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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Wednesday, December 16, 2009


Ever since 2002, we have - each January - held what one of my Irish friends laughingly refers to as the CFZ Army Council (a nickname which has stuck) but which is really our AGM. Because of the logistical problems in getting Max down here now he is at university, the only time we could get him and Dave B-P and Richard together in the same place with the folk who actually live here was last night, so we held an impromptu council.

Lots of stuff was discussed including changes to the website, and changes to the protocols for next year's Weird Weekend. However, we discussed the latest round of financial and other problems that have been facing the CFZ.

I have been feeling terrible, because for the first time in the seventeen years since I founded the CFZ and the twenty-two years since I founded the publishing company that is now CFZ Press, there is no festive edition of the magazine, and there is no CFZ Christmas card. Why? Because of the Godawful financial problems with which we have had to deal, we just simply cannot afford it. The holdups caused by computer problems haven't helped, and basically mean that the book which should have been our big seller wasn't available soon enough, and basically everything that could go wrong did go wrong.

The boys, and especially Richard F and Dave B-P reassured me, and basically told me that I was being silly. We are in the midst of a serious recession (they said) and where many long-established outfits have gone to the wall, we are still surviving. And what's more we are breaking new ground.

  • Issue 47 of A&M is just being given its final proof and will be posted out in January.
  • There IS a CFZ Christmas Card but it is going out via email together with the annual report next week
  • There are plans for new books, new films and new expeditions
  • The 2010 Weird Weekend will be better than ever

So hang on guys. It is still going to be a bumpy ride, but we shall all get through.

Onwards and Upwards


Today I am continuing my look at the kawekaweau of North Island, New Zealand. It turns out one of my correspondents might be interested in cryptozoology. Or at least I may have told him about Cryptozoology Online and he looked at my first, pre-kawekaweau posting on large New Zealand lizards. To be honest I can`t recall if I told him or not. He is Raymond Coory, technician at the Museum of New Zealand, and he has given me the contact details of some other individuals interested in the kawekaweau.

I will now continue on from yesterday`s blog: 'Current status. Although no living Hoplodactylus delcourti are known, we cannot deny the possibility that populations of this species still exist. If the species is indeed the kawekaweau of Maori legend, annecdotal sources suggest that the northern North Island may be a region likely to support surviving populations.' (1)

A. P. Russell and A. M. Bauer comment: 'Hoplodactylus delcourti, with a snout-vent length of 370mm increases the recorded for the family by 54% and far exceeds the maximum dimensions of its congeners. The largest previously known specimen of Hoplodactylus was a specimen of H. duvaucelii,with a snout-vent length of 160mm... This new taxon represents an increase of 131.3% over this dimension' (2)

'Kawekaweau (pronounced cah-way-cah-way-ow, but also known as kaweau or koeau) were reported from widespread localities in the northern half of the North Island, particularly North Island. The animal was variously described as being amphibious, a ground dweller, a tree-dweller, or even being able to fly! The most often repeated description was of a lizard about two feet long that was arboreal...Then, in 1979, Alain Delcourt, a curator at the Museum d`Histoire Naturelle in Marseille, discovered in the museum`s zoological collections a mounted specimen of a huge gecko...

'When and how the Marseille specimen got to France is unknown. French expeditions have visited New Zealand since the earliest times of European exploration. There have been French missions and French settlements. Marseille was regarded as the "gateway to the Orient", and was the home port for most voyages to this part of the world. Biological specimens from collectors and curios from seamen would pass through Marseilles on their way into France. The huge gecko was probably acquired by the museum between 1833 and 1869, a period for which all the records have been lost.' (3)

I have a report titled Large Lizard Sightings in the Gisborne Region: Report on a National Museum Investigation 7-11 April 1990 by A. H. Whitaker and B. W. Thomas. This was 1 month after the stuffed 'kawekaweau' arrived at the National Museum in Wellington. 'Four of the sightings by four different observers are not so easily explained. These people are largely unknown to each other yet on separate occasions over a 30 year period saw what are described as remarkably similar animals. More remarkable is that these observations were all within a few kilometres of each other on a short stretch of Anaura Rd, north of Tolaga Bay. Possible explanations are that...there is a hitherto unrecorded indigenous lizard present.' (4)

