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, August 19, 2010


By request..



For Immediate Release 2010-08-18

A team of Danish scientists who have been analysing hair samples brought back from Indonesia by a British expedition last autumn have found some potentially world-shattering results. The expedition was looking for the fabled orang pendek, an upright walking ape from Sumatra which is only known from eyewitness reports.
Expedition leader ADAM DAVIES has been to Sumatra five times since 1999, to look for the orang pendek. Over the years, there has been a gradual refinement in his search technique. He is certain that it exists, and when he first went to Sumatra he was struck as to how authentic the first-hand accounts seemed to be. On a previous expedition in 2001, prints and hair were found, and subsequently examined by world famous hair analysis expert Professor Hans Brunner and by Dr David Chivers of Cambridge University. They independently concluded that they were from an unknown primate closely related to the two species of orang-utan.

Last weekend at the annual conference of the Centre for Fortean Zoology (CFZ), the world’s largest mystery animal research group, Danish scientist Lars Thomas announced the results so far. The preliminary DNA analysis of the hairs appears to resemble that of an orang-utan. He says:

“… the significance is quite enormous no matter what the result is basically, because if it turns out to be orang-utan this proves that there is orang-utan in a part of Sumatra several hundred kilometres from the nearest population of orang-utan. If it turns out to be a primate that looks like an orang-utan but isn’t, it’s an even greater discovery because that proves that there is another great ape living in Indonesia”.

A morphological analysis of the hair samples also corroborated Professor Brunner’s findings.

RICHARD FREEMAN, the zoological director of the CFZ has been to Sumatra on three occasions, the hairs in question being found on the last expedition in September 2009. On this particular trip were Adam Davies (leader), Richard Freeman, Chris Clark, Dave Archer plus their guides Sahar, John, Dally and Doni. It was the brother – John Didmus - of their main guide Sahar, who found the hairs on a small sapling about 3 feet off the ground. Richard said that:

“if the hair turns out to be from a new species, it would be the first confirmed upright walking ape which then throws an interesting light upon other reported bipedals like the yeti, etc. It may also help tell us how bipedalism in humans first developed. Also, the fact that such a large animal was found on an island roughly the same size as Britain could be significant as it may also mean that there could be other large animals still to be found across the world.”

Film of Lars Thomas carrying out a morphological hair analysis of the samples for CFZ Director Jon Downes, and an interview with Lars Thomas can be found at:


Adam Davies can be contacted on 07952 381110 Richard Freeman can be contacted on 07900 642781. To arrange an interview with Lars Thomas, or to get pictures, please telephone Corinna Downes on 01237 431413



OLL LEWIS: The Duerdon Tracks

If you were at Weird Weekend this year, or have read this blog in the past few days or even had much contact with anyone who attended the conference you’ll have heard about the leopard hairs that were identified by Lars. These were not the only evidence of leopards presented at the conference. You might recall that last January Graham and I were called to Duerdon Farm just outside Woolsery where the farmer had found a row of unusual tracks. As the light was fading when we got there the best we could do was take some photographs of the tracks and perform a preliminary examination of the tracks to see if they were potentially anything interesting. They were and we returned the next morning with the cameras once more and this time equipment for making plaster casts.

Before I set off however there was one problem to solve. The tracks may well be frozen in the snow but if I was to use room temperature water to make plaster casts of the tracks they would melt. In order to overcome this I used several large water bottles half filled with ice and snow from our water butts and toped up the remainder of the bottle with cold almost frozen water from deeper in the butts. This worked a treat and meant that the plaster would not melt the prints so I could take extremely accurate and detailed casts.

As well as taking the casts I decided to follow the tracks to see where they led and check any possible places where hair might have come off the animal, while Graham took photographs of the tracks and our casts in situ. Sadly, I was unable to find any hair but I was able to follow the tracks over three fields before they became lost among a well trampled field of sheep. All around the tracks was undisturbed virgin snow save for the occasional bird tracks, a single fox track and the tracks made by the wheals of the tractor when the farmer who had discovered the tracks had come off the road for a closer look.

Upon examination of the prints, tracks and subsequent casts in the daylight I can say with certainty that they were definitely made by a big cat of some sort. There were no claws on any of the prints, the shape of the pad and toes is feline, you cannot draw the typical X shape you can between the toes and pad you can with canines, the foot prints themselves were arranged in groups rather than being equally spaced and there were several prints where the animal’s hind paw had stepped in the same position as the front paw had. All these things are diagnostic of cat prints and all were present.

The fore paws of the animal measured 8 by 9 cm and the hind paws measured 5 by 6 cm and the stride length was 71 cm. These measurements are within the range that you would expect to see from a leopard.


Whilst in America earlier this year we made friends with Donnie Porter who looks remarkably like the boy Freeman. The other day I mentioned that I was a fan of KC Mesquite Barbecue Sauce and was having difficulty getting any. This morning I received a parcel....

Thanks buddy! My breakfast bacon sandwiches are delicious.


I'd hazard a guess that a few bloggers reviewing the highlights of the Weird Weekend will be focusing on the talks given, and as I wouldn't wish to buck a well-established trend, my in-depth analysis is as follows:

They were pretty damned good.

Now, having got my in-depth analysis out of the way, I thought I'd take a look at some of the personages, incidents, escapades and vignettes that characterised the Weird Weekend for me personally, and made it most memorable. These may, I warn you, be nothing more than amusing anecdotes and have nothing directly to do with the Weird Weekend itself, for which I make no apologies unless someone decides to pay me.

