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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In between each episode of OTT, we now present OTTXtra. Here are the last three episodes:


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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...

Sunday, January 30, 2011

OLL LEWIS: TV Series review: Primeval

Surprise! After umming and ah-ing over the cost of the third series and ITV cancelling the show, Primeval is back on our screens. However, after international investment they have reconsidered and a reboot of sorts has taken place. For those not aware, Primeval started off a few years back as ITV's answer to the popularity of Doctor Who on the BBC. Of course, because it would be difficult to compete with the Doctor head on you need a new idea that will appeal instantly to a family audience and they went for dinosaurs. To ensure quality, the team behind the BBC's Walking with Dinosaurs was used, including a certain consultant who happens to be a well known member of CFZ amongst other things. The gamble paid off, and then some, for the first two series producing consistently very good episodes each week, series three saw the departure of the man who up until then had been the main character and with him, but the show still retained its audience.

Series four is, after two episodes, looking fantastic and might well be the best series yet. So far the only returning characters from the first three series have been Abby (she out of S-Club7) Conner (the excitable student comic relief in the first series who has since grown into a much more rounded character) and James Lester (the civil servant head of the Arc played by the brilliant Ben Miller). This is a good thing as they were the best characters from the first three series and they are joined by an intriguing new mix of characters; one of them at least, it is hinted from a clandestine-looking meeting in episode two, is hiding a secret. The first episode is an entertaining but on the rails affair where Conner and Abby seek to open up a time anomaly to get back to the present from the Cretaceous period. It picks up considerably in the second episode where Conner, now sacked from the Arc, meets up with an old university chum that after an encounter with dodos in series one is now a fully paid up member of the tinfoil hat brigade and they are soon on the run from a dinosaur in a container yard. It's great stuff and certainly back to form. I highly recommend you watch.

EDITOR'S NOTE: This review has been kicking around my files for several weeks, so - not being a TV watcher - I suspect that the series will be far later in its run by now, if it hasn't finished. However, you can let Oll's enthusing tempt you towards buying the DVD box when it appears.



Karl Shuker goes to South America in search of giant toads and South American sasquatches.

MIKE HALLOWELL: Geordie horse-ripping (Naomi do not read)

Some animal-related unpleasantness to report from Geordieland, I'm afraid.

Bill Quay is a pleasant little community just north of Hebburn and just south of Wardley, the nearest large town being Gateshead. Driving through Bill Quay, one of the pleasing sights to greet one's eyes is that of horses ambling in fields; a touch of rurality in an area renowned for its industry.

But then Sunday came along and things changed.

Mark Taylor and Lawrence March owned three horses between them. Lawrence was the proud owner of two gypsy cobs; Mark, a seven month-old foal named Jacko. All three had the run of a field just off Wardley Lane. On Sunday morning the men went to the adjacent stables to visit the horses and were devastated at what they found. The two cobs had been attacked, their manes and tails cut off.

Superficially, the incident seemed to be a simple case of animal cruelty: some wack-job attacks horses; end of story. But it's actually a little more complicated than that. The police believe that the horses must have been chased before being assaulted, which tends to mitigate against the idea that this was simply a random act of violence carried out on the spur of the moment. Whoever did this was determined and went about their vile business at some considerable risk. Not only is the field near a busy road, but it is also only yards away from Hebburn Fire Station. (1)

The incident caused a furore in the neighbourhood, naturally. But things were to take on an even more sinister hue. Taylor and March discovered the plight of the two horses on Sunday morning. The following day they went to check on the horses again, only to find that Mark Taylor's foal, Jacko, had been killed. The perpetrators had struck on two successive nights and managed to carry out the attacks without being seen or heard on either.

The way in which the foal was dispatched was sickening. Its neck had been twisted 180° - “like the girl on the Exorcist”, said Taylor (2) – and the two men were left wondering what on earth had made their horses the target off such wanton cruelty.

There is, as far as I can see, nothing that explicitly points to this being anything other than the actions of a twisted personality with a hatred of horses; or perhaps I should say personalities, in the plural, as it is unlikely that one individual could have been responsible for the first attack involving two gypsy cobs.

But you never can tell. Animal mutilation, but not of the extraterrestrial kind. The work of cultists? Or just sick bastards? Hopefully they'll be arrested, and then we'll find out.

1) The Shields Gazette, Thursday, January 6, 2011.
2) The Evening Chronicle, Thursday, January 6, 2011.


Followers of our activities will remember that last year we published Strangely Strange but Oddly Normal, an anthology of the writings of Andy Roberts. This was always meant to be the start of a series, and so I am overjoyed to announce that two more anthologies, featuring the writings of Nick Redfern, and the writings of Paul Screeton, are in preparation and shall be arriving shortly.

Meanwhile, the finishing touches to the Yearbook are being done now, and we hope that it will go to press within the next week.


I was very pleased with the response to my call for proofreaders last week. I had six replies, three of whom have already been given assignments, and the other three who will be given stuff in the next few days.

Thanks, guys.


Back in June Max, Dave B-P and I went to the Livebearer auctions in Redditch, where, amongst other things, we bought some knife livebearers (Alfaro cultratus). We managed to breed them in October but sadly a power failure killed everything in their tank on my desktop, except for two male guppies and two large female cultratus.

Since then, one of the cultratus has disappeared, and I was beginning to despair until this morning when I noticed five tiny grey babies.

Calling to Oll to remove the two guppies immediately, we are feeding the babies with brine-shrimp eggs and are hoping that the one remaining adult cultratus doesn't decide to go in for infanticide. Oh, the dramas that take place on my desktop.

NB: Bizarrely, the missing cultratus turned up about half an hour after I wrote the above, and at time of writing there are still at least five tiny babies; the smallest livebearer fry that I have ever seen, since I was a child and bred Gambusia affinis in Hong Kong.

OLL LEWIS: Yesterday's News Today


On this day in 1958 James Van Allen discovered the Van Allen radiation belts.
And now, the news:

Cross-eyed opossum on diet to improve health and e...
Coyotes sighted near Manitoba school
Wisconsin DNR says animal sighted not a cougar
Hip cat: Tiger gets landmark artificial joint oper...

And again: