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, November 06, 2009


Apologies to anyone who has been expecting an e-mail from me in the last day or so. My emails are temporarily (or at least I bloody hope it is temporary) down. When Graham gets in the office later then all the messages that are presently in my outbox will (I hope) be sent.

So, Karen, Gavin, Harriet, Lizzy, and everyone else - I am not ignoring you. Blame BTinternet.


Dear folks,

Today I take a look at the misericords of Limerick Cathedral. A misericord is a:

1. Ledge projecting the underside of a hinged seat in a choir stall, giving support to someone standing when the seat is folded up.

2. an apartment in a monastery in which some relaxations of discipline were permitted.

3 A small dagger for delivering a death stroke. (1)

Seeing as I don`t want to become a monk or assassinate the Supreme Leader of the CFZ, for the purposes of this blog I will be referring to definition 1.

Historian John Hunt has commented:

'In the Middle Ages, cathedrals and churches presented a very different appearance to that which we now see. Until the sixteenth century changes, and before the destruction and desecration which took place under puritan hands in the seventeenth century, the great Irish cathedrals vied with those of the Continent and England in the richness and beauty of their interior decoration and carved woodwork and furnishings. Walls were covered with paintings, and elaborate screens and partions of carved tracery work marked the divisions of the church into nave,chancel and sidechapels. ..There are now only nineteen misericords remaining on the stalls in Limerick cathedral.Their arrangement has been altered several times during the last century and at present there is only one range of stalls on either side of the chancel in the cathedral. Originally there were probably two, together with seats or forms for the boys of the choir…The creatures carved on the misericords come from that wonderfully rich world created by the medieval imagination out of half understood and oft repeated travellers` tales. Bestiaries, books containing accounts and illustrations of beasts fabulous or otherwise, were very popular throughout Europe from the twelth century onward. These became the pattern books from which the medieval sculptor drew much of his inspiration

Like most things in medieval life,each beast usually had a mystical or religious significance. The mind of medieval man seized upon these creatures, and saw in each a secondary significance often pointing some moral or religious lesson underlying their ordinary or extraordinary appearance. So every carving carried a message more widely understood in the fifteenth century than it is today.'(2)

Some examples of the Limerick Cathedral misericords are as follows.

'A griffin. The body and limbs are those of a lion with the wings and head of an eagle.It is immensely strong and tears in pieces men and horses which it especially hates.' (3)

'The manticora. He inhabits the Indies.He has the head of a man, the body of a lion, the wings of an eagle,the tail of a scorpion,and feeds on human flesh.' (4)

'A yale (?) Often in heraldry, this was an animal like a horse with long with long moveable horns and reputed to have the power of killing with a glance,or perhaps a unicorn, an image of Christ.' (5)

'An amphisboena.This curious beast is like a wyvern,but has an additional head at the end of its tail.Evil can proceed in more than one direction.'(6)

There are at least two wyverns ( 'a wyvern is a winged two legged dragon with a barbed tail.'7) amongst the misericords. One with a head curved back biting its tail and another with a raised head and curved tail.

There are several sites on the Web showing good quality illustrations of the Limerick Cathedral misericords; just Google `Limerick Cathedral Misericords.' Also, at http://www.misericords.co.uk/bibliography.html there is a comprehensive bibliography on misericords.

1.Concise Oxford English Dictionary (2008) p913

2. J.Hunt The Limerick Cathedral Misericords. Ireland of The Welcomes. Vol.20(3) 9-10. 1973. pp12-13

3. J.Hunt Ibid p.13

4. J.Hunt Ibid. p.13

5. J.Hunt Ibid .p.15

6. J.Hunt Ibid. p.16

7. Concise Oxford English Dictionary (2008) p.1667

Thanks for the poem on the blog for my birthday Jon and Richard. I was going to quote from Stevie Wonders song Happy Birthday here but decided it would be hubristic. The song is for Martin Luther King,so then I thought of quoting from Belfast Child by Simple Minds.

Brother,sister where are you now

As I look for you right through the crowd

All my life here I`ve spent

With my faith in God our church and the government

Some say troubles are bound

Some day soon they`re gonna pull the old town down

One day we`ll return here

When the Belfast child sings again

When the Belfast child sings again.

LINDSAY SELBY: The Future for Cryptozoology?

With the death of Robert Rines, I got to thinking about how many cryptozoologists have passed away and what the future holds. I was quite young when I started hanging out at Loch Ness and looking for Nessie but I am 54 now and have developed a serious health condition so future vigils by the loch may be in doubt. I wondered what will happen to the hunt for Nessie? Are there young people out there prepared to give up their time and money to spend lonely days , often in bad weather, camped by the loch? I know Steve Feltham still resides by the loch, and he is younger than me, but for how much longer can he continue when he gets older?

