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 21, 2010



This was posted to me yesterday afternoon. Thought that everyone had dismissed it as a crude photocopied fake a year or so ago, but apparently not....

DALE DRINNON: Plesiosaurian Taniwhas

I had mentioned this in my yahoo group Frontiers of Zoology before. Tony Lucas is a member of the group. When we were discussing the Australian depiction of a plesiosaur on Lindsay's blog recently I mentioned it again and I sent Tony a reminder message separately. Since then I received the suggestion that I post the information to the blog.

The petroglyph long-necked Taniwahas are a traditional design and I include a modern piece of jewellery based on the design as confirmation the matter is already known locally. In the case of the two long-necked Taniwhas, I have taken a scan of the petroglyphs from the rock face (which also include a thunderbird design and what could well be an elephant seal with a long nose) and rearranged them to be side by side. The creatures are about 60 feet long if human scale is accurate; female is shorter than male (neck not included in copy).

Among other useful observations: the species has one opening in the rear (a cloaca) and the male has a single penis (not like snakes). And the limbs and limb girdles resemble those of plesiosaurs. The limb girdles also correspond to the equivalent water monster in the Phillipines and I attach a re-drawing of a textile illustrated in the Hamlyn Treasury of Primitive Art. I do not know the name of the creature but it seems to be called by the generic name of "Shark" (Chacon. Shark is one of the possible translations for Taniwha). And the Plesiosaurian design of the limbs is mentioned obliquely in other traditions. Different descriptions of water monster's feet in different parts of the world include the curious detail that there is a "Tiger's Palm" in the middle of the limb. This included the traditional description of the Chinese dragon. This is also told of the "Patagonian Plesiosaur". Circled in red of the plesiosaur's flipper skeleton illustration is the "Tiger's Paw". I also include some Precolumbian "Patagonian Plesiosaur" depictions, which seem to be the direct parallel to the long-necked Taniwha depictions in New Zealand.

'Taniwha' is a generic and not a specific name, I might hasten to emphasise. You might say it was the equivalent to the English word 'monster.'

The Bagabo textile does not show just the one creature; it shows a pattern of two different things repeating in alternation. One image shows the whole creature between the legs of a human being (not shown in earlier reproduction) and this alternates with a depiction of a human in the belly of the beast.

I was not certain whether to include it because it is not certain the same creature is being depicted, but one interpretation is that the larger head of the creature in this version is seen much closer to and its size is exaggerated in perspective (after all, that excuse is used in standard lake monster reports at Lochs Ness and Morar). At any event, it is not a crocodile since it has a "Snakehead"
(Bagabo Textile, Mindinao, Phillipines, Hamlyn Treasury of Primitive Art, Plate 39, redrawn)

There is a problem in getting information about any of these creatures. The actual names of the creatures are taboo and must not be mentioned. Thus, I do not know the name of the creature illustrated on the textile. Water tigers are reported in Indonesia but they are referred to as "Dogs" for the same reason that you must not mention them by name.

PS: I did go hunting through my storage boxes to find the original source for the New Zealand petroglyphs. They are drawn in charcoal at Ophi, South Canterbury. The absolute size is three feet long for the main bodies of the creatures, approx. six inches for the human figure, which is not measuring the legs (the legs are not indicated for their full length, or else the charcoal has rubbed off). The possible elephant seal and thunderbird are also about a yard long (or rather wingspan for the thunderbird). The elephant seal also seems to have a flipper with fingers, but it is not drawn the same as in the long-necked figures. The male long-necked creature is following the female, nose-end (without any apparent head) near the female's genital region, and has an erection, presumably preparing to mate. They are one after the other and not side by side as in my rearrangement for convenience's sake. Credit is given as The Polynesians: Prehistory of an Island People, Peter Bellwood, Thames and Hudson, 1978, London, p. 140, fig. 92.

PPS: The charcoal drawing is evidently from the inside wall of a rock shelter (cave dwelling) and is from between 1000 and 1500, date assumed because of other similar sites with similar artwork. The observation is also made that the makers were Polynesians and the artistic style is similar to other early Polynesian sites in the Pacific.

I say this because the text makes these points adjacent to the figure 92 and not because the text explicitely states the date for that site. So this part is basically going on my inferrence that this was meant to be taken that way.

EDITOR'S NOTE: Dale sent the last two pieces to me, but I thought that they were pertinent and have enclosed them as addenda


Hi. Quite a long time ago I found a reference to the killing of a large black wolf in the Boise national forest in Idaho in 1909, which could not be identified then or now. It was sent to the “biological survey in Washigton D.C" according to The Standard, Ogden, Utah newspaper of April 8th 1909 but I had no success tracking down records of the remains of this enormous wolf with a heavy, coarse black coat, which even Native Americans were unfamiliar with.

The other day whilst looking for some other unrelated information I found a website called Weird Animal Report. `Amarok, And Other Giant Wolves. So, I thought, could the Boise Forest wolf of 1909 be the Amarok? The web site, by someone going under the name of “Erika”, posted on January 25th 2010, contains the following information – (I will not quote in entirety, just the most interesting parts.)

“ It is a figure in Inuit mythology with a lot of ties to the field of cryptozoology. Amorak was a giant wolf who would “hunt down and devour anyone foolish enough to hunt alone at night” (1). Amorak does not travel in a pack (thank goodness for small favors) but is a lone wolf………..The precursors to the Inuit people would have travelled along the Bering land bridge alongside dire wolves, so to speak. The dire wolf would have been a familiar figure, and more`s the pity, because it was a tenacious predator, about five feet long, weighing almost 200 pounds.

Another candidate is the hyaenodon, which is an extinct relative of the modern hyaena. Hyaenodons were members of the “large and furry” cohort of animals which flourished during the Miocene. They were large, in keeping with their prey ( woolly mammoths and woolly rhinoceros) and competition (dire wolves and Aphycyonidae).

Although hyaenodons came in all shapes and sizes , Hyaenodon gigas, the largest hyaenodon, was the size of a small rhinoceros, and was probably a solitary nocturnal predator. This matches the description of Amarok perfectly. Furtermore H.gigas would have had a thick coat to survive the ice age, and could easily have tolerated modern day climate of the Inuit`s home range in the Arctice…………..And more southerly still we have the Shunka Warakin, which is a large wolf like animal which is a member of Native American folklore, specific to the central states and the Rocky Mountains. The Shunka Warakin is apparently part of Sioux culture, and according to cryptozoologist Loren Coleman the name translates to “the one who carries off dogs” (2)

Several Shunka Warakin candidates have surfaced over the years, but all have been debunked eventually. Most recently, an unusually large wolf was said to be responsible for the deaths of 120 sheep over the course of one year in Montana. (The proof on this claim is somewhat lacking, and knowing ranchers and humans in general as I do, I rather suspect that every sheep which died in that time was chalked up to this one particular naughty wolf. But I digress.

Eventually the wolf was shot, and was identified by Montana Fish and Game officials as being a regular wolf with an unusual reddish coloration.(3)

1. No source is given for this quote.
2. This sounds a bit like our 1909 animal.
3. and most of the blog http://weirdanimalreport.com/news/amarok-and-other-giant-wolves.

And now, in celebration of Icelandic volcanic dust, I present to you, Lava by the B52s.

My body`s burnin` like a lava from a Mauna Loa
My heart`s crackin` like a Krakatoa
Krakatoa,east of Java,molten bodies,fiery lava

Fire,fire,burnin` bright
Turn on your love lava
Turn on your lava light
Fire,oh volcano,over you
Don`t let your lava love turn to stone
Keep it burnin`
Keep it burnin` here at home…

LINDSAY SELBY: Gaasyendietha, a dragon in Lake Ontario

Gaasyendietha, according to Seneca mythology, is a dragon that dwells in the deep areas Lake Ontario. Lake Ontario empties into the St Lawrence river, which runs out into the Atlantic Ocean. The average depth of Lake Ontario is 280 feet (72 metres) and in the deeper areas the depth is about 800 feet (266 metres). Like Loch Ness the lake rarely freezes in the winter.

Jacques Cartier, the French explorer who mapped much of the St Lawrence river, kept a journal and in it he recorded that he and members of his crew saw what they described as "a giant finned snake" that moved like a caterpillar, using its side fins to propel itself forward in the water. Cartier's crew tried to capture the beast, but it moved too quickly and dived beneath the waters. When Cartier consulted with the indigenous peoples of the region, they called the creature "Gaasyendietha.”

The reports of something in the lake continued:

  • In 1817 the crew of a ship witnessed the appearance of a blackish snake-like monster “a foot in diameter (30cm) and 30 – 40 feet in length (10- 15 metres)” approx three miles offshore.

  • In 1829 two children stated that they saw a “20 – 30 feet.”( 7-10metres) snake-like creature near Grantham. Their experience was recounted in a local paper, which went on to state that “this wasn’t the first sighting in Lake Ontario and, doubtless, that such serpents lived in the lake.”

  • This newspaper report appeared on http://www.cryptomundo.com/1867 September 5 – Another report of the appearance of the great snake or water monster in Lake Ontario has reached us. We have it from reliable citizens who reside on the Lake shore in Parma [New York], ten miles or so west of the mouth of the Genesee, that on Thursday last [possibly August 29] , just as sunset, this monster was seen in the water close to shore. A drove of cattle went to drink, whereupon the huge monster raised his head above the water and approached the shore, intending no doubt to take an evening meal of fresh beef. The noise made by the animal as he came into shallow water frightened the cattle and they ran back from the beach in great fright. Half an hour later the same drove of cattle sought to drink at a place fifty rods west of the spot where they first went and were again driven away by the monster. The occurrence drew to the beach several persons residing not far distant and caused a sensation. It won’t answer for anybody to go into that neighborhood and say that there is not a monster in the lake. Too many have seen the animal to doubt its existence. – Rochester [N.Y.] Union.“The Ontario Sea Monster Again,
    Galveston, Texas, Galveston Daily News, September 5, 1867.

