WELCOME TO THE CFZ BLOG NETWORK: COME AND JOIN THE FUN

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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Monday, February 15, 2010

FILMING CONTINUES ON THE `EMILY` MOVIE..

Yesterday afternoon we resumed filming on Emily and the Big Cats, and for the first time used our new grown-up camera that we had donated the other week by our friends at Minnow Films.

We did some interiors (in my dining room) and then some exteriors and drive-bys at Huddisford Woods.

David, being younger and more adaptable than me, is learning how to use the new camera far faster than I am, which makes me happy. I now have the chance to do what I am best at - shouting instructions and waving my arms about.

I really like the top picture - it is the nicest piccie ever taken of David B-P and his mad old Uncle. Both David and Emily are growing up visibly each day, and I am very proud of them both. Emily has worked so hard on the film that I really hope she is going to have some success out of it....

And as far as David is concerned, he is my chosen heir, and sooner or later will (if he is still of a mind to) take over my reins as ringmaster of the CFZ Circus. I hope that it will not be for some years yet, but when he does my conceptual baby will be in good hands.

CHAD ARMENT WRITES

I've just uploaded an article to BioFortean Review:
http://www.strangeark.com/bfr/articles/mammoth-hoax.html

A Mammoth Hoax by Chad Arment
[Reprints the Cheriton Blatchmatchnik Siberian mammoths sighting, from 1873, which was a hoax by the New York World.]

Two books are now available from Amazon (and should appear on Barnes & Noble, Amazon UK, etc., shortly).

http://www.coachwhipbooks.com/titles/mokele-mbembe.html

Mokele-Mbembe: Mystery Beast of the Congo Basin by Bill Gibbons


http://www.coachwhipbooks.com/titles/bestiarium-cryptozoologicum.html
Bestiarium Cryptozoologicum: Mystery Animals and Unknown Species in Classic Science Fiction and Fantasy Chad Arment, editor

WEIRD WEEKEND 2010 DRAFT LINEUP

This programme is still very much in the draft stage, and is not even up on the Weird Weekend website yet, but runs as follows:


FRIDAY

7 - 7.10 intro
7.10 - 7.45 MATTHEW WILLIAMS: Crop Circles
7.45 - 8.15 break
8.15 - 8.45 EXPEDITION REPORT (IRELAND)
8.45 - 9.30 CARL PORTMAN: On the track of the whistling spider
9.30 - 10.00 break
10.00 - 11.00 ANDY ROBERTS: The Berwyn mountain UFO crash

SATURDAY

11.30 - 12.00 Introduction to Cryptozoology
12.00 - 12.30 JULIAN VAYNE: Cabinet of Curiosities
12.30 - 1.00 break
1.00 - 2.00 MAX BLAKE: tba
2.00 - 2.30 EXPEDITION REPORT (tbc)
2.30 - 3.30 LINDSAY SELBY: Loch Ness adventures
3.30 - 4 break
4 - 4.15 quiz
4.15 - 5 Book Launch TBC
5 - 6 LECTURE NICK REDFERN: The Goatman tbc
6 - 6.30 break
6.30 - 7.30 LECTURE SAM SHEARON: The Redwoods Bigfoot
7.30 - 8.30 LECTURE NEIL ARNOLD: The mysteries of Bluebell Hill
8.30 - 8.45 CFZ AWARDS
8.45 - 9.15 EXPEDITION REPORT (SUMATRA)
9.15 - 9.45 break
9.45 - 10.45 LECTURE TBC

SUNDAY

12.00 - 1.00 GLEN VAUDREY: The waterhorse
1.00 - 2.00 LARS THOMAS: Identifying hair samples
2.00 - 2.30 break
2.30 - 3.30 MIKE DASH: The monster of Glamis
3.30 - 4 break
4 - 4.30 EXPEDITION REPORT (TEXAS)
4.30 - 5.15 RONAN COGHLAN: The Holy Grail
5.15 - 5.30 JON DOWNES: Keynote speech

HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO YOOOOOOO

A year ago Gavin Lloyd Wilson started the CFZ Newsblog. 365 days and 2345 posts later we are still going. Thank you Gavin. You have worked like a Trojan and I am personally (and the CFZ is collectively) very grateful for all your hard work...



