Half a century ago, Belgian Zoologist Bernard Heuvelmans first codified cryptozoology in his book On the Track of Unknown Animals.

The Centre for Fortean Zoology (CFZ) are still on the track, and have been since 1992. But as if chasing unknown animals wasn't enough, we are involved in education, conservation, and good old-fashioned natural history! We already have three journals, the largest cryptozoological publishing house in the world, CFZtv, and the largest cryptozoological conference in the English-speaking world, but in January 2009 someone suggested that we started a daily online magazine! The CFZ bloggo is a collaborative effort by a coalition of members, friends, and supporters of the CFZ, and covers all the subjects with which we deal, with a smattering of music, high strangeness and surreal humour to make up the mix.

It is edited by CFZ Director Jon Downes, and subbed by the lovely Lizzy Bitakara'mire (formerly Clancy), scourge of improper syntax. The daily newsblog is edited by Corinna Downes, head administratrix of the CFZ, and the indexing is done by Lee Canty and Kathy Imbriani. There is regular news from the CFZ Mystery Cat study group, and regular fortean bird news from 'The Watcher of the Skies'. Regular bloggers include Dr Karl Shuker, Dale Drinnon, Richard Muirhead and Richard Freeman.The CFZ bloggo is updated daily, and there's nothing quite like it anywhere else. Come and join us...

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Sunday, October 31, 2010

HARRIET WADHAM: Meece and Holidays

My dad is a gardener and you know the way gardeners like to tip their compost bins upside down? Well… he did this and out of the flying particles of rotting apples a full-grown mouse mother scampered off to leave her children to dad. Dad has done this before once and the mice were actual pink, furless newborns. Sadly, none of them made it and Dad felt very depressed, as did all of us. But this time the mice he found had fur and as their eyes were still closed they would be more comfortable when their eyes did open as this following piece of mouse logic suggests....

Big thing comes with eyedropper. Eyedropper has drink. Big thing comes with cotton bud. Cotton bud has food. Eat and drink. Feel satisfied. Go and snuggle with others.

Therefore, when we witnessed the mice’s eyes opening it was very sweet as they scampered around Dad’s hand and followed the mouse logic. Now they have a big tank all to themselves with a little warm hidey-hole. The furniture consists of cardboard tubes fashioned into ladders and tunnels and newspaper shavings, which have soya-based ink so it doesn’t harm the mice, which are lactose-intolerant. We used to feed them with a cotton bud but they’ve gone on to solids so now they just nibble on the raisins and nuts we drop down the hidey-hole. Unfortunately my sister and brother keep arguing over the name of one of the mice. Lily calls him Frodo and Henry calls him Chubby. I call him Frodo too so I don’t quite know why Henry doesn’t give up. It might be because he’s seven. I don’t know. I don’t know! I just don’t know. Ah yes, and we call them meece for some strange reason.

We were on holiday for most of this week and I am writing this blog about an hour after we got back. During our holiday we spent about an hour watching The Sarah Jane Adventures and I didn’t time it on my watch otherwise that would be just strange. Anyway, a summary would be swimming pool, playing Pool, arcade and making a holiday film on Mum’s laptop. It will be on here the moment it is finished! Actually, that would probably upset the space-time continuum and bring a paradox crashing down on us as the theory of time travel is light years out of our grasp. For people who didn’t understand a word I just typed (and that includes me), we wouldn’t feel very happy. I used Windows Movie Maker and there are a couple of clips in SLOW-MO. There’s one of Henry saying "…is the caravan we didn’t expect to get." In SLOW-MO. There’s another of Henry talking about his room in SLOW-MO. Most of the ones with Henry in are in SLOW-MO. It’s because he’s got a SLOW-MO voice. It works well in SLOW-MO.

Anyhoo, here is a piece of news I feel I should bring to your attention. At last year’s Weird Weekend some of the raffle prizes were SASQWATCHES. Or however you spell that word. And I crossed my fingers all the way through hoping for a SASQWATCH. Did I get one? No. So humph to all you lucky people who got a SASQWATCH.


Humph humph.
Humph humph humph humph humph humph humph.

RICHARD FREEMAN: Daemons of the Dreamtime #5

Whowhie was a flesh-eating monster the size of a whale. It had a frog-like head with big, dark eyes and a mouth full of sharp teeth. It had a long tail and six legs. The monster lived in a cave beneath the Murray River. At night it emerged and searched for campfires to lead it to human prey. Whowhie could devour whole tribes in one night.

The Aborigines defeated the monster by piling up brushwood around all the entrances to its lair as it slept then setting fire to the tinder dry material and smoking Whowhie to death. Some think this monster is a distorted memory of the giant monitor lizard Megalania prisca that would have hunted early human settlers in Australia.

ARCHIVING PROJECT: General Forteana Part 30

As you know, Oll has been working on the archiving project since early February 2009 and he is now working on a general mish-mash of a section known as `General Forteana`. This 30th collection once again really is a collection of completely uncategoriseable stuff, including a green cat in Denmark, a rare Savi's pipistrelle saved from a cat, a two headed calf and a python in a lavatory. It doesn't get much better than this. Good stuff.



A week may be a long time in politics, but ten minutes can be an aeon in cryptozoology. I only wrote this a few minutes ago: 'The India expedition left the UK yesterday. They said that they would try to get in touch when they landed, but not to worry if we didn't hear anything. We haven't heard anything, and we are sitting here with collectively baited breath...'

Then the phone rang. For the first news from India, I strongly suggest that you scootle over to the expedition blog....



Once again, this story is courtesy Rick from the Paranormal Buffalo email group.

Horse Apparition
Joshua P. Warren sends us this photo of what Lynn Jackson, who operated a rescue in Lancaster, South Carolina, calls a "horse apparition." According to Lynn, after her pony named Noah died, his spirit would frequently run through the house. Lynn snapped this shot of Noah tearing through the living room one night. For more, visit JoshuaPWarren.com.

OLL LEWIS: Yesterday's News Today


On this day in 1612 Michelangelo's paintings on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel were unveiled to the public for the first time.
And now, the news:

Record year for endangered Colombian parrot
Warm weather sets lowland skink sex
South Uist whales 'now safe' at sea
Smugglers Now After Venomous Snakes
Hoax Alert - New Spider Found in United State Kill...
U.S. "Wildlife Services"--A Tale of Unrepentant Ma...
Report your sightings of the Death's Head Hawk-mot...

Don't mess with moths:

Saturday, October 30, 2010

HALLOWE'EN: Redders writes

It's a link to a new Halloween-themed article for our local newspaper (print copy and online copy) in which I'm interviewed/profiled:


HALLOWE'EN: A Picture from Lars

OLL LEWIS: Paul the Psychic Octopus

Most men do not care that much about football, despite what the media and lazy advertisers might like to tell you. A fair few will follow their national team during the world cup though, having been lied to by the papers that their team of middle ability also-rans have magically developed the skills to win the cup in the four short years since humiliation at the last one. Myself, I have never liked football; I could at this point launch into a long discourse about exactly what I don't like about the game and the reasons it is inferior to rugby union, F1, swimming, athletics and the countless other sports that the British are good at but often get ignored in favour of football and I'm sure such a diatribe would be very funny but it has no place on a blog dedicated to unknown and unusual animals. The reason I mention football is that during the last period of national embarrassment known as the world cup there actually was something that made me put the TV on rather than relying on an 'Allo Allo' box set to help me avoid the tawdrey and vapid braying of wall to wall football. That something was Paul the psychic octopus.

