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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Wednesday, November 18, 2009


I always try to get the CFZ bloggo updated and posted out to everyone by noon, and usually I manage it. On several occasions recently I have been running spectacularly late, and I have always written an apologetic posting explaining why. Invariably, there has been some sort of disaster or emergency here at the CFZ, and my bloggo posting comes over as the ongoing chronicles of one little guy (how anyone could describe me as a little guy is beyond me, but you know what I mean) and his family and friends contra mundum (even when I don't mean it to).

However, today's blog postings are late because I overslept, and then we lost the DVLA Car Tax reminder form. We found the form, and I feel refreshed from having had an involuntary lie-in, and when the chips are down it doesn't really matter that the bloggo is two hours late for once.


DALE DRINNON: Looking at the Chupacabra (Part One)

Knowing of our involvement with things apertaining to the Puerto Rican goatsuckers, Dale sent us several of his musings on the nature of the chupacabra, which we read with great interest. We have condensed them into a two-part article.

Early on in the Frontiers of Zoology group I had posted a link to a site that said that chupacabras depradations were being caused by giant vampire bats. All well and good; Shuker had mentioned reports of these giant vampire bats, and the website specified that they ranged from a wingspan of a foot to a few feet, walked on all fours on the ground and the largest ones were the size of a small dog on the ground. This is generally comparable with reports and traditions elsewhere in Latin America.

But there is a complication; there are different types of giant bats in the New World being reported and their characteristics are quite different.

While I was working for the Anthropology department at IUPUI I came across some photographs of some stone statues from Colombia, illustrating something that reminded me strikingly of Ivan Sanderson's Ahool drawing from Investigating the Unexplained. These reference photos were on file at the department and the captions stated that such 'Bat-effigies' were found occasionally from the American southwest to northern Argentina. Later I realised that these same figures were well known in Mesoamerica and related to the Mayan Kamazotz (Camazotz): in some of the UFO books, Kamazotz stories are ascribed to the Ikhals. They were said to stand on their hind legs as tall as a small child (2-3 feet or so) but were still regular bats, and ordinarily fish-eaters. And they are still being reported as chupacabras in some regions (notable examples from the southwest and illustrated on Cryptomundo, but known in 'Big Bird' lore from Texas in the mid-1970s, as bat-winged and monkey-faced, differing from the usual 'Big Bird' reports)

Moreover, the typical vampires of South American lore are chonchons, said to be a human head flying on ears transformed into batwings a fathom wide. Eberhart's Mysterious Creatures has entries on all of these giant bats, and the usual explanation given is they are all giant vampre bats.
It is not that simple: you have a small, medium-sized and a very large giant bat species emerging from these reports, and the medium-sized one is on a scale comparable to an Old-World flying fox (fruit-eating mega-bat) The largest is pretty much exactly comparable to an Ahool. The smallest reported unknown bat would be the giant vampire bat, the medium-sized one would be a giant false vampire bat, the chonchon. It is the size of a flying fox and the body of a flying fox is about the apparant size of a human's head. So the smallest one is the bat with a wingspan of a foot or two, but it is the blood-drinker. The others are innocent but get the blame; however, false vampire bats are still predatory and one that size might give a human a bad mauling if it was very frightened or rabid. And while the biggest one gets blamed for such things as haunting graveyards and kidnapping children, it would much rather keep to itself. The big one is at least comparable in size to a big owl or a big eagle, unless stories are very much exaggerated.

FROM ANDREW GIBSON: "A Possible Eastern Cougar"

From the Muskoka News, Ontario


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Suit to Defend Condor, Tejon Ranch From Megadevelopment

Refusing to let sprawl destroy critical habitat for the California condor and ancient cultural sites, today the Center for Biological Diversity and a coalition of Native American, environmental justice, and community groups will sue to stop the construction of two new cities on California's precious Tejon Ranch. The cities, quaintly misnamed Tejon Mountain "Village," were approved last month by Kern County and are being pushed by Tejon Ranch Company, a project of the massive Third Avenue Real Estate, or TAREX -- whose specialty is developing the living daylights out of ecological gems.

Not only would Tejon Mountain Village obliterate habitat for the severely endangered California condor and other species; it would also threaten local Native American village sites and culture, overburden the area's already maxed-out highway -- encouraging even more sprawl -- and spew out greenhouse gases and other pollution that would further damage public health in California as well as the global climate. Our suit -- to be filed with Wishotyo Foundation, TriCounty Watchdogs, and the Center on Race, Poverty & the Environment -- aims to get Tejon's species and thousands of people out of harm's way.

