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, November 18, 2010


This picture of a progressiv(ish) rock band called The Nighthawks from the north of England about 20 years ago includes a current CFZ stalwart. Can you guess who it is?


We have been keeping quiet about this because a technical paper by Max and Darren is in the works. However, we have been pipped at the post by the BBC so we can go public. The story is also in the forthcoming A&M and reads:

A recent discovery was made in the archives of the Bristol City Museum and Art Gallery by Max Blake, one of the best known of the younger brigade of CFZ members, and as I have said on a number of occasions, someone who together with Dave Braund-Phillips will be managing the circus once I've finally retired or died.

Although there have been reports of unknown cat-like animals in the UK on and off for centuries, there has been a paucity of hard evidence. Until now the only reports of specimens actually being secured are from the last 40 years or so. Max has discovered an animal, which appears to be a Canadian lynx, that was shot over a century ago.

He is currently working on a technical paper with Dr Darren Naish that will contain all the details. He has asked us not to reveal anything more until it is published, and we of course agreed. When we are able to do so we shall have more photographs, and all the technical details that anyone could possibly want. Well done, mate.


It is about seven minutes in.

Beachcombing's baby-eating eagles

As I have noted before, the `Beachcombing` blog has been one of my favourites for some weeks. It often includes snippets of great fortean zoological interest like this:

When Beachcombing first came to Italy, many years ago, he spent a summer in a room with an enormous wardrobe – the stuff of C. S. Lewis fantasies. This wardrobe was not only huge, but it also had a memorable print on the front. An eagle was being attacked by a weepy mother and in the eagle’s claws was a small baby that the mother had foolishly left in a meadow. The image entered Beachcombing’s dreams – be careful what you put on your wardrobes – and Beachcombing has set himself, in an act of nostalgia, a question: is there a single well-documented case of an eagle carrying off a baby or child?

Read on...


The other day I was looking up the words 'Strange animals in Laos' when I came across the following intriguing information in Google Books:

Among the strange animals belonging to Siam, there is one described under the name of Khon Pāā, which belongs to the known genus of natural history. This animal has been seen by the prince and hundreds of others, yet we must confess, we are inclined to doubt the accuracy of description. The Khon Pāā resembles a man; it is five feet high, walks erect, has no knee joints, and runs faster than a horse.Should he accidentally fall, he is forced to crawl to a tree or something else, by which he again raises himself on his feet. His skin is transparent as a China horn lantern; his entrails are distinctly seen through it, and his abdomen shines like a looking-glass – credit qui vult, non ego. Under the superstitious notion, that the presence of the animal in Bankok was unlucky, his owners were bambooed, and all their property was confiscated by the king for bringing him there. This treatment caused so much terror, that no one has since ventured to bring a specimen of the beast from his native lurking places (1)

The transparent skin reminds me of E.T.'s glowing belly!

The Khon-Paa has by today been transformed,thus: 'Traditionally, in Thailand, the forest has a negative connotation. For example, the term Khon paa (forest people) is a perjorative term for the backward, uncivilised,and wild, as opposed to Khon meuang (town people) , which relates to the modern,clean,and well educated….' (2)

1. W.S.W.Ruschenberger. (c.1835) A voyage round the world: including an embassy to Muscat and Siam in 1835 pp294-295
2. C.O.Delang The Political Ecology of Deforestation in Thailand. Geography vol 90(3) 2005 p.234

OLL LEWIS: How the West Learnt About the Yeti: Part 1.

Some crypids have a long history and sightings of them are often recorded in poems and folklore going back centuries. For example, the Avanc of Llagorse Lake in Wales has been recorded as far back as the 15th century, when it was the subject of a poem by a Welsh bard. Others make relatively recent appearances like Bownessie, where the earliest sightings date back to around the time of World War 2 but were not reported outside of a select few friends and family of the witness until a few years ago.

The Yeti was known of in the folklore and beliefs of the people of Asia, where it is more often reported, for centuries, even to the extent that several monasteries are reputed to have kept what were claimed to be yeti body parts and the cryptid is regarded as a sacred animal or entity/tulpa by several local peoples. Europeans, Americans and other western civilisations were for the most part completely unaware that such an animal was reputed to exist until 1832.

