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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Sunday, July 11, 2010

DALE DRINNON: The Sisimite (Tzitzimitl)

The Sisimite is equally well known in Belize, Guatemala, Honduras and in parts of southern Mexico's tropical forests.

The Sisimite or "guardian of the forest" is best described as a large, hairy gorilla or apelike creature; It has no verbal communication that is known and according to reports, is a rather malevolent or evil primate (unlike sasquatch but similar to the mythical African gorilla of old) who would kill humans of the same sex and abduct and rape those of the opposite sex, which is not unlike current behavior patterns of male orangutans (A male orangutan at Tanjung Putting Reserve in Indonesian Borneo once raped the female cook for Birute Galdikas on a banana tree stand during feeding time.)

The Sissimito or Sisimictli, according to folklore, is said to have four fingers and no thumbs, and sometimes his feet are said to point backwards, two anatomical oddities that are also attributed to the much smaller and very rare El Duende in some parts of Belize. Both creatures are believed to live in caves deep in the high bush country, which is the Belizean term for virgin montane tropical forest. (This is information printed in Rabinowitz, Alan 1986, Jaguar, Struggle and Triumph in the Jungles of Belize) As a matter of fact, Duende, the Spanish name, is used for the smaller "Sisemite" as referred to by the natives: the dwarf cowboy with a big hat is the Spanish and not the native conception.

The Sisimite is possibly related to the mystery primate reported in and around the mouth of the Orinoco River in Venezuela and the Guiana Highlands, South America. Heuvelmans refers to statues of such unknown apes in Colombia in his book On the Track of Unknown Animals.

In Buckskin Joe, Edward Jonathan Hoyt reported an encounter he had in 1898 in Honduras. A large, apelike creature, about 5 feet tall, crawled over the end of his bunk. Hoyt killed the animal, which resembled a hairy human (Green Sasquiatch 1978, p.133)

Geologist Wendell Skousen said the people of Cubulco in Baja Verapaz reported: "There lives in the mountains very big, wild men, completely clothed in short, thick, brown, hairy fur, with no necks, small eyes, long arms and huge hands. They leave footprints twice the size of a man's" Several persons said that the sisimite had chased them down mountain sides. Skousen thought the creatures, which he indicated traveled on two legs and sometimes on all four, might have been bears. However, upon questioning the natives carefully, he wrote: "it looked like a bear, but it wasn't from the description that they gave - no conspicuous snout and no ears" (Sanderson Abominable Snowmen 1961, p. 159).

Anthropologist Michael Howard notes in Kekchi Religious Beliefs and Lore Regarding the Jungle (National Studies, 1974,Vol. 3[2]: 34 - 49) that the. Kekchi Maya of southern Belize's Toledo District recognize three main classes of forest denizens. First were the major deities, led by tzultacah, a sky/earth, water/forest god; and next, a class of lesser local spirits and personified beings. Finally there are "various animals which are often considered to be in a close relationship with tzultacah, such as the sissimito and other more average animals like the mountain cow [tapir] and tiger [jaguar]." Thus, the Sisimite is clearly viewed as a rare animal, not a super natural being.

Similar creatures are reported in Guatemala, where it has been said, they kidnap women and children (Sanderson 1961, pp. 161-162)

The bulk of this is From: Forbidden Archaeology: The Hidden History of the Human Race, Michael A. Cremo and Richard L. Thompson (Bhaktivedanta Book Publishing, 1996). Here are some other snippets from the internet that I found on the subject:

Posted on Bigfoot Forums Jan 5 2010:

This one is similar to the legends I posted before, but this one belongs to the Paya indians of Honduras.
"It exist among the Payas, the belief on the sisimite or cicemite, which also have the "ladinos" [spanish speaking people] and other indians from the Mosquitia [region]. Nevertheless, the Payas had no name in their language for this fantastic people, and they have adopted the "spanish" name sisimite-há. which comes trom the mexican [nahuatl] tzitzimitl, "devil". It can be found just in the most inaccessible hills, it has a black color, and has the size and the shape of a short-size person, with very large feet and arms. It has the feet in an opposite direction, in relaton to the man feet, so when one looks his tracks, you think they belong to a person that is walking in the opposite direction. The indians also said, that when the Sisimite kills the persons he found from the same sex, but if he finds one person from the opposite sex, it takes it away into his cave".

