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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Friday, August 14, 2009


'August' is right this year; not only is the eighth month of 2009 the one in which I turned a quarter century, it has also seen me attend my first Weird Weekend and suffer my first hangover! I have enjoyed myself immensely so far despite being convinced I was dying for much of this morning and we haven't even got to the talks yet! Since first getting involved with the CFZ in March I have made several new friends and it has been lovely to meet everyone in the flesh at last. If I survive long enough to get home on Tuesday (and the abundant presence of alcohol at Myrtle cottage makes this questionable, frankly) I have another two weeks of summer in which to complete the other 'firsts' on my 'to-do list' - namely capturing my very own sasquatch and persuading all my detractors that cheese soup actually is tastier than it looks.



RICHARD FREEMAN: Crocodiles in Europe

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.

It is well known that the Nile crocodile once had a range that extended far north of what it does today. Thousands of years ago what is now the Sahara was far moister, supporting many animals that are now found only further down in tropical Africa. Around 55000 years ago the area started to dry out. An arid zone separated two lusher areas. To the south crocodiles thrived. In the arid zone only a few relic populations made it trough to the present day. These survived by inhabiting oases and becoming smaller than the sub-Saharan crocodiles. These desert crocs grow to around 6 feet long as opposed to the tropical Nile crocodiles that may be 15-23 feet long.

But how did the northern population fair? There are accounts of crocodiles in Turkey, Tunisia, Syria and other North African countries. Crocodiles were well known around Carthage in Roman times and fairly recent crocodile bones have been unearthed in a sea cave in Algeria. Crocodiles inhabited the Rivers Yarkon, Zerak and Kishon in Syria until around 1900.

Crocodiles may have ranged even further north. They were reported from the Jordan River in 1525. They were reported as late as 1905 from the Kebara swamps near the foothills of Mount Carmel. There is even a river called the Tanimin (crocodile) River here. Two specimens shot in 1912 are still held; one at the Zoological Museum of Tel Aviv University and another at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

This begs the question ‘did crocodiles ever inhabit Europe in recent times?’ The chronicles of Sicily mentions that crocodiles were known to turn up on the island. They were recorded from the Rivers Papireto, Garaffello, and Amenano.

It is quite possible that Nile crocodiles once lived in the delta swamps of southern Spain and Southern France. This may explain some of the dragon legends associated with these areas. As recently as the 17th century a crocodile (also called a dragon) lived in the marshes at Melloroca, Spain. Its body is now in the Museum of the local Cathedral.

It is known that the Indo-Pacific crocodile will stray into temperate zones as far north as Japan (where some were held in Island temples and venerated as dragons) down to New Zealand where they may explain modern day sightings of ‘mososaurs’.

American alligators that have escaped from alligator farms have been known to live quite happily in Israel. With the trade in exotic animals and privet keepers both legal and illegal it makes you wonder if one day crocodiles will inhabit southern Europe once more.

LINDSAY SELBY WRITES: New Thunderbird sighting?

Lindsay Selby
Hi Jon

Found a comment on my blog this morning that someone had a new thunderbird sighting. Not sure what to make of it so am sending it to you.

Hope the Weird Weekend goes well. I hope to make it next year; just too ill to travel this year.

love to all at CFZ


FRISWELL'S FREAKY FEATURES: Do prehistoric monsters still exist?

"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....

WEIRD WEEKEND SCRAPBOOK: Oll’s Weird Weekend Scrapbook - Thursday

It is the Weird Weekend cocktail party and unfortunately I have lost my glasses, which, as I am very badly short-sighted, means my vision is impaired, which is a bit embarrassing because although I have had a bit to drink it gives the impession I’m rather more drunk than I am. That aside, I have had a good time meeting up with old friends I haven’t seen since last year and making new ones. Part of the fun of the cocktail party is the children’s games and this year we had the new game of ‘pin the monocle on the sea serpent’, a sort of modified version of pin the tail on the donkey, which was enjoyed by all.

OLL LEWIS: Yesterday’s News Today


YNT will be on a Weird Weekend induced break for a few days, so I’ll see you on the other side. Before that though, here is the news (and bad pun):

Seal holds up chocolate factory workers
Banana bait snags runaway monkey
Eagle smashed car windshield with fish
Yorkshire terrier scares off bank robber
Squirrel is surprise star of holiday photo
Feathered fiends have cops on the run
An elephant that learned to play the harmonica
Zombies and sea monsters added to classic literature
Family harassed by vengeful weasel

Certainly gets my ‘seal’ of approval.

CFZ PEOPLE: Marjorie Braund is extremely ill

Although the Weird Weekend cocktail party was a great success and augurs well for the weekend to come, a familiar and much loved face is missing. Regular bloggo readers will have heard me talk about Marjorie Braund: grandmother to Dave and Rossi B-P, (and my godson Greg) and mum to Kaye over at the Hilltop Tails blog.

From 1971 to 1980 and intermittently ever since she has been like a second mother to me, and when Corinna and I got married in 2007 it was her, together with Corinna's Mum, who acted as witnesses and signed the marriage certificate.

She is very seriously ill, and was admitted to the North Devon hospice earlier today. Remember her, and those who care for her in your prayers


It was a hell of a party. But no one got very drunk, well not many people. As far as I am aware only one person was sick. Nothing was damaged, and the CFZ bloggo team turned out to be as nice in person as they were online. Lizzy was the belle of the ball, and a splendid time was had by all.
I am always amazed at how we get away with making such a loud and disruptive noise without anyone in the village making a fuss. But we do, and like Dave B-P has just said, it was the best cocktail party ever.
There will be pictures and video soon - maybe even later today....