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 23, 2009

SEASON OF GOODWILL AT THE CFZ...the ongoing story

Well, Oll has gone home to Wales for the next ten days, although I have to say that I am very grateful to him for continuing to do Yesterday's New Today whilst on his holidays.

So it is just me, Corinna, Biggles and Graham.

Yesterday we had a trailer-load of logs delivered - not bad for £65, I thought, but I was mildly perturbed at the fact that they caused a veritable road block of the lane outside our house. Note Biggles investigating what turned out to be a dead vole at the side of the road.

Then, for reasons best known to himself, Graham put the logs into the log bin by the process of hurling them from the gate, much to the entertainment of Biggles who started to bark wildly and chase them.

This was obviously something that was not really sustainable in the long term, so after about ten minutes of this he came into the office to help me work on the CFZ 2010 Yearbook while Graham finished doing his lumberjack bit. I was waiting for him to sing the song, but he didn't.

We ended up with far more logs than we had bargained for and Graham ended up bringing four wheelbarrow loads in to stack by the fire. I am seriously looking at getting a woodburning stove for the Dining Room for next year. The price of oil is rising so high that the aga, which was once an economic way of heating the house, is becoming an expensive luxury, whereas wood is cheap and sustainable.

Cryptozoologists are often supposed to be trudging through the snow, following footprints of mysterious animals, and for once we (and by that I mean Graham) was doing exactly what the public supposes us to do.

The mystery animal is not a yeti, however, nor is it a waheela. It is Corinna's rabbit, Maureen, who has escaped and for two days now is refusing to come home, even though she is going no further than twenty feet away from her hutch, and spends considerable amounts of time nuzzling noses with Pringle (Olivia's rabbit) who is still safe at home.

OLL LEWIS: 5 Questions on… Cryptozoology - NEIL ARNOLD

Taking our interview today is one of my favourite Fortean wordsmiths, Neil Arnold, whose books include Monster and Mystery Animals of Kent; both available from CFZ press. Neil is a regular contributor to Animals & Men and will be talking at the next Weird Weekend on the ghost of Bluebell Hill, possibly the most famous phantom hitch-hiker in the world.

So, Neil Arnold, here are your 5 Questions on… Cryptozoology:

1) How did you first become interested in cryptozoology?

My interest began when, at the age of around nine, I saw a movie entitled The Legend Of Boggy creek. It may have been on TV or one of those dodgy copies my uncle used to pass around! It was a docu-drama concerning a man-beast said to prowl the river bottoms of Arkansas. To this day that film terrifies and inspires me. It is a cult movie now and responsible for films such as 'Blair Witch...' I was also influenced by a book called Monsters & Mysterious Beasts by Carey Miller, which is an alphabetical listing of strange creatures such as basilisk, vampires, Nessie, yeti, Bigfoot. I also recall the old Arthur C. Clarke television programme and the brilliant TV series The Nightstalker, starring Darren McGavin.

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

Although 'big cats' are not cryptids, I have on three occasions seen a black leopard; twice in 2000 and last year, possibly the same individual. I have also seen a lynx, which was filmed, and two sandy-coloured cats, one a puma; I'm not sure what the other was. I have collected a lot of evidence for these animals: paw-prints, hair samples etc; but certainly my own sightings have been a privilege.

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

The Giant Squid...the ocean depths hide so many secrets and I believe some real monsters are down there. Also, the thylacine seems to be the ideal candidate for most likely cryptid to be found. It clearly never became extinct in the first place but if these animals are found, the tourist industry may go up the spout! And finally, Bigfoot...out there somewhere in the Pacific northwest, in my opinion, lurks a very real creature awaiting discovery. The vast forests mean that searching for such a beast is, at the moment, like searching for a needle in a haystack, but one will show up, just like the Mountain Gorilla at the beginning of the 1900s.

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

Some cryptids are a sum of many parts, but none of these parts are flesh and blood possibility. Many 'monsters' exist as legend, part hoax, part campfire tale, part misinterpretation. The Jersey Devil, Mothman, Bray Road beast, Chupacabra; none of these are cryptids...they are zooform, cultural dreads and local belief, but not flesh and blood creatures. It doesn't matter how many see them, or for how long they seem to be around, there is no flesh and blood creature behind the facade.

