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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Saturday, December 19, 2009


Today I am presenting these stories in reverse chronological order and you will soon understand why:

The first account, in the form of an email from Tony Whitaker a few days ago connected to the attempts by scientists in New Zealand to determine whether or not the giant gecko, or kawekaweau as the Maoris call it, is still alive. (It is encouraging that scientists 'down under'are prepared to talk to cryptozoologists without dismissing us as lunatic fringe.) The following two bits of information I took out of a file at random,then noticed they were both dated around now as far as time of month is concerned!

Firstly, the kawekaweau: 'Hello Richard.There have been no further reports of large lizards anywhere in New Zealand that I`m aware of in the last 18 years. Both Bruce and I, as experienced herpetologists, believe that there were no exceptionally unusual animals around the Tologa Bay area...in our naivety we were trapped in a media and diplomacy pincer-movement.

'The best hope...only hope...to really advance the kawekaweau story will come from either/or:

1. The discovery of fossil or subfossil remains
2. A molecular analysis of the Marseille specimen to determine its true phylogenetic status
3. The discovery of personal letters or diaries in an archive somewhere that provide added information on 18th or 19th century sightings
4. Discovery of documentation around the accession of the sole specimen inot Marseille Museum.

I`m tempted to follow up option 3 myself.

The next item relates to `Dinosaurs rearing young`.I am sure much more is known about this now (note the date was 1991) but it is still interesting.

'Dinosaurs hatched their eggs and cared for their young, according to scientists who have discovered the fossilised remains of one sitting on a nest. The fossil of Oviraptor, killed during a sandstorm while hatching its eggs about 75 million years ago, has delighted palaeontlogists worldwide and provided the most graphic evidence so far of the bird-like habits of the dinosaurs. The find has also put to rest the theory that dinosaurs simply laid their eggs in the ground and left their young to fend for themselves...Robin Cocks, Keeper of Palaeontology at the Natural History Museum in London, described the find as "the clincher." "We`ve always suspected this happened but we`ve never seen it. We know about the eggs and we`ve seen dinosaurs close to them but we`ve never seen the two together before. It`s very exciting," he added.' (2)

Finaly, remember those Cold War intrusions of mystery under water objects in Swedish waters, well in December 1991 there emerged (excuse the pun) a possible explanation:

'Submarines,some of unusual design, attacked the Swedish coastal defence system in the Baltic several times in the 1980s, deliberately damaging electronic sensors in the sea bed, Swedish authorities have confirmed. The Swedes have not solved the mystery of the prowling submarines, as they were unable to confirm who was responsible. A special Submarine Commission acknowledged some reports of "alien submarine activity" detected by sonar, were, in fact, swimming minks...In the mid-1980s a mined area off northern Sweden was tampered with and put out of action. The Commission said electric equipment at great depth had been damaged by blows from a hard object. Although some reports were explained by mink, others were clearly caused by man-made submarine activity.' (3)

1. E-mail from Tony Whitaker to Richard Muirhead December 16th 2009
2. D.Penman.Dinosaurs `reared young`Independent December 21st 1995.
3. C.Bellamy. Furry clue in mystery of the Baltic Prowlers.Independent December 23rd 1995.

Bob Dylan Neighbourhood Bully

Well,the Neighbourhood Bully,
He`s just one man,
His enemies say he`s on their land
They got him outnumbered
A million to one
He got no place to escape to,
no place to run
He`s the neighbourhood bully.

Every empire that`s enslaved him is gone
Egypt and Rome,even the great Babylon,
He`s made a garden of paradise in the desert sand,
In bed with nobody,under no one`s command,
He`s the neighbourhood bully.

What has he done to wear so many scars?
Does he change the course of rivers?
Does he pollute the moon and stars?
Neighbourhood bully,standing on the hill
Running out the clock,time standing still
Neighbourhood bully.



Not the slightest bit crypto, but a particularly impressive piece of film from the Living Coasts aquarium.

DALE DRINNON: Crypto Iggies

I had mentioned some of these in an earlier posting about Chupacabras. In this case I am not going to continue on about Chupas per se but instead I am going to focus on the more definite cryptid iguanid lizards. These ones are regularly reported but get little press coverage.

When I was going through Ivan Sanderson's files shortly after his death I saw a letter from a woman that claimed to have seen a small dinosaur at the edge of the road while she was driving. She said it came up as high as the hood of her car and had a grinning mouth full of pointed teeth and distinctly red eyes. She attached a tracing of the Charles R. Knight reconstruction for Ornitholestes.

This was in Arkansas. The woman wished to remain anonymous but a later message from the same area described the same sort of creatures as being the size of a turkey but without feathers, with a long tail and running around on the hind legs. I did see subsequent references Sanderson had made to these letters in his later correspondance but he never published an opinion.

I had independantly heard of the creatures being called 'Mountain Boomers' again in Arkansas but also in Texas, and blamed for mutilations of livestock in the Arizona-New Mexico area in the early 1970s. This last I did not put much stock in and Sabina Sanderson pretty much flipped out when I sent the information to her in a letter: I later saw that she had filed my letter in 'Animal Chaos and Confusion' together with a note about me that was pretty libellous. When I saw that she had done that, I had the note removed. I don't know why she was so bothered, because just about all the 'Dinosaur' reports in the Western United States are probably references to this creature.

