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, July 04, 2010

NEIL ARNOLD: The Waikato Saurian Monster

From the Wanganui Herald Volume XXI, Issue 6363, Page 2, 8th November 1887

‘Some months ago the Auckland papers were full of accounts of a mysterious monster that cleared carcasses out of slaughterhouses, chased children, left peculiar tracks in the mud, etc, but for some time there had been no mention of it. It appears now however that the stranger has been caught, and shot.

We take the following account of its capture from a letter of a Hamilton correspondent to the Auckland Star :- It appears that a native, whilst fishing in his canoe just off the South Spit of the Raglan Harbour, on Friday, observed, on looking towards the shore, a large animal, apparently slumbering on the beach. He immediately gave the alarm, and the natives assembled in numbers on the beach with guns. The monster, on being approached, opened its mouth grunting, barking and snapping its ugly jaws. Rawiri fired at its head and hit him, the bullet taking no effect. Another native then fired and wounded him in the side. Upon approaching it, the animal put its arms, wings or flappers in front of its head as a mode of defence, but being severely wounded could offer no resistance. A rope was then fastened round its neck. About a dozen Maoris took it in tow to the Raglan Wharf, on to which it was landed by means of a crane. After being killed it was found to be 11 feet in length, and 6 feet in circumference. It has two large arms or flappers. Its tail consisted of two large propellers opening out like the web foot of a duck. It was covered with a fine fur and had no ears, but openings in its skin. It had 16 teeth in each jaw, four of them being like tusks. The head has been preserved. It is supposed to be a sea elephant. The skin is also preserved. It weighs between 6 and 7 ….

The NZ Herald’s correspondent on Monday last wired as follows:- The Raglan mail carrier, who arrived today, describes the saurian monster shot on Friday as being much larger than any seal, with different teeth and a mouth that could swallow a man. It roared like a bull when shot and could be heard for a long distance. The native policeman, Rawiri, who shot it, asks £20 for the skin, head and legs, which are prepared for stuffing.’
The Taranaki Herald Volume XXXVI, Issue 8012, Page 4, on November 3rd however, were slightly more dramatic in their description of the beast.

‘The mystery of the saurian monster which developed from an animal of the alligator species to one having the head of a tiger, has been cleared up. The Castleton boys, after all, were not drawing much on their imagination. Its head is like that of a leopard, with two rows of formidable teeth, 12 in each row. Skin of a light grey silver colour…On opening the body two pouch-like stomachs were found full of birds and feathers. One of our more enterprising settlers has purchased the monster, with a view of exhibiting throughout New Zealand, Australia and through the United Staes and Europe.’


Dale Drinnon said...

There are traditions of "Saurian Monsters" in the general area but this was not one. I can well believe it was an elephant seal because they are elsewhere suspected to be the cause of other "Bunyip" sightings all over Australia and New Zealand.

This is a young one and not even especially large for the species. The description of the flippers is instructive.

Skulls of elephant seals found washed up on beaches of the Southernmost landmasses are often produced as "Monster heads", and including not only in Australia but also in Patagonia and South Africa.

shiva said...

At 11 feet long, with a "fine fur" of a "light grey silver colour" and a head compared to that of a leopard and a tiger (with no mention of a proboscis), i would guess that, rather than an elephant seal, this was a leopard seal, Hydrurga leptonyx. These have occurred in Australia as vagrants and been labelled as "bunyips", with very precise descriptions making the identification uncontestable (and showing the local "experts" unfamiliarity with the species) - i'd imagine it would be just as easy for one to end up in New Zealand. The stomach full of "birds and feathers" also fits as their primary diet is penguins.

Peter Hassall said...

This whole affair is a lot more complicated with several cases of attacks on sheep, cows, horses, etc. Also varied monster reports in the area including a giant eel. There were a couple of carcasses touring the country purported to be the Waikato Saurian. Fortean Times #257 (Jan 2010) pages 32-33 has a detailed, refernced article I wrote.