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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Monday, May 31, 2010


...or in this case her friend Becky. It is an American moon moth btw.


Robert Schneck is a jolly good chap, and always sends us stuff of interest. He writes:

Hi Jon, This is very unimportant, but I thought the CFZ would enjoy seeing the menu from Bigfoot's Steakhouse in Seaside, Oregon.


CCTV Picture..

The other day I posted this video, which I was sent by an American TV researcher. I was not aware that it had been so widely distributed and am quite surprised that I have not seen it before. I always look for zoological explanations if I can, and Robert Schneck wrote:

Hi Jon,

Assuming it's not a CGI hoax, it might be a wading bird, an egret perhaps, walking directly towards the camera. Why it's walking around at night I couldn't guess, though something might have disturbed it.



On the other hand, my lovely wife Corinna suggested that it could be a snake rearing up.


We would like to thank Petra Maas for her kind donation of $10. It has been put into a figurative pot in which we are collecting funds to repair the join where roof of the conservatory/fish room meets the rest of the house, which was fairly badly damaged last winter during the gales.

Thank you, my dear....

LINDSAY SELBY: The Nyaminyami

The Nyaminyami is a river creature who lived in the Zambezi River and controlled the life in and on the river. It is worshiped by the Tonga people and said to be a dragon-like creature with a snake's torso and the head of a fish. The Tonga claim sightings of this creature in the Kariba lake. The lake is known for the tigerfish that dwell in its waters but there are over 40 fish species that live in the lake including nkupe, chessa, bottlenose, vundu, barbell and several types of bream. So the waters are very fertile and probably enough to feed a dragon!

In 1950 the Kariba Dam project was started. The Tonga people were told they would have to be relocated and they asked the Nyaminyami to protect them. In 1957, when the dam was almost completed, Nyaminyami struck. The worst floods ever known on the Zambezi washed away the partly-built dam and the heavy equipment, killing many of the workers. The next rainy season the Nyaminyami struck again and brought more floods even worse than the previous year. However, the dam builders refused to give in and 1960 the dam was officially opened. The Kariba Dam is a hydroelectric dam and is one of the largest dams in the world, standing 420 ft(140 metres) high and 1,900 ft (633metres) long. A lake was formed that measured 280 kilometres up stream through the Kariba Gorge and up to 40 kilometres wide.

As the dam closed the water level rose. Swarms of crickets, rodents and snakes emerged from the undergrowth and tried to escape the rising water. The skies above the lake were filled with flocks of birds feasting on the insects. Many animals retreated inland or made for higher ground only to become trapped on temporary islands created by the rising water. A rescue called Operational Noah run by volunteers and game wardens rescued as much of the wildlife as possible.

The Tonga still live on the shores of Lake Kariba, and still believe that one day Nyaminyami will destroy the dam and they will be able to return to their homes on the banks of the river. They believe that Nyaminyami and his wife were separated by the wall across the river, and the frequent earth tremors felt in the area since the wall was built are caused by the creature trying to reach his wife. Kariba is subjected to unexpected earth tremors. Some have registered over 5 on the Ritchter Scale. The lake also experiences violent and expected storms and squalls that can quickly turn the surface into a dangerous place.

The resettlement of the Tonga people is said to be the worst dam-resettlement disaster in African history. Anthropologist Thayer Scudder, who has studied the people of the area since the late 1950s, described them 'development refugees.' Many live in areas, some of which have been so seriously degraded within the last generation that they resemble lands on the edge of the Sahara Desert. So no wonder they hope for the dam to be destroyed.

The locals and tourists of Kariba look forward to September each year as the Nyaminyami Festivals are held to venerate the river god.

So the question is what could the Nyaminyami be if it was a living creature? Could it be a giant eel? A snake’s torso and the head of a fish maybe fit the description but what about a giant catfish? They have large fish heads and often taper to a narrow end to the body. It is quite possible that some large fish or eel did live in the river many years ago, which gave rise to the legends and the fact there are claims (none I could find documented) that it is still seen in the lake, could point to a large fish. The lake is well stocked with fish of all kinds so a predator large fish or eel would have lots of food. It is a great story and I just wish it had a happier ending for the Tonga people.

Some links of interest:



CORINNA DOWNES: Yesterday's News Today

Lion drags girl, 4, into cage in Russian zoo attack
Chinese Pandas To Go To Survival School
Bigfoot alive in Minnesota?
On Sasquatch's trail in Virginia's Spotsylvania County
Megafauna cave painting could be 40,000 years old
Bigfoot Appeared after Experiments to Cross Apes with Humans
Kitten survives wash and spin in a washing machine

You spin me right round, baby
right round like a record, baby
Right round round round
You spin me right round, baby
Right round like a record, baby
Right round round round
(Dead or Alive)

Oops I forgot – yesterday’s was The Sound of Music’s “So Long Farewell”

NAOMI WEST: Jumping spider eating a wasp (on my porch)

Naomi sent this picture to me, and two other of her friends who are the "three people I know will appreciate it". I am posting it here on the CFZ bloggo for the 1,500 people I also know will appreciate it....

Sunday, May 30, 2010

G. A. Christian Bilou writes...

We lost a great zoological resource and archive :


DALE DRINNON: Abominable Geography

Odette Tcherne included this map in her book In Pursuit of the Abominable Snowman (1970 edition under the name The Yeti)

She called it the S-Distribution map and it is on pages 116-117. Presumably it illustrated the worldwide distribution of all Abominable Snowmen in the wide sense of the term. She evidently made the map about the same time as Ivan Sanderson's book Abominable Snowmen: Legend Come to Life was originally printed, but she says that she deliberately did not read the book. The range indicated on the map supposedly starts in the Caucasus and Pamirs, and then runs on to the Western United States. The map has been reprinted several times and even by serious Bigfooters, under the false illusion that the map is somehow authoritative.

If Tcherne had actually read Sanderson's book it would have helped her knowledge of geography considerably. The main shortcoming of this map is that the maker has not a clue as to the location of the Caucasus, Pamirs or even Mongolia The range indicated at the far left (Western) extremity flies off to someplace in Turkestan and is nowhere near the mountain ranges the map is supposedly indicating.