Learn about our work for Tejon Ranch and the California condor, and help us stand strong for condors now.

Mining Ban Saves 1 Million Acres of Tortoise Habitat

In one of the largest land withdrawals the Bureau of Land Management has ever enacted, late last month the agency blocked new mining claims on nearly 1 million acres of southern Nevada land for the next 20 years. The land in question, made up of federally designated "areas of environmental concern" due to encroaching development, is home to threatened desert tortoise and endangered birds, fish, and plants. These areas also happen to be historic hotspots for gold mining.

The Center for Biological Diversity has been working to defend the desert tortoise for decades, including waging a successful campaign to close an immense cinder mine in Mojave tortoise habitat and filing a 2009 notice of intent to sue the feds over a faulty land-management plan in Nevada, which would hurt the tortoise and other species.

Read more in The New York Times.

100,000 Letters Support Protecting Grand Canyon

According to tallies released last Thursday, nearly 100,000 people -- including more than 21,000 Center for Biological Diversity supporters -- have written to the Bureau of Land Management in favor of new uranium-mining protections for Grand Canyon watersheds. The flood of comments demonstrates strong public approval of the Interior Department's proposal to prohibit new uranium mining across nearly 1 million acres around Grand Canyon National Park. "This massive show of support confirms the fact that watersheds feeding the Colorado River are no place for a radioactive industrial zone," said Center Public Lands Coordinator Taylor McKinnon.

The proposed million-acre mining halt came after the Center sued Interior for going against a Congressional resolution by authorizing uranium on the same 1 million acres.

Check out our press release and learn more about our campaign against destructive mining.

Public Wins Power Over Verde River's Fate

In a big victory for central Arizona's beautiful Verde River, last week citizens in Prescott, Arizona voted for a direct say in large-scale city projects -- most notably the Big Chino Water Ranch project, which would likely spell the demise of the Verde and a host of animals and plants depending on it. The proposed Big Chino pipeline would remove upward of 13 million gallons of water per day from the Big Chino aquifer -- which supplies 80 percent of the Verde's flow -- pumping it all 45 miles away to quench the thirst of water-gulping developments.

The Center for Biological Diversity has been working to save the Verde since before 2004, when we first filed a notice of intent to sue Prescott and Prescott Valley over Endangered Species Act violations. Thanks to last week's vote, Prescottonians will now have the power to veto the devastating Big Chino pipeline and save Verde River endangered species, from the headwater chub to the desert nesting bald eagle.

Read more in the Daily Courier.

Senate Climate Bill Spells Disaster

The Senate took a disastrous step backward on climate legislation last week, passing a loophole-ridden global warming bill with unacceptably low pollution-reduction goals that would also work against our most effective existing law to fight global warming. First, the bill has no target for atmospheric CO2 levels; in fact, it would let CO2 increase to about 600 parts per million -- while science shows we must reduce levels to 350 ppm to avoid climate catastrophe. Second, the bill eliminates the Clean Air Act's requirement for federal scientists to determine the safe level of greenhouse gas concentrations. Third, the bill's carbon-offset provisions are so many and poor that they undermine its own pathetic emissions-reduction goals.

Nearly 50,000 Center for Biological Diversity supporters have signed petitions to the Senate seeking a strong bill. Says Center Executive Director Kierán Suckling: "Our elected leaders need to fix the problem, not apply false Band-Aids. We call on the Senate leadership to fix the grave problems in the current bill and present Americans with a bill that will actually stop global warming. Anything less than that is unacceptable."

Learn more in The New York Times and read the Center for Biological Diversity's statement on the Senate bill's serious shortcomings.

"Carbon Credits for Clearcuts" Policy Challenged

Opposing the absurd idea behind offering eco-points to those who cut down forests, this Tuesday the Center for Biological Diversity filed a formal letter to stop a program granting carbon credits for clearcutting in California. Defying all logic -- and law -- the California Air Resources Board has adopted a "Forest Project Protocol" that forms the first step toward letting forest landowners collect credits for the CO2 stored in trees, even while those same landowners help destroy the climate by clearcutting big, old trees and replacing them with plantations. Not only does the process of clearcutting spew new CO2 into the air from the machines cutting, transporting, and processing the trees; it also releases CO2 already stored in the trees and soil.

The Center has been fighting the Protocol since it was first proposed; we've also halted three large CO2-spewing logging projects in the Sierra Nevada due to their effects on climate change.