Greatest Living Weird Weekender Award
Ronan Coughlan, who is a personage, an incident, an escapade and a vignette all rolled into one. And then some. Long may he prosper.

Above and Beyond the Call of Duty Award
Yvonne and Mickey behind the bar at the Woolsery Village Hall, who wend to great efforts to secure a supply of Newcastle Brown Ale for the Weird Weekend's Geordie Contingent. You are both true heroes and I'm going to petition for a statue of you both to be erected next to that of the 2nd Earl Grey in Newcastle city centre. Only bigger.

Politician of the Year Award
TV presenter, quiz show host, Orang Pendek manipulator and fez salesman extraordinaire, Barry Tadcaster. Barry had to be the star turn of the entire weekend and will get my vote for Mayor. He may stuff turtles into jars of pickling juice and eat them on trains, but haven't we all done that at some time or other? I know I have. The difference is that Mr. Tadcaster can do this whilst simultaneously having his hand inserted into the digestive tract of an Orang Pendek, and I can't match that. Our country needs him.

Would Barry be prepared to stand as Mayor? Not one to beat about the bush, he gave us a predictably direct answer: "The feet of the Brazilian seven-legged bottle-opener beetle are not suitable for washing windows with as they do not come supplied with batteries. This is because trousers are not scone-cutters, unless they are".

And you can't be clearer than that. Barry Tadcaster? Approved!

Cheery Chappies (and Chapesses) Award
The thoroughly nice staff in the Woolsery Londis shop, who supplied us with superb pasties which we took back to our campsite and devoured. Their friendliness will long be remembered.

Most Suspicious Incident and/or Person Award
Which must, I think , go to the delightful Nichola. If my memory serves me correctly, she won something like 1,583 of the 1,584 raffle prizes, including an evening out with Barry Tadcaster, a year's supply of moonshine and a refrigerator full of Orang Pendek steaks. I could be wrong, though. She may actually have won a year's supply of Barry Tadcaster steaks, a refrigerator full of moonshine and an evening out with Orang Pendek. (The differences are negligible, so I won't labour the point). We know Nichola didn't really fix the raffles, but we're going to give her the award anyway as she's a really canny lass.

Tallest Weird Weekender Award
Joint winners in this category! The first goes to the thoroughly decent cove in picture one, who agreed to be photographed alongside the somewhat vertically-challenged Jackie, who was actually standing on an orange box at the time.

The second goes to Matt of the CFZ, who seems to have found himself somewhat discomfited during the final bash at the Bigfoot Arms as you will see from the second picture. We are unsure whether Matt has since managed to dislocate himself from the ceiling and return to his CFZ duties, but if not it may pay Jon and Corinna to check the bar. Please tell Matt I know of a really good chiropractor.

Bravest Speaker of the Decade Award
Matthew Williams, of crop-circle fame. If you want to know why, you really should have been there.

Most Scurrilous Weird Weekenders Award
The thoroughly despicable team who, during the quiz, beat our team. But that was only because they had that weasely quiz-master Barry Tadcaster on their side, the swine. How come they got loads of easy-peasy, multiple-choice questions and we didn't? How come all their questions were set in Grimbsy, Catford and Walsall whilst OURS were set in Northern Upper Volta, Nauru and Liechtenstein? How come THEY get asked "What do the letters 'UFO' stand for?" but WE get asked, "On the morning of June 3 1871, Gregor Macudlaba of the Democratic Republic of the Congo saw a ghost. At the same time, his great uncle who lived In Valencia accidentally dropped and smashed a coffee mug. What colour was the milk jug which held the milk that he had used to make that coffee with, and was it full cream or regular?"

If that Tadcaster guy hadn't have been so biased we'd have hammered them. Possibly. Just wait till next year…

Weirdest Incident of the Weird Weekend Award
Forget Geordie Dave and his Black Triangle; that was really spooky, I grant you, but something FAR weirder than that happened on Sunday. It was nothing to do with the paranormal. Or the supernatural. Or cryptozoology. Or that sort of stuff. But it was bloody weird. Yesterday I made a number of calls to Bideford Town Hall and Devon County Council about the matter, which could have political and legal ramifications throughout England and Wales and – seriously – alter forever the gastronomic habits of an entire generation. And it all started off because John Triplow and I decided to be greedy buggers and tease our significant others about something completely trivial. There now, aren't you intrigued? Watch this space.

OLL LEWIS: Yesterday's News Today

Yesterday’s News Today

On this day in 1890 H.P. Lovecraft was born.
And now, the news:

An ancient Earth like ours
Vanishing cat makes his way home
Fossilised mind control, 48 million years ago
Scientists discover new bearded monkey
Mystery of the vanishing sparrows still baffles sc...
A solar salamander
Surfer Killed In Shark Attack Off Australia
Invasion of the giant rats
'Monster' of insect world, the great green cricket...
Policeman trapped - by angry bees
Londoners warned over diveboming seagulls
Toddler attacked by bear after climbing zoo fence
Stray vulture poses threat to Scottish airspace
Police find bears guarding pot crop
'Psychic' croc predicts Gillard victory
Family claims they found dead mouse in milk
Big cat sighting in Bricket Wood?
Shark sighting closes more Cape Cod beaches

And for all you students out there: