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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Wednesday, April 07, 2010


I have just (8:30 on Wednesday evening) had a telephone call from David B-P, my nephew and heir to the Downes empire, such as it is. The dear boy is out of hospital, and although he is in quite a lot of pain, and on an impressive battery of heavy-duty painkillers, he is back home. I shall be going to see him tomorrow, and he will be spending quite a chunk of his convalescence up at the CFZ with me and the gang....


Max has been working very hard on the forthcoming issue of The Amateur Naturalist. So hard, in fact, that for this issue I have relinquished the role of editor, pushing Maxy into the role of Guest Editor for this issue, and indeed for the forseeable future. If he finds that he can juggle his studies with the rigours of editing TAN then he shall take over as full-time editor sometime in the next 12 months.

In the meantime, here is a sneak preview of the front cover of the forthcoming issue....


Today`s blog features what was in 1912 thought to be a strange creature (see image) found in the grounds of Essex County Asylum in Colchester, of all places. I did a quick Google on this place but came up with nothing. It looks to my untrained eye a bit like a jerboa. I have posted the image on the Fortean Times online site. Someone told me it was an Irish gerboa, (I found the story in the Leitrim Observer for November 23rd 1912 whilst looking for mystery creatures in Ireland for Ronan Coghlan) and I believed him!! Daft, aren`t I?

The image was reproduced with permission from Irish Nespaper Archives, Leitrim Observer November 23rd 1912 http://www.irishnewsarchive.com/

The story raises a few questions – suppose it was a species new to science, would anyone have believed its owner if he/she was a patient in the asylum? If the animal was not a patient`s or nurses pet, how did it get there? Supposing a patient saw a Jersey-Devil-type creature, was not believed because he was mentally ill, but it turned out to be true??! Then there`s the whole folklore of crack-addicted squirrels, which apparently sometimes turn up in the grounds of psychiatric hospitals.

The text of the article in the Leitrim Observer is as follows:


The strange animal shown in our sketch was captured in the grounds of Essex County Asylum at Colchester. It resembles a young kangaroo both in its appearance and its actions. In colour it is like an ordinary rabbit. When disturbed it emits a sound which is for all the world like the grunt of a pig. Mr S. Usher, of Colchester, who took possession of the animal, finds it an excellent pet.(

So here do we have a kangaroo-like gerbil or a gerbil-like kangaroo? But what about the “grunting” sound? Any opinions as to what this could have been? Then there`s the rabbit-like colour, i.e grey?

Leitrim Observer November 23rd 1912.

The Stolen Child W.B.Yeats ( plus The Waterboys)

Come away,human child
To the water
Come away,human child
To the water and the wild
With a faery,hand in hand
For the world`s more full of weeping than you can understand

Where dips the rocky highland
Of Sleuth Wood in the lake
There lies a leafy island
Where flapping herons wake
The drowsy water rats;
There we`ve hid our faery vats
Full of berries
And of reddest stolen cherries,


Dear Editor

In November last year we reported on, and supplied photographs of, a giant snake event in near the jungle city of Iquitos Peru. The photographs we commissioned showed a trail at least 5 meters wide and now we have located video evidence to support our photos and eye-witness accounts.The video is in Spanish but we have had our contact in the Amazon supply a full translation. This is clearly further evidence that the Black Boa, Yacumama, Sachamama and the Minhocao are one and the same animal. All contemporaneous description and photographic evidence points to this conclusion.Please follow the link below which will direct your readers to this new information.


As your readers will know, we have been in discussions with selected TV Production companies and Broadcasters with the aim of supporting our return to the Amazon this year for a ground expedition is search of conclusive evidence including DNA to prove that this snake is a species previously unknown to science.

Although we still remain hopeful we received a setback last week when National Geographic International (who took an interest in our project) became concerned about the risks involved in the return expedition. Please see the correspondence below. We will continue to keep you posted on our progress:
Re: Yacumama & the South American Dragon Submission‏
Mark xxxx (mxxxxx@ngs.org)
30 March 2010 19:12:17
G Warner (warnergreg@xxxxxxxx.com)
Dianaxxxxxx (delxxxxx@ngs.org)
Dear Greg,

Sorry for the delay in getting back to you on this but we reviewed the materials from Firecracker Films regarding Yacumama. It is an exciting and intriguing story for sure. While we did like the father/son dynamic, NGCI...feel that there is a bit of risk associated with a program of this nature. Also, upon further evaluation of our current and future programming, we don't have a strong need for a one-off of this nature at this time. Our primary need is for series.

