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, August 15, 2010



MAX BLAKE: Livebearer breeding success

You should all have read that back in early June a mini expedition (of a sort) went up to the midlands from the CFZ to try and bring back some new species of livebearing fish for the CFZ collections. Dave, Jon and myself set out bright and early to try and get all the lots we wanted and to a degree, we succeeded.

Two of the rarer species we brought back were Limia grossidens and Xiphophorus nezahualcoyotl. Both Jon and I love Xiphophorus species, and many of the more obscure species have wonderful species names such as X. montezumae and X. cortezi, all named on a Aztec theme. We were trying really hard to breed both species in the same tank when disaster struck and we lost our male X. nezahualcoyotl. Though this is a problem to breeding, we had our hopes pinned on their strange reproductive biology. Like all members of the group, both Limia and Xiphophorus give birth to live young but the females can also store sperm to fertilise future broods. We crossed our fingers and hoped that they had mated before he died.
Just over a month later we had some good news. We had around six fry living in the tank with the adults but due to their very small size we could not determine their species. Eventually, as luck would have it, they were large enough by the time I got down here for the Weird Weekend for me to be able to determine their species. Not only had we bred the more obvious Limia grossidens, whose fry show the black banding and obvious silver spot surrounded by black on their dorsal fin, but we also had 2 fry, probably both females, of the Xiphophorus! The two species had released their fry at the same time and we now have a very small colony of both species living together happily. It will take another year at least before both species get up to full colony status, but more importantly, we need to hope that the Xiphophorus female releases another brood and we get a male this time!

In the meanwhile, if anyone (David Marshall!) knows of someone keeping, breeding or selling this species please get in touch with Jon or myself and you can help us conserve this wonderful species.


John Hanson sent me these pictures, taken in Stratford, recently....


Today was the last day of the 2010 Weird Weekend and I was to be the first speaker of the day. I delivered a talk on fake giants and petrified men, assisted by Kieran Snape who recreated the pose of Mark Twain’s petrified man on stage. The talk was somewhat of a departure from my usual style at weird weekend in that it was somewhat tongue in cheek and a bit of fun to kick off the day, and thankfully the audience seemed to enjoy it and laughed at the right places before an impromptu discussion on giants and biologically related cons in general.

After that it was time to get serious for a minute as I showed the casts of the cat footprints I had taken in Durden farm in February. The casts were almost certainly that of a leopard, with a stride length of 71cm and the forepaw measuring 8 by 9cm and the hind paw measuring 5 by 6cm.

The day ended with Ronan’s talk on the holy grail with him riding into the sunset on a horse, and was followed up by Jonathan’s director’s address. This Weird Weekend has gone incredibly smoothly and has been very enjoyable; roll on next year!


It was an overcast and miserable day when I approached the great community hall of Woolsery. The programme looked exciting and I was overcome with great excitement at hearing the likes of such luminaries in the world of Forteana as Richard Freeman, Ronan Coghlan and especially Jonathan Downes. The day started with a short introduction to cryptozoology by Mr Downes and Mr Freeman. Rather than answer the question themselves, they elected to find an answer from the audience – and got the right one - everyone was pleased! This was followed by an outstanding talk by young 'zoologist' Max Blake on species that are known from one specimen. He went through worm-amphibians, sea hedgehogs, birds, wallabies and peccaries. The technical content was extensive and I took many notes.

Loads of other stuff happened. I had a great time. The bar was excellent. I fell over.

OLL LEWIS: Yesterday's News Today


On this day in 1930 the first colour cartoon, Fiddlesticks, was released.
And now, the news:

'Corkscrew' seal deaths probed
Police probe after dead seals wash up in North Nor...
Wildlife campaigner drowns squirrel