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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Wednesday, October 12, 2011


Folks, today I present a story about a fish which predicted the end of World War 1, or at least the inscription on it did. Unfortunately part of the text on the photocopy I have is obscured by a stain which looks either like the head of Jon Downes or a brown parrot depending on your point of view. If you cannot read the caption beneath the fish it reads “ The strange fish caught at Zanzibar. The Arabic ( ?)….tail reads “God alone”


The accompanying photograph depicts a remarkable fish which was recently caught at Zanzibar with strange Arabic inscriptions upon its tail. It appears that the fish was not of a large haul, and was taken by a single fisherman, who brought it to the fish- market. There it remained for some time, having no purchaser as it was one that had never been seen before in those waters. Finally an Indian of the sect “ Memon” bought it, and, on the strange markings being noticed, it was taken to a well known Arab scholar, who deciphered the inscription.It was afterwards sent to the Sultan, who also recognized the wording.

That night, three thousand rupees were offered for the fish and refused, and on the following day five thousand rupees were refused. The original price paid for the fish was a penny, and it was eventually decided to have it preserved. For this purpose it was taken to the Government Laboratory, where it was treated with formalin. It has since been placed on public exhibition. There are two distinct inscriptions on the tail, one on each side. One reads: “ The work of God,” and the other “ God alone.” There is no suspicion of anything in the nature of a fake about the matter, and the mystery is so complete that no explanation of the strange phemomenon is forthcoming. The Arabic lettering is perfectly plain, and the discovery has caused wonderment throughout the Mohammedan community of Zanzibar. They declare it portends some thing about to happen, possibly the end of the war. [ My emphasis. NB the date of publication.]. In the course of conversation with a prominent East African official we gather that the only previous case of a similar nature known occurred in Tibet, where certain Hindustani wording appeared on the leaves of a tree. The whole of the circumstances are certainly very strange. (1)

1. Wide World Late 1917- Early 1918.

Until next time, this is Dr Devo signing off.

1 comment:

Max Blake said...

What a strange fate to fall upon a juvenile Pomacanthus angelfish. The species could well be P. annularis (though the photo is fairly dark and is thus missing some of the more subtle markings) which has a wide distribution, including all of Eastern Africa. Pomacanthus angelfish are common and are generally well known to local fishermen working within their distribution, mainly because their stunning colouration attracts much attention. I have no idea how tasty they are however...

I remember something like this happening in Britain a couple of years ago, though substantially less money was paid for the fish!