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, October 08, 2009

GLEN VAUDREY: Horned Snakes

Glen is one of the newer additions to the bloggo family. He wrote to me out of the blue last year to ask whether we wanted a Western Isles volume in our Mystery Animals of Britain series.

We agreed that we did indeed want one, and commissioned him. What we were not expecting was such a bloody good writer and all-round nice guy, who - by the way - is writing several other volumes for us, and he is even going to be speaking at the 2010 Weird Weekend.


Following on from the possible depiction of an Irish elk I thought I would have a look at a few other strange animals depicted on Iron Age coinage. While there are some very strange looking fantasy animals there are others that may well hint at something of a cryptozoological nature.

From the coins of the Catuvellauni and Trinovantes at the time of Cunobelin comes the horned snake. Cunobelin was possibly the greatest Iron Age ruler Britain had, and he certainly made it into Roman historical records. It was his death in AD43 and the chaos that followed that led to the Roman invasion.

While many classical mythical creatures turn up on the tribes’ coins it is perhaps the horned snake that asks the most questions. The snake doesn’t have just any old horns, it has a fine set of rams’ horns. It is true that rams’ horns did seem to turn up on a fair number of Cunobelin’s Iron Age coins. They usually represented the horns of Zeus-Ammon stuck firmly to the side of the king’s head.

Could this really be a very early attempt to show a mystery snake?

It is worth bearing in mind that while it could be a cryptic snake it could just as easily be an aerial view of a ram, perhaps Jason's legendary Golden Fleece. Like many ancient images of cryptids the picture is as ambiguous as possible


Dale started at IUPUI hoping for a degree in Biology before changing to Anthropology and as a result, has a very diverse background in Geology, Zoology, Paleontology, Anatomy, Archaeology, Psychology, Sociology, Literature, Latin, Popular Culture, Film criticism, Mythology and Folklore, and various individual human cultures especially mentioning those of the Pacific and the Americas.

He has a working knowledge of every human fossil find up until his graduation and every important Cryptozoological sighting up to that point. He has been an amateur along on archaeological excavations in Indiana as well as doing some local tracking of Bigfoot there. Now he is on the CFZ bloggo....

My personal opinion is that the vast majority of what Ivan Sanderson called ABSMs are Neanderthals, excepting the Sasquatch on a tentative assumption that those are different (and specifically deferring to Grover Krantz on that subject - as in fact Heuvelmans did also. Using this definition of hairy hominid reports follows Porshnev and Heuvelmans's usage and includes the hominid orang-pendeks or Batuts)

The ape types are not in the same category as far as I am concerned. Divergent big toe = NOT an "ABSM' in the generic sense. Which voids the term itself in that context, so I do not use the ter' any more.

The thing is that Neanderthals are possibly Homo sapiens, the same species as the rest of us, and that is a minority opinion but still held by many professional anthropologists.

So bottom line is, same species as us = NOT an unknown species = NOT an unknown ANIMAL.

And really there is no BIOLOGICAL difference between a man dressed in a fur coat and a human provided with one naturally. Same species, possibly the minor difference in the hirsuitism genes, which can be paralleled in different breeds of dogs, cats and laboratory rats.


Adam telephoned last night. He sounded weak as a kitten but he is out of hospital and at home. However, he has been pumped full of antibiotics and will not be going back to work for another week.

He telephoned Richard today and he has apparently been just about well enough to get out for a walk this morning.

He has had some sort of dysentry, and - poor boy - has not been at all well.

Well, dude, that is what happens if you must go gallavanting about the world chasing orang-pendek and other beasties....


Some years ago when Mark North was working full time at the CFZ I used to be a rotten so and so. I would tease him unmercifully by playing unlistenable avant garde music while I worked, in the full knowledge of the fact that it would disorientate him. But there is something irresistible about playing Throbbing Gristle at ear-splitting volume to somebody who would much prefer to be listening to something a good deal more mellow and acoustic.

However, Mark will be glad to know that I have had my commeuppance. As some of you will know, Lizzy C. has been staying at the CFZ this week, and - as always - being rude about my (and I quote) "old hippy music" that I play in the office. And every time I turn my back, the most appaling collection of tunes turns up on spotify. For the first time my poor office hifi has been subjected to Take That, Cher, S Club 7 and - most horribly - dear Liz warbling along (admittedly very tunefully, and with a fair degree of accomplishment) to Kylie bloody Minogue.

Come back Mark. All is forgiven!


Some months ago Alan Friswell, the bloke who made the CFZ Feegee Mermaid and also the guy responsible for some of the most elegantly macabre bloggo postings, wrote me an email.

He had an idea for a new series for the bloggo. Quite simply he has an enormous collection of macabre, fortean, odd and disturbing magazine and newspaper articles, and he proposed to post them up on the bloggo.

I'm very glad that Colin (Higgins) is obviously as warped as I am, and a fearless aficionado of the more gruesome days of our youth. Yes, indeed, I remember the horrific Civil War cards, which although originally produced way before my time, were still sold in my local newsagents many years later and became part of my collection. So these are for Colin--and for Steve--plus a link to a Civil War cards site where all the cards can be viewed. They were actually produced in the early 1960s by Topps, who also created the Mars Attacks cards, and illustrated by the ghoulishly brilliant Norman Saunders.

And for Colin's information, not to mention all you other morally bankrupt individuals out there, there is some unbelieveably gross and grisly stuff waiting to appear on this blog--so watch out....



OLL LEWIS: Yesterday’s News Today


Time for Oll’s useful news report:

Dinosaur prints found in France

Camden Research Team Names New Species of Leech for South Jersey Family

Florida woman 'filleted' by gang of raccoons

Origin of Komodo Dragon Revealed

Falmouth seal makes a bouy its bed for the night

Oh, ‘buoy’ there’s a glaring typo in that headline.