What does it mean for the future of cryptozoology? Will there still be people in 25 years time hunting for bigfoot, if it is not proven to exist or not exist by then?

We need mysteries to investigate; we need monsters to pursue to make life more exciting, to give us a reason to explore. We also need young people to continue the search. I know most of us are considered eccentric and perhaps not the best role models but being different is what makes us who we are. There are people who have lost jobs because of their monster-hunting and been ostracised by their peers , and I have been denied promotions before because of (and I quote) my "eccentric hobby." They say to be accepted these days you have to be average; I hope this isn't true and there are young people out there who are reading blogs and reading books and thinking, 'yes, I would like to do this.' I hope the future of cryptozoology is assured and there are those out there prepared to go the extra mile to find the unknown and search for answers. The questions are easy , the answers hard to find, but I hope some brave souls will come forward and carry on investigating.

HARRIET WADHAM: Reviewing Dr Shuker's Casebook

When there’s something strange in the neighbourhood, who’re you gonna call? Dr Shuker’s casebook!

At the W.W. 2008, Karl P.N. Shuker made an appearance in the lecture hall; also he allowed people to buy his book, Dr Shuker’s Casebook: In pursuit of marvels and mysteries, and if they wanted he could sign it for them. Of course Mum saw a chance to make me exclaim “Mum! I told you that you should have let me come!” Then again, I got a book signed by Neil Arnold this year, so that was just as brilliant!

I’d say that my favourite section in the whole book is the chapter called ‘Such wonderful things are cats with wings’, probably because I have three lovely cats at home (I’m giving my favourite one, Max, a cuddle while I’m writing this), and because they are the cutest animals on Earth to me. So obviously cats with wings are extra cute. I wish that Max could grow wings, and I’d let him fly around my room! Now that would be cute. Anyway, it’s interesting to know how their wings are formed because sometimes they can have actual bones inside, but sometimes the ‘wings’ can be simple flaps of skin just hanging down loosely by their sides, and will shrink back into their bodies in a short while.

One part, which weirdly I didn’t like to look at when I was a bit younger, was a picture of this weird cabbage-headed alien thing with cucumber-like eyes. I can’t really remember what it’s called. Anyway, I had thought it was a real picture until I actually read the caption underneath it. The picture was a painting or a drawing. So that was rather embarrassing. But I don’t care now. I guess it’s just one of those embarrassing things that aren’t really embarrassing any more.

So it’s thanks to Jon Downes that I’m writing this because if he hadn’t hosted the Weird Weekend, Mum would never have met Dr Shuker, and if she had never met him, I would never have read the book. And if I had never read the book I wouldn’t have written this. Also, if Jon hadn’t hosted the weekend, I wouldn’t have had so much fun this year. See? Logic!


I have always been indebted to Chad Arment, an American researcher who has been responsible for a number of important cryptozoological works over the years. He has always got hold of some of the most important and interesting information before anyone else. Today is no exception:

Rare, elusive, and endangered by habitat loss, the bay cat is one of the world's least studied wild cats. Several specimens of the cat were collected in the 19th and 20th Centuries, but a living cat wasn't even photographed until 1998. Now, researchers in Sabah, Malaysian Borneo, have managed to capture the first film of the bay cat (Catopuma temminckii). Lasting seven seconds, the video (see link below) shows the distinctly reddish-brown cat in its habitat. Read On and watch video

LIZ CLANCY: The Monkeytown Moth

The Heywood Advertiser ran a story on 8th October this year about a 'rare visitor' to one of the town's streets. One of the residents of Willow Street apparently found a peculiar-looking moth on her front door. The Lancashire Moth group were contacted and the moth was identified as a death's head hawkmoth, which could have come from as far away as the African continent. According to Graham Jones of the Lancashire Wildlife Trust one of this species visits the region every year, he thinks to investigate potential sites for a new colony.

The full online version of the article can be seen here

OLL LEWIS: Yesterday’s News Today


It’s Friday fact time, lets see what the Grimore throws up this week:

Former Mr Universe and star of hit Hollywood movies such as Twins, Kindergarten Cop and Junior, Arnold Schwarzenegger’s real first name is in fact Mildred. He changed it acting on advice from his agent Charles Hawtrey (not to be confused with the other Charles Hawtrey of Carry On fame).

And now the news:


Madagascar Pochard - The world’s rarest ducklings hatched in captive breeding programme

Crows grab balls

California's great white sharks are a distinct population