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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Saturday, November 07, 2009

Since writing my last post, I have discovered from a local Woolsery layabout (name concealed at his request) that the monocle bound for Nicaragua may not be the original. When Biggles was treated, two monocles emerged and it was not possible to discern which was the original due to copreous staining and intestinal warping. Digestive juices didn't do either of them a power of good either. However, I understand that the National Museum of Guatemala has shown an interest in acquiring this one.

The provenance of the second monocle - whichever one was not Jon's - appears to be uncertain, though a recent visitor to the CFZ was observed playing the ancient Croatian game of Look Down the Doggie's Throat While Wearing a Monocle and it is probably his. So, Mr Vaclav Sorbacxyl, if you read this, your monocle may yet be returned if you apply before the Guatemalans get it. The staining, of a brownish-greenish nature, is not too intensive. Unfortunately, we can do nothing about the clinging aroma of canine innards.
There is a rumour in circulation that Jon's famous monocle, as featured in Three Men Seeking Monsters, is to be acquired at no little expense by the National Museum of Nicaragua. Should such a National Treasure be allowed to go overseas? Could not the British Museum make a bid?

Jon has not, I understand, actually worn it since Biggles (his dog) swallowed it. Indeed, I believe it was recovered only after the administration of liberal doses of syrup of figs.

MUIRHEAD'S MYSTERIES: Interesting Insects (Part One)

Dear folks,

Today I am commencing part one of a multi-part series titled Interesting Insects. (OK, I know that scorpions, which feature in one of today's stories, aren't insects, but interesting creepy crawlies would spoil the alliteration). These stories will be gleaned from a number of sources, such as web sites, newspaper cuttings, and letters from other Forteans or cryptozoologists. As is mostly my practice I will be presenting the information in the order in which the occurrences or instances of unusual insect life take place, which is not necessarily the same date as the publication of the book. For example, if a book published in 2009 reports a strange moth in Birmingham in 1909, then the latter date is the one to look out for. Parts one to three are based on observations I have collected in the sources mentioned above whilst later, observations by our mentor Charles Fort published in his complete books.

Hopefully an issue of The Amateur Naturalist in 2010 will be publishing an account of my trip to Hungary in May 2009 to study the fauna of the Aggtelek National Park, particularly its butterflies.

Inevitably most of my cuttings date from the last 35 years or so, this being how long I have been active in cryptozoology/Forteana.

So here we go. The earliest record I have worth recounting is from the 1600s, from antiquarian John Aubrey`s The Natural History of Wiltshire (1847 edition, originally published in c. 1691), my copy of which a colleague of mine at Thornton`s Bookshop in Oxford bought me, before the bookshop became defunct:

'Riding in the north lane of Broad Chalke in the harvest time in the twy-light, or scarce that, a point of light, by the hedge, expanded itselfe into a globe of about three inches diameter, or neer four, as boies blow bubbles with soape. It continued but while one could say one, two, three, or four at the most. It was about a foot from my horse`s eie; and it made him turn his his head quick aside from it. It was a pale light as that of a glow-worme: it may be this is that which they call a blast or blight in the country.' (1). Broad-Chalke is the next village westwards of Bishopstone, near Salisbury where I spent that part of my childhood that wasn`t spent in Hong Kong.

Now the interesting thing is that Aubrey compares this to a 'glow-worme'; he does not say it is a glow-worm.

Concerning the Giant Earwig of St. Helena (Labidura herculeana): 'This extraordinary insect, which reaches the huge (for an earwig) size of between 21/2 and 3 inches, was discovered in 1798 by the Danish zoologist, Fabricus. It then vanished for nearly two centuries. In 1962 an expedition looking for bird bones buried in the sand of this isolated and tiny South Atlantic island discovered body parts which appeared to come from a giant earwig. Three years later another expedition found living ones, but since then no Giant Earwigs have been found. It seems almost certain, however that, in this particular case the truth IS out there' (2) Five years prior to this CFZ report, The Guardian reported:

'They [Paul Pearce-Kelly, then a zoologist at London Zoo and Dr Graham Drucker a zoologist at the World Conservation Monitoring Unit, Cambridge] are...in pursuit of a giant beetle – also believed to be extinct – and three species of blushing snail, of enormous importance to evolutionary theorists. (3)

Jumping ahead to 1870, here is a note from a journal called The Naturalists Note-Book on a favourite of mine, British locusts: 'Locust- On the 11th November , in a bright gleam of sunshine

We caught a locust on the jessamine growing over the front of our house. Thinking it more merciful to have it quickly despatched, and wishing to preserve it intact, I applied to a chemist, who speedily destroyed it with prussic acid, that fact that it was feeble rendering it easy to adminster the dose...I presume it is a migratory locust; but how is it that there is no green colour anywhere? There is a little bit of red on the body; but generally it is of a flat, grey hue. It is about two and a half inches in length; that is, the body without the legs; and the spread of the wings from tip to tip, nearly five inches. I hear that several have been caught in this neighbourhood during the last few weeks. How do they get here? Are they stragglers blown out of their course? Or is it possible that they are brought in some cargoes? I have had the above account sent to me by my sister, who resides at Truro, in Cornwall.-H.BUDGE' (4)

Finally, a mystery that dates from at least 1872: 'A colony of scorpions is alive and well and living on the Isle of Sheppey. The cold British winters should have seen off the scorpions years ago, yet the colony of Euscorpius flavicaudis has survived for more than 120 years-although probably not in great comfort…With no natural enemies on Sheppey apart from the occasional human who might tread on one, these scorpions have survived because of their remarkable adaptability. They retreat deep into their cracks to escape the cold and do nothing but wait for the next woodlouse.' (5)

J.Aubrey The Natural History of Wiltshire 1847 p.18
J.Downes. Mystery Insects C.F.Z website. Downloaded April 15th 1998
T.Radford Scientists set off on the track of the giant earwig. The Guardian. September 23rd 1993.
H.Budge Locust. The Naturalist`s Note-Book 1870 p.44
Anon. Scorpions in a cold climate. New Scientist May 16th 1992. p.15

Richard will be back on tuesday.

For any of you going through hard times tonight…

U2- Drowning Man:

“Take My hand,
You know I`ll be there,
If you can I`ll cross the sky
For your love,
And I understand
These winds and tides,
This change of times
Won`t drag you away.

Hold on,hold on tightly,
Hold on and don`t let go
Of My Love
The storms will pass
It wont be long now,
His love will last
His love will last, forever.


Word has leaked out to a select few local, regional and International media sources that Barbados-born Damon Gerard Corrie (of paternal Trinidadian and maternal Guyanese Amerindian descent) - well known to Barbadians as 'the Snake Man', may soon be well known throughout the Caribbean as 'Barbadiana Jones' - when the full details of what he is calling the "discovery of his lifetime" are revealed.

Corrie has become the first person to identify and compile physical and photographic evidence of an ancient Amerindian culture of skilled stonemasons formerly inhabiting an estimated 200 sq. mile mountanous area of Guyana. Corrie says he has been searching this area over the past decade at his own expense, purely to satisfy his own curiosity initially, but realises now that what he has discovered is too important to keep to himself any longer.

Never far from controversy, Corrie says he was careful to amass as much evidence as possible as he is convinced that his enemies in academic and political circles will not waste any time in launching their usual petty and vitriolic attacks and attempted character-assasination upon him - in order to cast doubt on the veracity of his discoveries.

This solo effort on 36-year-old Corrie's part may prove to be an invaluable contribution to the science of Anthropology, and a vital missing chapter to the pre-Colombian history of Guyana.

Damon Corrie is a member of the Indigenous Caucus of the Organisation of American States (OAS), registered observer at the United Nations Permanent Forum on indigenous Issues (UNPFII); and member of the Centre for Fortean Zoology (CFZ) in the United Kingdom.

LAWRIE WILLIAMS: The White Lemuroid Ringtail Possum - victim of climate change

Jon asked me to do a bit of a blog so why not? I am happy to share.

I live in North Queensland, Australia. One of my many interests is the creatures that are hidden. I am especially interested in why they remain hidden, when so many others have been collected and either put in zoos or stuffed.

Framed in my kitchen window and just 4km away is Mt Fisher; just a big hilly area, actually. On it lived what has just become a hidden creature - the white lemuroid ringtail possum. These creatures are temperature- and hence altitude-dependent. So now that climate change has started to bite, this unlucky creature has had to move uphill.

