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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 18, 2009

BLOGGO AT CHRISTMAS TIME

Unlike many blogs and online thingys the CFZ Bloggo will not close during what is euphemistically known as `The Festive Season`.


This is not just because various members of the core CFZ team feel that the most important character of the Yuletide mythos was Ebenezer Scrooge, but also because it is the one time of year that the telephone doesn't ring, and the postman does not inflame the dog's psyche, and I can actually get on with doing what I want to without interruption.



We are not guaranteeing how many postings there will be each day, or even that they will be particularly sensible, but there will be postings, `cos the CFZ are ace!



Beware of imitations!

MUIRHEAD`S MYSTERIES: DRAGONS OF SWEDEN

Hello again, cryptophiles.

Today I present a summary of an article in Fate magazine concerning `The Dragons of Sweden`. Unfortunately I do not know when it was published; my apologies. The article is by Sven Rosen. Unfortunately the quality of the photocopy I have is poor so there are parts I cannot transcribe.

'In the mid-19th century Swedish newspapers published a number of reports in which people described encounters with dragons or giant snakes. Fascinated by the stories, the pioneering Swedish folklorist and scientist Gunnar Olof Hyltėn-Cavallius decided to investigate. From his studies he knew that such creatures, called lindorms, were widely known in Nordic Europe. Lindorms figure in Scandanavian mythology, in folk songs and tales and in the dragonesque style of the Viking Age. Throughout history descriptions of the creatures` appearance were remarkably consistent.Hyltėn-Cavallius noted, and now it appeared that specimens of this rare monster still roamed the Swedish countryside. So he set out to find a dragon….' (1).

This is Hyltėn-Cavallius` summary of his findings: 'In Värend - and probably in other parts of Sweden as well - a species of giant snakes, called dragons or lindorms, continues to exist. Usually the lindorm is about 10 feet long but specimens of 18 feet or 20 feet have been observed. His body is as thick as a man`s thigh; his color [sic] is black with a yellow-flamed belly. Old specimens wear on their neck an integument of long hair or scales, frequently lickened to a horse`s mane. He has a flat, round or squared head, a divided tongue, and a mouth full of white, shining teeth. His eyes are large and saucer-shaped with a frightfully wild and sparkling stare. His tail is short and stubby and the general shape of the creature is heavy and unwieldy…' (2).

'The dragon resides in dens and piles of stones, in wild and desolate places (?) marshlands, swamps or lakes.He often (?) been seen in the rocky mountains and forests east of Lake Ȧsnen. He has also been observed swimming in the lakes of (?) Rottnen and Helgasjön. Usually he (?) keeps his head two feet above water…he moves onward with the same kind of winding throwings as an ordinary grass snake…'(3).


'An encounter with a lindorm consists of of one or more of these elements;

1. Observation. The witness happens to see a dragon. The encounter is peaceful although the witness often is deeply affected by the snake`s appearance.

2. Pursuit. The snake, which moves quickly in an upright position and often snorts like a horse, chases the witness. (Of Hyltén-Cavallius` 48 cases only two deal with this type of event.)

3. Combat. The witness fights the snake (12 cases)

4. Appearance with other, smaller snakes (four cases)' (4)

Later the author describes the foul stench the decomposing carcass makes: 'The snake`s breath and the stench that he emitted after his death was so poisonous that I for eight days thereafter suffered from the aftereffects of it, and I and my companion could hardly come near to dead snake`s body [Case five.] The stench of the carcass, as well as the smell of the venomous liquid that he [the lindorm] vomited forth on me during the struggle was unbearable, and I was, because of that, confined to bed for three days thereafter, and was badly ill. [Case 23]….' (5).

'Descriptions of the lindorm appear frequently in Scandanavian literature from the 13th-Century Eddas on. Olaus Magnus, in his Historia de Gentibus Septentrionalibus (1555), mentions in particular the dragon`s hard, scaly body. Sigurd of the Eddas and Siegfried of the Nibelungenlied found that a dragon`s weak point is its belly; so did Daniel Nilsson of Värend in Hyltén-Cavallius` case four' (6).


The author concludes with considering a psychological explanation: 'One major problem with this psychological interpretation is that 24 of Hyltén-Cavallius` cases involve more than one witness. Many of the 31 additional cases with which I am familiar also had multiple witnesses. One can speak of “collective halluncinations” without effectively explaining anything. Still it is possible, in my opinion, that the parallels between the monster stories from Värend and the characteristic features of hallucinations are not entirely coincidental.' (7)

There is information in Lake Monster Traditions by Meurger and Gagnon on the lindorm.

1 S.Rosen. The Dragons of Sweden. Fate. (date ?)
2 ibid pp.37-38
3 ibid p.38
4 ibid p.40
5 ibid p.42
6 ibid p.43
7 ibid p.45

For reasons too tiresome and unexciting there are no lyrics today, I hope there will be tomorrow!

OLL LEWIS: 5 Questions on… Cryptozoology

For a new series of articles for the blog I’ve turned question master and I’ve started sending out questions to the great and the good of the CFZ and our friends. I’m sending them out in alphabetically ordered chunks over the next few weeks and I really hope that most people who get the questions emailed to them will take the time to complete them as I’m really looking forward to seeing lots of really interesting and varied replies.

