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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Thursday, September 10, 2009

And this is...

The 2000th post on the main CFZ bloggo

I never thought in my wildest dreams - and believe me boys and girls, my dreams can get pretty wild - that the bloggo would be the success that it has been. I would like to thank the bloggo team, the editorial staff, the guest bloggers, and my three daily regulars Gavin, Oll and Dizzy Miss Lizzy, for everything that you all do to make this a success.

I truly believe that we are doing something seriously important here. The CFZ is standing for values and concepts that I believe are becoming increasingly ignored in our modern society, and at times it feels like we are fighting somewhat of a lone rearguard action.

With the news that I posted today, and the latest CFZ expedition to Sumatra, it looks like the CFZ is just about to enter into a new phase of activity and hopefully, influence and success. We still have crippling financial problems but we shall muddle on through because we always do.

Several of you have written to me over the past few days offering help with the Indexing project. Sadly I have just just heard from Glen Vaudrey that because of other committments he will not be able to run the Indexing Project after all. Several of you have offered assistance over the past weeks. Richard is just about to leave the CFZ for Exeter and then London, and then Sumatra. By the end of today I will have finished with the Sumatra and Blue Dog backlogs, and hopefully will have written properly to you all.

Forgive my tardiness.

Thank you all for your help and support. Running this circus is a logistical and financial nightmare, but we will continue. Because we have to!

If there is anyone else out there who has time, money, expertise or equipment that they would like to donate to us and our ongoing series of activities and research across the world, please do not hesitate to get in touch.




For contractual reasons we are not able to go into details for the next few weeks, but today we are able to exclusively reveal that yesterday the CFZ signed a contract to do a major television project: a feature-length documentary following the CFZ on our activities for the next nine months.

This is the biggest television project with which we have ever been involved, and it is a very exciting proposition. It will involve at least one dedicated expedition.

We will give you more information as soon as we are able.

RICHARD FREEMAN: Appearances and disappearances

The silver studded blue butterfly (Plebeius argus) has been found on a Bystock nature reserve near Exmouth for the first time in 20 years. It was seen not on its traditional heath land habitat but on the south-facing grassland to the north of the reserve. It has suffered severe population loss due to the destruction of its heathland habitat.

Matt Boydell, Devon Wildlife Trust's Land Management Manager caught the butterflies mating on the site. He said: "This is really exciting discovery for us. It really demonstrates that with the right amount of effort and support it is possible to help these rare species to spread further. We have to thank our regular volunteers who have helped to improve the site over the past few years and open up areas for the silver studded blue to move through to the reserve."

On a more worrying note, one of the beavers introduced to Creag Mhor, Scotland has vanished. Her disappearance coincided with the sound of unauthorised gunfire.

Three beaver families were released at carefully selected sites in Knapdale Forest, Mid-Argyll, and observation and tracking began immediately. A family of four was released into Loch Coille Bharr, a family of four into Loch Linne and the final family of three was released into Creag Mhor Loch. Unfortunately, shortly after release a juvenile male from the Loch Linne family died. A post-mortem was carried out by independent veterinary professionals but the results were inconclusive.

The two remaining beavers at Creag Mhor swam off into the Crinan Canal. Simon Jones, Scottish Beaver Trial Project Manager, said "We are obviously concerned that there could be a link between her disappearance and the unauthorised shooting, and the local police have been informed. We suspect that the noise from the shooting has disturbed these animals even if no direct link between the shooting and disappearance is found."

MIKE HALLOWELL: The elephantine exotic dancer

Whales are big things; except for the ones that have eating disorders. This makes it really difficult to catch them; they wiggle about a lot during the process and stubbornly refuse to get into the box, bag, net or whatever receptacle you wish to incarcerate them in.

On August 30, 1829, some fishermen "near the Fern Islands" off the coast of Northumberland saw a Big Thing floating in the water, and deduced that it was a whale. Not having worked out quite what to do with it afterwards, they got in their boat and braved the choppy waves to approach it. Not having a receptacle big enough, they simply flung a few ropes around it and towed it back to shore.

