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 22, 2010


As you know, Oll has been working on the archiving project since early February, and he is now working on the BHM section. This 21st trench is from the mid 1950s and is all yeti related. Good stuff.



From last year's Japanese jellyfish population explosion. Matthew Williams sent us this because it is so far out. We post it for the same reason.

ROBERT SCHNECK: Norway Mystery Solved

Robert Schneck wrote to us yesterday with the solution to the mysterious picture from Norway that we printed the other day. That is the beast from James Thurber's classic cartoon,"What have you done with Professor Millmoss?" he wrote.

Much to my shame, I had never seen the cartoon but I laughed aloud as I read it out. Richard, sitting at the other side of the office, immediately said (to his credit) "Oh, the hippopotamus?" proving that he is far more well read than I. Robert, dear fellow, you are quite probably correct.


Uranium Victory: Feds Ordered to Release Hidden Docs

In a big win for water and wildlife, last Thursday a federal judge ruled that the Center for Biological Diversity and allies can obtain previously protected records relating to a 42-square-mile uranium leasing program in the Dolores and San Miguel rivers in western Colorado and eastern Utah. In July 2008, the Center and three partners sued the U.S. Department of Energy and Bureau of Land Management for approving the uranium program without fully analyzing its environmental impacts -- which would be substantial. In fact, uranium mining and milling from the program will deplete Colorado River basin water and threaten to pollute streams and rivers with toxic and radioactive waste products -- in turn threatening wildlife and human communities downstream, as well as four already endangered Colorado River fish species: the razorback sucker, Colorado pikeminnow, and humpback and bonytail chubs.

Because of last week's ruling, the Center will now be able to get inside information on individual uranium leases to use in our suit against the entire program.

Check out our press release and learn more about our campaign to stop destructive uranium mining.

False Killer Whales to Win Real Protection

After seven years of litigation by the Center for Biological Diversity and others, this Tuesday the National Marine Fisheries Service announced it is creating a team to help protect Hawaii's imperiled false killer whales from the very real -- and very lethal -- threat of longline fishing. The false killer whale "take reduction team" -- requested in a recent lawsuit by the Center and friends -- will consider ways to reduce harm to the species caused by Hawaii longline vessels trailing 60-mile-long fishing lines dangling upwards of 1,000 baited hooks. The Center's Brendan Cummings has been invited to serve on the team, scheduled to hold its first meeting next month in Honolulu.

False killer whales are large, dark gray or black, beakless members of the dolphin family, with males reaching almost 20 feet in length. Recent research has found that the false killer whales around the main Hawaiian Islands represent a very rare population that numbers fewer than 120 individuals. The Fisheries Service is now conducting a study to determine whether these mammals should be protected under the Endangered Species Act.

Check out our press release and learn more about our campaign against deadly fisheries.

Southwest Songbird Will Get Protected Habitat

In response to a Center for Biological Diversity lawsuit, last week the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service agreed to increase habitat protections for the southwestern willow flycatcher after a Bush-era decision wrongly denied help for the species. The small, quick-winged, highly endangered songbird has been robbed of more than 90 percent of its historical habitat in the Southwest due to grazing, dams, sprawl, and other threats -- and it has suffered more than a century of steady decline. But after an industry lawsuit and years of inaction, in 2005 the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service made a politically tainted decision to protect very little designated "critical habitat" for the bird: more than 250,000 acres less than the area originally proposed for protection. Adequate habitat protections will give the bird a chance at recovery throughout the remaining Southwest streamside forests it calls home.

The Center has been working to save the southwestern willow flycatcher since 1993, when we first filed the scientific petition that won it Endangered Species Act protection.

Read more in the Salt Lake Tribune.

Alaska Amasses War Chest to Kill Bears, Seals, Walruses

In direct opposition to the Center for Biological Diversity's decade-long campaign to save the polar bear, ribbon seal, and walrus, Alaska Governor Sean Parnell has amassed a $1.5 million war chest to hire lawyers and lobbyists to prevent the protection of the Arctic -- hijacking taxpayer money to stop the feds from designating 128 million acres of protected habitat for the polar bear in response to Center petitions and lawsuits.

Former Governor, now-FOX-News-pundit Sarah Palin lost every effort to roll back the Endangered Species Act, and Parnell is not likely to fare any better against the Center's legal and scientific teams.

Read the Center's response to Parnell's doomed effort to doom Arctic wildlife and learn more about our work to save polar bears here.

Obama Earns "C" in First Year; Tell him to Do Better in 2010

President Obama's first year in office has been a good news/bad news story. On endangered species, he revoked some damaging Bush-era policies, but he also stripped protection from gray wolves in the northern Rockies and Great Lakes. On climate, he followed the Supreme Court's lead and declared carbon dioxide a threat to human health and welfare, but provided virtually no leadership in the congressional and Copenhagen negotiations to develop a real solution to global warming. On ocean policy, he took initial steps to address acidification, but also increased the number of endangered sea turtles that can be caught and killed by industrial longline fisheries.

Overall, the Center for Biological Diversity gives Obama's environmental record a disappointing "C" so far.

Click here to send the president an email telling him to live up to his campaign promises and greatly increase protections for endangered species in 2010.

Read about our report card in the Environment News Service and read it for yourself here.

500 Sign Up to Distribute Endangered Species Condoms; We Need 500 More -- Join Us

More than 500 people have volunteered to help the Center for Biological Diversity get the word out on overpopulation by agreeing to distribute free endangered species condoms in their local communities. College students, grandmothers, teachers, and even clergymen have offered to hand out the condoms at universities, music festivals, spiritual singles groups, and even a science and math teachers' conference.

If you haven't signed up yet, click here to join the fun and be the first person to introduce endangered species condoms to your neighborhood. Then learn more on our Web site about overpopulation and its devastating impact on wildlife and wild places.

Suit Launched to Save Habitat for Endangered Black Abalone

Last Thursday, a year after the Center for Biological Diversity won Endangered Species Act protection for California's rare black abalone, we filed a notice of intent to sue the feds for their failure to protect the species' habitat. Because of overfishing, disease, global warming, and ocean acidification, black abalone populations have declined by as much as 99 percent since the '70s, and experts predict that the beautiful mollusk will be extinct within three decades -- the average lifespan of an individual black abalone. But though the law requires the National Marine Fisheries Service to designate protected "critical habitat" for a species when it's placed on the endangered species list, the agency hasn't made a move to do it.

"Species with critical habitat are twice as likely to be recovering as species that don't have it," said Center Staff Attorney Catherine Kilduff. "The black abalone is on the cusp of extinction, and any further delay of federal habitat protection may well seal the species' fate."

Read more in our press release and learn about our campaign for the black abalone.

2.7-million Acre ORV Plan That Would Hurt Lynxes and Wolves Challenged

To save Canada lynx, gray wolves, and Boundary Waters wildlands from churning tires and pollution, last week the Center for Biological Diversity and six allies challenged a federal plan failing to protect Minnesota's Superior National Forest from off-road vehicle damage. The plan would allow all but two of the forest's 30 areas of lynx habitat to host dangerously damaging (and illegal) ORV densities, and more than 1,600 miles of roads and trails would remain open to vehicles, affecting more than 2.7 million acres of forest.

The Center and partners challenged the U.S. Forest Service's first decision to allow ORVs on the 1,600 miles of roads on the Superior last April because of air, water, and noise pollution; the spread of invasive species; degradation of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness; and failure to protect the lynx and other endangered species. Our challenge was upheld, but since last spring the Forest Service has made no notable changes to its original decision.

Get details in our press release and learn more about the Canada lynx.

Lake Mead Species Threatened by Frankenfish Chemicals

For the sake of endangered fish, human health, and the cleanliness of the largest reservoir in the United States, this Wednesday the Center for Biological Diversity submitted comments opposing the continued pollution of Lake Mead with endocrine-disrupting chemicals. The Nevada Division of Environmental Protection plans to allow the city of North Las Vegas to discharge 25 million gallons of effluent into Las Vegas Wash and Lake Mead per day. That waste matter is chock full of endocrine disruptors, chemicals that interfere with the body's endocrine system -- which regulates growth, metabolism, and tissue function -- and can damage reproductive organs and offspring and cause developmental and immune problems in wildlife and humans alike. Imperiled fish barely holding on in Lake Mead, like the razorback sucker, are especially at risk.

Last week, the Center submitted a scientific petition to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to regulate endocrine-disruptor pollution nationwide.

Check out our press release, learn about our Endocrine Disruptors campaign, and take action to help us end endocrine disruptors now.

Bugsicles and Antifreeze: How Insects Survive the Winter

Birds have migration, bears have hibernation, humans have heaters and houses. But have you ever wondered how furless, featherless insects endure subfreezing temperatures so they can live to crawl, jump, and fly another year? Some insects, like the monarch butterfly, migrate just as birds do, while others burrow underground or hide out at the bottoms of lakes. But believe it or not, other insects actually produce antifreeze in their bodies -- like the snow flea, which can be found hopping about all winter on snow banks in temperatures as low as 20 degrees Fahrenheit. Other insects just go ahead and freeze -- but come spring, they thaw out and they're as good as new: The Alaska Upis beetle freezes at about minus 19 degrees but can survive even when the temperature plunges to minus 100 degrees.

Could these insect innovations be the key to long-term human organ preservation? Either way, the sweaters and puffy jackets in our closets suddenly seem a bit less cool (no pun intended).

Read more in The New York Times.

KierĂ¡n Suckling
Executive Director

Photo credits: razorback sucker by Mark Fuller, USFWS; humpback chub by John Rinne; false killer whale courtesy NOAA; southwestern willow flycatcher by Rick and Nora Bowers; polar bear by Larry Master/MasterImages.org; Barack Obama courtesy Wikimedia Commons/Catherine Szalkowski under the GNU free documentation license; crowd by J.D. Rhoades; black abalone by Glenn Allen, NOAA; Canada lynx courtesy Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife; razorback sucker by Mark Fuller, USFWS; snow flea courtesy Wikimedia Commons/Daniel Tompkins under the GNU free documentation license.

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Today I am going to take a look at reports of serpents or dragons in various parts of Sussex, which run right up to as recently as 1867. As I write I have just e-mailed Worthing library to ask if they have any cuttings within their large collection that continue the saga of the Fittleworth dragon/serpent beyond the late 1860s. In a strange coincidence, 1867 (May 9th, in fact) was the date of a shower of hazelnuts in Dublin. I`m sure there`s no connection! I first read about the Fittleworth monster about 15 years ago when I read Bill Cooper`s book After The Flood: The early post-flood history of Europe traced back to Noah. Whatever your opinion about Genesis, this is a fascinating book and mentions the Fittleworth creature thus:

'In 1867 was seen, for the last time, the monster that lived in the woods around Fittleworth in Sussex. It would run up to people hissing and spitting if they happened to stumble across it unawares, although it never harmed anyone' (1)

In an e-mail to me last November, Cooper said:

'Attached is a photo of a representation of the Fittlewoerth creature carved into a misericord in Chichester Cathedral…The misericord (this one dates from the Middle Ages and so pre-dates 1867 by several centuries) was reserved for the use of the Prebend of Fittleworth, and such representations nearly always featured local knowledge of something for which the user`s locality was famous.So it seems that the creature was reptilian and bipedal:

http://www.misericords.co.uk/chichester_des.html (2)

Cooper continues:

'During 187, at Fittleworth in Sussex, another snake-like animal was spoken of…one record does exist from Fittleworth of an, “…oudaciously large”creature which was said to have inhabited a lair near an overgrown pathway. The beast would never let anyone pass, but attacks on humans seem to have never taken place. (3)

The Foolish People – British Dragon Gazeteer web site describes the Fittleworth Dragon as a “worm” (4)

The late Clinton Keeling wrote me a rather amusing letter about the Fittleworth creature:

'The “Fittleworth Monster” – phew! After getting in touch with the local vicar and headteacher – totally without success, and contriving to rouse some sort of suspicion - I then drove the staff of the West Sussex Record Office to distraction…In point of fact, I`m interested to learn it (somewhat unlikely) lived near a path. There are many yarns like this in Sussex (where I used to live), and they were often made up and broadcast by smugglers to keep people away from the paths where they came along at night with their booty. To this day there are hundreds of such, now overgrown, tracks in the area, running north to south to and from the sea.

Anyway, that`s a drink you owe me sometime!' (5)

Sadly, Clinton died before I could buy him that drink.

Other Sussex dragons include – Lyminster, the Knucker was supposed to have inhabited a bottomless hole. A local lad named Jim Puttock “baked a poisoned pie so huge it needed a horse and cart to transport it to the Knucker hole. The dragon ate the pie, the cart, the horse, and subsequently died. Knucker is believed to derive from nikyr, Old Norse for water.
Monster. Bignor had a dragon story as did Cissbury, where there was supposed to have been a hidden treasure. “ In the 1860s the owner of the hall offered half the treasure to anyone who could clear out the tunnel and find the horde. Several people tried but were driven back by huge snakes that sprang hissing at them with open mouths. (7)

1. B. Cooper After The Flood (1995) p.135
2. E-mail from B. Cooper to R. Muirhead 17th November 2009
3. Ibid.
4. British Dragon Gazeteer http://www.foolishpeople.com/foolishpeople/2005/11/british_dragon_html
5. Letter from C. Keeling to R.Muirhead 30th October 1996
6. British Dragon Gazeteer website op cit.
7. British Dragon Gazeteer website op cit

Next week Part Two will continue the story of the dragons of Sussex.

Bob Dylan Political World

We live in a political world.
Love don`t have any place.
We`re living in times where men commit crimes
And crime don`t have a face

We live in a political world,
Icicles hanging down,
Wedding bells ring and angels sing,
Clouds cover up the ground…

LINDSAY SELBY: Lake Voronta beast

I have been unable to find out much about the Voronta Beast, which is said to live in Lake Voronta in Siberia. The lack of information could be because access to the lake is not easy and the nearest village is over a 100 miles away. Not a place to find a journalist hanging about!

In July of 1953 a geologist, V. A. Tverdokhlebov, and his assistant claimed that they saw a creature in the lake whilst doing some work in the area. It was a perfect, windless day and the two at first thought it was a petrol drum floating roughly 300 feet (100 metres) from the shoreline. As the lake is so isolated, though, it was unlikely that it was an oil drum dumped in the lake. It was then that they realised that the object was alive. Tverdokhlebov described the creature as a dark grey colour, about 30 feet (10 metres) in length and about 6 feet (2 metres) wide. On its head, he thought he could see two light-coloured patches. The dorsal fin of the creature was bent backwards and it appeared to be moving like a dolphin, in forward leaps. After a while, still at 300 feet away (100 metres) from shore, it began to wildly splash the water before plunging mysteriously out of sight.

Another geologist who remained anonymous also witnessed something in the lake. He described the monster as "an ominous-looking dark grey shape. Its body resembled an oversized, glistening, tin-barrel with a slanted horn rudder on its back".

There have been other sporadic small Soviet expeditions sent to Lake Voronta to collect evidence of the creature but none, as far as we know, have been successful.

So what was it? Most seem to think it was some sort of dolphin or whale. The questions are, how did it get there and was it the only creature in the lake? In such an isolated spot it was unlikely to have been introduced into the lake as a single entity like a discarded pet. Hopefully further expeditions may visit the lake and with modern equipment find some evidence of what it was, or if it is, or its ancestors still there.

OLL LEWIS: Yesterday’s News Today


On this day in 1887 Elva Zona Heaster was found dead in Greenbrier County, West Virginia, USA. Her husband would have got away with her murder were it not for Elva’s ghost allegedly appearing to her mother and telling her who killed her and how. I say allegedly as her mother was against the marriage from the start so it could just have been a fit-up… Either way, though, this case made legal history for a murderer being convicted partially because of the say-so of the victim’s ghost, more info here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elva_Zona_Heaster
And now, some news:

Monkey Business
Cetaceous stranger washes up in Puget Sound
The explorers' club
Fortean zoologists on snow footprint trail
Thames eel populations crash by 98% in five years, scientists warn
A chupacabra sighting? Mysterious, hairless creature found on golf course
Florida Turtle on its way to Weymouth

Whay-hay (mouth)