Some of them are reported at exaggerated sizes, but most are small, about six feet long and three feet tall when standing up.

They are also called by the name 'Mini-Rex', which is a name I do not reccomend using, any more than 'Mountain Boomer' (which is ordinarily used for the common collared lizard. The collared lizard also runs on its hind legs).

Chad Arment has advanced the opinion that these are escaped basilisk lizards imported from South America, but the descriptions do not match closely.

These are larger.

The basilisk lizards are Iguanid lizards (belonging to the iguana family) and it is very likely that these are also Iguanid lizards.

Some reports also include such details as a dewlap, a flap at the back of the head, spines running down the back and sometimes horns on the face.

Standard books such as Jerome Clark's Unexplained! (1993) contain reports of them under the heading 'Dinosaurs, Living'

At the time I was first learning of these reports at the SITU I had also heard independantly of some very large iguana lizards reported in Latin America, about the size of a Komodo dragon or about a dozen feet long; these would not be as heavy as a Komodo dragon since they would have a proportionately longer tail.

I learned about them mostly through Native artistic depictions of them, but around that time there was a mention in Pursuit about 'Dinosaurs' in the 'Lost World' area of Venezuela - big lizards the size of a Komodo dragon. On Heuvelmans's checklist the 'Dinosaurs' are said to be like Iguanodons here and actually they seem more like iguanas than iguanodons.

Artistic representations show distinctive scaly crests that identify them as members of the genus Iguana specifically.

And to round this all out, I had recently been posting a series of messages about monsters reported from Patagonia at the South end of South America at the group Frontiers-of-Zoology... in this case I had drawn attention to the depiction of unusual creatures dated around 1600 and reproduced here. In the middle of it are what look like a large alligator, a large lizard and a smaller alligator; probably a caiman. That roused my interest because this area would ordinarily be too cold for such animals and they are not supposed to be here. In this case the lizard looks something like a New Zealand Tuatara and would be living in about the same climate zone. But after considering the possibility it might be a tuatara, I opted for it being a specialised iguana instead: its head is perhaps more like an iguanid's head than a tuatara's head. It does have a distinctive creat of spines along its back.

The illustration does not name any of the creatures but the lizard seems to be a creature otherwise called a 'Dragon', and local legends have it also that the dragons start out as small land snakes, develop a crest of spines down the back and eventually grow into lake and sea monsters (the Patagonian Plesiosaurs, in fact).

And so this form of 'Spiny Snake' or 'Little Dragon' is one of the necessary intermediate steps of that process, like the Scandinavian Lindorms, at least in the Native mind.

That would probably put its length at three to six feet long, or a metre or two: the Patagonian equivalent of the Tatzelwurm possibly.


Cryptozoologists don’t just find monsters. They often find unknown species and even things that have been lost that are historically important. The late Robert Rines found several things in Loch Ness from ancient stone circles to this: a fitting memorial in some ways to his own tenacity and determination, like that of the pilots of WW2.

Extract from full article: 'Just over a year after the battle, R for Robert crashed into Loch Ness while on a training flight from RAF Lossiemouth on Hogmanay 1940 and remained lost until Nessie hunter Robert Rines discovered the wreckage while searching the bed of the loch.

'"When we found it in 1978, it was intact, but I went back in 1981 and the fuselage had been torn apart," Robin said. People had been trying to grapple for souvenirs, so we had to salvage it or lose it all together. I managed to get the backing of the National Heritage Memorial Fund and huge oil companies like Oceaneering International jumped at the chance to get involved. Had I actually had to pay for their services, it would have been about £20 million to recover her. "An aircraft had never been recovered from 70 metres before and I honestly don't think it could happen again because of cost." After 45 years beneath the loch, R for Robert was finally craned out of the water at Bona Lighthouse on 21st September 1985. "It was almost perfect," Robin added. "The people from Brooklands were astonished at the condition of the aircraft."'


Today we have the first snow of the winter, and for the first time I am wearing my shapeless white winter jumper, knitted for me by the wife of my erstwhile bass player many moons ago.

I am just awaiting the gentlefolk of the media saying that "this is the worst snow in living memory" when it most certainly is nothing of the sort.
The CFZ garden is covered with a light sprinkling of snow, whereas I remember in 1978 the snow was so heavy that it filled the lane outside up to the top windows, and we were literally snowed in.
However, it is a day of firsts because young Biggles, probably remembering that he enjoyed last winter's precipitations, went outside to play snowballs with Graham.
However, last year he merely chased them. Today he ate it!

OLL LEWIS: Yesterday’s News Today


On this day in 1848 Emily Brontë, author of Wuthering Heights, died of tuberculosis.
Now for the news:

Aquarium lowers water levels for flatulent turtles
Heron tries to swallow turtle for dinner
Pugs 'forced to feed on owner's body after suicide'
Spanish region to vote on bullfight ban
A roofer? No, a hoofer
Billy the kid apprehended in Germany

I ‘kid’ ye not.