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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Thursday, September 30, 2010


For various reasons too dull to relate, although On The Track will indeed be up sometime today, it is not ready just yet, and so details will not be posted on the bloggo until the morrow.

Anyone who wants to pick a fight over it is welcome because yesterday I was woken in an untimely fashion by the dog throwing up all over the bed and this morning at half past six the ceiling sprang another leak just above my side of the bed, so I left a bucket to catch the drips and came downstairs. Subsequently, bits of the ceiling fell down and I spent the rest of the night on the couch.

I am not in the best of moods so bring it on!


Somewhere near the top of the Peak there is a rock claimed to personify the frog deity whose evil ambition is to get to the top when the island is devastated. Actually there are only a few who can say definitely where the big rock is, but it is supposed to resemble a giant frog. Some think that the Hog`s Back* (1) bears the resemblance while others point to the mass which can be approached from that part of Conduit Road* (2) near the Victoria Battery filter beds. Another cluster of almost upright boulders which are situated above Marble Hall, are also thought to be the “Frog Rock”.

Irrespective of the position, the story goes that it moved rapidly upwards for some years till it got perilously near the top, when the “Heavenly Virgin”, or “Kwoon Yum” smacked it`s head, with the result that it fell back a good distance. For its audacity in daring to climb up to her preserves – this kindly disposed goddess is presumed to watch over the island`s destinies from a favourable position at the Peak – she cast a charm over the Frog so that his ascending abilities were reduced to not more than the length of a grain of rice a year. So HongKongites can feel relieved. Measured on that basis it will be a matter of centuries before Froggy can get anywhere near the danger zone again.

Efforts have been made to trace the origin of this yarn but those who have faith in it can only say that they were told by somebody else. Others with a reasonable turn of mind can only attribute it to the dislike of the foreigner during the early days of the Colony`s occupation when some patriot devised the story to scare Chinese from settling here permanently. It is said that when the plague was at its worst about thirty years ago there were many who wondered if the Frog Rock had not climbed to just near the top.(3)

*1 Hog`s Back- I`m not sure where this is – presumably a ridge of hill on Hong Kong island,
*2. Conduit Rd – a road on the north-west side of Hong Kong island.
3. The China Mail February 21st 1925 p.8



Don`t leave me this way
I can`t survive
I can`t stay alive
Without your love.no,baby
Don`t leave me this way
I can`t exist, I`ll surely miss
Your tender kiss
Don`t leave me this way

MIKE HALLOWELL: The day a hare went on trial

First, I must apologise to my legions of fans (Fred and Gertie Donkins from Peckham) for the long hiatus between my last blog and this one. I have been away from Casa Hallowell on an investigation which, I think, will soon be making headlines across the globe. More of this as it happens, so watch this space.

Anyway, back to business. Geordieland is an advanced kingdom, the laws of which appertain not just to humans but also to other species. Thus, a horse can be arrested for burglary and a blackbird for GBH. The fauna of our land are expected to follow the law just as we are, and woe betide a cocker spaniel who becomes drunk and disorderly or a donkey who fiddles its benefits. The full weight of Geordie jurisprudence will be applied no less severely to them as to farmers who ogle the bosoms of milkmaids or landlords who water down their ale.

To those who are sceptical, I would like to draw your attention to an incident which illustrates the point wonderfully.

On the morning of Sunday, September 25, 1836, a hare entered the village of Burnopfield. This in itself was not a crime back then, although hares, along with other animals, were expected to behave with a reasonable degree of decorum. Bulls were not allowed to impregnate cows within half a mile of the local church, for instance, and ducks were forbidden to quack before 10am on weekends. The hare, unfortunately, decided to throw civility to the wind and engage in some pranks which precipitated a fair degree of righteous indignation amongst the populace. Without warning, it leaped through the living room window of the local constable's house and wreaked pandemonium. A jug of milk was sent flying off the table, a plate of scones went crashing to the floor and – quelle horreur – it pooped in the baby's crib.

Fortunately the constable was at home at the time, and, according to The Local Records or Historical Register of T. Fordyce, he bravely confronted the beast and, after a considerable struggle, arrested it. Now this is where the story gets really interesting, for the hare was not just charged with one offence, but two. As well as facing a charge of criminal damage, the authorities also accused the creature of “indiscretion”. Indiscretion is a serious offence in Geordieland, and carries a minimum sentence of five years in jail.

Alas, we are not told the fate of the hare, or even whether the prosecution was successful, but the story stands as a salutary warning to animals who think they can just wander over the border into our territory and make mockery of our milk, scones and constables.

I am aware that some, particularly those who live in southern places like Sussex, will find this tale incredible. I would refer such ones to a certain Mr. Steve Jones, who will, I am sure, testify that he supplied me with the ancient tome upon which this blog is based.