The SITU ran a review of the book in PURSUIT which harshly criticized Tcherne and substituted one of Ivan Sanderson's maps from his book: there was a criticism especially that Sanderson had thought there were several different types of Abominable Snowmen and Tcherne supposed there was only one. In this, Tcherne was probably following Porshnev's lead because most of the information in the book comes from Soviet-Russian sources. Because the Russian information was little-known to the western world, this was something to be said in its favor when it came out. The book is probably one of the earliest mentions for the Chuchuuna, for example.

But the book's complete ignorance of Inner-Asian geography is not something that should be emulated or repeated by reviewers or students, no matter how fair they might be attempting to be on the matter.


RICHARD FREEMAN: Parasitic fairies

Anyone who has studied fairy lore will know that the ‘fair folk’ are not the gossamer-winged, wish-granting, pretty little things beloved by Disney. In actual legend fairies generally are at best neutral towards humans and often downright hostile.

Now an artist has redressed the balance. Tessa Farmer’s display The Darker Shade of Grey grotto will be on show at Belsay Hall in Morpeth, Northumberland, until September. It depicts tiny, evil, skeletal, parasitic fairies controlling grey squirrels and causing them to attack the native reds.


An interesting sighting (in the 1950s) from Loch Lomond and published for the first time in the recent issue of the Scots Magazine.

With my best wishes from Switzerland

CORINNA DOWNES: Yesterday's News Today

It seems that I am setting myself a precedent here....another news item with a song link. I can see that I am going to be sorely tested by the time the week is out.

Crows attack Berlin residents
Celebrations as two rare Australian cockatoo chicks hatch
Forty bison (and an extra one) released onto new reserve in Utah
Displaced Fish Is Ravaging Caribbean Reefs
World Turtle Day sees satellite turtle-tracking system go live
Is the cuckoo clocking in too late?

There`s a sad sort of clanging from the clock in the hall
And the bells in the steeple too
And up in the nursery an absurd little bird Is popping out to say `cuckoo`
Cuckoo, cuckoo


I know that this is pretty well off-topic, but I have just been approached by a TV researcher I know in America who has asked me for some comments. I am flummoxed. Over to you guys...

NICK REDFERN: Critters of Texas

When I first moved to Texas (almost a decade ago!) my view of the Lone Star State was that it was all desert, cactus and tumbleweeds. Imagine my surprise, then, when I found out that East Texas was heavily forested, and was home to a veritable menagerie of wildlife. As evidence of this, I thought I'd share with you a few images of Texas critters that aren't cryptozoological in nature, but that are definitively zoological and which were taken in our back garden (on the fringes of Dallas, Texas) over the course of approximately the last couple of years. They're certainly not what I was accustomed to seeing back in England!

View whole blog

Saturday, May 29, 2010


KITHRA WRITES: I have been offered a place in a Sheltered Housing scheme and, as these places don’t come around too often, I’ve decided to take it. However, I’ve yet to get a definite moving date, although it will be within the next month, and possibly sooner.

Read on

I am sure that everyone in bloggoland will join me in offering our very best wishes to Kithra for her move, and will be looking forward to her return to inthe internet...

RICHARD FREEMAN: The Monsters of Prague #13

Ulrych and the daemons
A dismembered corpse is said to haunt Celetna Street. It lacks a head, has only one arm and hops around on one leg. It is supposedly the wraith of a sorcerer called Ulrych who live at the end of the 10tth century. He is said to have called up a horde of fifteen daemons but he could not control them. The creatures tore him to shreds and condemned his spirit to walk Celenta Street forever more.

LINDSAY SELBY: The Tim Dinsdale Film

Tim Dinsdale shot a film in April 1960 that many believed was proof that the Loch Ness creature existed. In 1965 it was examined by the Joint Air Reconnaissance Centre (JARIC) and for those who have never seen the report I have scanned in the main points, from the HMSO document for you to read.

The film is dogged by controversy as there are those that say it was a boat filmed under bad light conditions. See : http://www.nessie.co.uk/htm/the_evidence/analysis.html
(you will find many other sites with this analysis, this was just the first I googled)

And those that say that is rubbish and it shows an animate object:

The only non-Nessie explanation the disbelievers have been able to put forward is that Tim filmed a boat which, under the lighting conditions then prevailing, somehow didn't show up on the film while the wake did. However, various computer enhancements of the film have failed to reveal anything like the shape of a boat. Tim had given me a 16mm copy of his film, and I recently had it scanned onto DVD. Frame-by-frame viewing of the right-to-left wake confirms that there seem to be fairly regularly spaced splashes, every few seconds, that seem to be TO THE SIDE OF THE WAKE, consistent with Tim's interpretation of them as "paddle strokes". However, the resolution of this commercial scan is not sufficient that I could be completely certain about this.

However, it IS certain that there is no boat making this right-to-left wake. A faculty member in the Computer Science Department at Virginia Tech was good enough to scan a number of frames at higher resolution and to examine them under various types of enhancing techniques to look for shapes and to vary the contrast. There is no boat making that wake.

Source; http://henryhbauer.homestead.com/DinsdaleFilm.html
(with kind permission of Henry Bauer)

In 1993 Discovery Communications made a documentary called “Loch Ness Discovered” .They featured a digital enhancement of the Tim Dinsdale film. They said a computer expert had enhanced the film and noticed a shadow in the negative which was not obvious in the film. The expert enhanced and over layered frames and then discovered what appeared to be the rear body and flippers plus two humps of a plesiosaur type body in the shadow in the water.

Tim Dinsdale also filmed a boat to compare the wakes with, so there could be no mistake. I suggest you read the two sides of the argument and make your own mind up. I found Tim to be honest but however a little naive , in that he thought that if he believed it was proof , others would too. Sadly we live in a modern sceptical world with computers and lots of technology, if only that technology had been around when Tim took the film, we might have proof one way or another now. I am glad he is no longer with us to read the controversy around the film as I think he would have been upset.


