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...

Search This Blog



In between each episode of OTT, we now present OTTXtra. Here are three episodes pretty much at random:


Click on this logo to find out more about helping CFZtv and getting some smashing rewards...


Unlike some of our competitors we are not going to try and blackmail you into donating by saying that we won't continue if you don't. That would just be vulgar, but our lives, and those of the animals which we look after, would be a damn sight easier if we receive more donations to our fighting fund. Donate via Paypal today...

Monday, January 17, 2011

MAX BLAKE: The return of Taxonomy Fail



Part 1 of a little short story I have written.

It took me quite a while to find the ringing phone. It happens quite a lot, and sometimes people haven’t got the patience to wait. Tough luck! On the other hand, people who have seen my office know it can take a fair while. It’s not that I don’t want to talk to people, sometimes I just can’t seem to find the bloody phone.

My office is a far cry from being neat and organized and if a stack of books or papers should tumble – well...I once found a Christmas cake under a stack of magazines I had to pick up because I had to use one of them. It was sometime in august as I recall. Oh well – the phone!

"Fortean Institute”

Sounds classy, right? In actual fact, it’s two rooms in a cellar without windows, and institute is a bit much I suppose. There is only me in the old and rundown house I inherited 12 years ago from an old uncle of mine. It was filled with books from top to bottom. It actually took me several months to clean up the mess enough for me to move my own stuff in, and actually live in the place.

”Grimes, DNA-laboratory. Good Evening!”

Now that was a bit off a surprise! I work with all kinds of mysterious phenomena, so I’m used to strange phone calls, but this was a bit out of the ordinary. It isn’t every day you get a call from the director of a world famous scientific institute, a director who several times in public had said that I was a charlatan, a fraud who should be banned from calling himself a scientist.

”Oh Good Evening, Claire” To what do I owe this unexpected pleasure? Fancy

hearing your gentle voice on a grim and dismal night like this. It’s almost half past ten. Haven’t you gone home for the day? Or are you afraid of leaving your test tubes all alone?”

” Very funny”! Claire Grimes’ calm and controlled voice lowered the temperature of my telephone several degrees. She was not known for her sense of humour, nor her merry disposition.

”I’ve got a problem, and I think you are the only one who can help me.”

”Me? Help? Me – a fraud, a hack, a travesty of a scientist, and various other colourful expressions you have used regarding me during the years. Should I be able to help the world famous leaders of the worlds leading DNA-lab with anything?”

”That’s enough of that. There is quite a lot about you and your methods I don’t like, but I have to admit, that you are generally recognized as one of the world’s leading experts on fabulous creatures. And I happen to know you have worked for the Natural History Museum, the police and several wealthy independent clients. That’ll have to suffice. I’ve got an object and I want you to take a look at. Can you come see me at the laboratory tomorrow at ten?

”If it’s such a mystery, and an important one, why don’t you come over? I’m a night owl anyway. But watch the road works, the whole street looks like a quarry.”

She didn’t bother to answer. She just said she would be there in 35 minutes and hung up.

My doorbell rang exactly 35 minutes later. Precision had always been one of Claire’s most fundamental traits. When we were students together at the university, she always had everything under control. Her assignments were always in on time, where exactly as long as the professor had wanted, and always answered whatever questions the professor had posed.

She hadn’t changed much since then. Short, dark and tough as nails. She hated wasting her time, and she was a staunch opponent of everything even remotely irrational, illogical or in any way alternative. She did have a few redeeming features though. One of them was a smile, though rarely seen, that could melt a rock, and a set of eyes, although with a rather reptilian greyish colour, could radiate more warmth than a couple of high voltage lasers. Luckily she was also one of the few women I know, who could appreciate a good whisky, so I had already poured her a generous glass of Old Pulteney.

”Good evening and welcome to my den of various vices – to what do I owe the honour at this late hour – oh fair maiden?”

She gave me a rather stern look, but entered without any acid remarks, and ventured into what I like to call my creative chaos, but what most other people refer to as complete mayhem.

The only place that is always passable is the library. I inherited an enormous collection of books from my uncle, which, added to my own, rather large one, have created a fairly big library, which is actually a bit bigger than most of the public libraries in the area where I live. I take my books seriously, so there is always a free space on the big old table I found at a flea market, and the two matching, ancient, enormous, ugly but extremely comfortable chairs. They are perfect for reading, of which I do a lot, and the armrests are wide enough for a glass of whisky.

It was a pleasure watching Claire sitting down. I am positive the chair was completely straight in relation to the table, when she was finished. She put a long narrow box she had been carrying under her arm parallel to the edge of the table. Took out a folder with papers and placed it in front of her seat, placed a shiny pencil next to it, and placed the glass of whisky I gave her so she could reach it with her left hand without any problems.

She took a tiny sip of the whisky and raised one eyebrow in acknowledgement. Then she put back the glass and started talking without further ado.

”As you probably know, the Duke of Bedford died last year, and left the family’s entire zoological collection to the university.”

”Oh yes, it was front page news. And you actually didn’t get all of it. He willed a few

bits and pieces to me as well.”

”You knew the Duke?”

”I worked for him a couple of times, and he left me a bit of zoological literature he felt I could find some use for – but please, continue.”

