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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Saturday, June 20, 2009



No, not the fat hippy on the left; the badly stuffed crocodilian on the right.

Before any one of the usual suspects starts having a go at me and accusing me of having shot a crocodile or even accusing Tim Matthews of trying to destabilise the Crocodylomorpha, be aware that it was dispatched at about the time of WW1, and has been in a Torbay attic ever since.

I would be interested to know what species it is....

NEIL ARNOLD: Curiosity Killed The Cat!

I have known Neil for fifteen years now, since he was a mod schoolboy with ambitions for adventure and I was an earnest young hippy 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 read with interest Scottie W’s recent West Virginia Bengal cat post and thought I would share with CFZ readers a piece I wrote in January 2009 concerning two exotic-cat incidents, which occurred in Philadelphia. At the time I was writing weekly articles of weirdness for Phillyist.com.

On October 10th, 2008 it was reported that a man from southern Lancaster County (Pennsylvania) had been attacked by a large, unidentified cat at dusk, just outside his home in Quarryville. Samuel Fisher claimed that after seeing the cat, firing at it and then chasing it, he found it injured and the animal turned on him. Evidence is now lacking although neighbours claim the beast may well have been a mountain lion. Although, is it any surprise the unfortunate animal responded the way it did after being pursued for no reason? Although dismissed by wildlife authorities, the cougar may still exist on the fringes of the city of Philly and throughout Pennsylvania, despite the fact the last specimen was allegedly killed in 1874.

On November 25th in Willistown Township, Chester County, another exotic cat was fired upon. This one didn't escape. Rumour spread that the spotted cat - a serval, which is native to Africa - was killed on a farm on the Garrett Mill Road. The Pennsylvania Game Commission claimed they'd received a call from a farm manager on behalf of a smaller farm, stating that some wild cat had been attacking chickens.

According to state law, the farmer was permitted to kill the animal in order to protect his livestock and the following day WCO Scott Frederick visited the farm, took the body of the serval and transported it to the South-east Region Office in Reading.

The owner of the ‘beast’ had been identified and the ownership of the animal questioned and put under investigation.

Proof of such prowling animals is not exactly in abundance, hence the mythical status these cats, especially the cougar, have brought among themselves but tracks, fresh kills on livestock, eerie screams during the night and countless eye-witness reports seemingly point to the existence of this predator, which officials have dismissed for decades. However, during the mid-1990s a small cougar flap took place in Philly, particularly around Delaware and creeping into the suburbs of Philadelphia. Such animals, although denied, have vast territories of several hundred square miles and often live up to their reputation as being elusive, hence their nicknames 'ghost cat' and 'shadow cat.' However, one such cat was killed on the outskirts of Philly in 1967.

Further proof of such cats hit the headlines in 1996 when an animal resembling a cougar was filmed and shown on Philadelphia area television

LIZZY CLANCY: The Baum Rabbit

It is always nice to be able to introduce you all to a new guest blogger. Possibly the nicest thing about the CFZ bloggo is that it is a living, breathing community and new people arrive on a regular basis. I can't tell you anything about Liz apart from the fact that she bought some books from us at Uncon, briefly spoke to Richard and had a charmingly old-fashioned habit of referring to me as `Mr Downes,' when everyone else calls me `Jon` or `Hey You` (or sometimes something more scatological), until I told her not to.

She is also the unpaid bloggo sub-editor and author of a charming and very elegantly written fortean novella called The Second Level, which I strongly urge you all to buy at this link:


The Baum restaurant and wine bar rests snugly in the time warp that is Rochdale’s Toad Lane, next door to the Pioneer museum and across from St. Mary’s the Baum church. It serves glorious food and real Lancashire ale. You can’t say fairer than that. However, there’s another reason for north-western readers of the CFZ bloggo to dash out to their cars and wing their way in our general direction: the Baum rabbit.

In the first half of the fourteenth century the Earl of Oxford rushed to the little town of Rachedall (as Rochdale was then known) to warn Blanche, the woman he loved, that the Black Death was on its way. The poor fellow had to walk much of the way since his horse died from exhaustion and at Blackstone Edge, the moor land above our town, he lay down by the Monstone (a large rock with a legend all of its own) to sleep.