On July 15th 1994 I received a letter from Chris Paulin of the Natural Environment Section of the Museum of Wellington saying:'Thank you for your letter regarding lizard and moa sightings. There have been no large lizard sightings in the last twelve months. The moa sightings reported in the press originated from a local hotelier and were based on some very blurred photographs of a red deer.' (5)

Raymond Coory, mentioned at the beginning of today`s blog, says the kawekaweau is covered in the International Society of Cryptozoology Newsletter vol 7 no 1 and vol 9 no 4. He concludes: 'Did it really live here and could it possibly still be alive? We have a constant stream of subfossil and fossil bones coming through our research departments,and among the millions of bones there have been many vertebrate fossils of birds, lizards and frogs but nothing from a big gecko. Also New Zealand is intensively tramped and there have been no credible sightings or photographs. An attempt was made to get DNA from the French specimen in 1990, but failed. The technology is vastly more sensitive now so another go would probably yield results. I don`t know if this has already been attempted, but the results would be very interesting. (6)

I will be e-mailing the people Raymond Coory gave me the details of before the New Year. If anyone has any specific questions they want me to ask about this creature please contact me at richmuirhead@ntlworld.com a.s.a.p.

1. A.M.Bauer and A.P.Russell Hoplodactylus delcourti n.sp.(Reptilia:Gekkonidae),the largest known gecko. New Zealand Journal of Zoology 1986. p.147
2. A.P.Russell and A.M.Bauer The Giant Gecko Hoplodactylus delcourti and Its Relations to Gigantism and Insular Endemism in the Gekkonidae. Bull.Chicago Herp.Soc. 26 (2):p.26.1991
3. T.Whitaker Kawekaweau-mtyh or monster? New Zealand Geographic 6 p13 1990
4. A.H.Whitaker and B.W.Thomas. Large Lizard Sightings in the Gisborne Region: Report on a National Museum Investigation 7-11 April 1990 p.1
5. Letter from C.Paulin to Richard Muirhead July 15th 1994
6. E-mail from Raymond Coory to Richard Muirhead December 15th 2009

Bob Dylan Ballad of a Thin Man

You walk into the room
With a pencil in your hand
You see someone naked
And you say "Who is that man?"
You try so hard
But you don`t understand
Just what you`ll say
When you get hone


Over on his never less than excellent Tetrapod Zoology blog, Dr Darren Naish (see, we have finally grown out of the bad habit of giving him stupid nicknames) has been reading a classic book on orang utans. He writes:

'Anyway, one particular section of the book really stands out for me: the bit where MacKinnon catches sight of a gigantic, terrestrially walking male orangutan...'

and then examines a whole slew of anomalous orang utan sightings that may shed light on some of the most enduring cryptozoological mysteries in southern Asia. Read on...



From YouTube: 'This mystery bird, possibly a Saffron Finch has made a few appearances in my yard. If anyone has any ideas about what it may be, I would love to hear it. Thanks.'


Lindsay Selby sent us this cutting which shows the extent of some 2007 Big Cat sightings in Co Durham. 'It might make a blog.' she writes. Yes, well I think it might. In fact, it has.

What is more disturbing is that she has not been well, and has to go to hospital for tests next week. Poor dear. You are in our thoughts and prayers...

OLL LEWIS: Yesterday’s News Today


On this day in 1773 the event known as the Boston Tea Party occurred when a group of Americans dumped impounded tea into Boston Harbour in protest against having to pay tax on it.

Now for the news:

Octopus snatches coconut and runs
The Ungreening of America: Why are people caring less and less about the environment?
Hand rearing baby rabbits

What do you call a rich rabbit?

A billion’hare’.