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, December 03, 2009


I don't want to keep on banging on about how little money we have at the moment because it would be both boring and vulgar. There is nothing worse than someone who voluntarily does something for nothing, like I do the bloggo each day, trying to use emotional blackmail to squeeze cash out of his readers.

However, I think that I should tell you that as part of our economy measures we are downsizing those parts of the CFZ animal collection that are most expensive to maintain during the winter months, and that also, frankly, have little or no relevance to the main body of work that we do.

The two map turtles, and Myrtle the Chinese box turtle who has been with us since 2001, have gone to live with Helen Taylor, CFZ Stalwart, Housekeeper and mum of aspiring film star Emily (of Emily and the Big Cats).

She has more time to make a fuss over them than we do, and is lavishing them with love and affection. She will be bringing them back for CFZ Open Days, so they are still part of the family.

DALE DRINNON: Mothman Musings

I think this is a matter where far more writing has been spent on it than the material warrants.

The reports of the so-called Mothman in the late 1960s, mostly from West Virginia, are generally presented as a consistent picture of a shadowy man-like figure, seven feet tall, with glowing red eyes and a ten-foot wingspan. As a matter of fact, most sightings are not so definitive nor yet are they that consistent. For one thing the reported size of the featureless shadowy figure varies a great deal from a short-human size to the larger-than-human size, and actually the reports in the shorter-than-average category are more numerous by direct count. More importantly, Mothman reports consistently say that witnesses could not distinguish either a head or feet. So basically nobody knows where the thing starts or where it ends really.

Mark A Hall has suggested that Mothman is a giant owl or what he calls "Bighoot". This is especially because the reported red eyeglow matches owls and in owls it may be difficult to distinguish between the head and the torso. In this case there is no reason to erect a whole new species, the sightings could refer to the same individual creature and one of exceptional size among its own kind.

The typical satance when Mothman is seen seems to correspond to a typical bluffing stance among the owls wherein the wings are held up above the head in order to make the owl look larger than it really is, and thus more intimidating. Therefore the 'height' estimates do not need to refer to the actual height but would instead refer to the height of the wings being held above the head.

I am willing to say from the reports that Mothman might be as much as three-and-a-half to four-and-a-half feet high with a wingspan of six or seven feet, maybe a little more. And it is not necessary to say they need to be that large if the typically teenaged witnesses were exaggerating out of fear or in order to match the previously published accounts.

Therefore I propose that sightings of Mothman refer only to an outsized great grey owl down from Canada. Great grey owls can have a body a yard long and a wingspan of five feet, going by Wikipedia. A gigantic one at half again those dimensions would be right in the range of those size estimates above.

Along with this is the possibility that the Cornish Owlman was another of these birds given that the descriptions are similar to Mothman (as reported by teenaged girls again)

There are a lot of other features about Mothman sightings that are probably inaccurate observations, assumptions going on facts not in evidence, and clearly mistaken associations with unrelated events. One case where Mothman was assumed to be flying overhead of a car going a hundred miles an hour could be nothing more extraordinary thar a squeaky motor noise. And there is certainly no reason to connect sightings of any big bird to any collapsing bridge.

As a footnote to the last matter, I have gone down to the pub at the corner of my block and heard a fellow that was in West Virginia at the time tell about the collapse of that bridge around Christmas time. He is completely scornful when the name of Mothman was even mentioned.

KEN GERHARD: San Antonio Bigfoot

On November 30th police on the west side of San Antonio received a 911 call from multiple eyewitnesses who claimed that they saw a hairy hominid over six feet tall run out of the woods and kill a deer. The incident was reported to the local media and broadcast earlier today.

The witnesses were apparently homeless and responding officers who interviewed them found them to be completely sober and rational, though understandably scared. The police chose not to search for the creature. I have just returned from a stakeout of the area, which is located at the intersection of Loop 1604 and highway 151, about ten miles from where I live. The area is somewhat developed, although fairly wooded and located near several creeks. Most of the area is private property and is fenced with barbed wire.

Obviously I was not about to trespass and I'm still not 100% sure of the exact location of the incident. Reporter Joe Conger from Eyewitness News did visit the exact spot earlier today and told me there were some animal bones present. I plan on returning there with him tomorrow to look for tracks and other evidence. Best wishes, all!


Hiya folks,

It`s Muirhead`s Mysteries time again.

Today we are on part three of Fortean shorts. I do a bit of bending the rules with item one because it concerns Homo sapiens not the usual 'animal' I have been covering, if you catch my meaning.

PEAK POPULATION: 'A remote mountain village where no-one has died since 1942 boasts 189 residents who are more than 130 years old - including one who is 142.' (1)
I love these tales of human longevity. Has anyone ever done a serious study of them? I plan to live to at least 200 myself.

