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...

Search This Blog



Click on this logo to find out more about helping CFZtv and getting some smashing rewards...


Sunday, January 31, 2010

NEIL ARNOLD: Spring-Heeled Jack – Bear or big cat !?

When Spring-Heeled Jack fever hit the foggy streets of London in 1838, The Times reported that on the 14th April the same year, another Spring-Heeled Jack was on the rampage, but in Sussex. Peculiarly, in this instance ‘he’ was described as a bear. Strangely, in several discussions held at Mansion House in the capital, the spring-heeled marauder, was said to have many guises, and was described as a ‘ghost’, ‘bear’ and a ‘devil’.

The Times wrote: ‘Spring-Heeled Jack has, it seems, found his way to the Sussex coast. On Friday evening, between nine and ten o’clock, he appeared, as we are informed, to a gardener near Rose Hill, “..in the shape of a bear or some other fur-footed animal”, and having first attracted attention by a growl, then mounted the garden wall, and ran along it upon all fours, to the great terror and consternation of the gardener, who began to think it time to escape.
He was accordingly about to leave the garden, when Spring-Heeled Jack leapt from the wall, and chased him for some time; the dog was called, but slunk away, apparently as much terrified as his master. Having amused himself for some time with the trembling gardener, Spring-Heeled Jack scaled the wall and made his exit. The fellow may probably amuse himself in this way one to often.’


Some months ago Alan Friswell, the bloke who made the CFZ Feegee Mermaid and also the guy responsible for some of the most elegantly macabre bloggo postings, wrote me an email. He had an idea for a new series for the bloggo. Quite simply, he has an enormous collection of macabre, fortean, odd and disturbing magazine and newspaper articles, and he proposed to post them up on the bloggo.


To be honest, there's not a whole lot that I can say about this one, except: "Lucky *********."

DALE DRINNON: Meeting Old Nic

Some years ago I came across a photo of a bull shark that had been caught in Lake Nicaragua and used as a plate in the book A Natural History of Sharks. The shark had teeth marks on its tail and the more I looked at the photo, the more I realized that the pattern of the teeth in the bite mark were unusual. They were set wrongly to be either a caiman or a crocodile on the one hand, or another shark on the other. I went back to get a copy of the photo later but later editions cropped off the unsightly bite mark from the photo. A native is holding up th shark in the photo which gives an exact scale.

The bull shark is known to be a man-eater, and in this case some unknown animal was chasing it and nipping at its tail while it ran away. It seems that the creature, whatever it was, did not get a good enough grip on the shark's tail so the shark got away, only to be caught later by the fisherman.

I did find reference for a porosus croc fighting with a bull shark but this is the wrong hemisphere for those crocs and the toothrow is different, being wider and more divergent in the back and with a peculiar notch in the front, and some of the marks seem to indicate a double toothrow.

Now alligator gars have been found occasionally in the Gulf of Mexico and in Lake Nicaragua, according to the Wikipedia entry, and it seems that although they are usually freshwater fishes they can also tolerate brackish or salt waters. The alligator gar is the second-largest fish known to live in North America, and ten-foot-long specimens are on record, while rumor has it that they can reach 18 or 20 feet long. They have vicious mouths with a double row of sharp teeth and at times they can be damn near unkillable (they are ganoid fishes and their scales are much tougher than ordinary fish scales, and it is said that sometimes bullets and axheads aimed at them only glance away making sparks)

And so I propose that Old Nic, the monster of Lake Nicaragua, is a large and surly type of alligator gar instead of being a plesiosaur or anything else. The encounter inspired me to make the mockup of the incident which I include above.


A new publication coordinated by the Global Invasive Species Programe has found that New Zealand is the country most under threat from invasive foreign species with no less than 222. The least effected country was Equatorial Guinea with 9. They looked at 57 countries and found that, on average, there are 50 non-indigenous species per country which have a negative impact on biodiversity. 542 species were documented as invasive. But Professor Melodie McGeoch, lead author on the publication and member of the Centre for Invasion Biology this there are actually far more.

"We showed that regions with low development status and little investment in research have lower than expected numbers of invasive aliens." She said. The rise in international trade has helped species to colonize countries that they could never have reached naturally.

The pathogenic chytrid fungus, which was unknown until 1998, is thought to be the cause of the decline and extinction of many amphibian populations around the globe. The disease, caused by the fungus, can be spread by humans and a host of other species, ranging from exotic fish to African Clawed Frogs.

The yellowhead, a bird endemic to New Zealand, has suffered considerably in recent years due to a surge in the number of rats. Two populations of the Yellowhead are now extinct and three more are significantly falling in number.

But the impact of invasive alien species can be successfully controlled. The black-vented Shearwater, a seabird native to Natividad Island off the Pacific coast of Mexico, was under threat from cats, goats and sheep. But since they've been eradicated, the status of the bird has been reduced from Vulnerable to Near Threatened on the IUCN Red List. Similarly, the control of the Red Fox in south-western Australia in the last decade allowed the population of the endemic Western Brush Wallaby to recover sufficiently for it to be downlisted on the IUCN Red List to Least Concern.

LINDSAY SELBY: Canvey Island beasts

In November 1954, The Canvey Island Monster was the name given to creature whose carcass washed up Canvey Island, Essex ,UK A second, more intact, carcass was found in 1955. It recalls the Montauk monster in modern times.

(seen here for more info: http://www.montauk-monster.com/)

The 1954 creature was described as being 2.feet 3 inches (68 cms) long with reddish brown skin and bulging eyes and gills. It appeared to have hind legs with five-toed horseshoe-shaped feet but no forelimbs. Its remains were cremated after an inspection by zoologists who said that it posed no danger to the public. Nearly 3 months later Reverend Joseph Overs found another carcass of the creatures about 2 miles from the first creature's discovery This creature was larger and the carcass in better condition. Described as about 4 feet ( 120cms) long and an estimated weight of 25 pounds. It had the same large eyes, nostrils, sharp teeth, and gills with the same legs and feet as the first creature.

In 1999 journalist Nicholas Warren looked into the 1954-55 findings. He was unable to locate any official records at the Plymouth Marine Biology Association Laboratory or the National Rivers Authority about the creature being identified or listed as unknown. . He found that there were accounts from some locals who believed the creature was an anglerfish. Later he received a letter from Alwyne Wheeler, formerly an ichthyologist at the Department of Zoology at the Natural History Museum, informing him that in his opinion the specimens were anglerfish, and that their fleshy pectoral fins are often mistaken by lay observers for short legs with feet. There was a 68lb specimen caught on the shore of Canvey Island in 1967 .However, others have speculated that the creature may have been an Ogcocephalidae or Batfish .This species of fish already possess leg-like fins and also have reddish coloured skin.

If this was a mis-identification then what does that say about the modern day Montauk monster?


Hi Jon,

I just finished the book [In the Wake of Bernard Heuvelmans by Michael Woodley] and it's a gem. It was the first crypto book that I've read in a very long time that taught me a lot about biology and zoology.

Thank goodness for the CFZ Press; I can't imagine anyone else would've published it.

Now to look at the catalogue in the back...



With its 8 foot wingspan the sea eagle (Haliaeetus albicilla) is one of Eurasia’s most spectacular birds. It was once resonably common in the UK numbering over 400 individuals in the 1700s. But, as with most big, spectacular animals it proved to be an inconvinience to humans and was hence wiped out in the UK by 1916.

In 1975 they were re-introduced into western Scotland, by Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH), in association with the RSPB. Despite deliberate persecution they have thrived, rearing 42 chicks in 2007. They have been a boon for the tourist industry in places such as Mull. They have now been re-introduced into Eastern Scotland as well

Plans are afoot to continue the project in Suffolk thanks to Natural England and the RSPB. As with every possible re-introduction just about every animal hating, ill-informed, non-scientist windbag has come out of the woodwork with pathetic bleatings against the wonderful project.

Chief amoung these kneejerk naysayers is Suffolk broadcaster Libby Purves. In an on line article so pompous it could have only been written for The Times Purves lets fly with a stream of vitriol.

