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, August 01, 2009



I cannot believe that my little webTV show has been running continuously for nearly two years. Wayhay!!

The latest edition brings you the latest cryptozoological, and monster-hunting news from around the world. This episode brings you:

Preparing for the Weird Weekend
Repairing a lake monster
The world's 7th smallest fish
The graduation shrimp
My two darling stepdaughters graduate
Becoming a vet
Big cat hunting
moth trapping
More weird weekend
New and Rediscovered: New monitor lizard
New and Rediscovered: New salamander
New and Rediscovered: New monkey


Are there any readers in the North Devon area who keep fish? At the moment we have a surplus of guppies, pineapple swordtails and yellow bellies. We also have surplus Madagascan hissing cockroaches, and Arabian spiny mice, and would be happy to swap any of our surplus livestock for anything interesting.

Please do not hesitate to get in touch....

RICHARD FREEMAN: The False Memory Syndrome

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 thunderbird photograph is one of the most renowned stories in cryptozoology. Dozens of people, both researchers and members of the public, recall seeing an old photograph of huge winged creature pinned to the side of a barn. Beneath it are a number of men with their arms outstretched to highlight the creature’s vast wingspan.

The exact nature of the thunderbird cannot be agreed upon. Some recall a monster bird with feathers whilst other insist it was reptilian, akin to a pterosaur. No one can remember what publication they saw it in. Some say it was in one of the men’s adventure magazines of the 50s and 60s such as Saga or True. Others say it was in an old book on the Wild West.

Jerome Clark has suggested that the photo never actually existed but has been implanted in our minds due to the vivid description and has led to false memories of having seen it. This is quite distinct to a lie. The witnesses genuinely believe they have seen the photograph in their youth.

A number of cryptozoological sightings are recalled as childhood memories. Three that spring to mind are of an ape-like creature seen by a girl in New Zealand. The creature had been shot dead. Another from New Zealand is the famous sighting of a moa by Alice McKenzie at Matins’ Bay in 1880. A third is of man-sized, bipedal, dinosaur-like creatures seen in Colorado. Mrs Myrtle Snow of Pagosa Springs recalls seeing five such creatures in 1935 when she was three. She describes them as 7 feet tall and grey with snake-like heads, chicken-like feet and long tails.

We can hardly trust the memory of the three-year-old child especially as an adult trying to recall them many years later.

I have false memories from my childhood of events that I am sure never happened. One concerns a huge white bird. I distinctly recall seeing a massive white bird fly past our living room window one winter’s night. I remember my late father and my granddad chasing after it down the street to get a better look. I recalled this as a teenager and thought I might have been a barn owl (although in my memory it seemed much larger, more like a snowy owl). I asked both my granddad and my dad about it and they both insisted it never happened.

The second memory was much more creepy. In the 1970s we had hot-water bottles and before bedtime my mum would always go and fill them with boiled water. Even as a child I had worked out that the only time she would ask me to help her was when there was something on TV she did not want me to see or something she did not want me to hear. For example, I recall a programme showing the victims of German concentration camps was on one night and she asked me to help her then so I would not see the film of dying Jews.

One night she asked me to help her again so I realise that there was something that I was not supposed to be ‘in on’ occurring. The moment she had her back turned I crept to the door and listened. My Dad, Granddad and Grandma were all discussing ‘something’ that was apparently scaring people in the neighbourhood. I remember my Granddad saying, “I saw it and my bloody hair stood on end.” Then my dad said “at least it's kept to its own territory.”

When I was about 18 I told them about this and asked them what was being discussed (at the time I thought it was a ghost but now it sounded more like some kind of creature). Both said that the conversation never happened. My Dad suggested I was confusing my childhood dreams with my memories. He told me that if something had existed that I was now old enough to have been told about it, which sounds quite reasonable.

From an early age I have always had exceptionally weird and vivid dreams. It seems that my false memories are hybrids constructed out of dreams and poorly recalled events. I wonder how many old childhood accounts of cryptids are based on false memories?

