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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Sunday, December 27, 2009

JON JOINS THE RAG TRADE (amongst other things)

For years we had an online store at cafepress.com, but as the recession hit, sales dwindled and it soon ran out of money. It cost about four quid a month to maintain, and when the `cafecash` (monies paid for merchandise) ran out, the store was closed. It had other disadvantages as well. It would only pay out in dollars, for example, and the products were, to my mind, overly expensive.

I have been vaguely looking for a UK based substitute for some months and last night, being unable to sleep for some reason, I stayed up all night working. With my fingers firmly crossed I opened an account with Zazzle; a company of which I had heard good reports, and which seemed to offer the best (and most economic) service; and I transferred some of the artwork across.

Here it is:


What do you think? I have kept the prices as low as I can. What else would you like to see there? (Sensible answers only s'il vouz plait - the Richard Freeman knickers are unlikely to be re-issued...)

OLL LEWIS: 5 Questions on… Cryptozoology - HUNT EMERSON

Our very special guest today is Hunt Emerson. Hunt will be familiar to most of you as the resident cartoonist of Fortean Times and if you have kids you might also be familiar with his work in perhaps the world’s greatest comic, the Beano, where he has written and illustrated a number of comic strips including Ratz (his own creation), Little Plumb and several poems including works by Edward Lear and Shelley.

A selected archive of his work can be found on his website http://largecow.com/ along with a much more detailed and exciting biography than I have space for here.

So, Hunt Emerson, here are your 5 Questions on… Cryptozoology:

1) How did you first become interested in cryptozoology?

1974-ish, meeting Bob Rickard, being introduced to Fortean Times, and first becoming aware that cryptozoology existed.

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

I have a vague and hallucinatory memory, from when I was 4 years old, of seeing an enormous earthworm of an indefinite length in the front garden of my Nana Emerson's house, but that probably doesn't count.

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

I look forward to the return of the thylacine, and I would love to see those single-footed things out of Herodotus (is it?), turn out to be real.

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

Those single-footed things... they were stamped out in the Bunion Age.

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

The Voyage of Saint Brendan.


Over on her blog, Kithra (who has been offline again due to more computer unpleasantness) enters the Climate Change debate. She writes:

'Here in the UK, across many parts of Europe, including southern countries, and also in the USA, there has been an unseasonable amount of snow and ice even for the winter months. In some places the amount, along with low temperatures, have been at record levels for recent history.It strikes me that this is Nature taking her revenge for the outcome of the Copenhagen Climate Change Summit....

Read on...

DALE DRINNON: Wildmen and fossil hominids.

I had some more comparisons between wildmen and fossil hominids. This set compares a representation of an Australian Yowie with Homo erectus, and the facial comparison also includes drawings of the skulls of an ape and a modern human.

In this case it is more likely that the suspect is what is usually known as Solo man, but unfortunately there is no facial material of Solo man. For that reason I have to use Homo erectus reference as next-best. Solo hominids are also called 'tropical neanderthals' and thus 'Archaic Homo sapiens' along with the regular neanderthals. So too are Heidelburg man and Rhodesian man (point of clarification here: the use of 'man' does not necessarily mean male in this traditional terminology; it is used as a neuter reference to the species, and this is one standard usage)

There have also been fossil finds in Australia that are extremly primitive by the standards of modern humans and which do match the Solo skullcaps. Some fossils indicate that the 'Robusts' were quite large, over six feet tall, with heavy bone structure, and there are also fossil footprints, some of which are also quite large.

This in line with Heuvelmans, who followed the classification of these fossils into Homo erectus. I consider the fossils to be Homo sapiens, but of an extremely crude level.


The scientific world was rocked a few years ago by the discovery of the sub-remains of a tiny species of hominid on the Indonesian island of Flores. Dubbed Homo floresensis the tiny creatures were a little over 3 feet high but seemed to possess tool use and fire despite having a smaller brain volume than a chimpanzee. The remains, discovered in Liang Bua cave, have been linked to the legend of a race of tiny people known as Ebu-gogo.

