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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Monday, August 01, 2011


It is interesting to see that the young man who shot and killed one of the blue dogs the other week may be facing animal cruelty charges. I refer anybody interested in this case to these articles by Regan Lee and Ben Radford.

This opens quite an interesting can of worms, and one I have to admit I had not thought about before, despite my well-publicised like of the term 'chupacabras' for these poor woe-begone creatures, which are obviously nothing of the sort.

As I have written elsewhere, the term chupacabras seems to have been coined by my mate Ismael Aguyo some time in the mid-1990s, and was (and is) used to describe the semi-bipedal spiky creature of the Canovenas grassland plains in central Puerto Rico. As I have written elsewhere, the fact that it seems to be common parlance now for a plethora of blue and grey skinned canids from the southern states of the USA is nothing but bad news.

Indeed I appeared in a pilot episode of something called The Tracker for the Discovery Channel back in 2004 and said just this. If the Discovery Channel hadn't been such sensationalist idiots and had used my pilot rather than something shot a few months later starring a person calling himself Spaceman Joe, who apparently wandered about with a pair of deely boppers on his head and talking pernicious nonsense, then perhaps common sense might have prevailed.

This latest incident when 13-year-old Carter Pope shot what appears to be a mangy coyote has actually highlighted something I feel is very important. It is obvious to anybody with more than half a brain cell to rub together that these things are canids of some description. Indeed, it appears that the vast majority of them are mangy dogs or coyotes. Others, however, are more interesting. Some of the male animals have peculiar cushions of flesh on their haunches, which I have not seen in any other extant canid. DNA tests on the specimens secured by Dr Phyllis Canion at Cuero some years ago have proven to be a coyote x Mexican wolf hybrid. As there are no known Mexican wolves in Texas, or indeed in Mexico, this is, to say the least, an exciting set of finds.

Other DNA secured by Richie and Naomi West has been identified as a coyote cross, and we hope that the next lot of analysis by Lars Thomas, Tom Gilbert and their team will give us more information.

Whatever they are, they are not semi-bipedal or vampiric. They are not monsters, and I have only just realised this, but to insist on flying in the face of both scientific evidence and common sense and calling them by a monstrous name demonises them. Is it any wonder, then, that at 13-year-old boy shot one thinking that he had bagged a monster, when - of course - he had done nothing of the sort? Whatever these creatures are, they do not deserve to be demonised, and they do not deserve to be shot at by trigger happy teenagers.

(Golly, I got through a whole article without bringing up the subject of the wisdom of giving guns to children. Whoopee!)
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Dr Dan Holdsworth said...

The same sort of thing happens with the knotty subject of things seen in the skies for which a reasonable or rational explanation cannot readily be found. I am of course speaking of "Unidentified flying objects", which by definition are UNIDENTIFIED". However, this entirely reasonable term has of recent years been so conflated with little green men in flying saucers that the alternate one, Unidentified Aerial Phenomena has had to be coined.

I tend towards the rationalist, and tend to find this sort of definition-creep to be most irritating. A lot of work on unknown phenomena relies upon systematising and classifying these things (for which Jon Downes' excellent classification system of unknown animals is an outstanding example) and this classifying relies on the terms and nomenclature not changing meaning over time.

For what it is worth, the term "Flying saucer" was, to the best of my knowledge, first used as part of a simile. A pilot saw a row of objects of triangular or delta-winged form, reflecting sunlight, which he describes as moving in the manner of a saucer skimmed over water. The simile was a description of an object seemingly bouncing in flight, NOT a circular shape to an object. (The sighting seems to have been a flight of pelicans, with the range grossly misidentified; the motion being due to flapping flight).

For this reason I am entirely in agreement with Jon's dislike of this sort of descriptive nonsense; I am also in full agreement with his dislike of permitting children unsupervised use of projectile weapons of a lethal nature.

Dale Drinnon said...

The Chupacabras did indeed originate as a name for the spikybacked, faculatively-bipedal animal seen in Puerto Rico. However, a similar creature with the same name was earlier reported in several parts of Latin America, particularly in Mexico and Argentina, and in fact the name "Goat sucker" has been suggested by more than one source to be a misapplication for "Goat milk sucker" and a form of the legend of the Milk Snake, which can be proven to exist in Classical times around the Mediterranean and India. Several kinds of lizards are mistakenly called "Suckers" from the same belief and in the 1920s in the Mid-Easyt,people were killing large monitor lizards in the belief they were sucking the milk of the gaots dry (which of course the lizards cannot do). More than one website has related this directly to the Latin-American Chupacabras and I have documented this on my blog. The connection was made on some of these blogs circa 2000, but as noted, the legend as applied to large lizards was recognised as far back as the 1920s.

Best Wishes, Dale D.

NB, apart from that I totally agree on the matter of hairless canids, which never should have been brought into the matter.

Regan Lee said...

Thank you for the links and mention Jon and I agree with you points regarding the demonizing of these animals, by thinking of, and reacting to them as, "monsters"

Regan Lee said...

Thank you for the links and mention Jon and I agree with you points regarding the demonizing of these animals, by thinking of, and reacting to them as, "monsters"