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...

Search This Blog



Click on this logo to find out more about helping CFZtv and getting some smashing rewards...


Tuesday, October 27, 2009


Dear friends,

There is nothing new about entombed toads; they are well recorded in the annals of Forteana. However, this is the first time I have come across an entombed frog. So in this case study I present information that might be new to you. It was kindly provided to me a long time ago by the father of my friend Rob Wilkes. If anyone is interested in following it up further the Dean Forest Mercury may be in the Newspaper Library in Colindale, N. London.

The correspondence and articles in the Dean Forest Mercury is in the form of handwritten notes from that newspaper. The notes themselves may not be exhaustive. For a more detailed look at entombed toads the Fortean Times occasional paper Toad In the Hole is well worth looking at.

Statement of the collier who found the frog in Trafalgar Colliery on Thursday Jan 14th 1915.

“I am a butty collier working in the Twenty Inch or Smith Coal seam in the No 4 district of the Trafalger Colliery. At 4 o`clock on the morning of Thursday Jan 14th I was..work at the coal face. The seam was about 20 to 22 inches thick and the holeing which is thin, was underneath the coal. We had holed in some 15inches and was the usual custom to enable me to conveniently hole further underneath, I then stuck the pick into the coalface, about 6 inches from the floor. At the point at which I did, there was a thin line of hard black earth in which we term “mother” running along the seam.The pick, when I (?) the coal,appeared to strike through into a space. The piece of coal below the pick fell away to the ground exsposing a small cavity,out of which at the same time, a live frog fell. It was small in size and dark in colour,with a bright yellow band running down the whole of the back.It hopped about….” Ernest Giles Brain (various letters underneath).

Letter from the Secretary of the Zoological Society 27th Jan 1915: 'As a fellow of the Zoological Society in London, I have been in communication with the Secretary of that society on the subject of the frog found at the Trafalgar Colliery and brought to our notice by Sir Francis Brain.Sir Francis has expressed a wish that those competant to give an opinion would do so through your columns….. Yours faithfully W.Herbert Drummond FZS'

Dean Forest Mercury January 29th 1915. The Trafalgar Frog:

'The frog or the toad,for there is a lively discussion as to exactly what the amphibian should be known,is now dead but had it survived it would have made its way into the annals of the Forest of Dean for many years….It leapt as long as it had its freedom and it leapt to the top of the receptacle in which it was placed when it was being photographed…meantime we may state that the small cavity appears to be a little larger than the size of the frog but the shape shows a good deal of resemblance to the form of the reptile, including a pushing out portion which may have contained its head. The body in which, in what ever way it may have originated, perhaps went there a very long time ago. If this theory is correct why it should be a frog and not a being of only a remote relationship to the perfected amphibian, we will leave to the evolutionists to explain.. With just caution from the lay mind,evolution is a mighty slow process and when a frog was not a frog,well it may be difficult to exactly define and definitely determine.'

Dean Forest Mercury February 5th 1915. Shows a photograph of the lump of coal where the frog was found in and the bottle in which the frog is preserved.

Extract from letter dated February 14th 1915: 'I have in my possession a frog discovered some 20 years ago in the Starkey Seam at the Duck Colliery about 80 yards below the surface….The collier was holing by removing the solid shale over the coal seam,when in the act of doing this,he liberated the reptile which jumped out of its prison…I have always regreted that the cavity was not preserved to silence all doubt as I was not aware of the find until it was too late for this.The late Mr Arnold Thomas found a frog in an adjoining pit in the same Starkey Seam, some years before the find in the Duck Pit. Yours Faithfully Joseph Hate' (?)

The following is all that is written:

Dean Forest Mercury (page 4) 19th February 1915. More letters about Trafalgar frog (sic). Trafalgar is presumably a town or village in Gloucestershire.

Dean Forest Mercury. p.3. Feb.26th 1915. More on Trafalgar frog.

  • March 5th 1915. page (?). Letter from a scientist Frank Brain and A.Trigg.
  • March 26th 1915. Page 6 lower right hand corner more on Trafalgar Frog
Richard. Tomorrow: The Kaiser`s Caterpillars. (What on earth is Richard talking about, you might well ask).

Planet Claire-The B52s.

Planet Claire has pink air

All the trees are red

No one ever dies there

No one has a head..