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

I enjoy books that tell a great story. Too many crypto books and Fortean books regurgitate material time and time again. My favourite are: Hunting The American Werewolf and The Bray Road Beast, by Linda Godfrey, Out Of The Shadows by Tony Healy and Paul Cropper, Chupacabra & Other Mysteries by Scott Corrales, Richard Freeman's Dragons: More Than A Myth?, Owlman & Others by Jon Downes, Strange Creatures From Time & Space by John Keel, Smokey & The Fouke Monster by Smokey Crabtree, White Things by Kurt Mccoy, The Locals by Thom Powell, From Flying Toads...by Karl Shuker, and some of the monster books I read as a kid.

DALE DRINNON: Pugnoses Part 1: Wild Child of the Italian Renaissance

Probably a couple years back in the Frontiers-of-Zoology group, astute member Dave Francanzo (cobriaclord) added a photograph reproducing a Renaissance curio shop with a small furry creature in the foreground, which elicited a pretty good discussion at the time.

At the beginning of the current month I posted this article on pug-nosed hominids [1] being sighted as the Barmanu and represented in old church carvings in France (As the Homo sauvage/Wildman or Basajaun). After the posting Dave answered with the posting:

Re: Article on 'Homo pongiodes'


Also, if you go to the photo album Wildmen and to the picture 'curious george and the greyhound,' the ape-like creature looks to have an upturned nose.

And so it does, indeed. In this case the 'Curious George' creature does not have a head shaped like that of a chimpanzee, the cranium is instead more like a young Neanderthal.

The creature is also the same size and general proportions as the human child in the far right of the original reproduction.

There shall be a part 2 to this but before leaving the Rennaisance it is a singular fact that at the time the Wildman was a 'known' creature. Linneaus catalogued it and in fact, one of the illustrated editions of Linneaus included a depiction of the Wildman that is unmistakeably like the Iceman.

Bottom line of that situation is, how can a species be called unknown now when it was known and named by Linneus? And even if it was subsequently denied by critics, isn't it still valid anyway when good evidence that the same thing is still around today resurfaces and is published by scientists of repute? The mere fact that a species is in dispute does not negate the fact that the species is known to science and listed on the books.

[1]"A new element in favor of the authenticity of Homo pongoïdes" By Olivier Décobert, France, October 2002

All the cryptozoologists know the case of the frozen corpse ('Iceman') that Bernard Heuvelmans and Ivan Sanderson had the occasion to examine in 1968, through the ice which surrounded this creature.

The disappearance of the corpse made more noise than its discovery... Jean Roche largely detailed this affair in its book Savages and hairy. Since opinions are divided, certain considerations were that it was about a hoax, others being convinced of the authenticity of this wild and hairy hominid Heuvelmans described like a Neanderthal form.

Jordi Magraner, whom the world of cryptozoology learned with consternation of his assassination in North-Pakistan in August 2002, had used the drawings of Heuvelmans like iconographic locates during its discussions with witnesses having observed the barmanou, the wild man of the Pakistani mountains, and all had recognised the Homo pongoïdes as correspondent so that they had seen.

A characteristic of Homo pongoïdes, which would have been quite difficult to invent, is the aspect of its nose, very crushed, the nostrils strongly turned forwards, as the nose of human which would have been supported against a vitre.

This very curious detail is found in the descriptions of Barmanou collected by Jordi Magraner.

Moreover, and it is what interests us here, this unique nose is found in representations of the past, like certain sculptures of the Middle Ages in France, which supposes the survival of these beings in our areas, up to one recent time (Michel Raynal gives a testimony going back to 1774 in Iraty Forest (South West France) in his article 'The wildman in the Pyrenees and the survival
of the Neanderthals').

One of these works is well known and is in the cathedral of Tugdual, in Tréguier (Brittany): it is about a woodcarving. While going up much further in the past one finds in the cave of Isturitz (always in the Basque Country) a rupestral engraving representing one hairy hominid with the fleeing face and once again, with the very crushed and gone up nose. I will thus add to these disconcerting observations these discoveries, which I made between the Basque Country and Bearn (Southwest France): in July 2001, on holiday in this area, I saw on a tourist leaflet a photograph representing the sculpture on stone of 'hairy', with a comment explaining that the original was visible in the Sainte-Engrâce church (11th century), among other carvings.

I went on the spot and discovered indeed this creature, which was represented beside a flute player. It seems that what one sees around the neck this being is a collar and it is probable that the musician is a 'showman of hairy man.'

Later, the well-known bear showers of the Pyrenees will take their succession, wild men becoming too much rare and untraceable in these mountains. It is curious besides to note that photographs of the sculptures posted in this church are accompanied by comments, which consider that the creature represented is a bear! It is clear that the idea of the wild and hairy man does not come to mind from people and that, vis-à-vis impossibility of identifying this being, one compares it to a bear, even if confusion is impossible... This lucky find was already interesting, but the aspect of the nose was not striking, although by looking at the sculpture on the side, one notes a difference compared to the nose of the flute player.

In 2002, benefiting from one week of freedom at the end of June, I left again for the Basque Country with the intention of visiting other churches to try to find new representations of 'hairy'. I was rather quickly disappointed, the majority of the buildings being too recent, and by spite, I turned over to Sainte-Engrâce, where I knew that I could again admire the sculpture, and I
benefited from it to explore the basic church .This is whereas I have a surprise of size: On one of the pillars were a series of small metal heads which had not drawn my attention at the time of my first visit. I examined them attentively and discovered animal representations. A wolf, a bird (raptor with the hooked beak), and... an hominid head with the crushed nose and the open nostrils, strongly turned forwards, a reducing face with "hair" going down to the eyes, massive jaws, not of chin, in short, the identical picture of the Homo pongoïdes! I was fascinated.

There were definitely too many coincidences not to correspond to reality... When one knows moreover than work of certain anthropologists shows that the Neanderthals, that one wanted during associating the species Sapiens too a long time, had, according to the structure of the nasal cavity, a broad nose with the open nostrils forwards, one has really evil not to accept the authenticity of the corpse observed by Heuvelmans, and thus, the obvious survival of paleanthrops in various places of the world until our time.

Copyright Olivier Décobert, France - October 2002

Bernard Heuvelmans, On the track of unknown animals (Plon, 1955)
Neandertal Man is always alive (Plon, 1974)
Jean-Jacques Barloy, Survivors of the shade (Arthaud, 1985)
Jean Roche, Savages and hairy (Exergue, 2000)
Michel Raynal, The wild man in the Pyrenees and the survival of the Neanderthals (Bipédia, vol.3, 1989)
The Neanderthal relics, of the Pyrenees in Pakistan (Bipédia, vol.10, 1993)
Jordi Magraner, Relic hominids of Central Asia (1992, Booklet diffused by association Troglodytes)

NAOMI WEST: This is really Bugging me


I honestly can't remember if I sent this to you before or not but if not, can you identify the bug with the feathery antennae? It was in my kitchen floor earlier this year and I am stumped.

The other bug was in the living room tonight. And that's a funny story: first of all, it's huge. The body itself was over two inches long. It was startling to see that something so big got in without anyone noticing. I took a ceiling duster to try to brush it down, and it took off flying. It was so loud it sounded like a small airplane. Like any proud CFZ person, I took off as well -- running and screaming in the opposite direction. We could not locate the bug after that, and finally had to give up our search to prepare for dinner guests.

Some time later I wandered into the dining room and happened to rest my hand on the back of a chair -- right on top of the bug. I am ashamed to say I went running and screaming again, but only for a second. Eventually, I trapped the bug in a cup and took it outside. Anyway, I can't identify it either but it looks familiar.


JON: The second bug is a shield bug or stink bug of some kind, but I haven't a clue what the first one is. Over to you guys....

LIZ CLANCY: Mystery footprint in Heywood

I saw this in the snow in the next street to my Mum's the other day. Any idea what made it?

OLL LEWIS: Yesterday’s News Today


On this day in 1938 the first modern Coelacanth was discovered in South Africa.
And now, the news:

Modern Behavior of Early Humans Found Half-Million Years Earlier Than Thought
Mammoths Hung on Longer? Late-Surviving Megafauna Exposed by Ancient DNA in Frozen Soil
Man dressed in animal skin shot dead during hunt
Ruff and Ready

Aww, look, he’s wearing Hush Puppies.