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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Tuesday, June 08, 2010


A day or two ago I received a single page from the Proceedings of the Zoological Society of London, 1870 on a badger found in Hong Kong by a Dr Harland in 1870 (not to be confused with another Harland, the 1st Surgeon General of Hong Kong who died some years earlier, who confusingly was also interested in natural history. I am almost 100% certain there were two Harlands, because the surgeon general died in 1857, and the Hong Kong badger was shot in 1867 or 1868. Perhaps they were related? Or, the Hong Kong badger was shot before 1857 and only sent to London about 10 years later, but that doesn`t make much sense. But it seems almost inconceivable that there are 2 Harlands both naturalists living within about a decade of each other in the same place. Fortunately there is a Facebook group about the surgeon Harland and I have today contacted one of its members to try and get more information.)

The point about this badger is that it is somewhat neglected as part of Hong Kong`s fauna although D. Hill and K. Phillipps in Hong Kong Animals do mention it as last being seen in 1922 (1) It is not mentioned in The Fauna of Hong Kong by B.Lofts (1976). I don`t own The Hong Kong Countryside by Herklots (1951), it may be in there. (It isn't Ed)

I would like to track down this 1922 report.

Anyway here is the account:

MELES LEPTORHYNCHUS, Alph. M-Edwards. (Chinese Badger.) M. Chinensis, Gray, P. Z. S. 1868, p. 207 (figure of skull)*

[* I have seen the drawing of this skull; it`s in the CFZ archives I believe - R].

Of this species, “the skull”, remarks Dr J. E. Gray,” is so like that of Meles leucurus from Thibet that I should have regarded them as the same, if there were not so much difference in the length, and flaccidness and coloration of the fur, and the abundance of the under-fur. This may depend on the climate. The shortness and peculiar colour of the fur are exactly alike in the specimens sent by Dr Harland from Hong Kong and by Mr. Consul Swinhoe from Amoy. I may observe that when Dr. Harland`s specimen was sent it was regarded as a young Arctonyx collaris.” *


[** Hog badger-found in S. E. Asian tropical forests. Wikipedia . R]

The first of this species was brought to me at Amoy on the 17th July, 1867, in so badly wounded a state that it soon died. It was a male, and measured from the snout to the root of its tail 22 inches: tail 6; from carpal joint of fore leg to tips of claws 4.75; from shoulder to carpal joint 8.25; sole of fore foot 2.2 long, 1.1 broad, longest claw .6;hind foot 2.8. Length of head 5.1; tip of nose to corner of eye 1.7; from ear to ear across head 2.45; breadth of ear 1.5; ear 1.5; edge of upper lip to base of projecting nose .75

Hair of upper body coarse, about 1.5 inch long. Nose and nails brownish flesh-colour. Soles of feet pale flesh-colour.Band under nose brown, with a narrow side border of same to lower lip. A band of black about an inch wide runs along either side of the head, from near the snout across the eyes, and terminates broader just behind the ear. A broad stripe of buff-white runs from the nose to the occiput, and another of the same colour on either side of the face (including angle of mouth, with a narrow strip round chin) to below and beyond the ear; ear black, with a buff white border to its upper half. Underparts and limbs black; upper parts somewhat densely clothed with short pale buff woolly under-fur; the upper-fur long and coarse, and also pale buff with dark centres, giving a grizzly appearance to the coat. Tail plain light buff. Teeth somewhat worn. The fur had many lice, but I only detected one flea.

On the 19th July, a male and female were brought to me, the latter very large and very old, with few teeth remaining, and these quite worn down. They were both fresh killed. The female had four teats on the belly, and two on the abdomen, just between the fore part of the thighs. She measured 31.5 inches, with a tail of 7.25 to its bony tip, and hairs extending 2.25 beyond; between ears across head 2.75. Her hair was much longer, especially on the tail; and she was much more tawny on the upper parts. Neither of them had the black and white face markings so distinct as in the younger animal of the 18th June.(1)

1. Proceedings of the Zoological Society of London 1870 p.622


Got a nervous kind of feeling
Got a painfull yellow headache
Every picture in every magazine turned real
Every face looks out at and screams at me too real

Cold sweat on my collar
Dripping to my boots
The waves of nauseous pain
Set off the pressure pad alarms

Gotta get out of here
Gotta get out of here
Gotta get out of here
Gottta get out of here

Gotta painfull swelling brian
Banging in my head
Gotta painfull swelling brain
And I called off sick….etc

CFZ PEOPLE: Gavin Hughes

A Happy Birthday to Gavin Hughes, who is not only gonna be my (step) son-in-law come September, but is familiar to all and sundry for his sterling work at various Weird Weekends. On top of that he likes Ned's Atomic Dustbin. It doesn't get much better than this!

