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, February 06, 2010

LINDSAY SELBY: Modern dragons

I have often been intrigued by stories of dragons and didn’t realise people claimed sightings in modern times. I came across this from Karl Shuker:

This took place in Powys, Wales In March 2001.

A British naturalist and some colleagues were conducting some research in the area after being notified by a local of "something" strange that was seen earlier on the year. As they stood at the edge of some woods by a quarry they suddenly spied an extraordinary entity. Measuring 2.5 ft or son in length, it resembled a serpentine dragon with four short limbs, but its head was shaped very like that of a sea horse, and it was airborne---undulating and wriggling as it flew about 10 ft above the surface of the quarry in a wide circle. They were unable to recall seeing any wings, but it had a long tail that terminated in a pair of horizontal, whale like flukes. The entity was green in colour and shimmered somewhat, but appeared solid, not translucent or ethereal, and they watched it for 3-4 minutes, at a distance of approximately 50 ft, before it finally vanished into one of the numerous caves and large crevices pitting the quarry. The naturalist had the distinct impression while watching it that this creature was deliberately seeking to keep them at bay, warning them off from approaching further into its territory.

Source: Karl P N Shuker, Strange Magazine 22

Then in his book, Extraordinary Animals Revisited, in a chapter entitled 'The Unmentionables' he discusses it again, as the mysterious flying creature reported in 2001 near a quarry in Powys, Wales, which resembled a serpentine dragon with four short limbs, with a head shaped like a sea horse, and undulating as it flew about 10 feet (3.3 metres) above the surface of the quarry in a wide circle. Shuker wrote that this report came from came a bona fide naturalist (who was not named for obvious reasons, the academic world being as it is), who was convinced that:

“it was neither an optical illusion nor a model, but was truly alive, although its appearance was so uncanny that he felt chilled by the encounter.” (Shuker 2007 :. 281)

Interestingly enough, I came across this in historical records: folklorist Mary Trevelyan interviewed many elderly people living in the Glamorgan area of Wales in the early 19thC. They recalled stories from their youth of a race of winged serpents that lived in the forest around Penllyne Castle. Supposedly, they had crested heads and feathery wings and were brightly coloured and sparkled as if covered with jewels. They rested coiled on the ground but if they felt threatened would attack by swooping down on the intruders. These flying snakes killed poultry and were described as "the terrors of farmyards and coverts" many were shot to protect livestock .

What is interesting is that both the accounts talk of the creatures shimmering or sparkling and swooping on intruders. Is it possible that some strange flying serpent still exists in Wales that gave rise to the dragon stories?

Ref: Karl P. Shuker. 2007 Extraordinary Animals Revisited: From Singing Dogs to Serpent Kings CFZ Press Bideford, North Devon:


These were taken in a park in Bangkok. We are pretty sure that we know what they are, but do you?


AES EXHIBITION 2010. This year's Amateur Entomologists' Society exhibition will be held on Saturday October 2nd at Kempton Park racecourse.

Among other AES events coming up soon in 2010 are this month's Young Entomologists'
Day at the Oxford University Museum of Natural History (see http://www.amentsoc.org/events/listings/0304/ for a preview) for the Entomologist's Record and Journal of Variation, an AES journal which celebrates its 120th birthday this year.


We don't usually post unsolicited adverts, but I saw this in the latest issue of the Entomological Livestock Group, and I was so interested that I decided to share it.

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personal contacts in museums and entomological societies worldwide. Just send photos ( one per message ), with details of habitat and location. I'll notify you as soon as the species is identified, and request my fee of £10 per species, which is payable via PayPal or secure credit card. As soon
as your payment registers in my account I send you the full species name, with current nomenclature verified. In the unlikely event that I can't ID your species, no fee will be payable. Adrian Hoskins - adrianhoskins@hotmail.co.uk - http://www.learnaboutbutterflies.com/

OLL LEWIS: Yesterday's News Today


On this day in 1497 the bonfire of the vanities took place in Florence, Italy.
And now, the latest news, gathered from far and wide by CFZ newshound Gavin Wilson (not to be confused with the other Gavin Wilson who was recently 'offed' in a BBC drama):

Blue whales are singing in a lower key
Dinosaur 'resembled exotic chicken'
Ancient dialect extinct after last speaker dies
Wild Horses to help White Cliffs Wildlife Thrive
Bittern - rare visitor spotted at Oxfordshire wetland reserve

Let’s hope it’s not a case of “Once ‘bittern’ twice shy.”