“They want to spend more than £600,000 to introduce the birds to Suffolk (Norfolk saw off the scheme a year ago). They claim “vast” popular support — though you could doubt the validity of a sample of 500 people asked some saccharine question about whether they fancy seeing one. Enthusiasts insist that it is a “reintroduction”, on the ground that sea eagles once lived here.

Mark Avery, of the RSPB, says with that familiar tone of scorn for his own species: “Man is the reason they are missing, and it is for us to put that right.” Nobody has actually proved that Suffolk is their ancestral homeland — there are some uncertain 18th-century bones — and Andy Evans, of the RSPB, indeed, was last quoted saying feebly that “sea eagles must have been here in Roman times”.

Well the fact is Ms Purves, that man is the reason why many species are missing from the UK. The brown bear, the wolf, the wolverine, the lynx and Europen bison and the moose to name but a few. Five extirpated creatures the eagle owl, the capercaillie, the large blue, the beaver and the wild boar are back and I think we should al welcome the sea eagle as the next on the list to return. We destroyed these creatures in Britain and it falls to us to bring them back. Personally I would wecome all of the above in wild places like the Highlands of Scotland. Of cours bears and wolves could not be brought back to Suffolk but the sea eagle could.


We posted these the other day, and Paddy was correct in his assumption, but so was Dale D who wrote to me yesterday:

Unfortunately there is no way in the world I can get a photo to you at this time.

Our garbage can is on the landing at the end of the steps out the back door, and the squirrels (plus the raccoon) have basically turned the lid into a hoop by tearing out the top with their raids on it. This morning I saw that a squirrel had made four leaps from the garbage can to the neighbor's fence, leaving tracks in the snow. The house next door is situated such that the shadow of the house falls halfway along the space between the garbage can and the fence.

I just went and looked and the two near jumps in the sunlight have partially melted into the shape of
Devil's hoofprints while the two jumps in the shadow are plainly squirrel tracks, in shape much like the hare tracks posted on the CFZ blog recently, but smaller.

So there is a clear demonstration of how the squirrel tracks can assume that outline, along with definitive proof of the identity of the track-maker.

Well done guys.

LINDSAY SELBY: Thoughts on the Madidi Monster

In 1883, William A. E. Axon, made some amazing claims:

“Sir,—The ‘Anglo-Brazilian Times,’ March 24th, 1883, says that the Brazilian Minister at La Paz, Bolivia, has remitted to the Minister of Foreign Affairs in Rio photographs of drawings of an extraordinary Saurian killed on the Beni after receiving thirty-six balls. By order of the President of Bolivia the dried body, which had been preserved at Asuncion, was sent to La Paz. It is 12 metres long(39 feet) from snout to point of the tail, which latter is flattened. Besides the anterior head, it has, 4 metres(13 feet) behind, two small but completely formed heads rising from the back. All three have much resemblance to the head of a dog. The legs are short, and end in formidable claws. The legs, belly, and lower part of the throat appear defended by a kind of scale armour, and all the back is protected by a still thicker and double cuirass, starting from behind the ears of the anterior head, and continuing to the tail. The neck is long, and the belly large and almost dragging on the ground. Professor Gilveti, who examined the beast, thinks it is not a monster, but a member of a rare or almost lost species, as the Indians in some parts of Bolivia use small earthen vases of identical shape, and probably copied from Nature.”

( "A Bolivian Saurian," Scientific American, 49:3, 1883.)

The corpse of the so called Madidi Monster was allegedly moved to La Paz at the President’s request and subsequently disappeared.

Now this was regarded as a hoax especially in view of the “photographs of drawings” (made me think of the Goon Show “here is a photograph of a cheque” lol) . If they had photographs why weren’t they of the original corpse not of the drawings? Then I came across this fossil find:

Scientists have found what is thought to be the first example of a two-headed reptile in the fossil record. The abnormal animal, belonging to a group of aquatic reptiles, was unearthed in north-eastern China and dates to the time of the dinosaurs. The specimen reveals that it must have been very young when it died and became fossilised, says lead researcher Eric Buffetaut. "Living animals like this are known. But if you compare the number of reptiles born with two heads with the total number of reptiles born, it is very small. "So the chances of finding a fossil like this are extremely low." The abnormality is known to occur with some frequency in modern reptiles; about 400 cases of two-headed snakes have been recorded in historic times.

Full article here: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/6195345.stm

IT could be that the monster was a deformed crocodile or reptile of some sort that had survived for a few years until adulthood. It certainly makes more sense than a hydra dinosaur. As it is a rare event for an animal to be born like this , it is unlikely that local people had seen anything like it before .

The story of the Madidi Monster is here:



Chorley Guardian were contacted by Kirst D’Raven regarding the mutilation of a deer in the Chorley area and subsequent reports of alleged Crypto activity in area, including the alleged sightings and photograph of a ‘beast’, said to be attacking animals.

First contact to Karl Holbrook, reporter, who explained he didn’t really have any more information on the attacks, but would email previously unpublished photograph of the mutilated deer for an opinion on what may have caused the injuries.

The picture was quickly emailed to me. Unfortunately, due to poor quality of the picture it is impossible to determine a cause for the injuries to the animal, but it is noted that there is a distinct lack of blood at the scene, suggesting that the animal may have been moved, or that the mutilation could very possibly have occurred post mortem. The picture was taken from a dorsal aspect depicting what appears to be a young Roe deer – this assumption made on the basis that the animal’s legs and ears appear to be too large for it. There is no exif information with the picture, which prevents confirmation of the photographer’s identity unless the original file can be obtained.

The animal appears to have been partially dismembered and then reassembled for the photograph. The hide appears to be missing from below the cervical area, through the thoracic and lumber regions terminating slightly before the animal’s quarters. The Ribcage and spinal cord, which has been severed, has been positioned folded back along the carcass. Internal organs are not visible, suggesting that some of the larger organs including the stomach and intestines may be missing, although the lungs appear to be in situ. A lack of exposed body fat and muscular tissue suggests that the animal has been stripped, and staining on the throat of the animal may indicate that the animal has been bled.

At this point, it is impossible to determine what animal, if any, caused the injuries, and human causes cannot be ruled out.

Picture of ‘Beast’ (article-1244693-07EF8864000005DC-402_634x423)
Again, due to very poor picture quality it is impossible to draw any significant conclusion as to what species appears in the picture. The accompanying article describes eye witness reports of something that resembles a boar, a wolf and a spotted hyena that moves like a cat. The picture shows an animal figure against a rural background. Again, no exif file prevents confirmation of dates, camera, modification etc. The back legs of the animal are definitely canine, which rules out cat or boar, but lack of detail prevents further speculation.

Further telephone conversation made to Karl regarding findings so far and to arrange meeting for Monday 24th January, at the Bobbin Mill public house in Buckshaw at 12pm.

Further Findings:

Research by Steve Mera uncovered the following information relevant to this case:

  • Article on Unexplained.net, speculating on the species of animal, and including an interview with Chris Bailey (an expert from Chipping Wild Boar Park). Although Mr. Bailey dismisses the wild boar theory, the presence of the park in the local area may explain why the animal’s description is cropping up in reports. This site also includes an artists rendering of the ‘Beast’.

  • Manchester Evening News, (19/9/08) Article featuring the sighting and photos of a rare black fox in locality.

  • Lancashire Telegraph (12/11/08) Article describing the discovery of several domestic animals, found tortured and burnt and dumped in Buckshaw village.

  • The Citizen (20/01/10) article regarding dog attacks on sheep in local area.

  • Hull and East Riding.Co.Uk (22/09/08) article regarding illegal deer hunting in locality, including report on the discovery of a deer left hung in tree for bleeding.