The Paya Indians of Honduras, a enthographical, historical and linguistic study (in spanish, page 298)

I wonder, how does the tracks of orangutans look like? They bent their feet a lot when walking...
The feet are reversed, in relation with the human feet....(our feet is "right" and theirs is simply "wrong").
The description. Sanderson told that Sisimites were dark brown, but oversized[larger than human sized]. Here Sisimites are rather smaller...

K. Adam.

Posted Jan 19, 2010:

Hi Bigfoothunter6. I have posted a few tales that I have found about this legendary creature. Ivan T. Sanderson has a whole chapter on his book Abominable Snowman, the legend comes to life.

They are based in a rather obscure old folk tale, from the native indians of Central America, which was widespread among some maya and other native tribes in central america. Most of the tales speak of peasants and villagers, that travelling in the woods, have met some kind of creature, a hairy devil with backward feet...which was a very scary apparition. It was considered supernatural and evil. It seems the people borrowed an old aztec word, "tzitzimitl", which was applied to all kind of ghosts, devils and scary apparitions of supernatural origin.

In some stories, this Sisimite could kidnap people. Male sisimites captured women, and female, man. In the legends, the Sisimite tried to procreate with these captured humans. They were described also as nocturnal animals, hairy giants, apelike characteristics and used to throw rocks to people, specially if they went through some canyons at night.

The word "tzitzimitl" is very old, it existed long before the spaniards conquered these lands around 1520-1540. So it is possible that the Sisimite legend became widespread during colonial times and that was based in older maya tales.

Some other people say that it was possible brought by african slaves, as an ancestral memory from gorillas and chimps in Africa.

Anyway, first anthropologists and ethnographers which studied the native mayan, belicean and hondurean mythology (19th century, beginning of 20th century) wrote about the sisimite legend, but was considered just another ghost from the maya spiritual world, an impossible animal (due to the backward feet).

But in this legend was something strange. Was it a legend, after all? The tale included several advices, for example, never to follow Sisimite tracks, to stay away from these creatures, because they were dangerous.
In the tales, people who actually saw a Sisimite became scared to death and got sick with fever...

Anyway, there are tales from the 1890s and from the beginning of the 20th century, from people which reported to have met these fabulous creature, and that got really scared. They described it as a hairy humanoid, some kind of gorilla, with terrible screams, which lived very deeply on the forest of very high on the mountains. There was a few tales of hunters and ranchers about this creature.

Then, the Sisimites (if they ever existed), their number dwindled and they weren't seen anymore. It the legends, it was told about ravines, or water springs, or rivers, where the Sisimite appeared, specially at night.

Anyway, the apparition left his imprint on Central american geography. There is actually, towns, hamlets, ravines and hills called "El Sisimite", so maybe the legend was not a tall tale at all...

K. Adam.


Este ser se registró hace años, fue visto por varias personas, sólo que todos eran personas de campo, pues es el sitio perfecto para este tipo de seres, muy misteriosos y escurridizos. Aún ahora se conoce del Sisimite.

El Sisimite es comparable al Bigfoot de los Estados Unidos o Yeti de los Himalayas. Claro, estando en un clima tropical es de esperarse que existan algunas diferencias.

El Sisimite también conocido con el nombre de Itacayo. Mando una recreación que se tiene de dicho ser:

Él se alimenta de frutas.

Se cuenta que uno de los departamentos de nuestro país llamado Danlí aparece al igual que el duende, sale en busca de jóvenes campesinas para robárselas.

