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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Thursday, December 02, 2010


Somebody called Bilbo has just written: "Seems to me the CFZ just dont like THT because he/she pulls them up on all their mistakes. Maybe the CFZ should actually listen? It also seems fairly obvious to me - orang utan like hairs showing some human like dna would be orang utan hairs contaminated by humans. Plus the fact all hairs destroyed and no pics of the hairs through the microscope does not fair well for the cfz in my eyes. Seems to me we are back to the leopard hairs all over again, surely the same cfz members are not involved in both?? Bilbo"

For the last time:

1. Lars Thomas has got copies of the photographs because he carried out the analysis.
2. I have had confirmation from Adam Davies that he still has two hairs in ethanol.
3. Richard Freeman has just received the letter from the Orang Utan Foundation, confirming his oft-stated claim that the only records of orang utans in Kerinci Seblat are from the 19th Century:

From: Kristina Maurice-Jones Subject: FW: Orangutan Foundation: orang-utans in Kerinci National ParkTo: richard@cfz.org.ukDate: Tuesday, 30 November, 2010, 12:10
Hi Richard,

1. There are reports of orangutans being seen in the Rimbo Panti nature reserve......some distance to the North of the Kerinci Seblat National Park. in the late 1960's (reports of Yves Lamonnier)
2. There are written references to "a live orangutan" in Padang and "a dead one in jambi" by Schlegel and Muller 1839-1844. I do not know for sure if either of these were in the forest though, or in someone's house or wherever.
All these records and reports are discussed and summarized in Rijksen and Meiyaard, our vanishing relative...1999. If they are looking for orang pendek they should certainly have a copy of this book in their collection.

All the best,


Therefore there is no substance to any of the claims against the CFZ, and as I said the other day, the discussion of the matter is over. I will let you know if any more information about the historical range of orang utans comes to light.


Chris Clark said...

Rimbo Panti is some 180 miles or 300 km straight line distance from Gunung Tujuh (Kerinci), so the two are in no sense close.

Richard Freeman said...

Also Lars has repeatedly stated that there are several structural differences between our samples and orang-utan hairs. Higland Tiger and Bilbo seem to have diliberatly ignored this.

blueguitar said...

I think I can understand why the CFZ often seems to feel beleaguered, but I do suggest that the CFZ needs to understand why ‘Bilbo’, ‘The Highland Tiger’ and others find the organisation’s often defensive response to criticism frustrating. When a surprising and important scientific claim is publicised, it will (if taken seriously) elicit a vigorous, sceptical response, with close scrutiny of the methods, evidence and interpretation – in effect, an incipient peer review process. What has been interpreted as hostility (“claims against the CFZ”, etc) reads to me like proper, lively (if sometimes colourful) debate. Such debate should hold little to fear if you have taken all the measures necessary to justify your evident confidence in your results.

Jon Downes said...

I think that you miss the point. I have no problems at all with the suggestions that the samples are orang utan hairs that have been contaminated by human DNA. This is, od course, a possibility.

I don't object to people questioning our findings. As you say, this is how science works.

I object to the repeated accusations of fraud and malpractise from a small handful of individuals who try to cause as much trouble for us whenever they can. If this is truly how the scientific community works, then no wonder that fewer and fewer people beome part of it each year!

I don't know who Bilbo or HT are, although I have my suspicions. And I belie that their motivation is personal rather than professional.

marcodufour said...

I wish i had paid more attentention in my psychology classes to understand the unscientific bashing that people always seem to get when they get off their behind and search for evidence as opposed to the bashers who sit on their comfortable sofas and opinionate incorrectly and most vociferously. I myself have searched for the Yowie in Springbrook and other places and Sasquatch in Alaska, and it never ceases to amaze me how the armchair critics we all meet have such negatively strong opinions until you say ` do you know what Gigantopithecus is ?? ` enter blank perplexed look.......

norman said...

I think it absolutely amazing what has been achieved here. By John Downes and the CFZ. Adam Davies and team and Lars Thomas and Tom Gilbert. I am most grateful I can sit at home and access such as fascinating breaking news re Orang pendek etc as it becomes available.
It seems real progress has been made in DNA anaysis and we now have a result which makes sense in the context of unknown near human primates which have been observed for millenia. Presumably this DNA result is on record and can be studied and compared with the few other results on record including one from Kurt Nelson and one from Bryan Sykes.
I guess the second DNA sample was from the hair medulla and could be extracted in an uncontaminated form. Seemingly packaged by nature in this way?
Virtually all DNA results in this general area to date are supposed to have been contaminated by human DNA, in one lab I believe this is over 15yrs! But DNA ananysis seems to work ok generally and has found all sorts of applications. Logically it means either that the creatures are human with a difference or the results are misinterpreted at an early stage and differences from homo sapien DNA is not being picked up.
I do not see a problem in the hair structure being somewhat like orangutans. This is minor at this stage.
What I do find strange is that these discoveries are not exciting public interest. They should be on the tv news etc and there should be a consequence in that these unknown and hugly interesting primates have sanctuary and are saved from extinction. I mean what drivel do we so often have on the news? I think the discoverers should be feted and they and their work enriched.

norman said...

I think this link http://english.peopledaily.com.cn/90001/90782/7210877.html
is of interest in that it shows photographs of two hairs from a Chinese wildman which seem to be very similar to the ones described by Lars Thomson. The medulla on one hair appears to be absent and this might give the 'hollow tree trunk' look as described by Lars. It is probably generaly understood that where there is a medulla it will likely contain DNA which being in a tough protective sheath can be extracted in a pure undamaged state after cleaning the hair and which does not damage the DNA. I am not aware of any DNA results from this Chinese source.
There is a theory that the red hair colour of the chinese wildman arose as camouflage at a time when forests of dawn redwoods were predominant in China and it has strongly coloured reddish bark!
It seems likely that the research into human like cryptids may now be entering a happier phase where the agenda is not dictated by sceptics but by open minded researchers and before it is too late. I hope the time is not too far off when we will have the full genome of the Orang Pendek and other man beasts.
One way to help matters is for the work and results involved in the search for cryptids to be fully exploited so more investment can be made.