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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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Thursday, January 21, 2010

RADIO ALERT

This Sat 9:30am on George FM (http://www.georgefm.co.nz/ for live streaming).


Rhys Darby vs. David Farrier cryptid pop quiz smackdown. The winner gets an original Day Of The Animals 1-sheet movie poster. The loser gets attacked by Peter ("Day Of The Ninja") Hassall with nunchakus.

The Cryptid Factor airs 8:00am-10:00 (New Zealand time) each Saturday This equals:


7:00-9:00pm Fri (London time)
11:00am-1:00pm Fri (Los Angeles)
1:00pm-3:00pm Fri (Chicago)
2:00pm-4:00pm Fri (New York)
6:00am-8:00am Sat (Sydney)

It is a weekly radio show hosted by actor and comedian Rys Darby (Flight of the Conchords, Yes Man, The Boat that Rocked, etc.) and David Farrier.

Rhys has a great interest in cryptozoology in real life and David self-funded his own expedition in 2009 to make a documentary about the Mongolian Death Worm.

They are assisted by Leon "Buttons" on the studio controls and Peter Hassall (a new Zealand cryptozoology, fortean, and UFO researcher who writes regularly for Fortean Times magazine) does a segment 3/4 of the way through the show called The Vault. It highlights a cryptozoology report from the past (1800-1950). This Saturday only,The Vault is replaced by Peter grilling Rhys and David in a quick-fire quiz to find out who has a superior knowledge of cryptozoology!

CFZ IN THE PRESS

Fortean zoologists on snow footprint trail
This is North Devon

THE 150-YEAR-OLD mystery of what caused a long trail of hoof-like marks could be solved — thanks to the latest batch of snow.

In February 1855, after a fall of snow, footprints were discovered in Devon, stretching 100 miles from Exmouth to Teignmouth.

For the greater part of their course they followed straight lines. Houses, rivers, haystacks and other obstacles were travelled straight over, and footprints appeared on the tops of snow-covered roofs and high walls.

The prints were dubbed The Devil's Footprints. Then in March last year, similar footprints appeared in a Woolsery garden after a fall of snow.

Read On

CHUPACABRA HELP

Calling all of you in bloggoland. The CFZ, and me in particular, need your help. Can any of you find written or recorded usage of the word CHUPACABRA or CHUPACABRAS which pre-dates 1995? Can you let me know if you can find any, and let me have a citation, and preferably a scan of the document in question.


I would also be interested in any accounts of the English words "goat sucker" being used as an insult. I know that it is an old country name for nightjars, which are indeed the most Fortean of birdies, but has it ever meant anything ruder or more scatological?


Now fly, my pretties, and bring me back data....

OLL LEWIS: Yesterday’s News Today

http://cryptozoologynews.blogspot.com/

On this day in 1877 Arthur Tooth, a church of England clergyman, was arrested in Hatcham for the crime of using ritualistic practices in his church services; for example, the use of incense in services or performing the communion blessing with his back to the congregation. He became revered as a martyr by high church Anglicans as a result of his imprisonment.
And now for the news:

Bigfoot shows up in Bulgaria
Chupacabra Debunked! It's a Hairless Raccoon: Biologist
Wise Country 'chupacabra' actually a young raccoon
Green Sea Slug Is Part Animal, Part Plant
Blind grandmother's record breaking fish 'weighed two Cheryl Coles'
Truth cloudy in tale of glued cat

Did you hear about the cat that swallowed a ball of wool? She had mittens.

MIKE HALLOWELL: (I'm always touched by your) Presence Deer

Back in 1808 a funny thing happened and as it happened, it happened at Bamburgh, Northumberland.

There were these blokes and they were employed as quarrymen. Their role was to take big stones, bash 'em, and make 'em into smaller ones; not the most intellectually challenging of pursuits, I'll grant you, but it probably kept them fit. In addition, they no doubt compared stones, swapped different kinds of stones, kept collections of stones and took aesthetically pleasing stones home for the missus.

