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, May 27, 2010


Today I take a look at the strange story of huge bird nests found in the Utah Great Salt Lake Desert by American explorers in 1936 and as far as I know, still unexplained. Could this be tangible evidence of the Native Americans legendary giant bird the Thunderbird, or the “now extinct Behemoth Bannock Birds.”?(1) (my source is dated 1960). The story is as follows, quoting from Frontier Times Winter 1960.;

This is the story:

'Editor`s Note: This is a corker! We`ve tried everything short of Alley Oop`s Time-Machine * to try to research this one and present you with the facts! The American Museum of Natural History says there couldn`t be any such creatures-but we`ve got photographs of the nests they left on Utah`s Mud Desert! We`ve asked professors, geologists, historians, ornithologists, biographers- even an English tea leaf reader and a Hindu elephant tamer-but no one has been able to explain this mystery. The nests are there; what made them?........ Nowhere in the world is there a wilderness so desolate, so untraveled as Utah`s Mud Desert. Barren, completely without vegetation, and so level the distant horizon is a burning white glare at the rim of the world, the Mud Desert is mysterious and dangerous, a challenge to man`s physical and intellectual resources. Only two groups of travellers are known to have crossed the Mud Desert, which is part of the great area loosely defined as The Great Salt Desert. The first was the tragedy bound Donner Party, migrating to California in 1850.Eighty-six years later dr.Walter M.Stookey successfully followed the Donner route and emerged from his experience in the wilderness with some of the most surprising discoveries ever to be made in the Desert State. [The author of this article then describes Stookey and his friend Raleigh Johnson`s crossing of the great desert by vehicle in 1936-R] Fifteen miles due north of their starting point they located the Donner Trail. At first the trail crossed rolling desert country with some brush, a fairly solid trail until it angled northwest towards Pilot Moutntain. …….A mile or two after entering the soft mud they began finding castoff pieces of clothing, wagon-parts, and furniture that the Donner party had discarded in order to make their vehicles lighter. Farther on they found John Reed`s “Palace Car” parts of which they reclaimed from the desert and later presented to the University of Utah Museum. Next they found great quantities of clothing ,unopened trunks,wagon-beds, and the skeletons of many oxen. Not far away was a bleak,unmarked desert,cemetery for those who hadn`t made it.

But the most fantastic discovery was yet to be found.While following the trail and after entering the most desolate part of the Mud Desert, Stookey and his companions stumbled upon some huge mounds. Some of them were six to eight feet high and resembled gigantic birds nests. Limited by time and the necessity to proceed, the adventurers did not pause for a thorough investigation. Stookey,however,could not get the bird-nests off his mind.He did a lot of digging into Indian myths and read many accounts of trappers,explorers and trail-crossers, and the following year he went back specifically to inspect the strange phenomena……..Imagination immediately flared. The Pony Express, a publication edited and printed in Sonora, California, published a story on the nests, attributing them to the now extinct Behemoth Bannock Birds [a quick Google search couldn`t find info on these-R] leviathans of prehistoric times that outlived their other companions of dinosaur days and existed until less than 150 years ago. Further, they claimed they had definite proof of the existence of these creatures, but they have never divulged this information…….The Behemoth Bannock Birds were, according to these sources, five times larger than eagles and capable of carrying prey like antelope, deer and mountain sheep to their nests. (Stookey, in fact, found wagon-parts and other large discarded remnants of the Donner party`s trek in various nests!) According to Indian lore, such birds existed. Bannocks, Shoshone, Paiutes, and Geshutes related stories about them to the first stories about them to the first trappers to enter Utah. Abner Blackburn, who passed through Utah en-route east in 1847, and whose diary and journal have recently been revealed, told his children about them…….Some of the University of Utah scientists who saw the nests believe they were built by the rough-legged hawk, buteo lagopus. This may be true, but it would stand a little more investigating, as no hawks of this species have been known to build such nests anywhere else. For over a hundred years the Mud Desert has preserved,graphically, the story of the Donner Party and their tortuous journey through its barrenness. How much longer will it retain the secret of its giant birds? (2)

Well maybe another 26 years. In April 2006 the case of bird-like meat eating dinosaur-bird emerged:

“ Scientists from the University of Utah and the Utah Museum of Natural History have discovered the remains of a new bird-like, meat-eating dinosaur in Grand Staircase-Escalante National National Monument, southern Utah. The new dinosaur was formally named Hagryphus giganteus, which means “giant four-footed, bird-like god of the western desert” in reference to the animal`s outward resemblance to a large land bird, its giant stature, and its discovery in the Utah desert.

Only the hands and feet of Hagryphus were found , but the scientists were able to use the animal`s close relatives in Asia to estimate it to be around 7 feet tall! It is a member of the oviraptosaurs, a group of bird-like feathered dinosaurs with toothless beaks, powerful arms and formidable claws. They are thought by some paleontologists to have been omnivorous, feeding on a mixture of meat and plants.