I have two people to thank today. Thomas Goodey was kind enough to give us £30, and a friend of the CFZ and regular bloggo contributor gave us £60 but asked that we not reveal his name. This money will be going towards repairing the roof of the conservatory, which suffered somewhat in last winter's gales. This is very important, because the conservatory is now home to most of our fish collection, and if it fell down we would be completely scuppered.

Thank you very much, guys!

CORINNA DOWNES: Yesterday's News Today

My first entry of a week’s babysitting Yesterday’s News Today and I manage to bag a good one, and can quote from my favourite band. Babysitting can be fun after all:

Mitochondrial DNA Points to Multiple Killer Whale Species
Mountain lion believed sighted near Georgetown
Leopards and other big cats ARE on the loose in Britain - just don't tell a soul
Croc-like creature on the loose
NBC affiliate investigates Huntingdon lake monster
Beavers are back, thriving - and making it better for other species
Spray teams target giant hogweed

Turn and run!
Nothing can stop them,
Around every river and canal their power is growing.
Stamp them out!
We must destroy them,
They infiltrate each city with their thick dark warning odour.

They are invincible,
They seem immune to all our herbicidal battering.

Long ago in the Russian hills,
A victorian explorer found the regal hogweed by a marsh,
He captured it and brought it home.
Botanical creature stirs, seeking revenge.
Royal beast did not forget.
He came home to london,
And made a present of the hogweed to the royal gardens at kew.

Waste no time!
They are approaching.
Hurry now, we must protect ourselves and find some shelter
Strike by night!
They are defenceless.
They all need the sun to photosensitize their venom.

Still they're invincible,
Still they're immune to all our herbicidal battering.

Fashionable country gentlemen had some cultivated wild gardens,
In which they innocently planted the giant hogweed throughout the land.
Botanical creature stirs, seeking revenge.
Royal beast did not forget.
Soon they escaped, spreading their seed,
Preparing for an onslaught, threatening the human race.

The dance of the giant hogweed

Mighty hogweed is avenged.
Human bodies soon will know our anger.
Kill them with your hogweed hairs
Heracleum mantegazziani

Giant hogweed lives

Genesis: The Return of the Giant Hogweed (Nursery Cryme 1971)

Friday, May 28, 2010

RICHARD FREEMAN: Spineless protests against anti dolphin slaughter film

A shocking documentary film called The Cove, about the slaughter of dolphins in Japan is fighting to be screened in that country. A US naval base has, in an exceptionally cowardly move, cancelled a screening after protests by nationalists. Every single Japanese person should be made to watch this film and shown what their government allows to go on.



Tony Lucas has been incredibly active recently. This is a link to an mp3 of a recent radio interview about his activities and plans for the future.

Whilst on the subject of Tony L, I would like to take this opportunity to say how much I like and admire the fellow. He is in particularly bad health but still manages to continue his researches despite setbacks that would bring other men to their knees. His researches into the wildlife, both cryptic and otherwise, of New Zealand are admirable, and I can think of no-one that I would rather have running the New Zealand office of the CFZ.

It is one of the strange things about the internet and mass global communication that one can get close to people whom one has never met. Tony and his lovely wife are two such people, and I dearly hope that one day I shall make it to New Zealand to meet them in person....

LINDSAY SELBY: The OTHER Trout Lake Monster

In view of the thing found washed up at Trout Lake Ontario (http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/national/ontario/big-trout-lake-monster-sparks-internet-debate/article1576748/), I thought I would look at other lake monster tales from there.

Trout Lake is alleged to have another monster. According to Wilson Street, a local historian and author, there have been reports of large swells of water, shadows and figures of various proportions and sizes, much , he says, like the Loch Ness monster. The lake is a glacial one, like many others from the Ice Age where there have been lake monster reports. Street says the lake is considered almost bottomless in parts.

The stories about the alleged monster gained more attention after the mysterious disappearance of Margaret and Allen Campbell on May 25, 1956. Apparently, after eating lunch they went out in their fibreglass boat, and were never seen again. In 2006 the Ontario Provincial Police, acting on a report from a fisherman, used imaging equipment and discovered the couple’s bodies on the bottom of the lake, not far from the cabin. Their boat was also found.

Local sighting reports of the 'monster' have included crocodile/alligator-like creatures, and serpent-like creatures (sounds familiar doesn’t it?).

The latest carcass of some rather ugly looking poor dead creature has sparked some controversy. Some residents of Big Trout Lake, an Oji-Cree community of 1,200 south of Hudson Bay, believe the animal is a rare local creature known as an omajinaakoos, which roughly translates to 'ugly one.' Band councillor Darryl Sainnawap said his great uncle spotted one about 50 years ago. “He says in his younger days he was with his grandfather ... and he did see this same creature and that’s the last time he saw it," he said. “His grandfather called him omajinaakoos." Some local elders in the community, which is also known as Kitchenuhmaykoosib Inninuwug, believe the animal is a messenger of bad news. “No one knows what it is but our ancestors used to call it the Ugly One. Rarely seen but when seen, it’s a bad omen. Something bad will happen according to our ancestors," the community’s website says.

Lets’s hope nothing bad happens, but the monster tales have been around for while and it will be interesting to see if more sightings are reported after the recent publicity. Sometimes it encourages people to come forward.

John Robert Columbo (1999), "Mysteries of Ontario", Toronto: Hounslow Press, (page. 163 to read about Wilson Street )


I am nearly out of the mesquite barbecue sauce that I brought back from Texas, and this is a serious matter. I must have my sauce, man!

If any of our American readers fancy sending me a bottle I would be very grateful. It is under a dollar in Walmart, but I cannot find any stockists for it in the UK.

Once upon a time George Harrison, the guitarist for a Liverpool beat combo of some reknown, said in an interview that he liked jelly beans. As a result he was inundated with the things.

I live in hope of a similar thing happening to me with KC Masterpiece Mesquite Barbecue sauce. One never knows one's luck.

P.S. If any UK readers can find a stockist for the stuff this side of the Atlantic that would also be very much appreciated!


Personalize funny videos and birthday eCards at JibJab!

OLL LEWIS: Yesterday's News Today


On this day in 1953 Edmond Hillary and Tenzing Norgay reached the summit of Mount Everest. Hillary and Norgay were the first people ever to reach the summit and live to tell the tale, but it is certainly a possibility that others reached the summit first. In particular George Mallory, whose almost perfectly preserved body was found on the mountain in 1999, is thought by many to have reached the summit because a photo of his wife, which he had said he intended to leave at the summit was among the few items missing from his kit.

And now, the news, which Corinna has been busily posting for most of the day to create a bumper crop:

Animal Planet's 'River Monsters' visits Illiamna L...
'Hot air balloon' octopus mystery solved
Schoolgirl comes face to face with 'black panther'...
A recent paper showing why Burmese pythons won't b...
Case study analyzes why, where and when of leading...
Bacteria Living in 'Cloud Cities' May Control Rain...
2 new frog species discovered in Panama's fungal w...
Rare Ocelot Found Dead, Endangered Species Not See...
unknown lizards in Southeast Asia
New Giant Monitor Lizard Discovered
New Zealand gecko spotted for first time in 100 ye...
Giant Palouse earthworms found, but they aren't as...
A promising vaccine for the ebola virus
New orchid discoveries and the illegal orchid trad...
These include a new dwarf wallaby:
New species from Papua:
New invertebrate species from the Antarctic:
Musk turtles can breathe with their tongue:
More on the monitor lizard discoveries from the Ph...
Eastern black rhinos are being reintroduced to Tan...
Three Florida panthers were found killed by cars w...
Big Foot Spotted In the Wild at Toy Fair 2010
Were Dinosaurs Warm Or Cold-Blooded? First Method ...
Mystery B.C. fossil is early squid-family ancestor...
New bird discovered in Colombia—and released alive...
Panther spotted in Natchez?
No doubt about it: There are mountain lions in sta...
Mountain lion: Several more unconfirmed Greene Cou...
Mystery surrounds Iowa armadillo
Yah-bah-dah-bah-doooo! Bear called 'Yogi' comes ba...
Snapping Turtle found in Kent

‘Kent’ you believe it?

Thursday, May 27, 2010


Today I take a look at the strange story of huge bird nests found in the Utah Great Salt Lake Desert by American explorers in 1936 and as far as I know, still unexplained. Could this be tangible evidence of the Native Americans legendary giant bird the Thunderbird, or the “now extinct Behemoth Bannock Birds.”?(1) (my source is dated 1960). The story is as follows, quoting from Frontier Times Winter 1960.;

This is the story:

'Editor`s Note: This is a corker! We`ve tried everything short of Alley Oop`s Time-Machine * to try to research this one and present you with the facts! The American Museum of Natural History says there couldn`t be any such creatures-but we`ve got photographs of the nests they left on Utah`s Mud Desert! We`ve asked professors, geologists, historians, ornithologists, biographers- even an English tea leaf reader and a Hindu elephant tamer-but no one has been able to explain this mystery. The nests are there; what made them?........ Nowhere in the world is there a wilderness so desolate, so untraveled as Utah`s Mud Desert. Barren, completely without vegetation, and so level the distant horizon is a burning white glare at the rim of the world, the Mud Desert is mysterious and dangerous, a challenge to man`s physical and intellectual resources. Only two groups of travellers are known to have crossed the Mud Desert, which is part of the great area loosely defined as The Great Salt Desert. The first was the tragedy bound Donner Party, migrating to California in 1850.Eighty-six years later dr.Walter M.Stookey successfully followed the Donner route and emerged from his experience in the wilderness with some of the most surprising discoveries ever to be made in the Desert State. [The author of this article then describes Stookey and his friend Raleigh Johnson`s crossing of the great desert by vehicle in 1936-R] Fifteen miles due north of their starting point they located the Donner Trail. At first the trail crossed rolling desert country with some brush, a fairly solid trail until it angled northwest towards Pilot Moutntain. …….A mile or two after entering the soft mud they began finding castoff pieces of clothing, wagon-parts, and furniture that the Donner party had discarded in order to make their vehicles lighter. Farther on they found John Reed`s “Palace Car” parts of which they reclaimed from the desert and later presented to the University of Utah Museum. Next they found great quantities of clothing ,unopened trunks,wagon-beds, and the skeletons of many oxen. Not far away was a bleak,unmarked desert,cemetery for those who hadn`t made it.

But the most fantastic discovery was yet to be found.While following the trail and after entering the most desolate part of the Mud Desert, Stookey and his companions stumbled upon some huge mounds. Some of them were six to eight feet high and resembled gigantic birds nests. Limited by time and the necessity to proceed, the adventurers did not pause for a thorough investigation. Stookey,however,could not get the bird-nests off his mind.He did a lot of digging into Indian myths and read many accounts of trappers,explorers and trail-crossers, and the following year he went back specifically to inspect the strange phenomena……..Imagination immediately flared. The Pony Express, a publication edited and printed in Sonora, California, published a story on the nests, attributing them to the now extinct Behemoth Bannock Birds [a quick Google search couldn`t find info on these-R] leviathans of prehistoric times that outlived their other companions of dinosaur days and existed until less than 150 years ago. Further, they claimed they had definite proof of the existence of these creatures, but they have never divulged this information…….The Behemoth Bannock Birds were, according to these sources, five times larger than eagles and capable of carrying prey like antelope, deer and mountain sheep to their nests. (Stookey, in fact, found wagon-parts and other large discarded remnants of the Donner party`s trek in various nests!) According to Indian lore, such birds existed. Bannocks, Shoshone, Paiutes, and Geshutes related stories about them to the first stories about them to the first trappers to enter Utah. Abner Blackburn, who passed through Utah en-route east in 1847, and whose diary and journal have recently been revealed, told his children about them…….Some of the University of Utah scientists who saw the nests believe they were built by the rough-legged hawk, buteo lagopus. This may be true, but it would stand a little more investigating, as no hawks of this species have been known to build such nests anywhere else. For over a hundred years the Mud Desert has preserved,graphically, the story of the Donner Party and their tortuous journey through its barrenness. How much longer will it retain the secret of its giant birds? (2)

Well maybe another 26 years. In April 2006 the case of bird-like meat eating dinosaur-bird emerged:

“ Scientists from the University of Utah and the Utah Museum of Natural History have discovered the remains of a new bird-like, meat-eating dinosaur in Grand Staircase-Escalante National National Monument, southern Utah. The new dinosaur was formally named Hagryphus giganteus, which means “giant four-footed, bird-like god of the western desert” in reference to the animal`s outward resemblance to a large land bird, its giant stature, and its discovery in the Utah desert.