In The Historical Register of Remarkable Events (T. Fordyce, 1886) John Sykes makes a breathtaking observation: "When found, it was quite dead". This explains why it did not struggle when they tied the ropes around it, one presumes, or at least complain loudly.

When they got back to land – which they could always easily identify due to the almost complete absence of water – they measured it and discovered that from one end to the other it was no less than 58 feet.

"I reckon we should sell it", suggested one chap. "How much for?" queried another.

"I don't care as long as it will keep us in brown ale for a week", suggested yet another.

Anyway, they chopped it up into bits and flogged it for £45, which back in those days was a tidy sum.

Mind you, whales were not the most exotic animals to be found within the Geordie kingdom. Almost exactly a year later, on August 25, 1830, a remarkable chain of events started that ended in a pretty rum do. What happened was this:

On the day in question an exotic dancer arrived at Newcastle. She was called – I kid you not – Miss D'Jeck. Hoards of horniferous young males turned out to catch a glimpse of her near-naked torso as she waltzed unashamedly through the town. Their libido was somewhat dulled, however, when they noticed that Miss D'Jeck was not quite what they expected.

"Bloody hell", said one, "I don't much like the colour of her skin".

"I know", said another, "Its grey. And her toenails could do with a good clipping".

"Here", said his pal, "What's that bloody long dangly thing hanging down from her face? I know this sounds crazy, but it looks like a colossal…"

"Gawd, your right!" said a local miner from Gateshead. "I wish I had one even half as big!"

"If you did your missus would have to take up exercise classes", his compatriot jibed.

Miss D'Jeck, if you haven't already guessed, was an elephant: A good-looking, sultry specimen with come-to-bed eyes, I'll grant you, but a pachyderm nonetheless.

Miss D'Jeck hailed from Siam, and had fluttered her elephantine eyelids at all and sundry across the globe. A certain Mr. Nicholson, who was the manager of the Theatre Royal in Newcastle, had seen a pencil sketch of Miss D'Jeck and said, "Phwoar…get a load of this, lads! This'll put bums on seats!"

When it was pointed out by a stagehand that Miss D'Jeck may have been less than human, Nicholson dismissed the idea as ridiculous.

"She's a bit on the lardy side, I'll grant you, but don't try and kid me she's a bloody elephant!"

Anyhoo, Nicholson got in touch with Mr. Yates, who was Miss D'Jeck's "manager", and booked her for a show. "Great", said Yates. "We're appearing at Edinburgh at the moment, but I'll book tickets on the Ardinaple steamer from Leith and we'll be with you next week".

It sounded like a plan, but things went awry. A ferocious storm brewed up, and the captain of the Ardinaple – a right jobsworth if ever there was one – said that, fluttering eyelids or no, there was no way he was going to have Miss D'Jeck on board in case his precious boat sank. And so, dear friends, Miss D'Jeck and her manager were forced to "walk all the way to Newcastle on foot." Mind you, as most people walk "on foot" perhaps this should not surprise us. 120 miles later, a tired and somewhat jaded Miss D'Jeck arrived in the capital city of Geordieland. She was about to make history.

Now as word got around that this economy-sized Siamese temptress had arrived, squillions of blokes crammed onto the Barrass Bridge to catch a glimpse of her. Meanwhile, Miss D'Jeck – all ten foot of her – was ambling down Mosely Street and then Pilgrim Street, as Sykes put it, "with perfect indifference". She even passed by the side entrance to the Theatre Royal, which had been especially enlarged to allow her ingress.

That very evening she put on a stunning act at the theatre to a capacity crowd. Nothing untoward happened in Newcastle, but after Miss D'Jeck's last appearance things unfortunately went less than swimmingly. Nicholson, it seems, had contacted a mate of his in nearby Morpeth and told him of the Siamese Temptress's spectacular popularity. Consequently, the horniferous males of that town also wished to glimpse her burgeoning charms.

Now before I divulge what happened next, let me tell you a little about Miss D'Jeck's dietary habits. Whereas most locals got by on Rington's tea, brown ale and slabs of pork, Miss D'Jeck was rather picky and insisted on a daily consumption of "76 lbs of potatoes, 60 lbs of hay, 60lbs of straw, 11 quartern leaves, a bushel of bran, a bushel of oats and water in proportion". Now each to his or her own, say I but I wouldn't have liked to be astern of Miss D'Jeck if she suddenly decided to "drop the kids off at the pool", as they say. Unfortunately, it didn't stop there for she was also allowed to drink as much wine and beer as she could hold although spirits were forbidden. Here, of course, the locals had an advantage, for Siamese pachyderms are no match for Geordies when it comes to tolerating alcoholic beverages. She tried to keep up with them, but invariably found herself roaring drunk whilst her hosts were still only slightly tipsy. Sadly, it was in such a state of inebriation that she was encouraged to walk to Morpeth for her next show.

Now everyone knows that elephants have good memories, and Miss D'Jeck was no exception. She could remember her home in Siam, being potty-trained, recovering from elephantine colic and numerous other peaks and troughs of her existence. Unfortunately, she could also remember with crystal clarity something that had happened three years earlier.

Miss D'Jeck's trainer was a gentleman of Italian extraction called Baptiste Bernard. Now in some respects Bernard had been a good trainer, but he also had a liking for the demon drink not unakin to that possessed by his charge, Miss D'Jeck. One day, whilst extremely bladdered, he had taken exception to something Miss D'Jeck had done and stabbed her with a fork.

"I'll get you, you bastard", thought Miss D'Jeck, and she did – on the road to Morpeth.

Bernard had booked train tickets for the star and her entourage but on arriving at Newcastle Central station, she uncharacteristically refused to board her carriage. As no one in the vicinity felt capable of physically forcing her, it was decided that walking to Morpeth was the only option. In any case, it was a damn sight closer than Edinburgh.

But the cunning Miss D'Jeck was not simply a glamour-puss; she was cute as a box of monkeys, and had a plan. As soon as the entourage had left Newcastle and were out in the sticks, so to speak, the economy-sized exotic dancer lured Bernard away from his mates and promptly wrapped her trunk around his torso. This succeeded in snapping the odd rib or five, and after giving him an extra squeeze he vomited up blood. They dashed him back to Newcastle in a handcart, but it was too late. He died two days later in mortal agony.

As for Miss D'Jeck, she found that her antics had, for some reason, disinterested the good folk of Morpeth in her appearance. She was thereafter found passage on a steamer and taken to London where, metaphorically, she found the streets to be paved with potatoes, hay, straw, leaves, bran, oats, wine, beer and anything else her little heart desired. Seemingly, those born within the sound of Bow Bells weren't too bothered about the grim fate of Baptiste Bernard, and packed out local theatres in their droves to see that exotic elephantine dancer from Siam.

I do not know whether Miss D'Jeck would ever be considered as a CFZ mascot, but she'd certainly get my vote. No one gives two hoots about Baptiste Bernard any more. Miss D'Jeck, in fact, was marginally regretful of her actions. As she told the local magistrates at the time, "I'm sort of sorry I killed him...but when you're a star like me and you get stabbed with a fork, what's a girl to do?"



At the CFZ we have been known to while away the odd afternoon doing something completely stupid and mindless, but even we have never descended quite to these depths of banality:

"Brian Johnsrud spat a thawed cricket 22 feet, 8 inches at the Central Wisconsin State Fair on Saturday. Minutes later, his son Jared shot his cricket 10 feet, 5 inches to win the 9-to-11 age division.

Brian Johnsrud says the key is to pick the biggest cricket and put it upside down on your tongue. He also says you have to take the deep breath before putting the cricket in your mouth, so you don't swallow the critter. Seven-year-old Daniel Word won the competition among 5- to 8-year-olds. After spitting his cricket 9 feet, 11 inches, he said it wasn't easy.

The event drew enough interest that organizers [sic] say they'll make it an annual affair."

LINDSAY SELBY: The Norfolk sea serpent?

A sea serpent reported to be up to 60ft in length and very fast moving has been sighted at least four times off the coast of Norfolk. The descriptions evoke classic sea-serpent characteristics of small head, long slim body and diamond-shaped frill along the back.