Paul the psychic octopus must have come as a welcome relief to the British press as it was becoming increasingly clear that the much touted English football team had no chance of winning the world cup and everyone was getting thoroughly bored with reading articles about noisy trumpets.

Paul was a common octopus (Octopus vulgaris) born in the Sea Life Centre in Weymouth, England, in January 2008 before being moved to Oberhausen, Germany's Sea Life Centre. Later in 2008 the German octopus keepers hit on a fun way of getting publicity for the attraction by putting on a little show where they would get one of their octopodes to “predict” the results of Germany's European cup games. They did this by giving the octopus access to two plastic boxes from its tank, each containing an item of food but decorated with a different countries flag, the idea being the first plastic tank the octopus took food from would be the winner of the football match.

The octopus used to make these “predictions” was not Paul and went to the correct box four times out of the six games. Paul got his chance to shine during the 2010 world cup where the plucky 'pus picked the box of the eventual winners eight times out of eight.

That might seem very impressive if you don't know how chance and probability work; in actual fact it is exactly the same chance of occurring as any other set of results. There would have been as much chance of Paul predicting for example three results and five incorrect results as his getting all eight correct; it just seems more remarkable because Paul was lucky enough to pick the right eight. Each time Paul predicted he had a ½ chance of getting the answer right, which again doesn't make it seem quite so remarkable as Paul's achievement was painted as being. Furthermore, it is unlikely Paul would be choosing the box purely by chance; he may well have just been selecting the box with the freshest or largest bit of food in it or making his choice based on which flags had the geometric shapes he found more interesting (octopodes don't see colours so the possibility that he was selecting based on colour schemes can probably be discounted). If the keepers had knowledge of what would tempt him into one box over another it would also be possible for them to further increases Paul's chances of a successful prediction. For example if Germany were to play a match against a vastly inferior team that it would be highly unlikely to lose against, then if you know how to get your psychic octopus to go to the German box it is wise to do that lest you run the risk of your little media celebrity that is bringing in the publicity becoming yesterday's news.

For an example of just what happens when a psychic sports result predicting animal fails to deliver who remembers Mani the Parakeet? Mani was doing more or less the same act as Paul, using cards instead of boxes to make his predictions. The cards were face down so the predictions were more likely to have been based on random luck, or psychic powers if your bread is buttered that way, than Paul's and Mani successfully predicted the outcomes of all the quarter finals and one of the semi-finals. However, as Mani gave the wrong prediction for the result of the final he has been all but forgotten.

As a result of his successful predictions Paul became something of a celebrity but with fame there comes a downside. The more famous and successful you are the more likely it will be that you'll have some creepy little weirdo hoping to garner fame or respect for themselves and to stroke their own ego and unwarranted sense of self-importance by trying to do you down. Often these people are unaware that they are only making fools of themselves and will continue on their tirades often based on their own misunderstanding or lack of intelligence to interpret facts correctly while they become laughing stocks. With Paul this came from a most unlikely source; President of Iran, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

Ahmadinejad attacked Paul verbally in several speeches as a symbol of the decadence of the West and seemed to actually believe that Western governments and people were hanging on the every word of the prophetic 'pus and spreading Western propaganda around the world. Ahmadinejad actually said:

“Those who believe in this type of thing cannot be the leaders of the global nations that aspire, like Iran, to human perfection.”

That might be going a touch too far; after all it is only an octopus.

Paul passed away on the 26th of October 2010 living about the average lifespan for a common octopus and it remains to be seen whether another octopus will step up to fill his shoes at the next football cup and just how successful they will be.



HALLOWE'EN: A freaky Feature from Friswell

A year or so 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.

HAPPY HALLOWEEN!!! Although Halloween has its origins in Britain, it's mainly known as an American holiday, principally because of the Irish settlers bringing their beliefs and customs to the US after fleeing the potato famine of the mid-1800s. Britain has only started celebrating Halloween in the last fifteen years or so, but we have a long way to go before we can compete with our American cousins in their embracing of all things ghoulish and ghastly. I feel postively deprived that we didn't celebrate Halloween earlier--all that trick-or-treating that I missed out on....

HALLOWE'EN: A story from Corinna

OLL LEWIS: Yesterday's News Today


On this day in 1926 escapologist, magician and exposer of fake mediums Harry Houdini died. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mUbytEgTXZQ
And now, the news:

Fluffy the world's longest snake dies
Flocks of birds on feeders this winter mask seriou...
Raising Giant Insects to Unravel Ancient Oxygen
Atlantic Sea Turtle Population Threatened by Egg I...
Cheeky monkey raids gardens

It's a wonder these chimps didn't rip their keepers' arms off for putting them through this ritual humiliation:
(by the way, despite what it sounds like, the older chimps name is Mr SHIFTer)

Friday, October 29, 2010


Reposted from the Paranormal Buffalo email group, courtesy of Rick. The original message was posted by someone called Tad and read: I was in Beirut for a vacation and went out to a castle in Lebanon, which had a strange exhibit of animal curiosities, including the pictured two-headed goat.


Over on Cryptomundo, Loren has news of a new monkey from Myanmar

SAMUEL MANASEH: Giant anaconda video

Hello again Jonathan,

I thought that your readers might be interested in the following video that shows two long anacondas in Brazil.

In the first part of the video, Thiago, a Brazilian, happened to capture on his cell phone camera a backhoe lifting an anaconda out of a canal that was being dredged to clean it. This was a few weeks ago.

No one was aware that the anaconda was in the canal. The operator put the bucket in the water, and lo and behold, when he lifted it, there was this anaconda hanging from both sides of the bucket!

Thiago wrote to me that, "from the way we estimate measurements in life everyday," it appeared to be about 9 meters long.

He could be right.

Using the men as references for height for the backhoe, the backhoe could have been 4 meters in height. This is consistent with backhoes sold by companies such as John Deer, Caterpillar and Komatsu, among others, which, indeed, sell backhoes, etc that are over 5 meters in height.

Thiago wrote that the backhoe operator lifted the bucket to its full height, and the anaconda touched the ground on both sides. If one meter of the anaconda was stretched over the mouth of the bucket, it would have an approximate length of (4x2+1)meters = 9 meters.

The second part of the video includes a clip that I was sent when I was requesting more information on anacondas. I was informed that that it is a picture that has been circulating in Brazil since the 1960s, and the snake was said to have been measured at over 12 meters long (3 meters longer than the accepted world record for a snake's length.)

From the angle picture, it is difficult to estimate the length of the snake, but using the people and tractor as a reference, it appears that it would be at least 8 meters.

A very interesting thing about the second snake is that I was informed that it was killed in Mato Grosso, which, as you probably already aware, is the same general geographical location that Colonel Percy Fawcett claimed to have killed a 62 foot (about 18 meters) anaconda.

Here's the link:


INDIA EXPEDITION: Richard embarks





OLL LEWIS: Yesterday's News Today


On this day in 1960 the world's first successful kidney transplant was performed by Michael Woodruff. Interestingly, some organ transplant recipients claim to “inherit” memories, interests and in a few cases languages from the original owners of the organ despite there being no known mechanism by which these could be transferred...
And now, the news:

Cycads face extinction
Emperor of Exmoor: reports of his demise may be ex...
WWF welcomes EU Commissioner’s call for big cut in...
Nocturnal cow attacks car
Follow that microlight: Birds learn to migrate
Monkey Fossils Suggest Primates Came Out of Asia, …

The nature of... (yeah, we know by now):

Thursday, October 28, 2010




As you all know, there is a doggie-shaped hole in our lives at the moment. Corinna and I are beginning to look around in search of the canid who shall become the CFZ Dog Mk4, and several things are becoming apparent. Firstly, all the animal shelters are full of animals of the same three breeds: border collies, Jack Russells and Staffies. And secondly, there is a serious dearth of mongrels. Now I, along with Dr Dolittle, have always rather preferred mongrels, thinking that they are generally more grounded and less highly strung than thoroughbreds.