Several other links to forums, national, local and international news sites featuring the ‘Beast of Buckshaw’ story, a list of links appears below:










After further research into its origins, the ‘Beast’ photograph (article-1244693-07EF8864000005DC-402_634x423) was claimed to have been taken by John Russell in the last few days. However, a Google search revealed that the ‘Beast of Buckshaw’ in this photographic incarnation actually started out its existence as the ‘Beast of Dartmoor’ in the Fortean Times magazine in July 2007. This picture, along with a few others were submitted to the magazine and was seen by Martin Whitley, a professional falconer from Devon On 9 June, he contacted the national research network Big Cats In Britain regarding the sighting. I have contacted Mark Fraser to locate the original file. However, the press was contacted by the owner of a Newfoundland dog called as she was sure that the 'Beast of Dartmoor' pictures actually show Troy going for a stroll. The family live very close to the spot where the photos were taken and the dog often walked around there of its own accord.

Further research into origins of the deer photo revealed its earliest source on a facebook group, where it was posted on the 16/01/10 by John Russell with the message :

‘I only took this photo a few days ago when we had the snow. I’m afraid the beast is still at large.

I spoke to PC Clemence before Christmas, and the jumped up little ***** claimed the police had shot and killed the beast in early December, well I'm afraid to say. The beast is out there. If anyone knows anyone at the guardian, I think it’s time to get the press involved before this thing gets the taste for human blood’

The Facebook Group:

The Buckshaw Village Facebook group has been a source of very interesting information. The first mention of the Beast is dated 24/10/09, with a report of it been seen rifling through litter bins. This is quickly followed by more speculation, with the Dartmoor Beast photo posted on 24/10/09, again by John Russell who declared

‘this is crazy, i took a photo of something a few days ago, I cant work out what it is, i saw it in a field by dawson lane.’

When the above was challenged by another group member Steven Tyson, (who posted a link to the Fortean Times article, he counters..

‘Stephen Tyson, obviously works for the government and is trying to make out my photo to be fake, anyone can knock up a html document and post it. We all know why there is a government cover up going on. The military chemicals buried under buckshaw village are obviously what's causing genetically warped beasts to roam our village. I challenge Stephen Tyson to spend one night in the countryside around buckshaw and then tell us there is no beast.’




Pre Conclusion:

At this point, the main priority seems to be to defuse the mass hysteria which is being propagated by certain individuals on forums etc.

Later posts on the facebook group reports groups of people drinking in the local pub, then going ‘Monster hunting’ while under the influence of alcohol, and bearing firearms. Therefore I intend to inform the local police of my findings in the hope that this aspect may be monitored and brought under control immediately.

The recent reports of sheep attacks may possibly be related, so contact with the farmer to obtain details of the animals’ injuries may also be of benefit. A scan of the area’s waterways and the locations of sightings and incidents will be carried out during our visit, as will possible liaison with locals.

At this point, due to the lack of reliable witnesses there is little more we can do to proceed with this case other than to monitor the situation.

MAX BLAKE: Taxonomy Fail is back

Oh, happy day. Young Maximilian has found some more examples of the lamentable lack of knowledge that the great unwashed have of the natural world. Now we can sneer at them some more....

OLL LEWIS: Yesterday’s News Today


On this day in 1961 NASA sent a chimpanzee named Ham into space to see the effects of spaceflight on the ability to perform basic tasks. Ham had been trained to pull a leaver whenever a blue light came on and after splashdown it was found out that space travel and weightlessness had only had a negligible effect on his reaction times. The chimp survived the flight and lived until 1983.

And now, the news:

World's ugliest dog
Will 'Bownessie' be found in Windermere?
Seals killed and beheaded in Northeast England

Sounds like the work of a ‘seal’-rial killer to me.

Friday, January 29, 2010


Ever since I first read about these fantastic animals in The Hong Kong Countryside by G. A. C. Herklots, which as anyone who follows my inky-fingered scribblings or indeed my video equivelants, will know has been one of the most important books in my life, I have wanted to see one. They turn up in the UK on occasion and one day I shall see and maybe even keep some.

What are they? Oh, didn't I say? As far as I know they are the world's only species of freshwater jellyfish.


Today I return to yet another sea serpent washed ashore in the United States. These are beginning to occur in my research with some frequency, now, even though I have only been researching for a few weeks. Perhaps the beached remains of unidentified sea-serpent-like remains are not as rare as once thought. It even seems that they are caught now and then. Suppose it becomes possible one day to survey and translate the world`s newspapers; how many captured sea serpents might turn up? Quite a few, I expect.

The story is from a Kentucky newspaper, `The Paducah Sun` of July 12th 1899 and runs as follows:

'A sea monster has been captured at Patchogue, L. I. (? Long Island,possibly?) The telegram which brings the information says that its weight is nearly half a ton. It is ten feet long, eight feet wide and three feet thick. It has a head and neck as large as a common barrel and feet and legs like the claws of a dragon. The strange creature, which is still alive and very ugly in disposition, snapping at everything that approaches, and hissing like a steam engine, was caught in a fisherman`s net four miles from shore.' (1)

Sounds a bit like a crocodile; but hissing?

Now the Iymandau:

'STRANGE IYMANDAU GRACES CONEY ISLAND. Caught in Africa`s Wild, Joseph`s Coat Is Mild To His Colouring. So rare that several dictionaries do not mention it, an iymandau, so called by the press agent, appeared for the first time in a cage at Bostock`s in…Coney Island…This particular iymandau was recently captured in Central Africa…The iymandau has a head like a rat and is strikingly coloured. It has a bright yellow stripe that runs from the back of the head, becoming narrower until it comes to a point at the root of the tail. A black “jacket” runs from the ears down around the body and back to the hind legs. Its tail is about two feet long and its body, from tip of nose to root of tail, is about the same length' (2)

The article concludes by describing how it strangles its victims to death. Lovely!!

I did a Google search for Iymandau and looked it up in On The Track of Unknown Animals by Heuvelmans but could find no reference to the Iymandau there either.

1. The Paducah Sun. July 12th 1899
2. The Washington Times July 21st 1908


In a previous post I discussed a scale and bones found in a lake associated with monster sightings in Wisconcin. But there are other monster-haunted lakes where strange bones have been found.

In 1881 a vast, elongate skeleton was unearthed by Mr H. H. Burge near Lake Champlain on the US/Canadian borders of Vermont, New York State and Quebec.

The actual monster, later known as ‘Champ’, was first reported by a white settler two years later in 1883. Sheriff Nathan H. Mooney claimed that he had seen a “…gigantic water serpent about 50 yards away". Local Indian tribes were familiar with something odd in the lake. The Abenaki had always known of it and called the creature 'Tatoskok.' The Iroquois called the beast 'Petoubouque.' There have been 300 recorded sightings of the creature to date, not counting ancient Indian accounts.

The Middlebury Register of May 27th 1881 wrote…

'The proprietors of the Champlain Granite Works, located near Barn Rock on Lake Champlain claim to have uncovered a petrified sea serpent of mammoth proportions, being about 8 inches in diameter and nearly fifty feet long. The surface of the stone bears evidence of the outer skin of a large serpent while the inner surface shows the entrails. The proprietors are intending soon to begin excavations along the place where it lies embedded in the dirt and granite, to ascertain its size.'

More details were printed the following year in the June 8th edition of Elizabeth Town Post & Gazette.

'The report of finding a monster in the limestone deposit of the “North Shore” I heard many times and considered it a story originating with someone anxious to be the author of a sensation.
Last summer, a party, part of whom were scientific gentlemen by education and profession called at the cottage and almost demanded admission to the apartments of the monster. The Superintendent was busy at the time superintending his many labourers engaged in the quarry, and told the gentlemen he could not leave his business and go down to the house, and furthermore, he was not prepared to exhibit what he had found, as there was so little of it, but at sometime in the future he would be glad to show to all his serpent. I had heard the above from one of the party, and made my mind up to say nothing of the serpent when I went there. Just about to bid the good folks good-day, the Superintendent said: "I am not in show buisness, as many have thought, neither am I showing snakes, but I have something to show you.”

'On the carpet in an upper room lay six or seven feet in length, pieces of an enormous petrified snake. Some portions were six inches long and some fifteen or more. The pieces were placed together and fitted so nicely that was no room for doubt of their having been broken apart. The largest end was eight or nine inches in diameter, and only three or four feet from the terminal of the entrails, and two or three feet beyond. The entrails were petrified, but much darker and quite open or pourous and containing many bright and glistening crystals. The vertebra was visible at each broken end, and the flesh part showed traces of what had at one time been veins.

'The skin was readily distinguished from the flesh as would have been had the monster been cut in two whilst living. After an examination of each piece, and comparing the gradual enlargement of the cavity, thickness of flesh and skin on the belly, and the gradual thickening towards the back, left no room in my mind to entertain the thought that it was an accident or freak of nature with molten rock. During this hour of examination at the south side of the window with bright sunlight, the Superintendent had sat quietly and had said nothing but answer a very few questions. I said I did not want to be inquisitive, but would like to know in what kind of rock he was found and his general position. He said he was not in the rock but was merely attached to the limestone, and his position was as if he had placed himself for rest or sleep, and he had traced his body by actual measurement over sixty feet, and his weight to several tons when all removed. The portions the Superintendent has removed he has secured alone, but will be obliged to have help in getting the remainder or leave the monster to rest in his slumber of death. When the proper time comes the scientific men of different localities will be called upon to make an examination and publish to the world their verdict.”'

The remains are next mentioned in The Burlington Free Press of November 4th 1886 and apparently were on show at a bank-sponsored exhibition held in Vergennes, Vermont. It is recorded on page 39 of the exhibition’s catalogue. It was subsequently purchased by the famous showman P. T. Barnum (1810-1891) for his museum. From then on the specimen seems to have vanished. Searches of Barnum’s records have so far been fruitless. Barnum's collections were twice ravaged by fire but both of these incidents were before he bought the remains.

What was the skeleton; some kind of fossil? The strata around Lake Champlain is too young for dinosaurs or their contemporary marine reptiles. Archaeocetes are also much too old for the strata. The only fossil whales that have been uncovered in the area are modern species such as the beluga (Delphinapterus leucas).

The presence of skin and soft organs is unusual. These are only preserved under exceptional circumstances. This raises the possibility that it was a sub-fossil or in other words fairly recent in origin.

Now, if only we could find it!


As you know, Oll has been working on the archiving project since early February 2009, and he is now working on the BHM section. This 22nd trench is a real mixed bag with bigfoot, yowie and yeti cuttings from 1971 to 1994. Good stuff.



Today’s guest is Alan Friswell. Regular readers of the blog will of course be familiar with Alan and the many strange things he drags up from the vaults, but Alan is also a hugely talented model-maker. Those of you who were at the last Weird Weekend or Fortean Times Unconvention probably noticed a ‘feegee mermaid’ lurking in the vicinity; Alan made that! (Also, if you search through the YNT archives or my photos on Facebook you’ll be able to see a 3D photo of it too).

Alan Friswell, here are your five questions on… Cryptozoology:

1) How did you first become interested in cryptozoology?

When I was four years old I saw the original 1933 King Kong on TV one Christmas - Boxing Day, to be specific - and it basically changed my life. From that first viewing I developed three fascinations (or more likely obsessions): an intense interest in monsters in general, dinosaurs in particular; and special effects. As I tried to emulate the work of Willis O’Brien (who created the animation for Kong) and later Ray Harryhausen, my fascination for monsters led me to books that described supposedly ‘real’ mystery creatures such as the Loch Ness Monster and the Abominable Snowman (as he used to be called), and the idea that fabulous beasts might actually exist in forgotten jungles and inaccessible mountain ranges became a source of great interest to me, and I have studied the subject ever since.

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

No, unfortunately I’ve never personally witnessed a mystery animal although I’ve seen highly convincing UFOs on four occasions. I did see a huge pike eat a large duck in a fishing lake close to where I live, back in 1995. The pike had to be about five feet long, but I’m not too sure that counts. My brother-in-law Alfie saw a sea serpent in the Red Sea many years ago, and the encounter is described in a blog on the CFZ site.

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

Probably animals that live in the oceans, for obvious reasons. To be honest, I don’t realistically see why most of the well-known cryptids can’t exist. Big cats are almost certainly living in Britain, although whether they are ‘real’, or zooform entities, is a matter for debate. I’m certain that there is ‘something’ in Loch Ness, but once again, exactly what it is, is the question. Bigfoot is probably real but might be a zooform creature rather than a Gigantopithicus trying to get his green card. Thanks to Richard Freeman and the Sumatra expedition, the Orang Pendek might be closer to zoological classification, but if any cryptids are nailed down in the future, I hope that it comes under the authority of a group like the CFZ, rather than some self-styled ‘expert’ blundering his way through the jungle, grabbing crocodiles by the tail.

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

I imagine the least likely would be very large animals that live on land and unfortunately, that means dinosaurs. I love the idea of a giganotosaurus up the Orinoco, but I don’t think it’s going to happen. Even if such an animal were an ectotherm, it would still need to eat huge amounts of meat at some times of the year, and where would its next meal come from? But bipedal dinos were almost certainly endothermic, because the design of a two-legged animal dictates a higher activity rate, in that the anatomy points to higher agility and alertness. Even a small sauropod such as camarasaurus would surely draw attention to itself from the outside world. I don’t know what Ivan T. Sanderson saw when he described a gigantic animal crashing from a cave in a ravine in Africa so the jury is still out I suppose, and if anyone could find conclusive proof I would certainly be very grateful, as I would love a real dinosaur - or a reasonable facsimile - to come to light.

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

Well, of course there is a multitude of wonderful books out there, many written by CFZ members, but being a sentimental, nostalgic type, I would have to choose The Story Of The Loch Ness Monster by Tim Dinsdale. I first read it at the age of thirteen and I loved every word of it. Dinsdale’s enthusiasm for the subject was infectious and I went Loch Ness crazy for most of the school summer holidays. My other choice would be The Dragon And The Disc by F. W. Holiday. Holiday was one of the first - along with the writings of John Keel - to suggest that some lake monsters (and by association, other cryptids) might not be so ‘nuts-and-bolts’ as we would like to imagine, and that we may have to adopt a more abstract perspective in trying to rationalise the phenomena. As a third choice, perhaps Keel’s Strange Creatures From Time And Space.


Filming has recommenced on Emily and the Big Cats - OK this isn't exactly the big showbiz news that the new Francis Ford whatsit movie is underway, but it is big news to the CFZ who have been waiting for months to get on with it. However, Ms Taylor has had a busy schedule of schoolwork and sixteenth birthdays (Happy Birthday, hun) and both she and the director have been on the sick list intermittently since November.

However, the good news is that the whole thing is nearly finished, and with a bit of luck and a fair wind, could be done and dusted by Easter.

OLL LEWIS: Yesterday’s News Today


On this day in 1649 King Charles I of England was beheaded at the behest of Oliver Cromwell. Charles would get the last laugh, however, when his son Charles II had Cromwell’s body exhumed and ritually executed on this day in 1661.

And now, the news:

Panda cubs settle in at Shanghai Zoo
The day divers swam with a crocodile and lived to tell the tale
Croc sharks in - what's Jaws is mine
New dinosaur discovery solves evolutionary bird puzzle
Sex and the Single Snail

Q: What do you call a female snail?

A: Mi-‘shell’

Thursday, January 28, 2010


Add ImageSome of you may well have noticed that the CFZ.org.uk, CFZtv.org, Fortean Zoology.com and Weirdweekend.org websites have all been down for protracted periods of time over the past 24 hours.

Despite rumours to the contrary, this is purely because of technical problems with the ISP and is not in any way due to any malicious attack upon us by person or persons unknown. It is just bad luck that it happened on the first day of our sponsorship drive (which is, by the way, largely due to Oll's sterling efforts, doing rather well).


In one of my earliest blogs I wrote about cryptid material turning up in museums and the possibility of unlabelled or ‘lost’ material in collections around the world. In the state of Wisconsin some strange material, possibly related to a lake monster, was uncovered not once but twice.

The Winnebago Indians believed in two distinct types of dragon-like monster inhabiting lakes. The Wak Tcexi was a paranormal entity and was evil. The Winnebozho was flesh and blood, and benign.

There are a number of ‘monster lakes’ in the state but this story is linked to two in particular.

Lake Mendota is close to Wisconsin’s capital, Madison. Sightings of the creatures date back to the 1860s. W.J. Park and his wife were boating on the lake when they came across what looked like a large log. Mr Park poked the ‘log’, which dived, churning up the water.

Lake Mendota is linked to Lake Monona via the Yahara River. Monsters are seen here too. In July 1892 the wonderfully named Darwin Boehmer and a friend were boating on the lake when they saw the monster swimming off towards Ott’s Spring with an undulating motion. It showed 14 feet of its back above the surface.

On October 7th of the same year an anonymous man claimed that a 20-foot monster had tried to tip up a boat he had hired from John Scott’s boat livery. He said he would never venture onto the lake again for all the money in the capital. Nor would he return to Madison without a Winchester rifle and two revolvers.

Mr Scott saw the beast for himself. He and his two sons described a hump twice the length of the boats they hired out, and he refused to row two ladies across the lake having seen the beast. He was convinced it was dangerous.

Ten days later, back at Lake Mendota, twelve men spotted at 35 foot serpent whilst in the connecting river. A man claimed that a creature shaped like a ‘living log’ had attempted to overturn his boat.

The anonymous man may have used his Winchester rifle and two revolvers on the monster with no effect because that is what occurred in Lake Monona on June 11th 1897. Eugene Heath said the beast he saw looked like an upturned boat and his bullets had no affect whatsoever on it. He hastily retreated from the lake as the thing came for him. A few days earlier he claimed to have seen it eating a swimming dog.

Back in Lake Mendota in 1899, a tourist from Illinois was anchored in the lake when he saw the water swell about 100 feet from his boat. A beast 60-70 feet long, with a snake like head rose up. It seemed to be sunning itself.

In the summer of 1917 a monster with blazing eyes and a snake-like head was seen off Picnic Point, Lake Mendota, by a fisherman who ran away leaving his rod and basket behind him.

The same year a young couple were sunning themselves by the pier at Lake Mendota. As they lay on their backs and hung their feet over the edge the girl felt something tickle the sole of her bare foot and thought it was her boyfriend. However, on turning over she saw what she called ‘a huge snake or dragon’ in the water. The couple fled to a nearby fraternity house. That year piers were damaged and boats overturned - the monster was blamed.

Shortly before that wave of sightings a large, thick scale was washed up on the shore near Picnic Point. It was sent to the University of Wisconsin where it baffled experts. The State Historical Society records that one anonymous professor believed it was from a sea serpent.

Part of the lake was dredged back in 1890, near Olbrich Park, and some massive vertebra were uncovered.

The scale might have come from a sturgeon and the bones may well have been fossils but one would have thought that a university professor would have recognised these. It might be interesting to enquire if the scale is still in the possession of the University of Wisconsin, and whether the State Historical Society recorded what became of the bones as well as if they were ever examined properly. If there are any readers in Wisconsin that fancy pursuing this it may be a worthwhile endeavour.


Just to prove that we are still on the case, here is Corinna preparing the mail-outs for the CFZ Yearbook 2010 and the latest edition of Animals & Men. In the left hand picture she looks as mad as a bagful of cheese, and in the right hand one she is smiling the most insincere smile photographed since Margaret Thatcher was booted out of power (Not that I am comparing her with the Queen Bitch you understand), and she must have been mad to marry me in the first place.

However, the first trenche of magazines were mailed out today, and the yearbooks are all done and will go tomorrow. I should warn you that there will be several trenches of magazine mail-outs so don't be offended or worried if your magazine doesn't arrive in the next couple of days. It will get there soon (honest).

LINDSAY SELBY: Loch Ness Creature and UK Parliament questions

Nessie was often in the news but also often came up in parliamentary discussions in the 60s and 70s. See the extract below from Hansard (where parliamentary decisions/ debates are recorded and I believe it is also available online).

HANSARD 1803–2005 → 1960s → 1969 → July 1969 → 16 July 1969 → Lords Sitting


HL Deb 16 July 1969 vol 304 cc262-4 262

§ 2.46 p.m.


My Lords, I beg to ask the Question which stands in my name on the Order Paper.

§ [The Question was as follows:

§ To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they are satisfied, from assurances given by persons operating submarines in Loch Ness, that any monsters that may chance to inhabit that loch will not be subjected to damage or assault.]


My Lords, we proceed from one monster to another. The Answer to the Question is, Yes. The organiser of The Loch Ness Phenomena Investigation Bureau Limited has given assurances to the Chief Constable of the Inverness Constabulary that the submarine operations have no aggressive intent.


My Lords, arising out of that reply, may I ask whether the noble Lord is aware that the Chief 263 Constable has in fact given permission for an attempt to be made to obtain a tissue sample from whatever monsters can be found? Is the noble Lord satisfied that this could be done without danger and disturbance, and does the Secretary of State for Scotland condone this course?


My Lords, the organiser has said that the main objective of the submarine will be to try to get a positive identification of any echo which may be picked up by the Bureau's sonar equipment. For this purpose it will be fitted with are lights and photographic gear. In addition, it will have a small compressed air gun designed to fire a retrievable dart so shaped as to extract a small sample of tissue for subsequent analysis. This technique is widely used for tagging whales. In the particular context of this scientific expetition I hardly think it constitutes damage or assault.

On the other question which the noble Lord has asked, while I have no reason to doubt the assurances that have been given to the Chief Constable, I must point out that my right honourable friend the Secretary of State has no real locus in the matter. Unless and until the monster is found and examined we cannot even say whether the provisions of the Cruelty to Animals Act 1876 would be relevant, since that Act does not apply to invertebrates.


My Lords, may I ask the Minister whether he is aware that news has just come through that an enormous apparently prehistoric, monster has been washed up on the Ross of Mull at a place called Uisken? Everybody is very excited about it up there.


Is it alive or dead?




My Lords, is my noble friend aware that it will be an act of sacrilege to take away from the Scottish Tourist Board the myth of the monster of Loch Ness by which they get many gullible tourists each year?


I do not know on what scientific ground my noble friend says that the monster is a myth.


§ Lord LOVAT

My Lords, is the noble Lord aware that neither the Inverness County Council nor the police, nor the riparian owners on the shore were alerted to the fact that two submarines were coming to operate in the Loch? May I further ask him whether he is aware that, according to reports in the Press, "nature study" goes so far as for the "Phenomena" promoters to say that if they cannot contact the monster with lance or submarine they propose to detonate charges below the surface and blow the animal on to the top of the water—something we very much regret in the county where the monster still remains our greatest invisible asset.


My Lords, there are many rumours about the monster, and I know that there were other suggestions about what might be done. An American group were interested in an alternative way of trying to find it, but when they discovered that it would involve them in expenditure of half-a-million dollars they changed their mind.

Viscount ST. DAVIDS

My Lords, will my noble friend make clear to his right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Scotland that there is legislation under which these creatures could be protected and that the British Waterways Board, as the navigation authority, have the right to remove the licences for these vessels if they start annoying the local livestock?


My Lords, I should be very interested to examine any information my noble friend can give me in that direction.


My Lords, how would the noble Lord like to be "potted" by an airgun to take samples of his tissue?


My Lords, provided that the relevant part of my tissue was no greater than the small amount, in proportion, that was taken from the bulk of the whale, I doubt whether I should notice it.

§ Lord LOVAT

My Lords, the noble Lord's answer is not entirely satisfactory. Is he aware that in America there is considerable embarrassment that these two submarines should have arrived without local authority? They quite rightly take the view that we can hardly launch an expedition on Lake Okeechobee in similar circumstances.

The discussion then changed to whales and fishing, I believe. It shows, though, how the subject of researching Nessie was taken quite seriously at times. Sadly too many hoaxes mean that is no longer so.

