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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Friday, December 11, 2009


As you know, Oll has been working on the archiving project since early February, and he is now working on the BHM section. This 16th trenche is from 1994 and contains bits and bobs from issue 36 of the journal Track Record. Good stuff.



I am nearly at the end of my cache of amusing signage from zoos and wildlife parks around the world. This one, however, takes the biscuit...


Hello again, readers! See if you can guess who this is supposed to be without looking at the label for the post. For those of you who may not have twigged, the previous was the boss himself, Jon Downes.

Admittedly there are two foxes in this picture but they only look like one CFZ personality....

EDITOR'S NOTE: The one on the left looks a little like Ronan

SUB-EDITOR'S NOTE: All right, two CFZ personalities, then :)

NEIL ARNOLD: Louis de Rougemont’s Tales: Fact or Fiction?

I’m sure that even in the annals of current cryptozoology there are a few ‘adventurers’ who claim journeys and encounters of veracity that in fact are nothing more than drama. Louis de Rougemont was one such ‘explorer’.

Born 12th November 1847 and named Henri Louis Grin, Louis would eventually go on to write for acclaimed British periodical The Wide World Magazine, speaking of his explorations through Australasia. These writings came after he dabbled in ‘spirit photography’ and also tried his hand as an inventor.

In his written episodes he would speak of travelling to great lost lands and encountering all manner of creatures and savages. From nocturnal confrontations with cannibals in the forests, to giant waves toppling him overboard into foaming depths. Rougemont’s tales intrigued me as I flicked through the creaking pages of the bound compilations of The Wide World, for not only was Rougemont stung by a ‘sting rae’, but also dragged into the depths by a monstrous octopus, and let's not forget his journeys on the backs of turtles, whilst also flirting with insanity caused by the eerie solitude of such explorations and his personal quests searching for lost pearls. You name it, Rougemont had done it and seen it. Hell, the guy even claimed that on one island he’d been worshipped as a god, whilst on another had observed a flying wombat!

However, his adventures reached a peak of strangeness when he recorded a couple of encounters with sea monsters. In The World Wide Magazine of August 1898 Vol. 1 No. 5 he wrote: ‘A terrible fright – we had anchored in about five fathoms, and when I was proceeding leisurely away from the vessel a monstrous fish, fully 20-ft long with an enormous hairy head and fierce, fantastic moustaches suddenly reared up out of the water, high in the air. I must say that the sight absolutely unmanned me for the moment and when this extraordinary creature opened his enormous mouth in my direction I gave myself up for lost. It did not molest me however, and I got back to the ship safely but it was some time before I recovered from terrible fright.’

The story was accompanied by a sketch showing a giant seal-like creature rising out of the water as Rougemont flaps in despair in the water.

In another adventure, Rougemont spoke of battles with sharks and also seeing another sea beast: ‘It was a monstrous, ungainly looking creature, nearly the size of a small whale. The strange way it disported itself alongside the ship filled me with all manner of doublings…’
So, was Rougemont an Indiana Jones of his time, or nothing more than a master fabricator of fiction, eager to earn a quick by selling his false tales ?

A majority of readers were quick to criticise not only Rougemont for his ‘lies’, but also the magazine for publishing such fantasy. The main problem with Rougemont’s tales, however, was the fact he could not pin-point exactly where they’d taken place. His vagueness was, so he claimed, down to the fact that he’d allegedly signed a non-disclosure agreement with an unknown syndicate in order to protect treasures on these lost islands. However, it soon became clear to critics that Rougemont was a storyteller; an entrepreneur eager to spin tales of wild frontiers. However, under his real name of Henri Louis Grin he wrote to what was then The Daily Chronicle saying he was upset to have been confused with Rougemont, as if stating he was a completely different person! Naturally, the controversy only boosted the sales of The World Wide Magazine and The Daily Chronicle.

Grin appeared in Australia in 1901 and was exhibited as ‘the greatest liar on Earth’, and was booed off stage. Five years later the often dismissed turtle-riding antics were re-enacted when Rougemont appeared at the London Hippodrome. Sadly, Rougemont passed away a poor man on 9th June 1921 in London.

MUIRHEAD'S MYSTERIES: Tanzanian chamaeleon

Today, Friday December 11th , Muirhead`s Mysteries features snakes yet again, but this time in a far less gruesome way. Indeed, in a positive way. The headline to this piece, from guardian.co.uk says it all:

'Snake spits out new species of chameleon at scientist`s feet. Latest find in natural world was result of reptile coughing up lizard as conservationist studied monkeys in jungle.

'It was so nearly known as dinner. Instead, a small and not terribly impressive chameleon has become the newest discovery of the natural world,after a startled Tanzanian snake spat a still undigested specimen at the feet of a British scientist, who identified it as a previously unknown species. Dr Andrew Marshall, a conservationist from York University, was surveying monkeys in the Magombera forest in Tanzania, when he stumbled across a twig snake which, frightened, coughed up the chameleon and fled.Though a colleague persuaded him not to touch it because of the risk from venom, Marshall suspected it might be a new species, and took a photograph to send to colleagues, who confirmed his suspicions

'“The thing is,colour isn`t the best thing for telling chameleons apart, since they can change colour for camouflage. They are usually identified based on the patterning and shape of the head, and the arrangement of scales. In this case it`s the bulge of the scales on its nose.”

'Happily for Marshall, shortly afterwards he spotted a second chameleon, this time alive, and was able to photograph it. The two creatures were found about six miles apart, which he believes may be the full extent of the area colonisedby the extremely rare species. Though he found the specimen in 2005, his paper on the discovery, published this week, puts the find formally on record. “It takes quite a long time to convince the authorities that you have a new species.” He said.

