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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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Monday, July 27, 2009

THE GREAT WATERHORSE DEBATE

Some months ago, when we published Dale Drinnon's monumental checklist of cryptozoological animals, some debate ensued both on the `Frontiers of Zoology` newsgroup, and the bloggo about the nature of waterhorses. Both Dale, and Glen Vaudrey wrote me pieces on the subject, defending their particular corner, and I sat on both articles for a while, wondering what was the best way to present in.

Now I have stopped wondering, because this is:

Dale's Article

Glen's Article

Discuss!

THE GREAT WATERHORSE DEBATE: Glen Vaudrey

The Each Uisge (the Highland waterhorse)

Having read Dale Drinnon's rather impressive checklist of cryptozoological creatures I was rather taken by surprise to read that the Scottish water horse has its roots in the elk. Fair play if that is what he thinks but I have a completely different understanding of the creature; to me it’s the Highland bogeyman. Don’t think for one minute that I disagree with Dale on crossing it off the list of animals to look for but my reasons are rather different.

The earlier reports of the each uisge are far from the horse-like animal you would expect a water horse to be, as the following short tales will demonstrate.

On the Isle of Lewis there is the tale from the area of Shawbost concerning the fate of two cousins, Fair Mary and Dark Mary. One evening while they were tending the cattle out on the hill an old woman appeared complaining of her tiredness and asking for shelter. They are kind folk out in the Hebrides so it was hardly a surprise that they invited the old crone into their hut for the night. Of course things didn’t turn out all that well. The little old lady killed and ate Fair Mary during the hours of darkness; the only clue to the real identity of the assailant came when Dark Mary noticed a horse trotting away into the distance. It was this horse that confirmed that Fair Mary had been the victim of the dreaded each uisge

On Speyside there is a white horse inhabiting the River Spey that demands a victim every stormy winter, or at least that is the explanation given to account for the fate of those that drowned in the river each year; no accidental drowning, just the evil machinations of the waterhorse.

While the Strichen Burn in Aberdeenshire played host to a water horse that had the guise of an old man darning his trousers who if struck would dive into the water as a horse.

In the Cairngorms the water horse of Loch Pityoulish appeared, according to tales, as a beautiful steed with a silver saddle, silver bridle and silver reins. A group of local boys couldn’t resist the temptation to ride the beast, only for them to become stuck on the animal as it dived under the waves, dragging all but one to their deaths; the one survivor who managed to escape had to cut his rein-fast fingers off.

There have even been attempts to capture a waterhorse with Loch nan Dubhrachan on the Isle of Skye being dredged in 1870. It ended with no horse in the nets; just a couple of pike. While an attempt on the mainland near Tomintoul resulted in the appearance of a terrifying little man with a flaming red bonnet at the water's edge scaring away the usually brave Scotsmen (sounds a little like Hazel Blears to be honest).

You see the waterhorse/ each uisge is many things: the old woman, the fantasy horse, the river spirit that demands sacrifices or even a little man with a red hat but at no point does it appear as flesh and blood. Maybe the water horse sits in the zooform camp or perhaps it is just the highland bogeyman used to warn children of the dangers of playing in lonely lochs, to teach girls to be wary of strangers, even to soften the news of the drowning of a loved one.

Perhaps it is telling that by the end of the nineteenth century tales of the water horse had started to disappear. Once every region in the Highlands had a tale of one but today the name and the dangers of the water horse are rarely heard for now it seems there are plenty of other modern bogeymen to scare children with.

THE GREAT WATERHORSE DEBATE: Dale Drinnon

Cloven hoofprints are sometimes reported in Celtic Water Horse traditions, and Water Cows or Water Bulls are universally said to leave cloven hoof-prints the size and shape of cattle tracks. The Celtic Water horses are sometimes said to have the hooves turned backwards, but a horshoe turned the other way around is still giving the impression of a cloven hoof.

Water Horses reported with cloven hooves are not really rare and are otherwise reported in Lake Monsters from Sweden to Maine--the long way around--and both Loch Ness and Lake Okanagon have a distinct and direct identification of the cloven hooved feet corresponding to the description of a moose.

The 1933 MacLennan sighting at Loch Ness was one of the ones on shore. Mrs. MacLennan described a large animal with cloven hooves like pig's feet but larger. Burton explained this as an otter and Costello as a seal but neither candidate is adequate for that description. Mrs. MacLennan mentioned that it was 25 feet long and that it had a humped back but that it looked longer, with more prominent humps in the water. She was describing the wake of the animal in the water swiming away when she said this. She saw it end-on when it was on shore and did not see the creature on land in a position where she could have made an accurate guess as to its length.

