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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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Friday, September 04, 2009

THE CFZ PRESS HIT PARADE FOR AUGUST

UK

1= China: A Yellow Peril by Richard Muirhead (7)
1= The Mystery Animals of the British Isles: The Western Isles by Glen Vaudrey (-)
3= The Mystery Animals of the British Isles: Kent by Neil Arnold (2)
4= Monster - the A-Z of Zooform Phenomena by Neil Arnold (3)
5= Man Monkey - In Search of the British Bigfoot by Nick Redfern (-)
6= The Owlman and Others by Jonathan Downes (-)
6= Big Bird by Ken Gerhard (1)
6= Big Cats loose in Britain by Marcus Matthews (7)
6= Dark Dorset by Mark North and Robert Newland (6)
6= The Island of Paradise by Jon Downes (7)


US


1 Big Bird by Ken Gerhard (1=)
2 Extraordinary Animals Revisited by Dr Karl Shuker (1=)
3 Dr Shuker's Casebook by Dr Karl Shuker (1=)
3= The Mystery Animals of the British Isles: The Western Isles by Glen Vaudrey (-)
5 Monster - the A-Z of Zooform Phenomena by Neil Arnold (7)
6 Man Monkey - In Search of the British Bigfoot by Nick Redfern (1)
7= In the wake of Bernard Heuvelmans by Michael Woodley (=5)
7= Giant Snakes by Michael Newton (-)
7= In the Beginning: Collected editions of Animals & Men Vol One edited by Jonathan Downes (=5)
7= Monster Hunter by Jonathan Downes (-)

Last month's positions in this pinky colour, which I think is called cerise

I don't know whether it is the recession, or whether it is the effect that we noticed a few years ago whereby sales plummet in the summer, but this last month's sales have been the worst since 2005 when we only had a very few titles. Hopefully things will pick up soon.

CHANGES IN CFZ POLICY REGARDING WILD BIRD SPECIES IN THE CFZ COLLECTION

MAX BLAKE (Deputy Zoological Director) writes: In the light of recent events, althought it seems probable that Rufus would not have been cured however early we caught the disease, Jon and I have decided to do monthly physical exams of all the wild birds in the collection. At the moment these are just the two corvids (both rescues): Ichabod the carrion crow, and Jerry the jackdaw.


We are funded largely by donation, and so it is CFZ Policy to publish our ongoing operations.


Oll and I started with the Carrion Crow (measured after he had had his morning food) because he is by far the tamest 'wild' bird we have, and we made these observations:


1. He was fairly calm during handling, but not when he was caught in the net. He nearly caught my fingers a few times!

2. He doesn’t try to escape by flying away from the net, but tries to run away. This could mean he's becoming tamer, or it could be because he is underweight.

3. Measuring the length (from the tip of the bill to the end of the short feathers at the end of the pygostyle (under the longer tail feathers)) showed that he was 27cm long.

4. Weighing him using the kitchen scales showed him to be 320g.

5. I could feel that there was muscle on the keel, but you could easily feel its edge and part of the bone on either side. The vet on Tuesday said that you should be able to feel the edge, but not much of the keel bone. This suggested that our crow was a little underweight.

Getting back to a computer, I looked up just how large a carrion crow should be. Looking on a number of websites, the average weight was 510g and 47cm long (total length). This suggested that our crow was either tiny, or very underweight. I scaled up the total length of our crow, and got a rough estimate that his total length should be 35cm. His actual length at the moment is smaller than this because he is missing some feathers and is generally a bit ratty around the edges. Doing some ratios, I worked out that your average crow weighed 10.85g/cm, but our crow (using the estimated total lengths) was 9.14g/cm. So, yes, he is a little underweight, but he is also a very small crow. Oll and I decided to double his food intake (starting today). He will be weighed again in a couple of weeks, and if his weight is over 380g I will be happy.

The jackdaw was next. Considering he is not an adult, he was expected to be smaller than the average bird. Catching him proved to be very hard, but the best technique was to move him toward the door side of the cage (with the door shut!), and lower him down onto the ground where he can be caught. He never seemed to want to bite, but he calmed down when he had my finger grasped in his feet. He was weighed at 200g and was 28cm long. I could feel the edge of the keel, but not very much of the side of the keel, which suggested that he was a good weight. We put him back and got back to the computer.


The average weight of a jackdaw was found to be 220g with a length of 34cm. Making a ratio, we get 6.47g/cm. Our jackdaw was found to be 7.14g/cm, so a little overweight. However, because he is still growing, I don’t think that we should try to reduce his weight yet. At his current length, he should be 182g. A more accurate scale may help in the future.

BRING ME A LETTER, THE SOONER THE BETTER

My postbag continues to amuse and instruct. There are three spectacularly groovy things in the latest batch: The first being a copy of an interesting paper by Richard Corlett about the feasiblity and morality of reintroducing Hong Kong's lost vertebrate fauna. As he wrote in another seminal article:

In Hong Kong’s climate, forest is the natural vegetation everywhere. It can be suppressed by regular cutting or burning, but the harvesting of biomass for fuel ended decades ago and fires, although still common, are less often started and more rapidly controlled near urban areas than next to rural villages. An increase in the area of forest is therefore an inevitable, if paradoxical, consequence of the increasing urbanisation of the New Territories. Hong Kong Island, where the last grassland is disappearing under a tidal wave of shrubs and trees, illustrates the future for the whole territory. Within fifty years, forest will cover most of Hong Kong.