'Had Marshall hoped it might be named after him? “Oh crumbs, no. The thing is, if you work in an area of conservation importance and you give a species the name of that area it can really highlight that area. By giving it the name Magombera it raises the importance of the forest.”'

1. Snake spits out new species of chameleon at scientist`s feet. http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2009/nov/23/new-chameleon-species-magombera-ta

Devo Space Junk

She was walking all alone
Down the street in the alley
Her name was Sally
She never saw it
When she was hit by space junk

In New York Miami beach
Heavy metal fell in cuba
Angola Saudi Arabia
On xmas eve said norad
A Soviet Sputnik hit Africa
India Venezuela (in Texas Kansas)

It`s falling fast peru too
It keeps coming
And now I`m mad about space junk
I`m all burned out about space junk
Oooh walk & talk about space junk
It smashed my baby`s head
And now my Sally`s dead

LINDSAY SELBY: 1856 sea monster

A story of a sea monster washed up in 1856.

Close Encounter With a Creature "of the Finny Tribe": Louisiana's Sea Monster Sighting of 1856 by Carl A. Brasseaux and H. Dickson Hoese

A HUGE FISH. Mr. Martial Ogeron gives us the following description of a monster of the finny tribe lately killed by him off the mouth of the Lafourche in the breakers: Length of the body frm point of nose to the tail, 14 ft; length of tail, 6 ft; extreme width on the back, 20 ft; thickness from top of back to bottom of belly, 7 feet; width of mouth 3 feet 6 inches, with horns on either side, 3 feet long; cavity of brain, 9 by 16 inches. This huge monster, when killed, was lying with his month open catching small fish, on which it is supposed to subsist. It was shot through the head at the distance of about five paces, and immediately sunk to the bottom. It was then fastened to, and towed in to shore, where it was dissected for the purpose of being converted to oil; but a storm arising, the captor waw forced to abandon the project and fly for safety. Its liver, was the size of a rice cask. The exterior of this fish was covered with a skin resembling more that of an elephant than anything else to which we can compare it.

Mr. Ogeron is a seafaring man, and says he has never before seen a fish of this discription in our waters. What kind of a fish is it, and where did it come from? Let us hear fom you, naturalists! [From the Thibodaux Minerva] We have not a doubt but this is the veritable devil fish, so common on the shores of our southern Atlantic States, and noted for his devlish [sic] pranks with boats' anchors, etc. There is a book somewhere entitled, we believe, "Devil Fishing on the Coast of the Carolinas." If you can find it, Miss Minerva, you may be, thoroughly enlightened. [Ed. Ceres] There is circumstantial evidence that the sighting described above resulted, at least in part, from two major hurricanes in eastern Gulf of Mexico during the late summer and fall of 1856. The first and most famous of these storms was the so-called Last Island storm of August 9-10, 1856. It apparently formed in the extreme southeastern Gulf of Mexico sometime between July 31 and August 8 and subsequently moved steadily toward the northwest. The storm veered due west and gained speed as it approached the Alabama coastline on Saturday, August 9. Striking a glancing blow at Mobile, the hurricane moved directly toward the mouth of the Mississippi River, then turned westward, following the Louisiana coastline as far as Franklin, before turning north toward Vermilionville. After ravaging south-central Louisiana, it turned to the northeast causing considerable damage at Bayou Sara, then veered northward and struck Natchez, Mississippi, and New Carthage, Louisiana. The storm, characterized by eyewitnesses along the Louisiana coast as the most powerful hurricane in living memory, caused extensive property damage throughout the lower Mississippi Valley. Nowhere was the storm's fury felt more forcefully than at the Last Island resort off the coast of Terrebonne Parish. There during the afternoon of August 9, northerly gales inundated the resort with water from Lake Pelto, a coastal estuary north of the barrier island. Then, following a reversal of wind direction marking the storm's westerly passage, the island was submerged beneath a massive tidal surge. That surge carried many of the approximately 140 human victims at least six miles inland. The Storm'S wind and waves continued to pound the island well into the following day. The destructive effects of wind and surf were not confined to the Last Island area. Indeed the storm's fury was felt no less intensely at the nearby mouth of Bayou Lafourche, where Martial Ogeron's mysterious sea creature would later be found. (While many of the giant devil ray's features resemble those of the creature killed by Martial Ogeron, some important characteristics, such as the elephantine skin, do not.

The skin of a giant devil ray is covered with small tubercles and has a texture more reminiscent of sandpaper than of elephant skin. However, it is unlikely that anyone who saw the sea creature had ever seen an elephant and thus would hardly have known what an elephant's hide was like. Also, while it is possible that the 1856 storm caused a temporary incursion of so-called "blue [clear] water" from the deep regions of the Gulf large rays were rarely seen so close to the coast. By November the 1856 storm surge had long since passed and other lingering effects of the August storm had drastically abated. It is thus by no means certain that the necessary "blue water" conditions existed near the mouth of Bayou Lafourche three months later.

The identity of the creature killed by Ogeron consequently remains uncertain. It probably was a giant devil ray, but the elephant skin and thick body suggests the possibility of a West Indian manatee (Trichechus manatus), more commonly known as the sea cow. In the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, individual manatees have migrated periodically from their natural habitat in South Florida to coastal Louisiana. Like the beast killed in the breakers near the mouth of Bayou Lafourche, they are covered with a thick, wrinkled skin resembling that of elephants.

Source and more on the story here :http://www.brownmarine.com/story06.htm

OLL LEWIS: Yesterday’s News Today


On this day in 1282 Llywelyn ap Gruffydd was assassinated.
And now for some more recent news:

PRINCETON: Weasel or whatever, critter is deceased
Colorado cow mutilations baffle ranchers, cops, UFO believer
What a ‘moo’-ving story.