Costello mentions the Ogopogo tracks as being round in shape, but at the exact size of moose tracks. The Ogopogo tracks are mentioned by Costello in In Search of Lake Monsters on page 226 as being found on shore in 1949 and six inches across. Mary Moon also describes similar examples, sometimes found submerged right along the shoreline. The tracks of a moose are typically five to seven inches across and resemble cow tracks.

One of the recent sightings of a 'Water horse' in Maine said that the animal had come ashore and left 'clawmarks' on the shore. 'Clawmarks' can be understood to mean cloven hoof-prints.

Coleman and Huyghe's Field Guide to Lake Monsters... has a 1997 Water horse sighting off Newfoundland on pages 122-123 with the large eyes and ears described (there seems to have been some confusion as to whether it had large ears or horns, and also whether it was hairy or scaly) but it is clearly another rather poorly seen and poorly described swimming moose report.

MORE REVISIONS TO THE WEIRD WEEKEND PROGRAMME


This timetable is still relatively provisional, and that the CFZ take no responsibility for disappointment caused by the non-appearance of any of the advertised speakers

THURSDAY

7.00 p.m Cocktail party at the CFZ
Myrtle Cottage, Woolsery, Bideford, North Devon EX39 5QR

FRIDAY

noon - 5.00 p.m Open Day at the CFZ
Myrtle Cottage, Woolsery, Bideford, North Devon EX39 5QR

Community Centre
Doors open at 6.00
Noon - 5.00 Open Afternoon at the CFZ
Myrtle Cottage, Woolsery, Bideford, North Devon EX39 5QR


Community Centre, Woolsery, Bideford, North Devon
Doors open at 6.00

7.00 – 7.15 Introduction ***
7.15 – 7.45 OLL LEWIS: The Kraken and the Colossal Misunderstanding ***
7.45 - 8.15 MAX BLAKE: Unknown animals in Pet Shops ***
8.15 - 8.45 BREAK
8.45 - 9.30 JON McGOWAN: Big Cats in Britain... EXPOSED! ***
9.30 - 10.00 BREAK
10.00 - 11.00 TIM THE YOWIE MAN: Yowies - Australia's Bigfoot

SATURDAY

Community Centre
doors open at 10.00

11.30 – 11.45 JON DOWNES + RICHARD FREEMAN: An introduction to cryptozoology ***
11.45 – 12.45 PAUL VELLA:The Minnesota Iceman
12.45 – 1.15 JULIAN VAYNE: A cabinet of curiosities from North Devon Museums
Julian will then take his collection into the exhibition area where he will do a `hands-on` session, for adults and children, with the cabinet of curiosities for until about 2.30
1.15 - 1.45 BREAK
1.45 – 2.45 ALAN MURDIE: Forteana from Colombia
(PAUL VELLA: Bigfoot for kids)
2.45 - 3.15 BREAK (KIDS: Mad Hatter’s Tea Party)
3.15 – 3.30 QUIZ ***
3.30 - 4.30 ANDY ROBERTS: The big grey man of Ben McDhui
4.30 - 5.00 Break
5.00 – 6.00 JAN BONDESON: The basilisk
6.00 - 7.00 TIM MATTHEWS: Crop Circle Confusion
7.00 - 7.30 Break
7.30 – 8.30: DARREN NAISH: British big cats in deep time
8.30 – 8.45 CFZ AWARDS
8.45-9.15 Break
9.15 – 10.15 NEIL ARNOLD: Zooform Phenomena - monsters amongst us
10.15 - 11.00 RAT SCABIES: Rat Scabies and the Holy Grail - the Punk Rock `Da Vinci Code`


SUNDAY
COMMUNITY CENTRE
doors open 10.30

12.00 – 1.00 MICHAEL WOODLEY: A proposed system of taxonomy for cryptozoology
1.0 – 1.30 GLEN VAUDREY: Mystery Animals of the Western Isles
1.30 - 2.00 LIVE: Sitting Now (Discussion and Panel) Presented by KEN EAKINS
(KIDS: Monsters are real – Jon Downes/Richard Freeman 30 mins)
2.00 – 2.30 BREAK (KIDS: Treasure Hunt)
2.30 – 3.30 NICK REDFERN: Stalin's ape men
(OLL LEWIS: Lake Monsters for kids)
3.30 - 4.00 BREAK
4.00 – 4.45 RONAN COGHLAN:
4.45 – 5.00 JONATHAN DOWNES: Keynote Speech and Closing Remarks.