Happy Birthday, dude.

GRAHAM INGLIS: Cure for Dutch Elm Disease?

In between reading about team preparations for the upcoming World Cup I spotted this story, which struck me as a good example of how useful discoveries can sometimes stem from the simplest of observations....

As Paul King toured the English countryside in the 1980s going about his work as a contractor cutting down trees ravaged by Dutch Elm Disease, he was always struck by two specimens close to his Essex home which in the midst of the countrywide destruction remained untouched by the killer fungus.

The pair of elms continued to flourish as the disease largely wiped from the landscape a tree once considered as intrinsically English as the oak and Mr King decided to take cuttings from the two apparently resistant elm specimens to see if he could recreate their success.

Some 23 years later, it seems the nursery owner may have cracked the secret of how to reintroduce to the countryside the species that was immortalised on canvas by John Constable in The Hay Wain. Mr King has produced 2,000 healthy English Elm saplings from the original pair of 200-year-old disease-resistant trees.



After Michael Newton's post about Loch Ness there were a number of comments, including one from the person who calls himself `The Highland Tiger`. As you probably know, THT has been a thorn in my side for months, making a series of snide attacks on the CFZ, and me and Richard in particular. As a result, I banned him from commenting on both the blog and our YouTube account. However, he does make some interesting points, even though he presents them in a combative and unpleasant manner.

He starts 'I know you won't publish my comment', which, considering the fact that I banned him from commenting is a fair enough supposition. He continues, taking umbrage at Michael Newton's statement:

'While various descriptions of Spurling’s toy submarine describe it as fourteen to eighteen inches long, an exhaustive review of antique toy catalogues reveals no wind-up toys in that size range offered for sale during the early 1930s.'

And saying that it 'Is not true'.

He qualifies this accusation by writing that:

'It took me only 60 seconds on google to discover the following 1930's wind up submarines of the size quoted.

Tin Submarine

Tin submarine 2

It makes you wonder if any of the other points made are so similarly "under researched".'

He ends his email with a threat: 'If my comments are not noted on this article, I may post something regarding it on my own blog'.

As he quite often does, he makes an interesting point but he has such an idee fixe that everyone in the CFZ is fraudulent, only in it for the money and somehow out to get him, that once again he seems incapable of making his point without being aggressive about it. He seems only to have started his blog (which is mostly an attack on the CFZ and me) in a fit of pique because I wouldn't post his comments on the Texas expedition. Indeed he accompanied his debut blog posting with an email to me saying 'You were warned!'

These bullyboy tactics won't work. Certainly not on me. The irony, and the reason that I have headed this post 'I am in a quandry' is that most of his points are interesting ones. Even some of the comments that he makes about the CFZ are ones with which I agree. I would actually like to have a reasonable dialogue with the man. But until he stops being so aggressive and downright unpleasant I have no option but to ignore him.

Sad innit?


So we made it to a million hits yesterday. Being more than a little OCD, I am glad to have been able to document the fact. But was I waiting, agog, until the hit counter crossed the magick line? No, of course not. I am not that OCD, although various members of my family may well have been. Nope. I forgot all about it and only found the bloggo once we had got to the (not so) magick number of 1000085. But Adobe Photoshop did the rest.
Thank you for your support guys, and here's to the next million....

OLL LEWIS: Yesterday's News Today


On this day in 1956 Patricia Cornwell was born. Most famous as a writer of crime fiction, she is the leading proponent of the theory that Jack the Ripper was the artist Walter Sickert, a fairly flimsy claim based mainly on the fact that, like most people around at the time, Sickert took an interest in the Whitechapel murders. To be honest, the theory that the Elephant Man was Jack the Ripper is more believable and that’s saying something.

And now, the news:

Bees stop play at Highcliffe Bowling Club
Big Cats Obsess Over Calvin Klein's 'Obsession for Men'
Big Grey Man film project starts in Cairngorms
Baby twins injured in 'fox attack'
Aussie surfer survives shark attack
The lion massager: British trainer who plays 'This Little Piggy' with the big cats

Fancy a game of ‘mane’ that tune…


Over on the news blog Gavin has racked up 3,000 news items. I don't want to appear patronising but I am massively proud of him. He has achieved a remarkable feat of tenacity and I think he deserves congratulations. There is another milestone looming: if today goes the way that I think it will, we will clock up a million hits on this blog. Of course that does not equate to a million different visitors, just a million visits. But it is still a pretty impressive milestone and it is nice that it happens on the fifth anniversary of the founding of the new CFZ.