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 25, 2010


Yesterday I noted that whenever I am engaged on an investigation news items come in thick and fast on related topics as if by magick. I am currently investigating the canids of the southern United States, in particular Texas, and look what turned up in my inbox yesterday evening!

There are only 42 Mexican Gray Wolves left in the wild in the United States: a 20% decline in just the past year. They're the most endangered mammal in North America and something needs to be done now to prevent them from going extinct.

This decline is not through any fault of the wolves, who have done everything needed to survive in the wild; they have formed packs, had pups, and successfully hunted native prey. The decline is human-caused and must be human-remedied.

The Fish and Wildlife Service must:

1. Give Mexican gray wolves greater endangered species protections.
2. Release more wolves into the wild and bolster the genetic fitness of the population.
3. Bring the criminals killing our wolves to justice.
4. Write a new science-based Recovery Plan because the outdated 1982 plan is not working.

The US Fish and Wildlife Service is managing Mexican wolves under a flawed 28-year old recovery plan that does not include recovery criteria, does not incorporate modern science, and has done little to protect the Mexican Wolf. This long-term mismanagement has pushed Mexican Wolves to the brink of extinction.

It's time for a new, modern Recovery Plan that will begin restoring a healthy Mexican gray wolf wolf population.


Weird, huh?


I have no idea whether these pictures are genuine or not, but they purport to be of an Eastern diamondback rattlesnake caught recently in Florida. I had no idea that they could grow this big, because the only species that I have ever encountered in the wild is the Eastern Missasagua rattlesnake (Sistrurus catenatus), which grows no longer than 30ins. However, according to Wikipedia (and I know that in some quarters it is thought that relying on Wikipedia for accurate information is about as useful as relying on me for weight loss tips), yer Eastern diamondback can grow to eight feet in length.

The pics were sent to me by a lady called Paula, along with the following information:

Guess what was found just south of Jacksonville. Near the St. Augustine outlet, in a new KB homes subdivision.

  • 15 foot Eastern Diamondback rattlesnake. Largest ever caught on record.
  • After seeing this, I did a little research, and learned the following:
  • One bite from a snake this large contains enough venom to kill over 40 full grown men.
  • The head alone is larger than the hand of a normal sized man.
  • This snake was probably alive when George H. W. Bush was President.
  • A bite from those fangs would equal being penetrated by two 1/4 inch screwdrivers.
  • A snake this size could easily swallow a 2 year-old child.
  • A snake this size has an approximately 5 and 1/2 foot accurate striking distance. (The distance for an average size Rattlesnake is about 2 feet)
  • Judging by the size of the snake, it is estimated to weigh over 170 pounds. How much do you weigh?
I refuse to answer the last question, but would be interested to hear what the herpetologists and the photographers who regularly visit the bloggo make of this....

LINDSAY SELBY: Loch Ness Migration

There has been speculation over the years that the Loch Ness creature moves between the local lochs. I was browsing through some old newspaper articles and news reports when I came across these two from the same year.

14 Jun 1996


LONDON, June 14 (Reuter) - Sixteen people watched in amazement as a mysterious object ploughed swiftly across Loch Ness, leaving a white water wake before disappearing after five minutes into the depths of the Scottish lake. "I cannot find a rational explanation for what I saw," said English tourist David Neeld, the morning after Thursday evening's sighting. "I do not think there is any other explanation than it was the Loch Ness monster." Sightings of the monster, nicknamed Nessie and often described as having a long neck and large body like a brontosaurus, have been reported since the 15th century. Several expeditions have been undertaken in the loch but they have found nothing. The strange object was first spotted at 10 p.m. by Kate Munro, joint owner of the Craigdarroch House, a hotel on the edge of the Highland lake. She alerted her husband Dave and 14 guests who watched the object for five minutes. They told reporters that it appeared to be something large just under the loch's surface, moving at high speed. "There was no traffic on the loch at all, yet here was a wake as big as comes from a cruiser," said Neeld. "There were a few locals in the hotel's bar and they said it was Nessie, so I will go along with that," he said. "I must say that I was very impressed." Another tourist, Karen Hemingway, said: "Whatever we saw was certainly quite strange. There were no boats around at all. I think I could well have seen the monster. "Around two million tourists are attracted to 40-km (25-mile) long Loch Ness each year because of the monster legend.


