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 the last three episodes:


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Saturday, September 04, 2010


The Silver Y moth (Autographa gamma, previously known as Plusia gamma) is one of the most well known migratory moths on the British list. The larvae are extremely polyphagous and according to Nancy Fraser (2000), have been recorded feeding on at least 224 plant species, and furthermore she claims that they have also been recorded damaging many crops, especially those of the cabbage family.

They have a complicated life cycle. The adults make seasonal northward migrations into areas where – due to climatic conditions – they are unable to establish a full-term presence. As Fraser writes: “For example, individuals migrate into Britain each spring, and after, one, two or three generations, descendants of the spring migrants return to over-wintering sites in North Africa and the Middle East”.

The species is widespread across Europe, parts of Asia and North Africa and the northerly migrations can reach as far as Iceland, Finland and Greenland – the latter, as far as I can tell, being its only known incursions into the New World. In the United Kingdom they are present in significant numbers from the middle of May until they are killed off by frosts in the late autumn. Many individuals, however, fly south again and winter around the Mediterranean and the Black Sea.

In 2007 the Vermont Co-operative Agricultural Pest Survey (CAPS) reported that although they had not actually found any specimens “the likelihood and consequences and establishment by A. gamma have been evaluated in a pathway-initiated risk assessment conducted by the Department of Entomology from the University of Minnesota, published 2003.

Autographa gamma was considered highly likely at becoming established across the US if introduced: the consequences of its establishment for US agricultural and natural eco-systems were also rated high (ie., severe).”

As far as I am able to ascertain, there have been no records, however, of this species in mainland North America. That is, until – possibly – now.

As editor of an increasingly popular online daily magazine; which covers amongst other things natural history, cryptozoology and out-of-place animals; I often receive photographs for me or our readers to identify. These pictures were sent on 8th August 2010 by my friend and colleague D.R. Shoop in Minnesota. They had been taken the previous Monday (the 6th). My first thought was that they were indeed a Silver Y moth. I have been familiar with this species since I first became interested in British moths at the age of 11 – 40 years ago. My second thought was that they couldn’t be because Silver Y moths are not found in North America. Upon investigation I found that there are forty-three species in the genus Autographa, of which at least fifteen are recorded in North America, and some of these; particularly Autographa californica, Autographa bimaculata, Autographa buraetica, Autographa pseudogamma, Autographa v-alba, and Autographa corusca; are not only found in North America but bear a remarkable resemblance to the Eurasian Silver Y.

I would originally have placed a fair amount of money upon the moths pictured here being the Silver Y species with which I have been familiar for four decades. However, now I am not so sure. I would be very interested in reading the comments of any expert in the North American noctuidae.


Cirsium Palustre (Marsh Thistle) literature search and habitat potential risk analysis (Nancy Fraser, Canadian Ministry of Forests, Vancouver, 2000)

DALE DRINNON: More on Almas

While researching the reported possibly-recent-possibly-Neanderthaloid teeth from Inner Mongolia, I came across this terracotta piece, which looks rather as if it is meant to depict an Almas skin (with the hair removed): it is rather saggy and baggy and "deflated" looking. But for the fact that there is a finger or a toe missing off each of the hands and feet, they match what is reported of the Almas. I think the face is partly meant to resemble a traditional-Rakhshasa-demon, but there are some features which make me think the Anyang terracotta piece might have a more authentic representation.

That combines with the suggestion (from Russian sources) that the Arimaspi of antiquity might not only represent the Almas in the Altai region (see Herodotus map) but the names might be linguistically identical. Hence "Arimaspi" could="Aramas+Pi". "P'i" is a largely disused historical name for the Almas in China, but it could also be related to ther names still in use. In the Mirror Of Medicine Almas depiction, one of the names used to label the wildman in Chinese is "P'i".

The Arimaspi are Cyclopes according to tradition, but the literal meaning of 'cyclops' is not 'one-eye' but 'round-eye' and the round eye sockets are definitively characteristic of Neanderthal alone among fossil Homo.


Millie the fox had an unfortunate start in life - the vixen was born profoundly deaf, making life in the wild in north Devon particularly hard. Then she was injured while being chased by a group of boys.

Fortunately for Millie, she was rescued and now lives at Hartland Wildlife Rescue Centre run by Bethany Tyler-King, who is also profoundly deaf. The pair have found a way of communicating, using a sign language system all of their own.

Bethany says their shared deafness has created a special bond between them. "I think I have more empathy and understanding for her," said Bethany. "She'll paw me if she wants food, and when I want her attention I'll come up to her and do hand signals." Millie has made herself very much at home at the centre, where she has become best friends with Angel the cat.

Use the video link above to watch Andrea Ormsby's report for BBC Spotlight.


And you can watch a signed BBC film about Bethany and Millie which is posted on YouTube.



OLL LEWIS: Yesterday's News Today


On this day in 1945 Al Stewart was born (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Cv5qLEYoSHM&feature=related) and a year later on this day in 1946 Freddy Mercury was born (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a01QQZyl-_I).
And now, the news:

Goats rescued from bridge after two days stranded ...
Australian headteacher bans 'gay kookaburras' from...
Forest fires in Madeira put future of Europe's rar...
America bans bird-killing insecticide
Rothschild's giraffe threatened by extinction
Marsh Fritillary boost in South Wales
Mass extinction threat - Earth on verge of huge re...
Two men could face fines after butchering whale
It's dinner time: Incredible tiger shark feeding f...

Now, speaking of sharks, here's a movie I really recommend: Shark Attack 3: Megalodon, staring John 'Captain Jack' Barrowman:
It is without a doubt the best bad and most unintentionally funny bad movie you'll ever see.