  • In 1968 a Scarborough resident saw an eel-like creature 20 feet (7 metres ) long with a “mane of some sort” in the waters off Toronto. These sightings are from the Eastern end of the Lake.

  • September 1881. Passengers and crew of the steamship ‘Gypsy’ saw a creature approx. 25 – 40 feet( 6-14 metres) in length with small legs and a large tail in the water.

  • In 1888. in the channel between Wolfe and Simcoe islands two sailors reported seeing a serpent creature

  • In 1892 a couple was reportedly “attacked by a huge serpent with eyes like balls of fire” near Brackey’s Bay. The husband fended off the monster with his fishing pole.

  • In 1931 Two physicians reported a 30feet long ( 10 metres) creature described as having “one eye in the middle of his head as well two antler-like horns” as they sailed from Alexandria Bay to Kingston’s yacht club in August

  • In 1970’s an employee of the Ministry of Natural Resources twice witnessed “a large creature dive into the lake from the shores of Prince Edward County. (However whether this is on official record I don’t know).

So does a dragon live in Lake Ontario or some sort of water snake or eel? If anyone knows of any recent sightings please post.


The boy Muirhead sent me this, and although it is completely off-topic I decided that it had to be posted because it is so damned odd!



Remember guys, this evening at 7:30 I am at Reading Library talking about mystery animals and stuff. If you want to come along, Richard, Graham and Gavin L-W will also be there, and we may all be meeting up for a drink....

PS: I have been trying to write a spoof on The Ballad of Reading Gaol on the subject of fat blokes lecturing about cryptozoology, but I cannot manage it. Over to you.

OLL LEWIS: Yesterday's News Today


On this day in 1983 one of the most audacious hoaxes of modern times came to fruition when German magazine Stern publishes extracts from ‘The Hitler Diaries’. Despite the initial excitement and endorsements from several handwriting experts the diaries are soon found to be slightly sloppy forgeries printed on modern paper, using modern ink and full of historical inaccuracies.
And now, the news:

Giant Crab May Have Pinched Record Title
Skunks, badgers enlisted to control Idaho pelicans...
Goat goes on rampage
Tiger-petting sessions
Bear saved from head-trapped-in-milk-can nightmare...
Octopus steals underwater camera from diver - while it's recording
Rattlesnake rodeo: 75 snakes on show ... and fried...
Crocodile delays water aerobics class
'Gigantic' scorpion fossil found in Fife
Clever crows can use up to three tools (Video)

Well there’s something to crow about, then.


A particularly groovy type of dragon is the cockatrice, which according to Richard F in Dragons: More than a Myth? has a particularly peculiar genesis:

Of all dragonkind, The Basilisk is probably the most arcane. Its genesis involved a series of events so unlikely that, (luckily for man), they conspired only rarely to create one of these baleful monsters. It was believed that occasionally - in old age - a rooster could lay an egg! If such an uncommon-egg were to be incubated by a snake or toad, then a basilisk would hatch out - to bring death into the world!

The Basilisk is one of the smallest of the dragon-tribe but one of the most lethal! Its death-dealing powers came not from fiery-breath or tooth and claw but from its withering-glare. Any creature that caught the eyes of the basilisk, would fall dead from the uncanny-power of its vision. There was but one exception to this - one animal that could withstand this `look of death`. That animal was the weasel! It was believed that God never created a bane, without creating some cure for it, (like the stinging-nettle and the dock-leaf). Ergo, even The Basilisk could be tackled by someone who knew its weaknesses. The monster’s own gaze was as lethal to itself as to any other creature. Hence, its own reflection would kill it stone-dead! Equally - for some cryptic-reason - the sound of a cock-crowing at dawn would also kill The Basilisk.

These monsters came in a variety of shapes. They first appeared in The Bestiaries of the Dark-Ages. It was described as a tiny-serpent about a foot in length, bearing a crown or crest upon its head to denote it as The King of Serpents. The deserts of North-Africa and The Middle-East were reputed to have been created by basilisks, whose glare was so terrible that all vegetation withered under it, and even solid-rocks were split and sundered into sand.

Later reports of basilisks came in from Europe. As the centuries passed, The Basilisk’s form changed. Sometimes it was portrayed as a lizard with a rooster’s head, or as a large lizard with six legs and a crown upon its head. The commonest form that these later basilisks took, was that of a huge-rooster with the tail of a serpent or a lizard. Sometimes these beasts sported horns or antlers. In this form they were known as The Cockatrice.

Then extrapolating information from THIS BLOG by Corinna, the good folk of Tuscany had better beware...