Corinna says: http://cryptochick.blogspot.com/2010/02/one-year-old-today.html

MUIRHEAD`S MYSTERIES: ODD DRAGONFLIES, ENGLISH CHANNEL HOPPING SPIDERS AND INVADING GRASSHOPPERS

Folks, today I am looking at insects again after a gap of what seems like a few months. I found the earliest report, on poisonous dragon-flies in Lancashire in 1935, only a few hours ago whilst looking through a book in the Local Studies Library in Macclesfield. The other two items, on travelling spiders in 1991 and a grasshopper invasion of New Delhi, India, in 1994 are from Strange Nature <>The Country Diary of a Cheshire Man by A.W. Boyd the author gives the following information:

September 6th, 1935.

A large dragon-fly was caught in a Royton (Lancashire) cotton-mill, and the harmless “edder” inspired wonder and terror as well on account of the imagined sting in its tail. Not for nothing have the dwellers in that town been long famed for a genial simplicity, ever since the day when “the Royton seven came home in eight cabs.” The dialect name “edder” ( I have also heard “edderbowt” in Cheshire) is the same word as “adder”, and goes to show that the blame-less dragon-fly has long been thought of as a venomous beast. Near Oldham large and small ones are known as “penny and haw`penny edders.” (2)

So here we have an identical situation with regards to the folkore of Durham and Wearside a few hundred miles away.

Concerning the Channel hopping spiders:

French spiders `flew in on hot air`

“ Reports of an invasion of French spiders through the Channel tunnel are greatly exagerated. The scientist who discovered the spiders said that a gust of hot air was likely to have blown in the arachnids from the Continent. The scientific journal, Nature, reports this week that the first French spiders to have entered Britain from the Channel tunnel are two linyphiid spiders – a male and a female – common in northern Europe and unheard of in Britain..

“ The first tourists to emerge from the British end of the Channel tunnel were not Frenchmen in search of warm beer and boiled mutton served with mint sauce, but spiders,” Nature says.

The source for the story was a scientific paper in the London Journal of Zoology entitled “ Minicia marinella (Araneae: Linyphiidae), a spider new to Britain from the Channel tunnel site.” It was written by Rowley Snazzell, a spider specialist at the Institute of Terrestial Ecology in Wareham, Dorset….However, a more detailed investigation of the paper reveals that Mr Snazell found the eight-legged tourists in the summer of 1987, three years before British and French construction workers shook hands beneath the sea to celebrate their breakthrough..”

“It is most unlikely that the spiders would have anything to do with the operations of the Channel tunnel,” Mr Snazell told The Independent. Far more likely is that they arrived in Britain having floated over the Channel on strands of spider silk….(3)

Finally, Grasshopper invasion brings New Delhi to a sudden halt.

The first evidence of the invasion was the crunching sound beneath Vinoo Samuel`s motorcycle wheels. Then came the sting of tiny bodies slamming into his face. Within minutes he was surrounded. “ They flew in hordes,” said Mr Samuel, aged 30, who witnessed the invasion of the grasshoppers while driving home from work.

People panicked. They were hopping around, brushing them off. They covered the windshields of the cars.” Last week hundreds of thousands of grasshoppers rose from their usual habitat in the marshes along the Yamuna River and headed for the lights of the big city……..These are not the locusts of Biblical lore, nor are they the crop-devouring locusts that annually


Assault Pakistan and Rajasthan. “These poor little things,” said Inderjit Singh Malhi, a government entomologist. “ They are attracted to light – that is why they are getting into houses and flats.”

