footsteps.

There are other stories from other mountains in the area too. One day during the early 1920s, an experienced mountaineer called Tom Crowley was coming down alone from Braeraich in Glen Eanaich, close to Ben MacDhui, when he was horrified to see a huge, grey, mist-shrouded figure with pointed ears, long legs and finger-like talons on its feet. He did not stay for a closer look. Another Mountaineer Alexander Tewnion wrote an account of his 1943 experience for The Scots Magazine:

‘Of all the experiences that have come my way, one stands out above all others in its strangeness. This was when I shot the Fear Liath Mor, the Big Grey Man of Ben Macdhui. It happened like this. In October 1943 I spent a ten day leave climbing alone in the Cairngorms. Rations were short then, and I carried a revolver and ammunition to shoot any hares or ptarmigan that came my way. One afternoon, just as I reached the summit cairn of Ben Macdhui, mist swirled across the Lairig Ghru and enveloped the mountain. The atmosphere became dark and oppressive, a fierce, bitter wind whisked among the boulders, and, fearing a storm was imminent, I took hurriedly to the Coire Etchachan path. Above Loch Etchachan the path angles easily downhill. I was swinging along at about five miles an hour when an odd sound echoed through the mist - a loud footstep, it seemed. Then another, and another. Spaced at long intervals!’

‘I am not unduly imaginative, but my thoughts flashed instantly to the well-known story of Professor Norman Collie and the Fear Liath Mor. Then I felt the reassuring weight of the loaded revolver in my pocket. Grasping the butt I peered about in the mist, here rent and tattered by eddies of wind. A strange shape loomed up, receded, came charging at me! Without hesitation I whipped out the revolver and fired three times at the figure. When it still came on I turned and hared down the path, reaching Glen Derry in a time I have never bettered since. You may ask, was it really the Fear Liath Mor? Frankly, I think it was. Many times since then I have traversed Macdhui in mist, bivouacked on it in the open, camped near its summit for days on end on different occasions - often alone, and always with an easy mind. For on that day I am convinced I shot the only Fear Liath Mor my imagination will ever see.’

Huge footprints were found in the snow and were photographed. In 1965 prints were discovered measuring 14 inches and with a massive stride that covered around 5 feet, just as Norman Collie had estimated prior to his panic-filled descent down the mountainside in 1891.
More recently there were reports around 1993/1994 in the area around Torphins, near Aberdeen. Three young men, who have not been named, were walking along a wide track through a forestry plantation. One of them saw a dark human-shaped figure run across the track, two hundred yards in front of them. He felt a sense of terror but his friends saw nothing. They teased him and said he made it up. Then all three saw a face, that they afterwards described as "human... but not human," peering out at them from between the branches of the fir trees. One of them threw a stone in the general direction of this face and whatever it was disappeared. These three youths had a second encounter with a similar creature a few weeks later. One of the three claimed later that a female friend of his, who lived in a secluded cottage, had twice seen a dark, hairy figure standing in the forest watching her cottage, before slinking away into the undergrowth (having lived in the area of Aberdeen for a few months I can confirm there is a forestry plantation, or was when I was there 3 years ago, and it is quite deserted and eerie).

So, grey man or mist? Well, mist does not make the noise of footfalls. Without the footfalls it would probably be dismissed as illusion but maybe there is also a case for auditory illusion to occur? Something definitely causes these sightings and terrifies even seasoned climbers. Be wary if you go walking that way!

More information here:

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/magazine/4720797.stm
http://www.scotland.org.uk/guide/John_Norman_Collie
http://www.biggreyman.co.uk/legend.html

DALE DRINNON: Appendix to Cryptozoological Checklist - Former Checklist Summary 2

Dale started at IUPUI hoping for a degree in Biology before changing to Anthropology and as a result, has a very diverse background in Geology, Zoology, Paleontology, Anatomy, Archaeology, Psychology, Sociology, Literature, Latin, Popular Culture, Film criticism, Mythology and Folklore, and various individual human cultures especially mentioning those of the Pacific and the Americas. He has a working knowledge of every human fossil find up until his graduation and every important Cryptozoological sighting up to that point. He has been an amateur on Archaeological excavations in Indiana as well as doing some local tracking of Bigfoot there. Now he is on the CFZ bloggo....


