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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In between each episode of OTT, we now present OTTXtra. Here are the last three episodes:


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Monday, May 17, 2010

DALE DRINNON: Orangs and Yetis at All Sizes

L: Yeti Territory (Mt Everest region double-circled)
R: Yeti and Orangutan with male head peak

The search for the orang pendek has been the focus of much interest at the CFZ. The orang pendek is frequently singled out as the cryptid most likely to be discovered next and added to the known species category. The press releases very frequently simplify the situation for the layman to more easily get the thrust of the argument. There is more than one kind of orang pendek and the name does not specifically refer to any one thing in particular.

L: "Heuvelmans Yeti Compared to Orangutan Proportions" R: BH Orang Pendek As Dwarfed Solo Man

The names orang pendek and orang utan are used in what Sanderson calls Kitchen-Malay, a sort of creole trade language, in which the word 'orang' means 'person' (i.e, a human being). 'Orang pendek' means 'short or stocky person' and 'orang utan' means 'person who lives in the forest.' Both names can and are in common usage to mean regular human beings with just such determining characteristics. The native terms 'sedapa' for orang pendek and 'mias' for orang utans are preferable, and this is the situation as stated by Ivan T. Sanderson in 1961 in his book Abominable Snowmen: Legend Come to Life.

L: "O.pendek track compared to other feet" R: "Hypothetical Orangutans matched against Human height extremes"

Now because we have a situation where a creature is named by a non-specific name, we have a situation where more than one kind of creature is being reported under that name. The situation is exactly the same as in the case of the South American Didi: one of the types is a hominid with long head-hair and human-style feet with non-opposed toes. The other is a kind of an ape with non-differentiated head-hair and an opposable toe on its foot. In both the Old World and the New.

Eyewitness drawings of orang pendek

This has caused some disconcerting situations as the orang pendek being related to the Flores 'Hobbits' by many researchers, while at the same time the same researchers incongruously show casts of ape tracks with opposed big toes as evidence for the theory. The earliest known tracks attributed to the orang pendek are human tracks and they are comparable to small neanderthal tracks. That is why I made my paste-up showing how the orang pendek could be a dwarfed form of Solo Man (The paste-up was done before the discovery of the Flores 'Hobbits' and the two pendek figures would be at approximate female and male average heights.)

Now the ape-like pendek is clearly like an orangutan in the shape of its skull and facial profile (I am ignoring the occasional reports of an outsized Siamang also confusing the issue) And as a matter of fact, on the islands of both Sumatra and Borneo, known orangutan habitats, there are not only reports of 'little ones'; there are also reports of giants. The giants in Sumatra are known as orang gadang (great big people) and there is a very famous case of one giant orangutan being killed and sent to a museum mentioned in all the old natural history books. That one was over seven feet tall when the dead body (NOT the stretched skin) was measured. Chad Arment in Cryptozoology: Science and Speculation (2004) discusses this case.

Going by human records, it might well be possible for orangutans to range from under three feet tall to over eight feet tall as adults (male heights). It is even conceivable that the end populations might form inbreeding populations of unusually large or unusually small average sizes through the process of genetic drift.

Now it just so happens that a comparable situation is reported in the Yetis of the Himalayan region (Ivan Sanderson does at one point specify 'The Meh-Teh [classic yeti] is NOT a Himalayan inhabitant' but there is clearer evidence for them in the Everest region and around Assam) where the basic type of creature is very like an orangutan and in this area there are not only reports of the big yetis over seven feet tall, there are reports of the dwarf kind or Teh-lma. This last kind is very like the ape-like version of the orang pendek, although the tracks attributed to it are probably mistakes (on the occasion reported by Gerald Russell, the tracks were in association with a sighting, and the reported creature was much too large to have made the tracks)

L: Orang utan skull R: Orang pendek track

So I think there is a good chance that both the large and small orangs (sedapas, or orang gugus) and the large and small 'yetis' are genetically-isolated offshoots of the known orangutans, and the parallel situation among the yetis developed by a parallel process. The yetis would be related to the orangutans, but the severe differences in foot structure and habitat make it likely they are not the same species. They may well represent the more generalizsed ancestors of the more specialised known orangutans (pongo). In his checklist Heuvelmans concludes the listing of the yeti by saying 'it is equally possible that the so-called Snowman is merely a particular form of orang-utan, more terrestrial than the tree-dwelling kind', and this entry immediately follows another entry for mainland-Asiatic orangutans (Olo-banda and Bir sindic in Assam, in English translation 'Big Monkey', equivalent to Mahalangur used around Mount Everest)

(P.S, I am NOT advocating the existence of the orang pendek in the form of two or more cryptids, i.e, unknown species. To my classification the more human type is simply a Homo sapiens sub-type while the ape-like form is an orangutan variant, and I would defer to any good genetic evidence that establishes it as a new species as opposed to an unusual population of the same species.)