In the last thirty years (and you must remember that the last time I went actively looking for a new dog was 1985 because Tessie just arrived one day and Corinna found Biggles) things have changed. Quite rightly, owners are encouraged to neuter their animals, but this means that birth control amongst the canid community is now pretty good. The only litters born are ones that have been planned, often for financial reasons, and therefore if Dr Dolittle were to start his Home For Crossbred Dogs today, it would probably remain empty!


OK, I am not perfect; I am the first person to admit this. I am also not trained in anything to do with the publishing industry, but there is really no excuse for the defecatory spelling mistake on the spine of Darren Naish's book.

I have now fixed it and the amended spine can be seen above, but it does mean that the first 100 or so people who bought Tetrapod Zoology will have got a special limited edition collector's item.

That's the spin that I am putting on it anyway.


What is it?


The FT UnCon always promises to be a weekend of unusual events, and so it was. Over the two-day period, I finally met Rebecca Lang, amused a small child with the deft and dextrous use of a hot dog and a pigeon, fed a homeless person, drank a reasonably substantial quantity of alcohol and saw a ghost--as you do.

The various stalls and tables were of special interest, returning me to those wonderful days of childhood when I would haunt the bookshelves of W.H. Smith, which in those informative times were stacked with titles describing every sort of paranormal and Fortean phenomena, many of which found their way home with me, or at least as many as I could twist the arm of my mum and dad to buy for me.

Sadly--'tragically' is more like it--the popularisation and public accessibility to this material seems to have diminished somewhat in the latter years, whether due to lack of interest or publishers losing faith in a field that perhaps appears to be increasingly esoteric.

Now maybe I’m biased--I probably am--but the CFZ, through their independent publishing of Fortean material, is quite possibly the last outlet--or one of the very few--for this kind of literature.

There have been accusations from some quarters that the CFZ are guilty of ‘vanity publishing.’ Oh yeah--well what the hell is that? If it means the publication of a work without consultation or recourse to an established publisher, then personally, I think that’s a good thing, especially in the current climate.

I’m sure we all know the story of how Harry Potter was turned down by fifteen publishing houses before someone finally saw the light. So what chance for black dogs, albino eels, out-of-place pine-martens and Wells catfish? Not much, I would think, in a ‘reading’ environment that seems to actively promote illiteracy among the young and impressionable, through the deification of half-baked ‘celebrities’ who, seemingly unable to write for themselves, have their vacuous and tedious ‘autobiographies’ ghost-written by some anonymous scribe; and the downright obscene proliferation of drivel like OK magazine, that now occupy the very shelves where once were the Fortean books of my youth.

I’ve put up some of the titles that meant so much to me a kid, and it would be nice if the CFZ publications became just as special to some youngster today. And why not?

So well done to Jon and the CFZ team for keeping the diversity and interest of true Fortean publications alive.

OLL LEWIS: Crypto Cons - The United Kingdom of the Crystal Skull

Tucked away in the corner of a gallery of the British Museum in London is perhaps the most unusual object on display in any European museum. The object is one of the most famous the museum houses; for many it is right up there with the Rosetta Stone, the Elgin Marbles, Lindow Man, the Sutton Hoo horde and the Egyptian Mummies. Yet it is not proudly displayed on the floor plans like many of the other more notable exhibits. In fact, if you are not paying attention and do not know where it is you will probably miss it as you are drawn into the centre of the room by a large statue from Easter Island. I am talking of the crystal skull.

In spite of its semi-hidden position, behind you and to the left, past the stairwell and large display case as you enter the Wellcome Trust gallery, the skull's display case is well lit and sports a surprisingly large information panel compared to most of the museums exhibits. The skull itself glistens and sparkles in the light, giving off an almost magical feel, and it is easy to see why so many people have attributed other-worldly properties to it. The skull was not made by the Aztecs, as was thought for many years, or by higher-dimensional beings as in Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal skull (NOT aliens as people who didn't actually pay attention to the film say) but rather by a European jeweller in the 19th century.

There are several other crystal skulls dotted around the various museums of the world and belonging to private owners; the British Museum and the Mitchell-Hedges skull are the most ornately carved and spectacular examples, and all of them have been carved using modern techniques or using crystals that Aztec artisans would not have had access to and the item's discovery is typically unrecorded in any archaeological digs. The skull that would become known as the British Museum's crystal skull first appeared in 1881 in the Mexican antiquities shop of Eugène Boban (aka Boban-Duvergé) a Frenchman who was the official court archaeologist in Mexico during the short reign of Emperor Maximilian I. Boban sold two crystal skulls, for which he provided no information on how they had come into his posession. One skull was to eventually end up in the Quai Branly Museum in Paris and the other in British Museum. Boban attempted to sell the British Museum skull to several Mexican museums, claiming Aztec provenance for the object, but these attempts failed and it was eventually sold to American entrepreneur George H. Sisson in 1887. After being placed on public exhibition the skull was bought by Tiffany's of New York who sold it to a very eager British Museum. At the time it seemed like a good purchase as it was the most ornately carved and detailed example of what was thought to be a very rare Aztec artefact, and it took pride of place in the museum's Central and South American galleries.

However, by the 1960s and 70s the twin pressures of doubt in the archaeological world over the authenticity of crystal skulls, due in part to no finds ever having been properly documented and the vastly different artistic styles of the skulls, and the rise of proponents of New Age belief systems ascribing paranormal properties to the skulls, essentially forced the museum to hide the skull from public display for a while, only trotting it out for the occasional appearance on TV shows like Arthur C. Clark's Mysterious World. It was fast becoming evident to the museum that they had been fooled into buying a lemon and the final confirmation of this came when scientists from Cardiff University concluded that a wheeled cutting tool had been used in the skull's manufacture, which, because the Aztecs didn't even have wheels, meant it was certainly not Aztec in origin. The nature of the microscopic groves caused by the cutting implement was reminiscent of manufacturing processes used by mid-19th century German jewellers, and geologists also concluded it was doubtful that Mexicans would have had access to a large enough chunk of quartz to carve the skull before the arrival of Europeans.

Thankfully, though, despite lurking out of the way, the skull is on display in the museum along with a large display telling people of the hoax and how it was discovered. Not a lot of museums would come clean so readily to being duped and even display the object in such a beautiful manner so the British museum are to be commended for this. The crystal skull may have only limited historical value but its beauty and the part it has played in the history of hoaxes mean that this 19th century piece of art has certainly earned its place among the treasures housed in the world's greatest and most impressive historical museum.

OLL LEWIS: Yesterday's News Today


On this day in 1618 Sir Walter Raleigh was executed. Raleigh was best known as being an explorer in the Americas, and for introducing the potato and tobacco to Britain (even though he didn't, in actual fact). He attempted to find the lost colony of Roanoki Island with his cousin Richard Grenville and led a few expeditions to find El Dorado.
And now, the news:

Tracking Golden Eagles by Satellite; Impact of Lar...
Mink release in Donegal threatens birds
Psychic octopus death conspiracy claim
True believer records sightings
Four-Legged Chick

Usually at this point I post a little video or something linked in some way to a story in the news. Not today; today I'm going to post something unrelated to cryptozoological news; something that is claimed to be evidence of time travel. According to the video it was filmed in 1928 at the premier of Charlie Chaplin’s film The Circus in New York and shows a butch lady or man in drag talking on a mobile phone.

Seems like humbug to me but this could be the start of a new Fortean flavoured urban legend so I do recommend strongly that you take a look.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

ARCHIVING PROJECT: General Forteana part 29

As you know, Oll has been working on the archiving project since early February 2009 and he is now working on a general mish-mash of a section known as `General Forteana`. This 29th collection once again really is a collection of completely uncategoriseable stuff, including the murder victim who took 22 years to die, the fake Jack the Ripper diaries, Einstein's brain, Napoleon's hair, and cattle in small cars. It doesn't get much better than this. Good stuff.



Max sent along this link with a brief note saying that he hoped it would amuse me. It certainly did!

ROBERT SCHNECK: Sylvanic Nondescript

Todd Standing claims that this is a picture of a Bigfoot which he photographed in the "Sylvanic" forest. I would eat my own head before suggesting that someone is fibbing, but whatever this is, it resembles Charles Waterton's "Nondescript".


The Boy Redfern writes: While some people cringe at the notion that Bigfoot and distinct Fortean high-strangeness might somehow go together, I most certainly do not! Indeed, I have investigated numerous cases that suggest whatever the Bigfoot creatures may be, there seems to be an aspect of the phenomenon that takes us into some very strange, and near-paranormal, realms.

Read on chaps and chapesses

Unicorn on Video

One of the things that is most notable about the weird world of forteana is that events happen in clusters. For example, over the last few weeks there have been a number of unicorn stories here on the blog, such as this one set at the Appledore book festival.

Now a unicorn has been captured on video...

Before you all start jumping for your field investigation gear, it is a viral marketing hoax from
the Ontario Science Center, which has a new exhibit to promote called “Mythic Creatures: Dragons, Unicorns, & Mermaids,”

Read more: http://www.reelseo.com/unicorn-video-hoax-genius-piece-viral-marketing/#ixzz13YUSjU1k

SIMULACRA: Enter the Dragon

Yesterday we posted a slice of YouTube video that shows a gorgeous cloud formation in the shape of a bird. Today our old friend Matt Williams writes:

My Dragon cloud taken whilst flying...

can you see its head wings and legs... you may have to stare a bit but its there...


OLL LEWIS: Yesterday's News Today


On this day in 1982 Matt Smith was born. Smith plays the 11th incarnation of the Doctor in Doctor Who and has thus far been doing a brilliant job of it.

And now, the news:

Owners may be nearing answers to cow mutilation my...
Dino Death
'Indiana Jones' hits the Yeti trail in Nepal
Spectacular unknown species found in Amazon
Columbus cleared of importing syphilis from Americ...
50-Million-Year-Old Insect Trove Found in Indian A...
The diva dog Lu Lu which walks on her hind legs an...

Much better than Susan Boyle:

Tuesday, October 26, 2010


Thank you Max for so very kindly getting this book for me. As you know I have been wanting it for a long time, both for personal interest and for the beginning of a new CFZ project.

Apologies, however, for leaving it in your rucksack.

Post it on and I shall buy you beer a-plenty.

Magnificent bird simulacrum


The fact that this discovery took place in David Attenborough's garden makes it of mildly fortean-zoological interest.

A 131-year-old murder mystery solved after skull found in Sir David Attenborough's back garden
2:01pm Monday 25th October 2010
By Christine Fleming

A murder mystery dating back to the 1800s may yet be solved - thanks to wildlife enthusiast David Attenborough. The skull of a woman, believed to be Julia Martha Thomas, was discovered in the presenter's garden, in Park Road, Richmond, on Friday. Local historians now believe a murder mystery dating from 1879 could finally have been solved.

Neighbours in the street were intrigued by the grisly find and 40-year-old Marina Solin said it had peaked her interest. She said: "It would be interesting to learn a bit more about it all."

Workmen at the 84-year-old wildlife presenter's home found the skull while excavating part of the garden ready for a new extension. The land, where the extension was intended to go, was on the site of the old Hole in the Wall pub which Sir David bought last year. Police believe the human remains belong to Mrs Thomas, a former Park Road resident who was killed by her maid 131 years ago.

Katherine Webster was found guilty of killing her mistress and mutilating the body when she was sentenced in July of 1879. On the day of her execution, Webster reportedly told her priest: "I alone committed the murder of Mrs Thomas. I pushed her down stairs and strangled her." Despite her confession and the recovered mutilated remains the head of murdered Julia Thomas was never found. Now years later the mystery of where the murdered Mrs Thomas' head disappeared to may well have been solved with the skull being found just metres from her former home.

Neighbour David Porter, 64, tried to keep upbeat about the gruesome find, and joked: "It was nothing to do with me." He added: "What can you say really - it's interesting but it shows they never looked very far for the head." The spot where the discovery was made has been cordoned off and police were today still guarding the sealed site.

Police said specialists would be removing and examining the skull.


Whilst looking for mystery animal reports from Hong Kong last week I came across a rather interesting report of an ape man in pre-Communist Shanghai. I wasn`t aware of any other urban ape-men until Richard Freeman passed on details to me of an orang pendek type creature in Singapore (see below) from his forthcoming book on orang pendek. The only other reference I am aware of to this Shanghai (or, rather, Pootung) ape man is in the book Outbreak! The Encyclopaedia of Extraordinary Social Behaviour by Hilary Evans and Robert Bartholomew.

China Mail of August 26th 1947 said: “ The Pootung Ape-Man Moves To Soochow

Reports of the Pootung monster spread to Soochow Creek and families living in sampans were made panicky and confused during the night by stories of a half-human, half animal monster that scratched the eyes of several children living in sampans. The reports started last week in the Pootung area and spread quickly up and down the water front. The reports. The reports, coupled with rumours that an abduction gang is in operation, led to six volunteer policemen beating a woman to death in an attempt to get a confession and beating another unconscious.
Families living in sampans on Soochow Creek, which winds through the heart of Shanghai dividing the former International Settlement from the former Japanese Hongkew district, said the monster appeared on Saturday night (1).The police were unable to find evidence (?) while strangers were threatened by sampan folks. Confusion started when a sampan woman lulling a baby to sleep screamed for help when she thought she saw a dark form rising from the water.

Alley Cat

The Customs and Harbour police rowed up the creek and could not find anything, while crowds gathered on the bank.

Shortly after midnight last night, hearing screams from another woman again the dwellers of the smelly tidal creek, which carries much sewage in Shanghai, found a brown and white alley cat splashing about dozens of families in terror- United Press (2)

Outbreak! Says: “Cryptozoology, per se, also shows up marginally in relation to a “Water Monster Panic” that occurred in Shanghai,China, in August 1947, An “amphibious monster scare” resulted in the death by drowning of a man who jumped overboard when he heard screams of what he thought was the monster. Two other men were beaten to death by a crowd “who believed they were somehow linked to the monster” (3)

Freeman has written: “The New Paper, Singapore`s first English language paper launched in 1988, has run a number of such reports [of small upright, walking apes-RM]

A 48-year old taxi driver, called Serangoon made the following report.