The earliest written report appeared in The Gentleman's Magazine in their December 1750 issue:

"The creature was about five feet long from what could be viewed of it above the water, with a head like a dog and a beard like a lion. The skin was spotted like that of a leopard. It passed in a leisurely fashion, finally disappearing beneath the waves to the great amazement of all those watching from the shore..."

In the mid-1800s there were more accounts of "a creature with a head such as a serpent might have with humps behind."

There is a well documented account about the reported sighting by the daughter of Sir Henry Rider Haggard, the author, who owned Kessingland Grange in Norfolk. Rider Haggard was working on a novel at his home in Ditchingham, when he received the following letter from his daughter Lilias, dated 20th July 1912:

"We had a great excitement here this evening, and we are convinced we saw a sea serpent! I happened to look up when I was sitting on the lawn, and saw what looked like a thin, dark line with a blob at one end, shooting through the water at such a terrific speed it hardly seemed likely that anything alive could go at such a pace. It was some way out over the sandbank, and travelling parallel with the shore. I tore into the morning room and got the glasses and though it had at that moment nearly vanished in the distance we could make out it had a sort of head at one end and then a series of about 30 pointed blobs which dwindled in size as they neared the tail. As it went along it seemed to get more and more submerged and then vanished. You can't imagine the pace it was going. I suppose it was about 60 feet long."

Rider Haggard went to Kessingland Grange and his daughter’s story was confirmed by the cook and the gardener. Rider Haggard decided to write to the Eastern Daily Press to tell the story and seek further information. On Wednesday 24th July 1912 the paper duly printed the original letter from Lilias to her famous father, together with this note from Rider Haggard himself asking for some clarification or further information. However, none was forthcoming.

In August 1923 a survey ship, H. M. S. Kellett, was taking observations off the Norfolk coast when Captain F. E. B. Haselfoot and the navigator Lt Commander R. M. Southern observed something strange. Captain Haselfoot wrote:

"The time was about 9am. It was a summer day and the weather was calm and clear. I am not sure whether the sun was actually shining. I then observed rising out of the water about 200 yards from the ship, a long, serpentine neck, projecting from six or seven feet above the water. I observed this neck rising out of the water twice, and it remained up, in each case, for four or five seconds. Viewing with the naked eye only, I could not make out precisely what the head was like."

In July 1978 a holidaymaker walking on Kessingland beach was moved to write (although he asked to remain anonymous) to the East Anglian Magazine:

"The sea was quite calm when my attention was suddenly drawn to what I can only say looked like the head of a seal on a long neck sticking up out of the water. There seemed to be some humps behind the head, but the creature only remained visible for a matter of a few seconds before diving beneath the surface. I would be inclined to think that I had imagined everything if I had not read the story of the Kessingland Sea Serpent."

There appear to be no other recent sightings. However, in the 1978 sighting by the anonymous man, he does state he knew about the story, which means it could have influenced what he saw. The men on the ship, however, if they were seasoned sailors, would surely have recognised any known sea creature, yet did not recognise this one. It does sound like a ribbon fish, except ribbon fish do not swim like that and do not hold their heads out of the water. Another interesting story to ponder over.


As regular reader will know our head honcho in New Zealand is Tony Lucas. He is a good bloke, and recently appeared on a NZ online radio show talking about his work as New Zealand's foremost cryptozoologist.

You can listen to the show at the link below:

its the show marked NZPI 26-08-09 59 min

OLL LEWIS: Yesterday’s News Today


OK, I’m here once more with a clutch of links to the latest news from the CFZ daily news bloggo under my arm, so without further ado and also because these links are quite heavy (seriously have you ever tried picking up a bit of the internet and putting it under your arm?) I’ll deposit them here:

Great tits found hunting bats for food

Plasobot: Robots from slime molds

Repentant man breeds 4,600 scorpions

'Killer seaweed' may have poisoned driver

Why did the crab blush?

Because he saw the salad dressing.

You see what I did there? You thought I was going to use the “because the ‘sea weed’” punchline again, but in fact the crab in question was eating at a posh restaurant for crabs, probably called ‘Salty Jack’s Bar and Grill For Anthropomophic Crabs’ or something and saw the salad dressing, as depicted in the linked artists impression: