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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Sunday, February 28, 2010


As anyone who has read the blog or watched OTT in the past few weeks will know, Corinna and I are off to Texas on Thursday.

This is unusual as far as expeditions are concerned, because although it is a bona fide expedition, and one which we hope will produce a formidable amount of data, as well as a jolly book showing us having an intrepid time, we are staying with our dear friends and benefactors Naomi and Richie West, and so will have Internet access while we are there.

So both Corinna and I shall be updating both our blogs daily (at least once). Expect stories, pictures and maybe even some film. The whole programme of the blogs will be compiled by Graham at CFZ base camp here in Devon, and Lizzy who will be at home in Lancashire.

There will be an editorial each day from Liz, and a daily update about life at the CFZ sans J+C by Graham. Oll will continue to run Yesterday's News Today, and I will post various bits and bobs from Texas. So I think that things are gonna go relatively smoothly.

Watch this space (and wait for a shite-storm of cock-ups).

OLL LEWIS: Yesterday's News Today


On this day in 1933 the movie King Kong opened in the United States of America. Whereas the film’s special effects haven’t aged well, mostly thanks to some very bad reacting to the effects, for the time it was spectacular and inspired the superior Japanese ‘giant monster’ films like Godzilla. Some even contend that certain aspects of the ‘popular culture myth’ that surrounds Bigfoot/BHM can be traced back to King Kong. Another debt society owes King Kong is that without the original skyscraper-based rampaging ape Nintendo would never have been inspired to create Donkey Kong and its hero Mario, and without Mario there would be no Legend of Zelda games and no Pokemon (which inspired a whole new generation of children to show an interest in natural history, cryptozoology, care for the environment and animal rights). It’s quite astounding to think of the knock-on effects one fairly ropey film has had on modern culture.

And now, the news:

Digger wasps protected by antibiotics
Boozy chimp off to rehab
It's raining fish ... no really

For most fortean researchers, witnessing a rain of fish as it happened would be a ‘bream’ come true….

EDITOR'S COMMENT: King Kong 'fairly ropey'? Really, Oliver. Tut tut.

ON THE TRACK - Episode 30

I really cannot believe that we have done 30 of these...

The latest edition of a monthly webTV show from the CFZ and CFZtv, bringing you the latest cryptozoological and monster-hunting news from around the world. This episode brings you:

CFZ in springtime
Repairs and renewals
Graham plays showjumper
Training Biggles
Texas blue dogs
Kay and the banana mystery
Corinna looks at out of place birds
New and Rediscovered: Borneo clouded leopard on film
New and Rediscovered: New spiny Mouse
New and Rediscovered: Australian stingray discovered
New and Rediscovered: New colour changing frog

MAX BLAKE: Humpback whale exhibiting extraordinary dextrous use of pectoral fin

Well, it made us laugh, anyway. I was amazed that the poor bird apparently survived unscathed.

GLEN VAUDREY: Another visit to The Savage World

So far (see yesterday) The Savage World had failed to notice that the extinction of one bird, the great auk, had already happened. However, regarding today’s bird, the passenger pigeon, the author seems to have been more on the ball.

‘The passenger pigeon (Ectopistes migratorius) is our best know American bird of the pigeon genera, though within the last few years it has so nearly disappeared that it is seldom seen except in the Indian Territory, where one or two large roosts are still visited. When a boy I have seen the pigeons flying overhead in such enormous flocks that the sky would be fairly shut out from view by their bodies for hours at a time. These migrations were very frequent, caused by the very great devastations the birds wrought, requiring almost constant change of place to produce food. It is perfectly within the bounds of reason to say, as did Wilson, that as many as a billion wild pigeons have been seen to pass over a single course in three days, and that the consumption of food by these birds in the same time was equal to seventeen million bushels. Incredible as their numbers were twenty-five years ago, only a bare remnant now remains and within a like period they will probably become extinct. So quickly do they leave their feeding places and so great is their speed of flight that specimens have been shot in the northern New York with crops yet filled with rice taken from the savannas of the far South. As digestion is accomplished in these birds in less than twelve hours, the distance of more than one thousand miles must have been traversed in less than that brief time’

While sightings of wild passenger pigeons crept all the way up to 1930 it is unlikely that any actually managed to hang on that long. Certainly the last captive example, Martha, died on 1 September 1914 at Cincinnati Zoo. As an example of both the numbers of birds involved and the scale of the slaughter it is recorded that in 1878 at a site in Petoskey, Michigan, there was a daily slaughter of 50,000 birds that carried on for nearly five months, perhaps then it is hardly surprising that the author could see that the end was nigh for the passenger pigeon.

DALE DRINNON: The Ugly Mermen

There are several recorded sightings of what are reported to be big ugly mermen in lake lonster lore. One such creature is said to inhabit Thunder Bay in Lake Superior (first reported 1792 and subsequently called a 'Merbeing')

I am attaching an illustration of a Vodyany, in this case a Russian 'Old Man in the Waters' in an illstration from my edition of Larousse Mythology, a drawing made by Ivan Bilbin in 1934, and in direct comparison to a bearded seal in Spitzbergen (Arctic Ocean). The bearded seals can turn up in the oddest places, most notably once recently inland in Florida, but also sometimes in the Baltic sea and even in Japan. In the article in question in Larousse Mythology, the location of Olonets in Karelia is specifically mentioned, although similar reports come from adjoining parts of Russia and nearby Finland.

This is not the only kind of Vodyanoy: in central Europe the name attaches to a sport of aquatic dwarf that wears raggedy clothing and a broad hat, and another version is described as being a large frog or salamander that sometimes looks like a log that moves against the current, and which seems to include the 'Pskov crocodiles' as one of the variants. This would be the giant salamander sort of creature, also known under a variety of other names in the Baltic countries.

But in the case of these Ugly Mermen of Karelia and Finland, I think we are plainly dealing with a type of large seal that has wandered inland. The same sort of creature could also be at the base of 'Merman' reports in the North Sea and especially around Norway. I remember reading in a book called Mysteries of the Sea that an identikit of merman reports was closely similar to a description of a walrus, minus the tusks.


A big thank you to our old friend Steve Jones at the Wakefield and West Yorkshire Pagan Meetup who comes to the Weird Weekend every year. His group agree with what we are trying to do, especially our work in instilling a love of the countryside and the world around us into the next generation, and have very kindly donated two hundred quid towards the running costs of the forthcoming Weird Weekend.

Thanks, guys.

I'm a Christian as you well know, and other members of the CFZ Organisational Body are Atheists, Agnostics, Pagans and even a Buddhist, but when it comes to doing positive stuff for the environment, animal welfare, education and science, then we are all singing from the same hymn sheet!

Check out our other sponsors...

OLL LEWIS: Yesterday's News Today


Happy Saint David’s day, everyone!

And now, the news:

Deadly new attractions at Blue Planet Aquarium
Trainer's death reopens debate on dangerous animals in captivity
Killer whale Tilly saved
Should the Killer Whale That Fatally Attacked Its Trainer Be Euthanized?
Does the Killer Whale Need a Lawyer?
Killer Whale Trainers Are Like Astronauts
Florida whale shows will go on after deadly attack
The "Zoo" haven for animals
At Fort Worth Zoo, a world-class collection is given a world-class home
Zoo partners with SWAT team for animal emergencies
Zoologists call for culling of stray dogs to stop rabies
Hungry Panda Swipes Bones From Pig Pen

Poor thing just needed a ‘pig’ meal.


These companies and organisations are donating (or have promised to donate) money, goods or services to the Weird Weekend 2010. Everyone has been remarkably generous. Thank you, guys.


Dear Max. He is very good at finding things that are both on-topic and amusing....


CFZ ARCHIVING PROJECT: General Forteana Part 3

As you know, Oll has been working on the archiving project since early February 2009 and he is now working on a general mish-mash of a section known as `General Forteana`. This third trenche is another general mish-mash with animal attacks, bigfoot culture, cults, ghosties and UFOs as well as other bits and bobs. Good stuff.