Check out our press release and learn more about our Clearcutting and Climate Change campaign.

Dirty Coal Czar Confirmed by Senate

Despite massive public outcry -- including a flood of letters from Center for Biological Diversity supporters -- last Friday the Senate confirmed dirty-coal bigwig Joseph Pizarchik as director of the U.S. Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement. In his past post as director of Pennsylvania's Bureau of Mining and Reclamation, Pizarchik consistently made decisions benefiting industry at the expense of the environment and communities, advocating for unsafe toxic coal-ash disposal, weakening stream buffer-zone rules, and more. Now, thanks to the Obama administration and the Senate, he can bring those disastrous policies to mining practices across the country.

Said the Center's Tierra Curry, "It is extremely alarming that the Senate would confirm such a controversial nominee with a record of consistently downplaying the devastating effects of coal mining and coal ash on the environment."

Read more in the Charleston Gazette and take action to save an ancient mountain from dirty coal.

Obama Trailing Bush on Species Protection

Late last week, the Obama administration released its first review of animals and plants deemed deserving of federal protection that are still languishing without it -- and there are a whopping 249. On average, these candidates for Endangered Species Act protection have been waiting for safeguards for 20 years; at least 24 candidate species have gone extinct due to delays in protection. The Center for Biological Diversity and allies have a lawsuit pending in D.C. to stop the illegal and fatal stall in protecting all 249 candidate species, from the Oregon spotted frog to the Florida semaphore cactus.

After 10 months in office, the Obama administration has granted federal protection to only two species, including the Hawaiian plant Phyllostegia hispida, which had been on the candidate list for more than a decade. The Bush administration -- with the worst species-protection record in history -- put an average of about eight species per year on the endangered list. Obama administration, you'd better get cracking.

Check out our press release and learn more about our Candidate Project.

The Plight of the Albatross: Too Many People's Plastic

Ever since "The Rime of the Ancient Mariner" made them famous, albatrosses have been larger than life. But now, thanks to too many humans consuming too much plastic, these beautiful seabirds are themselves literally consuming too much plastic -- and dying awful deaths. This fall, photographer Chris Jordan journeyed to Midway Atoll, a set of islets near the North Pacific Subtropical Gyre -- otherwise known as the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, where more than 7 million tons of plastic now clog an area more than twice the size of Texas. On Midway Atoll, Jordan captured devastating photos of just one of the consequences this plastic has on the ecosystem: deceased Laysan albatross chicks stuffed with pieces of bright-colored plastic their parents mistakenly fed them.

Limiting global plastic use and disposal would certainly help these birds, not to mention thousands of other species affected by our wanton love of the troublesome material. But the Center for Biological Diversity knows one simple way to curb the growth of the Garbage Patch, and that's curbing the growth of the human population.

Get more from CNN and view a slideshow of Jordan's devastating photos. Then check out the Center's Overpopulation and Oceans Web page.

Bid With Your Lid for the Center -- You're Making a Difference

This fall, through its Profits for the Planet Program, eco-savvy organic yogurt company Stonyfield Farm will donate a portion of $100,000 to the Center for Biological Diversity, based on the number of votes we get from people across the country. Since October 1, Stonyfield yogurt lids have displayed a message about the Center and two other nonprofits; every time you lick the lid of a Stonyfield yogurt cup, you can read about the Center and our co-competitors, then vote with a simple click or use the codes from your yogurt lids to cast multiple votes for one of us. And ahem, we hope that's the Center.

Thanks to your votes, we're now in second place -- but we'd love to be first, so keep bidding with those lids. Voting ends December 15, 2009.

Kierán Suckling
Executive Director

Photo credits: California condor courtesy Wikimedia Commons/Chuck Szmurlo under the GNU free documentation license; California condor courtesy USFWS; desert tortoise by Beth Jackson, USFWS; Grand Canyon courtesy Wikimedia Commons/Luca Galuzzi under the Creative Commons attribution license; desert nesting bald eagle by Tom Gatz, USFWS; Navajo Power Plant courtesy USGS; logging courtesy Wikimedia Commons/Jastrow under the GNU free documentation license; Joseph Pizarchik; Phyllostegia hispida courtesy USFWS; Laysan albatross courtesy USGS; logo courtesy Stonyfield Farm.

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LINDSAY SELBY: Bat creature blog

On browsing around the internet I came across some reports of strange creatures being seen sitting on the roofs of houses.