El momento que aprovecha para efectuar la caza de las jóvenes es cuando se recoge el maíz de las milpas (cultivos de maíz). Valiéndose de que el maíz es muy alto se camufla y a gran velocidad y con gran destreza se lleva a su víctima a su cueva que no es de fácil acceso si es que se le encuentra.

Tiene gran fuerza y hace fuertes gruñidos como un mono aullador. Una vez que tiene a la joven se dice que la tiene para que le tenga sus hijos, embaraza a las jóvenes dando así a luz a una criatura mitad humano mitad bestia.

Se conoce todo esto pues que se sepa solamente una mujer logró escapar de las garras del Sisimite aunque esto le costó perder los engendros que había dado a luz con el grotesco ser.

Jóvenes, no salgan solas a los maizales pues puede que el Sisimite les esté observando y tramando cómo llevarlas a sus aposentos.

Folklore hondureño.

[This being registered itself years ago, was seen by several people, only who all were people of field, because it is the perfect site for this type of beings, very mysterious and slippery. Still now he knows himself the Sisimite.

The Sisimite is comparable to the Bigfoot of the United States or Yeti of the Himalayas. Clearly, being in a tropical climate it is to hope that some differences exist.

The Sisimite also known with the name Itacayo. Control a recreation that is had of this being: He feeds himself on fruits.

One tells that one of the departments of our called country Danlí appears like the genie, leaves in search of young people farmers to rob them.

The moment that is useful to carry out the hunting of the young people is when the maize takes shelter of milpas (maize cultures). Being worth of which the maize is very high it camouflages and at a high speed and with great skill one takes to his victim to his cave that is not readily accessible if it is him.

It has great force and it makes [calls] like a howler monkey. Once it has the young person says it has that it so that it has his children to him, half embarrasses to the young people thus giving to light to a human creature half beast].


En las cuevas, selvas y montañas de Honduras, se encuentran las leyendas de innumerables criaturas fantasticas.

Personas que han recorrido este pais, acumulando historias folkloricas, tradiciones, que cuentan los aldeanos, nos han hecho conocer algunas de ellas.


Se cuenta que el Sisimite, es similar a Yeti, el Pie Grande de Estados Unidos y Canada, pues aparece y desaparece misteriosamente.

Dicen que habita en cavernas casi inaccesibles, y deambula por las montañas mas altas, y come frutas silvestres.

Dicen que este monstruo, solian secuestrar mujeres, y llevarlas a esas cuevas en lo alto de las montañas.

Y de allí, nacieron hombres-mono.

Y tan veridica parece esta historia, que una mujer escapó de la cueva donde la tenía secuestrada un sisimite, aseverando la tradicion.

Porque la historia esta asevera que cuando ella huía, el sisimite, le mostraba los tres hijos a ella para lograr que vuelva. Esto sucedia a la vera de un rio. Y como la mujer no volvio, el sisimite, los tiro al rio, donde murieron.

Se asocio a los SISIMITES con el Dios Chac, de la cultura Maya.

Y en las paredes de unas cuevas, se encuentran huellas de las manos que dejaron los Sisimites.


The Sisimite is told that, is similar to Yeti, the Big Foot of the United States and Canada, because it appears and it disappears mysteriously.

They say that it lives in almost inaccessible caverns, and it rambles by high mountains but, and eats wild fruits.

They say that this monster, they solian to kidnap women, and to take them to those caves at the top of mountains.

And from there, they were born man-monkey.

And so truthful it seems this history, that a woman escaped of the cave had where kidnapped it sisimite, asserting the tradition.

Because history this asserts that when it fled, sisimite, showed the three children to him her to obtain that it returns. This sucedia to the side of a river. And like the woman not volvio, sisimite, them shot to the river, where they died.

I am associated to the SISIMITES with the God Chac, of the Mayan culture.

And in the caves, are tracks of the hand[-like footprints?] that were left by the Sisimites].

A long report about one of these "Forest Devils" is included in Secret Cities of Old South America by Harold T. Wilkins on pp 316-319 and quoting Dr. Thomas Gann in 1927. The report is included in Eberhart, Mysterious Creatures, and related to the Mapinguari of Brazil (as Wilkins also connects it) "The King Kong of the Araguaya of the Mato Grosso has his exact counterpart in Honduras, part of the old Empire of the Mayas..." Wilkins begins. The story had it that a half-caste black carrier had been torn to pieces by the creature.

"Accompanied by [Frank] Blaucaneaux, Gann trailed the strange monster's footsteps to a cave deep in the forest. Close to the mouth of the cave both men were brought up all standing. Sunk deeply in the soft clay were footprints almost exactly like the thumb and first fingers of a gigantic human hand. Each digit was armed with a great claw. Persistent efforts have been made to capture the beast but with no success..."

On one occasion, Blaucaneaux and "His black friend" saw the branches waving at the top of a tall tree and the black man said it was the "Debbil-Debbil".The bearer reluctantly agreed to go for a closer look, armed with a light rifle loaded with duck shot [!!] after a dreadful commotion in the brush with much screaming they found the bearer, with fuur finger-gouges across his torso, from which his entrails protruded at his belly. He was still alive enough to say the "Debbil" had ripped him up and then beat it for the bush. Subsequent questioning of the local Natives brought out the information that the "Forest Devil" was well known, it would attack lone women when it could, rip their clothes off and hurl them to the ground [assuming that the actual rape part of the story was left out by retellers of the tale] It was covered with long, stiff. black hairs Later, scratches or rub marks on trees five or six feet up with some examples of these long, stiff, black hairs sticking in the bark.

The most important thingabout the report is the description of the footprints as handlike but in a most peculiar fashion: they were partial tracks only. The apelike creature was walking on the rims of its feet, not with the soles flat to the ground. This indicates an arboreal ape. Great apes such as gorillas are ideed capable of ripping open a human's belly using no more than its ordinary fingernails backed up by brute strength. This is not a groundsloth if it was climbing high in the trees, nor is a tail ever mentioned. Its footprints are probably what are reported as "looking like the bottom of a bottle" in Brazil and the creature does share many features with the Mapinguari. But it is actually a Sisimite because the story about its raping women is also included. And that same myth about the creatures mating with humand is prevalent all over South America (and this has been used to discredit the DeLoys photo by innuendo-but it cannot have that specific application if it is a widespread Native myth) And again it is supposed to have only "Four fingers" (And a very reduced thumb?)

So it seems there is a large arboreal ape in the tropical forests of the New World, most likely a sort of large and dark-colored orangutan. It has large throat pouches which makes its calls louder by resonance, and it is most frequently compared to a very large tailless howler monkey. Then again there is also a smaller "sisemite" which is more like a siamang and would have been what Sanderson's informants were calling a "Dwendi"


Nick Redfern really is a lean, mean, publicity machine. As part of his promotion for his new book with Ken Gerhard, Monsters of Texas, he was on Coast to Coast AM the other night. They were kindenough to put up an annotated slideshow of pictures (in colour, unlike the B&W of thew book) of places mentioned in the text. Good stuff guys..



1. The Mystery animals of Britain: Kent by Neil Arnold (1)
2. The Owlman and Others by Jonathan Downes (3)
3= Monster - the A-Z of Zooform Phenomena by Neil Arnold (7)
3= Big Cats Loose in Britain by Marcus Matthews (7)
3= Star Steeds and other dreams by Dr Karl Shuker
3= Dark Dorset by Mark North and Robert Newland (-)
3= Monsters of Texas by Ken Gerhard and Nick Redfern (-)
8= In the wake of Bernard Heuvelmans by Michael Woodley (5)
8= The Mystery animals of Britain: Northumberland and Tyneside by Mike Hallowell (7)
10. The Great Yokai Encyclopaedia by Richard Freeman (-)


1. The Great Yokai Encyclopaedia by Richard Freeman (-)
2. Monsters of Texas by Ken Gerhard and Nick Redfern (-)
3. Monster - the A-Z of Zooform Phenomena by Neil Arnold (7)
4= Extraordinary Animals Revisited by Dr Karl Shuker (2)
4= Star Steeds and other dreams by Dr Karl Shuker (-)
6. In the wake of Bernard Heuvelmans by Michael Woodley (-)
7. Big Bird by Ken Gerhard (7)
8. A Daintree Diary by Carl Portman (1)
9= The Owlman and Others by Jonathan Downes (2)
9= The Island of Paradise by Jonathan Downes (2)

Last month's positions in this pinky colour, which I think is called cerise.

June's sales have been far faster than is usual for the summer. Bizarrely, for the first time, the World Cup didn't seem to effect them at all. Monsters of Texas and The Great Yokai Encyclopaedia have both started to sell very well, but with new releases looming from Karl Shuker, Andy Roberts and Darren Naish as well as The Mystery Animals of Ireland by Ronan Coghlan and Gary Cunningham, the next few months look like they could be jolly interesting. As far as I am concerned, all bets are off...


Now the truth can be told. Mea Culpa. I made a cock up which took a longer time to fix than I had hoped. However, everything is now sorted and the definitivce version of The Great Yokai Encyclopaedia is now available. Everyone who bought copies in advance will be receiving them very soon...

RICHARD FREEMAN: Persian Dragons

Persian dragons go by a number of names aži dahāka, ezhdehā, or azhdahā. In appearance it is not unlike the Chinese dragon but its nature is more akin to the western dragon. It has a camel-like head with a beard and sharp teeth in its mouth. Persian dragons a single horn that branches into two spikes at the end. The body and tail are long and serpentine, capable of constriction. It has four legs ending in claws that are usually tiger-like in form. The whole body is covered in shimmering scales. Though they rarely fly Persian dragons often have wings. Unlike western dragons the wings are feathery like birds wings rather than bat-like.

If their form recalls the generally peaceful Asian dragons, their temperament was more akin to the evil dragons of Europe. Persian dragons were so savage that even jinn feared them. They spat out great jets of fire and devoured what ever they came across, man or beast.

The Shahnameh a Persian book of poems written by Hakīm Abu'l-Qāsim Firdawsī Tūsī between 977 A.D and 1010 A.D and running to 60,000 verses, mentions dragons doing battle with Persian heroes and Shāhs (kings).

The king Faridun had three sons who he would not name until he knew their characters. He tested them by appearing to each in the form of a huge fire breathing dragon. The eldest son fled in terror, the second son stood his ground to fight and the third boasted that he was Faridun’s son and advised the dragon to flee.

Faridun named his first son Salm for prudence and gave him the western territories. The second son he called Tur for bravery and awarded him the eastern lands. The third son he called Iraj for discreet courage and gave him the kingdom of Persia.

Iraj’s decedents often met with dragons as recorded in the Shahnameh.

Gushtasp was a great huntsman who had married a princess from the western kingdoms against her father’s wishes. The Emperor banished the pair to a remote wilderness but Gushtasp’s skill grew to legendary levels. He slew a dragon by affixing a multi bladed dagger to his spear and thrusting it down the monster’s throat. Finally his father in law relented and made Gushtasp general of the imperial army.

Gustasp’s son was as crafty as his father was brave. His name was Isfandiyar. Whilst journeying east to rescue his sisters from an invading warlord he encountered a dragon so vas it could defeat a whole army. Knowing he could not hope to win in a straight battle with the monster Isfandiyar developed a plan. He built a wooden carriage studded with sharp hooks and sword blades. He hid inside and drove it towards the waiting dragon. The dragon swallowed the horses, carriage and driver whole, but the hooks and blades fatally ripped into its gullet. Isfandiyar himself leapt free as the beast writhed in its death throes.

Isfandiyar had a son named Ardashir. One day Ardashir was out riding in the Zagros Mountains when he was ambushed by a dragon so large that it swallowed both him and his horse.

Generations later King Bahram Gur was out hunting when he encountered a small dragon. He shot it with an arrow through the chest and one to the head. When he sliced it open he found a human body in its belly.

But by far the best known hero of the Shahnameh is Rustam - a sort of Persian Heracles - who performed seven great tasks. The third of these involved slaying a dragon. His story runs thus.

Persia’s greatest hero was a feudal lord named Rustam who was born during the reign of King Manucihr. Rustam had a remarkable dappled horse called Rakhsh. The steed was legendary for his intelligence and loyalty.

One night man and horse had made camp deep in the desert. Unknown to Rustam they were close to the lair of a desert dragon. The ghastly beast was so savage that even the jinn and daemons of the desert feared it and would not come close to its cave. And when the dragon ventured forth, spewing fire and venom they all fled.

Rustam had tethered Rakhsh for the night and climbed into his tent. By the silver light of the gibbous moon the dragon came coiling across the dunes in search of prey. It had a long serpent body and stood on four legs with tiger claws. Its wings were covered in blood red feathers. The horned and bearded head swung this way and that as it searched for a victim. Black venom dripped from its teeth and sizzled into the sand.

Soon its flickering tongue caught the scent of the sleeping hero. Silent as a ghost it crept towards Rustam’s tent. Rakhsh reared up and whinnied a warning to his master. He stamped his hooves and pulled against his tether. Rustam stirred in his tent and the dragon, knowing its advantage had been spoiled, slid away into the night.

Rustam emerged to see what had been bothering Rakhsh. Seeing nothing amiss he yawned and returned to his tent.

An hour or so later the dragon came sliding out of the night again, its smoky nostrils a twitch with the scent of man. Once more Rakhsh went wild, neighing and stomping. The foiled dragon vanished into the darkness. Rustam awoke again and on finding nothing wrong berated his horse for such foolishness before returning returning wearily to bed.

Eventually Rakhsh’s head nodded, but even as he dozed, the desert dragon once more emerged from the dunes its patterned scales shining by moonlight. Slashing through the side of Rustam’s tent with its claws it coiled its python-like body around the sleeping man.

Rustam awoke to find his arms pinned against his sides and the dragon’s coils tightening like a vice about him. The air was pushed from his lungs and with fading sight he saw the dragon’s head poised to strike above him. In a last desperate effort he reached for his scimitar but the coils tightened again hold him helpless. Rustam tried to gasp for help before the deadly fangs struck home.

Suddenly Rakhsh galloped into view. He had torn himself free of his tether and flung himself at the dragon. He bit at the coils and slammed his hooves against them. They could not penetrate the hard scales of the dragon. But the monster, realizing it was under attack loosened its coils and turned on the horse. Spitting fire and venom it struck at the brave animal. Rakhsh dodged the savage attack and lured the dragon away from Rustam. Gulping in air Rustam grabbed his scimitar. Whilst the dragon was engaged in attacking the horse, he slashed at the softer scales on its underbelly fatally wounding it.

When both man and horse were recovered Rustam gave praise to Allah and sang a song of glory to his valiant steed.


Hi Jon,

Thought people might like to see this to promote some discussion. And if Loch Ness can have its elusive monster and Fulk Lake in Churubusco can have its elusive giant turtle, why can’t the Lakeside pond have its own elusive creature?

Photo and source here: http://www.journalgazette.net/article/20100711/LOCAL0201/307119907/1002/LOCAL

CORINNA DOWNES: Yesterday's News Today

Oll will be back tomorrow but for now here is another of Corinna’s news of yesterday:

Shell-Shocked Angler Catches Giant Turtle (Via Richard Freeman)
Cops corner another runaway croc in Germany (Via Rchard Freeman)
Angry woman taped pet dog to fridge
Five-legged toad surprises dog walker
Seagull thinks he's a cat

A bit more acceptable than a cat thinking he is a seagull methinks.