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 23, 2010


You will probably all have noticed that Jon is - once again - not answering his emails or telephone calls. Basically he has been on the sick list since Friday morning. As he has noted on more than one occasion, diabetes and manic depression are not a particularly nice mix, but they had reached a sort of stalemate for some time. However, a routine change of medication seems to have tipped over the balance and caused both conditions to crash and burn, and Jon has been basically bed-ridden since Friday, only getting up for brief periods.

He will, we are sure, be better soon but please forgive us if our progress is not quite up to scratch for the next few days.

LINDSAY SELBY: From the archives

I was browsing through the archives of the newspaper The Northern Times and came across these gems, all from 1933 and 1934:

A proposed attempt to solve the problem of the Loch Ness Monster by descending to the bottom of the loch in a steel tube to which is attached an observation chamber, was described by Mr J E Williamson, of Florida, USA, a marine explorer who arrived at Liverpool this week in the Cunard-White Star liner Scythia en route for Scotland. Mr Williamson, who is the originator of undersea motion pictures, said that from the observation chamber a strong beam of light would project from the glass window and he would be enabled to photograph objects 25 to 30 feet away. He believed it would be quite possible to "drift in" on the Loch Ness Monster. "I don't think there is much to fear from an attack by the creature," he added. "I have had attacks before from sharks but have been able to deal with them. It will take me about a month to cover the whole of the loch, and if at the end of that time I do not find any monster I shall conclude that it does not exist."

Source: http://www.northern-times.co.uk/news/fullstory.php/aid/6692/75_Years_Ago.html

I have been unable to find out if this took place or what the result was. I had not heard of this before.

Here is an interesting tale from the same time:

Loch Fleet Monster – As the Embo motor boat “Maid Marvyth,” was entering Loch Fleet on Monday afternoon, the members of the crew were taken by surprise when a monster of a shark, length about 20 feet, followed the boat right up to the Little Ferry Pier, and remained above the water for quite a time. Some of the Embo youths who were in the boat thought it was the Loch Ness Monster, until they were informed by the crew that is was a shark. It is an unusual occurrence for a shark to be seen in Loch Fleet.

Source: http://www.northern-times.co.uk/news/fullstory.php/aid/6301/75_Years_Ago.html

An interesting one for those who think Nessie is a shark. And last but not least:

Broadcasting from Aberdeen on 7th December, Mr Alex Polson, JP, a well-known native of Clyne, Sutherland, said that the fame of the so-called Loch Ness Monster has spread far and wide and many have been scanning this extensive loch day after day all summer. One day several young people found a crooked tree trunk at the water's edge, photographed it, and sent the picture to southern newspapers and reported that the mystery had been solved, but alas for their story the monster has been seen several times since by over 50 persons whose report can certainly be trusted and now many people believe that there is some truth in the story and someone has even attached a line with a baited hook to a barrel surmounted by a flag in the hope of capturing it, but as yet without result.People who have seen it report that it looks like an upturned boat moving quickly through the water. Others say that it looks like a monster eel 20 to 30 feet long with humps on its back. Others again that it has a small head which lifts from a body of great size. One gentleman from Golder's Green, London, says that on 22nd July he saw between Dores and Foyers the nearest approach to a dragon or pre-historic animal he ever saw. It crossed the road about fifty yards ahead of him and appeared to be carrying a small lamb. To him it seemed to have a long neck which moved up and down. The body had a high back and if it had feet it must have been of the webbed kind. It moved very rapidly and disappeared. It was from six to eight feet in length and was ugly. "I am of the opinion," he says, "that it is an amphibian." This amphibian theory is supported by the story of young men at Fort Augustus who tell that 20 years ago they as boys from 10 to 12 were birdnesting among the bushes on the banks of the loch and were terrified to see an animal emerge from the underwood and make for the loch. The incident was forgotten, but now they tell that the beast they saw had a long neck, a small head, a humped-up back, fairly long legs, and its skin was of a pale-yellow colour. The father of one of the boys remembers the incident perfectly because of the excitement of the boy when he reached home.A Norfolk gentleman who was on the lookout for it in June suggests that it must be a large conger eel and such eels have been found weighing 130 pounds, 10 feet in length, and 18 inches in girth, and is at present wandering up and down the loch trying to find its way back to the sea. No private person is willing to tackle the job of catching this wonderful creature alive and it is suggested that the Fishery Board should do so and so solve the mystery. Here are a few of the guesses as to what this monster is: a prehistoric plesiosaurus, a lump of peat detached from the side of the loch, a beluga or white whale, the legendary sea-serpent, a long-necked seal, a very large eel, a grampus, a sea camel, a porpoise, a crocodile, a large otter, a sunfish, a bearded shark, some amphibian. Last week what is believed to be the monster has been photographed and zoologists are now trying to determine from the photograph what exactly it is. The result of its appearance has been a revival of wonderful kelpie stories, and there are few lochs in the Highlands or Islands which did not at some time contain some savage kelpie, or eachuisge, or water horse...The fear of the kelpie was used in Sutherland to prevent Sabbath breaking. One Sunday several children were playing by a lakeside when a fine red pony appeared. One of them got up on its back and invited a chum up behind him. There was also room for one more until only the boy who had the bridle was left. When they started, this boy tried to let the bridle go but found he could not. He remembered about kelpies, whipped out his knife and cut off his finger and so escaped the fate of the others who were drowned.It has also been used to show that the number 13 is unlucky. Thirteen men, one of them a piper, were returning from a wedding and entered an empty house to rest. The piper said "What a pity there are no girls that we might have a dance." In tripped 13 nicely dressed damsels and they began dancing. From his point of vantage, the piper saw that they had hoofs instead of feet and told his partner that he must go out for a few minutes. He did, and escaped. Next morning nothing was to be seen of the others but a few bones by the water's edge. One could go on for a whole night telling such kelpie tales. It is hoped that many mysteries may be solved when the Loch Ness monster is caught.

Source: http://www.northern-times.co.uk/news/fullstory.php/aid/5224/75_Years_Ago.html

Sometimes I think we are no further on with solving the mystery than we were in the 1930s!

MAX BLAKE: The final Taxonomy Fail

The last of Max Blake's amusing photographs from museums across the world is a corker. It reminds me of all the restaurants that I have visited where, apparantly, crabs, scampi and langoustine are actually members of the Vegetable Kingdom, becaused they are labelled as suitable for vegetarians....


How scary are snails? Not very, you might think, unless you’re a cabbage. The largest land snail, the African giant land snail (Achatina achatina), reaches 15 inches. In the seas the Australian trumpet (Syrinx aruanus) can grow to over 35 inches and weighing 18kg. This is larger than the biggest known prehistoric snail, the Eocene sea snail Campanile giganteum (left), which had a shell of 23.6 inches.

With shell-less gastropods the black sea hare (Aplysia vaccaria) holds the record at 38.9 inches and a weight of 14kg. On land the the record is held by the keelback slug known as Limax cinereoniger, which can reach 12 inches and is found in much of Europe, including the UK.

Of course some gastropods are carnivores. The Florida rosy wolfsnail (Euglandina rosea) is a predatory species introduced to Taihiti to control giant land snails, also introduced by man, because they had become a pest. Instead of feeding on the land snails, the wolfsnails proceeded to devour the native Partula species, eating 51 of the 76 endemic snails into extinction. Now that’s scary!

In the folklore of southwest France the Lou-carcolh is a monster, man-eating snail. Its shell is as big as a hill and its mouth is surrounded by hairy, slimy tentacles (radula?) that it shoots out to capture its prey. It is a subterranean beast and drags its victims underground to eat them.

The French city of Hastingues is nick-named Carcolh because it is situated on a rounded hill. The men of Hastingues used to say to pretty girls "The carcolh will catch you!"


Today’s guest is Tony Healy. Tony is an Australian cryptozoologist and co-author of The Yowie: The Search For Australia’s Bigfoot with Paul Cropper, which is widely regarded as perhaps the most comprehensive book on the Yowie ever written and well worth a place on any true cryptozoologist’s bookshelf.

So, Tony Healy, here are your five questions on… Cryptozoology:

1) How did you first become interested in cryptozoology?

In 1957 or '58, when I was about 12 years old, I stumbled upon a copy of Constance Whyte's More than a Legend in my local library, and was bitten immediately by the 'Nessie bug.' Then in 1969-70 when I was working as a logger near Terrace, BC and later at Pitt Lake, I heard about the legendary Sasquatch - and realised that some of the local people took the matter quite seriously.

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

In 1965, while hitch-hiking up the east coast of Australia, I scored a ride in a small, open-top sports car. Night fell and somewhere near Innisfail or Ingham in North Queensland, where the old highway zig-zagged through sugar cane fields, I saw a sandy-coloured animal crouching beside the road. My sighting was very brief as the headlight beams swept across it, but the animal looked very much like a cougar. At that time I hadn't heard of alien big cats in Australia, but shortly thereafter I talked to a young woman who told me that her father had also seen a cougar in Queensland - in his case, it was up near the Gulf of Carpentaria. Now, of course we know that there have been thousands of similar reports from many different parts of the country.

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

Maybe the orang pendek of Sumatra, given the fact that the Homo floresiensis skeletons of nearby Flores seem to be about orang pendek size. Homo floresiensis apparently survived on Flores right up to about 18,000 years ago. In Australia I guess the thylacine is still a reasonable bet. We know, at least, that the creatures - unlike a lot of cryptids - really did exist until quite recently. Interestingly, many of the better recent eyewitness reports (from rangers, police, wildlife experts, etc) come from the Australian mainland. It has been suggested that a couple of breeding pairs of thylacines were released on the mainland in the early 1900s shortly before they were driven to extinction (or near-extinction?) in Tasmania.

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

Hard to say. I've not done any first-hand research into the matter so I may be wrong but the chupacabras phenomenon, while amusing, interesting and nicely creepy, seems pretty insubstantial to me.

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

It's very hard to choose. During my travels John Green's Sasquatch - the Apes Among Us, Peter Costello's In Search of Lake Monsters and the Bords' Alien Animals have all been very useful 'guide books.'

Thom Powell's account of his Bigfoot field work, The Locals, which I read recently, is excellent. So is Raincoast Sasquatch by Robert Alley. Richard Freeman's Dragons is a real mind-boggler: if I manage another overseas monster safari I'll endeavour to visit some of the many dragon-infested lakes and rivers that he lists.

OLL LEWIS: Yesterday’s News Today


On this day in 1972 Shoichi Yokoi, a Japanese soldier who had been hiding in a cave in the Guam jungle, refusing to accept that the second world war was over, finally surrendered.
And now, some news:

Disabled Florida sea turtles arrive at Dorset care home
Disabled turtles arrive at Dorset care home
Vet backs Dorset big cat reports
Dorset big cat - more close encounters
Lily the black bear, an Internet star, gives birth to cub in her den in northeastern Minnesota
Mr Woods Fossils: Zombie cattle
Who Is Killing, Maiming Cattle?
'That's not a crocodile: this is a crocodile'
Tourist photographs crocodile in Gold Coast canal
Daniel Rainsong Finds Living Ivory-Billed Woodpecker!
The real Lion King: Why I quit the rat race to live in the African bush

Aww, can you feel the love tonight?