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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Saturday, January 02, 2010

DIRECTORS DIARY: Start as you mean to go on

Well, the year is only two days old and already I am making excuses. However, life has got in the way (I am trying to stick to my New Year's resolution by not quoting THAT quote from John Lennon at this point), and the 2010 Yearbook, which was supposed to be finished in time for New Year's Eve, still has a few more days of work left in it.

However, we are now two thirds of the way through and it should be at the printers on Monday, which is, after all, the main thing.

However, because of the delay, the January episode of On the Track, which should have been released yesterday, will be another day or two because I haven't actually started it yet.


OLL LEWIS: 5 Questions on… Cryptozoology - RONAN COGHLAN

Today’s hotseat sitter is Ronan Coghlan. Ronan will be familiar to most of our readers as the most entertaining speaker at many a Weird Weekend as well as being the author of several reference books on Forteana, cryptozoology and folklore (most of which I have in my own personal collection and come highly recommended); also dabbles in the occasional fictional work such as his novel Sherlock Holmes and the Heir of Albion. He is also a feckless rogue.
So Ronan Coghlan, here are your 5 questions on… Cryptozoology:

1)How did you first become interested in cryptozoology?

As a university student at Trinity College, Dublin, I read Heuvelmans's On the Track of Unknown Animals and became hooked. However, I had already read a great deal on mythology and folklore and I felt this to be an extension of these interests.

2) Have you ever personally seen a cryptid or secondary evidence of a cryptid, if so can you please describe your encounter?

I've seen Jonathan Downes - does he count as a cryptid?

3) Which cryptids do you think are the most likely to be scientifically discovered and described some day, and why?

I think the orang pendek could be counted as virtually discovered already. Because of numerous reports of thylacines and large lizards in Australia, I think they will be next.

4) Which cryptids do you think are the least likely to exist?

Several of the weirder animals reported from the United States would fill this place.

5) If you had to pick your favourite cryptozoological book (not including books you may have written yourself) what would you choose?

Mystery Cats of the World (Karl Shuker).


A mysterious creature found in Africa was part-man, part-goat, according to local officials.

Zimbabwe – An investigation by a government commission saw representatives visit the village of Maboleni, where a bizarre-looking creature, which has since been cremated, was found.

The huge head and a face resembled a severely disfigured baby and the neck and shoulders were much like a small human, but it had goat legs and a tail.

The picture doesn't really tell us much, and there is an unsatisfying dearth of proper sources, but the story is still intriguing enough to check out...

Read more here


The rarest sub-species of gorilla, the Cross River gorilla (Gorilla gorilla diehli) has been filmed for the first time ever by a German film company. NDR Naturfilm filmed two animals in a stand of trees at the Kagwene Gorilla Sanctuary in the Cameroons after weeks of searching. Less than 300 cross river gorillas are thought to exist in 11 locations in the Cameroons and Nigeria.
The Kagwene Gorilla Sanctuary is a small reserve; only 19.5 square kilometres in size. Nevertheless, it contains a genetically important segment of the entire Cross River gorilla population; it is estimated that the sanctuary currently contains approximately 16 individual animals. While many populations of gorillas are threatened by poachers, the gorillas of Kagwene have been protected by the local belief that the apes are people, and therefore cannot be hunted or consumed.

“These gorillas are extremely wary of humans and are very difficult to photograph or film," said Dr. Roger Fotso, Director of the Wildlife Conservation Society's Cameroon Program. "Eventually, we identified and staked out some of the gorillas’ favourite fig trees, which is where we finally achieved our goal."

"It's unbelievable that one great ape subspecies has never been filmed for TV so far," said Jörn Röver, Head of NDR Naturfilm. "We hope that our international production helps to raise awareness for these magnificent creatures and the work of the WCS."

"These extraordinary images are vital for the fight to save the world's least known and rarest ape as well as the mountain rainforest on which they depend," said Dr. James Deutsch, Director of the Wildlife Conservation Society's Africa Program. "Over the past twenty years, local communities, the governments of Cameroon and Nigeria, funders, and committed conservationists have laid the foundation for a great conservation success story. We hope these pictures will introduce to the world the lead players in this story, the Cross River gorillas themselves."

It is indeed wonderful that the Cross River gorilla has been caught on film, but as every cryptozoologist worth their salt will tell you, a number of apes have never yet been filmed. I give you yeti, sasquatch, yeren and orang-pendek just for starters.

LINDSAY SELBY: Lake Pepin monster

Lake Pepin is the largest lake on the Mississippi River, about two miles wide and 22 miles long with an average depth of 18 feet (5.5 m). It forms the natural border between Minnesota and Wisconsin. A creature nicknamed Pepie is said to live in its waters.

The story goes that the native Dakota people who lived in the area refused to travel on Lake Pepin in bark canoes because of the large 'creatures' that would rise from the depths of the Lake and puncture the thin bark skin. They would only travel on Lake Pepin in dugout canoes that were made by hollowing out a large log.

Then in April 1871 'a lake monster is seen swimming in Lake Pepin' (Minnesota Almanac, published by the MN Historical Society). Many people have reported sightings of an unidentified creature surfacing in the lake since then. There is even a reward for proof it exists.

Lake Pepin Sea Monster? 'Capture' It For $50,000

Reporting James Schugel

There's one creature in Minnesota that's so hard to track that $50,000 reward is out for proof it exists .Ever since the 1800s, residents around Lake Pepin in Lake City, Minn. say they've spotted a sea monster. They call him, Pepie.