Only the hands and feet of Hagryphus were found , but the scientists were able to use the animal`s close relatives in Asia to estimate it to be around 7 feet tall! It is a member of the oviraptosaurs, a group of bird-like feathered dinosaurs with toothless beaks, powerful arms and formidable claws. They are thought by some paleontologists to have been omnivorous, feeding on a mixture of meat and plants.

The scientific paper naming and describing this criter was published in the latest issue of the Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology.(3)

1. E.Sparks A New Mystery on the Donner Trail. Frontier Times Winter 1960 p.41
2. E.Sparks Ibid p27, pp41-42
3. New Critters web site. Giant,bird-like Raptor-Hagryphus giganteus http://www.newcritters.com/2006/04/05/giant-bird-like-raptor-hagryphus-giganteus/

* Alley Oop was a cartoon character in an early 1930s American newspaper syndicated strip, ( a time travelling caveman) created by V.T. Hamlin. PS: A song based on the character `Alley Oop` was a hit for a band called The Hollywood Argyles (and later covered by The Beach Boys) and included the line: "Look at that caveman go!" which was later purloined William Burroughs style by David Bowie who used it in his 1973 hit `Life on Mars`. JD


She sings from somewhere you can`t see
She sits in the top of the greenest tree
She sends out an aroma of unrefined love
It drips on down in a mist from above

She just the girl,just the girl
Girl u want

You hear her calling every where you turn
You know you`re headed for the pleasure burn
But the words get stuck on the tip of your tongue
She`s the real thing but you you knew it all along…


We have heard from Lars Thomas. At the moment the results of the DNA tests on the rattan and hair brought back from Indonesia last autumn are inconclusive, but he writes 'We would like to try some new technicques, still in the developmental stage', so fingers crossed eh?


Biggles is still feeling sorry for himself. The good news is that he does not have to go back to the vet again, but the bad news is that he has managed to dislodge the stitches in his smallest scar, and it has had to be `glued` shut. This means that he has to wear the cone for another few days and be restrained when he goes out. Poor fellow has been itching for a good run and some boisterous jumping about, and has not been able to do it for a week. now.

Let's hope that it heals properly and that he will be able to be back to normal soon...


Looking like the bass player in a particularly odd Amon Duul tribute band, Graham models his snazzy new fluorescent waistcoat thingy and brandishes the strimmer. Now we are conversant with all the current Health and Safety regulations.



Coming very soon. No release date as yet, but will be available in the next few weeks. The back cover blurb reads:

Texas - or the Lone Star State, as it is affectionately and widely known - is the second largest U.S. state in both area and population, and contains both colorful and majestic landscapes that range from desert to plains, and forest to wild canyons.

But that is not all: all across Texas there lurks a wide array of monsters, mysterious beasts and diabolical creatures that science tells us do not exist – but that a significant percentage of the good folk of Texas certainly know otherwise.

In Monsters of Texas, you will learn a great deal about countless bizarre critters, including the following:

Giant winged-things: feathered batmen, huge birds, pterodactyl-like beasts, and glowing-eyed gargoyle-style entities that haunt the Texas-Mexico border; Texas’ very own version of Puerto Rico’s infamous vampire-like monster, the Chupacabras; Blood-thirsty, predatory werewolves said to be roaming the wilds of Texas by the eerie light of a full moon; Texan equivalents of the famous Loch Ness Monster of Scotland: water-based beasts of unknown origin and identity that occasionally surface from the murky depths; The legend of the hairy wild-man, and wild-woman, of the Navidad that struck terror into the minds and souls of the people of the area way back in the 1800s; Encounters of the distinctly Bigfoot kind in central and east Texas; as well as in the state’s legendary and mysterious Big Thicket woods; Out-of-place animals: those creatures that are found within the Lone Star State, yet that have apparently strayed – sometimes inexplicably so - far away from their normal habitats; Those truly ominous beasts that may be far less than flesh-and-blood in nature, and far more paranormal and supernatural in origin; The diabolical, cloven-hoofed Goat-Men that haunt the dark woods of Lake Worth, the old Alton Bridge at Denton, and Dallas’ White Rock Lake.

OLL LEWIS: Yesterday's News Today


On this day in 1908 Ian Fleming was born. Fleming is best known as the author of the James Bond novels and of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. What not so many people know about Fleming is that he was a member of the British Navy Intelligence during World War 2 and one of his plans was to use Alistair Crowley to lure Rudolf Hess into Britain. The plan was never implemented though because Hess came to Britain anyway in an attempt to broker a peace deal behind Hitler’s back.
And now, the news:

Asian bear filmed doing 'Kung Fu' moves with stick
Millions of frogs close road in Greece
An eagle expedition
Alaotra grebe declared extinct
Brontosaurus - free to a good home!
Secrets and oddities of the deep on display
Where eagles dare to baldly go
Ancient cephalopod identified
Firemen rescue squirrel
It must be puppy love
Tent caterpillar plague

Why was it such a shock when the butterfly larvae became embroiled in a scandal? Everyone had thought he was a (cate)pillar of the community.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010


What does the new Government mean for the hunt ban?

Shockingly the ban on hunting with dogs is under threat. The new Government will offer MPs the chance to repeal the Hunting Act.
The coalition agreement says that the Government "will bring forward a motion on a free vote enabling the House of Commons to express its view on the repeal of the Hunting Act."

