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 three episodes pretty much at random:


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Sunday, May 15, 2011


I recently found the following story in my archives whilst looking for something else. It was originally in The Argus, an Australian newspaper dated June 16th 1912:


Bombala (N.S.W.) Tuesday.- For many years past this portion of Monaro has been credited with being the possessor of a hairy man. Bushmen at various times have reported that they had seen an immense ape-like animal, but it had always managed to escape them. This afternoon word came through from Mr Sydney Jephcott, owner of Creewah Station, 20 miles from Bombala, that in the thick bush on his property yesterday he discovered tracks of an apparently immense animal. The tracks were like those of a human foot, but measured 18in in length and 8 in. across. Mr Jephcott ordered a quantity of plaster of Paris to be sent out from Bombala for the purpose of taking impressions.

Word was also received to-day that a man named Summerell, while shooting in the bush yesterday, came across an immense object resembling a man. On Summerell approaching,however, the creature picked up a stick and emitted a growling noise, and disappeared. Portions of Creewah are very rough and scrubby giving the mysterious animal excellent opportunities for hiding .(1)

1. Argus June 16th 1912.

If anyone has back issues of the ISC Newsletter or the ISC journal Cryptozoology they are prepared to see please can they contact me at flyingsnakepress@hotmail.co.uk Thanks.
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In Fortean Fives the great and the good of Forteana pick out Five interesting events from the history of Forteana. If you want to submit your own Fortean Five email it to Oll Lewis at fortean5s@gmail.com. Todays Fortean Five is compiled by Andrew May, who writes the Forteana Blog and compiles our round-ups of international CFZ activities. Take it away, Andrew:

[1] The appearance of a young Uri Geller on the Dimbleby Talk-In (23 November 1973). The show was memorable not just for Geller's (at the time completely new) stage act, but for the fact that Professor John Taylor of King's College London, brought on as a sceptical scientist, was completely taken in by it all, and underwent a quasi-religious conversion in front of the TV cameras! A couple of years later I went to a lecture by Prof. Taylor on the paranormal, and he was still a complete believer in it.

[2] The premiere of Ray Santilli's Alien Autopsy film at the Museum of London (5 May 1995). To anyone with any experience of the field the footage was an obvious hoax, and yet it was lapped up by the public and the media because -- just at that moment -- it filled a desperate need created by a combination of the X-Files and pre-millennial tension. BUFORA staked its reputation on the film's authenticity... and when it was shown to be a hoax, British ufology died its much-publicized death!

[3] The death of Princess Diana (31 August 1997). I was tempted to write "the assassination of Princess Diana", but she wasn't assassinated -- she died in a road traffic accident. This inconvenient fact doesn't stop the conspiracy theorists, however... and also a surprisingly large number of "ordinary people" who refuse to believe that a famous person is capable of dying an accidental death! It's this refusal to believe the obvious that transforms the event from something mundane into something Fortean.

[4] The revelation of the Third Secret of Fatima (26 June 2000). This was a mystery that had been speculated on for a long time (the original vision occurred in 1917, and the "secret" was written down and sealed in 1944)... and it's the kind of mystery that is only interesting as long as it remains a mystery! The fun was spoiled in the year 2000 when Pope John Paul II authorized publication of the secret. Conspiracy theorists refuse to believe that the published version is the "true" secret, of course -- although personally I'm sure it is.

[5] The "Da Vinci Code trial" -- Baigent and Leigh, claimants, versus the Random House Group, defendant (trial started on 27 Feb 2006). There was a time when The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail was a book known only to Forteans and New Agers, but its popularity was boosted first by Dan Brown's blockbuster The Da Vinci Code, and then by Baigent and Leigh's lawsuit accusing The Da Vinci Code of plagiarism. During the trial it became clear that the judge, Justice Peter Smith, knew a lot more about HBHG than Dan Brown did (he'd actually read it from cover to cover, for example) and his final judgment is a more entertaining read than The Da Vinci Code (it even contains its own coded message... probably a first in English Law)!
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NEIL ARNOLD: O’Donnell’s Demons

One of my favourite authors on the paranormal is Elliot O’Donnell. His fantastic books include Dangerous Ghosts, Haunted Britain, and Ghosts With A Purpose. O’Donnell wrote with creepy atmosphere, speaking of old, unique cases, some concerning himself. From haunted pools and ghostly heads to malevolent spooks, O’Donnell has always had a way of captivating the reader, and some of his strangest tales have concerned stories of alleged encounters with what appear to be monsters. Such monsters, of a clearly spectral nature, have been dubbed by researcher Jonathan Downes as ‘zooform phenomena.' Such beasts are clearly not cryptids – i.e. undiscovered creatures that could exist – but are of a more complex nature, either as demonic critters or manifestations connected to the human psyche in some obscure, as yet to be investigated way.

For example, in his excellent Dangerous Ghosts volume, O’Donnell, under the segment ‘Homicidal Ghosts’ mentions a story concerning a Mr John Luck. O’Donnell takes the story from two old works, being A Strange And True Relation Of One Mr John Luck and Legends & Traditions Of Huntingdonshire, both I assume by W.H.B. Saunders in 1662. O’Donnell goes on to mention the following: ‘(Mr John Luck), a farmer from Raveley, set out on horseback one morning to the annual fair at Whittlesea. On the way he met a friend, with whom he had a drink at a wayside inn. After drinking somewhat heavily Mr Luck became very merry, and perceiving that his friend was getting restless and desirous of continuing on his way to the fair, he said, “Let the devil take him who goeth out of this house today.”

