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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Friday, January 01, 2010


Forty years ago this morning I woke up in the lower of two bunk beds in a ground floor apartment in Hong Kong. The apartment block has long been demolished, amusingly for the construction of a Ripley's Believe it or Not odditorium. A pretty good way for the childhood home of a fortean to go. I lay in bed and looked out of the window watching the dawn sun picking out the tiny junks around the island of Cheung Chau.

I was ten years old, and the fact that this particular morning was the dawning of a new decade was a big deal for me. The fact that then I had been alive in three different decades was a mind blower. Well I have now been alive in seven different decades, and the fact that there is a new decade before us full of opportunities and adventures is still a big deal.

The CFZ has come a long way in the past ten years, I wonder where we will be in ten years time...

Now for some hippy music to annoy Redfern


I put my hands up, it wasn’t U109. I would like to thank both Dale and Marozi for pointing this out. I had thought it was just my inability to read numbers that had led to me using the wrong details, however I lay the blame at the door of Mr Heuvelmans' proofreader, I actually took the number from the narrative description on page 400 where it clearly states U109. Every other mention in In the Wake of the Sea-Serpents the submarine is clearly given as U108 which indeed did survive the war.

Before I skulk off embarrassed and a little red faced can I ask if anyone has any more information on this sighting? If so I would very much like to hear from them, going from the location given for the sighting it will now find its way into my next book The Mystery Animals of the Northern Isles which should see the light of day in 2010

all the best for the new year

MIKE HALLOWELL: Geordie Crypto Awards for the New Year

Well, this is my last blog of 2009, a year that I will be singularly glad to see the back of. It's been a bad year for my health and an even stranger one for professional relationships. Still, I'm not going to whine. I'm looking forward to 2010 and throwing myself with gusto into a number of new investigations.

Several exciting projects lie on the horizon. I intend to get to the bottom of the Splitback Demon enigma, whilst simultaneously finding out just what the Cleadon Wild Man was, is or is supposed to be. And then there's the Beast of Bolam Lake. I count myself blessed to have three hairy hominids (or four, if you count me in) living so close to my own abode.

Darren W. Ritson and I also have a joint investigation to carry out. I can't – or rather won't - say at this juncture just what it involves, but if things pan out the way they're supposed to it may very well make headline news. And no, before you ask, it doesn't involve a poltergeist and neither does it fall within the sphere of cryptozoology. You'll just have to watch this space, I'm afraid, but it promises to be very exciting indeed.

I'm also looking forward to going to the Weird Weekend next year – or this year, depending on when you read this. This year – or then again, possibly last year - I was prevented from attending due to work commitments and health problems, but I'm bloody well determined to get there this year - which just might qualify as next year if this blog gets posted early enough.

Anyway, without further ado, here are the 2009 Mike Hallowell Awards for Services to Spookiness and Other Stuff:

  • The Being Spooky without Actually Doing Anything to Look Spooky Award: Gordon Brown.
  • Cryptozoologist of the Year Award: Jonathan Downes.
  • Cryptozoological Entity of the Year Award: Jonathan Downes
  • Most Hideous Cryptid Award: (Joint winners – Me 'n' Richie. Sorry Jon, but you can't win everything).
  • Most Dignified Personality of the Year Award: Pete Doherty
  • Most Intellectually Insightful and Thought-Provoking TV Programme Award: Celebrity Big Brother.
  • Honesty & Integrity in Professional Life Award: [Fill in name of your local MP here].
  • Most Likely to Get an Exotic Medical Condition Award: Me.
  • Most Likely to Open His Fat Mouth and Create an Unholy Row Award: Me again.
  • Most Likely to Get Whacked in a Dark Alley by a Bunch of Angry Evolutionists Award: You guessed it.
  • Most Likely to get Bricked Over the Napper by a Bunch of Angry Creationists Award: Yup, me again.
  • Most Deserving to Become the Next General Secretary of the UN Award: Father Jack.
  • Most Unlikely to Become the Next General Secretary of the UN Award: That'd be me, again.