According to Mr Malhi, they spilled into the alien “concrete jungles of Delhi” where they were killed in their thousands beneath vehicles. – Washington Post (4)

1 R.Muirhead Flying Snakes and Jumping snakes – a Worldwide Survey. CFZ Yearbook 2010 pp 163-179
2 A.W. Boyd The Country Diary of A Cheshire Man (1946) p.95
3 The Independent July 27th 1991 French spiders `flew in on hot air`
4 The Guardian/Washington Post August 30th 1994 Grasshopper invasion brings New Delhi to a sudden halt.

And now for all you lovers out there, a selection from Billy Bragg. (O.K. I know Valentine`s Day is over, give me a break!)

The Milk Man of Human Kindness Billy Bragg

If you`re lonely, I will call
If you`re poorly, I will send poetry

I love you
I am the milkman of human kindness
I will leave an extra pint

If you`re sleeping, I will wait
If your bed is wet, I will dry your tears

I love you
I am the milkman of human kindness
I will leave an extra pint

Hold my hand for me I`m waking up
Hold my hand for me I`m waking up
Hold my hand for me I`m making up
Won`t you hold my hand – I`m making up

If you are falling, I`ll put out my hands
If you feel bitter, I will understand

I love you
I am the milkman of human kindness
I will leave an extra pint.


OLL LEWIS: Yesterday's News Today

http://cryptozoologynews.blogspot.com/

On this day in 1923 Howard Carter unsealed the burial chamber of Tutankhamun.
And now, the news:

Fat Ralph is world's biggest bunny
Scientist aims to break squid record
Alligator chopper to be raffled in aid of wildlife conservation
Sea Shepherd skipper boards whaling vessel
Monkey acrobatics at Chinese New Year celebrations
Fingers crossed for monkey tennis next….

RICHIE AND NAOMI WEST: CFZ EXPEDITION TO TEXAS

On March 4 Mr Jon Downes and his lovely wife Corinna will be flying to the States and arriving March 5. Naomi and I are excited about being able to host them while they are here in Texas. We are starting to build an itinerary for them to include at least one very exciting venture.

A woman in southeast Texas has discovered a small family of hairless canines (referred by the CFZ as the Texas Blue dog) living behind her back yard. She has been feeding them and wants the CFZ to film them.

Naomi and I will be going down to that location next week to install day/night video cameras to film these creatures in action.

When Jon and Corinna arrive, we will be going there to further investigate them. The word from the family who discovered these creatures is that they have very unusual habits not normally associated with canines. Jon and Corinna will be accompanied for part of their trip by a team from a London TV Company who are following the CFZ for 8 months for a feature documentary for BBC2 and will be including the blue dog research in their documentary. We are excited as this will be a big story in the Fortean world. This picture was taken of the creature by the woman in southeast Texas.

But Jon and Corinna's trip will not all be work. We have invited Nick Redfern and Ken Gerhard to a small welcoming party where a small few of Naomi's friends plan to make food and drink. Jon is planning to make a few appearances at local MUFON groups.

Jon and Corinna will be able to continue providing updates to the CFZ and their respective blogs from the States. They will have computer and email access.

Richie and Naomi

LINDSAY SELBY: The Giant Anaconda

Sucuri Gigante (means giant Anaconda, in South America, the common name for Anaconda is Sucuri), is said to be giant snake that controls the rivers it lives in. There are ancient tales that say it made the Amazon River. Since the discovery of the fossils of Gigantophis garstini, a large snake from the Priabonian age of the Eocene ( about 30 million years ago) that could reach 33 feet (11 metres) in length, and the more recently discovered fossils of Titanoboa cerrejonensis(from about 50-60million years ago) that reached 43 feet (14 metres), there has been some speculation it could actually exist and be an ancestor of the prehistoric creature. There have been supposed sightings of giant snakes in South America for many years .

In 1846 George Gardner wrote about his travels in Brazil. He said he saw a dead giant snake on the lands of a Senhor Lagoeira which was thirty-three feet long.

In 1907 Major Percy Fawcett, explorer, whilst in the Amazon told of two encounters with the Sucuriju gigante. The first mention was when the manager at Yorongas told Fawcett he had killed an anaconda fifty-eight feet long in the Lower Amazon. Then although initially doubtful he has his own encounter:

We were drifting along in the sluggish current not far below the confluence of the Rio Negro when ... there appeared a triangular head and several feet of undulating body. It was a giant anaconda. I sprang for my rifle ... and hardly waiting to aim smashed a .44 soft-nosed bullet into its spine ... As far as it was possible to measure, a length of forty-five feet lay out of the water, and seventeen feet in it, making a total length of sixty-two feet ... A penetrating foetid odour emanated from the snake, probably its breath, which is believed to have a stupefying effect ... The Brazilian Boundary Commission told me of one killed in the Rio Paraguay exceeding eighty feet in length!

In May 1922 Father Victor Heinz saw a monster snake near the town of Obidos, on the shores of the Amazon. He claimed it was nearly eighty feet in length.

In 1923, F.W. Up de Graff reported that an anaconda he had seen lying in the water beneath his canoe measured fifty feet in length.

Father Heinz then had a second encounter in 1929. This, however, was not quite as dramatic. He was at the mouth of the Rio Piaba, near Alemquer, when he saw two large lights appear near the surface of the water. He was told the giant anaconda lived in the area and presumed it was its eyes in the water.

Father Heinz then started collecting stories about the giant snakes. These included the accounts of trader Reymondo Zima who said that in July 1930 he had come across a serpent with glowing eyes in the Rio Jamunda, opposite the town of Faro. In September 1930 Joao Penha claimed to have seen one in the Rio Iguarape. This snake pushed a wall of submerged debris nine hundred feet (300metres) and also had glowing eyes. More recently was the account of Paul Tarvalho, from 1948, again near Faro. He said saw a snake emerge from the water that was about 150 feet (50 metres) long.

Bernard Heuvelmans wrote the about Sucuriju Gigante, saying a skin kept at the Butantan Institute in Brazil was about thirty feet in length. The painter Serge Bonacase told Heuvelmans of an encounter with a Sucuriju that he had in 1947. Bonacase's sighting took place in the swampy area between the Rio Manso and the Rio Cristalino and twenty other men where with him at the time. Bonacase estimated the snake's length at about seventy feet.

The Diario, the newspaper of Pernambuco in Brazil, on January 24, 1948 published a picture with a headline 'Anaconda Weighing 5 Tons.' The picture showed a part of a giant anaconda that was caught by the river. It was said to measure 131 feet (43 metres) long. Four months later another newspaper A Noite Illustrada printed a photograph of a dead anaconda said to be 115 feet (38 metres) long from the photographs, though it was difficult to estimate if that was the actual size.

In 1995 botanist Grace Rebelo dos Santos saw two bluish lights nearly a foot apart when a net became caught on something large and heavy. She cautiously suggested that this might be a giant anaconda. Later the same year she saw a "waterspout" about ten inches tall, and a long, dark shape could be seen underneath it, perhaps another sighting.

So could a snake really be that big? It is possible as snakes have been found 23 feet (about 7.6 metres) long and who is to say that there are not large versions out there. I would love to see one, but not up close! Snakes are fascinating creatures.

For interest some more about Percy Fawcett:

http://www.phfawcettsweb.org/anaconda.htm

LAWRIE WILLIAMS: A Rainforest Retreat and a Little Bat

Yesterday I paid an all-too-rare visit to my home away from home, an old house I take care of up in the rainforest way up in the hills. From there I'm well placed to seek hidden creatures and I know I should do more of it, but life keeps getting in the way.

The place is a somewhat spartan house. It is unpainted in the old style and the only electrical wiring is a 12V system I installed based on a solar panel and some old car batteries. It is the simplicity of this place that appeals to me.
This is the room where I sit at a table and listen to the solar powered radio while I have a cup of tea and contemplate the rainforest.




BTW, that forest you can see out the window is the actual habitat of the white lemuroid ringtail possum, now suspected to be extinct. I plan to do some spotlighting this winter.

So yesterday I had my cuppa then I went outside and devoted some hours to keeping the jungle back, for this little house is completely surrounded by rainforest. And a carpet snake had been inside and there were numerous smashed jars on the floor so there was plenty to do. Then I stopped for lunch and another cup of tea.

