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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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Tuesday, January 19, 2010

RICHARD MUIRHEAD: MUIRHEAD`S MYSTERIES: MYSTERY WILD CATS, BOTH IRISH AND SCOTTISH

In August 2008 Fortean Times published an article by Gary Cunningham on the subject of the elusive Irish Wild Cat and by this I do not mean escaped pumas or lynxes, but a bona fide Irish Wild Cat. So today, with a little extra money than usual, I paid 10 euros for a 24 hour session on the Irish Newspaper Archive in a step of faith, hoping I would find some references within the many Irish newspapers dating from the 18th century that are archived. I started my search at about 2.30pm today Monday and ended about 10 minutes ago at 8.05 pm and I have made some quite exciting discoveries covering Irish and Scottish wildcats, and Irish snakes, which I will mention here for the first time. (The cats, I mean; not the snakes. The latter are being passed on to Irish cryptozoologist, Ronan Coghlan. There is an interesting comment in the Irish paper The Nation's May 22nd 1897 edition: 'Contrary to the popular belief, there are some snakes in Ireland, but they are very rare.' 1)

Just go into Google, type in Irish Newspaper Archive and follow the instructions.

Freemans Journal August 24th 1838

'Mr Cahitl (? Hard to read) of Whiskey-hail, county Limerick, shot, on Thursday last, at Cragg-wood, three wild cats of monstrous size. These strange animals attacked the wood ranger a few days ago, who narrowly escaped with his life. So disfigured were his features, and so completely exhausted was he, that his family did not for a considerable time recognise him on being brought home. Mr Cahitl has taken the skins to send to the Royal Cork Institute.' (2)

I wonder what happened to the Royal Cork Institute?

Southern Star February 11th 1893

'This extract was a summary of a lecture on Irish natural history by the Rev. H Burton Deane at Clonakilty in Co. Cork. In it he says : "Rosscarberry is a capital place for otters, foxes, stoats, weasels, wild cat, and others of the furry tribe.”' (3)

Rosscarberry is in Co. Cork

So here we have wild cats being mentioned in the same breath as well known native Irish mammals.

Southern Star July 19th 1902

[Here we have an interesting coroboration with Cunningham`s reports from Fortean Times. Cunningham uncovered accounts from Ireland of wild cats with nail-like projections from their tails. For example near Kenry in Limerick (4) and one from Co. Mayo c. 1940-1950 (5)]

But the Southern Star report:

'Here is a wonderful examplificatin of the queer effects which sunstroke has on some timorous minded people:- “Dear Sir,permit me,through the medium of your Macroom Notes to put before the public of Macroon and district a danger which menaces thousands of human lives. There is at present in Coolcower wood a wild cat of the most bloodthirsty description which I saw with my own two eyes on Thursday evening last. This may sound like a hoax, but I pledge you my honour I am perfectly in earnest. I knew the animal as soon as I caught a glimpse of him, crouching as I believed, for a spring upon me. It was at least four feet long with great glaring eyes and a bushy tail about two foot in length with a nail in the end of it. I did not wait for further observations at the time but I can assure you it was a wild cat” Yours truly Pro Bono Publico.' (6)

There then follow a series of facetious comments by the editor, presumably. So here we have the 2nd reference to a Co. Cork wild cat.

The final report for today is from the Irish Independent of October 17th 1907, which has a head line – CAT NEARLY 5FT LONG 'A wild cat measuring 4ft 7in has been shot by Mr S A Bland a noted Arizona sportsman.' (7)It does not say whether or not it was shot in Ireland or England.

There is an item in the Irish Independent of May 21st 1906 on a wild cat being brought from the Cocos Island. I don`t know if this is significant.

The Scottish wild cat. This is from the Anglo-Celt of January 10th 1856. It is interesting because of its colouration:

'CAPTURE OF A WILD CAT. - On Friday week, a man caught, in a wood on Kirkennan-hill,parish of Buittle, a fine live specimen of that nearly extinct class of the savage creatures of Scotland - a wild cat. It had been driven by hunger and the inclemency of the weather from its native retreats into a baited trap. It is of a bluish gray colour, stands high, and measures three feet in length, from the nose to the tip of its tail. – Scotchmen.' (8)

Is this a normal colour for a Scottish wild cat? Seems a bit like a Kellas cat.

I have got up to about 1913 with the wild cat search and will try and bring more to you on Thursday Jan. 21st

1 Nation. May 22nd 1897
2 Freemans Journal August 24th 1838
3 Southern Star February 11th 1893
4 G.Cunningham. The Irish Wildcat Fortean Times August 2008 p.41
5 Ibid p.42
6 Southern Star July 19th 1902
7 Irish Independent October 17th 1907
8 Anglo-Celt January 10th 1856


Now Music time! Simple Minds-Sanctify Yourself

Is this the age of the thunder and rage
Can you feel the ground move `round your feet
If you take one step closer,it`ll lead to another
The crossroad above is where we meet
I shout out for shelter, I need you for something
The whole world is out,there all on the street
Control yourself,love is all you need
Control yourself,in your eyes
Sanctify yourself,sanctify
Be apart of me,sanctify
Sanctify yourself, sanctify
Sanctify yourself, set yourself free

JAN EDWARDS: You wondered what it was...

We first printed these a couple of days back, and there has been some off-beam speculation as to what they might be. Jan, who originally sent the pictures to us, writes:

Not a 3-legged anything. And not feline. Each set of 3 marks were about a metre apart. The snow was about 18inches deep here....
Keep on guessing, guys

OLL LEWIS: 5 Questions on… Cryptozoology - Col JOHN BLASHFORD-SNELL

Today’s guest is the Hon. Life President of the Centre for Fortean Zoology, Colonel John Blashford-Snell OBE. Colonel Blashford-Snell is a veteran explorer and expedition leader. Some of his most well known expeditions include the first descent of the Blue Nile and the complete navigation of the Congo River. In 1978 he established youth project Operation Drake, which later evolved into Operation Raleigh.

Colonel John Blashford-Snell, here are your 5 questions on… Cryptozoology:

1) How did you first become interested in cryptozoology?

In 1979, through the search for the Artrellia, the giant lizard in Papua New Guinea, during Operation Drake. It was said to walk upright and be rather aggressive. When we eventually discovered the beast it was certainly large with huge claws but it turned out to be a known species - Salvador's monitor.

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

Not certain. In Tibet I did see a shape that looked rather Yeti-like at very long distance.

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

Probably some insect. There are still a great many to be identified in the tropical forest areas. Animal life in the deepest part of the oceans is obviously another likely source.

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

Anything very large.

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

On the Track of Unknown Animals by Bernard Heuvelmans.

DALE DRINNON: Is This The Great Lakes Whale?

While mulling the matter over, I was casting around for a candidate that would best fit the odds-and-ends of the Great Lakes whale reports; something that could look like a dolphin sometimes, like a grey whale sometimes and even resemble a sperm whale to some witnesses.

I began to suspect that a North Atlantic bottlenose whale might meet the specifications. Bottlenose whale remains are found in the inland sea deposits when the great lakes were proglacial, and
the bottlenose is a good medium lengeth at about 25 to 35 feet long, which could be mistakenly doubled to 50 to 75 feet long by the witnesses and fit the larger reports well enough. The whales could be considered the replacement for Mackal's [Eastern] Basilosaurian lake-monsters but they would not be Naiatakas: they would be Bessies. Lake Erie's 'South Bay Bessie' is often reported as a large spindle-shaped creature in the right size range, and sonar targets also fit the description. That does not mean to include ALL of the Lake Eerie reports, but the 'Whale' sightings are a remarkably good fit (and it does not matter if the reports are often string-of-buoy reports; those would be the waves in the wake. This time at least the creature would be big and powerful enough to leave a very noticeable wake).

Some of the fossil whales of Michigan have very recent C14 dates, up to possibly the Viking age or even colonial times. These unusually recent dates are thought to be due to contamination of the samples (link cited for Michigan fossil whales last time) However, it can also easily be turned around to say that there is evidence for recent survival of whales in the Great Lakes.

