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 26, 2009

OLL LEWIS: 5 Questions on… Cryptozoology - DEREK `TEX` GREBNER

Today’s guest is Tex Grebner, CFZ Illinois Rep. Regular readers will no doubt be familiar with Tex’s discoveries in his home state, related through the ‘Still on the Track’ and CFZ Illinois (http://cfzextra.blogspot.com/) blogs.

So, Tex Grebner, here are your 5 questions on… Cryptozoology:

1) How did you first become interested in cryptozoology?

Well, I have always been fascinated by the unexplained, and listened to plenty of campfire lies from old hunters and trappers. I was always in the woods and waters and so I kind of fell into cryptozoology.

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

In my younger days I believe I may have found panther tracks in the mud that were as big as my hand, in a set of thick woods.

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

I personally think that the large big cats and aberrant wolves that inhabit Illinois are very likely to be proven true, based on the terrain and available food. Also, due to the amount of wilderness still left, I believe it entirely possible that the sasquatch also exists.

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

I would not say that they are unlikely to exist but they are unlikely to be a corporeal, natural animal. I attempt to be secular, professionally. However, based on my belief system, I believe that some things that some consider to be cryptids are in fact supernatural. I do not say paranormal because I think that the word paranormal is a 'dumb' word. I am from a Catholic background and so supernatural fits; paranormal just sounds like, "I want to sound cool and new age!" I believe that the werewolf and other beasts are not cryptids and so by that logic they are least likely to exist as cryptids, but very likely to exist in other forms.

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

My favourite book, ironically enough based on my answer to the last question, is Hunting the American Werewolf by Linda Godfrey. I differ from Linda on the theory of the werewolf as a cryptid animal, but I find the book to be a very good reference book. I would like to say Sanderson’s ABSM, but the book always puts me to sleep.

My favourite work, even though it is fiction, is Dark Woods by Jay Kumar about a hunter who wounds a bigfoot in self-defence and then feels morally obliged to track it down.


In my room, I gleefully pull the lever hidden
Under my desk, an attempt to change history again, (oh, when will I ever succeed?)
The lever transports me to a copse, by an Irish lake
Hidden from view from humanity.

On my journey there,
In a U.F.O. in mid air
I have changed into black clothes and a red ziggurat hat
To look like Mark Mothesbaugh of Devo.

Suddenly I madly gesticulate
And `Whip It` plays out loud
Stirring the murky depths
And Cuddles emerges, to playfully sport
On the autumn waves,
Whilst several Forteans exult and record the event for posterity.

Several months later,
During the freezing cold winter of 2009-2010
The Natural History Museum, London, is hushed, - in awe of the strange skull
But listen – (noises off )
`Space junk`Space junk`!
Oh God it`s Richard singing Devo again!

DALE DRINNON: Variations in Cryptid Homind Sightings In Accordance With Recognized Biological Laws

In general, reports dealing with Sasquatches, Wildmen and other types of what Ivan Sanderson called ABSMs follow along the lines of two well-known biological laws: Bergman's law and Gloger's law. To put this as simply as possible, this means that the reports from more northerly climes are creatures that are larger in size but lighter in color, while the ones in tropical cimes are smaller and darker in colouration. Using the definitions from Wikipedia:

'In zoology, Bergmann's rule is an ecogeographic rule that correlates latitude with body mass in animals. Broadly it asserts that within a species the body mass increases with latitude and colder climate, or that within closely related species that differ only in relation to size that one would expect the larger species to be found at the higher latitude. The rule is named after a nineteenth-century German biologist, Christian Bergmann, who first formulated the rule in 1847. The rule is often applied only to mammals and birds (endotherms), but some researchers have also found evidence for the rule in studies of ectothermic species. Bergmann's rule is controversial amongst researchers and its validity has been called into question, and there is division amongst scientists about whether the rule should be interpreted to be within species variation or among species variation.'


Gloger's Rule is a zoological rule that states that within a species of endotherms, more heavily pigmented forms tend to be found in more humid environments, e.g. near the equator. It was named after the zoologist Constantin Wilhelm Lambert Gloger, who first remarked upon this phenomenon in 1833 in a review of covariation of climate and avian plumage colour. (Stresemann notes that the idea was already expressed by Pallas in Zoographia Rosso-Asiatica (1811)). Gloger found that birds in more humid habitats tended to be darker than their relatives from regions with higher aridity. Over 90% of the species researched conform to this rule.


