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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Sunday, September 04, 2011

ROBERT SCHNECK: Tudor mystery bird

Hi Jon,

This is a page from the Bodleian Library's Tudor Pattern Book (c. 1520-1530), which has paintings that were used by illuminators, embroiderers, and other craftsmen. Most of the animals are labeled (e.g. 'A dog') or identifiable by their actions (e.g. the reptilian beaver biting off his scrotum), but the hoofed bird in this picture escapes me.

I don't understand what the writing means or recognize the bird as a heraldic, mythical or symbolic animal (a hoofed bird might, incidentally, explain the Devil's footprints of 1855). I'm hoping bloggo readers can identify it.


Lars Thomas said...

The writing above the bird says Aspida - I vaguely remember reading somewhere that some ancient greek filosopher wrote something about a snake-killing bird, an Aspida, capable of trampling snakes to death (hence the hooves) - possible a garbled fifth-hand story about a secretary bird? But I cant for the life of me remember whether it was Aristotle or one of the minor guys.

Chris Clark said...

Looks a bit like a raven. The word could be Aelpida = Greek 'elpida' meaning 'hope'. I don't know why a raven is a symbol of hope. Because when Noah sent it out of the Ark it kept on looking until the water dried up? Because in the Middle Ages its harsh cry was held to sound like 'cras', the Latin for 'tomorrow'? This doesn't explain why it's wearing boots of course.

Corinna said...

In the Bestiaire of Guillaume le clerc there is apparently a mention and picture of: "The Fenis. A horned and hoofed bird bending over a fire on R. Red ground." Fenis seems to be another word for Phoenix, although depictions of those never seem to be horned or sporting hooves.