First of all, I’ll kick things off by answering my own questions. If you are picturing this being done in reality, to prevent the need for confusing time paradoxes, bi-location or some other form of jiggery-pokery to have me in two places at once, you can imagine me being interviewed by the ghost of Bob Monkhouse (hey, it’s my imaginary quiz; I can do what I like).

1) How did you first become interested in cryptozoology?

Not long after I had started school - I must have been around 5 years old - I saw a cartoon on children’s BBC called The Family Ness. To my 5-year-old mind this was a thing of wonder and much better than the other television shows I’d seen at this point, which usually consisted of shoddy puppetry (Orm and Cheap) or quite frankly sinister-looking men dressed up as dogs but fooling no-one (The Chuckle Hounds), so naturally I was hooked. I started reading at a very early age so by the age of 6 was a regular in the children’s section of the local library and the books I was most interested in reading usually involved monsters in some way, shape or form. I don’t recall the name of the book that I found one day, but it was one of those ‘unsolved mysteries’ style books aimed at children. Among the stories of UFOs, ghosts, Jack the Ripper and the Zodiac Killer (yes, in a book aimed at the under tens!) the Loch Ness monster made an appearance. From that point on all hope that I would grow up to be a lawyer or an economist was lost, I guess.

2) Have you ever personally seen a cryptid or secondary evidence of a cryptid, if so can you please describe your encounter?

Yes, yes I have. As is the nature of pure dumb luck it didn’t happen when I was on an expedition or scouring the waters of some mountain lake, but when I went for a picnic with my step-grandmother to a local park called Cosmeston Lakes. Cosmeston used to be a quarry and the pit was filled in with water and environs landscaped in the late 1970s to make a pleasant and beautiful country park, but perhaps the last place you would expect to see something extraordinary. But it was there I saw an enormous dragonfly. The creature had a light brown body and a wingspan of around one foot; far larger than any dragonfly that should be around today, least of all in Britain. Being a biology student at university at the time I knew that I would have to be damn sure about this thing’s dimensions before I told any of my lecturers. Luckily the thing had been flying over some water hyacinth so I had been able to count how many of the plants it had covered and get a fairly accurate estimate of the size.

3) Which cryptids do you think are the most likely to be scientifically discovered and described some day, and why?

Afanc; Welsh water monsters that look similar to crocodiles and grow to large sizes. They are likely not crocodiles but rather giant pike. One lake reputedly home to these beasts since the dark ages is Llangorse Lake near Brecon in South Wales, where I obtained a photograph of an 18-inch pike skull. The pike would have been over 6 foot long.

4) Which cryptids do you think are the least likely to exist?

The water leaper or Llamhigyn Y Dwr is paticularly unlikely to exist due to the fact that it was a creative folklore creation invented by a chap called Han Owen.

5) If you had to pick your favourite cryptozoological book (not including books you may have written yourself) what would you choose?

It’s a tough choice between Karl Shuker’s Extraordinary Animals Revisited and Jon’s book Monster of the Mere. I’ll probably go for Monster of the Mere… If you’ve not read it I suggest you give it a try.

LIZ'S LOOKALIKES #3

Okey dokey, so the last picture was of a Biggles lookalike (and Ronan Coghlan's doppelganger, too, if we concur with Mr Downes's suggestion).

This person is perhaps more well known from the Fortean Times but they have written for us. Any ideas?

(CLUE: He spoke about the woman in black at last year's UnCon)

DALE DRINNON: Casper Wyoming "Little Person" Mummy

A while back Karl Shuker posted a blog entry that repeated the story about a tiny human mummy uncovered at Casper, Wyoming that was supposed to have been an adult when it died because it had a full set of adult teeth. That is the standard story on the books but it is false.

I wrote to Karl that the mummy had been the subject of an article in Persuit of which he was unaware. And it was not the mummy of an adult but a deformed foetus that very likely had never drawn breath. I mentioned that I had seen the X-rays of it as well. And so here is the illustration.

The first giveaway is that the poor creature had no brains to speak of; mostly an empty braincase (the X-ray seems to show packed dirt in that area.) And it did not have adult teeth, it had baby teeth: most of what shows in its mouth are the unemerged tooth buds. Basically all it is is a very grisly relic, but certainly not evidence of a whole race of such things running around alive at one time.

OLL LEWIS: Yesterday’s News Today

http://cryptozoologynews.blogspot.com/

On this day in 1888 Richard Wetherill and his brother-in-law discovered the stunning Native American ruins of the Mesa Verde national park in America. In Britain on this day in 1912 Charles Dawson ‘discovered’ Piltdown Man, which was found out to be a hoax years later. For more information on the Piltdown Man you can read my article on this very blog, located here:

http://forteanzoology.blogspot.com/2009/03/guest-blogger-oll-lewis-its-just-not.html
Now for the news:

Panther was a cheater
Black swan seen in Falmouth
Dublin Zoo's latest arrival is a female giraffe calf
Deaf fox cub learns sign language
Beetle anti-freeze and dinosaurs vs flesh-eating bugs
Kung fu monkeys turn tables on trainer
Singapore Zoo breeds rare Komodo dragon

Sometimes if breeding programmes don’t work at first things can ‘dragon’ a bit.