“When driving my taxi past the Fire Station on Upper Bukit Timah road in the middle of the night I hit what I thought was a child that ran out in the middle of the road.It was on the car bonnet and then snarled at me-it was like a monkey but so big! It ran off injured covered in blood, and holding its` arm which was broken. (4)

1 August 23rd 1947
2 China Mail August 26TH 1947
3 Cryptomundo June 6th 2009
4 R.Freeman Unpublished manuscript of book on Orang Pendek in e-mail to R.Muirhead of 22/10/10


I hope to start seriously collecting data for a book on Chinese Forteana; I hope the most comprehensive collection yet. If anyone would like to help collect info, please can they contact me at richmuirhead@ntlworld.com? Thanks.


We`re Smart Patrol
Nowhere to go
Suburban robots that monitor reality
Common stock
We work around the clock
We shove the poles in the holes
(Shove it)

Wait a minute somethings wrong
He`s a man with a plan
He`s here to do us a favour
A little human sacrifice
It`s just supply and demand…..

Nick R reviews `The Mystery Animals of Ireland`

Well, I'm pleased to say that there is now a brand new edition to the growing Mystery Animals of... series. This one covers Ireland and comes to us courtesy of cryptozoologist Gary Cunningham and surely the funniest (in every sense of the word!) man in Forteana, Ronan Coghlan, who my wife Dana refers to as a "lovable hoot"!

I read this book in two sittings, late at night and into the early hours, and while sprawled out on the settee, and I can say for certain that this is an absolutely excellent addition to this on-going series of titles.

What Gary and Coggers have done is to finally, definitively, and once and for all, offer the reader a comprehensive, in-depth, and very well-written study of the many and varied mystery animals of Ireland that cover centuries-past to the present day.

Read on

ROBERT SCHNECK: The ant which ain't

Apart from hoverflies, the Diptera are not my favorite insects. Nevertheless, I think I love Vestigipoda longiseta.

"Most of what you see in the lower of the two photoes above are larvae of army ants of the genus Aenictus. The odd one out is the whiter 'larva' in the centre, which is not a larva at all, but a fully adult female of the phorid fly Vestigipoda longiseta! (The upper photo shows the same animal in close-up.) This bizarre animal makes its living by imitating its host larvae and being fed by the larvae's deluded carers. Five species of Vestigipoda have been described to date from Malaysia (Disney et al., 1998; Murayama et al., 2008)."

For more, visit Christopher Taylor's blog "Catalogue of Organisms"

OLL LEWIS: Yesterday's News Today


I'm back from now but thanks to all the folks who have been running the newsblog and YNT whilst Gavin and myself have been away.

On this day in 1914 Dylan Thomas was born. Thomas is one of Britain's most read and best loved poets.

And now, the news:

Bigfoot in Santa Cruz County?: Enthusiasts make th...
Germany: Black panther hunt (via Chad Arment)
Snake swarm (via Rachel Carthy)
NH Mountain Lion Sightings (via Chad Arment)
Paul the Psychic Octopus dead

Hmm, wonder if he saw it coming... Anyway, here is Paul's finest hour:

Monday, October 25, 2010

Bittern monitoring in the UK: summary of the 2010 breeding season


• a further increase in the number of booming male Bitterns to 87, up from 82 in 2009;
• an increase in the number of active nests, with 41 confirmed;
• an increase in the number of sites occupied by booming male Bitterns, with 47 sites being used;
• substantial increases in booming males and nesting females on the Somerset Levels;
• just 11 Confirmed nests on the Suffolk coast, the lowest in more than a decade;
• nesting occurred in southeast England for the first time since the monitoring project began, at Dungeness.

Read on



Jacquie Hallowell took this pic of Mike (right), Steve Jones and some fat bloke at the Unconvention on saturday morning....


Back in the halcyon days of approximately 1996-1999 - when UFOs were all-dominating on the British newsstands, and when Mulder and Scully were the Posh 'n' Becks of the day - much page space was devoted to a strange, previously all-but-forgotten, and genuinely intriguing event that had occurred on a Welsh mountain one dark, winter night in January 1974.


A few weeks ago I asked whether anyone had a pdf of the WW review in Paranormal magazine. A jolly nice chap called Clive Barker sent these over the weekend. Thanks mate!


Marcus H has a wild talent: like a hound after truffles, he unearths long lost images of globsters. He recently unearthed trunko. Now he does it again. He writes:

The Tasmanian Globster was a large unidentified mass that washed ashore in Tasmania in August 1960. In 1962 a team of scientists visited the area and got tissue out of it for an analysis. The carcass was later identified as a whale by L.E. Wall what was confirmed through a following electron microscopy analysis of the collagen fibres.

Nice piece of history for those not old enough to see it 1962 on TV (like
myself): http://www.britishpathe.com/record.php?id=83024


Yesterday's News Today

This is my last sit down in the hot seat for a while, as Oll will be back tomorrow evening. For now, here is today’s look at Yesterday’s News Today:

Elephant ecological engineering 'benefits amphibians'
Bear attacks surge in Japan, environmental change blamed
Illegal trade of butterflies
Female Cantabrian bears and their young do not hibernate
Scientists discover new species 7 kilometres down in one of the world’s deepest ocean trenches
More than 200 new snails of the same genus described in a single study
The Emperor is Dead

See you all another time.


The eagle-eyed amongst you will realise that today's blog was posted some ten hours earlier than usual. This is because Corinna and I returned from the Unconvention so wired, it will be easier to get to sleep later and not have to wake up in the morning.

We had a lovely time and over the next few days will be posting videos of some of the talks on CFZtv, as well as more images. In the meantime I would just like to thank Liz and Graham for holding the bloggy fort in our absence, and to the stalwart CFZ crew, especially Max, David, Jess, and Lisa for doing their bit in manning the CFZ stall whilst I was on walkabout.

And as always I would like to thank Corinna my dear wife for being my helpmeet, co-conspiritor and friend as well as superspouse...

Goodnight guys.

(L-R: Max Corinna, me, Tania Poole, Lisa, Richard, Rebecca Lang)

OLL LEWIS: Crypto-Cons - Anything But The Tooth

Some cryptids attract hoaxes much more than others, the two greatest examples of these being Bigfoot in America and the Loch Ness Monster in Scotland. These hoaxes are not, in my opinion, humbug and jolity like the hoaxes of Barnum and his peers, for they serve to constantly chip away at any credibility these cryptids may have. The crypids are contently targeted purely by the virtue that they are well known and the huge amount of hoaxes leads people to believe that because there are so many hoaxes then there is probably no truth behind any of the reports. When a person does see something that they think may be Nessie they now will automatically assume that it was a floating log or a wave and not report it. It may well have been a floating log, but what if it really was a sighting of an unknown animal? The evidence would be lost forever.

Particularly irksome is when hoaxes like this are preformed as publicity stunts to market some tawdrey wares. Sometimes they even try to use hoaxes like this to attempt to promote something that may have been of interest to real cryptozoologists, scoring a spectacular own goal in the process. One such incident occurred during the publicity campaign for Steve Alten's book The Loch.

In March 2005 the story broke that 2 American tourists had found a strange and quite large tooth on the banks of Loch Ness. They took photographs of the tooth but as they were doing so a shady water bailiff came up to them and confiscated the tooth, which was never seen again!

This might perhaps sound just within the realms of possibility to some but the story lost any credibility it may have had when you saw the photos of this alleged tooth. It was not even a tooth, rather the tip of a stag's antler. Pretty soon the hoax was admitted to as part of the book's publicity campaign. Perhaps the people responsible were expecting this to get people talking about Loch Ness and the book and for sales to go through the roof.

