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, October 09, 2009

MIKE HALLOWELL: The Beatty Beast

Old newspapers are a great source of bizarre stories, and I’ve dug up a good few from the archives of local and regional dailies over the years. This story is a classic, and so I thought I'd share…

I’d like to take you on a journey through time and space – specifically to the town of Beatty, Nevada, USA. The date is Saturday, December 21, 1907, and we’re standing outside the busy offices of The Beatty Bullfrog Miner, the town’s popular broadsheet newspaper. Both the editor and his chief reporter are shaking their heads in bewilderment.

Before we examine why, let me tell you something about the town of Beatty. It was founded in 1900 by the Bullfrog Mining District to accommodate the gold and silver miners flooding into the area during the Great Boom, as it was called. The mining company, the town and the newspaper were all named after the nearby Bullfrog Hills.

Although Beatty was a new town, it had already accumulated a wealth of spooky stories and eerie tales. Most of them relating the barren hills and mountains which locals often avoided – particularly after darkness fell. Many of these stories had been written up in The Bullfrog Miner, making the residents even more wary.

The headline in The Bullfrog Miner that day read, “Man Dragged 500 Ft”. The story gave a strange account – one of many – which had The Miner’s editors and reporters baffled.
Bill Keyes was an adventurer and prospector. During one trip in the hills he stopped at some "tule holes" for water. Tules are actually the large bulrushes that surround many pools and lakes in Nevada.

Keyes knew that the area was renowned for its paranormal happenings and had been so for the last three centuries. Still, he wasn’t superstitious and decided to pitch his tent for the night. It wasn’t long before a sequence of strange events captured his attention, the first being the mysterious appearance of strange, dancing lights in the adjacent valley. Keyes watched, fascinated, as they shot through the air, twisting and turning at bizarre angles.

Then he heard voices. The air became filled with unearthly moans and groans, bizarrely interspersed with the sounds of bullfrogs croaking, even though, despite the name of the mountain range, there were none in that vicinity. Eventually exhaustion forced him into a slumber

The next morning as Keyes yawned, blinked, stretched and opened his eyes, the first thing he saw was the sunrise. He was no longer in his tent. Alarmed, he jumped up and looked around him. He was amazed to see a furrow in the sand where both he and his bedroll had been dragged the distance of 500 feet whilst he slept.

Someone – or something – had managed to drag the sleeping prospector a large distance without rousing him. Who or what had done this, and why?

Keyes decided that discretion was the better part of valour and headed for the nearby town of Rhyolite. Here he bumped into the editor of The Bullfrog Miner, and blurted out his story. Seeing a good headline in the making, the editor quickly pulled out his notebook and pencil.

On December 21, the residents of Rhyolite, Bullfrog, Beatty and other towns of Nye County, Nevada read Keyes’s account.

"I am telling the truth when I say I was dragged across the Wash, and heard a bunch of unearthly and disturbing sounds”, he attested.

A visit to the nearby town of Rhyolite will uncover some other mysteries of the Wild West which are just as intriguing. Actually, the entire Bullfrog area was rumoured to be haunted. Rhyolite is now a shadowy ghost town, whereas a century ago it boasted a population of 10,000, an opera house, factories, saloons, restaurants and casinos. Now, the only things that move in Rhyolite are the dusty balls of tumbleweed that blow in from the desert.

Native Americans had been aware for centuries that paranormal events always seemed to take place around the aforementioned tule holes, and some avoided them. The bodies of prospectors and miners were regularly found around tule holes, often without any obvious signs as to why they had died.

On one occasion, the Bullfrog miner “Nevada” Henry Gould and some colleagues were returning from a prospecting expedition. They were heading for Rhyolite and had stopped at a tule hole to fill their canteens with water.

As they neared the waterhole they noticed a pack of coyotes acting strangely. They scattered the wild dogs and then saw the object of their morbid curiosity; the well-attired corpse of a fellow miner or prospector. How he died remains a mystery to this day. The next day, The Bullfrog Miner and other local papers carried the story, and both wives and mothers grew more uneasy when spouses and sons were out prospecting. Not until the Gold Rush ended did the body count begin to drop, I've been told, although how true this is I really don't know.

Rhyolite itself was finally abandoned, although Paramount Studios and other film companies have since used the old town as a backdrop for a number of films. The remains of the jailhouse are said to be haunted by the ghost of a murderer called Amargosa Jack, whose appearance is said to be preceded by the smell of stale whisky.

Rhyolite had a popular red light district, although city officials made sure it was strictly cordoned off from the more respectable streets and boulevards. To this day, visitors sometimes say they can hear the sound of a honky-tonk piano playing and laughter emanating from the now deserted taverns and saloons.

Several buildings in Rhyolite are in a reasonable state of repair, including the once grandiose railway station and the famous “Bottle House”. The Bottle House was a residence built by its owner. Instead of bricks or clapboard he utilised 50,000 empty beer bottles collected from nearby taverns. The Bottle House is currently under restoration.

Apart from these, however, the rest of the town consists of crumbling walls and creaking timbers. With every passing year a little bit more of Rhyolite quite literally bites the dust.
But the ghosts of Rhyolite remain. Echoing, clopping noises have been heard in the Main Street, as if the horses that trod there decades ago are still following the same rout in an eternal loop.
There is a glimmer of hope for Rhyolite, however. For the last thirteen years there has been a Rhyolite Resurrection Festival organised. It is hoped that more of the buildings can be restored, or at least preserved, and a visitors’ centre opened.

Who knows; one day people may move back to Rhyolite. Once again the bars may ring with the sounds of laughter and clinking glasses, and the ghosts of ages past may have living company. Till then, the current residents seem quite happy to stay there – even if they can’t always be seen.
The biggest mystery, however, is what dragged that old miner through the brush that day.

Know of any cryptids that fit the bill?

NEIL ARNOLD: Thylacine sighting

I have known Neil for fifteen years now since he was a mod schoolboy with ambitions for adventure and I was an earnest young hippie 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...

When conducting lectures across the UK one is often approached by people after the event who are keen to discuss any sightings of strange animals. Of course, most of these reports concern UK-related beasts. However, on October 2nd 2009 whilst giving a talk on ‘Mystery Animals of Kent’, in Surrey, a chap approached me with a fascinating story.

Now, I don’t know how many Englishmen have had the privilege of seeing a Thylacine, but on January 17th 2005, Richard Cooper was one of the lucky ones. He told me:

“I was on holiday; an area known as the Great Dividing Range (Australia’s most substantial mountain range and the fourth longest in the world), eighty miles east of Melbourne. I was driving on a sixty-mile long dirt track, flanked by dense bush. Other nearby areas were the Baw Baw National Park, Lake Eildon and Walhalla, all in Victoria. From 3,000 feet down to sea level.

It was daylight, mid-afternoon. Fifty yards ahead of me an animal crossed the track slowly. It was Golden retriever size, as clear as day, and I could see the set of impressive stripes down its back. It was a Thylacine. I felt very fortunate enough to have seen it.”

The witness seemed genuine and even rang me that evening to elaborate on the sighting. The Great Dividing Range could easily hide an animal the size of the Thylacine. The range stretches along the eastern coastline and fades into the Grampians where there have also been sightings of the Thylacine and also large cats resembling puma and black leopard.


