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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Thursday, November 19, 2009


When is a week at the CFZ not a slightly strange week? It's all change this week because Graham is in the Isle of Man visiting his Mama, and - totally coincidentally - we have Lizzy here for a week starting this evening. Add to that computer problems, family problems, an overgown hawthorn tree at the back of the museum needing urgent surgery and the fact that now there are no leaves on the trees, Biggles can see out of the garden and (for the first time in months) has resumed his bids for freedom, and one can see that there is never a dull moment here at the world's biggest bloody madhouse.

So service will be erratic for the next few days, but like a fortean analogue of the Pony Express, the bloggos always come through.


As you know, Oll has been working on the archiving project since early February, and he is now working on the BHM section. This 12th trenche is from the early 1990s and is (like the 9th and 10th and 11th) almost entirely North American bigfoot stories. Good stuff.


DALE DRINNON: Chupacabra part 2

This paste-up is also from the files of the Frontiers of Zoology group and features the CFZ's own chupacabras representation.

I had remarked before that I first heard of a chupacabras creature in the mid 1970s as a FOAF report originating in the American SW: and it was described basically as being like a small spiky-backed dinosaur or a big iguana lizard, said to be raiding livestock. It was actually a story meant as an explanation of 'cattle mutilations', then a big news item. so the first example I heard of was a cattle-mutilations creature that was a spiky-backed lizard, and the name chupacabras not invented for such a creature yet.

I have since learned that there is a traditional Mexican version of this small dinosaur creature, usually said to raid graves and eat the bodies. A version of the legend has made its way into standard D&D lore as the fantasy creature known as the bone-snapper.

At any rate, when chupacabras reports proper started to emerge later on, several of the reports specified a small dinosaur or large spiky-backed lizard creature, sometimes said to run or jump away on its hind legs. The montage cuts together several representations of these.
Eberhart's Mysterious Creatures has an entry on such creatures under the heading 'Giant North American Lizard' but the first name I heard in common usage for them was Mountain Boomer. Other sources call them 'Mini-Rex.' And Ivan Sanderson's archives included separate letters from two unrelated sources writing about such a 'Small dinosaur' from the Arkansas-Oklahoma area, neither one of which was ever published. Some iguanid lizards do get up and run away on their hind legs, including the collared lizard (the more usual 'Mountain Boomer').

When the spiky-backed 'Chupacabras' reports started coming out of Puerto Rico, some sort of large iguanid lizard might have been involved. It probably would not be the same species as reported in Texas, Arkansas-Oklahoma, Colorado, Arizona and Mexico but it could have been something similar. The depiction does look like the front end of an iguana. And male iguanid lizards are known to have red eyes.

If it is necessary to be said, I don't think the lizards actually do any cattle mutilations or goat-sucking, or even digging up graves and breaking the bones. They only get blamed for that. What does that most often (and in just about the whole world over) is feral dogs, and they leave regular dog tracks (Ref. photos also on file in the group)


Some months ago Alan Friswell, the bloke who made the CFZ Feegee Mermaid and also the guy responsible for some of the most elegantly macabre bloggo postings, wrote me an email.

He had an idea for a new series for the bloggo. Quite simply he has an enormous collection of macabre, fortean, odd and disturbing magazine and newspaper articles, and he proposed to post them up on the bloggo.


This one's got the lot; a veritable kaleidoscopic cornucopia of B-movie madness.

Dinosaurs, biblical prophecies, the end of the world, plagues of locusts, and nothing less than the last vestiges of the exterminated human race enslaved by giant sentient insects, transformed into monsters by man's distortion of the eco-system, and natural selection's revenge upon an arrogant, and fatally complacent mankind. Blimey.

All it needs is Mara Corday in a sprayed-on bikini (if you don't know who Mara Corday is, shame on you! Google her immediately!), and Charlton Heston with a machine-gun.

The fact that all of this contains about as much scientific validity as an average episode of Space 1999 does not--strangely--seem to unduly concern the publishers of Modern Mecanix, who usually made at least a cursory attempt to get their science right.

A practical joke? Who knows? But great fun. And what a great movie it would have made.


Yesterday we published a letter from our dear friend Naomi West in Texas about ants burying the head of a dead bird. Today, she writes:

This is interesting: http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/80beats/2009/09/22/how-a-zombifying-decapitating-parasite-finds-its-fire-ant-host/
I forgot to mention that the ants that were covering the bird's head are probably fire ants. I should have looked closely at them, but I think most of our ants are fire ants.