Well, they were part right: people did talk but mostly about what an idiotic thing to do this was and vowing never to buy the book. Obviously with the publicity generated the book's sales would have improved over what the sales would have been but had they not annoyed a large part of their target audience and thought of a better way of getting publicity the sales could have been higher.

MIKE HALLOWELL: The Bishop Auckland boars

Cryptozoology is a funny old business, involving as it does the passionate study of something that almost all experts agree we know precious little about. Sensible people study animals that are known to science and easily accessible. We cryptozoologists detest conventionality, far preferring to take the difficult route by studying animals that few people have ever seen and just about nobody has ever studied. Insane? Probably, but its far less painful than haemorrhoids and (usually) unlikely to get you arrested.

Cryptozoology is difficult enough, then, but it gets even tougher when experts in the field can’t even agree about what monster it is that they’re trying to catch. The Bishop Auckland Boars are a wonderfully typically example of this dilemma.

Essentially there are two “monster” legends attached to the Pollard’s Dene area of Bishop Auckland. Superficially they seem to be the same, the only important detail that changes being, to quote a phrase, the nature of the beast. In one version of the story the creature is a large, aggressive dragon or “wyrm”. In the second version the beast is a large, aggressive boar, or “brawn”. Both are said to be the meanest critter ever to have walked God’s earth. If they ever met, it would be a great match; a classic case of the unstoppable force meeting the immovable object.

The boar was an animal indigenous to Britain. The wild boar (Sus scrofa) was populous throughout much of central Europe, and was hunted in Britain by the Romans who loved to dine upon its succulent flesh. Over-hunting eventually led to its decline, and by the 13th century it was rarely seen. Some scholars have suggested that it was actually extinct by then, but this is unlikely. Sightings were reported in the north of England as late as the 17th century. However, not long after that it really did become extinct, although it has now been reintroduced and at least two breeding populations are known to exist in the wild.

This gives us a clue as to when the legend of the Bishop Auckland boars originated. Until the 13th century, the presence of a boar in the countryside would not have caused much of a stir. After the animal’s decline, however, it would have caused a degree of alarm in exactly the same way as the Bishop Auckland boar was said to have done. Its very scarcity would have made it a beast easy to be both feared and misunderstood. This suggests that the Bishop Auckland Boar story probably found its way into the currency of folklore between the 13th and 17th centuries, the 14th century being the one I would plump for if I was forced to choose. Here’s why:

In St Andrew’s South Church at Bishop Auckland there is an effigy of a knight carved from oak. His identity is unknown but under his feet there is a subdued boar. Few doubt that the effigy may well be connected to the Bishop Auckland boar legend and experts have dated it to circa the year 1340. I think it is highly likely, then, that the effigy was commissioned during the 14th century after the decline of wild boar had already begun and the legend had already become established.

How the wyrm and boar stories became confused is not hard to work out. The boar was sometimes referred to as the gewurm, a Teutonic word meaning “dangerous animal.” Almost inevitably, then, gewurm and wyrm would become confused. Truth to tell, though, it is not so much the taxonomy of the Bishop Auckland boar that gains it an entry into this book, but rather its terrible nature and unusual size. These two features alone catapult it firmly into the environs of cryptozoology, and for that we should be truly thankful.

Our story begins when hunters around Bishop Auckland – and particularly the area of Pollard’s Dene – began to report encounters with a boar of truly terrible disposition. Initially it was said to be around eight feet in length, which is certainly not outside the bounds of possibility. However, although boars are by instinct bad-tempered creatures, particularly when disturbed, this particular beast was truly ferocious. Several hunters reported that it would charge their horses and knock them (and their riders) to the ground.

A number of attempts were made to catch the creature but were wholly unsuccessful. On one occasion a tragedy occurred and this seems to have made the local populace more determined than ever to catch the beast. The tale is historically dubious but basically tells of a certain knight, resplendent in a heavy suit of armour, who went into the woods one evening at dusk. Some versions say he was hunting for the boar itself, others that he was there for other reasons; it matters not. The important feature of the tale is what transpired when the noble warrior and the boar met.

Seemingly, on entering a clearing the knight was confronted by the beast, which immediately charged him. The horse was badly injured and the knight was unable to get up from the ground and defend himself due to the incredible weight of his armour. The creature rammed him repeatedly with its tusked head until he was dead. Enough was enough, and it was decided that something needed to be done, and quickly.

At this juncture the story becomes a little confused. Some versions ascribe the killing of the creature to Richard Pollard, a brave but penniless knight from nearby Bishop Middleham. Others claim the beast was slain merely by “a brave young hunter.” The effigy in the church indicates that the man was certainly of noble bearing but my own feeling is that Richard Pollard was actually responsible for the demise of the Pollard wyrm, and not the boar, although it is just conceivable that he killed both. Whoever was responsible, the legend states that the hunter confronted the creature at a hollow near a place called Byers Green and slew it by repeatedly hacking at its neck with his sword. The rest, as they say, is history.

Inevitably, stories relating to the size of the boar became exaggerated with the passing of time. If the creature was, as some reports state, over twenty feet in length from tail to snout, then we simply cannot be dealing with a regular boar, but surely one of unknown taxonomic provenance. It is also interesting to note that in some accounts the Boar is said to possess huge, glowing eyes.

Alas, as the whereabouts of the remains of the creature are unknown (if indeed they still exist) we simply cannot be sure what type of animal we are dealing with. All we know for sure is that it terrified the life out of the good folk of Bishop Auckland. In one version of the story, the boar that killed the knight was accompanied by a youngster who also joined in the attack. This suggests that there may have been a breeding population ensconced in the vicinity. If this was the case, then the herd undoubtedly died out before too long, as reports of boars in that area petered out soon after.

Now that Sus scrofa has been reintroduced to the British Isles, the day may not be long in coming when the Bishop Auckland boar may once again live through its historical (if not biological) descendants. It would be nice to think so.



LIZ CLANCY: Farewell, bloggo...well, till I come up with another post idea

It has to be said that although I love working on the blog, I am going to be so relieved to pass the reigns back when Jon, Corinna and Oll get home! I have flu, which is rather unfair since I've been partaking (as posted here the other day) of conservation-funding vitamin C lately.

Anyhow, enough of my whinging. This made me laugh my socks off!

UNCONVENTION 2010: What a long, strange Trip it Was

Unconvention was lovely - I think it was the one I enjoyed most since 2003. I would just like to thank David Sutton and all the FT crew for being so kind and generous again. It really is appreciated....

CORINNA DOWNES: Yesterday's News Today

After a whirlwind trip to Londinium and an enjoyable time at Uncon, it is now once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more. Oll will not be back until Tuesday, but in the meantime here is today’s offering of Yesterday’s News Today:

Wild dolphins in Australia are naturally learning to "walk" on water.
FALLBROOK: Yard sale find may be rare, valuable pelt from extinct animal
Neighbors Wake to Headless Animals

And so to bed.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

NEIL ARNOLD: Interviews Mike Williams & Rebecca Lang Regarding ‘Big Cats’ in Australia

Neil Arnold Interviews Mike Williams & Rebecca Lang Regarding ‘Big Cats’ in Australia:

1) Firstly, thanks for agreeing to the interview...the new book is fantastic and I must ask, in the book you put forward theories that the exotic cats in Australia may have been introduced by mascots or escaped from circuses, but one thing rarely mentioned in the book are exotic cats as pets. In the UK in the 1960s large cats were purchased in abundance, mainly as cubs. Was this situation not echoed in Australia or was the country not as swingin' in the '60s as it was here ?
No, chiefly due to our very restrictive quarantine laws. Although the country was "swinging" it was certainly not swinging with large exotic cats as pets. The over-riding fear has always been that anything exotic can escape and never be found in the bush here as the areas are just too dense and rough...and dangerous.

