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...

Search This Blog



Click on this logo to find out more about helping CFZtv and getting some smashing rewards...


Sunday, January 24, 2010

CFZ PEOPLE: Gavin Lloyd Wilson

Very happy birthday to our dear Newsblog Editor, but for whom there would be no newsblog. And with no newsblog, there would be no Yesterday's News Today. And with No Yesterday's News Today, Oll would not have a legitimate outlet for his puns. And without a legitimate outlet for his puns, he would probably just be forced to try them out on Jon. And if he were to try out bad puns on Jon each day, Jon would probably go into a psychotic rage and rend him limb from limb. And if Jon were to rend Oll limb from limb he would probably end up in Broadmoor and there would be no CFZ. So in a very real sense Gavin has saved the life of a fellow Welshman and saved the CFZ. So Happy Birthday!


A few weeks ago I wrote a post on the world's largest leech and its spectacular rediscovery in Guyana. I also touched on the story of a giant leech said to be lurking in a man-made lake in the USA. Well, giant leeches sometimes rear their slimy heads in ancient legend as well.

The Burach-bhadi was said to lurk in the waters of the Western Highlands of Scotland and in Perthshire. It had nine eyes and fed by winding itself around horses' legs and pulling them into the water to drink their blood. The monster was also know as the ‘wizard’s shackle.’

The creature calls to mind F. W. Holliday’s ‘great wurm’ postulated in his book The Great Orm of Loch Ness in which he postulates a monsterous worm-like invertebrate as the identity of the monster. His favourate candidate is a giant descendent of Tullimonstrum gregarium - a spindle-shaped aquatic invertebrate that is still not properly classified. Its fossil remains have been found in Illinois and date back some 300 million years. Holliday chose this creature due to a superficial resemblance in outline to alledged lake monsters. It had a probosic with a mouth that looked vaugly like the head and neck of a pliesiosuar and had what Holiday thought were two flippers situated below the proboscis. It is now thought that these in fact supported eyes.

Holliday’s postulated modern-day giant must rank among the most unlikely theories ever commited to paper.

DALE DRINNON: I saw the moose today Oh Boy

What I started out to quote is on pages 289-290 of Wilkins Secrets of Old South America, about Ogopogo. The pertinent part runs:

'In August 1933, the Great Okanagan monster got into the headlines of newspapers far away in Ottawa and Toronto, and even old London, England. The Indians believed he had died because he had not been seen for a long time. Then, lo, one morning, he suddenly appeared all a-foaming and a-blowing in the waters of Lake Okanagan! These waters are very deep. He was said to have the head of a sheep and body of prodigious size and girth.
The Indians further said he appeared but once a year, and when he does he signalizes his appearance with a noise like the explosions of the engines of a motor launch [i.e, he appears at such a time as the winter ice is breaking up, that is what the noise comes from-DD] The stories import that the monster is a unique specimen of a fresh-water saurian of the sea-serpent type; for he is said to have a snout of canine appearance [a sheep's head is not canine and in this instance we are actually talking about the same sighting where Ogopogo was said to have a sheep's head five lines earlier-DD] and very large head appendages like the flapping ears of an African elephant.

These people said they saw the monster, and that they guessed he was more than 30 feet long [from the wake-DD]. They further said he rose to the surface close to the shore, nodded his flappers, and then submerged. He rose again, and then was no more seen.

A white hunter was told by the Indians that the monster was called "Ogopo"[!] and had been the theme of numerous stories told round the camp fire and in the wigwams."

[I think the usual term is 'Lodges' up there, more substantial and better-insulated structures than the term 'wigwams' evokes-DD]

This paints a pretty vivid picture of Ogopogo rising to the surface amid much foaming and snorting, seeing people on shore, wiggling his ears, submerging, and then swimming off, submerged and unseen.

And it is obviously a moose from those ears. Funny thing; big flapping ears were accepted as a normal and even identifying characteristic of the type all across Canada and as far as Lake Champlain in the 1930s.

I hate to belabour the point but it seems to be something most writers on the subject tend to overlook.

Roy Mackal in Searching for Hidden Animals (1980), Chapter XI, Canadian Lake Monsters, gives this identikit description for Ogopogos on page 231:

'The animals look most like a log, elongated, serpentine, no thickened body centrally, about 12 meters (40 feet) long, although a range of smaller sizes have been reported and a few larger, up to say 20 meters (70 feet). The head tapers toward the snout and is somewhat flattened top to bottom. Comparison is most often made to the head of a horse, sheep, [snake] or alligator. Eyes are definitely reported large enough to be clearly noted [on the sides of the head and directed laterally-DD] Very occasionally a pair of protruberances referred to as "ears" or "horns" have been noted. Nostrils have not been noted as such [they have, on the cow-like or horse-like heads-DD] but "blowing" has been observed, although rarely [Less than 1% of the reports, about as common as references to long necks-DD]

The skin is described as dark green or green-black to brown to black and dark brown. Occasionally the color is given as gray to blue-black or even a golden brown. Most often the skin is smooth with no scales, although part of the body must possess a few plates, scales or similar structures compared to the lateral scutes of a sturgeon. Most of the back is smooth although a portion [along the spine] is saw-toothed, ragged-edged or serrated. Sparse hair or hair-like structures are reported around the head, and in a few cases a mane or comblike structure has been observed at the back of the neck. [Reports also speak of a forked tail, which Mackal assumes to be horizontal like a whale's rather than vertical like a fish's for no specific reason in particular-DD]...'