Alan's trading cards brought back fond memories of moral panic and parental disapproval, which provided the necessary ingredients for social bonding among junior school kids back in the day. It's difficult to explain to modern youth how companies preyed on our completist genes and proto-nerdery by offering picture cards of TV and comic spin-offs with a stick of gum.
Children would sport a huge deck of repeats - 'swaps' as they were known - flicking the cards towards a wall, the winner gaining any card his own touched. One series, Batman, provided an early lesson in Tulipomania and it still echoes down the years. I had a whole pristine set, except one featuring Robin, a card that was practically unknown among our gang, the only example being an extremely dog-eared item owned by a boy some distance away.
No doubt companies released cards in phases but the feeding frenzy for this particular image unbalanced young minds and my own was no different. I plotted to acquire The Last One. The boy was unmoved by my pleas to swap but agreed to examine what else I might have to trade and I laid out my worldly goods in the back yard awaiting his approval.
There was nothing he wanted except one item that interested him, a monstrous hairy latex glove. Its value was completely disproportionate to the trading card, creased and grubby as it was, but I was so far over a barrel I'd have given my soul to the half-pint Mephistopheles. He walked away with my glove and I placed the tatty picture of Robin, so unlike the rest of the pack, in its slot.
The inevitable happened and within days the streets were flooded with The Robin Card and the bottom fell out of the market as every last arriviste sported a complete set, while my rubber hand was terrifying children by appearing round walls in another district entirely.
Sic Transit Gloria Mundi.

"NORMANDY NESSIE" (don't you just hate the people who write headlines?)

[This newspaper reader's sighting apparently happened in the deep water canal along Normandy Road in Madeira Beach, FL, and appears here thanks to the vigilance of Chad Arment over on StrangeArk]:
Strange sighting of Normandy Nessie
Oct. 7, 2009
At the risk of having everyone think I have lost it, gone bonkers or whatever, I must share this visual sighting with everyone since it has happened two times now.
The last time was a week ago and it came out of the water further than previously and I could estimate the girth that came out of the water at 12 to 15 inches in diameter.

It continued its roll seemingly for a long time and it had to be 12 to 15 feet in length judging by the roll time. It was brown on top with mottled brown and yellow lower side. It finally flipped its tail before disappearing and it was a flat, lamprey like vertical caudal fin an estimated 9 to 10 inches maximum flare tapering to a point. I never saw the head and there was no dorsal fin nor pectoral fins visible.

I have seen many porpoise almost daily here that swim up and down the canal usually in pairs and this was NOT a porpoise, no way!

After the first sighting I thought it might be a huge snake (python like in the Glades) that someone turned loose, escaped or whatever because it did not roll as high out of the water so the size (girth) was not real evident although it was the same color on back and sides from what I could see. It did not flip its tail that time so the weird shaped caudal fin was not visible.

I am sure glad that I told Bet about the sightings so the little guys in the white jackets don’t come for me. She believes me though it sounds a bit far out! LOL!

I see people in their wee kayaks paddling up and down the canal and think about how they could be a snack for the Normandy Nessie! LOL!

I am dead serious and this is not a spoof, joke or ruse. From the size of this thing it could pose a real danger to people and small animals.

Russell Sittloh
Madeira Beach

Center for Biological Diversity Newsletter

Center for Biological Diversity
Center for Biological Diversity

No. 481, October 8, 2009

Some months ago Alan Friswell contacted the Center for Biological Diversity and obtained permission for us to post their newsletter on the CFZ Bloggo...

Give a gift to nature and support the Center's work.

Sea otter

Do your share for endangered species now -- share Endangered Earth Online.

Bid with your lid: Learn how Stonyfield Farm Organic Yogurt will help the Center when you vote for us.

Polar Bear Habitat Protection Goes to White House

In response to a legal settlement won by the Center for Biological Diversity, this Monday the Interior Department sent a polar bear habitat-protection proposal to the White House for review. The proposal should be made public later this month and must by finalized by next June. We expect it will encompass millions of acres of sea-ice in Alaska threatened by global warming and oil and gas exploration.

The Center won Endangered Species Act protection for the polar bear in January 2008, then secured an agreement to protect its habitat. We're now pushing to increase its protected status, develop a recovery plan, and strike down a Bush-era policy (adopted by the Obama administration as its own) banning federal agencies from reining in greenhouse gas pollution on the bear's behalf.

