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, April 04, 2010


After months of work, we are very happy to announce the release of:

A Daintree Diary - Tales from Travels to the Daintree Rainforest in Tropical North Queensland, Australia by Carl Portman

Paperback: 216 pages
Publisher: CFZ (24 Feb 2010)
Language English
ISBN-10: 1905723539
ISBN-13: 978-1905723539
Product Dimensions: 23.4 x 15.6 x 1.1 cm

FROM THE BACK COVER: In the increasingly technological and urbanised world of the early 21st Century, we in the west are becoming increasingly sedentary. There are wild places left on the planet, but most people are content to watch programmes about them on the television. Not so Carl Portman, spider expert living in Oxfordshire, UK.

With two `Sheila's' in tow (one of them being his long suffering partner Susan) Carl cuts a swathe of genial chaos across the North Australian rainforest as he hunts for the elusive whistling spider while the girls try to work on their suntans. This is not only a highly informative book for the amateur entomologist, but is one of the most amusing and endearing books you will read all year. But now it's your turn. In the words of a long forgotten punk band called The Desperate Bicycles "It was easy, it was cheap, go and do it!"

DALE DRINNON: Some Corrections to the Witness Sketch directed by J. Mackintosh Bell of his sighting off the Island of Hoy, Orkneys, 1919

Original sketch left, amended by Dale right

The sighting by Bell is THE classical long-necked seal sighting. And as the drawing has usually been reproduced, it is very much misleading.

This account is arguably the most convincing for a seal with a long neck and took place off the Orkneys (Hoy) in 1919. The witness was on holiday in the Orkney Islands and helping some friends out on a fishing boat. His friends had seen the animal previously and had just commented about it when, right on cue, it appeared. A full account can be found in Heuvelmans, In The Wake of The Sea Serpents, pages 402-404. The animal was described as being about 20ft long and the sketches made by the witness appear to leave little doubt as to what sort of creature was seen.

The witness was lawyer Mr J. Mackintosh-Bell. On the morning of August 5th, from the deck of a cod-line fishing boat off Hoy he saw a monster with "a long neck as thick as an elephant's front leg, all rough looking like an elephant's hide." The head was like that of a dog, with small, black eyes.

There is a specific description of the animals neck as "thick" right off, a point that has escaped most commentators. An elephant's foreleg is something like 18 inches through. The length of the neck is therefore not much more than three times the diameter.
Some more estimated measurements also follow. Bell told Rupert Gould that the entire length of the creature when extended would be 18-20 feet long from the tip of the snout to the end of the tail flippers, the head and neck stuck up out of the water 5-6 feet and the body would be 4-5 feet across. The head was said to be the size of a retriever dog "say 6" long by 4" broad"

Which is complete poppycock. A retriever dog's head would never be that size unless it was only a puppy.

This only goes to show that the measurements were only hazy in Bell's mind. And there is much uncertainty in the outline of the creature in the drawing.

The drawing was not made by Bell himself but by his wife, under his direction. And people have made far too much out of that drawing.

In the case of the described measurements, the neck and tail flippers are about the same length. The length of the body is about twice that and about twice its width. The width of the body is very nearly the same as the length of the neck, and the head is more nearly 16 inches long than 6 inches (18 to 20 inches would be even better)

Re-calculating these dimensions and increasing the thickness of the neck to resemble an elephant's foreleg produces the second, revised drawing for the Mackintosh Bell sighting.

It is very likely the same sort of creature as the Isle of Man SS seen around 1928 by Michael Peer Groves and family, also in In The Wake of The Sea-Serpents, figure 106, p.434. It is also quite possibly behind several of the Irish (specifically the Irish) freshwater reports in In Search of Lake Monsters.

It would basically be a sea lion the size of a walrus and 12-13 feet long as an adult (subtracting the tail flippers from Bell's estimate) I include a photo mockup to indicate the scale in comparison with a walrus and a more ordinary sea lion.


