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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Monday, April 19, 2010

MUIRHEAD`S MYSTERIES: A dragon in Unsworth, Lancashire

I have found a story of a legend of a mighty dragon in Unsworth near Bury, Lancashire, from a book called `Lancashire Legends`.


'Traditions respecting the ravages formerly made by the so-called dragons occur in many counties. Yorkshire has claimed the legend of the Dragon of Wantley, and the Lambton Worm has rendered the county of Durham famous. One of the most noted dragon stories of Lancashire has its locality assigned to Unsworth, a small village or hamlet about three miles from Bury. The principal mansion in this village is occupied by a lineal descendant of the ancient family of Unsworth, who probably derived their name from the homestead they have so long occupied. The house contains little worthy of notice; but it has long been famous for containing an ancient carved oak table and panel connected with a legend attaching to the family. It is said that Thomas Unsworth was the owner of this property when the district was devastated by an enormous dragon, which was not content with its ordinary fare but proceeded to swallow up women and children. The scales of this dragon were so hard and firmly set,that bullets shot by the guns of those days took no effect upon the monster;and the owner of Unsworth,finding this the case,loaded his gun with his dagger and mortally wounded the dragon under the throat,as it was raising its head to rush at its assailant…What may have given rise to the legend it is quite impossible to determine; but an estate was once granted to a member of this family for some important military service, and this may have had something to do with its origin…There is a singular circumstance connected with most of these dragon stories which is worthy of special notice. It is that of the frequent use of sacred and mystic numbers in the narratives, and this in some degree supports the conjecture that they are allegorical in their nature. In the case of the Dragon of Wantley…there are seven heads mentioned, and twice seven eyes;the monster itself ate up three children,the fight lasted two days and one night, and he turned twice three times round when he received his fatal wound….(1)

There is an essay in East Lancashire Magazine for August 1890 pp 165-171 by TH Hayhurst called `The Unsworth Dragon and its Lessons` which I have not read.

Chapter Ten of Bill Cooper`s After The Flood has good information on Anglo-Saxon dragons (dinosaur survival.)

1. Author unknown Lancashire Legends pp 63-65

Devo Freedom of Choice

A victim of collision on the open sea
Nobody ever said life was free
Sank,swam,go down with the ship
But use your freedom of choice

I`ll say it again
In the land of the free
Use your freedom of choice
Your freedom of choice………


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LINDSAY SELBY: The Kouris Dam Creature

Most people will remember seeing this in 2008.

Rumours are again rife that some kind of reptile or large sea creature is lurking below the water in the Kouris Dam. By Alethea Reynolds 28.OCT.08

Talk of the dam being occupied by a “strange creature” started to circulate three years ago, when a report was made that a crocodile had been dumped in the deep waters. Since then, there have been countless sightings of the “creature from the depths”, with some local newspapers calling the mystery the “Cyprus Loch Ness". One citizen was so adamant he had spotted the creature that he told a newspaper “I watched this serpent with my own two eyes, this was no mistake.” Despite the speculation, no proof has yet been found and even the Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Affairs have drawn a blank on the Kouris mystery. An official from the ministry confirmed that they were actively searching for the creature, adding fuel to the rumours that the lake was home to some kind of serpent. Reports suggest that officials will try and coax the beast from the murky depths by using bait such as live hens and raw meat. In recent days rain has hampered the search effort, which is expected to resume tomorrow. A local community leader, Savvas Sava, told a daily newspaper yesterday that if the creature is caught then it will become a tourist attraction and facilities to house it must be constructed.



The Kouris Dam was put into operation in 1988 to provide water to the area. The dam has fish stocks of roach, pike-perch, carp and mosquito fish. The water has a high pH level and is hard and the water temperature of the reservoirs is between 8°C and 27°C. Since 2005, a number of witnesses have come forward reporting to the authorities that they have observed an animal moving like a snake in the waters of the dam. There was a report that someone had released a crocodile into the dam in 2005 as it became too big for them to care for.

Fears imported croc is on the loose in Cyprus

October 27, 2008 - 1:58PM

Wildlife experts in Cyprus are trying to verify reports a crocodile smuggled to the island is on the loose in a nature reserve popular with visitors. In recent years reports of crocodile sightings have been common on the island, where they do not breed and the closest thing that remotely resembles it is the innocuous and much smaller chameleon. "The fisheries department has been conducting inquiries since mid September to verify information on the presence of a crocodile at Kouris reservoir," Cyprus's department of fisheries said, adding the information could not be verified. Rumours have been swirling for some years of crocodiles in the vicinity of Kouris, a reservoir just north of the southern coastal town of Limassol. Authorities searched the area in 2005 after reports baby crocodiles smuggled from Egypt were released when they became too big for the owner to handle. Nothing was found. New inquiries and a sweep of the area eight times in the past month have not found any trace of it, the fisheries department said. Kouris is Cyprus's largest reservoir, though reserves are now virtually depleted by a four-year drought. It is a popular haunt for anglers, where the normal catch in a good year would be carp or a largemouth bass. They have now been told to be on the lookout for the oversized reptile, which feed on fish, reptiles and mammals. Depending on species, crocodiles can grow anything between 1.5 metres and 5 metres in length. The latest report suggested the reptile was a metre long. Home to pygmy hippos until about 11,000 years ago, Cyprus's wildlife is now relatively limited, with nothing bigger than the timid moufflon goat in its mountains.
Source: Reuters

There appears to have been no more news on the creature in the dam. Whether it was a crocodile or an unknown creature remains unsolved. If it was a croc it could be quite a size by now. Lets hope anglers take care when fishing, just in case.

CFZ AUSTRALIA: Big cat sightings in the Otways- Geelong Advertiser

While wildlife experts are still poring over footage captured in February, claiming to be of the legendary beast, it is fair to say high-quality images of a big cat are as hard to catch as the animal itself. Freedom of Information documents have shown Parks Victoria continues to receive reports of sightings. These reports are not from people heading straight to the media for publicity. These are reports from people quietly passing on their experiences to the powers that govern our forests.

The countless fuzzy photos, animal carcasses and footprints not only stoke claims of the big cat's existence but also sharpen the criticisms of sceptics. This week the Geelong Advertiser will take a closer look at the legends and see if we can put any flesh on the bones of our very own popular urban myth. The latest sighting was by Otways resident Connie Whistance who captured some grainy vision near Binns Track on the edge of the Otway National Park

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"It was there for a good 15 to 20 minutes," Ms Whistance said. "It looked down like it was eating something and eventually it went back into the swampland."

So what are the theories?

Well, the stories about what the Otway big cat is are as varied as the numerous sightings of the animal. One popular legend my own mother used to tell me was that the big cat was a cougar that was a mascot for visiting US troops who set it free after World War II.

There are other theories for the supposed existence of big cats in forests up and down the country's eastern seaboard. One is that they escaped from circuses in the 19th century; another that they were brought in by gold miners around the same period. Now, some theorise that any over-grown feline beast could be a distant relative of the thylocoleo or marsupial lion, a fairly large and imposing carnivore who trod the Earth at the end of the pleistocene era.

Not all authorities are sceptics about big cats in Australia.

The Sydney Morning Herald reported in 2003 that it was 'more likely than not' a colony of big cats was roaming Sydney's outskirts, and Dr John Henry from Deakin University wrote more than a decade ago of the possibility of cats in the grampians.

Posted By CFZ Australia to Centre for Fortean Zoology Australia at 4/16/2010 04:04:00 PM

HELLBENDERS II: Unknown giant salamanders in North America

It has to be admitted that the only reason I posted a hellbender video yesterday was because they are such groovy creatures that I would take any excuse. However, several things have come up as a result of this that are of vague crypto interest.

Christian, who commented on my giant water bug post last week, wrote back to me, and I asked him about mudpuppies. He wrote:

'unfortunately, mudpuppies do not occur within twelve hundred kilometers of my location, so I do not suspect that I will be coming across any for you. However, if I manage to head over to Pitt Lake, British Columbia anytime this spring/summer, I will be reporting on any evidence of the reported local giant salamanders that have been seen many times over the past century.'

This is reminiscent of the giant salamanders Loren talked about in his Tom Slick book, and also adds weight to a comment that Andrew Gable made to the original Hellbender post.

'Hellbenders... one of the animals we used to have around here (my dad told me about catching them while fishing) but that I've never seen. I've actually been toying with the idea that some of the sightings of alligators which occur in lakes and rivers might actually be of large hellbenders. Of course, I've not actually read any reports that turned out to be hellbenders, so this theory might be a waste of time, LOL.'

So once again, because I can, here is another hellbender vid...


For a number of reasons, not the least being that Graham has only just fixed the broken exhaust gasket on the Daihatsu, and the idea of driving it hell for leather around the countryside does not appeal that much. So, whilst the Reading gig is still definitely on, the trip to Oakham has been postponed for a few weeks...

OLL LEWIS: Yesterday's News Today


On this day in 1912 Bram Stoker, the author of Dracula, died. Dracula pretty much formed the basis for most horror stories and films that were to come after it and without it, neither Konami’s fantastic Castlevania games series or Count Duckula (which Aardman Animation are currently working on a film of) would ever have existed.
And now, the news:

Hang on in there, Mum
See further into plankton
Big buzz over bees 'the size of mice'
Is this the end of migration?
First images of spotted leopard captured in Malaysia
Seeing a leopard is not that uncommon; they’re nearly always spotted…