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, October 14, 2010

CARL PORTMAN: Norwegian strangeness

My dear Jon,

Here’s one. It IS genuine but a little weird to say the least. Take a look at the attached photograph. I took this on board a ship in Norway heading north for Trondheim. We sailed past a rather curious building and I thought I would photograph it just as the sun was going down, as did several other passengers. They had just photographed it, and I was last to arrive just in time to get a quick snap before we passed the building.

Just as I was about to press the shutter a beam of golden sunlight lit up the structure – nothing else, just that! Naturally I took the shot but when I looked again there was a strange golden ball to the left of the picture. Neither my pal nor anyone else around me had the same impression and I had this on the two shots I took. There was nothing wrong with the camera.

How curious that this shard of sunlight hit at the moment I took the shot and the golden ball, made up of several smaller balls appeared like some mass ball of energy hurtling through the air on my photograph.

It could be a glitch with my camera (doubtful) or I may have been lucky enough to have photographed something extraordinary – a ball of energy or something else emanating from the last but sudden warm rays of the sun in sub zero temperatures.

I don’t have the answer but I hope you find it interesting. The photograph is not doctored in any way.


LARS THOMAS: WANTED! Scottish cryptozoologist!

WANTED! Scottish cryptozoologist! This may sound rather strange but a few years back there was a scottish student at the University of Copenhagen going by the name of Andrew (Andy) Ferguson. We talked about various things cryptozoological and he talked about stories and sightings gathered in his family over the years - even photographs. Then I went of to New Zealand for a while and when I got back he had gone back to Scotland. I have tried on and off to locate him (no, he's not on facebook) for some years now, so far with no luck. SO - OVER TO YOU IN CFZ SPACE.

Does anybody know Andy? Is he perhaps a reader of this blog? If so, please contact me. As far as I know he was from Stirling but he might have moved to somewhere else. He did talk about doing a stint at an American uni at some point.

JOANNE BOURNE: Translation of French YouTube documentary on the almasty (Part Two)

A few weeks ago we posted part one of Jo Bourne's translation of a YouTube posting of a French documentary about the almasty. We continue with part two...

Almasty. Yeti du Caucase. Part 2
Sylvain Pallix

Rough draft translation by Jo Bourne 9 October 2010

Voiceover: [Proving] the existence of the Almasty is the object of this journey, but the circumstances [of the trip mean that] science is a long way from daily concerns. Tracking the creature across these vast, wild spaces often feels like a pointless exercise. Like we’re chasing an illusion. In this republic, where the creature is hardly likely to delight [to do much for] the embryonic tourist industry, it is perhaps a strange [daft] idea to want to photograph or film it.

We’re in the valley of the river Moushta [that’s what it sounds like, can’t find it], where tracks have been discovered. He is convinced that this place, filled with canyons and inaccessible gorges is an ideal habitat for the Almasty.

[Well we’ve found footprints…]
“It was here in 1976 that we found traces of stones [with tracks] maybe belonging to a relic hominin. Three footprints on one side of the river and three or four here. In one of the footprints there was a hair. The hair was analysed at the laboratory of Forensic Medicine at the Perm Medical Institute. It has an interesting structure. It does not belong to animals or humans.

Voicover: It will take a million detection systems if we are to have any hope of covering the region. Even then, it would be pure chance were the Almasty just to wander out of the neighbouring forest. Nature is the most precious ally of wild creatures. [Even] Bears and wolves have escaped our watch, offering not so much as a footprint to assuage our curiosity.
And the Almasty – too quiet? [Why the silence?] Lkely it has no desire for its destiny to collide with that of man.

“[Can’t hear the start of what he says] Almasty, that it a question very painful [incomprehensible, bad sound and he’s quiet] can we reasonably, from a scientific point of view, let this chance [too quiet] in the Caucusus, and never know what this creature – probably very important for all anthropologists – is?”

Voiceover: In an attempt to solve the mystery of this creature, night vision glasses amplify sight under the moon and stars – just part of our technological arsenal.
[the film jumps here]
… hypodermic pistol. Its only for making it sleep so we can gather indisputable proof: hair, saliva, a drop of blood, prints from hands and feet, as well as a mask from the face. The Almasty is not destined to be a hunting trophy, even less a circus attraction…

Voiceover: Our exploration takes place in a radius [? Rayon. Lit: ray] of 100 km around St Makavot [this is what it sounds like] and often brings us close to Mount Elbrus. We have, several times, sought a family who were said to have raised an Almasty, without much success [Nous avons a plusiers repris cherche un famille qu aurait ete eleve un Almasty, sans grand success]. A negative response is sometimes a symbol of a religious taboo. To not speak of the diabolical creature is primarily to avoid [incomprehensible word. Possibly a word for a curse?].

There are places where the Almasty has been seen more often than others. At Fermi [?] Baksan, the shadow of the yeti seems to fall on each street corner.

He never shows himself in the day. We can’t see him. There’s something weird about them. Something repoussant, even. Otherwise, they look like men. He was taller than me. About this high. They are like wolves: they don’t turn their heads but turn their bodies… like this.

Other man: He turned round like a wolf, you understand…?

Micha: Like that…

Other man: Yes, like that, he turned his whole body round. And then he left.

Voiceover: Our belief wavers according to the witnesses we speak to. The similarity of the descriptions is surprising – how can everyone have the same repeated hallucinations?

Yet for the most part, the witnesses all treat their encounters as a unique experience. Like the director of the school at Fermi Baksan, they all take the trouble to remember the date, and take us to the precise spot of the event that marked their memory. It was in 1940 that he saw the Almasty in the village where he was born, [that was later] razed by Stalin.

“My parents had gone haymaking; at the time I was a small boy. I came out over there… and in this tree I saw an Almasty. He was small, black. I didn’t pay attention to his eyes. His fur covered his whole body.”

The Almasty was more commonly seen in the years before the war when there was little in the way of mechanisation and where the villages had no electricity.

The fracas [ ? xxxxxx] and the massive deportation of the Balkarian people towards central Asia has also served to distance the wild man from their base [think they mean man’s base, ie proximity to man]. To see the Almasty and find tracks is increasingly rare.

A farmer in the valley of [Hip soco? Do you have a map?] had that chance and the fright of its life during our stay. It was his dog that put her on alert. She first thought it was a fox attacking her hens.

(the woman appears to count six, if schist is six)

Voice: “Are you sure they’re the tracks of an Almasty?

“I’m sure. I saw it with my own eyes. It wasn’t a man. And I immediately knew what it was.
He was small like that…
His hair was like that. [gestures] The eyes were different. A bit like that [drawing] and his forehead was high.”

Voice: Higher than that of a man?

Doucha: “Yes.”

Voice: “What colour was he? Black?”

Doucha: No, like the fur. [pointing to parka trim].

Voiceover: Andre is less enthusiastic, maintaining a scientific reserve. The angle of the stride seems to him closer to that of man. The Almasty walks in a line, like a tightrope walker [not clear if he means generally, or this suspect Almasty]. However, he’s never seen anyone walking barefoot in the region.

Andre: In this footprint, the big toe is longer than in the other footprint. I think this is the footprint of another creature [two different kinds of relic hominin? Surely not – Jo].

Voiceover: These footprints are [can’t catch it] a fragile vestige of our objective. They take a cast, less for posterity than for analysis.

If the Almasty was walking here, so close to our base, it’s rather frustrating, no?

INDIA EXPEDITION: Richard writes...

Over on theIndia Expedition blog, Richard Freeman explains why he wants to go to India, and what he personally hopes to get from the expedition.

ROBERT SCHNECK: Hallowe'en costumes - the yeti

When it comes to costumes, the yeti is less popular than his North American cousin.

JON DOWNES: Why Black Rabbits may be more important than you might otherwise think..

I read Gavin Lloyd Wilson's article about black rabbits with particular interest. It has been a subject that has been lurking at the back of my cryptozoological consciousness for some years. According to accepted wisdom, although rabbits were once native to Britain in the middle Pleistocene - as written by Sir Christopher Lever in his latest edition of The Naturalized Animals of Britain and Ireland (2009) - and although they were kept in Roman times when they were well known as a (somewhat revolting) delicacy called laurices, they were not mentioned in the Domesday Book of 1086 and appear not to have been released into the wild in this country until some time after the Norman Conquest.

Some years ago a friend of mine - the late Jane Bradley, the original CFZ art director who was tragically killed in 1995 - showed me a book on Cornish legends that had belonged to an elderly relative. In it was a claim that the rabbit had been a sacred animal to the Cornish tin miners and that like so much else of their lore it had been directly inherited from the Phoenician tin traders who plied their trade between their homeland in the Middle East and the south-western peninsular of these islands. Jane told me that her father had made somewhat of a study of such things and believed that the Phoenicians had brought wild rabbits from their homeland and introduced them to the UK at least 1,000 years before they were introduced by the Normans. He went on to say that the rabbits in the wilds of Cornwall were smaller and darker than those elsewhere in the country.

Mr Bradley is also long dead, I cannot remember the name of the folklore book and although over the years I have thought vaguely about this conundrum, I would be lying to say that I had given it any serious thought whatsoever.

Some years ago when Corinna and I went to Jersey on a sacred pilgrimage to Les Augres Manor we found a Channel Islands guidebook that claimed that the rabbits of one of the islands (I think Alderney, but as I can't find the guidebook now it is only a supposition) tend to be smaller and darker than those on the mainland, but whether there are any significant links between the Channel Islands and the Phoenician tin traders of the first millenium I know not.

Is this all just a tissue of nonsense that I got at third-hand from a long dead alcoholic, or could there actually be some small grain of truth? I give this story to you of the bloggo readership as it stands; one of those mildly intriguing little stories that has been floating around the intersteces of my mental filing cabinet for the last 20-odd years. Make of it what you will, and if anyone out there has anything to add to this story please do not hesitate to get in touch.

OLL LEWIS: Yesterday's News Today


Today is 'Global handwashing day' so remember kids; “Wash your hands.”
And now, the news:

Aliens among suspects in ‘surgical’ cat deaths
Vet's dog theory over ancient Uffington White Hors...

I think he might have a point and they're just dismissing the theory because they're in an 'Uff'.