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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Sunday, October 04, 2009


I have been kicking myself for the last twenty-four hours because an acquainance is presently in Switzerland on business and I forgot to ask him to do what I ask everyone from the CFZ to do whenever they visit the alpine countries: ask the people they meet about the tatzelwurm.

For those not in the know, the tatzelwurm is a smallish mystery reptile, possibly legless but most often reported with two stubby front legs like one of those peculiar salamanders called sirens.

The most recent sightings we have are from just before WW2, but there are unconfirmed rumours of sightings in the 1950s and 60s.

So dude if you are reading this and you get the chance, ask some of your associates if they have ever heard of it. And let us see whether we can actually get some more recent accounts of this tantalising animal. And if you are going to be going into an offie in one of the less salubrious areas of town (although from what Ms C. says you don't seem the sort of young man to be frequenting dodgy off-licences) have a look for one of the cheap wino brands of kirsch. My first wife and I had a Swiss friend who used to visit once a year and bring a bottle over, and although she thought it was nasty, I loved it. I have very low tastes.

Also, old chap. Hurry back soon because I think that she is pining somewhat, and a pining sub-editor is not good for my soul. Toodle-pip!

NEIL ARNOLD: An Exotic Escapee

I have known Neil for fifteen years now, since he was a mod schoolboy with ambitions for adventure and I was an earnest young hippy who merely wanted to start a club for people interested in unknown animals. Nothing much has changed over the years; we are just both a tad older....

In July 2009 a local man contacted me to say he’d seen a large cat prowling in the fields near to his house. His home is in a remote location in Kent with no other houses for quite a distance. On 28th July the witness snapped several photographs of a fast-moving animal with distinctive spots, which, according to the witness, may have belonged to an animal resembling an ocelot.

When I received the photos it was clear this was no ocelot, though still something exotic-looking, and so I sent the photos to zoologist Karl Shuker as I believed the felid may have been a Bengal Cat of some kind. His response was as follows:

“Wow! That is an extremely bizarre-looking cat! It’s more like a short-legged king cheetah in terms of markings! In all seriousness, though, it could be a leopard cat or Bengal cat, as their markings are very diverse, though the sp
ots are usually fairly discrete, whereas this cat’s are blotches that seem to merge with one another, and that striped tail is very strange.

Interestingly, the king cheetah's markings are due to a recessive allele of the blotched tabby gene, and there is no doubt that the markings of the cat in the picture are reminiscent of the king cheetah's, even to the stripe-like array of blotches running alongside its spine; so the same genetics may be involved here. As to why and how a leopard cat or Bengal would be present in a reasonably remote area where no-one owns one, leopard cats and Bengals can be quite savage (not all specimens, but some) so if someone with one of these - perhaps from a kitten - discovered that as it got bigger it had become something of a handful, they may be tempted to get rid of it by releasing it, and obviously they'd pick a remote area away from their home, rather than somewhere close by, from where the cat could find its way back, or where someone might see them releasing it. I know that Bengals can be very expensive, but no doubt there's a black-market trade somewhere, as there is for most commodities, or perhaps there are illegally-bred Bengals or Bengals with dodgy pedigrees that would cause them to be much cheaper than pure-bred specimens with authentic pedigrees.”

After chatting with Karl about reports of hybrid cats in the UK, and those dubious reports of puma and leopards hanging out with another, he continued:

“I’m never keen on hybrids as UK mystery cat identities, because they are simply not common enough in captivity (and tend to be, on account of their rarity, too valuable to let loose or allow to escape), and are highly unlikely to occur in the wild as the result of two escapees/releases of different species meeting and breeding, simply because such liaisons are themselves highly unlikely. Like tends to seek out like; all these claims of puma x leopard hybrids etc, as the identities of mystery cats in Britain are nonsense – it just wouldn’t happen. Even in captivity such hybrids tend to occur only if a concerted effort is made to create them, by deliberately rearing individuals of separate species together from kittens, as has occurred in Japanese zoos, for instance, in order to yield leopons – leopard x lion hybrids. I still feel that the photograph shows a leopard/Bengal cat, albeit one with more blotch-like markings than normal.”

TRISTAN SANDERSON-DUCKETT: Something weird in the woods

Are you seeing a pattern developing here: long hair; boyish good looks? And we are not just talking about Jon. We have Max; Dave has grown his hair; and now Tristan, who writes: "Hello, I'm a fifteen-year-old animal and rock freak, that loves being outoors, observing nature! I'm home-educated so I have plenty of time to do stuff that most people wouldn't consider 'education,' even though I've learnt far more from being outdoors and thinking for myself (instead of being cooped up in a classroom, being taught instead of learning). I hope one day to be finding new beasties and conserving known ones so I thought it might be a good idea to blog for the CFZ!"