'Phantom Roof Creature

BY MAGI B. By Stephen Wagner:

This happened about 2007 in the summer. I am 54 years old and live in a very small town in southeastern Washington. I worked for our local small town hospital cleaning the doctors' offices and local clinic after hours, usually around midnight to 5 a.m.

This was about 2 or 3 in the morning and the night was clear and warm. I was standing outside in front of one of the offices having a smoke. I was turned toward the parking lot with the building about 30 feet away and to my right. I was looking up at the sky when suddenly movement to my right caught my eye. I quickly turned my head and caught sight of something dark -- very dark, like a shadow -- on the roof. It moved quickly behind the dormer. It moved so fast that all I saw was the back end of it. Its head had already gone behind the high dormer that was on the roof over the entryway. It was about the size of a man, but it seemed to move like a hyena, with rounded haunches, and if it had a tail, it was tucked between its legs. I wasn't scared, really, but I went inside nonetheless. A few weeks later, I was sitting in my truck at the same set of offices taking a break. Across the parking lot straight ahead of me I saw movement. This thing ran like a shadow under the light, moving from one building to the next, moving against the walls of the buildings. I don't know what I saw those two times, but I will tell you this: I saw something and I don't believe it was human. It was some sort of animal, but I got the impression it was intelligent. The older I get, the more I have come to realize just how much we don't know about the world we live in. source:


Strange Flying Creature

by Mr. Izu

This actually happened to my older brother and my grandma in Puerto Rico when he was about 9 (he's 33 now). My grandparents' house had a lot of land, and it inclines down, so if you look at the house from street level you see only the top part of the driveway and the roof of the house. Also, the house is near some huge mountains which surround Utuado, so in the back are the mountains. One day, my brother was playing on the driveway (from there you could see on top of the roof) and he looked up because he heard a loud thump, when he looked up my grandma came out at the same time. They looked on top of the roof and saw a short, hairy, dark brown apelike thing, with wings. It shook off and flew away into the mountains.' Source:http://paranormal.about.com/library/blstory_march05_15.htm

These were both spotted in the Americas but these stories abound all over the world; from the mothman to the owlman. It is possible that a large form of a bat could be responsible but as most of the bats in the UK tend to be of the small variety, not a likely candidate for this country. The first account does not mention wings but the creature must have either had wings or been good at climbing to get onto the roof. It is intriguing that there are so many of these stories that have some similarities. Everyone perceives things differently so the same creature can look different to different people i.e. some will say ape-like, another will say humanoid. If the stories were exactly the same then it would be suspicious. The fact they are not suggests that these sightings are reported without knowledge of other sightings of a similar nature in other areas of the world. Could there be an unknown bat-like creature out there? I hope so …I would love to catch a glimpse of one!

NAOMI WEST: Bird's head conundrum


A couple days ago I found a dead bird right next to the house (in what would be the flower bed, if we had flowers). It had died suddenly, as its wings were spread -- probably by a cat or something. I didn't examine very closely for cause of death. But what struck me was that at first I thought its head was gone; then I thought its head had been somehow driven into the ground. On closer examination, I realised that its head was covered with these little straw-like needles lying on the ground. (I'm not sure what those straw-like needle things were, but maybe they were dead cedar needles fallen from trees.)

Ants were already eating it and as always, I wanted to make sure the poor bird was definitely dead and not being finished off painfully by the ants, so I flipped it over. The ants scattered and I saw the bird was truly dead. However, when I returned later that day the head was again covered in the needles, and this time I was able to see the ants actually engaged in the painstaking task. I figured they were burying the whole body for some reason, but they only buried the head.

By the next day something else had come along and finished off the bird. But I was wondering why ants bury the head.


OLL LEWIS: Yesterday’s News Today


A quite mixed bag as far as things that happened on this day in history. Firstly, in 1928 Walt Disney presented his Steamboat Willie to an awestruck crowd (here’s the original version, which includes several scenes cut from later showings like Mickey, look out for the ‘pig’ scene, for example: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RexXDDA8RoI&NR=1 ).

Changing the mood, the Jonestown Massacre took place on this day in 1978 when the Reverend Jim Jones encouraged all of the members of his cult to drink poisoned Flavour-Ade.

Well, here’s the latest cryptozoology news:

Reality show pandas to fans

Best wildlife videos: animals attack

Jellyfish swarm northward in warming world

Britons convicted of pigeon tossing

French firm opens 'Hamster Hotel'

Pygmy hippo could be tip of iceberg

Indian deer fights off tigers and crocodiles in 24 hour battle

Deer me, that was an epic battle for survival.