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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Friday, February 19, 2010


As regular readers of the bloggo will know, thanks to the good offices of our friends and benefactors Richie and Naomi West, Corinna and I are off to Texas in a few weeks to study these bloody blue dogs at first hand.

When I was last there back in 2004 I photographed several skulls in the possession of Mr Devin Macanally of Elmendorf.

I want to make casts of these skulls to bring back to the UK. Has anyone got a cheap, and foolproof way to do it?

Suggestions please.

LINDSAY SELBY: Sea Serpent Sighting 1872

From Mythical Monsters by Charles Gould [1886]

Can be read at : http://www.sacred-texts.com/earth/mm/mm12.htm

The following is the article in the Inverness Courier:—

'We are glad to see that the two gentlemen who favoured us last autumn with an account of what they believed to be a strange animal seen off the west coast, Inverness-shire, have published in the Zoologist, a monthly journal of natural history, a careful description of the creature which they saw, and which seems to resemble the engravings of what is called the Norwegian sea-serpent. We subjoin the magazine article entire. There is such a dread of ridicule in appearing publicly in company with this mysterious and disreputable monster, that we must commend the boldness of the two clergymen in putting their names to the narrative; especially as we observe that other observers have not been so courageous, and that they have been obliged to give some of their information anonymously.“The huge serpent, if serpent it may be called, invariably appears in still warm weather, and in no other. There are certain Norwegian fjords and narrow seas which it frequents, and it is scarcely ever seen in the open sea. In the present case, the limit in which the animal has been seen on our coast, is Lochduich to the north and the Sound of Mull to the south, only about a fifth of the space between Cape Wrath and the Mull of Kintyre; and it is in that part it should be most looked for. We beg to draw the attention of our readers on the West Coast to the fact, now established on indubitable evidence, of the supposed animal having been seen there last year, and to the possibility of its appearing again in similar weather this year. If it chances to turn up once more, some full and accurate account of the phenomenon would certainly be most desirable.'

The following is the article in the Zoologist :