2) You have accumulated some startling evidence in the book; why do you think the authorities continue to ignore the evidence?
Just standard lethargic public servants. I am not sure what it’s like in the UK, but if you cannot make it in the private sector here, you gravitate to the public sector.Most of the authorities here are completely clueless about any form of evidence; they change jobs all the time, go to a lot of meetings, send memos and basically cover their own arses.We have had staff from the NSW Department of Primary Industries asking us about DNA testing labs. We have sent the depts emails asking specific questions.

Around one year later on average we will get an email that doesn’t answer the questions and segues into idiocy and false statements. We will correct all the points and return the email. Around 6 months later we will receive another email from someone else telling us that since our first email was answered the case is closed. One govt department's investigations into data manipulation involved them contacting the actual guy in the department whom we had complained about. They asked him if his department had done anything "dodgy" and he said no. End of the "investigation". After three emails you become a "vexatious complainant" and then your emails just go into some in box in Alaska.

3) If a child is attacked, and possibly killed by a large cat in Australia, what do you think will come of such an incident?

At this stage of the "game", they would require a video of the attack or else they would pin the blame on dogs. Sarcasm aside, they don’t accept either secondary evidence, or primary evidence. They never investigated the lioness shot dead in the bush in western NSW in 1985 – the elusive and much sought after ‘body on the table’, so to speak.

4) You mentioned Golden Cats in the book, although these were rarely kept as pets, or in circuses, and yet there are hardly any mentions of lynx or bobcat in the book. Have there not been any reports of such animals?
We were interested in the golden cat because of the crazy idea that some of these animals might have come across with early Indonesian traders who have been visiting the northern tips of Australia for possibly thousands of years. We were speculating that these animals could have crossed with early Felis catus lines – escapees from Dutch shipwrecks.The only ‘minor’ problem with those theories was the lack of evidence! We also speculated about hybrid vigour/adaption etc, which might have lead to larger animals and could explain the colour variations seen here. We have had reports of bobcat-type animals but they appear to be describing a short-tailed and muscular Felis catus.

5) Do you believe witnesses are definitely seeing jet-black cats, or simply not taking note of the rosette pattern which a melanistic leopard produces in its pelage ?
Jet black for sure, but the lack of rosette reports has always been troubling.

6) There are mentions in the UK, Australia and US of black pumas, even though a melanistic puma would appear black dorsally and have a dirty cream/pale underside (melanistic pumas would not be uniformly black all over). Do you believe melanistic pumas exist in Australia or anywhere?
We would love to believe that a melanistic form of puma exists as it would help us explain a lot of reports, but there is still zero evidence for their existence.

7) Do you believe animals could escape a zoo or circus and live in the wilds of Australia? I ask this because usually an animal kept in captivity would be tracked down and either shot or caught.
Yes we do believe animals could easily live largely undetected in the wild here. You are right about the zoo or circus to a degree, but private collections would be another matter entirely. However, if an animal was released from a private collection or was lost/escaped, all the owners have to do is report that the animal has died and been buried/disposed of. No one from any department comes and physically checks that this is true – and that’s AFTER the laws were tightened. In our book we recount the recent example of a pygmy hippo that appeared to have been living quite well as an ‘escapee’ from a private collection in the Northern Territory. Pygmy hippos are not renowned for their stealth, so if a large water-loving mammal can live happily undetected in the Australian bush, why not an exotic cat?

8) It's interesting that in Australia there are some truly monstrous feral cats - how do you think these have come about ?
Another unknown...we’re not sure why ‘just’ the environment here would force this issue. Why not elsewhere? Cats are incredibly adaptable predators that thrive in all kinds of conditions. Not many people realise that cats can survive for long periods without water, subsisting on the liquids (blood) they get from their prey. While Australia may seem quite an inhospitable environment for a cat, quite the opposite is true. We would love to see the nuclear DNA sequence one day to see if there is anything odd in the male line, such as a golden cat.

9) Do you think the overly large feral cats explain most black leopard sightings even though whatever its size, a feral cat doesn't resemble a black leopard.
They could certainly explain some of them, especially at a distance when dealing with looking up or down a slope, but about three video sequences filmed in the last 20 years clearly show animals that do not conform to Felis catus morphology. The rest of the videos often show an animal that looks cheetah-like in shape, with a small head, often having pointed ears, which would seemingly rule out anything from the Panthera genus.

10) Have there been any reports of screaming cats, a noise which a puma would make?
Yes, especially from Western Australia and central Victoria. However, just to muddy the waters further, these sounds are often heard on farms where black cats are being seen.

11) In the book there aren't many mentions of animals with cubs - do you receive many reports of animals with cubs?
Very few.

12) How far do you think sightings go back in the history of Australia concerning large, exotic cats?
Around the middle of the 1880s, which is roughly the time the first circus menageries started touring the country.

13) Do you believe inadequate research the world over is hindering the situation and relegating it to folklore ?
Yes and no. Inadequate due to lack of time and money, for sure... The research needs more tangibles like DNA, primary and secondary evidence - like the recent successful hair and DNA analysis that identified Leopard hair from the Huddisford Woods in the UK. It’s unfortunate that too often many of these sightings become a part of folklore despite their basis in fact.

14) It seems highly unlikely in my opinion that Thylacoleo carnifex still roams the Australian bush. Do you believe it still exists and if not, what are people seeing?
Yes, we agree that it is highly unlikely – it’s highly improbable. But having said that, it’s still possible. If it does not exist, then we cannot explain the large six-toed prints (and we are aware of polydactlyl Felis catus) or the witness descriptions of animals that have a box-like ‘possum’ head of the marsupial lion. Researcher Steve Temby filmed several sequences of animals in roughly one location over several months, and claims to have caught a Thylacoleo on film in one sequence. His footage was taken over several hundreds metres away from the animal with a normal low resolution video camera. He was adamant that through his high-powered binoculars he could see that the animal had a huge boxy head, unusual prominent canines and thick, strange legs. Yet the video shows what looks like a large cat moving around. Steve Temby also stated the gait of the animal was very odd. If Thylacoleo is still roaming Australia, we cannot explain the lack of "modern" Aboriginal art, Aboriginal folklore or even early settlers’ reports. The whole thing is very messy and very strange.

15) Lions would often seek a pride and large prey. Do you believe witnesses genuinely report lions in Australia or are they mistaking a puma for a lioness?
We have had very few lion-type reports (lion vocalisations come in sometimes). And yes, witnesses could confuse a puma for a lioness. Lions are a much more social animal and generally don’t care about being seen – a behaviour that proved costly for the Broken Hill lioness, which was spotted and shot by the side of the road.

16) Have you had any personal sightings of a large cat?
I (Mike) watched an animal through a starlight scope that moved with the speed of a cheetah, with a similar body shape and the fluidity of a large cat. Rebecca observed a black fox moving across a paddock, which she initially thought might have been a cat.

17) What's been your most intriguing investigation?
Probably the "Emmaville Panther", where we tracked down the skin of the animal shot by Charlie Leader, which we discuss in the book. We really thought we would crack that one with the DNA. The formaldehyde used to preserve the skin killed that Sherlock Holmes moment for us.