Hello folks. I know it's been a while since I've posted a blog but something rather mysterious has occurred in the Forest of Dean. As I live there I'm quite used to big cat sightings in the local papers but a few weeks back an intriguing footprint was reported. Local tracker Danny Nineham, a big cat enthusiast, has been placing motion detection cameras in the forest, in the hope of capturing footage of the elusive beasts, but so far has not had any luck (is big cat hunting on a par with fishing?).

But this footprint was from no big cat; instead it belonged to a three-toed cloven-hoofed animal with hoofprints 5 inches long! Unfortunately the Forest & Wye Valley Review doesn't give any further details about location or stride size. But it does remind me of those prehistoric horses. I am not suggesting for one minute that the forest is the home of some living fossil, but it does make the mind wonder what can go unnoticed. I've been researching various mammals and the tapir is the closest footprint I could find matching it, except that they have four "toes", so the only thing i could think of was that either it had a major hoof problem e.g. a deformity or hoof rot, maybe, making the fourth toe diminished. And I don't think the idea of a tapir living in the Gloucestershire woodland is too far fetched, but then again, it might not be a tapir. Maybe it would be worth a go contacting said researcher and paper, and if they'll give any details as to its location, going out and having a butchers.

The mystery does indeed intrigue, especially as the print doesn't appear to match that of a boar, which is known to live in the forest. If anyone has any suggestions as to what it could be, I'd gratefully receive them.

On another note, and one that many people have spoken of, but that I think I should mention to show some unity; the vile comments on youtube about the CFZ show that the majority of people don't give a damn about discovery, education and science but rather, who beats them to finding something. It aint a competition, lads; its called broadening the human view of the natural world. And I might be only 15, but i can tell when people care passionately about broadening our knowledge, not for personal gain but because they give a damn about other things. But to those commenters or whatever you want to call them (and let me tell you, i can think of many names in a few languages), I say they've proven themselves to be idiots.

NAOMI WEST: Twista the Xenopus

Naomi writes:

Jon, this girl I found online has some African Clawed Frog and one of them that she has named Twista has adapted to a birth defect and does all these bizarre twists and turns. Below are a couple links.

http://www.kozmicdreams.com/xenopus.htm - In the first video on this page, Twista does all kinds of moves in the last couple minutes. (She is eating.)
http://kozmicdreams.wordpress.com/ - here is her frog page with more videos.

I have had xenopus for years now, and to see them eat earthworms is both truly impressive and truly disgusting. I have to say that it reminds me of my little brother's first attempts at eating spaghetti about 40 years ago. My little brother is, by the way, now Major R.J.Downes BEM, stationed as a chaplain in Afghanistan, and having not seen him eating spaghetti for many years, I somehow doubt whether he still eats like an African clawed frog....



I spend more time than I should wandering, bleary-eyed, around the Internet. I am a member of various internet newsgroups on esoteric and unlikely subjects, and as one of the things that interests me are the few remaining British Dependent Territories (I guess that as a child of the Empire, this is hardly surprising), one of the newsgroups to which I subscribe is interested in the subject of Pitcairn - the tiny British territory in the South Seas that was founded by the mutineers from H.M.S Bounty.

Stuff from this newsgroup hardly ever impinges into the bloggo, but when I find a story about the only chimpanzee, indeed quite possibly the only non-human primate, ever to have visited Pitcairn, and when it is alleged that he could TALK, this is a story that really needed to be shared.


No it ain't a typo. Plans are already afoot for next year's event, which will be held - as usual - on the third weekend of August at Woolsery Community Centre.

We are very pleased to be able to announce the following speakers:

ANDY ROBERTS: The Berwyn Mountain UFO crash
LINDSAY SELBY: Loch Ness adventures
NEIL ARNOLD: The mysteries of Bluebell Hill
RICHARD FREEMAN et al: Sumatra 2009 Expedition Report
JON AND CORINNA DOWNES, AND MAX BLAKE: What happened in Killarney

More stuff will be added as and when....

OLL LEWIS: Yesterday’s News Today


Touch wood but BT aren’t being totally rubbish today so I can upload a 3D picture for Stereographic Sunday. Red and blue 3D specs (or Quality Street wrappers) at the ready; here it comes:


It’s a Chinese dragon I made out of card a while back; not too shabby I think you’ll agree. And now, the news:

Turtle sticks to British waters

Fluff Fluff: from camp dog to millionaire mutt

Sex rampage reindeer Mr Frosty gores woman

Female flies' sex energy

Fisher-dog catches attention

What is a fish’s second favourite social networking website?