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 15, 2010


These were sent to me with absolutely no explanation except the caption `Five headed snake in Bangalore`. Anyone know where they came from?


DARREN NAISH WRITES: A few days ago I visited my friends at the Centre for Fortean Zoology (for non-Tet Zoo-related reasons), and I particularly enjoyed looking at their amphiumas. Purely because I want to share the photos I took - well, and because amphiumas are weird, little known and really, really neat - I thought I'd say a little bit about them.

Read on..


The other day whilst browsing through a journal called The Manchester Iris , which ran to only two volumes (at least I could only find volumes 1 and 2 on Google), I came across a reference to the Devil-Sticker, a highly unpleasant leech of some sort. I considered it interesting enough to transcribe the whole item about it here. On looking up `Devil-Sticker' on Google, unsurprisingly enough I came across…a whole load of cute stickers of old Nick! So no light on the matter there. As far as I know, the Devil-Sticker is no known animal, but this was 188 years ago. If this is a known animal it must be South America`s weirdest, straight from the censored files of the CFZ!



In many of the huts or habitations in the Indian villages passing up the great rivers, is to be found the devil-sticker. It is of a soft,spungy nature and smooth skin, not unlike the large slug of England. It is brought into the hut with the fire wood, or it may creep in from the outside unperceived. It, however, crawls up the side wall, and getting on the edge of the rafters of the ceiling, to which it adheres, it looks like a small ball, or,more properly, like the slug coiled up. It is frequently known to drop from its hold without being molested, and wherever it falls it throws out from its body five or six fangs, which are barbed like a fish hook, and into whatever softer material than brick or stone it chances to fall, these fangs enter; nor can be removed unless by cutting the animal off, and picking the prongs out of the substance into which they are so firmly fastened. When they fall on the persons of those who happen to sit or stand underneath, the consequence is dreadful. I saw one man, who an hour or two before had one of these devils alight on his hand and he was obliged to have it cut off, and the claws and fangs removed by picking them out with the point of a large needle. His hand was immoderately swelled, and very painful; but an immersion in warm oil or fat removed the pain, and restored the hand to its usual appearance. (1)

The Manchester Iris vol.1 October 5th 1822 p.287

In Chester, England, there is a bookshop called Gildas Books, 2 City Walls, Northgate, Chester CH1 2JG (01244 311910) that has a copy of Phenomena A Book of Wonders by Rickard and Michell for £5, not including postage.
Their e-mail address is gildas.books@btconnect.com

Seeing as we have just had a general election, I present to you-

Talking Heads

Don`t Worry About the Government

I see the clouds that move across the sky
I see the wind that moves the clouds away
It moves the clouds over by the building
I pick the building that I want to live in

I smell the pine trees and the peaches in the woods
I see the pinecones that fall by the highway
That`s the highway that goes to the building
I pick the building that I want to live in……..

Some civil servants are just like my loved ones
They work so hard and they try to be strong
I`m a lucky guy to live in my building
They all need buildings to help them along

DALE DRINNON: Musings on Species

I have a couple of things to air out and Wikipedia is the quickest source once again.

There is discussion about the practical definition of species under the headings for "Species"
and especially the subsection, "Definition of Species", and then on the redirect section on "Species Problem"

For the most part I am one of the adherants of the point of view that the definition of species should be measured by a fixed unit of genetic distance, as much as possible. My working definition is that a million years' worth of evolutionary divergence equals a clear distinction between species. Most workers are vague about the distinction between species and subspecies: I personally regard subspecies as an arbitrary unit, which is useful to field ecologists but not of any value as a taxonomic grade. That part is not important in this discussion.

The Wikipedia article has a chart of species, which are estimated to be still awaiting discovery. That chart is attached in this article and the discovery of new animal species is exactly what cryptozoology is all about. Something like 61,000 species of vertebrates are awaiting discovery by the chart, which would include quite a few large land and sea mammals, on the usual flat cross-section percentage. The number of mammal species alone could number in the tens of thousands, and the number of LARGE mammal species yet to be discovered in the thousands, and still be only a very small cut out of that estimated figure.

Now my own expertise is in physical anthropology and to be precise, the measurement and comparison of fossil hominin skulls. I have several times made the statement that even if most wildmen reported are relic hominids, they could still be members of the same species as us. Here is a section out of the Wikipedia article on Homo heidelburgensis:

Divergent evolution

Most experts now agree that H. heidelbergensis is the direct ancestor of H. sapiens (with some uncertainty about such specimens as H. antecessor, now largely considered H. heidelbergensis) and H. neanderthalensis. Because of the radiation of H. heidelbergensis out of Africa and into Europe, the two populations were mostly isolated during the Wolstonian Stage and Ipswichian Stage, the last of the prolonged Quaternary glacial periods. Neanderthals diverged from H. heidelbergensis probably some 300,000 years ago in Europe, during the Wolstonian Stage; H. sapiens probably diverged between 200,000 and 100,000 years ago in Africa. Such fossils as the Atapuerca skull and the Kabwe skull bear witness to the two branches of the H. heidelbergensis tree.

Homo neanderthalensis retained most of the features of H. heidelbergensis after its divergent evolution. Though shorter, Neanderthals were more robust, had large brow-ridges, a slightly protruding face and lack of prominent chin. They also had a larger brain than all other hominins. Homo sapiens, on the other hand, has the smallest brows of any known hominin, was tall and lanky, and had a flat face with a protruding chin. H. sapiens has a larger brain than H. heidelbergensis, and a smaller brain than H. neanderthalensis, on average. To date, H. sapiens is the only known hominin with a high forehead, flat face, and thin, flat brows.

[And to this we can add, the only hominin KNOWN to have lost the hirsute coat of body hair-DD]

Some believe that H. heidelbergensis is a distinct species, and some that it is a cladistic ancestor to other Homo forms sometimes improperly linked to [called a] distinct species in terms of populational genetics.

Some scenarios of survival include
H heidelbergensis > H. neanderthalensis
H. heidelbergensis > H. rhodesiensis > H. sapiens idaltu > H sapiens sapiens

Those supporting a multiregional origin of modern humans envision fertile reproduction between many evolutionary stages and homo[lateral] walking, or gene transfer between adjacent populations due to gene passage and spreading in successive generations.

--This I would call a fair statement all around with the glaringly obvious (to me) amendment that the time of divergence between H. sapiens and H. neandethalensis from the common ancestral stock (H. heidelbergensis including H. antecessor) is not long enough to create distinct species. It is a fair statement to say that the anatomy does display speciation in process, but all would be the same species and that species' name would be Homo sapiens by priority. 200,000 to 300,000 years' worth of genetic distance is nowhere near enough to consider any two other animal species as sufficiently divergent to qualify for separate species status.


As many of you will know, we had a nascent colony of Thorichthys sp. mixteco, a very rare and so-far un-named species of Mexican cichlid. We (and in particular, Oll and Allan Lindsay) had reared them from tiny hatchlings until adulthood, and we had been hoping to breed them this year.

They were probably the only fish of this species on public display anywhere in the UK if not the world, because - as part of our outreach project - we had kept them swimming happily in the show tank in the restaurant at the Farmers Arms, in Woolsery, where they had delighted and interested thousands of people.

Some time during the last twenty-four hours, in what may have been a senseless act of vandalism, it appears that person or persons unknown poured their drinks into the fishtank, killing all but one of them. At the moment I am too upset to comment further. However, comment further I shall certainly do....

OLL LEWIS: Yesterday's News Today


On this day in 583 AD it is claimed that St Brendan the navigator died. St Brendan is said to have been present while his crew set up camp on an unusual island, which sank beneath the waves. While all this was happening Brendan had stayed aboard the boat and when the island sank, helped the crew back aboard and had this to say to them when they were all safe:

“That was not on an island that you have celebrated Easter, but on a beast, the first and greatest of those that live in the sea. So wished our lord to enhance our faith, for the more marvels we witness, the more we believe in him. And know this great beast is called Jasconius. From the origin of times, it has been trying to put its tail in its mouth but is so enormous that it never succeeds, in this, it symbolises for us eternity”

Did the men witness a huge kraken-like sea monster? Well, I’m of the opinion that these island beast stories are based upon tidal islands that only poke above the waves at extreme lows in tide, but I also believe there are some large, as yet undiscovered, animals in our seas. Animals as big as an island capable of supporting crews of men might be pushing it a bit, though….

And now, the news:

Crews work to capture crocodile in Ontario lake
Canada Zoo curator seeking elusive reptile
Arlington alligator still on the loose
Lion alert on Scottish hillside
Mountain lion shot near Big Bear school
State officials confirm mountain lion in S. Ind.
Gibsonburg family spots possible mountain lion
Cougar suspected of attack on horse
Pictured: 'Ugly' chick born with four wings
Birds make home in snooker club ash tray
Owl adopts ducklings born in 30ft-high nest
Rare 'dalmatian looking pony' fighting for life
Lou Reed, partner make 'Music for Dogs'
Tail of the unexpected: pictures add to mystery of Mull wildcat

I always enjoy a good mystery to ‘mull’ over….