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, January 20, 2011

LARS THOMAS: The Horn (Part Two)

At first glance it did in fact look like a small narwhal tusk. It was about 50 cm long and tightly twisted. On the other hand it was also quite clear, that it had to be something entirely different. First of all it was needle sharp, something you never see in a narwhal tusk, and secondly it was blue with a red tip.

”I take it the colour is not paint?”

”Oh no, it is the real stuff, I’ve had it tested. Why? Do you know what it is?”

”Yes, as a matter of fact, I think I do, but I have to ask you a question first. Have you had any trouble transporting it?”

Claire looked at me like I had finally lost my mind.

”I am not wasting your time,” I said impatiently. ”Just answer me!”

”Well, now that you mention it, this is in fact the sixth box we have made for it. We had to make a padded box, where it couldn’t slide around, since even at the slightest vibration it would poke a hole in the box and fall out. It even made a hole in my bag at one stage. I know it’s very pointed, but it’s still rather strange.”

”Not at all,” I said, and breathed deeply trying to still my heart, that had taken to beat a rather boisterous drum solo, like I was in the middle of a major mountain climb. ”Wait a second I just have to find a book.”

I went over to one of my bookshelves, and returned a fem minutes later with a big heavy book bound in dark brown leather.

”This is actually one of the books I inherited from the old duke. It was published in 1862, and it is nothing special in it self, but it’s a translation of a much older Portuguese travelbook from 1501. It’s written by a monk who for some reason have only signed his work with the initials P.P. Hold on...”

I had to leaf through most of the book, before I found the piece I was looking for.

”Listen to this...”

In this area there lives a beast, the natives fear more than anything. It is strong, fearless, and almost impossible to slay. For a hunter, there is no greater sign of courage, than to face one of these beasts. I was shown the village’s biggest treasure, a horn of one of these beast, caught more than 100 years ago. It was almost a yard in length, shaped like a spiral and very pointed. The strangest thing of all was the shiny blue colour and the red tip. It is said, that this horn will penetrate anything.

”From here he goes on to describing several other animal, but it is clearly the same horn.”

”I quite agree,” Claire said. ” I have to admit, that I’m impressed. But what species are we talking about – an antelope of some kind?”

”Oh no,” I said, ”it’s much worse than that, and you’ll probably hate me for what I am about to read.”

I started reading again, a few pages further along in the book.

I have read about this beast in the writings of Marco Polo the Venetian. Master Leonardo has written, that he knew of this creature, and a drawing from his hand seems to show, that he has studied a dead one. The natives have many names for it, but I shall call it Unicornis, the onehorned.

”What you have,” I said, and slammed the book shut with a suitable dramatic gesture, at least in my own opinion, ”is the horn of a unicorn.”

”And,” I added, rather quickly, and raised a hand to stop the explosion I knew was coming “ before you start one of your usual stories about imagining things, superstition and lack of evidence, I have something to show you. Follow me!”

I grabbed the horn from the box, and marched out of the library without bothering to see if Claire was following me.

I turned right, and went down towards my uncle’s old bedroom. I have tried to renovate it for several years, but had never gotten very far. For one thing, I had never gotten around to removing my uncles old safe. I paid a couple of people to remove it from the wall, but it was still sitting on the floor of the room.

”It is, as I said, the horn of a unicorn. With those colours, incredible as it might seem, it can be nothing else. And I can prove it. If you try to recall what you know about these kinds of creatures – perhaps you have even read one of my books, or you paid attention when I read from the old book a few minutes ago, you know, that the horn of a unicorn can penetrate everything.”

Saying this, I straightened my arm holding the horn, so the tip was pointing downwards towards the 50 cm high safe on the floor, and then let go.

The sound was rather strange, kind of loud, crunchy and wet, like the sound of a splitting watermelon. At first I couldn’t look, but judging from the look in Claire’s eyes, things had gone just as I had expected. The horn had speared the massive safe as easily as a hot knife going trough butter.