The Nage people of central Flores say that the Ebu-gogo, whose name means ‘ancestor who eats everything’, lived in a mountain cave. They were small, hairy and foul-smelling. They stole vegetables from the Nage’s fields and killed livestock with bamboo spears, and finally the Nage decided to deal with them. Inviting the Ebu-gogo to a great feast, they plied the hominids with beer until they were drunk. Then they waited until the creatures had gone back to their cave. The Nage put hundreds of bundles of palm fibre in the creatures’ cave then blocked up the entrance. A firebrand was used to light the fire. The hominids, in their drunken sleep were suffocated. According to the story, afterwards a mass of maggots swarmed out of the cave for half a mile.

Other tribes in other areas of Flores tell exactly the same story. Even other eastern Indonesian islands have remarkably similar legends.

The Homo floresiensis from Liang Bua seemed to have been wiped out by a volcanic eruption 12,000 years ago. However, this only affected the immediate area. Other populations could well have survived. The Nage say that the killing of the Ebu-gogo in their cave happened in the early 19th Century. A local volcano is known to have erupted in the 1830s. Could this eruption have destroyed another population of Homo floresensis? Another population killed by this eruption of a different volcano? The idea of them being killed by fire in their cave might have been changed in the retelling to cast the clever Nage people as their killers to make for a better story.

The widespread nature of the legend argues for some kind of basis in fact. That populations of hominids were killed by volcanic activity on Flores is unquestionable - the idea that local legends reflect this is compelling and the Nage story dovetails nicely with a recorded eruption in Central Flores.

Could Homo floresensis still be alive today? In modern times there have been a number of sightings of the Ebu-gogo on both Flores and neighbouring islands. Some of these sightings were of whole small tribes of the creatures in remote, uninhabited islands. One sighting of three creatures was by an English academic. Add to this the fact that an American anthropologist claims to have part of the skull of a recently dead alleged Ebu-gogo (that has never been DNA tested) then the idea of this tiny hominid surviving today seems like a distinct possibility.


Hi everyone,

I found this on the Web, from the The Times-Despatch: Ricmond Virginia May 14th 1905. About a strange fish caught in Fauquier near Morrisville, Virginia.

'The shape of the body and tail somewehat resembled a German carp, although the scales are as large as a quarter and very coarse and under these scales and over the entire body is a coating of fine soft hair about one half an inch long: but the most remarkable feature of the fish is the head, the face of which is strikingly like the face of a human being to the most minute detail, save that the nose and mouth protrude further forward, and the head comes in more sharply on the sides. The teeth are set in sockets and while similar in shape they are somewhat larger than those of an adult human being. The top of its head and the sides and under portion is covered with a very heavy growth of hair almost 6 inches long. The white meat (?) of chicken is about the only food this strange fish will eat, but it is doing fairly well in captivity.It is a very ferocious fish for its size and manifests the greatest dislike for strangers.

'From this pont on the story descends into the farcical. A Professor Ernst von Simprecht arives on the scene of the University of Leipsic (?) and offers $15,000 for a female of the species. He says the male is the only one of such a fish known to ever exist. It is mentioned in the literature of ancient Greece and Japan. Lastly, the fish is recorded as being able to imitate the human voice and was trained to say "Fishy wants a worm" and "Fishy wants a piece of fried chicken".'

No, I am not making this up!

Love Richard

OLL LEWIS: Yesterday’s News Today


On this day in 1831 Charles Darwin boarded HMS Beagle and in 1968 Apollo 8 splashed down after its crew became the first men to break out of earths gravitational pull, orbit the moon, see the dark side of the moon with their own eyes and re-enter Earth’s gravitational field.

Successful artificial insemination of Kakapo gives hope to critically endangered bird
Search for wintering Slender-billed Curlews
BirdLife and Audubon's conservation work gets Royal support

Q: Why are there no painkillers in the jungle?
A: Because the ‘parrots-eat-‘em-all’.