Earlier publications have noted the pattern for Sasquatches in the Western part of North America follow both rules, with generally the reported sizes decreasing from North-to-South from Southern Alaska to California, with the average recorded track sizes in direct correlation to this, while the trend in colouration is harder to tell right off, but the California reports are markedly darker (more often black by percentage) in compared to Sasquatches reported in British Columbia (including more 'Blondes and Redheads' as the Native Americans put it)

Back when Ivan Sanderson was still alive I sent in a message to him saying that I thought the categories of Protopygmy and Sub-human as presented in his book Abominable Snowmen might merely be a size difference in the same general category. He did not reply directly, but I was sent a back issue of Pursuit, which included a review of Odette Tcherne's book, then newly released, and the review contained the map of 'ABSM' traditions world-wide with some interesting additional notes. Among these was the note that stated that the sub-humans reported in Malaysia might well be the same species as the Orang Pendek with a size difference. [This would be the small-homind, longhaired Orang Pendek that leaves small Neanderthal-like tracks] More recently and furthering the same notion, I made up these maps of various presumed categories of cryptid-hominids and added them to the Frontiers of Zoology group together with these captions:

Erectus Hominids, Protopygmys

Marked Hominids, Neandertaloids

Map 1: Coleman-Hughye Field Guide Maps, Little Modified. The main maps show an obvious latitudinal cline in types
Map 2: Coleman-Hughye Field Guide Maps Little Modified,Added Tropical categories in Africa And South America not in Field Guide. Little People are ubiquitous and their omission in areas like Siberia is suspicious.

- And the last comment was because the reports from North America and (traditionally) Europe seem to be that the smaller ones were the young of the bigger ones (which was Ivan Sanderson's suggestion) - otherwise by Bergman's law, the Protopygmys tend to the Tropics, in the same zone where we find human Pygmys.
I had a couple of comparative size charts that I had made up for a series of articles submitted to Pursuit but ultimately unpublished by the time of that magazine's demise. I attach them here. In figuring the enlargement or shrinking of human beings, it should be remembered that the proportions are not exactly constant. Bigger humans have proportionately smaller and more rugged skulls while smaller humans have proportionately larger and more rounded skulls. That too tends to go along with the reported cryptid-hominds.

In the case of other presumed differences, the Marked Hominid is marked by the specific trait of having lighter-coloured hair, in patches and all over. That the colour of the hair on the head and body of the Central-Asian Almas could be reported as mismatched was one of the observations made by Porshnev. The fact that larger and more rugged types seem to have more 'primitive' skulls may be discounted as an effect of allometry. That certain reports are 'too primitive to be Neandertals' is not a valid deciding feature. The reports are 'too primitive' to be erectus also by the same token. In any event the features do not have to be as primitive as the rumours have it simply because they are rumours and not scientific observations. I find that the fact that the primitive and animalistic features of the reports matching the earlier misconceptions about the Neanderthals is a continuance of the same tradition and may not reflect an actual reality, but does go to confirm that the current rumours are talking about the same thing as the earlier (mistaken) descriptions of Neanderthal men were talking about.

Wildmen and others


THE KETTERING ENTOMOLOGICAL FAIR: I regret to inform members that the Kettering Fair has expired. It's an ex-fair. Apparently, a new floor is being laid in the venue and they no longer want feet-shuffling entomologists messing up the new floor. I am told that the Kettering Fair will now be merged with the Newark Fair and this will now be held in April 2010 and renamed as the Newark & Kettering Entomological Fair. Further information and dates to be announced.

Any of you who recently attended the Newark Fair on Dec 6th may already be aware of the details. For those of you not already familiar with the Newark venue, it's at the Grove Leisure Centre, Balderton, near Newark, Notts, just off the edge of the A1; so it's a nice central venue as far as the UK is concerned, and the venue is fairly big with rooms for expansion, so I hope the transfer from Kettering to Newark will still continue to attract many visitors. I will publish more details as soon as I have them. [Ed]

This is just another example of the marginalisation of Natural History as a hobby in the UK, and is one of the things that we as activists should be fighting against.


