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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Monday, November 30, 2009

CFZ DOWN UNDER: Panthers on the prowl


Over on CFZ Australia Mike and Ruby have been very busy. In their latest blog posting they report on the burgeoning number of `panther` sightings down under. Includes video.


Sadly, despite the fact that I have been looking forward to it all year, we shall not be able to attend the charity fish auction in Redditch next week. Max has got other committments, and the latest financial strictures mean that Corinna and I just cannot afford to get there.

So unless there is someone driving from North Devon to the Midlands next weekend and who fancies giving us a lift, we are shafted.

Oh well. Maybe next time. This bloody recession has got to end sometime.


RICHIE WEST: Perhaps Global Warming is Man-made

As a supporter of the CFZ and avid fan of Jon Downes, I have yet to offer any solo contribution to the CFZ. I support my wife's CFZ ventures, perfectly willing to remain in the background. Trained as a chemist/mathematician, receiving a BS degree from a large Texas university, I pride myself in the use of the scientific method, which leads me to write this essay.

I grew up in the sixties as an anti-establishment pro-environmentalist starting a controversial organisation called the Student Activists for a Free Environment (SAFE) at my local high school. I successfully participated in the requisite activities that made me a dully initiated member of any counter-culture group while at the university. I found myself on 'the fringe' and yet I write this article from a perspective within the CFZ again as a member of 'the fringe' within the fringe.

Recent publication of hacked email traffic reveal that several respected and renowned man-made global warming scientists have 'cooked the books.' It appears that they have manipulated their data to 'prove' the current politically correct position that if we don't do something now, our Earth will spiral into an unstoppable warming epoch instigated by man. (For the moment we will disregard the 70s environmental campaign against global cooling.) Al Gore received a Nobel Peace Prize for his work, Inconvenient Truth. Skeptical reviews [sic] of this movie have revealed 35 errors, 9 of which were questioned by a London High Court. 'The judge had stated that, if the UK Government had not agreed to send to every secondary school in England a corrected guidance note making clear the mainstream scientific position on these nine “errors”, he would have made a finding that the Government’s distribution of the film and the first draft of the guidance note earlier in 2007 to all English secondary schools had been an unlawful contravention of an Act of Parliament prohibiting the political indoctrination of children.' A good example of a glaring problem in Al Gore's data is this YouTube clip. Several MPs in the Australian parliament have resigned based on the organised deception by climate change scientists. It should be apparent even to the most naive that the world has been duped. My generation has now become 'the man.' We have shed our tie-dyed t-shirts and paisley patched jeans for the suit and perform the same mass deceptions we once protested.

In an ever vigilant quest for truth Jon has tried to keep the CFZ respectable, relying on science and the scientific method to discover truth. At times the truth has not been the most financially rewarding product for the CFZ. My desire is that the CFZ stay informed on emerging scientific data with respect to man-made global warming so as to maintain and even bolster its credibility. I ask that the CFZ be free thinkers and not be swayed by every whim of political doctrine.

Don't get me wrong. I am very concerned about what we do to our environment. I believe we are to be good stewards of what has been given to us. As much as we desire to preserve our Earth and the habitats it provides to some rapidly declining species' populations, we need to brandish the truth as our two-edged sword to combat ignorance that even our most respected climate change scientists seem to have been willing to maintain. We need to change people's hearts not control the truth.

The best way to end the man-made global warming debate is to publish the truth.

DALE DRINNON: Mackal's Searching For Hidden Animals Errata

In a couple of cases, information from Roy Mackal's book appears to have led a lot of people in the cryptozoological community astray.

In checking back with a standard reference on the subject - Mallory's Rock Art of The American Indians - it turns out that Mackal has a mistaken copy of a 'Naiataka' claimed to be from Lake Okanagon. It is not; it is from Vancouver Island.

The original rock has a crack running through it and the version that Mackal has (by way of Costello, probably) has misaligned the parts on either side of the crack.

Putting the pieces together that way makes the rest of the petrogyphs on the same rock come out wrong. I offer an alternative reconstruction here.

Mallory had said that the petroglyphs indicated that an artist was making repeated attempts to represent a visual image he had strongly in mind, which is about the same thing as saying he had a sighting. It may be more permissable to call it a Cadborosaurus than a Naiataka, and I do not know of any authoritative depictions of Na'ha'a'itikh from Lake Okanagon itself. My impression is that the name refers to a big fish, possibly a sturgeon, which is known to swallow swimmers and swimming dogs according to local legend.

The second cryptid is equally garbled, it is the Alaskan Pal-Rai-Yuk, which Mackal makes out to represent his hypothetical longnecked-shortnecked-eared-earless and flipperless seal. The actual cryptid is a pretty much straightforward sea-serpent wth a longish neck and short limbs (flippers), usually with two humps (assuming four limbs) but often with three humps (assuming six limbs) and occasionally "Many-humped (counting the wake).

One of the Pal-Rai-Yuks here is also from Mallory and another is from the standard reference A Fantastic Bestiary by Ernst and Johanna Lehner. And it is nothing exceptional for garbled accounts of little-known animals to acquire such offbeat characteristics as six limbs or variable numbers of limbs: I just so happen to also have a bestiary depiction of a sixlegged crocodile handy.

OLL LEWIS: Electrickery

One of the problems with living in a village is that utilities companies tend to ignore you as you are not as profitable as a town or city. The mobile telephone network is perhaps the most obvious example of this. If you have seen the film Hot Fuzz you might remember the bit where Simon Pegg’s character walks into the village and his mobile phone signal completely vanishes, never to return. You might think this would be an exaggeration for comic effect but it’s not; in many British towns and villages the mobile phone network is in the same state as it was in the late 80s. For technophobes and Luddites this would seem an ideal situation, but in Europe and America these days you are expected to own a mobile phone. If you sign up for Facebook or Google these days you have to verify your account with your mobile phone (presumably to check you’re not a spammer) and some computer peripherals like modems now require your mobile phone number to text you an activation code for the product (although why they can’t just write it down on the manual like they used to I don’t know), so nowadays a mobile phone and a half decent signal is as essential as a landline.

The worst example of underinvestment is from power companies, though; as far as I know Woolsery has no mains gas supply, and our electricity supply is shockingly unreliable. Despite having to be turned off during the day for about three days in a row to ‘upgrade’ the electricity system, a few months back (you may remember my blog posting back then of the trials of keeping tropical fish tanks warm all day) we continue to suffer from power-cuts.

In the last few days there have been three separate power-cuts. Thankfully none have occurred when we have been writing books or articles on PCs or all unsaved progress would have been lost (and when the power surged back into the wires there would have been a chance of damaging the computer), but there have been several problems caused by the power cuts: four lights in the aquariums have broken and the heating light for one of our turtles. Thankfully it would appear the filters and heaters are made of sterner stuff, but aquarium lights do not come cheap and with money being as tight as it is at the moment for the CFZ, replacing aquarium lights that can cost £15 a time in some shops is an expense we really could do without. This is especially annoying when it is the electricity companies’ fault they blew by operating a quite frankly shoddy and unreliable service to people in rural communities because they think that they can get away with cutting corners as there are fewer people around to complain in a village than in a city. However, we still have to pay the same for our supply as in cities so it is not fair that we should have a substandard supply and be forced to pay extra money to replace items broken because of them.

I spend every morning tending to the CFZ’s animal menagerie and I get very annoyed when things like this conspire to interfere with that and cause potential harm to the welfare of the animals. Whenever anything gets my goat I have been known to utter the words “Oooh, I shall be writing a strongly worded letter to my MP about this.” Of course, usually I say that after a siphon has gone haywire and drenched me with half a tank full of water with snapping turtle poo in it and I’m not entirely serious about writing to our local representative in parliament about that, but this time I think I will.

Not that it’ll do much good I suppose….

OLL LEWIS: Yesterday’s News Today


On this day in 1954 a meteorite hit Ann Elizabeth Hodges while she was napping on her sofa in Oak Grove, Alabama. This was the first time an extraterrestrial object is known to have hit a person and one of only two documented instances of a meteorite hitting a human.
And now the news:

Sweden: woman 'murdered' by elk, not husband
Pictured: tiny but colourful 'peacock' spider
Polish zoo lets visitors meet the Flintstones
Owner 'gives meerkats toy mother'