Good news for native biodiversity, surely? Well…yes… partly. It is true that many of our most diverse inland sites are in forest, but these are areas that have had continuous tree cover for centuries, as a result of inaccessibility or the protection of feng shui. The much larger areas of young secondary forest are a lot less diverse. Even at the best sites, the diversity is in the plants and invertebrates – organisms that can persist in the tiniest of forest patches. Vertebrates do not survive in such situations so Hong Kong has lost most species that require forest. The new forests are therefore empty in comparison with the larger, older forest areas in Guangdong, and even more so if compared with what must have been here a thousand years ago. There are no reliable records for Hong Kong from before the nineteenth century, when the vertebrate fauna was already impoverished. To get an idea of what has been lost, we must therefore extrapolate from recent and historical records for the South China region. These records suggest the local extinction, by the nineteenth century, of at least the following families of forest vertebrates: monkeys, gibbons, elephants, rhinoceroses, squirrels, flying squirrels, bamboo rats, pheasants, woodpeckers and trogons (Corlett, 2002). A species list would be much longer, since several major vertebrate groups, such as the babblers, cats, mustelids and rodents, are represented by just a few survivors of the original diversity.

The 2002 paper ,which was sent to me by Richard Muirhead this morning, gives much food for thought. Thanks mate.

The other major bit from my postbag was a set of DVDs from Dr Karl Shuker. Was it a scientific symposium of some kind, or possibly some cerebral exploration of scientific minutiae, sent by one leading cryptozoologist to another? Nope. It was the complete series of The Double Deckers. "What the heck is that?" I hear anyone born after 1961 ask. Well, according to Wikipedia:

Here Come the Double Deckers was a seventeen-part British children's TV series from 1970/1971 revolving around the adventures of seven children whose den was an old red double-decker London bus in an unused works (junk) yard. A co-production between British independent film company Century Films and American TV company 20th Century Fox, it was a comedy adventure sitcom similar in look and feel to other late 1960s / early 1970s sitcoms such as The Monkees, The Partridge Family and the Banana Splits. The shows (without ads) were about 21 minutes long.

The programme made its debut on September 12, 1970 at 10:30 am ET in the US on ABC, and at 4:55 pm on January 1, 1971 in Britain on BBC One. In the US, the series was rerun on Sunday mornings during the 1971-1972 TV season on ABC from September 12, 1971 to September 3, 1972, in the same time slot. Each week saw the gang in a separate adventure including episodes based around a runaway home-made hovercraft, a chocolate factory and invading 'Martians' with guns that shot out chocolate candy, a disastrous camping holiday, collecting tin foil for a guide dog/seeing-eye dog, becoming pop moguls with their protege 'The Cool Cavalier' and a haunted stately home.

The cast were unknowns apart from Melvyn Hayes who appeared as Albert the Street Cleaner. Of the younger stars, Peter Firth has gone on to a prominent acting career, appearing in Equus, The Hunt for Red October, Tess, Pearl Harbor and Spooks. Co-star Brinsley Forde later became the lead singer in Aswad. The series was original scheduled for 26 episodes, followed by a further series, but production ceased after the 17th due to financial difficulties and alleged irregularities.

Cheers, Karl. I am very grateful.

Now all I need is someone to find me the two-part play School for Clowns featuring (and I believe scripted by) Ken Campbell, which was shown on (I think) Dramarama on ITV in 1981, and I will be very happy.

Oh, BTW, I have had a stream of emails (well, two actually) asking what the headlines in my ongoing postbag series mean. I hope this video (after you plough through the Fab Four being rude to the worryingly unfunny Mike and Bernie Winters in 1963, explains it all.


ON THE WANT

Yesterday Bigfoot 73 wrote: Why not post a wish list of the computer components you need? I'm sure there are a lot of CFZ fans out there with some bits and pieces of hardware they don't need who would be only too willing to donate them.

http://forteanzoology.blogspot.com/2009/09/is-there-letter-in-your-bag-for-me.html?showComment=1252035882269#c8771323729475985204

That is a pretty good idea. So here goes:

HARDWARE

I am always looking for hard drives and RAM to upgrade various CFZ computers; however, we are hoping to provide computers for free to various impecunious researchers across the world, so any surplus computers (laptops and desktops) will always find a good home.

We would also like a laser printer, a SM58 vocal microphone, and some microphone leads. A blue screen (for chroma keys) would also come in handy as would any studio lights (portable and not)

SOFTWARE

I would like the following software (legit or not)

Adobe Acrobat 6 or above
Adobe Photoshop CS
A full version of fruity loops
Command and Conquer Red Alert II (but that's just for me)

ANIMAL STUFF

Fishtank filters and lighting units
Water testing kits/dipsticks
Liquifry
A large parrot cage

By the way, I cannot remember if I publically thanked Syd Henley for the tanks he brought us at the WW, or Colin Banks for what he brought. If not, I apologise profusely, and thank both you guys now from the bottom of my heart...

This list will, no doubt, be updated regularly (especially if it works)

MORE ON THE POLISH `YETI`

On the Frontiers of Zoology mailing list, Markus posted this:

German TV RTL broadcasts an interview with the girl. I've not seen such a interview anywhere else on web so I want to share it with you for the short time it is online:

http://www.rtl.de/videohome.php?id=101173

For those of you who don't know Mario Ludwig, he's a zoologist and author of Von Drachen, Yetis und Vampiren: Fabelwesen auf der Spur (Gebhardt, Harald and Ludwig, Mario (2005), "Von Drachen, Yetis und Vampiren", M√ľnchen: BLV;). His only statement is that it is still possible to discover unknown (bigger) animals.

Despite what I said already this morning, it is too important to let go, so once again, it's bootleg time. None of the software that I usually use to steal videos worked on this one so I used a handheld camera and Cakewalk Guitar Tracks 2. If anyone has any better software for downloading online videos, please let me have a copy....


It also goes without saying that if there are any German speakers who can translate this for me, please do so....

BIGGLES TAKES THE LEAD

I am not going to actually post this audio file because although I am not completely averse to posting bootlegs, we are about to start work on a major project and I don't want to bite the hand that feeds more than I absolutely have to. However, On 3rd September 2009, the 70th anniversary of the outbreak of WW2, BBC Radio 4 broadcasted a half hour documentary on Biggles. The mealy-mouthed and PC write-up in the Radio Times magazine reads as follows:

"A top-hole half hour as Alexander Armstrong recounts the career of debonair fighter pilot James Bigglesworth and his creator, the equally adventurous Captain W E Johns. Transporting you back to an era of chivalry, derring-do and an unfortunate line in imperialism and sexism (Biggles preferred cigarettes to women), we hear how the enduring hero was able to survive firing-squads and hangings ... but not the wrath of some indignant librarians. Yet despite a shift in attitude to race and ethnicity, Biggles has remained a popular figure in children's fiction. His profile was originally raised thanks to a high-flying "Children's Hour" radio serial, but it seems that - with many of the books still in print - young readers still have a soaring desire to buckle up and take to the skies."

Why are we posting this? `Cos it features Corinna and our own Biggles dog about half way through. Listen and enjoy. You can download the broadcast here. (24 MB Approx)

TWIST WITH THE YETI

Our old friend Robert Cornes, possibly the world's foremost expert on the long-necked seal hypothesis, wrote this morning and sent this. It is super, so I have had to go against my normal policy of posting bootlegs, and um post a bootleg.

BIGFOOT AT CANNOCK CHASE

Synchronicity is a strange thing. Last night I was talking to Lizzy about the Cannock Chase `bigfoot`, and it was only this morning that I remembered that I had given an interview to a bloke from one of the tabloids on exactly the same subject, a day or two back. Then I was visiting my non-cfztv youtube account, which I use to paste up anything for which I do not have the copyright, in order to post a novelty song about yetis, and I found this, from some bloke called Stefan. It was posted in January 2008, in answer to this video:


(The fact that I didn't pick it up until today shows what a good boy I am and how seldom I post bootlegs)

"Jonathan Downes, suggests in this clip that the sightings of a Bigfoot type figure on the Chase could be hallucinations triggered off by electromagnetic emissions, perhaps from the BT tower. Whether or not this creature is a reality or not it is very highly unlikely that the BT Tower at Pye Green has anything to do with the reported phenomenon. The creature sighting's are mainly in the area of Hazel Slade on the Chase four miles away. The BT Tower is relaying communications line of sight (not omnidirectional) to negate the curvature of the Earth between BT Towers, using an array of dishes transmitting and receiving electromagnetic emissions in the microwave frequency band. There are BT Towers in all sorts of locations for example the centre of Birmingham, but do people report the sightings of Big Foot or an Ape like creature in the City or elsewhere in relation to BT communication towers? People could easily be misled by Jonathan Downes sweeping suggestion. There is currently no conclusive evidence that electromagnetic emissions cause hallucinations in humans. Such statements are often used by our modern day ill informed debunkers."

Now is it just me, or does that sound horribly like someone from BT spouting the party line? (If you will excuse the pun). Methinks that he doth protest too much, although as I made the above film in 2002, and a lot of water has passed under a lot of bridges since then, I am not even sure if I believe the theory any more.

OLL LEWIS: Yesterday’s News Today



http://cryptozoologynews.blogspot.com/

It’s a Friday so time for the Friday Fact.

A small population of rockhopper penguins that lost their way and ended up on the island of Montserrat almost 100 years ago have by chance developed natural ice skates on the soles of their feet. Ironically, as Montserrat is too warm for ice to form, the penguins themselves remain unaware.

And now, the news:

Compare the Meerkat benefits wildlife park

Texan confronts the legendary chupacabras

Missing python found in cupboard

FDA test shows either a frog or toad was in a Florida man's soda can

Brings a whole new meaning to the phrase “There’s a frog in my throat.”.