As I was tidying my stuff away I became aware that something was not quite right.

I turned, and right there at eye level was a tiny bat! All the time I had been there I had not seen him!




I'd even eaten an apple and an orange and fastened the stickers to the wall right next to him. He had not moved; I had not noticed him! No wonder he did not move. He had died and become mummified. I am not sure why, since I had made sure bats can get in and out of the place. I knew bats lived there because when I first started using the place some years ago I had taken an old straw hat off the wall and a bat had flown out of it!

To me it is an illustration of the challenge of spotting creatures that have evolved so as not to be seen. Well, at least the ringtail possums are white; maybe I'll notice them.

WAY HAY FOR THE CRYPTO OLYMPICS

According to the Winter Olympics press release three years back:

'Quatchi, Miga and Sumi. These are the names of the three critters who will meet and greet athletes, visitors, and fans in Vancouver and Whistler for the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games. Each of the creatures is distinct and special – both in personality and in appearance. One is big, gentle and shy . . . one is small, mischievous and outgoing . . . and one is a natural-born leader with a passion for protecting the environment. All three are mythical creatures with roots in local legend. One is a sasquatch. One is a sea-bear. And one is an animal guardian spirit. They are all, to say the least, unique.'

It is mildly cool, I suppose, that zoomythology and cryptozoology have been brought to the public awareness by this, even if they have made them so unbearably cute and sweet that if they were edible my pancreas would curl up, and crawl out my nostrils in protest. They even added a non-cryptozoological sidekick with a name that sounds like someone vomiting, but we won't criticise them for that.

But as Oliver pointed out, a Polish newspaper has claimed there is a fifth Olympic Mascot. As cryptozoologists, we are not aware of a mythical bear-like creature in Canada. Could it be like the mythical God-Bear of Kamkatcha - possibly a descendant of the long extinct short-faced bear? Or could it be something else entirely? Is there a major cryptozoological cover-up by the Canadian Government?
I believe we need to be told the truth.

(P.S. This makes every bit of lazy copy-editing and/or picture research that I ever did, including what I was sacked from World of Wildlife in 2002 for, pale into insignificance)

APOLOGIES FOR THE SCREW-UP

Yesterday's computer-related shenanigins were something that I could cheerfully have lived without. I suppose that everybody else in the universe realises that one should not put one's entire collection of fonts into C:windows/fonts but I didn't. I have just bought a bargain bucket of fonts that may well come in useful one day (10,000 of them) and considering that I already had over 2,000 on there I thought that it might be a good idea to combine them.


Not a good move.


Yesterday was mostly spent trying to undo my silliness in `safe mode`. Never mind. It could have been worse...

OLL LEWIS: Yesterday’s News Today

http://cryptozoologynews.blogspot.com/

Because of yesterday’s computer gremlins there was no YNT on the blogo. Shocking, how will you ever console yourselves? Well, don’t worry, today’s bumper omnibus edition of Yesterday’s News Today should help.
On yesterday in 1913 Jimmy Riddle Hoffa (honestly, I kid ye not, that is his real name) was born. Hoffa became internationally famous for his disappearance in 1975 and the numerous urban legends about his final resting place including that he was buried in one of the end-zones in the Giants Stadium in New Jersey, USA.

On this day in 2001 the first draft of the Human Genome was published in Nature.


And now, the news:

Lookout for Kingfisher - Wildlife of Oxford Canal
New hope for threatened Tasmanian devils
Deep sea thrill: 'serpent' of myths filmed
HerpDigest Volume # 12 Issue # 8 2/13/10
Fisher-Price Brings BIGFOOT To NYC Toy Fair
That guy's gone in search of Bigfoot
Bigfoot believer shows his proof
Daniel Ferstl: "Searching for Bigfoot"
Bigfoot: Fact or Fiction? We search for the truth

Sasq-‘watch’ this space for more Bigfoot news in the future…
(yes, I was saving that pun).