The Hunting Act banned the cruel and unnecessary 'sport' of chasing and killing foxes, deer, hare and mink with dogs. MPs must now protect the Hunting Act to ensure there is no return to cruelty in our countryside.
IFAW cannot understand why a new Government would prioritise repealing the Hunting Act. This move is completely out of step with public opinion. It is essential that MPs represent the view of the compassionate majority, 75%* of whom want the ban on hunting to stay.

* http://www.ipsos-mori.com/



The Ucu, also known as Ucumar or Ukumar-zupai, is Bigfoot-type creature reported as being seen in the Andes range of mountains in South America particularly in Chile and Argentina. The Ucu is said to be the size of a large dog and walks erect. Unlike the Yeti it prefers the more tropical regions of the Andes mountain range, rather than snow-covered peaks. The locals say the Ucu likes to eat payo, a plant similar to cabbage, and emits a sound like uhu, uhu. It is not just locals who have reported hearing or seeing the creatures.

In 1956 geologist Audio L. Pitch, while walking on the Argentinean side of the Andes, found footprints 17 inches long (about 42 cms) at a height of about 6000 feet (2000 metres). Some reports say 16000 feet (5333 metres), which sounds a bit high up.

In 1957 similar tracks were reported in the province of La Salta, Argentina. The same year residents of Tolor Grande told journalists about a nightly chorus of eerie sounds like calls of an animal, emanating from the near by Curu-Curu Mountains. The cries were attributed by the locals to the Ukumar-zupai and the community remained frightened for some time afterwards. Anthropologist Pablo Latapi Ortega wrote that traditional stories of these giant ape-like creatures continue to be told today.

In May 1958 a group of campers in Rengo, 50 miles from Santiago, Chile, reported that they saw an apeman. Police were called and they took statements from the witnesses.

Carlos Manuel Soto gave this statement to the police: “I saw an enormous man covered with hairs in the Cordilleras”.

The stories sound very similar to traditional bigfoot and yeti reports. There appears to have been no recently reported sightings. As always the similarity of sightings and creatures in different parts of the world does make you think, could there be a population of unknown hairy bipeds still alive in the world today. Well, gorillas were considered a myth at one time; now they are on TV documentaries, so maybe not as impossible as some sceptics would have us think.


Paul Haresnape was kind enough to offer to buy us protective goggles and a flourescent jacket for Graham so that he could fulfil the requirements of HM Government's health and safety directives whilst trimming the grass surrounding the small colony of orchids that we found at Fairy Cross.

If anyone doesn't know the story so far they can check out:


...which in chronological order tell the story of the orchids of Fairy Cross, and give one hope for both mankind and regional government.

However, Graham managed to find a jacket for £3.50 on eBay, and it turned out that we already had some protective goggles, and so - whilst it was incredibly kind of paul to offer - we didn't want to take his money under false pretences. However, we are asking for permission to put a small sign by the orchids saying that this area of land is being conserved by the CFZ in memory of Paul's late mother.

But I am digressing (as I so often do).

We were driving to Bideford on other errands when we noticed that all of the verges along the Fairy Cross road had been trimmed severely. But our friend at the Highway's Agency had been as good as his word, and had arranged for `our` bit of verge to be left unscathed. So, because it looked so unkempt, we decided that it was about time to attend to our side of the bargain (flak jacket or no flak jacket) and so we did just that.

Paul's mum will, I hope, be looking down upon us proudly.


Anyone who has visited the CFZ animals over the last year or two will be hard pushed to recognise this tank. "It can't be the CFZ Caecilians," I hear you say in my mind's eye (if that is not too complicated a set of metaphors). "It can't be the CFZ Caecilian tank, because it hasn't got a crappy lid that Graham put together as a stop gap back in 2006 and never got round to finishing, so in the intervening years it decaued and twisted out of all recognition."

I am sure that you can tell where we are heading with this one! Basically Oll has rebuilt the lid to one of our most prized exhibits, and it looks pretty damn good....


I haven't written about Noela Mackenzie for a while but at 87 and a bit, she is the oldest member of the CFZ and has been since she was a youngster of 69. In fact, she was one of the first members we had back in 1992.

As regular readers will know she was living in sheltered accommodation in Bideford (which turned out not to be that sheltered), but had a series of falls and accidents at the end of last year which necessitated a long period in hospital.

Whilst we were in America she sadly had to give up her flat and moved to a new old people's facility on the outskirts of Torrington. When we first visited her there I have to admit that my heart fell, because the building was huge and utilitarian, and set on the outskirts of an industrial estate, but - happily - I could not have been more wrong.

It seems to be a very nice place and the staff appear to be kind and attentive. We visited Noella on Tuesday, and she appears happy and content (if a little confused at times). I know that she is very dear to many CFZ folk who know her from various of the Exeter Weird Weekends, and so we will keep you all updated on her progress here on the bloggo....

OLL LEWIS: Yesterday's News Today


On this day in 1949 Robert Ripley died. Ripley, with ‘Ripley’s Believe it or Not’ gave many people their first real taste of how strange and unusual this world can be and probably kick-started many peoples interest in Forteana.

While looking up Ripley on the information super-net I discovered that there is a film of his life due for release next year staring Jim Carrey. Might be worth keeping an eye out for that.
And now, the news:

Two-year-old boy Ardi Rizal smokes 40 cigarettes a day
UK government fails to halt wildlife declines
Beavers responsible for Poland's flooding
Tiger conservation is disastrous
Owner of chimp in mauling attack dies
Cat out of the bag
Photo may show moose not seen in 50 years
Bats under surveillance for Hendra clues

Umm… that’s batty?

(Yes, I think I need to recharge the ‘Punenator 5000’, it’s not doing that well of late)

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

DALE DRINNON: Possible Identifications for some of Bruce Champagne's Independent Sea-Serpent Classification Categories

Bruce Champagne has had an independant classification for sea-serpent types that has been circulating around the internet for some years. The article is at StrangeArk: Bruce Champagne. A Preliminary Evaluation of a Study of the Morphology, Behavior, Autoecology, and Habitat of Large, Unidentified Marine Animals, Based on Recorded Field Observations. Available at strangeark. Pages 99-118 And I have never been able to get in contact with Bruce despite frequent trying (I tried just before submitting this blog entry, in fact).