"It was very strange," said Larry Nielson, who says he's seen the mysterious creature. "We watched it for quite a while and we watched it for about 15 minutes and could not figure out what it might be." Steve Raymond shares the same story. "Now, I'm the third person who's reported it. I distinctly remember three humps, with one hump looking like a head," recalled Raymond about his experience on Lake Pepin.

The first sighting of the creature was in April 1871. An artist has tried to show what the monster, with a hypnotic red-eye and demon-like head, might look like. It's said to live within the depths of Devil's Abys. "So you never know what you're going to see out here," said Nielson. "There have been stories of something mysterious here."

Boaters have told stories of being attacked while on the water, first hearing several loud knocks on the hull, followed by several violent back and forth swings of the boat.

Nielson wants people to try and see for themselves because this mysterious monster that's eluded most cameras for more than a century. He's offering $50,000 for undisputable photographic and scientific evidence. "The idea behind the reward is make sure you come up with a camera. You might catch Pepie, but the worst thing that's going to happen is that you're going to get pictures of some of the most beautiful scenery in the world," said Nielson. This reward is also a marketing tool for Lake City. The local tourism bureau hopes the chance to see Pepie and get money for it will bring people to the area. Whether anyone finds anything specific on Pepie is yet to be seen. Nielson and Raymond don't need more proof from the public, because they already agree that they've seen something strange in the lake.

Source: http://wcco.com/local/lake.pepin.monster.2.717605.html

So is it a marketing ploy or is there something in the lake?

JAN EDWARDS: Ghostly going ons

Winter in the high north Pennines can be rough. We currently have about 18 inches of snow here, drifting to about 3-4 feet in places. Main roads are blocked between County Durham and Cumbria. Sheep are being dug out of drifts where they have sheltered by dry stone walls. Roe deer are being driven by hunger to raid the sheep and cattle feed. The river Wear is the only guaranteed source of water for many wild animals, as everything else is frozen solid.

It’s bad.... but it HAS been worse in living memory.

I was talking to Michael, one of the local farmers, the other day. He was born and raised in this area, and has always worked on the land. He was laughing at the news that London and the South were struggling under 10 inches of snow. He pointed to a telegraph pole down the road, which must be 30ft high. He told me it had a mark on it, made by his penknife, with his initials next to it. He cut this line in the wood to mark the snow line “some years ago”, and he told me it is around 18 inches from the top of the pole.... That means the snow was a good 28 foot deep. He drove off on his Quad to feed his sheep and his ponies saying “they don’t know they’re born lass....!”

In times past it really WAS bad here. Perhaps not TOO bad when Michael was a lad, because the presence of telegraph poles indicates some degree of civilisation, but if you delve into the history of the area, you will encounter tales of real hardship.

There was no electricity, no mains water, no gas, no transport other than horse and cart, no work other than mining, walling and farming. It would seem however, that there was more sense of community. The little hamlet called Sidehead, where the sanctuary is situated, once boasted of a team of 21 cricket players. There are only 8 houses.

John Wesley knew this area well – he preached at some of the churches around here – and every family would walk to church on a Sunday, whatever the weather.

Measles, Scarlet Fever and TB were rife. Many died. They couldn’t bury their dead when the snow was 20 feet plus deep, so they would store them in the barn, covered in salt, until they could physically dig a deep enough hole. And they would carry on working, when their kids, wife, granddad, lay there in the byre waiting for springtime..... It must have been so hard.

There must have been fun times too however. For the children at least.

There is a limestone quarry close to my house. A few years ago, my daughter and I walked past it, late one night. We were walking the 2 miles downhill to where we parked the cars, to retrieve a couple of bags of shopping, which would be needed the next day. It was snowing heavily, and drifts of 6 foot deep. A winter wonderland, complete with full moon, making the hillside look even more magical.

As we past the quarry, we heard the sound of kids playing, laughing, shouting.... the thrump of snowballs being thrown in jest..... There was a great game going on in there. But there were no footprints in the snow. Well actually there were footprints – but only rabbit ones – and it certainly wasn’t a rabbit snowball fight. And we were sure that if we had ventured, (or should that be “waded”) into the pristine snowscape that was the quarry, we would have risked getting hit by one of their icy missiles. Kids – even ghost kids – love to play in the snow.

That same winter, a neighbour heard the voices of ghostly miners going to work, past their front door – chatting about the weather, and the bonus they would get for Christmas.

Ghosts.... but nice ones. Like the one who would plait our pony’s mane every night (perhaps he was getting her ready for the annual show?) That old pony has long since died, and the ghost hasn’t bothered with other ponies we have had here. Perhaps that palomino Arab cross was.... special. He still occasionally pops by..... He makes himself known by the smell of his pipe tobacco. Very distinctive – in a house of non-smokers. We call him Old Jack.

Then there is the old cook/cleaner / farmer’s wife, we sometimes see in the kitchen..... the little boy ghost who plays on the stairs, and the tall dark man who’s a tad more mysterious and only comes indoors in bad weather... but their stories are for another day.

OLL LEWIS:Yesterday’s News Today


On this day in 1860 the French Académie des sciences in Paris announced the discovery of the planet Vulcan in an orbit between Mercury and the Sun, the presence of Vulcan explained some irregularities in Mercury’s orbit. Unfortunately however, Vulcan never existed.
It’s time again for the Fortean zoology news:

Vultures face extinction as gamblers seek visions of the future

It saddens me that this kind of ‘carrion’ still goes on in this day and age.