To my great surprise it was no problem pulling the horn back out again. It was as if it was standing in a specially designed holder for it. And the hole in the safe would probably keep a metallurgist working for months. The metal wasn’t bent, blown away or ripped aside, like a grenade or some other kind of projectile would do. It was just gone. It looked like the horn had melted a precisely fitting hole in the thick side of the safe.

”But that’s...” was all Claire managed in the next minutes, as we both just stared at the safe.

”Amazing, incredible, unique – most definitely, but do you know what the worst part of it all is?”


”It proves I was right all along!”

And then it came – the smile!

”Imagine – you and I almost ended up as lovers at one time.”

”Oh well,” I said, ”we all make mistakes.”

”But the question – the very important question now is – what are we going to do??”

”I think you should go home, or back to the institute – take the horn, and stick in the biggest and safest safe you have at the place. I’ll start digging in the old dukes journals and notebooks, most of which are sitting in a box in the basement, and see if I can dig anything interesting up, and then we’ll talk tomorrow.”

We went back to the library, and I watched Claire putting the horn back in the box with shaking hands. This was probably the biggest zoological discovery ever – I couldn’t wait to start reading the dukes papers.

I walked Claire to the door, and then I almost ran to the basement, where I knew, that two big boxes full of papers were waiting. It was all the old duke’s journals and notebooks from his many travels. If there was any chance of finding any information about the unicorn horn, it would be in there somewhere.

LIZ CLANCY: 3 Owls has a successor, almost

According to the Rochdale Observer, this year will see the Rochdale Wildlife and Bird Sanctuary open up to fill the gap caused by the closure of Three Owls Bird sanctuary and hospital last year. The new sanctuary is set to take care of "small wildlife," according to Carley Smith, one of the chairmen of the sanctuary and also one of the key figures in the Save Our Sanctuary campaign for Three Owls.

The sanctuary has seven directors and one treasurer, who are currently applying for charity status as well as searching for a suitable location. Though some of those involved are former Three-Owlers, Nigel Fowler, manager of Three Owls, won't be joining the new team, though has said he has no problem with its inception.

Rochdale Wildlife and Bird Sanctuary's Facebook and Twitter pages can be found at the links below.

MIKE HALLOWELL: Footprints in the Snow (Not)

Okay, I apologise in advance for going off-topic, as they say, as this blog has absolutely nothing to do with cryptozoology. However, I wanted – nay, needed – to share the following experience with See-Eff-Zedders in the hope that someone out there may be able to offer some sort of explanation for a conundrum that has Mrs H. and I completely baffled.

On Tuesday December 7th 2010, at approximately 6.20 pm our next-door neighbour knocked at the door and asked if any parcels had been left at our house for her whilst she'd been out. I told her that I'd been in all day and the postman hadn't left any deliveries for her at all. We chatted for a few minutes about the weather and other matters and then she returned to her home. Several minutes later I realised that I had to retrieve a book from my study upstairs. My wife was already upstairs in the bedroom, vacuuming.

As I reached the top landing I happened to glance out of the window at the front garden, and noticed something decidedly odd. I instinctively shouted for Jackie, “Here...come and look at this...” Without pausing for so much as a second she replied, “I know what you're going to say – the footprints in the snow.” She had already looked out of the window and noticed the anomaly before I'd ascended the stairs. I immediately went and got my camera and at exactly 6.32 pm took a series of photographs.

So, what was so odd that my attention was riveted to such a degree?

The front of our house was covered with a thick blanket of snow; pristine, glistening and completely undisturbed except for our neighbour's footprints. And that's where the problem lay. In the snow we could clearly see the prints leading up our neighbvour's own garden path, at which point she'd turned right and crossed the two parking bays between our respective dwellings. You could see her footprints in the snow there, too. But then they stopped at the top of our path. There wasn't a single footprint in the snow between the top of the path and our front door. This was inexplicable, as she'd walked up to the door only minutes earlier.

Jackie and I tried to come up with a rational explanation, but couldn't. More, there wasn't a sign of any footprints leading from our door back to her own house, which there obviously should have been. It wasn't snowing when she knocked at the door, and it didn't snow between her visit and my taking the photographs minutes later. To this day we have absolutely no explanation as to why her footprints ended at the top of the path. How on earth did she walk from the top of the path to our door without leaving prints in the snow, and how did she walk back to her own home without leaving a single trace either?