No matter. His classification is posted on Wikipedia and at other places. His categories go as follows:

Bruce Champagne Sea-Serpents

1A Long-Necked: A 30-foot sea lion with a long neck and long tail. The neck is the same thickness or smaller than the head. Hair reported. It is capable of travel on land. Cosmopolitan.

1B Long-Necked: Similar to the above type but over 55 feet long and far more robust. The neck is of lesser thickness than the head. Only inhabits water near Great Britain and Denmark.

2A Eel-Like: A 20 to 30-foot-long heavily scaled or armoured reptile. It is distinguished by a small square head with prominent tusks. 'Motorboating' behaviour on surface. Inhabits only the North Atlantic.

2B Eel-Like: A 25 to 30-foot beaked whale. It is distinguished by a tapering head and a dorsal crest. 'Motorboating' behaviour engaged in. Inhabits the Atlantic and Pacific. Possibly extinct.

2C Eel-Like: A 60-70 foot, elongated reptile with no appendages. The head is very large and cow-like or reptilian with teeth similar to a crab-eater seal's. Also shares the 'motorboating' behaviour. Inhabits the Atlantic, Pacific, and South China Sea. Possibly extinct.

3 Multi-Humped: 30-60 feet long. A possible reptile with a dorsal crest and the ability to move in several undulations. The head has a distinctive 'cameloid' appearance. Identical with Cadborosaurus willsi and is behind the Naden Harbor carcass.

4A Sailfin: A 30 to 70-foot beaked whale. It is distinguished by a very small head and a very large dorsal fin. Only found in the North West Atlantic. Possibly extinct.

4B Sailfin: An elongated animal of possible mammalian or reptilian identity reported from 12 to 85 feet long. It has a long neck with a turtle-like head and a long continuous dorsal fin. Cosmopolitan.

5 Carapaced: A large turtle or turtle-like creature (mammal?) reported from 10 to 45 feet long. Carapace is described as jointed, segmented, and plated. May exhibit a dorsal crest of "quills" and a type of oily hair. Cosmopolitan.

6 Saurian: A large and occasionally spotted crocodile or crocodile-like creature up to 65 feet long. Found in the Northern Atlantic and Mediterranean.

7 Segmented/Multi-limbed: An elongated mammalian creature up to 65 feet long with the appearance of segmentation and many fins. Found in the Western Atlantic, Indian, and Pacific.

This matter came up again because of the recent reports of a grey whale seen in the Mediterranean. I had previously identified one of Bruce's categories as the same as the 'Scrag Whale' and hence a grey whale, and I mentioned that was my opinion on Darren Naish's blog the first time the matter was posted. I had first posted about the matter at my group, Frontiers of Zoology, when the group was new, 2006-2007.

L: The Israeli Gray Whale 2010 R: Scrag Whale Drawing From Iceland, ca 1640.jpg

Bruce's long-necked categories 1A and 1B are basically Heuvelmans's long-necked and merhorse categories. They are quite possibly female and male of the same species. The lengths he gives tally well with my average estimates (assuming female and male lengths) worldwide. Nowadays, I would say those estimates are probably on the high side for both series of reports, even though Heuvelmans's estimated lengths are much longer.

The interesting part starts with 2A. This is obviously the same as a 'Tusked Whale' reported in the South Pacific and Indian Oceans, and Gesner has a depiction of it. It is not a reptile at all, and I think some of Bruce's sightings are from the New England area. There is a fossil form that corresponds to the description, Odobenoketops, although the fossil form is much smaller. The fossil form is well known in Cryptozoological circles owing to another matter, which is possibly an overlapping category, Southern Narwhals as discussed by Karl Shuker.

L: odobenoketops R: Gesner's Chybby Whale (tusked whale)

Category 2B is pertinent here because although Bruce Champagne calls it a type of beaked whale, it is obviously a gray whale and the same as the Scrag whale of the Atlantic, up until recently thought to be extinct. (Gray whale is the correct spelling, I understand)

Category 2C is evidently a type of giant eel: I have no idea why BC thought it had the odd teeth he ascribes to it. Perhaps the teeth are due to confused reports of actual seals. The reconstruction is oddly short and stumpy. My reconstruction from Heuvelmans' Super-Eel reports made composites of two quite distinct creatures which I called a Megaconger and a Titanoconger. Heuvelmans was aware of the size difference (Megaconger 20-30 feet average, Titanoconger 50-100 feet long) but did not further subdivide the category. The two are also distinct in colouration and habitat.The freshwater Giant Eel reports generally correspond to the Megaconger and not to the Titanoconger type.

Titanoconger and megaconger

Category 3 is the same as the "Caddycarcass" creature, which I would say was a decayed shark (Pseudoplesiosaur).

It does not help that Bruce Champagne combines this with the Many-Humped reports, which refer to a standing wave action and not to the actual appearance of whatever creature is producing the wave (Several different kinds of things are known to make that type of wave pattern)

4A is interesting because it corresponds to other reports of a type of beaked whale with a large backfin far back, also reported in the Pacific. And 4B is obviously the same as the Valhalla Sea-Serpent. I do not know why BC gives it such a wide size range nor Geographic range, although I was aware of other reports of the type (Heuvelmans calls one a "Marine Dimetrodon"). I actually do not know what it is, but with that head and neck it is presumably related to the Plesiosaurs.

Category 5 is the Rhapsody-type giant turtle, obviously based on reports of a humpback whale turned turtle. Reports specify that the foreflippers are 15 feet long. Humpbacks are the only known animals that have 15-foot-long flippers. The "White Carapace" is the whale's lighter belly.

Category 6 is an interesting subsection of the Marine Saurian reports and what BC has illustrated is a large seagoing crocodile, probavbly what was described as the Tarasque in the Mediterranean, the MedCroc. I append an illustration of a "Great Horned Alligator" made in review of Mark A Hall's article "'Horrors' From the Mesozoic, in PURSUIT. (Artist unknown). The same "60-foot horned Alligator (Crocodile) is spoken of in folklore and illustrated in Thailand, and other possible representations of it are from Indus Valley seals. It is worldwide in the warmer regions and better at swimming at sea than the much smaller C. porosis, which it otherwise resembles.