"There you are, luv," they would say. "Feast your eyes on that! Know what that is? That is a piece of Grade 3 travertine, that is! That cost me three bits of quartz and a lump of striated magnesian limestone, that did."

Geordie quarrymen doted on their spouses, back then; they really did.

Anyway, back to the story: these blokes were digging in the ground, looking for stones to bash. However, as they dug down a bit they stumbled upon some Lumpy Pointy Things. They were not stones, but "horns of deer".

"That's a bit weird, like," said one.

And it was weird. But what was even weirder was that the "horns of deer" were attached to "the skulls of deer", which in turn were attached to the entire "skeletons of deer". Someone, it seems, had buried alive a load of deer standing upright in a huge bloody pit. The Head Stone Basher, otherwise known as the foreman, was called for. He in turn called in "an expert", who declared that they were the remains of red deer. How he established this I do not know, but as he was an expert I will not dare to quibble.

Unfortunately, almost as soon as the bones were exposed to the air they started to crumble. As one local historian observed, "they mouldered and fell in pieces". Which was a shame, really. However, two horns – both about three feet in length - stubbornly refused to succumb to such elemental exposure (I know not why) and remained in good condition. The quarrymen carted them off to Bamburgh Castle where they were hung upon a wall. For all I know, they may still be there to this day.

Curiously, the ground in which the deer were found emitted a foul odour of decayed flesh. Now I don't know how long carcasses buried in the ground stink, but my guess is that it wouldn't be for decades or centuries. That seems to indicate that the animals hadn't been there that long, although the rapid decay of the bones after exposure would seem to indicate just the opposite. It’s a mystery, really.

If anyone out there can shed a light on this curious historical enigma, I'd really appreciate it. Three pebbles* and a lump of dolomite** to the first one to crack the mystery.

*Pebbles may contain pebbles.

**This product may contain nuts. The proprietors reserve the right to substitute the dolomite with a high-quality dolomite substitute such a Dolomexine ® or Dolomexetite ®. Please allow ten years for delivery.

MYSTERY SKELETON IN CORNWALL

The debate is still raging on the picture from Norway that we posted yesterday and I have to say that I agree with Max, Tony and Scotty that it does not look animate to me.

However, I have had this picture since Christmas. It was given to us by our good friends Jules and Dougie, the Cornish ghosthunters.

We have kept quiet about it, because we were hoping to retrieve the skeleton first, but since this photograph was taken last spring, the bones (we found out yesterday teatime) have disappeared. Probably the work of predators.

What is it?

The Beast of Buckshaw. Hmmmmmmm

Oh I do like to take the mickey out of the daily newspapers, except (of course) when they pay us. Dr Dan Holdsworth wrote to me this morning with reference to this story from the UK Daily Mail. (and we haven't been paid ow't by them since 1998 so they are fair game).

Dan writes: "The picture looked familiar to me, and a quick search confirmed my doubts. This is EXACTLY the same photo as was taken on Dartmoor three years ago, of a Newfoundland dog called Troy, which at that time had been dubbed a monster, wild boar and various other things."

Well it certainly looks like it to me. In fact I would say it was almost a dead cert, although I suppose coincidences would happen, and I would be very interested to see some uncropped pictures which prove it is from a different event.



I seem to remember that when we put out this press release pointing out that despite a story in The Guardian the revelation that this was a picture of a dog was not a “Blow to Monster Watchers” the usual suspects launched a mild barrage of criticism in my direction accusing me over scepticism and ignoring the work of someone or other who had been researching the case. I can't remember the details, and don't care. However, it is amusing that these piccies of what appear to be a Dulux Dog have appeared again (as Dan said) in the very newspaper that outed the pics as being of a dog in the first place


Crikey, some people never learn. Now let's see who takes exception to this posting.

UMMMMMM..........

This picture arrived in my in-box last night. It was accompanied by a brief note from a friend of mine. "What do you think of this?" she wrote. "All I know about it is that it was supposed to have been taken in Norway recently".

Truthfully, I haven't a clue, but I have always been terible at discerning stuff like this. Those bloody Magic Eye books about fifteen years ago never worked for me, for example, and the gamed my stepdaughters play on their DS's where they are supposed to find pictures hidden within other pictures are my idea of hell.

To me this picture looks like our plastic garden picnic table laden with snow, but I assume that it is more significant than that. C'mon boys and girls help me out.

MAX BLAKE: Taxonomy Fail #4

Even if this one is not from a museum, it still amuses me which is quite an achievement at this time of the morning...

LINDSAY SELBY: The Kodiak dinosaur

In 1969, a shrimp boat the M/V Mylark had been fitted with an expensive state of the art electronic detector in order to map the ocean floor in an area known as the Raspberry Straight, off the coast of Kodiak Island, Alaska. The detector was the Simarad which was supposedly a fool-proof electronic device. According to the report it was functioning perfectly when one of the operators noticed an anomaly about 330 feet (110 metres) below the surface. The object on the display screen appeared to be about 200 feet( 67 metres) long and looked as if it was swimming. The men were able to capture an image of the screen reading .It was described as a large, animate, dinosaur shaped marine animal. It became known as The Kodiak Dinosaur.

The experienced fisherman who were operating the equipment stated that what they picked up on the detector was not any known species of whale or any other indigenous marine creature from the region. What happened to the print out of the screen reading is unclear so it may no longer exist.

Dr. Roy P. Mackal theorised that there are still pods of ancient cetaceans in the world’s oceans known in the fossil record as Basilosaurus. He thought one may have been responsible for the strange reading.

There were often sceptics who claimed sonar readings in Loch Ness were the result of the sounds waves bouncing back from the loch sides. Not all readings can be attributed to this but some possibly could. Could the same thing have occurred here but with the waves bouncing back from the ocean floor ? I am no sonar expert so don’t know if it is possible .The other explanation is that it was a huge strange unknown creature, which is always a possibility.

MUIRHEAD`S MYSTERIES: MORE ON THE IRISH WILD CAT AND ALSO THE DOBHAR CHU

I have a bit more information on the Irish wild cat,which in my opinion is a little way closer to being vindicated as once (and still?) existing. Also, the Dobhar chu,or master otter, an giant otter like animal said to have existed in north-west Ireland and Scotland as recently as the 1700s. It was said to have attacked and killed Grainne–ai-Chonalai who was killed on the shores of Glenade Loch on September 24th 1772. Dr Karl Shuker has written extensively about it, but I have just unearthed a report from the 1950s.

But first the Irish wild cat: I mention an item in the Irish Naturalist which was not mentioned by Shuker in Mystery Cats of The World or Cunningham in his article The Irish Wild Cat in Fortean Times August 2008.. Cunningham mentions the 1906 paper by Dr RF Scharff “On the former occurrence of the African Wildcat (Felis ochrreata Gmel) in Ireland, The Irish naturalists Journal. Shuker mentions papers in the same journal from 1905. There was a debate as to whether or not remains of a wild cat found in a cave in County Clare were similar to the African Wild Cat.

The extract is from the Irish Naturalist *for July 1908, vol.17 no 7:

“Supposed Occurrence of a Wild Cat in the West of Cork.”

A species of Wild Cat is proved by its fossil remains to have inhabited Ireland at no very remote period,as Dr. Scharff has shown in his very careful paper (Proc.R.I.Academy,January 1906), and he also urged that enquiries should be made as to whether such an animal has been seen or heard of lately (Irish Naturalist,1905,p.79). Though the specimen referred to below has unfortunately perished,and conclusive proof of its species is therefore unattainable, it may be well to record the remarkable descriptions given me by several members of the Becher family.

In 1881 I made a note of the statement of Mr E.W.Becher and his sister to the effect that some years previously their elder brother shot a Wild Cat at Liss Ard,the O`Donovan`s place “It had a broad head,short legs,bristly tail;the colour “was brindled,with bars of black on a dark grey,with a dash of tan colour”

I have recently met their elder brother,the Rev H.Belcher,who at my request has written the following account:- “ Castlehaven Rectory,Skibbereen,May 8th,1898.

“ I shot what I took to be a
Wild Cat at Liss Ard,Skibbereen, during “the winter of 1873-74,probably in January 1874. The place was high,rocky ground,on the skirt of a young plantation. I just got a glimpse of it passing through the gorse and brambles and thought it might be a Marten Cat. We were beating for Woodcocks. The retriever fetched it,and when she came out of the covert the Cat had her by the nose. (1) (* Also known as the Irish Naturalists Journal.)

The table, by the way, shows reports of Irish wildcats over a period of 100 years.

There is an article in the Freemans Journal in 1923 which gives the etymology and history of the Wild Cat in Ireland along with some other Irish animals:

FURTHER LOCAL NAMES DERIVED FROM ANIMALS,MOSTLY WILD

“When the cat appears in place names,it is not the domestic animal that it meant, but the wild cat which was at one time common in Ireland,and was certainly not extinct fifty years ago [i.e c.1873-R] for I know a man that used to trap them in a wood at the foot of Corran Tuathail,Co Kerry. This wild cat was a fierce brute, called Cat Crainn, tree cat,and occasionally Mada Crainn,tree dog, the latter being also the Irish name of the squirrel.
[so could that offer the exciting possibility of two types of Irish Wild Cat?- R]

Knockannacuit,parish of Lismore, Co.Waterford is Cnocan-a-Chuit,the Cat`s Hillock.and Meenachuit, Inniskeel,Co.Donegal, Min-a-Chuit,the Cat`s Smooth Spot. In each of these cases the cat appears in the singular number. He comes into place numbers more frequently in the plural. Carnagat, parish of Killevy,Co.Armagh,is Carn-na-gCat, the Cat`s Cairn;Carrignagat, Kilmocomago parish,Co Antrim,has practically the same meaning.Knocknagat, Cuocna-gCat, the Cat`s Hill;Lisnagat,Lios-na-gCat,the Cat`s Liss and Lisheeunagat,Lisin-na-gCat,the Cat`s Little Fort,Lisin being the diminuative of Lios;

No doubt many of these names are legendary. Those who have read Father O`Leary`s “Guaire” will recall how the King of the Cats carried away the haed of the Trom-Daimhe,because ,in a fit of temper,he had lampooned the cats for neglecting to kill the mice that had stolen the dainty meal which Guairo had sent him, when the Ard-Ollamh was in a sulky mood and not inclined to eat. (2)

In 1956 a Co.Leitrim newspaper reported a modern Dobhar Chu sighting:

STRANGE MONSTER

The story of a monster in Glenade Lake is again in circulation. According to the account of some young men who claim to have seen the monster while fishing there, it has the head of a hound,the tail of a fish and is about six feet in length. Rumours of this kind excite more interest where Glenade Lake is concerned because of a thrilling scene which took place 236 years ago ,when a Miss McLoughlin known by her maiden name Grace Connolly,was killed by Dobhar-Chu while washing clothes in the lake convenient to her home in Creevelea.
(3)


1 Irish Naturalist vol. 17 no 7. July 1908 pp 140-141
2 Freeman`s Journal. September 22nd 1923
3 Leitrim Observer. November 10th 1956.

Seeing as we ended on a watery theme I will end with a watery song;

The Levellers The Boatman

If I could choose the life I please
Then I would be a boatman
On the canals and rivers free
No hasty words are spoken
My only law is the river breeze
That takes me to the open seas
If I could choose the life I please
Then I would be a boatman


Richard-o

OLL LEWIS: 5 Questions on… Cryptozoology - GLEN VAUDREY

Today’s guest is Glen Vaudrey. Glen is the author of Mystery Animals of the Western Isles published by CFZ press, like all the books in the Mystery Animals series it makes a really good read, even if you’re not from the area, but Glen’s book certainly stands out as a favourite of mine. Glen will be talking about water horses at the 2010 Weird Weekend this August, tickets should be going on sale round about now.

So, Glen Vaudrey here are your 5 Questions on…. Cryptozoology.


1) How did you first become interested in cryptozoology?

I would have to say that my interest began without my knowing about it at around the age of 5 when I started to read parts of the Reader Digest book ‘Folklore, Myths and Legends’; I was fascinated with tales of phantom black dogs. While I spent many miserable wet days looking for any sign of them as a child I never did see a phantom hound.

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

At first I considered the answer to be ‘bugger all’ sightings, then I remembered I had seen what I have in the last few years considered to be a phantom dog in Kilchurn Castle, the sighting taking place in the mid 90s. That sighting is tempered by the fact the animal answered to the name Donald, a name that I find hard to reconcile with a ghostly animal. But I actually have seen some genuine out-of-place animals, three turtles that used to live in a cutting of the River Irwell in Irlam. Those three lost turtles may not be as exciting as a phantom dog or a mystery cat but they could do very good impressions of German World War Two helmets.

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

I have to agree with most previous answers given to this question and opt for the thylacine. I think any animal that has only been judged extinct in living memory has a good chance of being found. While I expect it to be rediscovered in the next decade I think the only mystery will be where it will be found, Tasmania, mainland Australia or even in New Guinea.
Not wishing to have just the one answer my outside bet would be for the discovery of a large North Atlantic shark in the next few years.

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

Despite the subject being close to my heart (I will be talking about them at the 2010 Weird Weekend) the Each Uisge waterhorse is one almost certainly never to see the light of day. Any animal that is a reputed to be able to change shape has to be regarded with caution.

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

As it is certainly one of the most influential books on mystery animals it would have to be Heuvelmans’ On the track of unknown animals. As far as any other books a good read is always welcome and if the book has both an index and a bibliography it will do for me.

NAOMI WEST: Vulture flocking

Here is the video we took of the congregating vultures a few weeks ago. (Don't quit it early -- the numbers keep growing!)

Because nothing in my research addressed this behavior (I could only find info. on vultures congregating when roosting), I contacted the Turkey Vulture Society for information on this behavior, and below are two responses I received:

This from Maria del Mar Contaldi:

Turkey vultures soar taking advantage of the thermal updrafts, and when this birds congregate in roosts, sometimes of hundreds of birds, they may all "ride" the thermals together. In particular, certain populations of this species migrate in autumn, the western populations go to Northern South America, they are counted by the million at the watchsite in Veracruz, Mexico. The Eastern populations don't leave North America but they do undertake short distance migrations, and they do so in flocks, big groups. This may be what you are looking at, yet it should prove useful if you could write down exact dates of arrival and departure and see if you notice any wingtags, some study groups band the birds to follow their movements, and study these patterns. There is a lot of information being gathered about it, perhaps your next search should be about the migratory movements, you will get a lot of data about it in the internet.

This from Brandon Breen:

It is generally believed that the vultures do this to both play and socialize. Humans aren't the only organisms to play and just enjoy certain behaviors, and it is possible that the vultures enjoy flying and will do so in the evenings after the foraging 'work' is completed. Also, these flights are not energetically expensive when the air movement conditions are right. That is to say, if the birds are able to soar (not flap) then they're not using much energy so the cost to this behavior is minimal.

There is a lot that is not known about vulture behavior and social structure. Nevertheless, vultures and condors that perform these evening flights (and both vultures and condors regularly make flights like these) have been seen to perform courtship displays (such as follow flights whereby two birds fly in tight formation), so there may well be some pair bonding that is occuring during these flights, as other forms of bonding between siblings, 'friends', etc.
So, basically, it seems to provide some social bonding opportunities, it is not very costly behavior energetically speaking, and they may just enjoy it. Also, it could help them, especially young birds, master flight.

OLL LEWIS: Yesterday’s News Today

http://cryptozoologynews.blogspot.com/

On this day in 2007 video footage of the rare living fossil, the frilled shark (Chlamydoselachus anguineus) was filmed by the Awashima Marine Park in Japan. An attempt was made to bring the creature to the surface to be studied in the marine park, but it died shortly afterwards.
And now, the Fortean zoology news headlines:

Mugger dolphin goes on the run
Wildwood Education Department needs you!
Man accused of spraying protesters with fox urine

###Insert predictable pun about ‘taking the pee’ here###