He was awakened much later by the sound of laughter and music. He sat up and beheld a crowd of butterfly-winged fairies dancing in a circle. The fairy queen appeared and remonstrated with her people for celebrating while the townsfolk of Rachedall suffered, for while Oxford slept, the plague had reached the vicinity. To prove to their human guest that fairies were capable of kindness, the queen granted Oxford the ability to save one Rochdalian from the Black Death by writing their name on the Monstone. Without hesitation the Earl scratched out ‘Blanche de Boulton’ with his diamond ring. Immediately, the fairy horde disappeared and there, sitting on the Monstone, was a beautiful white rabbit, which wore a golden torc about its neck.

Oxford took the rabbit to Rachedall and the house of his beloved. Blanche was already stricken with the disease but as soon as she held the little rabbit in her arms all symptoms disappeared. Blanche’s brother, Thomas de Boulton, was parish priest of the town and she and Oxford helped him tend the sick of the community. They often rode as far as Todmorden and Castleton, always taking the rabbit along; however, it was the area known as ‘the Baum’ that was the worst affected so Blanche and her rabbit would mostly be seen there. It’s said that after the death of England’s last victim of Bubonic plague, Blanche’s white rabbit disappeared, never to be seen by its former owner again; though to this day, sightings of the Baum rabbit still occur in that area of Rochdale, mainly, it has to be said, by people who have just had a skin-full in the pub of the same name.


Yesterday was a long and complicated day, and I will be telling you all about it later. In the meantime, to whet your appetite, here is a photograph of dear Naomi and her mum Barbara placing flowers on the grave of the 19th Century folklorist Sabine Baring-Gould.

All will be revealed in due course.

DALE DRINNON: References for Checklist of Cryptozoological Creatures

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 along on Archaeological excavations in Indiana as well as doing some local tracking of Bigfoot there. Now he is on the CFZ bloggo....

  • Arment, Chad, ed. 2006. Cryptozoology and the Investigation of Lesser-Known Mystery Animals. Landisville, PA: Coachwhip Publications.
  • Bille, M.A. 1995. Rumors of existence. Blaine, WA:Hancock House.
  • Childress, D.H. 1994. Living pterodactyls. World Explorer 1(4): 36-51
  • Coleman, L. 1983. Mysterious America. Boston: Faber &Faber.
  • Coleman, L.& Patrick Huyghe Field Guide to Bigfoot, Yeti and other Mystery Primates Worldwide
  • Coleman, L.& Patrick Huyghe Field Guide to Lake Monsters, Sea Serpents and Other Mystery Denizens of the Deep
  • Coleman, L. . Cryptozoology A to Z
  • Eberhart, George M. 2002. Mysterious Creatures: A Guide to Cryptozoology. 2 volumes. Santa Barbara, CA:ABC-CLIO.
  • For├ęs, Angel Morant. 1999+. An investigation into some unidentified Ecuadorian mammals. Cryptozoology
  • Hall, M.A. 1988. Thunderbirds! The living legend of giant birds. Bloomington, MI: Mark A. Hall.
  • Hall, M.A. 1991. Natural mysteries: monster lizards, English dragons, and other puzzling animals. Second edition. Bloomington, MI: Mark A. Hall.
  • Heuvelmans, B. On The Track of Unknown Animals
  • Heuvelmans, B. In The Wake of The Sea-Serpents
  • Heuvelmans, B. 1986. Annotated checklist of apparently unknown animals with which cryptozoology is concerned. Cryptozoology 5: 1-26.
  • Hocking, P.J. 1992. Large Peruvian mammals unknown to zoology. Cryptozoology 11: 28-50.
  • Hocking, P.J. 1993-1996. Further investigations into unknown Peruvian mammals. Cryptozoology 12: 50-57.
  • Mackal, R.P. 1987. A living dinosaur? In search of Mokele-Mbembe. NY: E.J. Brill.
  • Raynal, M. 1987. Does the Steller's sea cow still survive? INFO Journal 11(3): 15-19.
  • Raynal, M. 1994. Do two-finned cetaceans really exist? INFO Journal #70: 7-13.
  • Raynal, M. 1995. The mysterious bird of Hiva-Oa. INFO Journal #73: 17-21.
  • Roesch, B. 1997. A review of alleged sea serpent carcasses worldwide (Part One--1648-1880) The Cryptozoology Review 2(2): 6-27.
  • Sehm, G.G. 1993-1996. On a possible unknown species of giant devil ray, Manta sp. Cryptozoology 12: 19-29.
  • Shuker, K.P.N. 1989. Mystery cats of the world. London: Robert Hale.
  • Shuker, K.P.N. 1991. Extraordinary animals worldwide.London: Robert Hale.
  • Shuker, K.P.N. 1995b. In search of prehistoric survivors. London: Blandford.
  • Shuker, K.P.N. 1997. From flying toads to snakes with wings. St. Paul, MN: Llewellyn.
  • Shuker, K.P.N. The Beasts that hide from Man
  • Shuker, K.P.N. 1998d. A supplement to Dr. Bernard Heuvelmans' checklist of cryptozoological animals. Fortean Studies 5: 208-229.
  • Shuker, K.P.N. 2000b. Close Encounters of the Cryptozoological Kind. Fate (May): 26-29.
  • Stonehill, P. 1994. Giant serpents of the Russian Far East. Strange Magazine (13): 29.
  • Ward, J. 1993. The mountain boomer. Far Out 1(4): 45-46.

