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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Saturday, May 01, 2010


Taken from the latest edition of the Entomological Livestock Group (ELG) newsletter:

The leading headline in the Sunday Times, on the day after this year's AGM and Members' Day of the Amateur Entomologists' Society, read: 'Fortunes of super-rich soar by a third'. You would have had to navigate as far as page 5 of the paper to find an article that had rather more important news: 'Wildlife disaster heralds silent summer'. The message that a few rich people have increased their fortunes over the past year (page 1) whereas actually we're all doomed, by the way (page 5) reminded me of the old Cree Indian saying: "Only when the last tree has been cut down; Only when the last river has been poisoned; Only after the last fish has been caught - Only then will you find out that money cannot be eaten". I'm not especially knowledgeable about old Cree Indian sayings, I hasten to add, but this one is cited in a rather daring children's 'faction' book* launched at the aforementioned AES AGM and Members' Day. The author, Sonia Bloom, together with her two children (one of whom, the Hollywood actor Orlando Bloom, is particularly well known) attended the launch and signed copies of the book.

In the face of such headlines in the Sunday papers, this is all we can do, isn't it? The AES, and all the other societies and individuals with similar aims, can only try to engage youngsters in natural history through publishing books and holding events, and by supporting invertebrate conservation initiatives.

But ultimately the wake up calls - once 'Silent Spring, now 'Silent Summer' - will fall on deaf ears, because too many good people will stand by and do nothing. The overwhelming majority of the new tranche of politicians about to enter parliament after May 6th will not only be inexperienced but will not be focused on natural history. We can ask the candidates what their policies are on the future of the world, but will our voices be loud enough to be heard as these fledgling MPs flap their way around Westminster next month? Perhaps now is a good time to educate them, but in case it's too late the AES, at least, is starting with the youngest readers.

(*The new book is called 'Basil the Beetle's Scary Adventure' and is available from the AES at £4.50

post free (£3.50 until April 30th).

Amateur Entomologists' Society, PO Box 8774, LONDON SW7 5ZG. Website: http://www.amentsoc.org/ )


This is completely off-topic, but I felt moved to share this article from an Australian newspaper with you.

BRITAIN appears to be evolving into the first modern soft totalitarian state. As a sometime teacher of political science and international law, I do not use the term totalitarian loosely. There are no concentration camps or gulags but there are thought police with unprecedented powers to dictate ways of thinking and sniff out heresy, and there can be harsh punishments for dissent. Nikolai Bukharin claimed one of the Bolshevik Revolution's principal tasks was "to alter people's actual psychology".

Britain is not Bolshevik, but a campaign to alter people's psychology and create a new Homo britannicus is under way without even a fig leaf of disguise.The Government is pushing ahead with legislation that will criminalise politically incorrect jokes, with a maximum punishment of up to seven years' prison. The House of Lords tried to insert a free-speech amendment, but Justice Secretary Jack Straw knocked it out. It was Straw who previously called for a redefinition of Englishness and suggested the "global baggage of empire" was linked to soccer violence by "racist and xenophobic white males". He claimed the English "propensity for violence" was used to subjugate Ireland, Scotland and Wales, and that the English as a race were "potentially very aggressive".



April is a dangerous time for whales in Norwegian waters: it marks the start of whaling season. This year up to 1,286 minke whales will die from exploding harpoon and rifle wounds. Norway needs to know that this is unacceptable, NOW.

Norway is one of just three countries defying the international ban on commercial whaling, undermining its reputation as a progressive nation concerned with animal welfare. The sheer size of whales, coupled with the challenging hunting environment, means that there is simply no humane way to kill these animals at sea.

Norway’s own data shows that at least one in five hunted whales suffers a long, agonising death. Some take over an hour to succumb to their injuries. Imagine the pain.

Read on..


Today I am taking a look at an underground cave ecosystem near Dobrogea, Romania, which is on Romania`s eastern coast with the Black Sea. It first came to the world`s attention around 1995 but there were new discoveries in 2007. I have been aware for several months that I had notes about it but I only came across it again a day or two ago whilst sorting out my files. It would be interesting to compare this ecosystem with the one discovered in Israel a few years ago, which I featured in my blog a few weeks ago.