RICHARD MUIRHEAD: The poems of John Milton and Cryptozoology

The poems of John Milton, such as Paradise Lost, On The Morning of Christ`s Nativity, Samson Agonistes and Comus are well known. Perhaps less well known except by those who have made a serious study (I do not include myself here) of these poems is the occasional reference to cryptids, in particular sea monsters. I have only read the first few pages of Paradise Lost (1667) but very soon after Satan and his angels are thrown out of heaven after their rebellion against God, we have Milton portraying the following gloomy scene: (The spelling throughout is kept to my texts)

Thus Satan, talking to his nearest mate,
With head uplift above the wave, and eyes
That sparkling blazed; his other parts besides
Prone on the flood, extending long and large,
Lay floating many a rood, in bulk as huge
As whom the fables name of monstrous size,
Titanian or Earth-born, that warred on Jove,
Briareos or Typhon, whom the den
By ancient Tarsus held, or that sea-beast
Leviathan, which God of all his works
Created hugest that swim the ocean-stream.
Him, happly slumbering on the Norway foam
The pilot of some small night-foundered skiff,
Deeming some island, oft, as seamen tell
With fixed anchor in his scaly rind,
Moors by his side under the lee, while night
Invests the sea,and wished morn delays.
So stretched out huge in length the Arch-Fiend lay etc,etc
Chained on the burning lake;……(1)

This theme of a boat stranding on the huge back of a sea-monster also comes up in the story of St. Brendan The Voyager, alleged to have sailed to N. America a few hundred years after Christ`s life.

`Milton`s great theme, set out in the opening line -`Of Man`s First Disobediance`- hails acts of human choice as the focus of the entire poem. Adam and Eve`s story is interwoven with those of God, Satan, angels, and all of subsequent human history. This first edition appeared during a brief window of loosening of censorship - after the Fire of London and during a political upheaval - its undistinguished quarto format disguising the potentially incendiary ideas within`(2)

The poem On The Morning of Christ`s Nativity (1629), written when Milton was about 21, developed this theme before his classic Paradise Lost was written, but in a far less profound manner:

He feels from Juda`s Land
The dredded Infants hand,
The rayes of Bethlehem blind his dusky eyn;
Nor all the gods beside,
Longer dare abide,
Not Typhon huge ending in snaky twine:
Our Babe to show his Godhead true,
Can in his swaddling bands controul the damned crew.

This poem later develops the theme of the music of the spheres, which is something I am also interested in. My mother bought me the book English Poetry (see reference 3 below) when I was mentally ill in hospital about 10 years ago, which created a strange version of On The Morning of Christ`s Nativity in my mind on reading it as you can imagine!

The illustration is a portrait engraving of John Milton aged 63 by William Dolle for the second edition of Paradise Lost (1674) held in the Bodleian Library, Oxford.

(1) The Poetical Works of John Milton. London and New York (1891)
(2) Citizen Milton An Exhibition Celebrating The 400th Anniversary Of The Birth of John Milton. S.Achinstein.Oxford (2007)
(3) English Poetry. Selected by Kenneth Muir. London (1941)


From today's Entomological Livestock Group [ELG] Newsletter:

JOHN QUINN: Hopefully members will be pleased if not thrilled to know that the Suffolk Purple Emperor colony that John Quinn started has had an exceptionally good year with a maximum number of 6 seen flying at any one time (July 10th). Furthermore, 2 males have also been observed and photographed over the course of several days from the canopy tree hide a few miles down the road at the RSPB Minsmere bird reserve.

Minsmere has a lot of the larval foodplants, Broad and Narrow-leaved Sallow, much of it at
sea level and exposed to very cold Winter winds. It will be interesting therefore to see in future years whether these males are part of a group now forming a new colony or whether they are just wandering males. John's colony is probably the most easterly one in the British Isles and has attracted much comment in the butterfly and birding world.
Rob Parker, Suffolk butterfly recorder commented in a recent update on the Suffok -nh web: "...for the benefit of any other intending visitors, that A. iris survives is perhaps the best memorial to John Quinn."

According to 'The Butterflies of Suffolk an Atlas & History', by Mendel and Piotrowski, the last Purple Emperor recorded in Suffolk was in 1959. [Julian Dowding].


Matthew Osborne and Emma Biddle are getting married today. We will be there (I had better be, because I am doing the wedding video). Good luck guys....

OLL LEWIS: Yesterday’s News Today


It’s Saturday and therefore time for a song. Today’s song is North Sea Oil by Jethro Tull:
And now, the news:

Tiger escapes in Las Vegas
Wolves attacking hunting dogs
Lost dog turns up after nine years
Egypt: Foot-long Baby Croc Causes Scare In The Air
Fishing 12-year-old nets Ice Age bone in Embarras River
Will a well-mixed, warmer lake doom invasive fish?

Why did the fish gag? Because the sea ‘weed’.
(an old one but a good one)