Events specifically for kids are in red. Whilst all the lectures are suitable for children, some may be of more interest to young minds than others. The talks marked with *** are those that we especially recommend for children under the age of 12, although - of course - they are welcome at any that they care to attend...


EXHIBITIONS

Exhibition: Crypto Art by Ant Wallace
Exhibition: Crypto Art by Sam Shearon
Wildlife Photography/Taxidermy by Jon McGowan
Indian artefacts by APRA/Bob Morrell MBE
Unknown insects


EVENING: Dinner at The Farmer's Arms (Please book by Saturday evening)

WEIRD WEEKEND AUTHOR TO BURN OWN BOOK

Gundaroo Historic Village
NSW Southern Tablelands
Australia
27 July, 2009

Next weekend, at a remote windswept graveyard and under the cloak of darkness, a leading paranormal author will burn a copy of his new book.

“It’s certainly an unusual way of launching a book,” exclaims Tim the Yowie Man who will voluntarily throw a copy of Haunted and Mysterious Australia into the roaring flames of a bonfire on the outskirts of historic Gundaroo village next Saturday evening, 1st August.

“The book is full of stories of those who have gone to the grave and returned to the Earth in one way or other, so it’s quite symbolic that their stories should also return to the Earth in the form of ashes,” explains a philosophical Yowie Man.

This bizarre book launch will form part of a special ‘Graveyard Tour and Ghost Story’ evening to be held at Old Saint Lukes Studio, near Gundaroo on the Australia’s Southern Tablelands, next Saturday from 5pm. The event is one of the first of the 2009 Canberra District Fireside Festival, which runs during the month of August.

The spooky evening will also feature a tour of the Old Saint Luke’s graveyard by celebrated potter-cum-historian Ian Jones who, twenty years ago, transformed the burned-out remains of the church into his studio, home and gallery.

Tim the Yowie Man will be using the event as a warm-up for his headlining act at Weird Weekend - the world’s biggest gathering of mystery animal investigators - to be held in Devon, England from 14 -16 August 2009.

For editors:

  • For interview or photo opportunities, please contact Tim the Yowie Man on +61 407 769980 or timtheyowieman@bigpond.com
  • For more information on the Fireside Festival go to http://www.firesidefestival.com.au/
  • Haunted and Mysterious Australia (published by New Holland) is available at all good bookstores including ABC Shops. The first edition of Haunted and Mysterious Australia was published in 2007 but has since sold out, prompting the release a new updated edition.

FRISWELL'S FREAKY FEATURES: Airborne beavers

"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 aberrations of the natural world and the complete (on occasion) mind-bending insanity of collective humanity. Read on...."

I'm morally sure that any comments that I might make at this point concerning the possible benefits to be derived from the arrival of one or more beavers by parachute may well be misconstrued, or more likely perverted entirely by some of the more prurient minds lurking on this site, so I'll just let you read it for yourselves....

OLL LEWIS: Yesterday’s News Today

http://cryptozoologynews.blogspot.com/


Today is Movie Monday, so what is this weeks movie, you might ask (if you were reading this, rather than just spiking though to the links, I mean). Well, after yesterday’s self-enforced innuendo absence something had to crack and I ended up watching Carry On Constable, featuring world distance pogo record holder Charles Hawtrey. I suggest you watch it too; you’ll be in need of a laugh after you’ve read today’s pun. You’ll find the trailer here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aPXhZ8t5WWY
And now, the news:

Albino hedgehog spotted in Taunton
Hunt maps out a hedgehog future
Mysterious Beasts Torment Villagers - by Helvy Tueumuna
Attack of the zebra mussels
Was There Ever a Dinosaur Civilization?
Vulture breeding centre at zoo
Bondla zoo gets a pair of tigers
Tense situation in Sri Lanka's only zoo
Detroit Zoological Park opened in 1928
Bald hedgehog gets prickles back

That story makes a very good point.
(Curse you for using my vulture ‘carry on’ joke while I was in Plymouth, Richard, I had to resort to using a hedgehog/point pun, bah)