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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Monday, December 21, 2009


Tomorrow is the shortest day. One of the few things that I like about this time of year is that as of Wednesday the evenings do get noticeably shorter.

It has got to be said, however, that so far at least, this winter has not been anywhere near as bad as last year. It also helps that the furry hot water bottle is now old enough and continent enough to be allowed to sleep upstairs at night. He has developed into a complete `Mummy's Boy` and follows Corinna around with an adoring look on his muzzle. Luckily (for me) he insists on sleeping upon her side of the bed, but last night (and I'm not quite sure how he did it) the bloody animal ended up taking all of the quilt and all of the bed, and I for one, woke up with a very stiff neck.

Biggles enjoys Christmas far more than any of the human residents of Myrtle Cottage. For one thing there is a tree in the sitting room, which always amuses him, although this year he has not tried to wreck it or pee against it, merely attempting to eat the tinsel as Corinna put it on the tree. There are also more interesting foodstuffs around and despite the efforts of Shoshannah who, now she has qualified as a vet, takes a disturbingly Ubersturmfuhrer-like attitude to animal diets, insisting that as a specimen of Canis lupus familiaris Biggles should not eat Christmas cake, mince pies or pickled eggs; Biggles insists that as his subspecies has been commensal with the human race for at least 15,000 years (and it has even been suggested that the dog domesticated man rather than the other way round), he has earned the right to eat the same food as his master and mistress, although he will guzzle down his meat, bones and biscuits for form's sake.

This is a debate that will continue indefinitely. I, as a mere bloke, am sitting firmly on the fence and refuse to get involved.


I have a series of E-mails between Ben Roesch and Dr. Darren Naish continuing the selection begun about the large black birds in Uganda. This time I focus on a new species of horse discovered in Tibet:

'An expedition to the far north of Tibet led by Dr Michel Peissel, a Frenchman with more than a touch of Indiana Jones about him, has discovered a hitherto unknown ancient breed of horse. The Riwoche horse, named by Dr Peissel after the remote area where it was found, may be the missing link between the Przewalski horse, a wild Mongolian animal with neolithic origins, and other breeds.

'The team of six, which included Sebastian Guinness, with whom Dr Peissel discovered the source of the Mekong last year, returned to Europe a few days ago. The original purpose of the seven-week expedition was to study another horse,the Nangchen, identified by Dr Peissel in north-eastern Tibet in 1993.

'He had hoped to buy some of theses pure-bred creatures which have no trace of Mongolian, Arab or Turkish blood. Powerful and fast, they have many of the characteristics of a modern racehorse.

'The high prices wanted by the tribesman made purchase impossible, but bad weather on the way back to Lhasa led to a new discovery. "We were in a very unexplored area, the primitive pre-Buddhist area of Tibet to the north of Lhasa, not far from the Chinese border. We weren`t able to proceed on our intended route because the passes were blocked with snow. So we took another way, into Riwoche, which is where we found the little monster. "It is pony-size, about 4 ft, a little like a donkey but with small ears, hardly any nostrils and a rough coat. It has a black stripe down its back, stripes on its back legs and a black mane. I thought it looked like cave drawings of horses, although a friend of mine says it looks like a pig...Dr Peissel, who is fluent in Tibetan, hopes to return to Tibet next year in co-operation with the Chinese Academy of Science to conduct a further study of the horses and to export some.' (1)

1.E-mail from Ben Roesch to Darren Naish and others.Nov.16th 1995.

Muirhead`s Mysteries will be taking a break from December 23rd to December 27th inclusive.The blogs will resume between Dec.28th and Dec.30th.No blog on Dec.31st,Jan.1st and Jan.2nd.I will resume after the New Year on January 3rd 2010

Suzanne Vega-Wooden Horse.

I came out of the darkness
Holding one thing
A small white wooden horse
I`d been holding inside

And when I`m dead
If you could tell them this
That what was wood became alive
What was wood became alive

DAVY CURTIS: All along the Watchtower

Dear Jon,

A young Jehovah's witness collared me at my front gate yesterday and after giving me a bit of the old Romans 8:23 pressed a copy of one of their mags into my hand.

Later I was flicking through and bugger me if it didn't have an article on Sea Monsters in it!

Verily I say unto you, God works in mysterious ways.

Amen Brother

Davy C

NEIL ARNOLD: The Vampire Cat

There are many dark and hideous legends across the world concerning vampyric entities that take on varying forms. From inflating, winged dogs that increase in size when sucking the blood of victims, to night-prowling bat-babies. In the Netherlands there is a sinister legend pertaining to Keijenborg, and also the nearby Kraanborg and Steenderen. The apparition in question was said to prowl the grounds of an old farm. It appears that the presence of the monster brought poltergeist activity too, as doors were often slammed shut or left open, buckets of Holy Water thrown about the place, and the increasing failure of machinery. The beast was first seen in the attic of the property and described as a cross between a bat and a cat! A priest was called in immediately but could not rid the property of the wicked presence, and most of the cattle fell ill and could not produce milk.