'Lough Ness Monster' terrorising ducks at beauty spot
Mar 31 2010 By Isaac Ashe

VISITORS to the serene Stonebow Washlands might not guess at the terrors lurking in the depths of the beauty spot's placid lagoons... Stonebow Jaws! At least three adult ducks have been seen dragged beneath the water and devoured by what is believed to be a monster pike living in the lakes - leading to a warning being issued to users of the Washlands not to go into the water. Local school children have been told not to go pond-dipping at the site, and dog owners are being asked not to let smaller animals swim in the waters. One eyewitness, who did not wish to be named, said: I was walking with my dog around the larger lake on Monday, and there were two mallards on the pond. There was quite a commotion with the female making a lot of noise, and while I was looking she just disappeared. The male was just sitting there, so I walked round to get a better view and he just went down - all I could see was a ripple and three feathers on the water. Councillor Roy Campsall said: The number of ducks at Stonebow Washlands has been going down, and now we know why. Its pretty scary actually - to take a duck down its got to be monstrous. Mark Graham, wildlife development officer at Charnwood Borough Council, said there were no plans for the authority to hunt down Stonebow Jaws: Pike are a natural part of the ecology of our lakes, a native fish that have lived alongside wild fowl for thousands of years.This one would have to be a pretty big pike that's recently been put in. They aren't supposed to be there and people aren't supposed to fish at Stonebow Washlands. We do take out all the introduced fish from time to time to stop people fishing, but we can only do that during the winter. The longest Northern pike, the species native to England, ever recorded was 152cm and weighed 28kg. Have you seen Stonebow Jaws?

Call reporter Isaac Ashe on 01509 635820 or e-mail Isaac_Ashe@MRN.co.uk

Source: http://www.loughboroughecho.net/news/loughborough-news/2010/03/31/lough-ness-monster-terrorising-ducks-at-beauty-spot-73871-26146078/

It appears monster fish are alive and well in the UK! It must be some size to take down a duck!


A big thank you to Karen Gensheimer for her "Happy Spring" donation to the CFZ. It was very kind of you my dear, and it will be spent on part of the massive task of re-turfing the south lawn where Biggles has done his best to re-enact the Battle of the Somme.


Max and I spent much of Easter Sunday working on the final bits of issue 8 of The Amateur Naturalist, which will be out in a couple of weeks unless something horrible happens.

It includes a jolly good article from Maxy on out-of-place arachnids and to tease him I put this 19th century illustration of the well known nursery rhyme as the header.

He had a fit!

To placate the lad I removed it, but found the image so peculiar that I felt bound to share it with everyone out in Bloggoland. Not just peculiar but mildly disturbing.


'So it's all piffle and baldersash,' wrote Davey Curtis, (we hope) tongue in cheek, as he sent us the following news item....


The Sun have announced (with a typically crappy headline) that `Natural England` have said that "BIG cats like the Beast of Bodmin are NOT prowling Britain's countryside, it was officially declared yesterday."

So who are these people?

Wikipedia: "Natural England is a non-departmental public body of the UK government. It was formed (vested) on 1 October 2006. It is responsible for ensuring that England's natural environment, including its land, flora and fauna, freshwater and marine environments, geology and soils, are protected and improved. It also has a responsibility to help people enjoy, understand and access the natural environment".

The newspaper report continues:

A wallaroo - a kind of kangaroo - was among sightings of other exotic species scoffed at by the investigators.

Goodness me. I vaguely remembered something from my childhood:

There are badgers and bidgers and bodgers,
and a Super-in-tendent's House,
There are masses of goats,
and a Polar,and different kinds of mouse,
And I think there's a sort of a something
which is called a wallaboo
But I gave buns to the elephant
when I went down to the Zoo!

Sadly Christopher Robin was no help, but Wikipedia confirmed that there are indeed three species of Macropus called wallaroos, but I have to say that I have never heard any suggestion that they are living wild in the UK. So, I am at a loss here. Who do I lampoon? The Sun for printing this tripe, or a branch of our increasingly idiotic government for writing it. Amusingly the only bit of sense in the whole piece comes from a CFZ member and is right at the end..

Last night expert Trevor Beer, of Barnstaple, Devon, insisted: "The big cats ARE out there. Natural England are just making fools of themselves."

Right on Trevor!


OLL LEWIS: Yesterday's News Today


On this day 1722 Easter Island was discovered by Europeans.
And now, the news:

700-year-old cave carvings with links to Knights Templar at risk as worms eat walls
Skeleton sits in for Copenhagen's travelling Little Mermaid
Cat’s all Folks
Meet the Genetically Engineered Pig With Earth-Friendly Poop

Heavy metal pollution caused by animal excrement can be a ‘pig’ problem.