Submissions for the 2010 awards should be posted to:
That Geordie Bloke Who Keeps Nodding Off,
213, Narcoleptic Boulevard,
Sleepy Hollow,
Tired & Weary,

Alternatively, e-mail your nominations to: cheekynorthernbastard@yoohoo.ooh.okay

You can't nominate yourself, but you can bribe someone else to nominate you. Alternatively, you can bribe me not to give you an award at all, but that will probably be more expensive.

Toodle-pip…must go and see in the New Year with a tequila, a roll-up and a packet of crisps!

All the best for 2010 from Jackie and I…


DALE DRINNON: Reconstruction of the Monongahela SS from the Published Dimensions

One of the more controversial reports given in the record of Ses-serpents is the case of the Monogahela, which supposedly engaged in the killing and flensing of a hundred-foot-long unknown sea creature of peculiarly snakelike anatomy in January of 1852, in the South Pacific ocean. Heuvelmans brands the account a hoax and using a version of the story evidently as in Oudemans' book, where it was also called a hoax. However at the end of the passage, on page 229, he acknowledges that the genuine Captain Seabury's records (together with the headboard of the wrecked Monongahela), are in the Whaling Museum at New Bedford, Mass. He says he has not confirmed this. Then he says Tim Dinsdale has published another version but he has not done the research to confirm or deny it.

Dinsdale in The Leviathans (AKA Monster Hunt) plainly identifies his source and says it is from the Frank Edwards book Stranger Than Science, and that Edwards cites the letters from the Whaling Museum as a source. Other sources confirm that the letters do exist in the museum and they are written in Captain Jason Seabury's own handwriting, as attested by depositions from his living relatives also preserved at the Museum. So it seems that Heuvelmans was basing his assessment on a retelling which had gotten some of the facts wrong, including the Captains' name. Another good source is Edward Rowe Snowe's Supernatural Mysteries And Other Tales, pages 97-110. Snowe indicates that an independant account was given in confirmation by members of the Rebecca Sims, the ship that went on to deliver Seabury's letters on the return trip while the Monogahela went on to smash up in the Aleutians while trying to make up a full cargo of whale-oil.

From Seabury's desription, and begging the question for the moment as to whether the account is genuine, it is still possible to make a reconstruction of the creature. This has never been attempted before, to my knowledge.

  • Length is given as 103 ft 7 inches. Given that the creature was most likely measured over the curve and had a very fat belly, this could have actually been 90-92 feet long. but hardly any less than that.

  • Around the neck was 19 ft and an inch over, diameter would thus be 6 feet

  • Around the shoulders was 24 feet 6 inches, diameter over 8 feet 8 inches

  • Around the distended belly was 49 feet 4 inches., diameter about 15 1/2 feet

  • Head and neck together were 25 feet and the neck was 10 feet long of that (specified while the fighting was going on.) the blubber on the body lay 4 inches deep. four swimming limbs and a tail were mentioned but their measurements were not given.

Putting these measurements together makes a fair picture of a large mosasaur, and I have added the measurements to one of Charles R. Knight's reconstructions for Tylosaurus. I have modified the reconstruction scarcely at all, save to subtract the pouch of loose skin at the throat and to shorten the tail somewhat. The "distended belly" was almost that fat in the original reconstruction, believe it or not.

Knight chose to make a sort of continuous backfin on this reconstruction. Other reconstructions put a jagged crest on the center of the back. In this case, the profile of the back was reported as uneven and in fact the creature first appeared as a set of small projections taken to be "humps". The creatre elsewhere clearly undulates in the horizontal plane, twisting and squirming in its death-throes. It is also possible that this is yet another time the "humps" have nothing to do with the body of the creature but were merely waves in the wake.

LINDSAY SELBY: Another living dinosaur?

There is a legend of a creature called the Burrunjor. The Burrunjor is said to be bipedal, about 20 -30 feet tall (6-10 metres) and have 2 short, almost useless arms and live in Arnhem Land Australia. Some say it is a living dinosaur, a relative of T. rex.

IN Rex and Heather Gilroy's Book Out of the Dreamtime—The Search for Australasia's Unknown Animals is the following story:

Campfire stories substantiating Aboriginal claims are commonplace across the far north. Back in 1978, a Northern Territory busman and explorer, Bryan Clark, related a story to me of his own that had taken place some years before. While mustering cattle in the Urapunji area, he became lost in the remote wilderness of that part of Arnhem Land. It took him three days to find his way out of the region and back to the homestead from where he originally set out.He had not known at the time, but his footprints had been picked up and followed by two Aboriginal trackers and a mounted policeman. On the first night of their search they camped on the outskirts of the Burrunjor scrub, even though the two trackers protested strongly against doing so. The policeman hobbled his horse, cooked their meal, then climbed into his swag and went to sleep.Later that night the two Aborigines shouting intelligibly and grasping for their packs and saddles suddenly woke him up. The policeman also realised at this moment that the ground appeared to be shaking. Hurriedly getting to his feet, he too gathered up his belongings, and shortly afterwards, the three galloped away.

As he told Bryan Clark later at the Urapunji homestead, he had also heard a sound, somewhat like a loud puffing or grunting noise, certainly loud enough to be coming from some large animal. When asked if he intended to include this incident in his report, he replied he would not because he feared no one would believe him. The policeman warned Bryan never again to return to that area, because if he got lost there again he’d be “on his own”, as he would not come looking for him! The region’s cave art, thousands of years old, depicts these monstrous animals. Many Aborigines believe these monsters wander back and forth across the Gulf country and Cape York to this day. Back in 1950, cattlemen lost stock to some mysterious beast that left the mutilated, half-eaten remains of cows and bulls in its wake over a wide area, stretching between the border country and Burketown. Searchers on horseback found huge reptilian tracks of some bipedal-walking beast. They followed these three-toed tracks with their cattle dogs through some rough jungle terrain until they entered swampland beyond which was more dense scrub. However, it was at this point that the cattle dogs became uneasy and ran off. The horses were also uneasy and obviously did not want to cross the swamp.

While most of the cattlemen decided their animals knew best, two men set off on foot with their carbines. The story goes that they soon came across further tracks in an open area beyond the swamp. While his mate searched about, the other man briefly spotted the dark form of an enormous creature, perhaps 30ft in height, further off in dense timber. The men left the scene in haste. Johnny Mathews, a part-Aboriginal tracker, claimed to have seen a 25ft tall bipedal reptilian monster, moving through scrub near lagoon Creek on the Gulf coast one day in 1961. “Hardly anyone outside my own people believes my story, but I known what I saw”, he said to me in 1970. In 1985 a 4-wheel drive vehicle and it s family of travellers, the Askeys, heading for Roper River Mission, happened to take a back road for some sightseeing. Just before they were to pull up and turn around to resume their journey to the mission, they all saw, moving together across an open plain some distance away, two bipedal-walking reptilian creatures a good 20ft tall respectively. “The monsters were a greyish-brown colour and dinosaur-like in appearance. We didn’t wait around”, said the father, Mr Greg Askey.

In 1984, huge three-toed footprints from a gigantic bipedal reptile was found near Narooma, New South Wales. Rex Gilroy confirmed the find and made a plaster cast of one of the tracks. The track was approximately 2 feet wide and 2 1/2 feet long.

So is this another story of a living dinosaur or something else? Recent research has suggested that T.rex and it’s relatives did not have useless forearms. Although its clawed forearms were small, it has been postulated it was likely they were suited for grasping and manipulating captured prey once they were enmeshed in the powerful jaws. They were then muscular and not useless.

Rather than a living dinosaur it has been suggested that these creatures are giant monitor lizards, much more likely to have survived in Australia’s harsh terrain than dinosaurs. We have to remember the world the dinosaurs lived in was very different from our own. The oxygen content in the air was higher , the lack or pollution, the clear water in the seas, much warmer and different types of plants. Most of the prey for a large dinosaur would have disappeared and it would have not only have to adapt to breathing differently, but eating differently and living differently. I am not saying it is impossible for something to adapt and change but that it is highly unlikely it would appear the same as it did 65 million years ago. In order to live in our climate and conditions it would have to have changed considerably and would therefore not appear as the T. Rex we know from fossil records but an adapted or even hybrid version. So what would it look like? I will leave that for you to think about as we approach a new decade.

I wish you all a Very Happy 2010 and hope the new year brings you all you hope and wish for. XX

A site with stories and legends from Australia:


CFZ PEOPLE: Birthday Boys

This must be the most amusingly mismatched pair ever to be seen on the same blog post. The Indiana academic and the Gothy teenage party animal. However they are both CFZ People and they are both celebrating birthdays.

According to Alan Friswell those who have a birthday on the first day of the year are possessed of very special attributes.

So Happy Birthday Dale, and a belated Happy Birthday to Tully who was 18 yesterday. Sadly I couldn't find a single picture of him not drinking or smoking..


Happy New Year!!!

As if we really needed something like New Years to make an excuse for even more superstitious tripe. But, here it is.......

All the best to everyone for the next twelve months at least.

What to Eat to Bring Good Luck

  • Black-eyed peas and lentils eaten on New Year’s Day are said to bring riches and safety to the coming year.
  • Eat 12 grapes, one grape for each month of the year, for prosperity.
  • Eating pork on New Year’s Day is lucky because pigs eat moving forward. Therefore, those who eat pork will move forward in the coming year.
  • What to Wear to Bring Good Luck
  • Wear something new on January 1st. It encourages more new clothing to follow.
  • Wear red underwear on New Year’s Eve to bring luck.
  • Wear red clothing on New Year’s Day.

What to Do on New Year’s Eve

  • Every door and window should be left open at midnight on to let the old year out.
  • Make lots of noise at the stroke of midnight. Evil spirits attempt to come into the brand new year at this time – horns and whistles chase them away.
  • Dancing around a tree (especially outside) ensures luck, love, and prosperity.
  • There should be money in your pocket at the stroke of midnight.
  • The pantry should be stocked as well.
  • Kissing your spouse or significant other at midnight ensures that you will remain intimate with that person. To not kiss means a cold relationship for the year.
  • A woman shouldn’t speak until a man says "Happy New Year."
  • What to Do on New Year’s Day
  • A first-footer is the first person through the door after the stroke of midnight. This person should be a good-looking, dark-haired man. He has to knock and be let in – not use a key to enter. He would ideally be carrying a piece of coal (the house will always be warm), bread (the household will always have food), money (obvious), and greenery (for long life). The first-footer brings extra luck if he happens to have a high in-step, or comes on a horse.
  • The first words you hear in the minutes of the New Year will set the precedence for the entire year.
  • Do something you are good or successful at on New Year’s Day – especially if it’s work related. This will tell how the rest of the New Year will go.
  • Any baby born on New Year's day has good luck the rest of his/her life. The baby also brings good luck to the family.
  • Nothing goes out – not even the garbage. The flip version of this rule is that nothing goes out until something new comes in.
  • No money should be spent (that would be going out).
  • No sweeping or dusting the first day of the year. The good luck could be swept out. If you have to sweep, you should sweep towards the center of the house and use a dust pan. (Some cultures "sweep out" the old year.)
  • No crying January 1st, or you will be crying all year long.

New Year's Eve Superstitions

  • First-footers can’t have flat feet, be cross-eyed, or have eyebrows that meet in the center.
  • A first-footer can’t have blond or red hair, and a woman first-footer would be disastrous.
  • Poultry should never be eaten on January 1st. Poultry scratch for their food, so those who eat poultry will "scratch" for their food all year.
  • Our ancestors have always known that the moment of the freshly born New Year is the best time to renew hope for a new beginning.
  • This New Year's Eve adopt some of these traditions and avoid the superstitions to bring luck into your New Year.

For the record, our first footer will bring us lots of luck because he is small, dark, and has four feet as well as making lots of noise..

OLL LEWIS: Yesterday’s News Today


Happy New Year to everyone.

On this day in 1801 Giuseppe Piazzi discovered the dwarf planet Ceres in the asteroid belt. Ceres makes up 32% of the asteroid belts total mass and scientists believe there may be an ocean of liquid water beneath it’s surface.

Here’s the Fortean zoology news update:

'Best Job' winner stung by deadly jellyfish
Skunk diet
Keep pets on leash on New Year's Eve: website
Pigs close motorway after crash
Dog rescued from duck pond by 17 firemen
Photographs capture baby panda as it tries to escape playpen
Lifeguards to get texts from approaching sharks
Will Britons Lap Up Creamy Camel Milk?
Woman hit by falling moose head in bar

It fell off the wall because of a ‘moose’ screw.