Checklists category II: Living Fossils and Mistaken "Extinctions"


Heuvelmans
B. Giants


1. Nyalmo,
1b. Oriental extensions of the same, and
1c. Bigfoot, all presumably one species and presumably Gigantopithecus
C. Possible Australopithecines in Africa
2. Possible larger/robust Australopith
3. Possible smaller/gracile Australopith, both vaguely defined
D.Dryopithecines
4. Kra-Dhan, Yeren and Yeti
5. Coleman's North American native ape
6. Similar to the last but in Central and South America
E. Lower Mammals
7. Steller's sea cows
8. Possible mammoths in Siberia (more recent allegations closer to the steppe border of Central Asia)
9 Possible mammoths/mastodons in and Alaska, formerly possibly also further south (Colonial times?)
10. large lemurs of Madagascar (three or more distinct forms)
11.African saber-tooths
12. Possible South American ditto, Heuvelmans suggests a possible marsupial form
13. The purported Short-faced bear Vetularctos
14. Thunderbird as probable Teratornis
15. Patagonian giant ground sloths
16.Australian diprotodons (Heuvelmans mixes several candidates in this entry)
17. New Guinea possible ditto.
18.South American bears
18. Climatoceras an Egyptian giraffid (not deer)
F. Others
19. Roa-roa, a small moa.
20a.Possible Plesiosaurs/sauropods of Malaysia and Indonesia
20b. possible Central African same (Mokele-mBembe, etc)
20c. possible South American same ("Iguanodon" invalidated)
21. Marine saurian #1, oceanic crocodylian, possibly thallatosuchan
(possibilty of ordinary croc not counted but more likely)
22. Marine saurian#2, mosasaurian
23a.Varanus prisca , possibly in New Guinea
23b Varanus prisca, possibly in Australia (terrestrial)
23c. Varanus prisca, possibly in Australia (amphibious) (obviously,
three different listings not needed)

Shuker
1. Carcharodon megalodon giant great white shark
2. South American "water-tigers" (duplicate entry of Heuvelmans?)
3. Kamchitka short-faced bear Irukiem
4. Veo, a giant pangolin
5. Bornean tapir "Tigelboat"
6. Waheela, a puported North American beardog, possibly only an aberrant canid
7. Giant vampire bats
8. Isnachi, assuming it to be the same as a fossil New World monkey
9. Marsupial "lion" (competing for slot of Australian "tiger")
10. Huia
11. Pterosaurians, including "thunderbird" variant reports
12. including Ropen of New Guinea area, with long tail, and
13. Duah, crested and like Pteranodon, both also reported further out into Pacific. Some of the reports are evidently based on leaping manta rays.
14. Dobar-Chu or Master-otter. A fossil forerunner candidate was subsequently identified. (Megalenhydris)

Later inclusions of possible great auks and dodos. several more
candidates also as "recently extinct"

Unknown animals ALREADY extinct at time of writing cannot be counted as being in the same category. There have been candidate names suggested for such a separate field of study such as "Eclipsozoology"

Heuvelmans feels; but does not indicate on his checklist; that the Minhocao of South America is actally a persisting Glyptodon. This is separately indicated as another category. Shuker disputes this placement, feeling it more likely a caecilian. He also later says that it has a shell on its back

Heuvelmans places lake monsters and long-necked sea serpents in his genus Megalotaria, calling it a long-necked sea lion. Shuker in Prehistoric Survivors disputes this, calling it a plesiosaur and I agree with Shuker. Others (including Costello and Coleman) equate the Merhorse also with the Long-neck, and the Huilla of Trinidad is obviously just another lake monster. This takes up five slots on Heuvelmans's checklist, which can also be lumped in with his three tropical "Plesiosaurs or dinosaurs" categories for a total conflation of at least eight original entries into only one.

THE PERUVIAN GIANT SNAKE EXPEDITION DATA - TUESDAY

I have given Greg and Mike Warner the chance to present the remaining data from their expedition and over the next few days they will be doing just that in their own words.

This is the second satellite photo of the Napo/Amazon Confluence. If you look in the smaller of the two forked channels you will see an anaconda, which I believe to be of similar proportions to the one in the Morona Cocha incident 2 weeks ago near Iquitos, Peru.

For those of you who are latecomers to the saga, here are links to some of the earlier parts. It is our intention to release a report at the end of the week, when all the data is out, with our theories, conclusions and recommendations from the expedition." Mike Warner

Monday's data release


And here are links to some of the earlier bloggo stories on the subject

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
8. Glen Vaudrey writes
9. Andre Issi and the anaconda


Editor's Note: I still don't get this and am unable to see any trace of a giant snake in these pictures. However, in the interests of free speech and openness, I shall continue to release the remainder of the Warners' data each day. I shall also continue to publish all comments; good and bad; that are non-abusive. However, I would like to stress that whilst the CFZ and I, personally, have every respect for Mike and Greg, and are pleased that we have managed to provide a forum for them to release their material, we do not endorse it and at present, have not seen enough evidence for us to support their theories.

OLL LEWIS: Yesterday’s News Today

Yesterday’s News Today
http://cryptozoologynews.blogspot.com/

Ready for your news and pun? Here you go:

'Alien' lifeform wakened from 120,000 year Arctic slumber
Rangers check on peregrine falcon chicks
Arachnophopia in UK and Ireland
Three deep-sea fish families now one
Sea gives up Neanderthal fossil

I suppose you could call it a ‘sea’anderthal.