Which is too bad because Mt Fisher is not especially high. So alas the white lemuroid ringtail possum seems to have run out of places to climb to. None have been seen since 2005, last I heard. Perhaps there is still a pocket of them up there. At least they did not try to capture the last pair and pen them in.

Maybe the very last of them is dying alone as I write this. I am not going to go in there to bother them, to say sorry on behalf of humanity. They would not understand and nor do I. We all took part in their extinction, each time we left a light on, or drove or flew somewhere for no special reason, and the killing is going to go on and on until we all can change our ways. And that is indeed a hard call. I am reminded of that bind every time I look out of my kitchen window and reach for my coal-powered electric jug...

Vale white lemuroid ringtail possum!

(Picture on left courtesy Google Earth. Mt Fisher is the forested area in the top left of the frame. My home is in the extreme bottom right hand corner.

Scientific American says: Hemibelideus lemuroides—may have become the first mammal to disappear because of climate change, according to an Australian researcher.
Read on..

LANETTE BAKER: Continuing Bigfoot Expedition

Update on the hunt for MoMo... Well, unbelievably they have not found him yet, or even found a track. (sniggering) Of course it is bow season for deer so they have found plenty of deer tracks, hunters tracks, 3 and 4 wheelers tracks, coyote, and a possible large cat track....

I am not sure how much hunting they will do this weekend. My oldest is the centre for the football game and they are in state playoffs now and have a game Monday. The coach is going to demand a bit more of his time this weekend.

The large cat is still hanging around Jay's, at night we can hear the horses across the road get upset and run around the pasture, some of the larger dogs start barking when they normally do not and Jay has found more tracks, but... I have taught him how to put his phone on speaker-phone. I think getting him to know how to take a picture is going to take a bit longer to teach :(


Having to spend long hours in hospital waiting rooms and undergoing interminable tests, I needed something to keep me occupied and stop me becoming sane. I remembered I had a copy of Three Men Seeking Monsters, which I had been meaning to read for ages so armed with this and Terry Pratchett’s new book, and my little MP3 player with suitable ear tingling raucous rock music, I thought I might survive and remain eccentric and not turn into an old person. I have visions of being found sitting in the waiting room at the chest clinic covered in cobwebs in two years time. However, I digress; what this blog post is about is a review of the book.

I have never met any of the guys in person but after reading the book feel they are just my kind of people and can’t wait to meet them at the Weird Weekend. The book is a surreal journey into a Fortean world that exists on our doorsteps. The book is set in 2001 and Nick is about to move to the USA and with Jon and Richard embarks on a mission to investigate some phenomena before he leaves the UK to start his new life. He gets to Jon and Richard’s place to find a snapping turtle in residence and running loose and has to jump up on some rubbish bags until it is contained. That is just the start of a journey that takes them by campervan to everywhere from forests to government sites to Loch Ness (where Jon gets a fright). They show bravery in going on to investigate even when there is danger and warned off...or maybe it is alcohol-fuelled optimism (I suffer from that myself at times), but in parts it made me laugh so much I had an asthma attack. The two incidents that stick out are the exploration of the staircase and cellars in the creepy old house and the description of them in the woods at night, and Jon falling over because he is wearing a monocle just tickled me so much and was so vivid.

I would recommend the book to anyone who needs a laugh but there is a serious side to the book as well and the guys get themselves into some scrapes. Fortean investigation is not for the faint-hearted. All that remains to say is thanks, guys, for keeping me entertained. I have a few more tests to go yet and a few more long waits (three hours last time) but think I can find a few more Fortean books to while away the time, though I doubt they will be as amusing.

JON: Monocle. Pah!!!!

OLL LEWIS: Yesterday’s News TodaY


It's… the song of the week. Something a bit jolly this week because the weather has been so bad: Happy People by Skoop on Somebody:


And while you listen to that, here’s the news:

Snake pictured slithering across car windscreen

50,000 dead starfish found on Irish beach

SUV nearly slams into elephant

Giant Snake Capture Was A Hoax?

Dog sniffs out bed bugs

Zookeepers baffled by bare bears at zoo in Leipzig

Leaping Leipzig, bare bears.