And here is a zombie ant article with pictures


PAUL HARESNAPE: Weird Winkleigh

A pair of firedrake dragons, top secret black military aircraft, JFK’s brother, frequent UFO sightings (including a dramatic close encounter on a former RAF airfield), crop circles, alien big cats, witchcraft, spectral black dogs, a pub haunted by two ghosts, the discovery of a strange tunnel...Winkleigh in north Devon is an intriguingly Fortean place!

The ancient north Devon village of Winkleigh lies between the rivers Taw and Torridge, just 15 miles or so to the southeast of the CFZ HQ at Woolsery. Some 550 feet above sea-level, it commands magnificent views across the rolling countryside towards Dartmoor. Its isolated location meant it once boasted no fewer than 50 shops and the expanses of adjacent high moorland attracted the attention of the RAF, who built and operated an airfield here during WW2.

A line of ancient barrows suggest that the area was inhabited in Mesolithic or Neolithic times; a castle mound to the west of the village called Croft Castle may well have been built on one of theses ancient barrows. There is also evidence of a later Bronze Age settlement on this strategic site and in common with the area it has experienced a rich history of noble families, civil war, plague and the like. [1]

Perhaps the prehistoric barrows are a clue as to why the village and surrounding area is a comparative hotbed of Fortean activity, both past and present. Later on we will look at one of the most fascinating, and as yet unexplained UFO encounters to have come out of north Devon (or indeed the southwest of England). However, this being the CFZ Bloggo, it is only right that we start with winged, fire-breathing serpents!

Legend tells us that two 17th century writers recorded that during the previous century a pair of firedrake dragons inhabited the woods around Winkleigh. [2] Unfortunately, that is pretty much where the story ends, much to the frustration of researchers and the curious alike. I was therefore pleased to discover that the dragons are still familiar to the inhabitants of the village itself and that a few more details were forthcoming.

In his book Strictly Come Winkleigh writer and broadcaster David Freeman talks of these dragons inhabiting the woods of Burrowcleve, Heywood and Winkleigh Wood, all now part of the Forestry Commission’s Eggesford Forest. They apparently leave tell-tale signs of where they have slept, in the form of flat circles in the long grasses to the sides of the tracks. Interestingly, it is said that in these areas no birds sing and that these grass circles are still observed by ramblers to this very day.

David Freeman goes on to inform us that:

"The last dragon seen near Winkleigh is reported to be about the size of a human & ‘had a hiss which could be heard for miles around!’” [3]

Nearby at Eggesford, in Heywood, lies Cadbury Hill, an earthwork motte and bailey castle that is the remnants of a Norman fortress. A scheduled ancient monument and one of the reputed lairs of the firedrakes; rumours persist of dragons, witchcraft rituals and mysterious lights in the skies at night. [4]

Now, I am still working my way through the CFZ back catalogue, and so forgive me if this material has already appeared elsewhere. However, with a synchronicity involving dragons and the surname Freeman (i. e. the CFZ’s own Richard Freeman) and evidence to suggest that at least some aspects of this phenomenon persist to the present day; it certainly has my Fortean senses tingling!

To be continued….

[1] 'Strictly come Winkleigh' Written & adapted by David Freeman From the Television Series Secret Britain http://www.jackiefreemanphotography.com/

[2] http://www.mysteriousbritain.co.uk/

[3] 'Strictly come Winkleigh' Written & adapted by David Freeman From the Television Series Secret Britain http://www.jackiefreemanphotography.com/

[4] Ibid

OLL LEWIS: Yesterday’s News Today


On this day in 1493 Christopher Columbus became the first European to set foot on Puerto Rico (contrary to popular belief he was not the first European to set foot in North America, Leif Ericson set up a settlement on the island of Newfoundland 500 years before Columbus was born and was also possibly preceded by Prince Madoc in 1170).

And now for the cryptozoology news:

Man says 30-foot 'monster' lurking in canals of Madeira Beach

The Strange Case of a Goat That Lived Like a Reptile

Are Vampires Real?

Unlucky buck: Deer loses head-butt with lawn ornament

Right-Handed Chimpanzees Provide Clues to the Origin of Human Language

Mysterious sea creature spotted in Madeira Beach canal

That really takes the cake.