Today I conclude my survey of obscure early twentieth century (and earlier) zoological magazines, collated by T. Sheppard (1), many of which will be available in the Bodleian Library, Oxford, should you want to join. There is a lot of important zoological information on the open shelves in the Zoological Library on South Parks Road, just past the Rhodes House Library, but it was a bit difficult trying to get permission to go in. There is more information than I expected so this series will have to run to at least Part Three.


'Conducted by G. B. Sowerby, FLS etc etc. Part 1...1838…It was `to be continued monthly,` but the British Museum Catalogue only notes two parts, in 1838 and in 1839. On the first page we learn that `This work is intended as the Conductor`s gratuitous contribution for the advancement of one of his favourite branches of Natural Science…This part contains 32 pages and a plate, etc. One of these is devoted to ` The Yorkshire Meteorite` which fell at Thwing in 1795. The Meteorite was then in the possession of the Sowerby family who were prepared to deliver it to the Trustees of the British Museum` as soon as £300 shall be subscribed`(2)


'or Journal of Natural History, being a series of Miscellaneous Articles original and translated, on interesting subjects in Zoology, illustrated by engravings in Zoology, illustrated by engravings in steel and wood.` This publication appeared in 1833, six parts (8vo) with a total of 192 pages, were published, and the part has an index occupying less than a page. The articles refer to the Giraffe, Rhinoceros, Elephant, Polar Bear, etc and occasionally there are shorter notes of zoological interest. My copy, recently obtained, was once in the possession of Richard Owen, and bears his signature' (3)


'I learn from British Birds, August, 1916 p. 71, that Mr Mosley`s work of 69 numbers appeared in 59 parts, and the work was issued in two editions, `superior` and `ordinary`.(4)


'In 1888, was published Vol 1 of an octavo publication, the first number of which contained 12 pages which were entirely devoted to the presidential address by W. Semmons on `The Metallic Ores of Cornwall`. In the same year Vol 1 No 2 was published, but the heading now appears `Proceedings of the Society of Amateur Geologists…etc. T. Sheppard goes on to describe how the magazine developed until its demise after issue 5. (5)


'In 1829 was published part 1 (and last) of `Records of Mining` edited by John Taylor…The work was hoped to supply a want in our national literature. It contains seven papers five by J. Taylor, and two by J. H. Vivian. These principally refer to Cornwall, etc. There are also ` tables exhibiting the quantities of Copper, Tin,Lead, etc, produced in Great Britain,. The last refer to Yorkshire and other northern counties (6)


'and the Journal of the Mineralogical Society.` The Mineralogical Society was instituted on February 5th 1876, and from its bye-laws we learn that `The object of the Mineralogical Society of Great Britain and Ireland, with which the Crystallogical Society was amalgamated on December 11th 1883, shall be to advance the knowledge of Mineralogy and also of Crystallography and Petrology. The Society has issued a Magazine, octavo, which averages about 100 pages each part with plates. The last part is published is No. 84 (Vol XVIII) June 1917. The first appeared in 1876… (7)

1. T.Sheppard Old Natural History Magazines, etc Naturalist December 1917 pp 387-391
2. Ibid p.387
3. Ibid p.387
4. Ibid p.p 387-388
5. Ibid p.388
6. Ibid p.388
7. Ibid p.388

To be continued……..

ANDREW HOPCRAFT: Loch Ness Monster

A while ago I purchased two slim discarded volumes from my local library, both seemingly self-published and written by a Mr G. Colman Green. Within the slowly yellowing pages are a collection of poems, paintings, recollections, reminisences and of a more fortean bent, short passages on such subjects as 'earthquake waves', 'milk-drinking snakes', a 'fall of newspapers' and perhaps most relevent to the realm of cryptozoology, 'The Loch Ness Monster Considered.'

The short passage pre-dates the 'monster hunts' of the The Loch Ness Phenomena Investigation Bureau and so adds a little background chatter against which the early searches of Loch Ness were made. However, I feel there is something to be further explored of Mr Green's connections between earthquakes and lake monsters. Charles Fort drew connections between earthquakes and anomolous falls, of sounds and lights in the sky - a forerunner to the fringe science of earthquake lights. At the time G. Coleman Green wrote his notes upon the beast of Loch Ness, the theory of plate tectonics would also have been considered a fringe science - I can still remember the incredulity I felt as a child when my father told me he wasn't taught about tectonic plates at school!

