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 three episodes pretty much at random:


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Unlike some of our competitors we are not going to try and blackmail you into donating by saying that we won't continue if you don't. That would just be vulgar, but our lives, and those of the animals which we look after, would be a damn sight easier if we receive more donations to our fighting fund. Donate via Paypal today...

Sunday, June 13, 2010

D.R.SHOOP: Triffidy Onions

As I wrote to our dear friend Robert Schneck – upon his pointing out how much our ‘Walking onions’ resemble Triffids. Here’s a few photos of our bountiful 2010 garden up here in the northern climes of Minneapolis. We do our best in our inner-city garden and this year our harvest is early and delicious.

I took a risk and planted on April 4th - incredibly risky in this land of snow. We covered everything in miles of plastic sheeting when we had an unusually (or not) late freeze and snowfall May 10th. Everything has survived and we’ve already depleted our crop of lettuce and spinach, which I have now replanted for a second crop.

Thus ends another boring Northern Midwest Crop report.

STEVE CUMMINS: Banham Zoo review

In last month's (?) On The Track Jon asked for zoo reviews. As we visted Banham Zoo while on holiday here's a quick review (was gonna get Joyce to write it but her computer knacked up and is only now nearing being fixed).

Seems well thought out as the majority of the small zoo was easily accessable by wheel chair (not having to walk stops J getting tired out, so she can enjoy the day) including the walkway that's near the head hight of the giraffes. Only tight spot was in the fake cave that leads to a display about CITES. Not sure about animal welfare because I don't know what to look for. The smaller cats enclosures seemed a tad small. And that led to me be a bit concerned at seeing the male Ocelot pacing back and forward around. J suggested it could be due to not being allowed in with the female and being fed up at not being allowed to mate yet. Seems to make sense, as I've seen domestic moggies behave exactly the same.

J now knows what a Pudu looks like in real life (she'd only come across them in a zoo game here on FB) Loved the pigmy marmosets, and the red pandas.

Seemed like fairly standard info boards for each animal, covering range, habitat, diet, conservation status etc. Too much for me to it all in, but I've got the guide book (which is largely the same info+picture) and I've have a re-read through it to help it all go in.

DALE DRINNON: Heuvelmans' vs Dinsdale's Longnecks

I have been asked to clarify my position on long-necked sea monsters because some readers have seen me speaking of long-necked sea lions while in other places I speak of a more Plesiosaurian-shaped Longnecked Sea-Serpent. The answer is that in checking the statistics of Heuvelmans' Longneck category I found evidence of two distinct subcategories, whereas on the other hand in checking Dinsdale's reconstruction of the Loch Ness Monster I found his model to be sound, and very much the same as Champ, Patagonian Plesiosaurs, and other such creatures world-wide. The Hoy-type long-necked sea lion is specified in two target areas of the world, the one around Scotland and Ireland, and the other around Tasmania, Southern Australia and New Zealand. In both areas stray may go into freshwater on occasion (Bunyips and Costello's Phucas) The larger Plesiosaur-shaped Longnecks are cosmopolitan and must have a good range of temperature tolerance exactly comparable to leatherback turtles. The larger section of Sea-serpent sightings in Heuvelmans' book which deal with the Longnecked creature (which basically also absorbs the Merhorse category, except that the Merhorse category also contains distinctive sets of mistaken observations averaged in with the rest of the reports: my original analysis did not take into consideration swimming moose offshore which now look to be common mistakes in Scandinavia, New England and the Northwest Coastal area) Dinsdale has reports which specify that it has a tail, and Sanderson's and Gould's reconstructions are close to Dinsdale's (and my own identikit reconstruction)

At the current time I am using the two parts of Heuvelmans' Linnean binomial term "Megalotaria longicollis" as provisional generic names for the two subgroupings, Megalotaria for the Hoy-type longnecked sea lions and Longicollis (Longneck) to name the larger creature that is repeated more often and world-wide. I had insisted that the name for the latter be "Megophias" after Oudemans' usage, but arguments with several others have convinced me that name was given in mistake and cannot be said to definitivly describe anything more than a series of indefinite and probably mistaken observations.

So herewith I include a comparison of the long-necked sea lion Megalotaria and the Plesiosaur-shaped Longicollis done as mockups of representative photos from the internet. The inset shows the Arthur Grant land sighting drawing from Tim Dinsdale's Loch Ness Monster. The two photos are to approximate scale to one another: the sea lion type is of a size comparable to a walrus but the Plesiosaur-shaped creature is said to grow to twice this indicated size, at least (the upper end of the size range is uncertain because so many of the largest-size estimates are clearly exaggerated. But 40-50 feet is commonly stated and 60 feet or more at sea)


There are only two and a bit months to go before this year's event - the only predominantly cryptozoological conference in the UK this year. We have a smashing line-up:

LARS THOMAS: Identifying hair samples
CARL PORTMAN: On the trail of the Australian whistling spider
GLEN VAUDREY: The waterhorse
SAM SHEARON aka "Mr Sam": Redwoods Bigfoot
ANDY ROBERTS: The Berwyn Mountain UFO crash
LINDSAY SELBY: Loch Ness adventures
RICHARD FREEMAN et al: Sumatra 2009 Expedition Report
Dr MIKE DASH: The Monster of Glamis
MAX BLAKE: The new animals of the past year

And Davey and Joanne are back running the kid's area, and Nick and Kara Wadham from Yeovil Bugfest will be doing the kid's animal handling.

We have a couple of special guests who we can't announce just yet, but I can assure you that this year's event will be better and bigger than ever....