OLIVIA McCARTHY: Swept under the carpet

All families have skeletons in their closets (not literally of course, although some of the weirder ones might). Perhaps a distant yet wealthy relative has an unfortunate ‘accident’ resulting in said wealth being conveniently inherited by you? Or maybe a random individual turns up on the doorstep 20 years after you had a one night stand, claiming to be your child…?

If you’re reading this blog, then it’s quite likely that you have heard of/met/are good friends with Jonathan Downes. When my mother met him (and ultimately ended up marrying him), I will admit that it took a little while to get used to his rather bizarre behaviour and general way of life. A man so eccentric, peculiar and beardy must surely have some skeletons in his closet, or shocking secrets swept under the carpet? Should I expect to hear about a recently departed millionaire step-uncle, or to be introduced to a similarly beardy young man, named Jon Junior?

Needless to say, I shouldn’t have worried. Having moved into his previous residence (and the previous CFZ headquarters) around seven months ago, and having just got round to lifting up the old carpet this weekend, I can safely say that all that was swept under Jon’s carpet was some cotton buds, several pieces of assorted cutlery, a crushed food container and plenty of dust.
Note: Jon Downes is the best stepfather in the world!

OLL LEWIS: Yesterday’s News Today


On this day in 1845 The Raven by Edgar Allan Poe was first published.
Today’s news is:

Liger who enjoys tourist attractions right in her own pad
Blobfish has 1,300 fans on Facebook
China to outlaw the eating of cats and dogs?
Dinosaur had ginger feathers
Tiny dinos perished in footprint death pits

Q: What do you call a dinosaur with piles?

A: Megasaurus
(oh, I’m sorry; that was a particularly bad joke today)



The Weird Weekend 2010 behemoth is lumbering into action. Tickets are on sale already, and we hope that at the end of next week we shall be able to announce at least a tentative running order and some more speakers. However, the thorny issue of sponsorship rumbles on, and we are looking for businesses to donate goods or services that we can use as raffle prizes or door prizes.

As well as their ticket for the most Fortean three days one can have in the UK short of taking a bottle of absinthe to Loch Ness (and I am not prepared to answer any questions about that one), ticket-holders for the WW this year will also be given several money-off vouchers to various local must-see places, including the restaurant at the Farmers Arms in the village, where Jenny makes the best onion rings in creation, and two local family tourist attractions, The Milky Way and The Big Sheep, which are both farms who have decided to do the tourist thing instead. We hope that we shall be adding a number of other vouchers and goodies to the free package.

However, as is so often the case, I am on the want. We have something between 1500 and 2500 hits on the blog each day, and I think that it is fair to assume that some of you are in business doing something or other.

Perhaps you can help us.

As I wrote on the sponsorship webpage (that we launched late last night):

"There are several levels of sponsorship including donations of money to help defray the costs of the event, and donations of goods or services as raffle and door prizes. If you care to sponsor us, in cash or in kind, your logo will appear on our website for the rest of the year. You can also advertise on our website or on our monthly webTV shows, and we will host your advert for 12 months with prices starting at £40. It will get your company name out there to a worldwide - and a healthy local - audience, and you will also have the satisfaction of knowing that you are helping us change the world...just a little bit. "

I couldn't have put it better myself.


LINDSAY SELBY: Loch Lomond Crocodile?

Located in both the lowlands and the southern Highlands of Scotland, Loch Lomond is second only to Loch Ness in volume of water. For years there have been reports by residents living near the loch of a strange creature seen in the water. Some eyewitnesses describe the creature as being like the Loch Ness monster, a plesiosaur like creature, others say it looks like a large crocodile.

Then several eyewitnesses in 1997 said they had seen a 12 foot long beast eating the ducks in Loch Lomond. This article appeared in the press:

Croc Lomond Monster ~ Mystery Of 'Beast' Caught On Film.

By Ray Notarangelo.

A mystery monster has been seen gobbling ducks in Loch Lomond. the 12ft long beast, now captured on video, has left scientists baffled.

One even said it looked like a giant crocodile? SSPCA chiefs yesterday confirmed they had received several reports about the new Nessie.

A five-minute film of the beast has been shot by pals making a pop video on the banks of Loch Lomond, near Rowardennan. Edinburgh freelance journalist Nick Taylor, who owns the film, said: "When the group were packing up they discovered this creature swimming in the water. The thing was gliding through the water slowly, but it often picked up speed and swam against the tide. They got quite a shock, especially when it started to swim towards them at one point. They thought it looked like some giant crocodile or alligator. They had never seen anything like it before.

SSPCE spokeswoman Doreen Graham said: "People came on the phone saying to us: 'I hope you don't think I'm mad, but I've seen a strange creature in Loch Lomond.' ~ One man told us they were looking at a flock of ducks on the loch when suddenly one was pulled under the surface. If anyone can solve the mystery we'd love to hear from them."

Source: Daily Record: 10th April 1997.

The film ended up on the desk of Dr. Andrew Kitchener, of the Royal Museum of Scotland. After viewing the tape he admitted that the creature it showed did appear to be a crocodile; however he made it clear that a crocodile would be unable to survive in Loch Lomond. Dr. Kitchener was able to rule out a mink or an otter as the creature in the videos identity.

So what was it? Well our old friend the sturgeon is a contender and does look reptilian , or even huge pike perhaps, they are known to eat ducklings. Could it have been an abandoned pet croc which got too big to look after? It would have survived for a short time but the cold would eventually have killed it. The mystery remains . If anyone knows of any more recent sightings please post a comment.


In our hotseat today is Charles Paxton. Charles is a fisheries ecologist/statistician at the University of St. Andrews, Scotland, and who also investigates aquatic monsters. Some of the cryptozoology-related subjects he has studied and published papers on include the identity of the seamonk and predicting the existence of large undiscovered aquatic animals using statistical models. A list of Charles’s published works can be found on his webpage (http://freespace.virgin.net/charles.paxton/main.html) along with links to several of his papers online. It’s well worth checking out.

Charles Paxton, here are your 5 questions on… Cryptozoology:

1) How did you first become interested in cryptozoology?

I don't know about cryptozoology but I have been interested in giant squid and sea monsters for as long as I can remember. My grown-up interest in cryptozoology restarted c. 1994 when I was wondering about whether we could predict future discoveries of marine species.

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

I don't think I have ever seen a cryptid but I have seen lots and lots of animals I could not identify to species/genus/family. I don't think they were undescribed species, though.

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

I don't know about cryptids but I know there are some putative new cetacean species being currently debated in marine mammalogical circles.

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

It is difficult to make predictions about events associated with very low probabilities but I am pretty confident mermaids and lizardmen do not exist! But I don't really like the use of particular names for cryptids as it presupposes a single cause/identity of what is being reported, which strikes me, in the absence of absolute knowledge, as a trifle circular. Having said that it is convenient to use such terms as a method of labelling reports from particular localities like the 'Loch Ness Monster.'

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

In the Wake of the Sea Serpents, as a famous cryptozoology book, but Chad Arment's Cryptozoology: Science and Speculation is probably my favourite non-famous cryptozoology book. It is the best book on cryptozoology ever written.

NEIL ARNOLD: The Beast of Bideford!

Quite often local stories containing the word ‘beast’ in the headline are explained by domestic animals or on occasion, the local ‘big cat’. However, a good friend of mine, a Mr Vic Harris, who lives near Bristol, and who I consider to be a very sane person, had a peculiar sighting of a creature I hope the readers of this blog may be able to identify. His report reads as follows:

'Somewhere on the A39 between Bideford and Bucks Cross, 20/08/08 - 5pm
I don't really like driving, so on holiday I let my wife do all the driving and I get to look around and see if I can spot any interesting animals !!!

We were going pretty slow due to traffic, probably only 10 miles an hour , I was scanning the fields to my left , the field we were level with was empty and quite small only a few hundred yards wide. In the middle of the field was what appeared to be a furry red hump, as I drew level with it I got a pretty good look at it. It was definitely unlike anything I had ever seen roaming about our countryside before.

  • Overall length - tip of tail to tip of nose 6 to 7 feet
  • Height - 2 to 3 feet at the top of the hump.
  • Huge bushy tail.
  • Long thin face.
  • Colour was red, but not like a fox more like maroon, like the cushion below, but it also had some rusty brown around the shoulders and head.

  • The fur was short and course.
  • The creature seemed to be digging with really thick front legs.
  • My kids saw it as well and got quite excited as it looked so strange!
I know the above description sounds pretty crazy but as you know I've spent a lot of time in the countryside and spent most of my child hood roaming the wilds around the river Wye, so I know what our wild life looks like and I'm very observant and take in visual details well and retain them easily, I usually know what I'm looking at when I see an animal and this was not a fleeting glimpse, I had a really good look at it, so I had time to dismiss any mistaken identities'.


Today I return to the chronicling America web site with some interesting reports (all aquatic) of sea serpents off Tacoma, Washington State, in 1893 and 1896 - the latter was not only drawn, but photographed no less - a horned sea monster off the Cook Islands in 1899 and a hot-water octopus from Steamboat springs near Reno, Nevada, in 1908. Unfortunately, due either to the inefficency of my printer or my inability to multi-task, the quality of the image of the Cook Islands story means I cannot report on the whole story, but interested cryptozoologists can read it in full at The San Francisco Call on June 18th 1899 http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/

The sea serpent story is as follows (again from the San Francisco Call June 28th 1896. I have scanned Jon an artist`s impression of the creature). THEY CAPTURED A SEA SERPENT. Seventeen Feet Long and Weighs One Hundred and Fifty Four Pounds. Smooth Skin, With Spots Like Those of a Rattlesnake – Ferocious as a Tiger.

The sea serpent has at last been taken alive in his native haunt, if this the placid waters of Puget Sound can be called the haunt of such an animal, where the majestic snow clad Mount Tacoma towering as a sentinel gives a picture nowhere equalled on the North American continent…the sea serpent was never thought of until two Tacoma fishermen, R. E. Mc Clean and W. J. Kennedy, while fishing for black bass about two miles north of the Humi Humi River, which empties into Hoods Canal near this city, made the catch…when their attention was attracted to a commotion in the net, and the water becoming agitated was followed immediately by the head of the monster appearing above the surface…The monster was as ferocious as a tiger, and bit and snapped the gaff stick
(1) in pieces, and when hauled on the beach rushed back over the sands with the 100 feet of line and swam out to sea as far as it could go. The reptile was seventeen feet long and as big around as a man`s body, and has every characteristic of the snake except the head, which is much like that of the pugnacious bulldog. The under jaw is heavy and covered with skin, the eyes are as large as a man`s and as bright, and will follow the movements of a person as closely as the eyes of a cat follow a mouse, and without the animal ever moving its head. The general color of the serpent is darkish blue with spots much like those of a rattlesnake, the spots fading out into lighter blue at the circumference. The skin is smooth like that of the snake. The monster is finned much like the halibut, having a long dorsal, very thin running down the back, while underneath there is a similar fin, but only near the caudal extremity. The animal`s jaws are set with rows of sharp teeth, like those of a cat, and the great strength of the jaw enables it to sink its fangs to the base in a stick of wood.

…The fishermen have been relieved of their burden by Gilbert Girard, the actor,who happened to stop this way on his way East and who intends presenting the monster to the Smithsonian Institution.' (2)

So was this some kind of eel?

Three years earlier, in 1893, another even weirder sea serpent was seen: this fish story allegedly happened on July 2 1893, and was reported in the July 3 issue of the Tacoma Daily Ledger. "We left Tacoma July 1,Saturday,about 4.30pm and as the wind was from the southeast we shaped our course for Point Defiance.” …Sometime after midnight, the sleeping campers were startled by a terrifying noise. A stinging sensation like thousands of electrified needle points suddenly stabbed through their clothing…

I turned my head… and if it is possible for fright to turn one`s hair white, then mine ought to be snow white” (the reporter taking notes indicated the Eastener`s hair was still black) “for right before my eyes was a most horrible looking monster. The monster slowly drew in toward shore and as it approached, its head pored out a stream of water that looked like blue flame.” Hesitantly, the stranger described the creature as 150ft long and thirty feet in circumference. He confided, “ its shape was somewhat out of the ordinary insofar that the body was neitheror flat but oval. It had course hair on the upper part of the body.'

And now, the Cook Islands monster:

Tale of a Big Horned Fish and a Feast of Antipodean Natives. This story is too faint to reproduce accurately but basically what happened in 1899 was that a fish (if that is what it was) thirty feet long with two horns on its head two feet long and scaly skin was washed ashore on the east coast of one of the Cook Islands. One group of islanders nearest the fish thought it best not to eat it because they feared the horned 'fish' was from the Devil but the second group thought hard and had a convention and eventually decided that all food was from God and persuaded the other islanders that it was O.K. to eat the 'fish.' (4)

Finally, a (presumably?) freshwater octopus or 'devil fish' (interesting coincidence, see previous item above) in Nevada. Not only freshwater, but hot water: DYNAMITE IN PIPE KILLS HOT WATER OCTOPUS. Strange Creature Eight Feet Long Is Blown Up In Boiling Spring.

A massive soft shelled devilfish one of the queerest freaks ever seen in Nevada, was killed in a boiling spring at Steamboat springs near this place
[ i.e Reno-R] yesterday afternoon by John Maddison Gray, a well known man in Reno. Gray was examining spouting geysers when the massive octopus spread its tentacles above the opening. Gray attempted to kill the creature with a club, but failing in this, filled a piece of pipe with dynamite to which he attached a fuse through a rubber hose. In this way the charge was exploded and the devil fish went high into the air and killed.

The octopus meausures eight feet from tip to tip of its large tentacles…and is on display in the office of Judge Dewitt C. Turner…an effort will be made to send the curiosity to Washington for classification. The fact that it was able to live in boiling hot water which comes from the spring is what is puzzling local scientists most.'
(5) And us at the CFZ 102 years on!

Arment has reports of freshwater octopi in U.S. from the 20th and 21st centuries but most of the reports can be explained. None were recorded from Nevada. (6)

1 Gaff stick- A stick with a hook or barbed spear, for landing large fish Concise Oxford English Dictionary.(2008) p.581
2 The San Francisco Call. June 28 1896
3 The Shadowlands Sea Serpent page Tacoma Sea Monster 1893 http://theshadowlands.net/serpent2.htm

4 The San Francisco Call June 18 1899
5 The San Francisco Call June 25th 1908
6 Chad Arment Cryptozoology and the Investigation of Lesser Known Mystery Animals (2006 ) pp 71-89

I was going to present lyrics from Marrowbones by Steeleye Span but I`ve run out of time.Sorry!


OLL LEWIS: Yesterday’s News Today


On this day in 1887 Giant ‘snowflakes’ (more likely hailstones) fell near Matt Coleman's ranch, Fort Keogh, Montana. The flakes were described as being 15 inches across by 8 inches wide.
And now, the news:

Blobfish: world's most 'miserable looking' marine animal facing exinction
Is the Hobbit's brain unfeasibly small?
Three Baby Pigs Rests Next To Their Adoptive Mother, Sai Mai, An Eight-Year-Old Tiger, At The Sriracha Tiger Zoo In Thailand's Chonburi Province

Q: How do you get a sick pig to hospital?
A: By ‘Hambulance’.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010


I have, as you will probably have noticed, decided to take the step (unprecedented for us) of putting moderation on the comments for this video. Normally I don't bother and just delete comments by people who are too irksome, but this video is aimed at the great and the good of the North Devon (and further afield) business community, and I don't want the normal selection of sexual slurs and pointed libel that tends to be put onto our videos these days...

But didn't Jessica do brilliantly!

LINDSAY SELBY: Was this the creature of Lough Fadda

As a follow-up to the Lough Fadda sighting, I came across this in F. W. Holiday’s book The Great Orm of Loch Ness. It is on page 148-149 in the 1971 Faber edition:

The Rector of Clifden Mr Edward C. Alston told Ted Holiday of a strange creature, both he and a Mr Hunt, the fishery inspector, saw in the Killery Inlet near Clifden.