Read more in The New York Times.

5,855 Square Miles Protected for Sea Otter

In response to a Center for Biological Diversity lawsuit, this Wednesday the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service protected 5,855 square miles of Alaska's coastal waters as "critical habitat" for the endangered Alaskan sea otter. The resplendent-furred creature, federally protected thanks to a Center petition, has been declining fast due to global warming and overfishing, and it's threatened by proposals to open Bristol Bay in the Bering Sea to oil development. While the new habitat protections are a great step, they don't protect deeper waters and areas further from shore that the otter needs. The Center will make sure those areas are protected so the playful mammal can recover.

Get more from the Associated Press.

Obama Targets Big Oil, Big Coal With Clean Air Act

Showing anew the Clean Air Act's crucial role in fighting climate change, last week the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency proposed another step toward curbing greenhouse gas pollution under the Act. The proposal will require big industrial facilities that annually emit more than 25,000 tons of greenhouse gas to get construction and operating permits covering those emissions -- which must show the use of the best emissions-control and energy-efficiency measures. This is a good step, but the administration should be moving more quickly to make full use of the Clean Air Act now. The Center for Biological Diversity (and you, our supporters) worked hard to tell the Senate to maintain the Clean Air Act in its climate legislation -- and it did. But the Act could still be gutted in the final version of the bill.

Read more in The New York Times and take action to make sure the Senate bill is as strong as it can be.

Suit Brewing to Save Penguins

This week the Center for Biological Diversity and Turtle Island Restoration Network put the Interior Department on notice that we're soon to sue over its refusal to protect the emperor and rockhopper penguins. The emperor is threatened by the loss of its melting sea-ice habitat, as well as declining food availability in the warming ocean off Antarctica. Krill, an essential food source for both emperor and rockhopper penguins, has declined by as much as 80 percent since the 1970s. But after the Center petitioned to protect 12 of the world's most imperiled penguins -- including emperors and rockhoppers -- the Bush administration declared global warming impacts too "uncertain" to warrant emperor protection, also denying safeguards to the northern rockhopper and most southern rockhoppers.

Read more in E & E News.

Sprawl Threatens Condor, Center Threatens Developer

Hours after California's Kern County Board of Supervisors approved the building of two new cities (that's right, entire cities) smack in the middle of essential condor habitat, the Center for Biological Diversity began preparing legal briefs to save the endangered California condor and one of the last unprotected wilderness areas in Southern California.

Tejon Mountain "Village" and its 3,450 housing units, 160,000 square feet of commercial space, two golf courses, and 750-room hotel is slated to destroy thousands of acres of a federally protected condor reserve. Our suit will challenge both the project's wasteful water plan and its devastating effect on the condor, one of the world's most endangered creatures.

Read more in the Bakersfield Californian.

Overpopulation, Not Endangered Species, Drove Georgia Water Crisis

One the biggest endangered species controversies of 2008 involved the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's efforts to keep enough water in the Chattahoochee and Apalachicola rivers to keep endangered species alive during an intense drought. The purple bankclimber mussel, fat threeridge mussel, and Gulf sturgeon have all been pushed to the edge of extinction by dams and water diversions. With water levels at a historic low in Lanier Reservoir, Georgia politicians went to the White House and Congress to exempt themselves from the Endangered Species Act in order to keep more water in the reservoir for urban use and very little in the river for endangered species.

Governor Sonny Perdue said that the federal government had created a "manmade drought" with its environmental policies. Little did he know how "manmade" the drought really was. A scientific paper published last week determined that the Georgia drought was not at all unusual in historical terms and would certainly occur again. What is unprecedented is massive, unsustainable population growth. Georgia grew from 6.5 million people in 1990 to 9.5 million in 2007, overwhelming the water availability during normal drought cycles. "The root of the water supply problem in the Southeast is a growing population," the scientists wrote. And if the overpopulation problem continues to grow to 10.5 or 12.5 million people, the crisis caused by the next "manmade" drought will be even worse and endangered species will -- as always -- suffer the worst consequences.

Read more in The New York Times.

Unleaded Condors: Center Initiative Taking Hold in Utah

Utah is now considering a program that would encourage hunters to use nonlead ammunition in habitat for the endangered California condor, whose biggest threat is lead poisoning from hunter-shot carcasses. Arizona already has such a program, complete with vouchers for free nonlead ammunition, and there's about a 70-percent compliance rate among the state's hunters. But the Center for Biological Diversity knows that's not good enough. Utah, Arizona -- and better yet, the whole country -- should go completely nonlead for the health of condors, golden eagles, other wildlife . . . and humans, too: A study has found that about a third of sampled deer burgers consumed by people were tainted with lead.

Thanks to work by the Center and allies, in 2007 California banned nearly all lead ammo in the state's condor range. We hope Arizona and Utah will soon follow suit.

Read more in the Salt Lake Tribune.

Study: Dead Trees Don't Make Wildfire Worse

A groundbreaking study on Southern California wildfire, co-authored by the Center for Biological Diversity's expert mapper Curt Bradley, shows that forests with trees killed naturally by beetles and drought won't burn any more severely than areas with fewer dead trees. The study directly counters claims by the timber industry and forestry officials that dead trees helped cause recent devastating Southern California fires. The study also challenges long-held assumptions that harvesting dead trees is necessary to reduce fire severity.

Read more in the San Bernardino Sun and check out our press release, where you can read the study itself.

Stop Junk Mail, Save Species

The average adult receives 41 pounds of postal junk mail every single year. Getting those worthless ads, catalogues, and sweepstakes letters to your mailbox involves a lot of cut-down trees, burned coal, wasted water, and climate-dooming greenhouse gases. And that thing about you having already won 10 million dollars? Not true. Even Ed McMahon couldn't beat the odds.

Unburden your mailbox with a quick trip to 41pounds.org -- a nonprofit that stops 80 to 95 percent of junk mail from ever being stamped with your address -- and help save species at the same time. Because now when you use 41pounds.org, you can designate more than a third of the fee to go to the Center for Biological Diversity.

Reclaim your mailbox with the Center and 41pounds.org today.

KierĂ¡n Suckling
Executive Director

Photo credits: sea otter courtesy Wikimedia Commons/Mike Baird under the Creative Commons attribution license; polar bear (c) Larry Master/masterimages.org; Alaska sea otter courtesy NOAA; power plant courtesy Wikimedia Commons/luchegorsk.ru under the Creative Commons attribution license; emperor penguin; Tejon Ranch (c) Andrew Harvey/visualjourneys.net; Lake Lanier courtesy Wikimedia Commons under the GNU free documentation license; California condor courtesy Arizona Game and Fish; polar bear by Pete Spruance; San Bernardino National Forest by Monica Bond; logo courtesy 41pounds.org.

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OLL LEWIS: Yesterday’s News Today


Its Friday and time for the Friday Fact:

During the 1980s Margaret Thatcher was afraid of one thing and one thing only: ninjas. So great was her fear of ninja assassination she gave her sinister lick-spittles orders to expunge all references to ninjas in all entertainment media in the country in order to try to fool the British public into believing that ninjas did not exist. According to recently disclosed documents more than half of the tax revenue raised in the year 1989 was spent on changing the name of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles to Hero Turtles.

And now, the news:

A lot of doe

ND woman's 7-foot-long dog could be record holder

‘Dead mermaid’ hoax spreads like wildfire

Researcher studies monkeys in Africa to better understand virus evolution

Tackling university animal abuse

Stephen Fry docu parrot's romp with presenter gets 500k hits on YouTube

Q: What’s orange and sounds like a parrot?

A: A carrot.