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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Sunday, December 13, 2009


Today I`m roving around the world again to New Zealand or more specifically, early nineteenth-century New Zealand. I quote extensively from the Transactions and Proceedings of the New Zealand Institute vol.7 1874. A long time ago an American cryptozoologist sent me this and it has been lying dormant (rather like a mythical beast, no less) in my files until now.

`On the Disappearance of the larger Kinds of Lizard from North Canterbury. By Rev. J. W. Stack.

"The absence of living specimens, coupled with the absence of all traces of recent remains, would render the task of proving that the large lizards existed till quite lately in this part of the country very difficult but for the fact that there are many Maoris still living who have not only seen but handled and even eaten them. To prevent the knowledge of an interesting zoological fact being lost I have written down the statements of such of the natives whose testimony seemed most worthy of credit. They are persons whose names appear in the earliest records of the colony as leading members of the native community,and therefore from their age may be considered competent to give evidence upon matters of fact which occurred under their observation forty or fifty years ago.

'The following is a summary of the statements made by Te Aika,Te Uki,Iwikau, and Te ata o Tu:-

'Unu ngara or ngarara burrows were frequently met with on the plains. They were plentiful in the manuka scrub extending from the banks of the Waimakariri past the present site of Eyreton westwards towards the ranges,and at Waitui,between the Hurunui and Waiau rivers. The ngara was darker in colour than the ruatara. They varied in size from two to three feet in length, and ten to twenty inches in girth; along the back from the nape of the neck to the tail was a serrated crest. The mouth was full of teeth, some grew large and caused the upper lip to project. These when taken from the jaw were three or four inches long, and half an inch at the base; when split in two and polished they were prized as mat pins.

'A ngara known as Te iha was kept a long time at Kaiapoi. It was fed on small birds and prepared fern-root. It was very gentle and liked being stroked,uttering at the time a gutteral sound expressive of pleasure. When it made this noise at any other time it was indicative that it wanted food and water.

'Besides the kind frequenting the manuka scrub their was a smaller ngarara, about eighteen inches long, found in the strams. Horomona Iwaiku was eeling some time before the fall of Kaiapoi at Orawhata, a stream which rises near Riccarton and falls into the Waimakariri. After having caught a great many eels, which he killed with a billet of wood, he was terrified by the cries of one he was in the act of killing; though very frightened, he continued to strike till the sound ceased. On examination he found it was a ngara; becoming emboldened he lit a fire, and cooked and ate it. The natives attribute the disappearance of the large ngara to the introduction of cats and to frequent fires. The Norwegian rat has probably a hand too in the extinction of these reptiles."

1.Rev.J.W.Stack.On the Disappearance of the larger Kinds of Lizard from North Canterbury.Transactions and Proceedings of the New Zealand Institute.vol.7 1874 pp 295-296.

Richard. Sorry, I forgot about lyrics.Try listening to the Ballad of Frankie Lee and Judas Priest by Bob Dylan.

EDITOR'S NOTE: I would go further and recommend that if you have never done so that you listen to the entire John Wesley Harding album. It is my favourite Dylan album, and the song cited by Richard is my favourite track.


Another example of zookeeper humour. I wish that I could remember who it was that sent me these funny examples of zoo signage from around the world because they have kept me amused for weeks.


I think people at CFZ should be aware in case their names get used


It has come to my notice that some unscrupulous people have been using my name "Tabitca" to try and join cryptozoological sites they are barred from. Firstly, they should know I sometimes write under that name and it is copyrighted to me, and secondly I believe it is a criminal offence to use someone else's name / identity for your own gain and their detriment. What appalls me the most is that people would stoop this low to access a website. It just defies belief that some boards in the community contain people that would behave in this manner and it basically defines what is wrong with the cryptozoological community. Nothing will ever be achieved if people don't work together and stop this underhand despicable behaviour.

Academics argue all the time but it is the only community I know that includes personal attack in it's discussion. The people I am talking about know who they are and which website/board they belong to and which website they tried to infiltrate. I hope you are ashamed of yourselves but be aware I do know who you are and if you try to use my name again without permission, I will take action against you. Someone has to stand up to these cryptozoological hooligans. It is probably the same people who post crude and nasty anonymous remarks that I have to delete.