15 Sep 96


Lizzie the Loch Ness Monster's cousin is back. The beastie surfaced briefly, 36 years after she was last spotted in Loch Lochy. Eye-witnesses were stunned to see the 12ft-long, three-humped creature rearing out of the water. And guests at the nearby Corriegour Lodge Hotel rushed to get a better view. Hotel boss Lorna Bunney said: "I've never seen anything like this creature before."

So could Nessie have gone on holiday to Loch Lochy? Interesting thought, isn’t it?

RICHARD FREEMAN: the Monsters of Prague (Part Six)

The King's Werewolf

Rudolph II (18 July 1552 – 20 January 1612) had a royal menagerie in which he kept lions, wolves and panthers. An assistant to the head keeper was a man named Janek. Janek was dumb but had a way with animals. He was particuarly fond of the wolves. Despite never uttering a word in human speech he would ofter howl with the wolves.

One day he vanished and a massive wolf was seen roaming the area. People thought that Janek had been killed but he was later found unconcious under at tree. Each time Janek dissapeared the wolf returned and later the man would be found in a swoon. The head keeper realised Janek had become a werewolf.

Soon the beast left the grounds and was prowling further afield, and attacks on humans by a massive wolf were reported. One gamekeeper called Rickany was killed and when what was left of him was buried, a wolf was heard howling at his funeral. The werewolf was never slain and legend has it that it still prowls around the leafier areas of Prague.

MAX BLAKE: The return of Taxonomy Fail


Well, the mystery of what Richard Pharo saw the other morning has been solved. It was indeed a crane. Well done to all of you who got it right, and thank you again to Richard for reporting his sighting. I wonder what will turn up next....

OLL LEWIS: Yesterday's News Today


Christopher Marlow was born in 1593. Marlow is most widely known as a playwright, his most famous work being The Tragical History of Doctor Faustus. Marlow’s version of the Faust legend is not typical of other retellings of the time, which have the necromancer repenting at the end and being spared as a demonstration of God’s capacity to forgive. In Marlow’s version he does not repent and is dragged to Hell by demons (that’ll learn him). But despite being the author of the best known Elizabethan play not written by Shakespeare, this was not the most interesting aspect of Marlow’s life. He was rumoured to be a spy for Queen Elizabeth, and conspiracy and attempts to discredit him followed wherever he went, including attempts to label him as a Catholic (a very dangerous charge to be made against an Englishman in the wake of Bloody Mary’s massacres) and when that didn’t stick as an atheist (perhaps an even worse charge at the time). His death is thought to have been the biggest conspiracy of all as he was murdered by two other spies a few days after being falsely accused of blasphemy in very dubious circumstances. The coroner’s report says that he tried to attack one of the spies while drunk and that he was stabbed in the eye in ‘self defence’; however many commentators believe there was more to the events than that and that this was a co-ordinated assassination ordered by the Elizabethan underworld.

And now, the news:

Dorset big cat 'seen 30 times recently'
Blonde raccoon is star of show at new wildlife centre
SeaWorld trainer dies in killer whale attack in Orlando
Giant predatory shark fossil unearthed in Kansas

Because I feel I need to make up for the really bad pun yesterday and because today’s pun would have just been a variation on a ‘Jaws’ quote, as I always do when there’s a shark story, I thought today I would ‘treat’ you all to a joke I made up yesterday morning, instead. It’s got nothing whatsoever to do with today’s news stories but what the hell, you can memorise it, tell it to your workmates and be hailed as the planet’s greatest living comedian:

Did you hear about the singer in a Blockhead’s tribute band that fell off the stage and cracked his head open during an animated performance of “Hit me with your rhythm stick”?

Sadly, he died from his ‘Ian Durys’…