CFZ AUSTRALIA: Are they worth looking for?

Not every species quickens the pulse of naturalists and would-be monster hunters.

You don't, for instance, hear of too many people desperate to re-discover rare species of slug, but there are countless folk fascinated by and in hot pursuit of more glamorous - or as an article in Nature magazine puts it this week in 'Looking beyond the glamour of conservation', 'charismatic' - species such as the extinct Tasmanian Tiger (Thylacinus cynocephalus).

"People just haven't thought hard enough about where they should put their effort," says Diana Fisher, a mammal ecologist at the University of Queensland in Brisbane, Australia, who led the study. The findings are published in Proceedings of the Royal Society today. "There is no chance that species are still alive that have been looked for 20 times or more."

And she may have a point - should 'we' be expending time, money and other resources trying to find or resurrect extinct species when there are plenty of MIA mammals of a more recent vintage capable of being rediscovered and nurtured from the brink of extinction?

Perhaps. But it is species like the Thylacine that serve as a laser-like focus for the conservation movement - and remind us of the dire consequences of failure.

And there is a very real possibility that remnant populations of the Thylacine exist. Do we consign our most famous marsupial to certain oblivion or keep looking 'just in case'?

Regardless, the Tasmanian Tiger is something of a cryptozoological Holy Grail, and that's unlikely to change anytime soon.


Speakers confirmed so far are:

Nick Wadham: The trouble with Giant Spiders
Glen Vaudrey: The Water Horse
John Hanson: From the Haunted Skies project

Bugfest will be returning and the children's area will once again be manned very ably by Team Curtis from Seaham on Sea.

Tickets will be available from early January.

The Amateur Naturalist #9

Issue nine of The Amateur Naturalist, the first with Max Blake confirmed as editor, will be available imminent;ly, at least in digital form.

It will be available to download from the blog (see right) either today or tomorrow, and will be on sale (in limited numbers) from Max at the AES show this weekend.

The hard copy version will be out within the next two weeks.

Contents are:

3 Editorial
5 Who’s who
7 Contents
9 News: RSPCA make Jumbo Fools of Themselves
11 News
25 Club news
27 Keeping locusts as pets by Corinna Downes
30 Locusts in the UK by Richard Muirhead
32 A Jekyll and Hyde of Characins by David Marshall
39 Hawkmoths and Tigers and the Butterfly Effect by Jonathan Downes
44 Suriname Toads by Richard Freeman
47 Toxic caterpillars by Nick Wadham
50 Turning over a new leaf by Max Blake
52 An attitude out of the Ark by Richard Freeman
54 Revolting plants as a substitute for exotic pets by Mark Pajak
59 CFZ meet the Titan Arum
60 The sail-finned water dragon by Richard Freeman
63 Birth, Sex and Death in rural England by Carl Portman
67 Release the bats by Oll Lewis
71 The scales have fallen ….. or something! A field report from Denmark by Lars Thomas
73 Tell me Y by Jonathan Downes
76 Exclusive extract from The Mystery Animals of Ireland by Ronan Coghlan and GaryCunningham
83 Olive millipedes by Lucy Henson
85 Mysteries of the dog by Scottie Westfall
90 CFZ Press News
91 Lucy’s life
92 Corinna’s Endangered Species column: The Philippine eagle
94 Bookshelf
98 Aquarium review: Blue Reef, Bristol
101 About the CFZ
105 About CFZ Press


Jon Downes, Corinna Downes, Scottie Westfall, Richard Muirhead, Lars Thomas, Carl Portman, Richard Freeman, Nick Wadham, Mark Pajak, David Marshall, Oll Lewis, Lucy Henson, and Max Blake

OLL LEWIS: Yesterday's News Today


On this day in 2007 Ronnie Hazlehurst died. Hazlehurst was best known as the composter of a number of theme tunes for BBC programs, However after his death he became known as the composer of a number of tracks by the popular bubblegum pop band S-Club 7. This was odd as he had probably never heard of them and retired years before the band began to insist that there “ain't no[sic] party like an S-Club party.” to a disco beat. What had happened was upon hearing of the death some rapscallion had added this hoax information to Hazlehurst's wikipedia entry and several journalists had more or less just copypasta-ed that for their obituary articles without checking the facts.
And now, the news:

Bird sets record as UK's oldest Arctic tern
'Oldest whimbrel' recorded on Shetland
Odds of Life on Nearby Planet '100 Percent,' Astro...
Girl vomited two-metre parasitic worm, archives re...
Australia faces worst plague of locusts in 75 year...
Study: Monkeys Show Self-Awareness

And irrepressibly too no doubt:
Great clip from Monkey