The Withered Men

Captain Jonathan Downes, the fiercest pirate on the Spanish Main (and several other mains besides), stood at the prow of his ship, his cutlass thrust into his cummerbund and a look of ferocity on his grim features. It had been a hard winter and poor Graham had been left behind, for he had been shot in the Tortugas. But now the summer beckoned, the skull and crossbones was unfurled, Richard the Free Man (so called because he was an escaped slave from a tapioca plantation in Jamaica) was playing a hornpipe on his instrument and Dafty Naish, a one-time village idiot from Devon, was looking for his hammock, which someone had stolen.

Northwards they fared into the still blue ocean, a fearsome crew of sea-wolves. They then discerned a merchantman ahead and Slasher Olly said “There’s a merchantman ahead,” because he was quick that way.

“It will be great prize,” intoned Captain Downes, “for it doubtless carries a rich cargo of silks and fabrics, of spices and rare condiments, of jewels and perfumes of Araby, of elastic stockings and surgical boots and goodness knows what else.”

They quickly boarded the ship and would have made the crew walk the plank, except they had left the plank at home, so they cast them overboard. The sharks feasted well that day. Then, bursting into a cabin, they beheld a Beauteous Woman.

When Captain Downes beheld her, his jaw dropped and great drooling slobbers emerged from his mouth. Never had he seen such a creature. The rest of the crew were similarly impressed. But the Woman looked at them with scorn, so that even Dafty Naish blenched. Never a word spoke she.

Then Richard spoke slowly, “It were bad luck to have a woman aboard ship,” he intoned. “Fling her to the sharks.”

But Young Ross, the cabin boy, cried, “You shall not do so cruel a thing! Fie upon you for a caitiff!” and Richard replied, “What the deuce is a caitiff?”

They sailed on for several days, but never a word did the Woman utter. And then a storm struck. Great billows raised themselves above the ship, crashing down on the deck. Neptune with his watery trident struck the sides of the vessel again and again, until its stout boards creaked and groaned, like one in an agony of pain. Everyone huddled below decks and the chamber-pots were overturned, much to the common woe. Nor sun nor moon could they discern in the grizzled sky.

After several days the skies cleared, the heavenly torrents ceased descending, Dafty Naish discovered that his lost hammock was the thing he had thrown up on and the crew returned to the deck. They found before them a calm sea and ahead a green island.

“We must land and get fresh water,” pronounced Captain Downes.

When they landed they entered a green forest, but ere long they saw ahead of them a crumbling building, a castle ruinous. Slowly they entered its hall and saw there were tunnels leading out towards the rear.

“Look!” cried Hairy Redfern, “there are tunnels leading out to the rear.”

He was quick about such things.

It was then they heard the footsteps. Not the heavy tread of weighty souls, but an almost pattering sound, yet slower than pattering normally goes, and out of each tunnel emerged a man, each withered almost beyond all similarity to humanity with age, with folds of skin hanging from their faces, noses which seemed bereft of cartilage but oozing mucous, long yellow teeth protruding from diseased gums and infected skin crawling with fungus. When they exhaled, great swirls of foetid breath encircled the pirates, making them all first gag and then feel faint.
Each wore a loincloth only and from it dripped droplets of brownish urine that splashed on their bony knees.

“Flee!” cried Captain Downes, only to discover everybody else had already fled, so he turned around and followed suit. The pirates tore through undergrowth, bush and bramble and at last made it to the ship and were about to put off when Captain Downes cried, “Where is the woman?”

And then they saw her. A finger of land reached out into the sea and she was fleeing along it, with the Three Withered Men in pursuit; and for the first time she spoke, crying:

Turn the ship about again,
Save me, save me from the Withered Men.

But before they could respond to her piteous plea, a great fog descended on them, thick as porridge, and, when it cleared, to their astonishment, there was no sign of the island or of the Woman or of the Withered Men. Nor had the island sunk, for there was no turbulence in the ocean to mark its grave, but a flat and calm sea spread in all directions.

Then Dafty Naish said, “Well, I’ve had enough of this. I’m going to be a zoologist.”



Max is looking for a 'lost' photograph of an African cryptid. Can you help?

OLL LEWIS: Yesterday’s News Today


On this day in 1991 the Supreme Soviet of the Soviet Union met to formally disband the U.S.S.R. (it’s not Fortean but is a quite interesting anniversary, nonetheless).
And now the news, just to prove things other than the Queen’s Christmas speech happened yesterday:

Leucistic Cardinal in Texas
Record number of manatee deaths in Florida in 2009...
Police 'handcuff' bull

Bull? ‘Shopping area’? China? Oh please say it went into the shops themselves….