Mackal goes on to claim the description fits 'one and only one known creature, either living or in the fossil record,' and then gives the revelation that the description can only be a zueglodon like Basilosaurus.

THAT would be an unfounded and mistaken statement. The descriptions not only describe something else, they describe more than one thing, and things that are otherwise known locally. First off, the horse, camel, cow or sheep-headed creature described as having ears, horns and a mane, and a beard below the neck, which Mackal does not mention, is obviously a swimming moose, and the multiple humps that are seen are merely waves in its wake. Furthermore, it also LEAVES MOOSE TRACKS; the circular tracks 6 inches long seen entering and leaving the water's edge are moose tracks; moose tracks are commonly six inches long. The other irregular tracks 18 inches long by 12 inches wide are probably composite tracks made by fishing bears.

Now as to the main body of reports, it must be admitted that one main type of creature seems represented after ruling out mistaken observations of otters and beavers (which smack the water with their tails and cause the 'Spouting') is the log-like thing, probably a fish-predator as Mackal says from its behaviour, but only showing part of its back above the surface.

That would be the 'log' effect, 30 to 40 feet long and a yard wide, although there are other observations guessing this above or below the average. This is the creature that is ordinarily greyish or greenish-brown in colour, darker colours being due to shadows and the 'Golden' colour due to bright sunlight.

This creature has a jagged profile to its back and it has (specifically stated by Mackal) the scutes along its sides characteristic of the sturgeons. It is a big sturgeon something like the white sturgeons but estimated as being larger than the record at 20 feet (20 feet is the official record, smaller records are commonly quoted any more but they don't get so large generally any more due to over-fishing) So I am willing to call that an urecognised species of sturgeon allied to the white sturgeons and the Huso or white sturgeons (belugas) of Russia. As Mackal indicates, the same sort of creatures are spotted in other Canadian lakes, but I would estimate the proportion of moose to big fish sightings increases going eastward until the Manipogo bunch are characteristically moose sightings with some likely sturgeons, and eastward of Hudson's Bay, none of the reports seem to be the same obvious sturgeon types any more. At the more easterly locations, more of the reports seem to be possible giant otters and beavers. The 'Manatee' carcass reported at Lake Okanagan might be one of the giant beavers, though, if only for the hairy body and the paddle-shaped tail.

LINDSAY SELBY: The Kon Tiki monster

I have always been fascinated by the stories from the Kon-Tiki expedition about their encounters on the sea. I especially loved this one about the strange phosphorescent creatures that appeared at night (see extracts; you can click on them to make them bigger)

I wondered whether they were giant jelly fish or some strange unknown creature that would only be encountered by sea-going craft that didn’t have engines; in other words, sailed fairly silently. Maybe the creatures no longer exist, extinct like so many others without even being named. Whatever the answer, it is a great imagination mover, reading the book, and well worth a revisit. I had forgotten so much about it until I reread it recently but the strange night creatures had always stuck in my head.

Extracts from The Kon-Tiki Expedition Thor Heyerdahl 1974 ed. George Allen & Unwin pub London.


Today’s guest - or rather, guests - are the members of the Lancashire Anomalous Phenomena Investigation Society (LAPIS). LAPIS hold regular meetings in Blackpool so if you live in the Lancashire area and you like UFOs (or indeed any kind of Fortean phenomena) I urge you to pop along to one of their meetings. Their conference, which this year is exclusively UFO and alien related subject matter to mark the anniversary of the Rendlesham Forest incident, is scheduled to take place on the 10th of May in St Annes, more details can be found on the group’s website: http://www.lapisufo.com/

The five questions were put to the group, which was slightly depleted due to recent snows, at their last meeting by John Nuttall.

So LAPIS, here are your five questions on… Cryptozoology:

1) How did you first become interested in cryptozoology?

We first became interested many years ago after watching a Bigfoot documentary.

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


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

Bigfoot because there are so many people looking and with habitat destruction they may be coming closer to being exposed.

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

The Loch Ness Monster and the Beast of Lytham.

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

Monster of the Mere by Jonathan Downes.

OLL LEWIS: Yesterday’s News Today


On this day in 1858 the wedding march by Felix Mendelssohn was played at the marriage of Queen Victoria’s daughter, Princess Victoria to Frederick III of Prussia and Germany. Since then the piece of music became so popular it is seen as an essential part of nearly every wedding all over the world (a cynic might cite this as evidence of the hundredth monkey effect).
And now, the Fortean zoology news:

Tribute is paid to late Sandford-on-Thames 'goggle dog'
Jake to the rescue
Bigfoot might not be real, but the fascination is
ACS investigates photo of headless dog
Winning picture disqualified from Wildlife Photographer of the year contest and pulled from Moors Valley exhibition
White rhino dies at age of 41

While taking a bus ride an elderly English lady saw a Belgian and a Frenchman arguing with other.
“I’m telling you,” said the Belgian “You say it: WOOM!”
“No, no, no,” said the Frenchman “I’m right, it is woom-BA! I have a degree I should know.”
The debate between the two men went on for some time before the old woman got the confidence to intervene.
“Excuse me, young sirs, but as I am English I think I can settle your argument. This man is correct; it is pronounced as ‘woom’.”
The Frenchman looked furious and turned around to the old woman and said;“Sacre bleu! I seriously doubt you have ever heard a rhino breaking wind!”