”Yes, well, as I said it was an enormous amount of material. And I was given the task of going through the lot together with the director of the museum. A lot of it has great scientific value, so it is now part of the museums collections. On the other hand there were almost 400 boxes of all kinds of unsorted objects, probably bought from all over the world. Most of it has not been labelled, so it has only limited value. That includes for two big boxes of horns, antlers and teeth from all kinds of animals. One of them was a very long but broken narwhal tusk, as well as another shorter one, but with rather strange colours. I didn’t think about it at the time, but decided to use the stuff for training purposes. I’ve got at student at the laboratory who’s about to begin a study of whale DNA, so I thought she could practise on the two tusks. There’s still a bit of tissue attached to the roots of both.”

”This is the analysis of the long tusk.”

Claire handed me two sheaves of paper from the folder.

I glanced at the many rows of letters.

”I am no expert in this, but it all looks quite normal to me.”

”It is – perfectly normal narwhal DNA. But look at this one.”

The results of the analysis of the second tusk the small one, was considerably more interesting, if nothing else because Claire had also done the DNA analysis herself – twice. Both the student and Claire had realised, that the DNA sequence in absolutely no way fitted the pattern of a narwhal. The only two other types of DNA even remotely resembling this one was a species of goat from the Caucasus Mountains, and the Mongolian Przewalsky horse.

”A horse?!?” I asked with quite a touch of doubt in my inflections.

”Yes, a horse. And perhaps you can understand now why I want you to tell med what this is.”

Then she lifted the lid of the narrow box and pushed it across the table towards me.

To be continued.....

WEIRD WEEKEND: Neil Arnold added to bill

The latest speaker to be added to the bill is NEIL ARNOLD who will be talking about The Mystery Animals of Kent.

More speakers will be announced in the next few days/weeks.

Advance tickets are only a recession-busting £20 a pop, so buy now:

HARRIET WADHAM: An extremely random book review of Animal Farm

At our school we have a study centre. It’s actually our librarybut it’s called the study centre because you can do more than just read.

I had the great fortune to come across a copy of Animal Farm. I’ve finished it now and am onto Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, but that’s another book review to be written later on. Anyway, the book reminds you of man’s cruelty to beast and how sometimes we can underestimate other people; for instance, when Jones, the animals’ tyrannical owner, misjudges his animals’ capability of overthrowing him they kick him out onto the streets. This is mostly Jones’s fault for getting drunk, conking out and waking up to the sound of his animals gorging themselves on the food he forgot to give them.

After the now free animals kick him out, they resolve to bring in the best harvest the farm had ever seen, and they succeed, naturally.

They aspire to do all sorts of new things, the likes of which the farm has never seen - but alas! The plans are peed on by Napoleon, a child of the superior breed of pigs! However, none of the other animals know it was Napoleon. The reason I wrote, ‘superior breed of pigs’ is that the pigs fashion themselves as the leaders of the animals, due to their superior intelligence. At the head of all this is Snowball, the lead pig, who slaves away at those designs, only to have them urinated on by Napoleon. The pigs have previously taught themselves to read and write out of an old spelling book of Jones’s children, so as to make sure everything runs smoothly on the farm.

In a nutshell, George Orwell has spun a tale of deceit, lies, triumph and betrayal that really makes you think about the actions of the human race. I for one know that animals have feelings like humans do. But do you?


POLITICS: Huckleberry Finn Mutilated

This is from the Daily Mail so may possibly be taken cum grano salis. However, if it is true, it is ridiculous. The book is set in a particularly ugly time of American history, and to remove words that the right-on brigade find offensive is as ridiculous as publishing a book about the Holocaust with all references to the Nazi doctrine of racial superiority removed.

Mark Twain's classic novel Adventures of Huckleberry Finn is to be censored to remove racially insensitive terms from the text.The 1884 book has been removed from the curricula of dozens of U.S. schools due to 217 uses of the word 'n****r' and two Twain scholars plan to release an expurgated version. A new edition replaces the 'N word' with 'slave' and also expels all uses of 'injun', a derogatory reference to Native Americans.

The scholars say the new version is a bid to make the book's treatment of race more in line with 21st century values but critics say the censorship is taking political correctness too far.

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1344192/Huckleberry-Finn-removes-N-word-Political-correctness-takes-Mark-Twains-classic.html#ixzz1A9k2xS8p

OLL LEWIS: Yesterday's News Today


I don't usually like to repeat myself, but today's anniversary is such an odd one, I think that it bears repeating. So this is what I wrote last year:

On this day in 1884 Doctor William Pryce preformed the first cremation of modern times in Britain on his deceased son Jesus Christ Pryce. Pryce, a self-proclaimed Archdruid, believed that to bury someone in the ground was a sin and he announced his plan to burn his son on a pyre of coal on a Llantrisant hillside despite cremation being thought to be illegal. Pryce conducted the druidic ceremony in front of a large and openly hostile crowd and the second he lit the pyre the body of Jesus Christ Pryce was snatched from it and William Pryce was arrested. Pryce successfully defended himself in court (while dressed in full druidic robes and a fox-skin cap) by arguing that the laws against improper disposal of a body did not specifically mention cremation and the judge found in his favour, effectively legalising cremation in the UK.
And now, the news:

New Species Of Flying Reptile Identified On BC Coa...
Time Running Out For Many Bird Species in Turkey
Top 10 invasive species you can eat
New humpback whale sighting off SE coast

Magnificent animals: