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, July 15, 2009


...this collection of natural history specimens from a Texas museum. Good stuff.

Donated by the Nations family and collected by D.A. Cleveland starting in 1880, there are more than 150 species of bird eggs on display. Three of the species are extinct. B.F. Hicks – Mt. Vernon Historical Society “Knowing that there were 161 Passenger Pigeon eggs left on the planet earth, and only 27 Carolina Parakeet eggs left, we spent $55,000 making this small room with the climate control and the lighting, and up to national archive standards and brought in Smithsonian experts and consultants to do it right.”...

Read On


For immediate release


From the 14th to the 16th of August this year, the sleepy North Devon village of Woolsery is to play host to the largest gathering of monster and mystery researchers in the world. The tenth annual Weird Weekend is bringing speakers from as far afield as Australia to talk on their adventures and discoveries.

This year’s line up includes Rat Scabies, drummer with the legendary punk band The Damned, who will be regaling the audience with tales of his hunt for the Holy Grail (we are NOT joking). Tim the Yowie Man has flown in all the way from Australia to speak about his hunt for the yowie, the yeti like ape-man of the Australian bush. Tim the Yowie Man is an Australian cryptozoologist and paranormal investigator. In 2008, he was nominated for `Australian of the Year` for his work in raising environmental awareness.

Other speakers include:

· Irish scholar Ronan Coghlan who will be speaking on the lost continent of Atlantis.
· Tim Matthews on crop circles
· Andy Roberts, renowned researcher and author, on The Big Grey man of Ben McDhui
· Ecologist Oll Lewis who will be giving us his theory on the Kraken, the multi-armed monster of maritime folklore.
· Julian Vane who will be showing us some of the weirder exhibits from Devonshire museums.
· Dr Jan Bondeson who will be revealing the secrets of the death-dealing medieval serpent known as the basilisk.
· From the USA Nick Redfern will be looking into Russian experiments to hybridise humans and apes.

But there is far more to the Weird Weekend than just talks. The organisers, The Centre for Fortean Zoology - the world’s only full time scientific organisation dedicated to researching mystery animals - will be revealing details of their latest thrilling expedition. Each year, the Centre takes part in at least one expedition to the farthest flung reaches of the world on the track of monsters and mystery beasts.

Also appearing will be Sam Shearon and Anthony Wallis; fortean artists who will be exhibiting their monster related artwork. Taxidermist Jon McGowan will be exhibiting his wildlife photography and stuffed animals. There will also be stalls, quizzes, competitions and activities for children.

Tickets for the three-day event cost £20 in advance or £25 on the door. More information can be found on the Weird Weekend website at www.weirdweekend.org

For more details, or to interview any of the speakers, please telephone Jon, Corinna or Oll on 01237 431413


  • The Centre for Fortean Zoology [CFZ] is the world’s largest mystery animal research organisation. It was founded in 1992 by British author Jonathan Downes (49) and is a non-profit making (not for profit) organisation registered with H.M. Stamp Office.
  • Life-president of the CFZ is Colonel John Blashford-Snell OBE, best known for his groundbreaking youth work organising the ‘Operation Drake’ and ‘Operation Raleigh’ expeditions in the 1970s and 1980s.
  • CFZ Director Jonathan Downes is the author and/or editor of over 20 books. Island of Paradise, his first-hand account of two expeditions to the Caribbean island of Puerto Rico in search of the grotesque vampiric chupacabra, will be published in the next few weeks.
  • The CFZ have carried out expeditions across the world including Russia, Sumatra, Mongolia, Guyana, Gambia, Texas, Mexico, Thailand, Puerto Rico, Illinois, Loch Ness, and Loch Morar.
  • CFZ Press are the world’s largest publishers of books on mystery animals. They also publish Animals & Men, the world’s only cryptozoology magazine, and The Amateur Naturalist, Britain’s only dedicated magazine on the subject.
  • The CFZ produce their own full-length documentaries through their media division called CFZtv http://www.cfztv.org/ . One of their films Lair of the Red Worm, which was released in early 2007 and documents their 2005 Mongolia expedition, has now been seen by nearly 50,000 people.
  • The CFZ is based in Jon Downes’s old family home in rural North Devon, which he shares with his wife Corinna (52). It is also home to various members of the CFZ’s permanent directorate and a collection of exotic animals. Jonathan Downes presents a monthly web TV show called On the Track (http://cfzmonthly.blogspot.com/ ), which covers cryptozoology and work of the CFZ.
  • The CFZ are opening a Visitor Centre and Museum in Woolsery, North Devon.
  • Following their successful partnership with Capcom http://www.capcom.com/ on the 2007 Guyana expedition, the CFZ are looking for more commercial sponsors.


Guest Blogger time for Richard Freeman again. It almost seems silly introducing Richard to you all once again when he makes an appearance as guest blogger several times a week. However, our viewing audience/ readers (whatever you like to call yourselves) is growing so fast that it is certain that some of you missed the last time I introduced him.