A priest was then called from the Monastery of Kraanborg, and with the help of six farmers, a car and six horses, they somehow managed to extract the monster from the farm. Although legend of the monster is vague, the creature was described as having very long teeth and bright green eyes. It is said that the entity was removed and cast to some desolate place where it still exists today.

Across Europe there are legends of fearsome critters known as Cat-Witches, which appear in the form of giant black cats. Slavic Gypsies believe in similar forms meanwhile the Romani witch, known as the Chovihani, hunts after dark in the form of a big, black cat.

In Japan the vampire cat is said to have two tails and as it laps at the blood of its victim, its body inflates to the exact size of the person it feeds on. Canadian folklore speaks of winged black cats, which are said to hover in the sky and then drop down on unsuspecting cattle. During the 1950s residents of Nacaome in Honduras suffered great loss of cattle after several sightings of a giant, black bird-like creature with leather wings. The creature was blamed for several cattle mutilations in the area. The monster was said to strangle its prey with its strong, whip-like tail.

A majority of vampire-cats are potent in folklore. Interestingly, some of the original ‘goatsucker’ reports from Puerto Rico described a cat-like creature, at times described as having wings. However, delve into monster folklore throughout the world and you’ll uncover a bizarre vampire menagerie pertaining to winged cats, dogs, monkeys, etc, all with one sinister motive: to drain blood. From the Chu’Uan-T’ou of China – a fish-eating, bat-winged monster said to have a human head – to Huxwhukw, or ‘canninbal bird’ of Amerindian lore. One thing is for sure, our livestock have more to worry about than Foot and Mouth Disease!

OLL LEWIS: 5 Questions on… Cryptozoology - IAN SIMMONS

In the hot-seat today is Ian Simmons, who works as Science Communication Director of the Centre for Life science centre in Newcastle-Upon-Tyne. He has a wide-ranging interest in Forteana and writes, edits and compiles articles and books for a number of Fortean publications, including Fortean Times and the Anomalist.

So, Ian Simmons, here are your 5 Questions on… Cryptozoology:

1) How did you first become interested in cryptozoology?

I suppose it was when I was given a kind of annual called Stranger than People when I was about 10 or so. It was full of all sorts of stuff about Yetis, manimals, the Loch Ness Monster, Zombies, mythology, vampires, the Kraken; all mixed in with mostly dreadful fiction and so on. Badly written and highly inaccurate, but I was hooked.

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

Never seen one myself, but have come close to a Big Cat. When I worked at Snibston Discovery park in Coalville a colleague saw one on site shortly before I arrived; must have missed it by 10 minutes or so. I've seen all sorts of secondary stuff; I borrowed a lot of it for the Fortean Times exhibition I did in Croydon in '95. There were some actual cryptids in that, come to think of it; the Hayling Island Jungle Cat, Felicity the Puma, a Rat King.

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

I reckon there's a Thylacine or two out there - there's a paper in Anomalist 14, which I have just finished editing, that does the maths on their survival, and it looks possible. I reckon we might stand a chance of a manimal of some kind; Orang Pendek, most likely. We ought to be able to nail a UK big cat too, but they are interestingly illusive, despite loads of hard-to-dismiss anecdotal evidence, but maybe that's telling us something about their very nature. Just because something is real doesn't mean it exists. Some of the sea monster things might turn up too; Charles Paxton has done extrapolations that suggest there are 47 new pinniped, or was it whales? I forget exactly, 47 of them, anyway, out there, and some of those might turn out to match some of the classic sea monster tales. Actually, it is quite difficult to get the idea that cryptids can be found accepted, as soon as they turn up, it's forgotten they were ever cryptids. When I was first reading forteana, Giant Squid were firmly in the cryptid realm; now there are routine write-ups on them in the scientific press. There's this myth that while we keep finding loads of new stuff, the classic cryptids never turn up, which clearly isn't true in this case.

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

No chance of Nessie whatsoever, and the Chupacabra is clearly a bust; it was always a dodgy one and Jon seems to have nailed it good last time he was in Puerto Rico.

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

Difficult, difficult; anything Heuvelmans wrote has to be near the top, the Bords' Alien Animals was pretty influential on me, but if Mothman counts as a cryptid, and I know that's pretty debateable, Keel's Mothman Prophecies, a rattling good tale of extreme wide-spectrum high weirdness. Keel's approach to weirdness has probably been more influential for me than anyone apart from Fort's. I love Loren's books in this area too.


Scottie aka Retrieverman writes:

'The big east coast storm gave us 14 inches of snow just in time for Christmas, the Solstice, and Festivus. Check out the photos: '


Far more impressive than the teensy sprinkling we got. And long may it remain so....

OLL LEWIS: Yesterday’s News Today


On this day in 1968 Apollo 8 was launched from the Kennedy Space Centre in Florida, USA. The crew of Frank Borman, James Lovell and William Anders became the first people to escape Earth’s gravitational field.
Now for the news:

Czech zoo hopes to save rare rhinos with Africa move - Feature
Catalan Parliament passes landmark vote to ban bullfighting
Zoo pool too cool, so pudgy penguins hoof it

Q: What do penguins eat for dinner?
A: Iceburgers.