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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, February 11, 2010

OLL LEWIS: Yesterday's News Today

http://cryptozoologynews.blogspot.com/

On this day in 2001 the NEAR Shoemaker became the first spacecraft to touch down on an asteroid when it landed on Eros.
And now, the news:

Bull turns tables on tiger
Giant Hamster: pictures of Caplin Rous the pet capybara at home in Texas
Melbourne zoo's baby elephant meets the public
Resurrection: ancient humans 'rise from dead'
Sick boy inspired to walk by lame duck
Mugger steals dog's coat
The dog who is allergic to cats and only eats potatoes

Potato dogs are great.

MUIRHEAD`S MYSTERIES: MYTHOLOGY OF IRISH ANIMALS PART ONE

Today I return to Irish animals but not from a cryptozoological perspective this time; rather a mythological or folklore perspective. Of course these areas overlap. This series does not pretend to be exhaustive; I am relying on two documents: Irish Superstitions and Legends of Animals and Birds and Birds by Patrick O`Sullivan (1991) and Myth, Legend & Romance An Encyclopaedia Of The Irish Folk Tradition by Dr Daithi O'Hogain. (1990) I do not know how many parts this series will run to but there will be enough parts to give credit to the subject.

BIRDS IN IRISH MYTHOLOGY

'The most celebrated bird in Irish mythology must surely be the swan. The children of Lir, Fionnuala and Aedh, Fiachra and Conn,were transformed into swans by their jealous stepmother, Aoife. Under this terrible enchantment they were obliged to spend three hundred years on Loch Dairbhreach, three hundred years on Sruth na Maoile and three hundred years at Irrus Domnann and Inis Gluaire. When the treacherous Aoife cast her spell upon her stepchildren she said:

Out out, upon the waters child swans of Lir
Fortune smiles not on your days of glory
Well may your friends bewail your fate
With clamorous birds shall be your doom' (1)

The swans were later (900 years later!) converted to Christianity on the island of Inis Gluaire by a holy man.

THE HEDGEHOG

'The hedgehog with its spiny coat scarcely needs to be described. It hibernates in winter and during hibernation its temperature drops…It was said to steal milk from cows in some parts of the country. Its most distinctive behaviour pattern is,of course, to roll itself into a ball for protection, when its sharp spines must surely seem intimidating even to the most fierce of predators. Travellers were believed to be very fond of the flesh of the hedgehog. There was a fairly widespread belief that they rolled it up in a ball of clay and cooked it in that fashion. When the animal was cooked, the clay would crack,the spines and skin coming away with the clay. The flesh was then ready to be eaten.' (2)

THE SHREW

'In many parts of Ireland the shrew was held to be a relative of the weasel, which it is not. In olden times there was at least one curious superstition regarding this diminuative animal. A cow that had been walked upon or run upon by a shrew would develop terrible swellings and would die if immediate action were not taken to remedy the situation. Such a cow was said to be `shrew-struck`. It was thought that the only way to save the cow`s life was to burn the body of a shrew and apply the ashes to the swellings.' (3)

THE OTTER

'The otter is related to the stoat and the badger…The otter eats a great variety of fish but in Irish tradition his speciality was the salmon. It was widely believed that when he grabbed a salmon, he turned it down with the flood, and the flooding waters choked the fish…According to tradition, Lord Belmore of Florencecourt kept an otter as a pet…[The otter`s ] skin was also highly valued, and accounts of otter hunts were a regular feature of local newspapers throughout the nineteenth century and well into the twentieth century.

'An interesting tale of an otter hunter goes as follows:

Once there was a man who spent a great deal of his time hunting and killing otters. On one occasion he caught an otter and when he was removing it from the trap, the otter snapped at his hand and inflicted a deep wound. The man tried one remedy after another but none of them worked and there was no improvement in the condition of hand. Then someone told him that he should kill another otter and eat the flesh and that would effect a cure. He did this and it is said that his hand was cured.

'According to the old saying, the otter was one of three things that never rested - the others being a steep waterfall and a demon from hell.' (4)

1.P. V.O` Sullivan Irish Superstitions and Legends of Animals and Birds (1991) p.21
2.Ibid p.60
3.Ibid p.60
4.Ibid p.60-61