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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Tuesday, February 23, 2010

GLEN VAUDREY: Cthulhu and Cryptozoology

Anyone who has read my book, The Mystery Animals of the Western Isles, may have noticed that I often managed to slip a mention of H. P. Lovecraft's Cthulhu mythos into the odd tale of sightings. Could the Blue Men of the Minch really be Deep Ones?

But it was while reading the particularly turgid dull-as-dishwater The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath that it occurred to me that there seemed to be a connection between one particular cryptid and one of Lovecraft’s creations. Not a giant squid and old Cthulhu but rather the Jersey Devil.

This mystery winged beast was rumoured to be the result of the foolish and quite mythical Mrs Leeds stating a bit too loudly while pregnant with her thirteenth child that she hoped it would be a devil. Perhaps she was oblivious to the dangers of such utterances for of course when the child was born it had a fine set of horns, a tail, wings and a horse-like head.

Without a doubt the kid was pig-ugly and was sent packing, forever to haunt New Jersey. The Jersey Devil was, or could even still be, a long-lived beast for not only was it being blamed for animal deaths in the 1820s it was still going strong into the start of last century.

So which H.P. Lovecraft critter springs to mind when I see a picture of the Jersey Devil? Well, if it isn’t the Nightgaunt. These creatures of the Dreamlands are described as having a pair of inward facing horns atop their heads, clawed hands, a skin that is slick and rubbery, membranous wings and last but not least, a long barbed tail; this long barbed tail was used to tickle any victim it plucked into the air.

Perhaps a couple of pictures will be helpful to make the point: one is of the 1909 Jersey Devil, the other of a rather soft plush Nightgaunt toy (life is easier if you can imagine terrifying cosmic horror as a small cuddly toy).

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