'Appearance of an animal, believed to be that which is called the Norwegian Sea-serpent, on the Western Coast of Scotland, in August 1872, by the Rev. John McRae, Minister of Glenelg, Invernessshire, and the Rev. David Twopeny, Vicar of Stockbury, Kent. On the 20th of August 1872 we started from Glenelg in a small cutter, the Leda, for an excursion to Lochourn. Our party consisted, besides ourselves, of two ladies, F. and K., a gentleman, G. B., and a Highland lad. Our course lay down the Sound of Sleat, which on that side divides the Isle of Skye from the mainland, the average breadth of the channel in that part being two miles.It was calm and sunshiny, not a breath of air, and the sea perfectly smooth. As we were getting the cutter along with oars we perceived a dark mass about two hundred yards astern of us, to the north. While we were looking at it with our glasses (we had three on board) another similar black lump rose to the left of the first, leaving an interval between; then another and another followed, all in regular order. We did not doubt its being one living creature: it moved slowly across our wake, and disappeared. Presently the first mass, which was evidently the head, reappeared, and was followed by the rising of the other black lumps, as before. Sometimes three appeared, sometimes four, five, or six, and then sank again. When they rose, the head appeared first, if it had been down, and the lumps rose after it in regular order, beginning always with that next the head, and rising gently; but when they sank, they sank altogether rather abruptly, sometimes leaving the head visible.It gave the impression of a creature crooking up its back to sun itself. There was no appearance of undulation; when the lumps sank, other lumps did not rise in the intervals between them. The greatest number we counted was seven, making eight with head, as shown in sketch No.1 [two engravings are given]. The parts were separated from each other by intervals of about their own length, the head being rather smaller and flatter than the rest, and the nose being very slightly visible above the water; but we did not see the head raised above the surface either this or the next day, nor could we see the eye. We had no means of measuring the length with any accuracy; but taking the distance from the centre of one lump to the centre of the next to be six feet, and it could scarcely be less, the whole length of the portion visible, including the intervals submerged, would be forty-five feet. Presently, as we were watching the creature, it began to approach us rapidly, causing a great agitation in the sea. Nearly the whole of the body, if not all of it, had now disappeared, and the head advanced at a great rate in the midst of a shower of fine spray, which was evidently raised in some way by the quick movement of the animal—it did not appear how—and not by spouting. F. was alarmed and retreated to the cabin, crying out that the creature was coming down upon us. When within about a hundred yards of us it sank and moved away in the direction of Syke, just under the surface of the water, for we could trace its course by the waves it raised on the still sea to the distance of a mile or more. After this it continued at intervals to show itself, careering about at a distance, as long as we were in that part of the Sound; the head and a small part only of the body being visible on the surface; but we did not again, on that day, see it so near nor so well as at first.At one time F. and K. and G. B. saw a fin sticking up at a little distance back from the head, but neither of us were then observing. On our return the next day we were again becalmed on the north side of the opening of Lochourn, where it is about three miles wide, the day warm and sunshiny as before. As we were dragging slowly along in the afternoon the creature again appeared over towards the south side, at a greater distance than we saw it the first day. It now showed itself in three or four rather long lines, as in the sketch No. 2, and looked considerably longer than it did the day before; as nearly as we could compute, it looked at least sixty feet in length. Soon it began careering about, showing but a small part of itself, as on the day before, and appeared to be going up Lochourn. Later in the afternoon, when we were still becalmed in the mouth of Lochourn, and by using the oars had nearly reached the island of Sandaig, it came rushing past us about a hundred and fifty yards to the south, on its return from Lochourn. It went with great rapidity, its black head only being visible through the clear sea, followed by a long trail of agitated water. As it shot along, the noise of its rush through the water could be distinctly heard on board. There were no organs of motion to be seen, nor was there any shower of spray as on the day before, but merely such a commotion in the sea as its quick passage might be expected to make. Its progress was equable and smooth, like that of a log towed rapidly. For the rest of the day, as we worked our way home northwards through the Sound of Sleat, it was occasionally within sight of us until nightfall, rushing about at a distance, as before, and showing only its head, and a small part of its body on the surface. It seemed on each day to keep about us, and as we were always then rowing, we were inclined to think it perhaps might be attracted by the measured sound of the oars. Its only exit in this direction to the north was by the narrow Strait of Kylerhea, dividing Skye from the mainland, and only a third of a mile wide, and we left our boat, wondering whether this strange creature had gone that way or turned back again to the south. We have only to add to this narrative of what we saw ourselves, the following instances of its being seen by other people, of the correctness of which we have no doubt. The ferrymen on each side of Kylerhea saw it pass rapidly through on the evening of the 21st, and heard the rush of the water; they were surprised, and thought it might be a shoal of porpoises, but could not comprehend their going so quickly. Finlay McRae, of Bundaloch, in the parish of Kintail, was within the mouth of Lochourn on the 21st, with other men in his boat, and saw the creature at about the distance of one hundred and fifty yards. Two days after we saw it, Alexander Macmillan, boat-builder at Dornie, was fishing in a boat in the entrance of Lochduich, half-way between Druidag and Castledonan, when he saw the animal, near enough to hear the noise, and see the ripple it made in rushing along in the sea. He says that what seemed its head was followed by four or more lumps, or "half-rounds," as he calls them, and that they sometimes rose and sometimes sank altogether. He estimated its length at not less than between sixty and eighty feet. He saw it also on two subsequent days in Lochduich. On all these occasions his brother, Farquhar, was with him in the boat, and they were both much alarmed, and pulled to the shore in great haste. A lady at Duisdale, in Skye, a place overlooking the part of the Sound which is opposite the opening of Lochourn, said that she was looking out with a glass when she saw a strange object on the sea, which appeared like eight seals in a row. This was just about the time that we saw it. We were also informed that about the same time it was seen from the island of Eigg, between Eigg and the mainland, about twenty miles to the south-west of the opening of Lochourn. We have not permission to mention the names in these two last instances.


It seems there has always been the fear of ridicule when reporting sightings of unknown creatures; sadly that hasn't changed.


Hello again

Yesterday I was looking through an on-line database of old Utah newspapers from the 19th century onwards and I came across the following odd newspaper item in the Deseret News. Note: not the DESERT News but Deseret News of April 13th 1870. I am no zoologist but this doesn`t seem like any other whale or fish I have heard of.

The “balloon fish” is the latest sensation among the wonders of the deep. The sea serpent and the Bear Lake monsters will no longer excite any attention, the rage now will be the “balloon fish” as seen and described recently by the captain of the schooner Saladin, while sailing from Jacmel, Hayti, to New York. A very indistinct account of this newly discovered marine wonder was telegraphed, but from the meagre details, or rather from the lack of details there given, the only inference that could be drawn was that it was merely a rehash of the sea serpent story. Since then full particulars, furnished by Captain Siocum, of the Saladin,have been furnished to, and printed in,the New York Herald, from which it appears that it was not the sea serpent but a denizen of the “vasty deep”, totally unknown to naturalists, and probably never before seen by any living man.

The Saladin sailed from Jacmel early in March; and at about 6` o clock on the morning of the 12th, while steering north-northwest, the Captain, the only one on deck, descried, about five miles distant, on the starboard beam, what he thought was a wreck. He immediately put down his helm, turned the Saladin`s head eastwards, and desirous of overhauling and rendering assistance, called all hands on deck. Progress was made as quickly as possible towards the supposed wreck, but instead of a craft in distress, they soon discovered that it was a monster fish or serpent of some kind, “larger than a ship”, and making headway at about two knots an hour. The schooner bore down on this strange object until it was within twenty feet on the starboard quarter, when every part was plainly visible.

The following is the description of this new monster of the deep, as furnished to the Herald:

“Its architecture was very accurately measured, and the serpent was found to be 100 feet long, with a body forty feet in length and a tail of sixty foot. But the most curious feature of the monster was an immense body of hard gristle matter twelve feet in length, forty feet in width, with the same length,which was entirely void within, forming a large bladder shapped balloon, which, filled with air, buoyed the serpent on the water, and seemed to be an agent whereby it could keep the surface and commit its depredations either upon commerce or upon the harmless inhabitants of its own element. This oval buoy had regular ridges, running from the apex ahead – for this bladder preceded the body of the fish – to where it joined the main body. These ridges extended fore and aft, at intervals of four inches, with a regular height of two inches, and gave to the surface the appearance of the network of a balloon. The bladder portion was elastic, and yielded to the movements of the sea, and was two inches thick, but of a hard, dense, impenetrable character, that would resist knife or bullet. On each side of this floating dome were two heavy paddles, each five feet long, by which the monster made progress. The fish proper, which was but an appendage tailed on to this blown-up bladder, consisted of a heavy fishy substance, with blown sides, and about ten feet from the dome were two eyes, one on either side of a large horn.

From this point the fish tapered off to a forked tail of material as heavy and as hard as iron.”

Captain Slocum believed that the tail of this strange would weigh a hundred pounds to the cubic foot. The forks of the tail stood horizontally in the water, but were submerged four feet. He feared to fire at this strange beast, dreading the consequences to his bark and crew. He believes that it has some internal means of filling its balloon with air, thus enabling it to sink or swim at pleasure.

This is about the most fishy story on record; but the particulars are as furnished the Herald, and coming from such a source there seems to be no reason for questioning their authenticity
. (1)

Could this have been a baleen whale?

1. Deseret News April 13th 1870.

The Alarm The Stand (Prophecy)

Come roll out the red carpert,
Come bugler sound the horn
`Cause the Hero is returning
Gotta welcome him to his home
Don`t say I didn`t warn you
This prophecy is coming true
I can hear the cavalry thundering
Riding over the hill
Riding over the hill


NEIL ARNOLD: Littlefoot in Sussex

The county of Sussex is saturated with strange beastly folklore; from reports of dragons, to ‘big cats’, and from phantom bears, to even Bigfoot.

One such tale that did the rounds a few years ago took place at Friston Park, in East Sussex. The sighting occurred near Newhaven on November 18th, 2002, at 2:30 am, as a Phil Hayman had parked his lorry up to stretch his legs when he spotted a large figure in the woods. The form was illuminated by a red light situated on a forestry machine in the woods. Mr Hayman was unsettled by the presence and hurried back to his cab but still had time to shine his torch at the being as it rushed off into the darkness. Phil claimed that the creature wasn’t human because he saw no skin colour reflected in the flashlight beam, and suggested it may have been covered in hair for it was dull in colour.

The above report probably doesn’t prove that an unknown bipedal creature haunts Sussex woodlands, but the following encounter is one that will make you think again!

In the summer of 1948 E.J.A. Reynolds, a young boy, had a bizarre encounter whilst setting rabbit traps in a wooded area of Horsham. Whilst he was hiding in the undergrowth and keeping watch on the traps, a small man no more than two feet in height appeared a few yards away from the thicket. The being was covered in hair except for its face. Its nose was pointed and it had incredibly long arms. It did not notice the terrified youngster. The figure then turned and headed back into the woods. Even weirder, the youngster claimed to have seen the creature again a few days later. He was travelling on a bus in the area and noticed the hairy being walking across the lawn of a large garden.

DALE DRINNON: Leopard Seal Comparison

Following on from Lindsay's post of yesterday:

Here's the stuff: my comment would be that the one particular seal shown in the close-up seems to have the type of eye that the witness described (the iris is greenish here, but perhaps more of a hazel colouring), the back end of the head seems to have that squared-off look and in the drawing there seems to be a distinction of the part immediately below the head, corresponding to the seal's actual neck, and then the lower, curved part of the neck, which would correspond to the seal's body. I don't think that the witness would have had a good view of the lower part or how high it would have been emerged from the water. The seal does press its flippers very tightly to the sides on occasion, and the seal with the open mouth shows this.

Leopard seals are very dangerous and they regularly attack and kill penguins the size of a large child: there are cases on record of them killing human beings.

Not that I am saying that this particular beast was necessarily a leopard seal exactly, it could have been a different but similar species. But the resemblance is striking.



Well, Oliver is away with his girlfriend. He left us the following information:

On this day in 1965 Ranger 8 was crashed into the moon after completing its mission to photograph possible landing sites for the Apollo missions.

And now, the news:

Hunters may have lit fires next to kiwi
I'm not kidding – goats in Inverness!
Giant fish swam prehistoric seas
Dolphins 'suffer if made to perform'
Giraffe meets meerkat
Warm weather is cold comfort

But he left no pun. So rather than make one up, I am offering an unspecified prize to the best pun featuring the word `Meerkat`


YOUTUBE BLURB: Something I have always called a "salp" but still unsure of the exact taxonomic placement, this creature is one of the strangest Ive encountered on the Great Barrier Reef.