The recent story of a zander attacking people in a Swiss lake (see above) seems a bit of a letdown when you hear this freshwater Jaws was only a little over 2 feet long.

Monster fish in freshwater do exist however. Back in the late 1990s Jon started the Big Fish Project to collect and investigate stories of outsize fish in freshwater. I admit that I was very sceptical about the whole idea at first. I thought all it would elicit would be twice-told anglers' tales and the odd trout a few pounds larger than average. The one exception in my mind was the eel that I thought (and still think) can reach fantastic sizes under certain circumstances and is probably responsible for a number of lake monster stories.

However the Big Fish Project led to the CFZ’s most successful expedition to date; not to some remote jungle or dessert but to a small lake in Lancashire. The CFZ were called in to investigate claims of a monster the size of a car lurking in Martin Mere, a wildfowl reserve. The creature was reported to be attacking full-grown swans.

At first I found the whole idea unlikely. This view was reinforced when I saw the lake. It was no more than 2 acres in size and only 5 feet deep at its maximum. I said to Jon that it was highly unlikely that a large predator could live in here. Half an hour later I saw the monster of Martin Mere. It surfaced only six feet from where I was standing on the bank. It was around 8 feet long and thicker around than me. It was an oily blackish-green with a texture like wet rubber and a shape like a huge sausage. The creature bore no scales but had a small fin on its back.

I instantly knew what the monster of Martin Mere was: a wells catfish Silurus glanis. Imported from Russia by the Acclimatisation Society in Victorian days, this is the biggest catfish in the world, reaching 16 feet long in its native range.

I saw the beast twice and we later tracked it on sonar. Since then we have visited Loch Ness and Loch Morar in search of giant eels. Recently we have acquired 6 European eels to study their growth.

Mutant eels aside, the question of what is the largest freshwater fish is a difficult one. The current leaders are the Chinese paddlefish Psephurus gladius with a length of 23 feet and a weight of 1,100 pounds. This giant may be on its way to extinction as none have been seen since 2003 and no baby fish have been seen since 1996.

Gehzouba hydroelectric dam divided the Yangtze River into two sections, cutting off the migratory route of the paddlefish in 1983. It separated the spawning grounds from the feeding grounds and has probably sentenced this fish to extinction.

Another contender is the Mekong giant stingray Himantura chaophraya with a total length of 23 feet (including the long tail) and a weight of 1,100-1,300 lbs. Deforestation and dam construction has caused this species to become critically endangered in Thailand.

WEIRD WEEKEND 2009: Tim the Yowie Man

A profile of one of this year's headlining speakers:

Tim the Yowie Man is an Australian cryptozoologist and paranormal investigator. Although so named after Australia’s Bigfoot-type creature, Tim spends most of his time investigating a smorgasboard of other Aussie cryptids including the bunyip, alien big cat, sea serpents and thylacine.

Tim also hosts ghost and mystery tours in and around Canberra – the Australian Capital – and travels extensively in search of the strange, the bizarre and the unusual. In search of the truth, Tim the Yowie Man has led a pack of huskies across the Arctic circle in search of the hairy man of the Yukon tundra, been cursed by a shipwreck in the Indian Ocean, offered himself as bait to the Loch Ness monster, teamed up with First Nation trackers to investigate the British Columbia Sasquatch, cradled the alien starchild skull, been attacked by apes at the Rock of Gibraltar while searching for ghosts, tracked down the Hawaiian lava tube mutant pig monster, uncovered a lost pyramid in Samoa, encountered a spook man in the Swiss Alps, had a fishing rod chomped on by the Amalfi Coast sea serpent…and heck… he’s even put flowers on Jay's Grave on Dartmoor.

Tim contributes regularly to mainstream publications including The Sunday Telegraph and the Australian Broadcasting Corporation and recently finished a stint as the resident cryptonaturalist at the National Museum of Australia. Tim is author of the imaginatively titled The Adventures of Tim the Yowie Man (Random House 2001) and the more recent coffee table tome Haunted and Mysterious Australia (New Holland).

In 2008, he was nominated for Australian of the Year for his work in raising environmental awareness.

Buy Weird Weekend Tickets online


For years there have been stories of shadowy armed police or troops involved with crop circles. For example, in The Rising of the Moon, the book I wrote with Nigel Wright ten years back, I wrote of such rumours, but now we have received this extraordinary photograph. However, whoa there young conspiracy buffs, `cos this ain't what it looks like it could have been.

A person on a crop circle forum (sent to me via Matty W) writes: At long last I have seen some Police out in force over our local crop circles; in fact Her Maj's finest armed response team came bounding over my farm, with helicopter hovering, to find me. All because of this:

Crop Circle at Cannings Cross, Near Allington, Wiltshire, reported 10th July 2009

Once I persuaded the nice Mr Policeman that I wasn't a threat I was able to point out that it wasn't on my land, and as for reports that someone is "employed to keep people off it with a shotgun" I didn't know anything but thought it more likely he was there to keep the rooks off the corn (they love to start stripping a field from the damaged edges of a circle) because no one would be silly enough to try and keep vandals off their land with a shotgun, would they?