BATTLE OF THE BRUMMIES: Nick Redfern reviews Carl Portman

If, like me, you're into entertaining road-trip-style books that take you to far-off places, and encounters with exotic creatures, captivating landscapes, and much more, then Carl Portman's A Daintree Diary is the book for you!



Steamshovel’s Kenn Thomas to appear at the Alternative Research Community’s convention at Chapel Arts Center, Bath, UK, August 28-29. See below for details or click over to http://www.arcconvention.org/.



Kenn Thomas has promoted alternative points of view since the founding of his conspiracy magazine, Steamshovel Press, in the late 1980s. His mentors and teachers have included the psychedelic psychologist Tim Leary and the Beat literary figures William S. Burroughs and Allen Ginsberg. Kenn has concentrated on the study and promotion of 'parapolitics' - those hidden and covered up activities that exert enormous sway over public life but have little or no public accountability. "JFK's 1960 election is an example of a public political event," says Kenn, "The conspiracy that ended in his assassination in 1963 is a parapolitical event - and we've had half a century trying to integrate just that one into the kind of open, democratic culture to which most aspire." He will demonstrate that it's less 'conspiracy theory' and more the kind of authentic public discourse the media fails daily to provide; reviewing the history of important dissenting personalities such as Wilhelm Reich, and showing how the UFO subculture remains a vital voice of dissent despite fifty years of ridicule.

Website: http://www.steamshovelpress.com/

Kenn will also offer a memorial tribute to his friend, the recently-deceased Jerry E. Smith; a writer who did much to expose the secret HAARP weapons array to the public.


Thank you very much to Barry Wallace and Michael Baltzly for their kind donations. The money is going towards a battery strimmer from eBay, to be used on the small piece of ground where the early purple orchids grow, and which is now being maintained by the CFZ. On a completely different subject, I am currently researching fishtank locks, so that the disaster of saturday can never happen again. Any ideas?

OLL LEWIS: Yesterday's News Today


On this day in 1897 Dracula by Bram Stoker was published.
And now, the news:

Chinese Astronaut Eats Anti-Terror Dog
Snake steals Cannes limelight
Vet says NY dog needs Viagra for heart condition

One day a stray dog started to come into a small village pub in Yorkshire. The dog was always well behaved and became well liked by the locals who would often ply him with bar snacks. After the dog had been visiting the pub for about 10 years he turned up one day with a badly broken tail and the landlord paid to have the animal operated on by a vet. The tail could not be saved and had to be removed to save the dog from further pain. The landlord, being a odd sort of chap, displayed the tail above the bar and from that moment on whenever the dog came in he would look mournfully at his tail before doing anything else. Eventually the dog died and he was buried in the pub’s beer garden.

By chance, on the anniversary of the dog’s death the landlord came back downstairs after closing and saw the ghost of the dog looking mournfully up at the tail as it did in life. The landlord, not quite believing what he was seeing, approached the dog and was even more shocked when it started to speak in perfect English:

“You must reunite me with my tail so that I can be whole again,” The dog’s ghost said.
“I - I can’t do that….” The landlord stuttered.
“All that needs to be done is for my tail to be placed in my grave within the next few hours,” said the dog. “How hard can that be?”
“No,” said the landlord “I can’t do that.”
“Why?” asked the dog.
“Because, retailing spirits after closing time is illegal.” The landlord replied.


Message from Wendy Dio
Today my heart is broken, Ronnie passed away at 7:45am 16th May. Many, many friends and family were able to say their private good-byes before he peacefully passed away. Ronnie knew how much he was loved by all. We so appreciate the love and support that you have all given us. Please give us a few days of privacy to deal with this terrible loss. Please know he loved you all and his music will live on forever.
- Wendy Dio