Children access cryptozoological sites as they love reading about monsters etc. What sort of example are you setting them and if you have children? Do they know how you behave online? Grow up and show some decorum and stop this stupid sniping and bad behaviour. If the community is to be taken seriously you have to learn to behave with some manners and professionalism.


As you may or may not know, my brother is a clergyman, presently in Afghanistan as an army chaplain, so preaching sermons runs in the family. The irony is that none of his friends can believe he has a hirsute hippyish brother who writes about weird stuff for a living, and - especially during my bachelor days - no-one could believe that I was the brother of a clergyman.

What am I wibbling on about my brother for? You might well ask. Well, despite the fact that me and the Church of England have gone our separate ways in recent months, I have never felt more affinity with my sibling than on this cold and frosty Sunday morning when I find myself with a whole slew of little notices to read out...

  • Yesterday, although I did the bloggo postings, Graham did the website front page and the posting to usenet, and as Syd quite properly pointed out, he forgot to change the date on the front page of the website. Sorry guys.
  • In my Gadarene rush to inform the book-buying populous that Nick Molloy's massively entertaining new book is now available, I forgot to mention that as well as illustrations by Anthony Wallis, it features a foreword by Dr Karl Shuker. Smashing!
  • On Friday two total strangers came to tea. It was a certain young lady's birthday, and her husband emailed me to ask whether he could bring her over to meet us. She was, apparantly, a fan who had seen us at Uncon last year and wanted to learn more about the CFZ. Seeing an excuse to have cake for tea, I said `of course`, and then forgot all about it. However, they turned up, I remembered, and a convivial time was had by all. Whilst we were eating cake the recent unpleasantness that occurred in the wake of our Irish visit was brought up. Our guests said that they were amazed at all the slurs that they had read about me, and - despite the fact that some are contradictory - they didn't think that one man would have the time to do all that I had been accused of. However, they did tell me of three more slurs of which I have been accused. Apparently I am a communist, an athiest, and have been sectioned under the 1983 Mental Health Act. None of these things, by the way, are true.
  • I completely forgot to congratulate my sub-editor Lizzy for having finally managed to get herself a flat of her own. She moved house this weekend and is probably highly miffed with me for having forgotten to mention it in these hallowed pages. Sorry hun :(
  • I also forgot to thank Richard Muirhead for lending me a copy of Gweilo by Martin Booth - a lovely book about growing up in Hong Kong about fifteen years before we ourselves did. I recognised a lot of my own childhood in there, although his father was an even bigger martinet than mine, and his mother was far more liberal. However, the real coincidence (yes I know that there is no such thing) was that he lived in the apartment above the one that we lived in, in the now demolished Mount Austen Mansions.

And that is about it. On with the show!


Whistling Puppy @ Yahoo! Video


I would like to introduce you to two new friends of ours: a pair of ghost-hunters from Cornwall who operate under the moniker of Parkin's Paranormal Investigation. Julia Quinn and Dougie Parkin have been doing their own inimitable thing for some years now, and we met them quite by chance through the good offices of Allan and Jennie up at The Farmers Arms. Jules and Dougie had been drawn to the village pub after reading one of the stories about the pub poltergeist that I had managed to get in to the papers (well one has to justify one's bar tab somehow).

Over the years I have met a plethora of ghost hunters (I wonder what the collective noun for such people is) and I have to say that whilst some of them have been delightful people, the vast majority have been either irritating or bonkers or both. When Allan and Jennie invited us up to meet them, therefore, we went up with some trepidation. Luckily they turned out to be in the `delightful` subset of paranormal peeps.

I encouraged them to join the blogging community (I really dislike the term blogosphere) and much to my surprise because people very seldom actually do what I suggest, they complied, so here it is. The beginning (I think) of something special...


OLL LEWIS: Yesterday’s News Today


On this day in 1921 Dick Van Dyke, star of Diagnosis Murder, was born (all right, it’s a very slow day for Fortean or at least mildly interesting things that happened on this day, but hey, there was a ghost in one episode of Diagnosis Murder, so it sort of counts, maybe, perhaps).
Ah, but the Fortean zoology news is a bit more interesting:

Minnesota man says motion-activated camera may have snapped Bigfoot
Out takes: Zoology professor gets great shot of Indri lemur in Madagascar
Animal's death puts Calgary zoo under microscope
Santa Penguins Wish Visitors A Flappy Xmas

Q: Why don’t penguins wear socks?
A: Because their webbed feet are too big.