The scientific paper naming and describing this criter was published in the latest issue of the Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology.(3)

1. E.Sparks A New Mystery on the Donner Trail. Frontier Times Winter 1960 p.41
2. E.Sparks Ibid p27, pp41-42
3. New Critters web site. Giant,bird-like Raptor-Hagryphus giganteus http://www.newcritters.com/2006/04/05/giant-bird-like-raptor-hagryphus-giganteus/

* Alley Oop was a cartoon character in an early 1930s American newspaper syndicated strip, ( a time travelling caveman) created by V.T. Hamlin. PS: A song based on the character `Alley Oop` was a hit for a band called The Hollywood Argyles (and later covered by The Beach Boys) and included the line: "Look at that caveman go!" which was later purloined William Burroughs style by David Bowie who used it in his 1973 hit `Life on Mars`. JD


She sings from somewhere you can`t see
She sits in the top of the greenest tree
She sends out an aroma of unrefined love
It drips on down in a mist from above

She just the girl,just the girl
Girl u want

You hear her calling every where you turn
You know you`re headed for the pleasure burn
But the words get stuck on the tip of your tongue
She`s the real thing but you you knew it all along…


We have heard from Lars Thomas. At the moment the results of the DNA tests on the rattan and hair brought back from Indonesia last autumn are inconclusive, but he writes 'We would like to try some new technicques, still in the developmental stage', so fingers crossed eh?


Biggles is still feeling sorry for himself. The good news is that he does not have to go back to the vet again, but the bad news is that he has managed to dislodge the stitches in his smallest scar, and it has had to be `glued` shut. This means that he has to wear the cone for another few days and be restrained when he goes out. Poor fellow has been itching for a good run and some boisterous jumping about, and has not been able to do it for a week. now.

Let's hope that it heals properly and that he will be able to be back to normal soon...


Looking like the bass player in a particularly odd Amon Duul tribute band, Graham models his snazzy new fluorescent waistcoat thingy and brandishes the strimmer. Now we are conversant with all the current Health and Safety regulations.



Coming very soon. No release date as yet, but will be available in the next few weeks. The back cover blurb reads:

Texas - or the Lone Star State, as it is affectionately and widely known - is the second largest U.S. state in both area and population, and contains both colorful and majestic landscapes that range from desert to plains, and forest to wild canyons.

But that is not all: all across Texas there lurks a wide array of monsters, mysterious beasts and diabolical creatures that science tells us do not exist – but that a significant percentage of the good folk of Texas certainly know otherwise.

In Monsters of Texas, you will learn a great deal about countless bizarre critters, including the following:

Giant winged-things: feathered batmen, huge birds, pterodactyl-like beasts, and glowing-eyed gargoyle-style entities that haunt the Texas-Mexico border; Texas’ very own version of Puerto Rico’s infamous vampire-like monster, the Chupacabras; Blood-thirsty, predatory werewolves said to be roaming the wilds of Texas by the eerie light of a full moon; Texan equivalents of the famous Loch Ness Monster of Scotland: water-based beasts of unknown origin and identity that occasionally surface from the murky depths; The legend of the hairy wild-man, and wild-woman, of the Navidad that struck terror into the minds and souls of the people of the area way back in the 1800s; Encounters of the distinctly Bigfoot kind in central and east Texas; as well as in the state’s legendary and mysterious Big Thicket woods; Out-of-place animals: those creatures that are found within the Lone Star State, yet that have apparently strayed – sometimes inexplicably so - far away from their normal habitats; Those truly ominous beasts that may be far less than flesh-and-blood in nature, and far more paranormal and supernatural in origin; The diabolical, cloven-hoofed Goat-Men that haunt the dark woods of Lake Worth, the old Alton Bridge at Denton, and Dallas’ White Rock Lake.

OLL LEWIS: Yesterday's News Today


On this day in 1908 Ian Fleming was born. Fleming is best known as the author of the James Bond novels and of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. What not so many people know about Fleming is that he was a member of the British Navy Intelligence during World War 2 and one of his plans was to use Alistair Crowley to lure Rudolf Hess into Britain. The plan was never implemented though because Hess came to Britain anyway in an attempt to broker a peace deal behind Hitler’s back.
And now, the news:

Asian bear filmed doing 'Kung Fu' moves with stick
Millions of frogs close road in Greece
An eagle expedition
Alaotra grebe declared extinct
Brontosaurus - free to a good home!
Secrets and oddities of the deep on display
Where eagles dare to baldly go
Ancient cephalopod identified
Firemen rescue squirrel
It must be puppy love
Tent caterpillar plague

Why was it such a shock when the butterfly larvae became embroiled in a scandal? Everyone had thought he was a (cate)pillar of the community.