Some say she`s from Mars

Or one of the seven stars

That shine after 3.30 in the morning



After an absence of several weeks during which my postbag consisted of bills, demands for money and various thinly veiled threats, it is nice to be able to return to our semi-regular look at the contents of the CFZ postbag with something nice. Dear Lindsay Selby has sent us some donations for the CFZ library: some classic Natural History Museum publications from around the time I was born and a DVD of the original version of The Lost World.

Thank you my dear - they are greatly appreciated.

The CFZ library will eventually be the biggest of its kind in the world, although it is presently mostly stored in watertight (or at least I sincerely hope they are watertight) plastic boxes behind the museum, in various places around my house here and in what used to be Richard's and my house in Exeter.

Hopefully they will all be together under the same roof at some point in the not too distant future....

CFZ PEOPLE: Mike Hallowell

Mike Hallowell is an old friend of the CFZ. We have known him for years, since we worked together on an unfortunate magazine called Quest back in the late 1990s. We first met in the flesh as it were at the first Weird Weekend nine years ago, and we have been firm friends ever since.

I am sad to report that Mike (who is also a regular bloggo contributor) is very unwell at the moment, and I am sure that you will all join us in praying for his swift recovery.

NEIL ARNOLD: Cryptozoology at the Natural History Museum

Cryptozoology is the study of hidden animals - such creatures are given the tag 'cryptid', for researchers within the field believe such 'animals' to be on the verge of discovery. Although mysterious beasts such as the Yeti, Bigfoot and Nessie remain out of the reach of science, there are some creatures that remain as reasonably valid cryptids - undiscovered creatures around the next corner, or species thought extinct but which resurface....

Our very own Neil Arnold looks at some of the more cryptozoological specimens housed at the Natural History Museum:


LINDSAY SELBY: Rare film of Nessie from 1936 being shown

Clear Day


A 1936 film that claimed to show the first evidence of the Loch Ness monster is among rarely-seen archive footage being shown in Scotland later.

The material can be seen at Glasgow Film Theatre and the National Library of Scotland (NLS) as part of Unesco's World Day for Audiovisual Heritage.

It includes the UK's earliest-known personal wedding in 1905 and US actress Vera Reynolds visiting Glasgow in 1926.

A number of films will also be available on the NLS website.

The library currently has about 67 films available to see online, with plans to increase this to 100 in the next few weeks.

I accessed the film here:


LIZ CLANCY: Very, very late review and question

I'm incredibly behind the times, I know, so I won't go too in depth about this (also, it's nearly six o'clock and I'm in Heywood library dreaming about what my sister might be cooking for tea tonight....) but I watched The Water Horse on DVD the other night, which tells the story of Angus, a little boy growing up a stone's throw from Loch Ness during World War Two, who finds an egg that turns out to hold an infant water horse (if any of you want to know more about the fabled water horse I urge you to buy Glenn Vaudrey's wonderful Mystery Animals of the Western Isles).
With help from his sister and their new friend handyman Lewis, Angus rears the water horse, named Crusoe, and eventually releases it into the Loch, inadvertantly creating one of cryptozoology's more famous myths - see, Jon and Richard, it's NOT an eel, it's a mythological being, thank you very much.

As I said, the film has been out for a couple of years now, I think, but I've only just seen it so if anyone else is as behind the times, get down to Blockbuster or whatever other place you get your DVDs from, and take it out! And watch out for the fantasy-genre rip-off of Free Willy towards the end.

Incidentally, in one scene I thought I noticed an underwater version of Stonehenge in the loch. Does anyone know if there really are submerged stone circles in this loch or any other lake in Britain? Interesting idea....

OLL LEWIS: Yesterday’s News Today


It’s time for the news once more from the CFZ’s daily cryptozoology news blog via the uploading and news-hounding skills of Gavin Wilson.

Gecko survives garden centre fire

CD and DVD players to employ shrimp technology

18 die as buffalo rammed by train

Black panther spotted in Luxembourg: police

Customs find reptile haul on man

Restaurant critic Gill delights in killing a baboon

Understanding Porphyria: No Vampires Here

Flores Hobbits: New analyses show the mini-hmans as stranger & more primitive than previously thought

Twin ducklings hatched from the same egg

That’s ‘ducking’ convention.