Sightings have been in decline for some time though and if the Great Lakes whales really are represented by 'Bessie' sightings, the population may very well be in peril.

LINDSAY SELBY: Lough Fadda Horse Eel?

Lough Fadda in Ireland is known for its salmon and trout-fishing, and also reports of an unknown creature seen in the lake. For generations the locals of the Connemara area spoke of strange creatures called Horse Eels that inhabited the surrounding bog waters and children were warned to stay away from the loughs as Horse Eels dwelt there. In the 20th Century a lot of people dismissed it as folklore. Then there was a sighting in 1954. Four members of the local Clifden community saw the creature and two were reported to be very disturbed by the experience, so much so that when they returned to Clifden they insisted men armed with rifles be sent to the scene.

In June 1954 Georgina Carberry and three friends cycled down to Lough Fadda. They took a boat owned by the Clifden Angling Association and set out to fish. Later in the afternoon they decided to set the boat ashore along a finger of land that almost splits the lake in half to have some refreshments. They were sitting down with their tea when one of the group pointed out an object moving from 'an island', which she assumed was a man swimming. The object was approaching them and as it got closer it was obviously too big to be a human swimming. They began to get concerned and when it reached within twenty yards (18 metres) Georgina made the first move and jumped back; the others followed and moved away from the water's edge. The movement must have disturbed the creature and it swung right around a rock near the shore and dived. In two minutes it was up to the island again where they were watching and reappeared. When the creature came close to the group on shore it opened its "huge great mouth". Two big humps were noticed sticking above the water behind its head. Georgina said she spotted a forked tail when it swung around the rock. (Another witness, Ann, didn't recall seeing one, when interviewed later). Georgina likened the creature’s mouth to a shark's and described the animal's skin as "wormy" or "creepy". (She explained to F. W. Holiday when interviewed that the "body seemed to have movement all over it all the time.") 'Ann' recalled later on being interviewed that it had prominent eyes to the front of the head. 'Ann' (one of the two surviving members of the group) was interviewed in 2001 by a local historian and the details of the sighting she told him matched the details from nearly 50 years previously, it was still so clear in her mind.

The Loch Ness Investigation Bureau came to search the lough in 1965. The team included Captain Lionel Leslie, Dr Roy P. Mackal and David James, founder of the Loch Ness Investigation Bureau. Captain Leslie set off 5 lbs of explosive along the shore of Lough Fadda in an attempt to lure the creature out. A similar thing had been tried at Loch Ness in an attempt to imitate the 1933 road blasting to lure out Nessie. The police at Inverness, however, made them stop. It was recorded that about ten seconds after the blast a long black object broke the surface and began violently thrashing about. Cameras were on hand but apparently failed to capture any footage. The creature thrashed so wildly no identification or conclusions could be made of the brief sighting. Nets were left across the lough but no further evidence was obtained.

There was apparently an earlier sighting of some sort by two men in a boat during the 1940s but no details have been forthcoming and a search was conducted in Lough Fadda during the early 1980s that was mentioned in the local newspaper but again, no details have been forthcoming about what was found.

So, a candidate for the giant eels theory? I think it sounds very like many other sightings and could well have been an enormous eel. It may have been protecting it’s territory or moved to that lough because it was hungry. Sadly, the blast may have killed it or it may have moved on because of it, as there seems to have been no sightings since.

OLL LEWIS: Yesterday’s News Today

http://cryptozoologynews.blogspot.com/

On this day in 1736 James Watt was born. His improvements to the steam engine led to the industrial revolution and to Steampunk (which is by far the most interesting sci-fi sub-genre, I’m sure you’ll agree).

Wallaby disrupts motorway traffic
Gorilla who kept dead baby in 2008 dies
New bird discovered in well-known rainforest in Borneo
'Sea monster' revealed?
Crocodile kept in Kent bungalow as pet

And people say you ‘Kent’ keep crocodiles at home….