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 26, 2010

RICHARD FREEMAN: Look what I found!


Infernal sounds ... Illustration of a Katzenklavier from Gaspar Schott's Magia Naturalis (1657)

What is it? The Katzenklavier is, erm, a piano made out of cats. No, we're not making this up.

Who uses it? Despite the initial design having some vague specifications about ordering pitch, the Katzenklavier was never intended, really, for musical use. It was actually invented for psychiatrists. Wait, it gets weirder.


DALE DRINNON: Item of interest

I found this while on a photo search for something else. It is from a site that advertises antique human skull memorabilia for sale. There is a section displaying several stone skull replicas from the orient, and in this case from Tibet, Chinese Turkestan and Mongolia. Most of them are not very realistic and mostly stylised. This one caught my eye because it was not only more realistic, it is decidedly Neanderthaloid. The teeth are somehat schematic, and not many individual teeth are indicated. But the shape of the forehead, brow and eye sockets are nicely done and very accurate if that is the type the sculptor is representing.

I'll tell you another thing: the nose as depicted does not show the nasal openings the way they really look on look on the skull. It shows a faithful representation of the Iceman's nose only at a smaller size.

The sculpture being done in stone, there is no way it can really be dated directly. The site says these skulls are from various periods but as far back as before the beginnings of Chinese history. This being one of the better made ones also makes me think it is more recent than that.

POSTSCRIPT: I have been trying to get this comparison photo to you for a while: it is a good shot of a Neanderthal skull in comparable position to put beside the jade representation. I had to screen dozens of candidate alternatives to get this one skull in this one view, and it would be a pity if it did not get to you. This is a museum display case view of the original (I think).

LINDSAY SELBY: The Black Bird of Chernobyl

Mothman was said to have been seen when disaster threatened. It is not the only winged creature to be seen before a disaster. The Black Bird of Chernobyl was said to herald the explosion at a nuclear plant in the Ukraine. On April 26, 1986, a massive explosion rocked the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. Thirty people died immediately, followed by other deaths from radiation poisoning. For nine days the reactor continued to burn, resulting in tremendous environmental damage. The local population has suffered with the consequences ever since. The Chernobyl Disaster, as it was called, is considered the worst accident in the history of nuclear power.

In the days before the tragic occurrence several Chernobyl employees had reported seeing a large, dark/ black shape like a headless man with gigantic wings and red, fire-like, eyes. As with the appearances of Mothman, people who had seen the phenomena had been having nightmares and some received strange phone calls. Some of the employees reported the strange things to their supervisors at the plant. Whether any sort of action was taken is unknown. After the explosion helicopters were brought in to drop extinguishing agents on the flames. Some of the pilots and the surviving workers said they saw a giant black bird flying away from the smoking reactor. Described by many as “a large black, bird-like creature, with a 20-foot wingspan, gliding through the swirling plumes of smoke." The bird has not been seen again.

The theory out forward was that the bird was a rare black stork. However, the stork has a clear visible head and its wingspan is only about 6 feet (1.9 metres), and it stands about 3 feet (1 metre) tall. It also would not explain the strange dreams and phone calls. So was this winged creature a portent of the disaster? There are other tales such as (but not the only story) Mothman about winged creatures being seen before disaster. We can only wait and see if more tales surface, though I rather hope they don’t if it portends something bad happening.


The following article by John C. Sherwood was originally published in Volume 26.3, May / June 2002 of the Skeptical Inquirer and was posted on the `Frontiers of Zoology` newsgroup by Dale Drinnon. I found it so interesting that I want to include it here.

Those who seek the elusive truth behind the “Men in Black” and “Mothman” myths should know that material touched by Gray Barker’s enterprising hand is tainted by self-serving deceit. He launched hoaxes, joined others’ deceptions, and manipulated people’s beliefs. “And I,” says our author, “was one of those who helped.”

In the film of The Mothman Prophecies, a phone rings and Richard Gere cringes. So does the informed moviegoer. Pseudohistory from the 1960s is twisted into fiction for the new millennium, and a questionable account of bizarre events is reshaped into fantasy. I say so because I have a good idea who’s making that phone call. I accuse Gray Barker....

Read on


Interesting footage from Australia of what the Spanish TV dudes thought was a thylacine, but which obviously wasn't. However, it is of a thin and possibly hairless dog that appears, though emaciated, to be perfectly healthy.

Sound familiar?

OLL LEWIS: Yesterday's News Today


On this day in 2002 the last successful contact from Pioneer 10, the first man-made object to leave the solar system, was made by NASA. Pioneer 10 has a plaque on it that can potentially show aliens where we are. However, as the next time it reaches another star system will be in at least 2 million years, even if by some fluke it is found by intelligent life and has actually survived intact we probably have little to worry about even if the aliens can actually decode our odd daubings correctly.

And now, the news:

Cameras capture secret life of the 'Highland tiger'
Australia's cane toad invasion gets sausage 'solution'
Restaurant fined for 'gay' guide dog ban
Cat 'survives trip in police car bumper'
Gored Bullfighter Battles For His Life
Loch Ness monster 'beyond doubt'
Is Einstein the world's smallest horse?

Should have called him Tim.