RICHARD FREEMAN: The Monsters of Prague (Part Seven)

The Savage Unicorn
Jeronym Bouse was a sucessful spiritualist who appeared in many papers as far afield as Denmark and Portugal. He was said to have teamed up with a medium called Alzbeta Rakosnikova in an attempt to materialise a legendary unicorn. The experiment worked and a great white beast with a long horn, beard and cloven hooves appeared. Unfortunatly the unicorn of legend is a far cry from the mild beast of popular imagination. It is a wild and aggresive creature, tameable only by a virgin.

The unicorn skewered Alzbeta on its horn and trampled Jeronym. Leaving both dead, it charged out into the city. It was supposed to have appared in Biskupsk Square where it trampled a plumber's weelbarrow and broke a street lamp. When a police patrol was called, it charged them, forcing them to hide in a graveyard. The beast is said to be so aggressive it even attacks its own shadow. The unicorn has not been seen in recent years.

OLIVER SENT ME THIS. I post it without comment

LINDSAY SELBY: A Skeggy Sea Monster

During the 1960s there was a Butlins holiday camp at Skegness in Lincolnshire that attracted lots of visitors and a spate of sea monster sightings.

A holidaymaker is appealing for a middle-aged couple to come forward to verify his story about “something like the Loch Ness Monster” which he claims to have seen at Chapel St Leonards [near Skegness] .Mr George Ashton of Miles Road Sheffield was strolling near the beach recently with his wife, May, when they were ‘mystified’ by the sight less than 100 yards offshore. “It had a head like a serpent and six or seven pointed humps trailing behind”, he said. Mr Ashton, a 49 year old shot-blaster at Sheffield casting works, has a caravan at the seaside village just north of Skegness. He also has a motor boat and said “When I have been out at sea I have seen seals and sea snakes swimming about and what I saw was neither of these. “At first I thought it was a log but it was travelling at about 8 miles per hour and going parallel with the shore. We watched it for some time coming from the direction of Chapel Point until it disappeared out of sight towards Ingoldmells. “I just didn’t believe in these things and tried to convince myself it was a flight of birds just above the water. But it was leaving a wake in the water. I even thought of a miniature submarine but after watching it for some time I knew it couldn’t be. “There was no noise, it just skimmed through the water.” About a 100 yards from them was a middle-aged couple who were also looking out to sea. “They disappeared onto a caravan site nearby”. said Mr Ashton.

“There was no one else about and I want them to prove to my friends that I’m not joking. I have always been the first to laugh at the Loch Ness Monster and such things as flying saucers – things that cannot be explained – but not anymore. “I will swear on oath about what I saw”. Said Mrs Ashton, “It really was an incredible sight and a complete mystery”. Mr Jack Hawkes, licensee of the Smugglers Inn at Chapel St Leonards, just opposite the site where Mr Ashton keeps his caravan, said “He seem to be the only person to have seen it, but the way he described his experience convinced me he saw something!”. Said a Coastguard official, “I haven’t seen any monsters. We get sharks sometime, but not of this description”.

Source: Skegness Standard 19th October 1966

This was not the first time something had been sighted off the coast in that area:

  • ON 7th August 1960 5 witnesses saw a fast-moving creature offshore in the sea described as black, long and whale-like.

  • On August 14th 1960 Mr Len Booth reported that he saw a strange whale-like creature, also witnessed by Mr John Dutton. This was in the same area

  • The following day, August 15th, Mrs Joan Betts and Rosina Stubbs saw a long black thing, dark and curved, about 800 yards (265 metres) offshore, going fast through the sea.

  • Then earlier in 1966 (exact date unknown) Mr John Hayes saw a huge dark shape 500 yards (165 metres) from shore moving at about 20 mph .

    (More details of these sightings can be found in Sea Serpents and Lake monsters of the British Isles by Paul Harrison, 2001, Robert Hale ltd, London).

So what was it? Well, some of the sightings could have been a whale or a basking shark but the sighting in the newspaper article was different. Mr Ashton said he knew what seals etc. looked like and it was nothing he had seen before. Any suggestions as to what he saw?