Buy your tickets today

LINDSAY SELBY: Loch Hourn monster

Loch Hourn runs inland from the sea opposite the island of Skye. Sometimes described as the most fjord-like of the sea lochs of Scotland. It is open to the sea, which is important to remember when looking at explanations for sightings in the loch. Hourn is Gaelic for Hell, and the Loch is so named because of the spin drifts, which capsized many sailing boats. Quite a few lives have been lost on the loch. Around a hundred years ago Loch Hourn was busy with small boats fishing for herrings.

Most people will have heard of the famous sea serpent sighting in the loch that was reported in The Zoologist. According to R. T. Gould in August 20 and 21 of 1872 6 people on board the cutter Leda saw the creature described as a line of black humps with a head and neck occasionally seen above the surface on the loch. The estimates of its length varied between 45 feet (15 metres)and 60 feet (20 metres) in length. A Mr G. Bogle, also a passenger on the cutter, made sketches, which are shown in Gould's book. (The Loch Ness Monster 1934)

Here is an extract from the statement in The Zoologist:

Norwegian Sea-serpent, on the Western Coast of Scotland, in August 1872, by the Rev. John McRae, Minister of Glenelg, Invernessshire, and the Rev. David Twopeny, Vicar of Stockbury, Kent. On the 20th of August 1872 we started from Glenelg in a small cutter, the Leda, for an excursion to Lochourn. Its only exit in this direction to the north was by the narrow Strait of Kylerhea, dividing Skye from the mainland, and only a third of a mile wide, and we left our boat, wondering whether this strange creature had gone that way or turned back again to the south. We have only to add to this narrative of what we saw ourselves, the following instances of its being seen by other people, of the correctness of which we have no doubt. The ferrymen on each side of Kylerhea saw it pass rapidly through on the evening of the 21st, and heard the rush of the water; they were surprised, and thought it might be a shoal of porpoises, but could not comprehend their going so quickly. Finlay McRae, of Bundaloch, in the parish of Kintail, was within the mouth of Lochourn on the 21st, with other men in his boat, and saw the creature at about the distance of one hundred and fifty yards. Two days after we saw it, Alexander Macmillan, boat-builder at Dornie, was fishing in a boat in the entrance of Lochduich, half-way between Druidag and Castledonan, when he saw the animal, near enough to hear the noise, and see the ripple it made in rushing along in the sea. He says that what seemed its head was followed by four or more lumps, or "half-rounds," as he calls them, and that they sometimes rose and sometimes sank altogether. He estimated its length at not less than between sixty and eighty feet. He saw it also on two subsequent days in Lochduich. On all these occasions his brother, Farquhar, was with him in the boat, and they were both much alarmed, and pulled to the shore in great haste. A lady at Duisdale, in Skye, a place overlooking the part of the Sound which is opposite the opening of Lochourn, said that she was looking out with a glass when she saw a strange object on the sea, which appeared like eight seals in a row. This was just about the time that we saw it. We were also informed that about the same time it was seen from the island of Eigg, between Eigg and the mainland, about twenty miles to the south-west of the opening of Lochourn. We have not permission to mention the names in these two last instances.


The full article is here : http://cryptozoo-oscity.blogspot.com/2010/02/sea-serpent-sighting-reported-in.html

It was dismissed by some as wave formations and seals etc. However, then I came across this:

(In the 1950’s )Willie MacKenzie was 9 years of age when he was sitting on a small knoll, near the sea, waiting for his father, to return from delivering the mail, by boat. The head of a creature, that could only be described as a big eel or a serpent emerged, ten feet out of the water, moving its head from side to side, about 250 yards in front of him. Willie had to be forced back in the boat to go home, and to this day, his heart still races when he crosses that part of the Loch. It was suspected that Rob Foster, a fisherman from Corran also saw the monster, around this time. As he refused to go out in the boat, and never went further than the edge of the shore. At this time, there were also sightings of the monster in Sandaig, by the MacDiarmids'.

Source: http://www.glenelg.co.uk/places/arnisdale.shtml

So it appears that the sea serpent/ creature made other appearances in Loch Hourn. Interesting, especially as local people would recognise seals, porpoises etc having seen them before. The fact that some would not go on the loch again shows they believed they saw something that scared them and it was not a known creature to the locality.

OLL LEWIS: Yesterday's News Today


On this day in 1822 Charles Babbage proposed his ‘difference engine’ in a paper to the Royal Astronomical Society. Had Babbage obtained the money to build the machine he had designed he would have invented the computer.
And now, the news:

Fat Kookaburra diets to become flying fit
In Pictures: ‘Two Face’ – The Kitten With Two Faces
Elephant blocks U.S. squad on trunk road
No more yuks over yaks on loose in Wyoming
Minnesota asks drivers to brake for turtles
Balinese Teen Marries The ‘Flirtatious’ Cow He Raped
Bear finds its way onto roof of Pennsylvania mall
Scientists use Calvin Klein cologne to lure jaguar
Council mows rare orchids - again
Bouncy dalmatian survives 100ft cliff plunge
German dogs get their own hotel chain
Harriet the hen lays 'world's largest egg'

Ok, chickens have been mentioned, you know the drill:



Just wanted to let you all know that a wonderful lady called Mandy Found has now opened a charity shop in Bideford on behalf of my little sanctuary Hartland Wildlife Rescue! It opens tomorrow (Monday 14th June). Understandably, I cannot thank Mandy enough for taking it upon herself to help my little critters here! It is an absolute Godsend for me. Mandy has worked so hard for weeks getting it all off the ground and a friend of mine, John Dunn, is painting the sign that will go above the shop. The Storehouse Project run by Tina and Joe Buckingham of Pitt Street have donated rails and shelving.

It's in Cooper Street, next door to Crabby Dicks nightclub and is off Mill street where Somerfield, Wildens etc are.

Please do pop in and have a look around if you are ever passing! Take Care ! xxxxx