18) What other mystery animals roam Australia?
There’s a steady stream of big cat, Thylacine and yowie reports always coming in. Bunyip reports have virtually dried up – it’s likely the animals responsible for these sightings were seals.

19) What are your opinions on the yowie?
We think the odds of any ’undiscovered’ giant bipedal beast like the yowie/sasquatch/yeti sharing the same rough morphology and appearing on almost every continent a bit hard to fathom. We think it’s unlikely the ‘manimal’ is flesh-and-blood, but that’s largely based on the Australian experience. Just what it is we don’t know. We have interviewed numerous witnesses, lived in a yowie ‘hot spot’ and written about the phenomena for Fortean Times. We find the whole subject very interesting.

20) I have on record a handful of stories pertaining to phantom black dogs, or hellhounds, from Australia. Do you believe these legends can also melt into the 'big cat' situation?

21) What other felidae are reported in Australia ?
Other than what we have chatted about, there are very few reports that don’t fit into any of these pigeon holes.

22) Have hair samples, faeces etc, been analysed by authorities and proven to belong to an exotic cat?
No, but then again they rarely if at all engage in such analysis.

23) For every genuine report you receive, how many crazy people contact you?
For every 50 reports we will get one weirdo. We’ve been stalked, harassed on the telephone and been the victims of character assassination. It’s not easy being sane and interested in mystery animals.

24) Do you believe the thylacine still exists?

25) If authorities the world over admitted that large cats exist in places they shouldn't, what effect do you believe this will have on the eco-system, if such animals become a recognised species?
I think the animals exist in places they should not and damage those eco-systems regardless whether authorities recognise this problem. If they are recognised here (I cannot talk for anywhere else) then nothing will change. The media would trumpet ‘Big cats exist!’ Everyone would say "I always knew it" and change the channel to sport.

26) If the authorities admit to such animals being out there, do you believe they'll have to attempt to exterminate every cat?
Here? It would be impossible. Whatever the animals are, they do not go to trees if dogs chase them – in fact, the dogs are normally running the other way. The terrain is too thick and wild for tracking by humans and we do not have trained dogs here. Australian authorities simply don’t have the resources to deal with big cats – we lack general expertise. Add to that these cat-like animals don’t eat baits and don’t step into cages or traps and seem to have a canny sixth sense when it comes to infrared devices on cameras.

27) Do you know of anyone at the present who legally owns a large cat in Australia?
28) Any plans for another 'big cat' book, or possibly a book on other Australian mystery animals ?
We’re presently working on re-issuing a big cat classic with a new foreword. We also have a few other mystery animal book ideas in the pipeline.

29) Do you believe that the witnesses who came forward in the book to say they'd been attacked by a large cat, were genuine ?
Genuine, yes; attacked by a big cat, no. They just don’t have the kind of injuries meted out by large exotic cats. Swipes from leopards, lions, tigers, jaguars and the like would leave the injured party with shredded flesh hanging from their arms, not superficial cuts and bruises.

30) What does the future hold for the 'big cats' in Australia?
Hopefully a body on the table – indisputable proof of the big cat in Australia. Thanks for taking the time to write these questions and for the ripper review!

Mike and Rebecca

JOANNE BOURNE: Translation of French YouTube documentary on the almasty (Part Three)

A few weeks ago we posted part one of Jo Bourne's translation of a YouTube posting of a French documentary about the almasty. Ten days later we posted part two. We continue with part three...

Voiceover: It was once again evidence found by a shepherd that enabled a young biologist from the university of Karkof[????] to observe an Almasty on the 29 Aug 1991 in this stable.

Shepherd: He came and asked if the Almasty came here sometimes, and it was here he saw one for the first time. I showed him in the stable the horses with plaited manes* and I asked him who did the plaiting and why. Patchenko spent the night here. He slept over there, and the horses were tied up here.

[His words are translated into French] “I fell asleep and was still sleeping when the Almasty came into the stable. I was a few metres away from him. It was dark, but through the opening by which he came the moon shone. It was a full moon on that night. [Before I could see him; avant je na’i pu le voir – the French translation is clearly audible but makes no sense ] he was standing upright near a horse. He was plaiting its mane. And as far as I could judge, its arms at the minimum reached his knees.

But I repeat I didn’t see his knees. His fur hid half of his body. I heard him emit sounds. Not words, but more of a murmur. I had a camera with a flash, but no battery. I couldn’t find them. [Then why is he sleeping in the stable, if he’s not prepared???-Jo] After all is said, I think that the Almasty belongs to a branch of man’s ancestors.”

Voiceover: Gregory Patchenko is a member of the Society ??????? [ de Russi, Dr Koffman is President. At 74 years old, she’s never been fortunate enough to see the Almasty, the object of her quest.

A seasoned mountaineer, Marie-Jeanne knows the subtlety of the mountains [sorry, this entire paragraph is rather clunky; the original is pointlessly poetic in the grand French documentary manner], and each corner of the Kabardino-Balkarian Republic that she is so fond. Her name is nearly as well-known as that of the Almasty. In the Caucasus she has also known the terrible years of the Second World War as captain of a Red Army mountain battalion. And by chance of numerous observations of wild men gathered over a long period by the Professor Boris Porchnev, who she collaborated with. She knows better than most the dossier of relic hominins. In the different Caucus republics multiple witness statements reinforce her certainty, even if the restraint of the investigator cannot bring irrefutable proof of the Almasty’s existence, she speaks of it in the conditional. And it’s towards new tracks that she takes us, rendezvous manqué de quelques jours avec l’homme a semele de vent [fundamentally this means the Almasty was here a few days earlier].

M-J K: There’s a [???? Plantaire?] very marked. I see a [sorry, she has got an accent and is talking into the footprint with the river in the background. If I translated this I’d be guessing]

Perhaps he stopped here. [more indistinct dialogue] The only thing we can do now is go up and down the stream, because here, we can’t get out. We want proof, direct or indirect of the Almasty’s existence, but obviously it isn’t enough for science. We must have the creature’s body or bones in our hands.


Voiceover: Even without a photograph of the Almasty, we must resign ourselves to leaving Kabardino-Balkaria. We find Andre in Moscow, studying the prints.

Foot specialist Andre finds the last set of footprints more convincing than that of Maray de Hip Soco [need a map for the location].

Andre: Using this method we can see that the way the foot is placed is the same as that of a human. This form is for us characteristic of a relic hominin. [he speaks in English, and thinks there is a similarity between the prints and those of a Neanderthal]. I think it’s a very positive result for this expedition.

Voiceover: And if the prints are really those of an Almasty, our witnesses won’t have imagined things and their reports would become credible.


[with hat] He was this size

About this size…

Lady with scarf: He was bigger than me

Voiceover: Was it a woman?

Woman: No, a male

Man: They emit sounds but nobody understands them

Bobblehat Physically he’s strong, around 2-2.10m. And a bit stooped, with bent legs, and arms, too.

Last man: I called like that, for no reason. And I thought, what is this, there are no man here… [

Voiceover: The solitude accompanies the footsteps of the investigator who digs new paths for science. Dr Koffmann follows her research far from knowing [un anime de ces pert: that’s what it sounds like; can’t make a sentence out of the individual words]. In a time of science and technological development that demystifies our origins and turns our future upside down, dreams become our last place of adventure. Of its kind, the Almasty deserves to exist. An invisible cousin survives [xxxxxx] a legend of all those who refute its existence.