Fleur Fulcher drew our attention to this:

Sometime before 1938 a Mr C. Haylock collected a kiwi with an unusual foot near Kawhia. The left foot lacked pigment and was presumably a pale pinkish colour in contrast to the normal brown of the kiwi's leg and foot. Now, as a dried specimen, the foot looks like it has been dipped into a tray of whitewash. In all other ways the kiwi's colouration is normal. It is a half-grown bird and is an example of the North Island brown kiwi (Apteryx mantelli), found originally in forest throughout the North Island but now much reduced in range as a result of habitat destruction and the impact of predatory mammals. Albino individuals turn up occasionally in most bird species, as they do among humans.

Partial albinos are also common in birds, for example, the common blackbirds are sometimes seen about town with patches of white plumage. The Kawhia kiwi is presumably a partial albino.

RICHARD FREEMAN: Search for the Bull**** Killer

Guest Blogger time for Richard Freeman again. It almost seems silly introducing Richard to you all once again when he makes an appearance as guest blogger several times a week. However, our viewing audience/ readers (whatever you like to call yourselves) is growing so fast that it is certain that some of you missed the last time I introduced him.

Recently Animal Planet was crowing about a premiere documentary called Anaconda: Search of the Bullkiller. I didn’t recognise the title so I tuned in. You may recall some weeks ago I wrote a scathing review of an unbelievably contrived Loch Ness ‘documentary’. Well, the Animal Planet offering was hardly better. The film, which incidentally was several years old, involved a German expedition to Guyana in search of giant anacondas.

The group boasted a remote controlled submarine, car and helicopter, all fitted with cameras. Apparently they also had the technology to measure the size and distance of living things!

After interviewing an old native man whose brother was almost eaten at a remote lake by a huge anaconda we are never told how huge. All throughout the film we are told that you cannot reach the lake on foot. This begs the question of how the native chap and his brother got there. Anyhow, the team intend to use their technology to hunt anacondas around the unapproachable lake.

On the way we are shown footage of a puma hunting a tapir. The two animals are never together in the same shot and are transparently filmed at totally different locations. Also we are told that the group come upon a black caiman. But the animal is already being filmed from the opposite angle when the group’s canoe appears.

The helicopter is tested out and films and measures a five-metre anaconda. The display we are shown looks suspiciously like computer animation rather than a real computer programme. On its next flight the helicopter crashes and is lost. Next they use the tiny submarine. The group panic when it disappears in a lake but lo and behold, there is already a cameraman in the lake to film the sub getting tangled in weeds. A woman from the group dives in to fix it and meets what we are told is an 8 metre anaconda. Judging by the girth it looks closer to 5 metres than eight.

Next two of the group use the remote control car to explore the jungle. And at the height of farce another two try to use a toy monkey suspended over the water to bait a giant anaconda.

Of course these clowns find nothing of consequence. In fact the whole sorry saga looked 100% staged from start to finish.

The CFZ wants to return to Guyana with the help of Damon Corrie to hunt the real giant anaconda. So far we have failed to interest any TV company in sponsoring us so when this shit befouls our screens it is all the more galling.

RICHARD MUIRHEAD: Polecats in Wiltshire

RICHARD MUIRHEAD WRITES: Hi folks, I found this article and blurred photo of a polecat today in my files. It is from The Salisbury Journal of June 14th 1984. I believe in the mid 1980s polecats had been absent from Wiltshire for something like 70 years.

If so, what was this one doing in Salisbury in 1984? The references to other sightings in the article are intriguing.


Just in: another strange carcass found on a beach; this time in Gisbourne, North Island, New Zealand.

It was found a day or so back by bloggo correspondent and doyen of NZ Cryptozoology, Tony Lucas.

You must admit that it looks considerably freakier than the Montauk Monster, with a weird ratlike tail and a fleshy protuberant nose.

In our opinion it is no placental mammal known to science.
This time it certainly ain't a dead racoon that had been given a Viking Burial by a bunch of stoned surfers. It was, by the way "about the size of a fox terrier" says Tony.

Watch this space. More later....

OLL LEWIS: Yesterday’s News Today

Yesterday’s News Today

More news. If I didn’t know better I’d swear this was a daily occurrence….

Manly penguins get sniper bodyguard
Crickets and grasshoppers act as climate detectives
The watery grave of Europe's monsters
Big "Transsexual" Fish in Peril
Scotland tops league for fat dogs
Stolen swearing parrot returned
Cats 'exploit' humans by purring
Call to do more for vanishing bees
Invasive species 'spread around world in ships' ballast tanks'

To be fair, they must have ‘ballasts’ of steal to travel round the world like that…
(Yes, it is getting harder to come up with a pun every day, no matter how bad)