NICK REDFERN: Westcountry Wallaby Weirdness

Thanks to Kithra for bringing this new story to my attention: it concerns a new sighting of a wallaby on the loose in Devon, England. There's a brief video-interview accompanying the story, too. As those who follow reports of wild wallabies in Britain will know, the things are now pretty much here, there and everywhere!


Hi Jon,

I have just got around to reading Tristan's blog entry Red Sparrows and it got me thinking
(a mysterious event in its own right) about an unusual bird that I saw in about 1962 or '63. I have been unable to identify the creature despite describing it to many ornithologists over the years and working my way through vast numbers of bird identification books.

I now wonder if any of the knowledgeable CFZ readers may be able to identify it, even though the description is perhaps now a wee bit fuzzy with age.

My sighting of this bird took place early (around 6.30 am) one summer morning on a farm near the village of Stanley in Derbyshire. While I was making breakfast over an open fire, the bird perched on a fence post, no more than 12 to 15 feet away and seemed to have no concern about me or the other lad moving around and certainly was not frightened, even if we went closer to it. It stayed in the same place, as though interested in what we were doing, for about 10 minutes then flew off and we never saw it again during our stay.

This bird was slightly larger than an adult male blackbird (perhaps the size of a collared Dove) but had the body-shape and posture of a blackbird. The beak was the same shape as a blackbird but black in colour. Its plumage was jet black and very glossy (almost like wet paint), except on the breast where it had a very glossy, vivid scarlet bib from the throat to just in front of the legs.
There was no ring on its legs so it was presumably wild rather than a captive-bred escapee.


OLL LEWIS: Yesterday’s News Today

Yesterday’s News Today

In a continuation of giving days alliterative attributes, today is Soundtrack Saturday. This basically means I just bung a link to a bit of music I like for you to listen to while you read up on the latest cryptozoology news. Today’s song is by the late, great virtuoso Benjamin Hill, who is about to tell you a tale of romance, betrayal, manslaughter, ghosts and delivery men: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ufYcZ0lfD00
And now, the news:

Animal kills by federal agency more than double
Mekong dolphins on the brink of extinction
33,000 sharks, 2000 dolphins & 2000 turtles killed to boost beach tourism in South Africa
Big Oil still refusing to act to save some of world’s rarest whales
Scientists discover a host of new species in remote mountains of Ecuador
Garden Moths Count

What’s the biggest moth in the world?

A mammoth