In 1832 the 'Journal of the Asiatic Society of Bengal' published an account by British naturalist Brian Houghton Hodgson about his experiences in Nepal. Within this account he told of the time when his guides had encountered an unusual animal. The animal was tall, bipedal and covered in long black hair. The creature ran off in fear of the guides soon after being spotted and Hodgson thought that the creature may have been an orangutan. However, unknown to Hodgeson, as not as much was known about orangutans in the 19th century as today; Nepal is a long way away from where orangutans are found, and according to the fossil record they only extended from Indonesia to not much further north and west of the Thai-Malay Peninsula on the mainland.

The next to mention the yeti, or at least a creature that sounded like it could be the same animal, was Laurence Waddell in 1889 who reported in his book Among the Himalayas that his guide had seen a large ape-like creature. The creature left tracks and upon examination Waddell concluded that these tracks looked like those of a bear. While in the Himalayas Waddell heard several stories about people having seen bipedal ape-like creatures but upon investigation these turned out to be vague 'friend of a friend' stories and the actual witnesses were never found.

I encountered a similar thing when investigating witness sightings of the Ninki-Nanka in the Gambia; very often even the most vivid stories of that particular cyptid would turn out to be based on the sighting of the friend of a family member who then died, it was thought, as a result of telling people about their sighting. It is also a similarly held belief among some parts of the yeti's reputed range that sighting a yeti or telling somebody if you do will act as a catalyst for your own demise so it is entirely possible that the vague and flaky nature of the stories Waddell encountered could be due to the original witnesses being purposefully vague in order to escape this supposed curse. It is also possible that he was asking his questions in an area where nobody had actually seen a yeti, or animal that could fit its description, for generations, if at all, and the locals were just trying to be helpful or having a laugh at his expense.

Either way, knowledge of the yeti was starting to take hold in the west, and when westerners started to make serious attempts at tackling the more difficult mountains of the Himalayas they also began to report back sightings of strange bipedal animals and unusual tracks.

A&M 48

We are very sorry for the delay, but stuff got in the way. Animals & Men issue 48 is now at the printer and should be dispatched very soon. For those of you interested in such things, its contents is:

3 Expanded editorial, including:

- Goodbye Biggles
- Big cat DNA confirmed
- Bristol museum’s mystery cat
- Bigfoot Forums
- Orang Pendek DNA?
- India expedition

9 Faculty of the CFZ
12 Contents
13 Newsfile
29 Newsfile Extra, the British Marten
33 Obituary - Jan Williams
34 Obituaries
35 Aquatic Monsters Logbook By Oll Lewis
41 Nick Redfern's Letter from America - The Cardiff Giant
45 Mystery Cats Diary - Suffolk ABC Report by Matt Salusbury
46 Mystery Cats Diary - 2009 Big Cat Report by Neil Arnold
52 CFZ Down Under - The Yowie
57 Watcher of the Skies by Corinna Downes
65 Texas Blue Dog Mystery by Jon Downes
78 Cryptic Super Moles by Max Blake
81 Letters to the Editor
84 Reviews
88 The Sycophant
90 About the CFZ
96 About CFZ Press

OLL LEWIS: Yesterday's News Today


On this day in 1493 Christopher Columbus became the first European to set foot on Puerto Rico (contrary to popular belief he was not the first European to set foot in North America: Leif Ericson set up a settlement on the island of Newfoundland 500 years before Columbus was born and was also possibly preceded by Prince Madoc in 1170).
And now, the news:

Rare smelly fungus found in Gower
Reward over shooting of Osprey in Lincolnshire
Mediterranean sharks are Australian immigrants
New species of carnivorous plant discovered in Cam...
Niger’s addax hit by drought & oil
Kenyan high court reinstates national park status ...
Peru contacts unknown Amazon tribe
Tracking down the Panther
Thylacines vanish from Loch Sport, Victoria
Ships face fines for speeding in Right Whale zones...

A feeding right whale: