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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Friday, November 12, 2010

LIZ CLANCY: Can't think of a title.... (How about `Dick and the Dolphin` JD)

He's more famous to us as Doctor Mark Sloan from Diagnosis Murder and Bert the jack of all trades (most notably, a chimney sweep) in Mary Poppins, but Hollywood funnyman Dick Van Dyke's latest role has been as sidekick to Flipper. Sort of.

The 84-year-old star apparently nodded off on his surfboard during a trip to the beach not far from his home and only woke up when he was so many miles out to see that he could no longer see land.

However, a pod of porpoises (okay, Flipper was a dolphin, I know, but find me a famous porpoise!) appeared from beneath the waves and pushed Mr Van Dyke all the way back to shore.

RAHEEL MUGHAL: The Cave Demons of the Kirthar Range, Pakistan

The Kirthar Range stretches along the Sindh-Balochistan border like a spine interconnecting the two provinces. The Kirthars are a dry and arid expanse devoid of trees and natural greenery of which most of Pakistan is famous for. In the summer temperatures in this relatively bleak place can reach 50 degrees C (12 degrees F) and winter frost can plummet down to minus figures, freezing shallow ponds.

The Kirthar Range is inhabited by a number of tribes; most notable of these are the Brahais, who inhabit both sides of the Sindh-Balochistan divide, as well as the Chuttas of Balochistan, the Chandius and Guinchus of Sindh, respectively. Life for them is a constant struggle of migration between the pastures of the highlands in the summer and the lowlands in the winter.

These tribes have a rich oral history along with a culture that is formed on the basis of storytelling. Most of the stories describe a number of varied supernatural creatures said to inhabit the region in dark caves and crevices. One such species are the cave demons of the Kirthar Range.

Stretching all the way up to 5,000 ft (1,500 metres), the high peak of Machal is virtually unexplored. It is through this deep and narrow cleft that the Khenji a slopped incline branches into the Toshangi cave system with its submerged springs. On either side limestone walls rise almost 700 ft (200 metres) above the calm and supposedly bottomless lake.

Legend has it that the main cleft hides a dark secret: a large cauldron brimming with gold and jewels hangs at the head of the Khenji. This is said to be inaccessible from all sides and visible only from the water; it has always been a major obstacle for men, for not only is the cauldron difficult to get hold of but it is guarded by hideous, giant, bat-like demons with a taste for human blood.

OLL LEWIS: Take me to the river

In the absence of any news from the India expedition, Oll Lewis has another peculiar story from India for you: Ramchandra the semi-aquatic river boy. Would we lie to you?

Read all about it

CFZ AUSTRALIA: Giant Croc exhibition

As I said to dear Rebecca when she was staying with us the other week, Australia really was the grooviest place in the world if you were into cryptozoology. Max said that I was showing myself up as an old hippy by using the word groovy, and Rebecca sent me a story all about an exhibition of giant crocodiles in NT.


During my time poddling about the internet at night, as I am kept awake by the sonorous snores of Prudence who insists on cuddling as close to Corinna and me as possible, I find some interesting things. One particularly interesting blog is Beachcombing, which has lots of obscure odds and sods of interest to the fortean zoologist....

Today’s post was inspired by a long ago reading of WaNW David Crystal’s Language death (CUP 2000). In this book – that Beachcombing no longer has to hand but enjoyed on the steps of Santiago’s cathedral – Crystal relates the story of Alexander von Humboldt’s parrots. While travelling in South America in 1800 von Humboldt stumbled upon a tribe with several pet parrots. These parrots were speaking though words of another language: the great German naturalist learnt that they had been taken from an exterminated people. Crystal sets this up as an eloquent image for language death – a handful of syllables guarded by creatures who cannot even understand the last words of the people that they are perpetuating.

Read on.../

OLL LEWIS: Yesterday's News Today


On this day in 1841 James Braid witnessed his first demonstration of animal magnetism, which he later developed into hypnotism. I volunteered for a stage hypnotist once; the way the hypnotist puts you into a trance is to do some showy gubbins with a watch or laying you down and getting you to think about a beach then whisper in your ear “Alright this is all a load of bull**** but play along and you'll have fun 'cos you're in on the joke.” Perhaps Braid had a better system.

And now, the news:

"Fraser's Penguins" Documents Stark Climate Change...
Australia's deadly redback spiders invade NZealand...
France signs death warrant for the eel
The helpful hippo that rescues helpless animals fr...
Bid to save Borneo’s rhinos
Cat's 'step aerobics' blamed for house fire in Por...

Whenever I see a news article about cats I can't help but think of this:


We were probably being over-paranoid, but I am a paranoid person anyway, and what happened to Biggles only six weeks ago makes me even more paranoid.

There was no blood in Prudence's urine yesterday, according to the test done by the vet. He could find nothing wrong but suspects a slight urinary tract infection. Prudence has some antibiotics, which will take care of that...

Meanwhile, apologies to the member of the CFZ posse who rang me this morning pointing out that his mother's name is Prudence and that his wife found it highly amusing. No slight was intended; honest....