OLD NEWS 'Workmen refurbishing a newsagent`s in Halesworth, Suffolk, found a mummified black cat, buried 400 years ago to ward off evil spirits, under the floorboards.' (2)
There is a pamphlet called Skulls, Cats and Witch Bottles, by Nigel Pennick, that I gave to Jon years ago, which is well worth reading if you can find a copy.

RADIOACTIVE BATS: 'Bats contaminated by radiation from a nuclear dumping ground have invaded a children`s holiday camp in Chelyabinsk, Siberia, the ITAR-TASS news agency said yesterday.' (3) I wonder how many more bats have been spreading radiation around other former Soviet nuclear dumps?

BODY OF BEHEMOTH: 'A journalist in northern Russia said yesterday he had discovered the remains of a huge “forest monster” which climbed trees and lived off bark, Itar-Tass news agency reported. Vyacheslav Oparin said people in the Kareila region had often seen footprints of the animal, which they called an abominable snowman.' (4) This is interesting because we seem to have 2 creatures here: one that acts like an animal and the other more human-like.

MOTOR MONSTER: 'Driver Chris Hernandez found a 6ft lizard curled round the engine of his car while checking the steering in Florida' (5) I love these inadvertantly mobile animal passenger stories

UNTITLED: 'Mr Philip Nichols, an ex-oil man from Leominster, has died after being knocked over by a sheep.' (6) I am a bit dubious about this one; note the title of the original newspaper. But I thought it was amusing.

And finally: one of my favourites, aberrant terrapins – SHELL SHOCK: 'Fisherman Roy Peacock hooked a 6 inch terrapin- in a canal. Now Ray, a fireman at Worksop, Notts is keeping his exotic catch in a sink at the fire station while he tries to find it a new home. He said yesterday: “ The owner may have set it free because it grew too big for life in a small aquarium.”' (7)

1 Daily Mirror. July 24th 1992.
2 The Independent October 2nd 1992
3 Daily Telegraph July 19th 1993
4 Guardian April 6th 1992
5 Daily Mirror July 8th 1992
6 Worcester Source (sic) January 22nd 1987 in Private Eye April 3rd 1987
7. Daily Mirror (?) May 2nd 1987

The Cure A Forest

Come closer and see
See into the trees
Find the girl
While you can
Come closer and see
See into the dark
Just follow your eyes
Just follow your eyes….

RICHARD FREEMAN: Eight Arms to Hold You

The photographs shown in the story "Octopus Terror of the Deep" in Friswell's Freaky Features seems to me to be a model. For starters, it takes place in the Atlantic where no octopi that large are known to exist. There are unconfirmed and perfectly plausible stories of a giant octopus called the `lusca` in Bahaman waters, so it could be countered that this one (who at 24 feet equals the largest size of the Pacific giant octopus but falls far short of the lusca's alledged size) was a young lusca.

However, take a look at its eyes: don't they look like painted tennis balls to you? And is it me or do the tentacles seem to bend in a very stiff and unnatural way as if made of rubber or foam?

Actually the octopus in these photos looks less convincing than the one in Edward D Wood Jr's Bride of the Monster with Bela Lugosi and Tor Johnson.


I am still in the unenviable position of having very limited telephone and e-mail access. I can usually read emails eventually although it takes a heck of a long time, but (most of the time at least) I cannot send them. It is getting slowly better, but we are still mostly incommunicado. The strangest thing about the whole matter is that my most efficient way of communicating with the outside world is by way of blog-posting.

So, there are two people in particular that I want to thank.

Firstly, DR KARL SHUKER for sending me a copy of the missing piece of software, which had held us up for nearly a fortnight. Thanks buddy, it works fantastically

Secondly, DALE DRINNON for posting links to the CFZ bloggo index when I was unable to do my daily post to usenet. That was very kind of you, mate; thank you.

But of course there is one person I have to thank above all; a person who does so much for me that my life would shrivel into insignificance if she wasn't there: my dear wife CORINNA. God knows how you put up with me, my dear, but I am very glad that you do..

OLL LEWIS: Yesterday’s News Today


On this day in 1967 Christiaan Barnard performed the worlds first heart transplant, and a year later Elvis Presley preformed the ’68 comeback special.
And now the news:

Horrible hyena a real pussycat
Zoos warn of mass extinctions from climate change
Bacterial gut symbionts are tightly linked with the evolution of herbivory in ants
Students urged to play role in conservation
A celebration of zoo history
New attractions at zoo soon

Why don’t you see many whales in zoos? They can’t afford the entry fees.