The more he drank, the merrier he grew. Forgetful of his rash saying, he called for his horse and set out for the fair. The fresh air seemed to have a sobering effect, for he had not travelled very far before he remembered what he had said. He was naturally superstitious and became so perturbed that he lost his bearings. He was endeavouring to find the way home – it was getting dusk and far too late to go to the fair – when he espied “two grim creatures before him in the likeness of griffins”.

They handled him roughly, took him up in the air, stripped him, and then dropped him, a sad spectacle, all gory, in a farm yard just outside the town of Doddington. There he was found lying upon some harrows. He was picked up and carried to a house, which belonged to a neighbouring gentleman. When he had recovered sufficiently to talk, he related what had happened to him. Before long he “grew into a frenzy”, so desperate that the inmates of the house were afraid to stay in the room with him. Convinced that Luck was under evil influences, they sent for the clergyman of the town. No sooner had the clergyman entered the house than Luck, howling like a demon, rushed at him and would have torn him to pieces, had not the servants of the house come to his rescue. They succeeded with great difficulty in overcoming Luck and tying him to the bed. No one was allowed to enter his room, the door of which was locked.’

O’ Donnell goes on to describe how Mr Luck, the next morning, was found dead in his bed. His body a crooked, broken mess, black with bruises, neck snapped, and tongue hanging from his chasm of a mouth. His face an expression of utmost dread. Many believed that the griffin monsters were sent by Satan and had succeeded in their quest.

In the same segment of the book O’Donnell mentions a case in the 1800s concerning an American chap who, whilst asleep in a boarding house, awoke to find strange puncture marks on his body, believed to have been made by a vampyric wraith, and also spoke of a tall, green, luminous being with long limbs and no face but two glittering eyes. This was seen by his friend Trench who lived in a remote cabin in forest in the Far West of the country. Another bizarre entity Elliot mentions also comes from the United States in the area of what is known as Crater Lake. This area was often, according to O’Donnell, frequented by the Indians but hardly anyone else. One night, Elliot mentions, he was on horseback in the area when he came to a solitary tree. Upon seeing the tree the horse began to rear up. ‘There was something very sinister in the appearance of the tree. It was quite naked and looked as if it had been blasted.’

Upon speaking to his friend Trench, O’Donnell heard of a curious story concerning the tree. “I know the tree”, Trench said. “No animal will go near it. It is called the Tree of Death because so many people have been found dead under it. The Indians say it is haunted by a spirit with the trunk of a woman and the head of a coyote, that lures people to the tree and either induces them to commit suicide or murders them.”

Another bizarre zooform creature O’Donnell writes of is mentioned in the section ‘Very Unusual Haunting’ and mentions an old book called Popular Superstitions by H. Mayo concerning the case of a man who one night was confronted by the spirit of a young boy in his room. Realising the boy was a spectre the man struck at the figure but to no effect. The phantom then attacked the man, twisting his arm violently. For the next four months the ghost would visit the man but on the last night of its eerie visitation appeared not as a young boy but as a tall, brown figure with the head of an owl. A ghastly set of ghosts indeed!
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D.R.SHOOP: Spoiled Dog

I’m a cat person, but when I saw this I couldn’t resist the photo op!

Taken May 7th

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Dear all,

Probably some of you have noticed that the Herpetology Notes website has experienced some problems in the last three weeks. The reason was a hacker attack on the web space where, among others, the SEH website, Herpetology Notes, and the World Congress of Herpetology websites are hosted. The hackers flooded all these pages with malware. Therefore both Google and our web provider blocked some of the pages and domains.

It took us some time to understand what has happened and to remove the malware, which partly was deeply emdedded in some of the html pages, but we are confident that this part of the problem has now been solved. All pages should now be clean and safe again. However, we anticipate that it will take some time before all
access restrictions will be removed.

To overcome the current problems I have created a new subdomain to allow continued access to Herpetology Notes. Please note the new web address of Herpetology Notes where the journal files are now available again:

As soon as possible also the old Herpetology Notes web address will be made functional again and then will be redirecting to this new address.

Apologies for this trouble!

Miguel Vences
(Vice President SEH)

Prof. Dr. Miguel Vences
Technical University of Braunschweig
Zoological Institute
Mendelssohnstr. 4
38106 Braunschweig
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HAUNTED SKIES: Archive material from the 1966 Stephen Pratt case

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OLL LEWIS: Yesterday's News Today


On this day in 1929 the first Academy Awards, or Oscar, ceremony was held. The first 'best picture' winner was the silent movie Wings, which is the only silent movie ever to win the award.
And now the news:

Trumpeter swan sighted in eastern P.E.I.
Great Outdoors: Bald eagle sighting worth the odds...
Another big cat seen in El Paso
Mystery beast causing panic in Quang Ngai province...
Mining to blame for islands to sink beneath waves
Big cat spotted near dead deer in Moscow

Look: a video of a cute kitten wandering around in a random manner:
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DALE DRINNON: The Last Dragons of Europe

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