This is NOT the only kind of "Marine Saurian": there is a type that is like an "Alligator" (including the C. porosis references) and then one or more other types which appear to be Mosasaurs.

Category 7 is obviously the same as Heuvelmans' Many-Finned. It is much thinner than Heuvelmans' version and for comparison I include a reconstruction I once did of the Many-finned as an eel (to go with the St. Olaf sighting and several others). The "Manyfinned" is the most dubious of all of Heuvelmans' categories and all the reports could admittedly be mistaken views of small pods of sharks or toothed whales. The "Pluripinniate Eel" version does however preserve the blunt, turtle-shaped head mentioned in several reports.

I do not attach much significance to the report of the Con Rit carcass, the description was most peculiar and at secondhand (or worse).

So out of these additional categories I see some of the same familiar categories from Heuvelmans' In The Wake of The Sea-Serpents and some other things. The modifications on Heuvelmans' categories are interesting, although I have a different spin on them: and there are a few whales in there, one of a potentially new species but two known. One of the known species is probably the same as the Med Whale, and it has been seen rarely and irregularly for many years past the point when it was thought to be extinct.

NEIL ARNOLD: If This Was...Part three

If This Was In Loch Ness Would It Be A Monster?


The Ahool is a legendary giant bat. It is named because of its distinctive call: ahooool. It was reported in the rainforests of Java. The island of Java was formed mostly as the result of volcanic activity and is part of Indonesia. Java is a densely populated island with a population of approximately 124 million. It is because of this over-population that the rainforests there have grown smaller, the Gunung Halimun National Park being one of the last examples of lowland forest on the island.

The ahool is described as having an ape-like face with large dark eyes, large claws on its forearms and a body covered in grey fur. It is said to have a wingspan of 10 feet (3 metres), its flattened forearms supporting its leathery wings. It has been reported as seen squatting on the forest floor, and appeared to be the size of a small child; about 4 feet (1.1 metre) in height. The ahool’s habits are to spend its days in waterfall caves, while it spends nights skimming across the jungle waterways, scooping up fish with large claws located on the top of its forearms.

The ahool was first described by Dr Ernest Bartels while exploring the Salak Mountains on the island of Java. In 1925 naturalist Bartels (son of ornithologist M. E. G. Bartels) was exploring a waterfall on the slopes of the Salek Mountains when a giant bat swooped down over his head. Then in 1927, around 11:30 pm Bartels was lying in bed, inside his thatched house close to the Tjidjenkol River in western Java, listening to the sounds of the jungle when he suddenly heard a very different sound coming from almost directly over his hut. This loud and clear cry seemed to utter "A Hool!" Grabbing his torch, Dr Bartels ran out of his hut in the direction the sound seemed to be heading. Less than 20 seconds later he heard it again, a final A Hool! It was the giant bat he encountered 2 years before.

People who have visited the area have questioned the local people about the bat. The people say they have seen it or know of its existence and avoid it as they do other large wild animals. The villages are remote and people do not own cameras etc, so no photos have ever been produced.

Bartels's accounts of the ahool were passed to Ivan T. Sanderson by Bernard Heuvelmans, and Sanderson concluded that the ahool is a form of unclassified bat. Sanderson took an interest in the ahool because he too had a strange encounter with an unknown giant bat in the Assumbo Mountains of Cameroon, in Africa. Sanderson thought that the ahool could be an Oriental form of the giant bat-like creature he witnessed in Africa, called the Kongamato.

The biggest known bat today is the Bismark flying fox, which has a wing span of six feet (almost 2 metres) from wing tip to wing tip. The island of Java is near the flying fox's home of New Guinea, so could it be a relative?

The other theory about ahool is that two large earless owls exist on Java, the spotted wood-owl (Strix seloputo) and the Javan wood-owl (Strix (leptogrammica) bartelsi) (named after Bartels's father) being 16-20 inches (40-50 cms) long and with a wingspan of 4 feet (1.1 metres). However, one would have thought Bartels would have known what the owls looked like, especially as his father discovered one and also the local people would be familiar with them. With the demise of the rain forests, if these creatures exist, they may have been pushed to extinction, which is a sad thought.

See here for the story from Karl Shuker’s book:

Holt, Denver W., Berkley, Regan; Deppe, Caroline; Enríquez Rocha, Paula L.; Olsen, Penny D.; Petersen, Julie L.; Rangel Salazar, José Luis; Segars, Kelley P. & Wood, Kristin L. (1999): Family Strigidae (typical owls). In: del Hoyo, J.; Elliott, A. & Sargatal, J. (eds): Handbook of Birds of the World, Volume 5: Barn-owls to Hummingbirds: 76-242, plates 4-20. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. ISBN 84-87334-25-3


I know that this sounds like the title of a Japanese fantasy DVD but being Oll, this is probably appropriate. I sent him out about five minutes ago to take some photographs of the new tanks to accompany the bloggo post about Richard Muirhead's donation, and he also took these pics to show how his woodland glade is going. There is a small piece of ground by the main aviary block that I tried to make into a formal-looking flower bed and failed unequivocally.

Oll asked whether he could plant native wild flowering plants in an attempt to attract the local invertebrate population, and (although I was sorely tempted to note that my bed of French marigolds had done a jolly good job of attracting the local invertebrates in the form of slugs) I said yes, and promptly forgot about it.

There are at least sixteen species growing there and it looks very nice. I think he has done a jolly good job....


My dear Jon,

Take a look at this little beauty. I photographed it at the British Tarantula Society Exhibition yesterday. It sure ain’t no spider but it’s gorgeous in the extreme – and WEIRD too.

You might like to upload it for all to see on your website. Many people won’t have seen anything like it, I am sure.

I have kept one of these in the past – voracious eaters and diggers and bloody fast too.

Love to you and the team.