Loch Ness is seemingly unique in its position in that it runs the length of a geological fault line (The Great Glen Fault); I can think of no other lake supposedly inhabited by a monster that shares such a position, perhaps other than those beasts said to inhabit the lakes that sit within The Great Rift Valley of Africa. Bubbles of escaping seismic gas disturbing the surface of the Loch have been put forward as an explanation for some sightings of the Loch Ness monster. I can't but wonder how an 'earthquake light' may appear underwater when viewed from the surface. I'm now begining to think of those luminous wheels seen from the decks of the Patna steaming in the Persian Gulf.


Allow me to comment on a subject which has been kept well before the public by our ubiquitous Press in the hope that some light may be directed towards a solution of the mystery of Loch Ness on the Caledonian Canal.

Before adding my own ideas about the strange visitor I think it proper to refer to Mr. J.H. Peel's article in the Birmingham Post, 2nd July, 1960, which raised the question if research men at Oxford and Cambridge - experts in zoology -have their nets cast wide enough to catch anything fresh from the depths of knowledge which help us to understand that deep and elusive creature we call the Loch Ness Monster.

But this is not a simple question of zoological knowledge and I propose to recapitulate some other facts which seem to be related and which are drawn from my own experience at sea.

Firstly, if you will refer to Dr. Cornwall's "Unique Geography" on page 174 of this fine old book you will learn that at the time of the Great Earthquake at Lisbon in 1755 (which incident had a rebound as far away as the coast of South America) - both Loch Ness and Loch Lomond rose 2 feet above their normal level.

As Loch Ness is over 20 miles long and Lomond has a great mass of water two miles wide some immense pressure from below must have caused this vast surface to rise so abruptly and I suggest that on the principle of the Brahma Press this pressure originated from the same volcanic centre as the Lisbon catastrophe.

This implies a long submarine tunnel - probably very deep and, in part may be water-logged - very ancient and sensitive to volcanic thrust with occasionally superheated water.

These volcanic tunnels spread like the tentacles of an octopus all over the North Atlantic as far as the Azores westward and Iceland in the Arctic.

Earthquakes of more or less intensity have occured in England throughout historic times - in 1400 which set the church bells ringing, to 1930 when pictures tilted and beds moved in East London. Other dates 1165, 1445 and 1756, 1860. As compared with the Agadir earthquake of 1960 the road casualties caused by excessive speed (18,000 killed in three years) it makes one gasp with horror.

Space forbids discussion of all the forces operating in Mexico, Chile and Peru which, though mainly volcanic in origin, may be tipprd off by the seasonal throw of the earth (Swing of the belts); variation of spin and some other causes.

In 1914 when the world was thrown into the turmoil of war, few people took notice of the terrific eruption which blew the top of Mt. Elburz in Russia and caused widespread destruction (60 villages wiped out). This mighty mountain, 18,000 ft. high, was thought to have been asleep for a million years. The Russians claim the Noah's Ark had rested there.

Wales has been volcanic and much of King Arthur country is said to be beneath the sea.

The Wrekin in Shropshire is said to be a burnt-out volcano - but is it? It is quite speculative!

Secondly, in 1920, whilst homeward bound on the S.S. Marathon with a school of children on board I had a series of conversations with Captain Williamson about these various phenomena and prevailed upon him to take the ship along the northern shores of Teneriffe in the Canary Islands so that the youngsters could see the volcanic forces of the island.

Steaming slowly along at a reasonably safe distance, the ship's company experienced a thrill that impressed everybody with its awful intensity.

Teneriffe is in effect the Volcanic Bomb-Centre of the North Atlantic and the probable cause of earthquakes in this part of the world.

Returning to the Loch Ness Monster, it must be remembered that the ancient plesiosaurs were egg-laying creatures. Indeed, we have in the South Kensington Museum some large fossilized specimens about three feet high and I think it quite conceivable that an egg deposited a thousand years ago (or more) lodged on a warm, a superheated rock, far down in the cavernous, "unfathomable caves" may have at last generated into something like a Sea Serpent or a Saurian of a more or less degenerate breed. Who knows?

On Sunday, February 12th, 1961, the experts on the various sea monsters gave an entertaining account of what they knew about the history of great eels in larvae form, octopus of great size and air breathing sea reptiles which were variously described a sea serpents or plesiosaurii, defunct for 80,000m. years. They left the whole subject an open question when they suggested these creatures had possibly found a way to adapt themselves to modern conditions.

G. Colman Green, M.R.S.T, R.D.S.

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