He said it was in November 1965 and he was going to a meeting about the fisheries when he stopped to look at some seals who were themselves watching something. Then he saw what they were watching. He described it as having a neck about as thick as a telegraph pole standing about 5 feet (about 1 and half metres) out of the water. The creature was quite still and seem to be intent on the seals and Mr Alston said it ‘s head resembled a large conger eel’s. He said there was the impression of a large body under the water. It disappeared after about 1 and a half minutes sinking vertically into the water and the seals also disappeared. He estimated it was a 100 yards ( 33 meters) from where he was watching.

Mr Hunt, saw the creature from his house and added he thought the creature was 20 – 25 feet long (6 to 8 meters approx) and he had seen it move quite fast exhibiting humps. There was also a report to him from a water keeper north of the point who asked for an identification of the same creature he had seen but Mr Hunt was unable to give one. The creature was fairly light in colour so stood out against the sea and Mr Hunt described it as being shaded, lighter underneath when it turned.

What makes this extraordinary is that Lough Fadda is only about 10 minutes drive from Clifden; therefore, could that distance ( approx. 10 or 11 kilometres) have been traversed by this creature? Could it or one like it have been the creature seen in Lough Fadda in 1954, nine years before? The area was not built up at that time and would be quite deserted in places. There were apparently fish farms in the Lough then as they were at Killery (possibly spelt Killary ) inlet and that could have been the attraction for a large creature. An interesting tale that leaves lots of unanswered questions to think about.

JAN EDWARDS: More footprints

I was impressed by the people who succesfully identified the hare. Now, what are these?


My goodness, Corinna looks peturbed. What can have occurred? Why is she staring in disbelief-tinged-with-horror at a pile of cardboard boxes in the middle of the office floor? Why is there a faded tea towel stuck over the door with drawing pins?

I know that some of you were beginning to think that they would never arrive but yesterday a stack of heavy boxes arrived from Lightning Source: both issue 47 of Animals & Men and the 2010 CFZ Yearbook have arrived and the mailing-out process will begin this week.

Once again, we are terribly sorry for the delay but we are horrifically under-staffed, two of us are disabled to a greater or lesser extent and we - despite what is written in some quarters - don't sit around all day drinking champagne and eating truffles. But we do the best with the resources available to us. It doesn't help that all four of the permanent residents have been on the sick list to a greater or lesser extent over the past few days.

So bear with us. Those of you who are owed journals and yearbooks will get them very soon, and you might be interested to know that after the relative dearth of books last year, three titles are imminent:

  • A Daintree Diary by Carl Portman
  • Strangely Strange but Oddly Normal by Andy Roberts
    The Great Yokai Encyclopaedia by Richard Freeman
  • and the following titles are in production as we speak:

  • Mystery Animals of the British Isles: Staffordshire by Nick Redfern
  • Monsters of Texas by Nick Redfern and Ken Gerhard
  • Haunted Skies Volume One by John Hanson and Dawn Holloway
  • Mystery Animals of the British Isles: Gloucester and Worcester by Paul Williams
  • The Inhumanoids by Barton Dunnely

DALE DRINNON: Champ sightings Mock-up

I was going through Lake Champlain sightings recently and I decided to do this little demonstration of what the common physical characteristics and size ascribed to Champ are actually supposed to be. This subtracts obvious sightings of fish and swimming moose, and the occasional stray seal.

I make no remarks about what this means at this point; this mock-up is merely to demonstrate what one series of witnesses are describing with a fair degree of consistency. Sightings like this have been recorded for the whole length of the 20th century.

OLL LEWIS: Yesterday’s News Today


On this day in 1595 Sir Francis Drake died. Drake is of course most famous for circumnavigating the globe, heading off the Spanish Armada and singeing the king of Spain’s beard. Just before his death Drake bequeathed a snare drum he had used throughout his life to Buckland abbey with orders that if England is ever under threat again for someone to beat upon it and he would return to defend his country. Legend says that the drum is heard whenever Britain is under threat and that the drum last sounded on the outbreak of World War 2.
And now, the news:

Is the big cat mystery finally solved? Villagers find huge paw prints in snow after 30 years of sightings
World's least known bird rediscovered
If you think a crow is giving you the evil eye…
Juneau's famous black wolf's absence a mystery
Museum exhibit explores history of sasquatch
Experts stunned by swan 'divorce' at Slimbridge wetland

Maybe, he’s found a new bird….

HARRIET WADHAM: Here be dragons

Normally on old maps you can sometimes come across the occasional ‘Here be Dragons’ or a picture of a scary-looking dragon. Don’t get all excited because there’s a 95% chance that the map-maker just put it there to fill a boring space. Cartographers used to decorate their maps with pictures of fantastical things, such as gods, dragons, harpies and beasts like that just to make it look more attractive.

There are so many types of dragons that if you were to go on an expedition to hunt one down you may not know where to start! But be warned - there are such things as false dragons! Take, for instance, the Jenny Haniver. The Jenny Haniver is an ugly creature that has been made out of bits of other dead animals, such as chickens, mice and other small things. It is given a dragonish look by using a fish tail, then curling it into coils and curling the side fins over its back.

There are many stories about dragons, and usually they end up with the dragon getting killed and the hero returning triumphant to the cheering on-lookers. However, some stories have a different ending, like the hero dying after he has slain his enemy, or the hero and dragon staying alive. A good example is the story, The Laidly Worm of Spindlestone Heugh.

What happens is an old king (King Ida) is sad and lonely because his wife has just died and his son, The Childe of Wynd is abroad in a war againt the Gauls. Therefore he only has his daughter Margaret for company. After a while Ida decides to go to distant lands to find a new wife. While he is gone he leaves Margaret in charge of his castle and travels far away where lots of women try to get his interest but as they remind him of his wife too much, he ignores them. An evil sorceress noticed that he was rich and powerful, so uses all her charms and spells to make the king love her, and think of nothing but her, so eventually King Ida marries the sorceress and delightedly returns home to Margaret, who is ecstatic and dresses up beautifully before running out to meet her stepmother. A knight who is accompanying the queen exclaims that Margaret is the most beautiful girl he had ever seen. Subsequently the queen is vexed and that night she casts a wicked curse upon Margaret, turning her into a laidly (loathsome) worm until her brother returns from his battle; and she is certain he has already been killed. In the morning the maids go to wake her up and upon finding an ugly worm curled up in Margaret’s bed, flee, giving the creature a moment to slip unseen into the countryside, where she cannot see anyone because her breath is so poisonous it kills the land for miles around. Eventually news of the terror of his father’s kingdom reaches The Childe of Wynd, who fearlessly returns and defeating the witch-queen’s obstacles, goes to slay this monstrous entity. Margaret is fearful of her brother also, and try as she might, cannot drive him away. She retreats to her lair in Spindlestone Heugh and coiled around a rock, waits for the prince. When he finds her he lifts his sword and prepares to strike - and the worm lowers her head and says in a small, beautiful voice: "O quit thy sword, unbend thy bow, and give me kisses three, for though I be a poisonous Worme, no harm I’ll do to thee." Wynd is astonished to hear the creature talk but being the bold type, bends and kisses the monster three times. Margaret’s scales fall off and the worm’s body withers away to reveal the pulchritudinous princess. The prince covers her with his mantle and carries her back to the castle where the king is over-joyed at seeing Margaret again. When the witch hears that Childe Wynd has triumphed she runs to her bedchamber but using a rowan twig, the prince counteracts all the witch’s spells back onto her, so she transforms into a large, spitting, warty toad.

I was intrigued to write a blog about dragons because I have a book called The Dragon Hunter’s handbook, which I got for my 10th birthday:

Do you like our hallway? :) Anyway, the next blog I’m doing will probably be about Greek mythological monsters (which I hope you’ll enjoy!!) So that pretty much sums up dragons!