Another oddity is that as the footsteps get closer to our path they seem to get smaller and sit much closer together.

Using Serif Panorama Plus and Serif Photo Plus, I seamlessly stitched the pictures together. The result left us more baffled than ever, as the enigma can be seen even more graphically.

I'm just prepared to accept that there may be a rational explanation for this, but I'll be damned if I can come up with one. If any readers of this blog can assist, I'll be delighted to hear from them. END

DALE DRINNON: Traditional Northwest Coast Sea Monsters Part Two

(PART 2)

Sisiutl is a very important Totem of the Northwest Coastal area under a variety of names. It is a peculiar thing because of the artwork in the area is known to "Unfold" subjects and show both sides at the same time. So the Sisiutl is spoken of as "Two_headed" because the head shows in profile on either end.
Sisiutl is also important as evidence of TransPacific diffusion because there have been several experts that have said it is the direct transposition of the very old Chinese figure of T'ao-T'ieh (Taotie) which is also basically a large central mask and incorporating two smaller "Dragon" figures in the design.
The Sisiutl would not really be a creature with a head on each end, it would be a creature where the head end and the tail end only look the same (or similar)
[Petroglyph of Sisiutl]
I believe in the New World the design of the Sisiutl is basically like some sea-turtle masks which use the shell as the area where a human face goes and the flippers are arranged around it. In this case, the basic idea is that there is a big "Turtle" body and then a longer snaky head and neck on the one side and then again a snaky tail on the other. The classic description of a plesiosaur as a "Snake threaded through the body of a turtle" springs to mind.
[Tom Hunt Sisiutl, Left-hand side: Sisiutl is Euryapsid]
[Another Sisiutl with Plesiosaur Paddles]
In short and without belabouring a point too much, I think Sisiutl is a conventionalized way of depicting the same Longer-necked Sea-serpent types still reported more recently and sometimes called "Cadborosaurus". The one "Sis-Explained" diagram indicates a row of "Fins" down the back that obviously mean to show a "String-of-buoys" type of Sea-serpent report.
[Thalassodracon, a Plesiosaur]
I have darkened over a Sisiutl depiction in the "Silhouette" illustrations to show what such a creature might look like in profile and from above (lengths of the neck and tail vary a great deal in such depictions so exact proportins are uncertain) And I include a reference illustration of a conventional plesiosaur just to keep it handy.
The Sisiutl is also closely connected to salmon and is said to govern salmon runs; they are said to be of "One nature" with the salmon. Ivan Sanderson spoke of Longnecked creatures pursuing salmon runs and even "Herding" fishes into denser schools for easier feeding: he had said that one reason Longnecked creatures went inland was in pursuit of salmon runs and that they are occasionally seen following such runs in fresh water. I assume this meant in the Columbia river system but he might also have meant the Loch Ness Monster is supposed to favor a diet of salmon.One place he mentioned this is in Investigating the Unexplained.

DANIEL PACE: The European Wildman


In medieval England, Germany and Switzerland there used to be sightings of so-called hairy "wild men" that were not ape-like Bigfoot giants but man-sized hairy men with a bearded European man's face. The sightings, still reported only in Switzerland where I visited last year, are of a naked hairy man of a European type like the wild men depicted on heraldic coats-of-arms. I'm sure you have seen many examples of these where you are in England. The European wild man always appears holding a wooden club of oak. As far as I am aware, no prehistoric 'cavemen' were completely hairy as the wild man and no prehistoric 'apemen' were over 4'11". So how does one account for the often 6-feet-tall wild man? Is it perhaps a thought-form
like the yeti of Tibet?

Daniel Pace

OLL LEWIS: Yesterday's News Today


On this day in 1950 George Orwell was born.
And now, the news:

Researchers discover giant crayfish species right ...
Whale Activist Vows To Fast Till Death
Something in the water: Gerard Byrne goes after th...

This is interesting and informative:


Still on a Biblical theme, Karl Shuker goes in search of the real leviathan ...