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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Monday, January 04, 2010

CRYPTOZOOLOGY ONLINE: On The Track (Of Unknown Animals) Episode 28

The latest edition of a monthly webTV show from the CFZ and CFZtv, bringing you the latest cryptozoological, and monster hunting news from around the world. This episode brings you:

The saga of Maureen
CFZ in wintertime
A look back at 2009
Oll's survey of cryptozoologists
Corinna looks at out of place birds
Blue dogs in Texas
Maine bigfoot?
New and Rediscovered: Luminous jellyfish
New and Rediscovered: New warbler
Threats to Florida Panther


As you know, Oll has been working on the archiving project since early February, and he is now working on the BHM section. This 18th trenche is from 1994 and contains bits and bobs from issue 34 of the journal Track Record. Good stuff.



For the first seven or eight months of the bloggo I used to preface people's blog postings with a brief biography and a photograph. I thought it was a good idea for us to be able to tell you the readership who the people that write for you every day are.

But then, roughly the time that `Muirhead's Mysteries` had been running every day for a month, I began to get emails saying 'we know who these people are, stop telling us already'. So I stopped.

But this morning I got an email:

'Dear Jon,

My wife and I really love reading the bloggo each day, but we are new to all this. Who are these people?? We enjoy Dale's and Richard's posts in particular but would like to know something about them...


So what do I do? It's over to you guys....

NEIL ARNOLD: The Phantom Ape-Man

There is nothing like a chilling ghost story at this time of year. And one of my favourite ghoulish tales comes via Rev. Archdeacon St. John D. Seymour, and concerns a bizarre entity once said to have haunted an Irish castle. Certainly, a handful of reports of phantom ape-men and spectral monkeys litter world folklore, and in the UK a scant few exist. Such a tale is mentioned in True Ghost Stories by Marchioness Townshend and Maude Ffoulkes, who comment that “]'the truth of this story was vouched for to Mr. Reginald Span by the Vicar of the Anglican Church, Arizona, as it happened to some friends of his when they once rented a picturesque castle in the South of Ireland.'

The story goes that a 'Mrs. A.' was sitting in her bedroom awaiting the arrival of her husband when the door in the corridor began to bang. Strange footsteps appeared to creep about the premises but Mrs. A. felt no fear and attempted to confront whoever had encroached upon the property. With candle in hand she peered into the darkest corners of the place and suddenly noticed a figure heading towards the staircase. The apparition turned to look at her, and this is when she became terrified. The head of the spectre was certainly human but the rest of the form belonged to a huge ape. The monster glared at Mrs. A. but then suddenly vanished into thin air.

Mrs. A. was eventually calmed by her daughter. A few nights later Mr. A. experienced the same ghastly beast. He’d been coming upstairs from the hall one night after everyone else had gone to bed when he heard a peculiar laugh coming from the direction of the landing. Looking up, Mr. A. observed a hideous face belonging to an ungainly figure, leaning over the banister. Although the face belonged to a young man, the rest of the body was covered in reddish-brown hair. The laughter of the creature echoed trough the halls as Mr. A. ran upstairs to confront the presence. The rest of the family were naturally disturbed by the mocking and they all hurried from their beds.

The next few days were very quiet in the household until one afternoon when Mrs. A, whilst sitting arranging flowers in the drawing-room, felt two hands rest on her shoulders. Thinking it was her daughter, Mrs. A. turned but found herself face to face with a laughing monstrosity, which stood over six feet in height and was covered in hair similar to that of a gorilla. The hideous ape-man disappeared as soon as a friend came to aid Mrs. A.

The family decided they’d had enough of the castle and the mocking spectre, and so headed back to the U.S.A. shortly after.

LINDSAY SELBY: Lack of Interest in Loch Ness?

There have been less and less sightings of the Loch Ness creature over the last few years as can be seen from this article:

Achtung Nessie! Loch anglers in Dores drama

By Claire Doughty Published: 17 August, 2006

A STUNNED German schoolboy spotted Nessie last week and shouted to his dad: "Look, a U-boat!" Ryan Macdonald's father, Gordon, who also got a monster fright, declared: "I used to think Nessie was a joke, but now I am not sure." Gordon and his eight-year old son and Gordon's pal, Tony Mulgrew, caught sight of the legendary beast during a fishing trip near Dores. Joiner Gordon, of Drakies, Inverness, told the Highland News: "We were near the Dores Inn when we saw this object." Whatever it was rose out of the water by about a few metres. It was there for five or six seconds."

Ryan said it was looked like a U-boat coming out of the water. We weren't scared, we just couldn't believe it. "He's now desperate to tell his friends back in Germany where he stays with his mum, but he is worried they won't believe him. "I was totally sceptical about From Page 1 stories of the Loch Ness monster in the past, but to see something that big was just unbelievable."It was about three quarters of the way across the loch, I wanted to take a picture, but it was too far away." Gordon added: "It was massive. The wash that was created from this thing was as though a boat had passed at high speed, but there was definitely no boat in the area." Tony Mulgrew said: "It is hard to say what it was exactly, but I have fished up at the loch 300 to 400 times and I have never seen anything like that. "There was something strange. There was an upsurge of water and a lot of froth came off the object. Whatever it was was going towards Drumnadrochit."

The father and son's Nessie sighting is only the second this year. The news has come as a relief to Gary Campbell of the Official Loch Ness Monster Fan Club who was worried that global warming had made the loveable beast reluctant to surface. He said: "It is great news. It is such a relief there has been another sighting of Nessie. This is only the second this year. "Just a few weeks ago we were saying that she has been put off coming to the surface because of global warming and the increased temperatures, but I am glad that she has proved us wrong." However, Willie Cameron, director of Loch Ness Marketing, was more down to earth about the alleged sighting. He told the Highland News: "There has been a boat going up and down the loch at tremendous speeds. You won't necessarily see that it is a boat from so far away, you will just see a solid mass. "It could have been either the ferry or this speed boat which both create a tremendous wash. "I am not saying that that is what they saw, I am just being open-minded." He added: "There haven't been many recorded sightings this year. It can be disappointing getting an explanation as people come here and they want to see something."My late father was one of the people who have had one of the best sightings, so I am not saying it doesn't exist because I would be calling my father a hoaxer. I am just explaining what it might have been."


Could this be the reason:

White witch curses latest Nessie hunt

Amateur scientist’s plan to search Loch Ness ‘equivalent to grave-robbing’Published: 22/03/2008 A witch last night cursed a Nessie-hunter’s bid to find the legendary beast, by casting a spell to sink his monster-seeking boats. Amateur scientist Gordon Holmes has installed sophisticated electronic equipment in two radio-controlled model boats in a bid to find the beast, but the move has angered Kevin Carlyon, the High Priest of British White Witches and self-professed “High Priest of Loch Ness and Protector of Nessie”. He described the latest “monster hunt” as sad and laughable, but is concerned it may open the door for more Nessie-hunters.

The white witch said: “I have several plans of how to scupper the latest hunt. “The first will be to send a wish for a large wave or visualise an iceberg in the loch to sink the ‘toy boats’, to using modern-day science in the form of high-powered radio-controlled radio equipment to send the boat to a different destination. “I’m not being a killjoy or wishing to ruin the tourist trade around the loch but I do believe there is a creature the-re, but not a solid one. I feel it is a spirit from a bygone age. What these people are doing is equivalent to grave-robbing. Nessie deserves respect, not exploitation.”

Kevin claims he has previously had success in scuppering the search by Swedish Nessie-hunter Jan Sunberg on his GUST expedition in 2001. Since then sightings have dropped rapidly each year. The latest hunt for Nessie is being spearheaded by a tiny navy of radio-controlled boats. Amateur scientist Gordon Holmes, of Yorkshire, has installed electronic equipment in two vessels. He hopes his use of the 2ft-long remote-controlled boats will finally prove the existence of the monster. Mr Holmes plans to return in the summer with the craft to carry out further searches.

Read more:

Well, I am a bit sceptical about the 'curses' but maybe it is because people are less willing to say they have seen something or simply that the creature is not surfacing as much. Perhaps Robert Rines was right and Nessie has died out?

There are less people around the loch watching for appearances these days and possibly interest has waned in the virtual world of online watching via webcam and satellite. Whatever the reason, we hear less and less about sightings since 2000. Maybe this new decade will herald a resurgence of interest. I hope so. As I am no longer able to travel up to the loch myself it would be nice to know someone is there, watching.

OLL LEWIS: 5 Questions on… Cryptozoology - LOREN COLEMAN

Today’s guest is Loren Coleman. Loren is an American cryptozoologist and author. Loren also runs a cryptozoological museum in Portland, Maine, which contains a number of exhibits including casts, models and film props, and it is well worth a visit.

So, Loren Coleman, here are your 5 questions on… Cryptozoology.

1) How did you first become interested in cryptozoology?

I first became interested in cryptozoology almost exactly fifty years ago.

On Friday night (March 18th) and then again on Saturday morning (March 19th, 1960) I watched a docu-drama-style movie, Half Human, about the search for Abominable Snowmen in some mountains in Asia. The film was directed by Ishiro Honda and had been released in the US as Half Human in December 1958. It had previously been released in Japan as Jujin Yokiotoko ('Abominable Snowman') in August 1955. In the American version new footage had been added, starring John Carradine as anthropologist Dr. John Rayburn. I, of course, didn't know any of this in 1960.

I went to school on Monday, March 21, 1960, after seeing this movie on television over the weekend, full of questions and curiosity about these creatures. I asked all my teachers what was this business about the Abominable Snowmen. I was given answers like "Don't waste your time on that; they don't exist," "Get back to reading your studies," and "They aren't worth your time."

I decided to do my own research, and read everything I could about the Abominable Snowmen. I soon discovered there was a whole world of cryptozoology out there. I recall discovering books on the Loch Ness Monsters. I remember reading Bernard Heuvelmans's On the Track of Unknown Animals. In 1961 I found and read Ivan T. Sanderson's Abominable Snowmen: Legend Come to Life in the Decatur, Illinois, library. I soon bought my own copy from the money I was earning from my paper route job. Then I systematically bought every publication I could find that was listed in Sanderson's bibliography.

I had begun corresponding with Sanderson and within two years I had 400 other correspondents (remember letters vs emails?) from around the world. I was also doing fieldwork with wildlife biologists in Illinois, going out investigating reports with them of black panther sightings, and interviewing eyewitnesses who had seen Bigfoot, ape-like creatures, mystery cats, and giant snakes.

I decided to attend a university in the midst of an area known for its sightings and folklore about reddish unknown anthropoids (Southern Illinois University) and majored in anthropology, minored in zoology, during my undergraduate years, due directly to my interest in cryptozoology.

As I grew older, except for decisions based on the best interests of my sons, cryptozoology served as the primary key to what future paths I wished to take in my life, just as it had since 1960.

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

I have found footprints of ape-like creatures and heard unexplainable screeches (where others had reported similar screams) while investigating unknown anthropoid, mystery kangaroo, and other cryptid sightings.

But the only marginal first hand sighting I had of a cryptid was the brief glimpse of a 'black panther' I saw when I was riding with a group of co-workers returning from a state job we all had been doing in Anna, Illinois, on our way back to Carbondale. I was the only one of the five in the car who was interested in cryptozoology, and I wasn't driving (I didn't own a car), so we did not turn around to investigate. (In the USA, 'black panthers' are indeed cryptids because they are not verified as existing by mainstream zoology. About 40% of all mystery cat sightings are of large melanistic cats in North America.)

I find no need to discuss my sighting very often, as it was fleeting, but certainly gives me a sense of how quick such encounters are for most witnesses.

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

As I've mentioned in my book The Field Guide to Bigfoot and Other Mystery Primates (co-authored with Patrick Huyghe), I feel the best bet for discovery is Sumatra's Orang Pendek. I sense the zoological and anthropological discovery and verification of this great ape will occur in the next 25 years, and it will be a ground-breaking find.

Why? Because it appears to be one of the best funded, long-term surveys and quests that has occurred in recent memory. The quietly financed search by the UK's Floral and Fauna International during over two decades of fieldwork there by Debbie Martyr is the key reason. While I was at the University of Southern Maine as a full-time researcher and adjunct faculty, I was delighted to have written a letter regarding the importance of Orang Pendek research in 1985, in support of Debbie's first application to get her initial visa to enter Indonesia. She has done nothing but the most superb research on the ground since then.

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

This is a difficult question to answer, for at any one time time there are all kinds of 'new' cryptids that turn up, which are quickly explained as normal species, misidentifications, mistakes, outright fakes, and hoaxes that gum up the significant and long-term work we have to do. So, seriously, I would have to say the cryptids that are the least likely to exist are those that aren't unknown or hidden animals in the first place.

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

Hands down, the book that I feel has influenced me the most, which even contains the first example of the use of the word 'cryptozoological' in English, and thus is my favourite is Ivan T. Sanderson's Abominable Snowmen: Legend Come to Life. I was over-joyed to have seen this re-published as a high-quality hard-bound recently, for I think it is a book that should be read by every serious student of cryptozoology and hominology, despite how dated it is and the fact that much has happened since 1961.

Second, of course, is Bernard Heuvelmans's On the Track of Unknown Animals.

I was lucky enough to have personally known both of these gentlemen, and both of these men's books mean much to me.

All the classic cryptozoology works of Bernard Heuvelmans and by folks like Rupert Gould, Odette Tchernine, Willy Ley, Anton Oudemans, Marian T. Place, Roy Mackal, Karl Shuker, Tim Dinsdale, Ralph Izzard and many others, deserve to be in any cryptozoology resource library, as well as the encyclopaedias of George Eberhart, Michael Newton and others. A good historical reading in cryptozoology assists people entering the field who wish to build on the successes of the past.

A year ago I published a list of the top 30 Bigfoot books I would recommend to everyone: http://www.cryptomundo.com/cryptozoo-news/top10-bf-bks/

Happy New Year, and may 2010 be full of great surprises for all of us interested in this field! I look forward to co-operative efforts between the International Cryptozoology Museum, the Centre for Fortean Zoology and other worldwide cryptozoological organisations.

OLL LEWIS: Yesterday’s News Today


On this day in 1903 Thomas Edison electrocuted an elephant as part of his scheming to turn public opinion against Tesla’s AC current. Edison ultimately failed in this and his animal electrocutions (the elephant was part of a long line of such public displays, which usually involved stray dogs or cats) led to the development of the ‘electric chair’ by his technician Harold P. Brown as a form of capital punishment. The electric chair’s first public display was in the execution of William Kemmler in New York. The execution turned into a gory farce when, after passing 1000 volts of electricity through Kemmler for 17 seconds and declaring him dead, it was noticed that he was still breathing. The chair was turned back on, this time set to 2000 volts, and Kemmler’s blood vessels burst, sending blood oozing out of his skin, and the body caught fire. Stephen King based a key scene in The Green Mile on the incident.

Also on this day Elizabeth Ann Seton, the founder of a catholic school, became the first American-born person to be made a saint.

And now, the news:

Tropical wildlife washed-up on Dorset beaches
Rare wildlife found at Purbeck firing range
Weymouth Sea Life 'dragons' fall for mistletoe

When the dragons saw one mating display they all thought they’d best ‘toe’ the line or risk ‘mis’-sing out.