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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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Thursday, April 29, 2010

I AM LOST FOR WORDS

Why our society is doomed

DALE DRINNON: A Note On Nagas

Nagas are snake-like creatures from the legends of India, and the term is applied to merfolk and Weresnakes as well. In this case, the use of the term in question is as in 'Monster Water-serpent.'

The Naga-Sea-monsters and Freshwater-monsters are reported from all over the orient and in many cases they are distinctly parallel to Chinese dragons. On the other hand, Chinese legend also recognises monster serpents as distinct from the dragons, and so those are more like the limbless Nagas. The Nyans of Burma are likewise merely another local form of Nagas.

The point I am making here is that the reports do NOT describe big snakes; they do not undulate in the serpentine side-to-side manner. They are in fact the same as the more northerly sea-serpents and supposedly undulate up-and-down, producing the 'String-of-buoys' effect, reported as anywhere from several yards to a few hundred feet long. Doubtless this is the effect of waves in a wake (and because of that it has nothing to do with whatever creature might be making the wake, or tell us anything about what its shape might be under the water)

The same 'Giant Serpent' reports are worldwide in the tropics: one article in Fate magazine stated that the immense legendary South American Water-monster Serpent Siucuriju Gigante was also reported in Africa, the Phillipines, and in Australia. And so the same types of reports are indeed all over the southern regions. But they are all actually the same as the more northerly sea-serpents, and the terms should be understood as synonymous. Sea-serpents are world-wide. and their characteristic reported form is the result of a wave action, which has nothing whatsoever to do with the shape of any creature that might be making the waves in its wake. As a matter of fact there is very good documentation that several different animals can create the effect, as well as boats and sometimes natural waves that are not even generated by a live animal at all.

In other words, the names 'sea-serpent', 'naga', 'Sucuriju Gigante', or whatever, do not name any specific animal species, they are all describing an illusion created by a standing wave action and only INTERPRETED as being the body of a long animal undulating vertically on the surface.

JULIAN IS BACK AT THE WEIRD WEEKEND

One of the undoubted stars of last year's Weird Weekend was Julian Vayne from the North Devon museums service. He presented a Cabinet of Curiosities of weird and wonderful things from the museum collection. Well, it is good to be able to announce that he will be back this year with a totally different set of strange objects.

We are looking forward to it already....

Buy your tickets today





NEIL ARNOLD: Cats That Can’t Be Caught…Cats That Could Be Bought

I collected my first ‘big cat’ newspaper clipping when I was eight years old. It was 1982. I investigated my first eye-witness report when I was ten. I would’ve thought that after more than twenty years researching the subject, the age-old myths and theories would have been dispelled by now. The reality is the so-called ‘big cat situation', certainly in the UK, is as dull as dishwater. When I first read Di Francis’s Cat Country and The Beast of Exmoor, and also Janet & Colin Bord’s Alien Animals, I found them dated, despite at the time they were considered refreshing with their theories and coverage. Again, a few decades later nothing has changed.

With more and more websites devoted to exotic cat ‘research’ popping up, you’d have thought that the woods of Britain were full of ‘big cat’ enthusiasts. You would’ve also thought that the age-old theories would have been put to bed with so many minds at work. Sadly no.

There are countless websites and books, which mention that in the 1960s you could walk into Harrods Dept. Store in London and purchase a large exotic cat. This is indeed true, to some extent. I have records that lion and puma were purchased there, but no black leopards. Now, this doesn’t mean to say such animals were not purchased there, but I’ve read over the years from various ‘researchers’ that not enough people have come forward to admit they owned large cats (but let’s face it, not many people who released animals would come forward), and no receipts have been found etc. In the British ‘big cat’ situation, the naivety is astounding, and I truly believe that people are seeking a mystery that just isn’t there. It is a FACT that large exotic cats DO roam the UK. I’ve seen them; I’ve filmed them. Many other people have. But the constant conflict of theories is rather embarrassing to say the least. It’s as if people want these elusive animals to be supernatural; it’s as if they want them to have an origination beyond escapees/releases. But the reality is that the explanation is very simple. The mystery has taken over the mind.

Earlier in April 2010 I spoke to Harrods archive department regarding receipts etc, to prove that large cats were purchased. Now, apart from the story of Christian the lion and the occasional other case where press were interested, a majority of sales would have simply been destroyed as regards to receipts and archives. Any member of the public or celebrity who acquired an exotic pet would have been treated with strictest confidence and their sale filed but then destroyed after filling the archives for a few years. Harrods were not and are not responsible for the animals that roam the southeast today. And neither are those alleged circuses said to have dumped their animals, and neither are the zoo parks who may have lost the occasional cat. The ‘big cat’ situation will always be a sum of many parts because of the hilarious theories and attitudes of those involved in the research. Sadly, there is nothing enigmatic about as to why such animals roam the UK.

I’ve just finished my new book, Mystery Animals of the British Isles: London, and whilst collating evidence I was shocked to find a startling number of incidents where people purchased large exotic cats oh so casually. Certainly over the last couple of decades it has been increasingly difficult to purchase a ‘big cat’ although the drug dealers across the United States and South America have proven otherwise as their black leopards and tigers continue to escape into the wilds. I thought it would be difficult finding any records of cat attacks on humans, cats escaping, purchases etc, but in fact there was an alarming regularity in the purchases of such animals. Most of these animals, such as puma, were purchased as cute, cuddly cubs. It seems that for every animal purchased pre-1976 (when the Dangerous Wild Animals Act was introduced), many went unrecorded, but thankfully, due to some newspaper archives and my own digging and delving, it proves that a majority of animals seen in the wilds today ARE offspring of animals released back then. And as we know, there are a handful of relatively modern cases of animals escaping or being released (2001 lynx in London and in 1987, four female pumas and two lynx released into Kent woodlands).

These kind of situations haven’t just gone on for decades but centuries, and that’s why there are large, exotic cats in the wilds. The Victorian era was a prime time for exotic beasts to be paraded through the streets, fields and in shops. And there exist records of purchases more than a century previous to this.

We must seek the consistency of reports rather than taking note of the occasional lion, tiger and jaguar sighting. Eye-witness reports must be taken with a pinch of salt when they are inconsistent. Only recently I read of several Kent-based sightings (and more fool the website owner for putting them up) in which one witness stated, “I don’t know if it was a fox or a panther…”, and another, “..similar to a tabby with a white belly. Slight hint of green in the fur...tail, bushy and same proportion to as a domestic cat”. Sounds to me exactly like a domestic cat, I’m afraid. It’s worrying to see such bizarre reports featured on websites.

Black leopard, puma, lynx and jungle cat are the main four species of cat in the UK wilds. Caracal and ocelot also feature but are of a far smaller percentage. However, before we start trudging through the woods looking for exotic cats with green fur, or lions and tigers, we must look at their origins to realise that there’s no mystery, and that any mystery created is simply down to bad research.

I hope my ‘…London’ book will provide the answers, certainly in respect for the southeast. And I believe that if the whole of the southeast can be explained, then surely so can the rest of the UK. Why create prehistoric survivors in one county, monster feral cats in another, supernatural demons in another, and lions and tigers somewhere else when there’s no consistency in this ?

‘Big cats’ in the UK have become an urban legend because the mystery surrounding them is false. Trigger cams litter the countryside because researchers everywhere hope they can find their Holy Grail, which in their minds, will earn them a badge of honour.

Recently the organisation called Natural England, according to the tabloids, stated that “Big Cats Are A Myth”. Sometimes I wish they were, although when you look at some of the theories and reports which are filed and methods used to ‘track’ them, it’s no wonder such animals have been filed alongside UFOs and ghosts.

In their Alien Animals book, Janet & Colin Bord called their ‘big cat’ chapter ‘Cats That Can’t Be Caught….’ I sincerely hope that statement rings true many years from now. However, despite the foggy lore created around these animals, I think it would be more apt updating the chapter title to ‘Cats That Could Be Bought…’ because that’s the answer to it all.

SAMUEL MANASEH: Moments from Brazil

Hello again Jonathan;

It's been a while since I wrote. I am still working on my theme of moments from Brazil, with an general theme of animals. But out of necessity, I have started including pet animals as well.

I have two recent blog postings that might be of interest to your biologists.

The first is a blog posting (with an accompanying video) about a pet crab named Johnny. Johnny is unusual in that it responds with affection to human touch, and will actually 'sleep' when its owner pats its back. And Johnny is by no means a tiny crab - very much the contrary!

The second is a blog posting (with two accompanying videos) that might have a wider appeal than just your biologists who are interested in animal behaviour, and in fact might interest sports fans, in particular, football fans.

Everyone loves watching Brazilian football players because of the way they juggle the ball in the game and so make it entertaining.

It appears that enjoying watching Brazilian football players is not a preserve of human beings, but even pet animals!

One of the videos is about Fred, a chicken that plays football. Fred started playing football by chasing the ball when it went out of bounds when its owner was having a game with his friends. The second video is about a border collie that not only enjoys playing football, it knows how to header footballs.

The general theme of this second blog posting is that it will never ever be easy to select the National Football Team in Brazil when even pets want to play. It might provide some form of humour to your readers who follow the decisions coaches make in selecting their National teams, especially with the World Cup approaching this June, and national coaches have to decide whether to include animals on the team.

The links to the blogs are:
http://momentsfrombrazil.blogspot.com/2010/04/johnny-pet-crab.html

(Johnny The Pet Crab)
http://momentsfrombrazil.blogspot.com/2010/04/selecting-brazilian-national-football.html

(Selecting the Brazilian National Football team will never be easy when even pets want to play.)

Cheers!

SO WE HAVE A NEW MAMMAL

Britain now has seventeen resident bat species plus another four known only as vagrants. Alcathoe's bat was only described as a separate species in Greece in 2001 and until now, was thought to have too weak a flight to have been able to cross the channel. However, relatively large breeding colonies have been found in Sussex and Yorkshire, and speculation is rising that it may be present here in relatively large numbers.

So how did it get here?

Back when the CFZ was no more than a conceptual glimmer in my eye, during the early 1990s I was working on a book (which I still haven't finished) about the mystery animals of Devon. In it I mentioned the Nathusius pipstrelle, a species then only known as a very rare vagrant most commonly found in Poland.

Since then this species has been found to be breeding in the UK in some numbers. The more I look into such things I realise that - like the other flying creatures for whom the English Channel is no great boundary, such as birds and butterflies - the precise status of the bat species on the British list has got to be seen as being in a state of continual flux. If nothing else, this keeps the cryptozoologists on their toes.

Good, huh?

OLL LEWIS: Yesterday's News Today

http://cryptozoologynews.blogspot.com/

On this day in 1812 the mysterious Kaspar Hauser was born. Hauser was possibly nothing more enigmatic than a bit of a liar who wanted to join the army, but conspiracy and intrigue seemed to follow the chap wherever he went. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kaspar_Hauser

And now, the news:

Vietnam forest fires threaten rare crane
Crane chicks hatch
Asiatic lion census in Gir forests in India over, final tally in May
Beekeeper is killed by his own swarm
At last, it's monkey riding a goat walking on a tightrope
Found Alive: The Loch Ness Monster of the Northwest Prairie. Alas, It Disappoints (Idaho scientists find fabled "giant" worm)
Elephants Emit Special "Bee Rumble" to Warn Others About Marauding Bugs
Rattlesnakes Sound Warning on Biodiversity and Habitat Fragmentation
Young Salamanders' Movement Over Land Helps Stabilize Populations

Due to the poor nature of recent news-story-based puns I’ve been coming up with, today you can have a random but original joke I thought up a few days ago:

Q: What was the sheep’s biggest fear when it moved to the city?
A: Becoming a victim of ‘Bleat’ crime.