The information in this blog can be found in more detail at `A Subterranean Chemoautotrophically Based Ecosystem in The NSS Bulletin,December 1995 pp 91-98 (1) and `Cycloprosopon Dobrogea: New 150 Million Year Old Crab Species Discovered at http://www.scientificblogging.com/news_account/cycloprosopon_dobrogea_new_150...(2) from which comes the following statement:

"Studying primitive and extant crabs helps determine various aspects of biodiversity and patterns of evolution,such as when arthropods diversified”, says Dr.Carrie Schweitzer, associate professor of geology at Kent State University. Arthropods, which include crabs,insects,lobsters, spiders, millipedes and ticks, are a large part of the earth`s ecosystem, and they also are important economically in many countries as a source of food. In addition, crabs have been remarkably resistant against extinction. “Our goal is to determine why they have been so resistant, so we might be able to better fight modern extinctions,” says Schweitzer. (2)

According to the NSS Bulletin report: “An unusual invertebrate fauna has recently been discovered in Dobrogea, southern Romania. This fauna inhabits the deep recesses of an extensive cave system that has been isolated from the surface for several million years…This appears to be the first known subterranean ecosystem that is completely chemoautotrophically based. In this regard it shares much in common with the deep sea vent communities discovered in the 1970s…How was such an ecosystem formed? How does it function? Is it a unique case, or were there certain peculiar conditions in the geological past that led to the formation of numerous such ecosystems that are yet to be discovered? The geological and biological investigations that have been performed for the last seven years provide answers for some of these questions. In order to better understand how such an ecosystem was formed, one needs to place the recently discovered cave in its geological context…numerous sulphide-rich springs are present in this region. Some springs are located a few kilometres inland, but most of them are located along the Black Sea shore. Following the 1986 Chernobyl accident, high amounts of artificial nuclides…were released in the atmosphere and spread by winds all over Europe.High concentrations of these nuclides were found throughout Romania, in the soil,inlakes, in the Black Sea and in sediments of other caves. Investigations performed by I. Oswath and F. Baciu (unpublished) showed that artificial nuclides were completely abscent in Movile Cave thus supporting the hypothesis that the cave is well isolated from the surface.

1. S M. Sarbu & T.C. Kane A Subterranean Chemoautotrophically Based Ecosystem NSS 57: 91-98 Dec. 10995
2. News Staff Cycloprosopon Dobrogea: New 150 Million Year Old Crab Species Discovered October 17th 2007

To be continued….


David Bowie 1984

Someday they won`t let you,now you must agree
The times the are a telling,and the changing isn`t free,
You`ve read it in the tea leaves, and the tracks are on tv
Bware the savage jaw of 1984

They`ll split your pretty cranium and fill it full of air
They`ll tell you that your eighty but brother you won`t care
You`ll be shooting up on anything like tomorrow`s wasn`t there
BEware the savage jaw of 1984.


Several people have written to me asking for the whereabouts of a citation on Varanus obor - the latest new monitor lizard to be discovered, this time from the Indonesian Moluccan islands. A general article on it can be seen here and the citation with the snappy title of A new melanistic species of monitor lizard (Reptilia: Squamata: Varanidae) from Sanana Island, Indonesia can be found here.

Sciencecodex writes: 'The scientific name of this lizard is Varanus obor; its popular names are Torch monitor and Sago monitor. It's called Torch monitor because of its bright orange head with a glossy black body. Obor means torch in Indonesian. It is a close relative of the fruit-eating monitor lizard recently reported from the Philippines. The Torch monitor can grow to nearly four feet in length, and thrives on a diet of small animals and carrion', which puts me firmly in my place because I got the two species mixed up. I really should monitor these new discoveries more closely.

OLL LEWIS: Yesterday's News Today


On this day in 1519 Leonardo da Vinci died.
And now, the news:

Blind boy learns how to 'see' using dolphin
Motorist called police after spotting puma
Puma sighted on road
Pssst... Wanna buy a puma?
No claws for concern. . . big cats are 'a myth'
'No big cats' in Yorks countryside
Tiny community is troubled by Bigfoot sightings
Area's 'Goatman' legend hits the big screen ; Bowi...
A panther in northern Kane? Experts skeptical
73 big cat sightings this year (via Paul Cropper)
Puma-like cat spotted in fields (via Paul Cropper)...
Big Cats; 'Panther' precaution from '09 defended
Sightings common, evidence elusive
Forest's ripper legend (via Paul Cropper)
Story of the monster of Whitewood Lake
Hunt on for star yowie - Film needs beast of a man...
Real Dragon Fossils on Display in China
Cautionary Tale: Pay Your Pet Cemetery Bills!

That’s quite ‘grave’ news…