That being said, we'd be happy to take a look once again when the project is completed.

All the best in your journey to find the Yacumama!
Best Regards,
Kind regards

Mike & Greg Warner
Warner Amazon Expedition


Our column from the March edition of The Bideford Post includes some stuff that may be of interest....


My dear nephew David, here depicted eating obscene amounts of cake at his eighteenth birthday party only a week or so back, has been admitted to hospital with a dodgy appendix. He had an operation this morning (Tuesday) and we hope to see him home tomorrow evening or Thursday, but at the moment we have no further news.

Poor dear: this happens in his last ever school/college holidays as he joins the workforce once his exams are over this summer....
UPDATE: I spoke to Kaye (his mother) this morning (Wednesday). He was in pain yesterday evening, and had a slightly disturbed night but on the whole is OK. The hospital has an outbreak of a D+V bug and so visiting is limited, but he still could be home as early as this evening. He is - of course - in our thoughts and prayers.


The Milwaukee Journal of May 26th 1983:


Wilmington, Ill The ‘Millrace Monster’, a mysterious canal dweller blamed for devouring ducks, has been caught with a hook and line. Some residents thought they had their own Loch Ness monster after two people reported seeing ducks snatched from below the surface of the Millrace, a canal off the Kankakee River where a mill wheel once turned.

Arnold Chipusa of the Illinois Department of Conservation said the so-called ‘monster’ could be a snapping turtle, but more likely was a huge northern pike. And then angler Jim Pecoraro of Chicago landed such a fish, a 41-inch specimen weighing 20 pounds, 2 ounces. The largest pike ever caught in the state was 22 pounds, 12 ounces.

On February 21st 1984 The Argus Press stated: ‘Monster Fish’ Makes Life Rough For Migrating Fowl – Kankakee, Ill :- A monster fish with a taste for duck is making life rough for migrating fowl seeking a place to rest on the Kankakee River near here, fishermen say.

Several fishermen told bait shop owner Howard Curtis that a large northern pike was “taking swipes” at ducks on the water.

“This fellow, a good customer of mine, came in yesterday and he says, ‘Howard, I couldn’t tell what kind of fish he was, but he was really after them ducks’, said Curtis.

Later, an angler said he saw a duck-chasing fish jump out of the water, and he thought it was a northern pike, according to Curtis.

“I told him I was going to work on some duck decoys with a chain and big hooks and give it a try myself”, Curtis said.

Many fishermen think the big fish might be a cousin of an upstream northern, dubbed the ‘Mill Race Monster’, which lurked in Kankakee River holes near Wilmington last spring. That fish was credited with plucking several ducks off the surface of the Mill Race pond last April.

Chicagoan Jim Pecoraro may have caught the monster on April 23, when he bagged a 41-inch, 22-pound, 2-ounce northern pike there, using a 6-inch fist for bait. Ducks are now being harassed upstream and some folks think the monster itself – not a relative – may be the culprit.

“You think maybe he jumped the dam and came this way ?”, Curtis asked jokingly.

Kankakee may have to prepare for the notoriety of another monster fish story in the region. The tale of the Mill Race Monster appeared in newspapers and on broadcast stations all over the country. Two major national sportsman’s magazines also carried the story. Soon after the story got out, Wilmington business owners began getting calls and letters of inquiry from across the continent.

“They got a lot of publicity out of that big northern in Wilmington”, said Curtis.

Curtis said he might have to stock up on big, fat minnows, a northern’ favourite food.

OLL LEWIS: Yesterday's News Today


Due to various problems with the internet tubes YNT was absent yesterday, but wail and gnash your teeth not, my fellow travellers on the good ship Fort, for I’m bringing you yesterday’s Fortean/random thing of vague interest anniversary today too.

On yesterday in 1891 the legend that was P. T. Barnum died. I could sit here and write a huge article about him and his ‘escapades’ but I think it best I save that for future ‘Crypto-Con’ blogs. Indeed, I’ve touched on Barnum a few times already. For now, to read an overview of Barnum’s life take a visit to Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/P._T._Barnum

And on this day in 1904 Aleister Crowley began writing ‘The Book of the Law’, which was more or less the start of neo-paganism.

And now, the news:

New lizard species discovered
'Spectacular' komodo cousin is big as a man and has two penises, biologists say
Wildwood hosts Countryfile
Killer whale attacks dolphin in front of tourists in New Zealand
When wombats attack
'Oriental yeti' discovered in China
That's quite a pile of fish

Q: Where do very young fish go every morning?
A: Plaice school