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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Saturday, May 21, 2011


On Friday, May 13th I went to Manchester; about 1 and a half hours by bus from Macclesfield. I am not superstitious, given the date, and I was not unlucky. Read on!

I was looking through the North Express, which I know nothing about except it caught my eye as the Local Studies Library only had 18 months of film and I didn`t have much time. I found three items of interest from a cryptozoological and ancient-technological point of view.

Firstly, a story from December 2nd 1901 from the Klondike, the gold rush speculating area of the Yukon.

A miner named Beaumet, who has returned from Klondike, has brought with him evidences of prehistoric man in that region in the shape of solid silver shoe nails of the same shape as those now used, the nails having regular indentations in their sides.

Several dozens of them were found at a depth of 110 feet on the bed rock of a creek. Some bones of a mastodon which were found in the same place give a clue to the age of the nails (1)

Part of the following item is reproduced here; the parts of relevance to us:

Many parts of China Afford Great Attractions to Sportsmen

The Northern Deer Park, in the mountains north-west of Peking, is one of the finest preserves in the world, and contains a very large herd of giant deer…Szechuan is also the home of a peculiar animal that might be called a “ missing link”. It is a species of ape growing quite large, adults reaching four feet in height. It lives in the mountains, and is protected from the cold by heavy fur and mane. It is peculiar for the fact that hibernates like a bear and the Chinese recognizing this peculiarity call it the run-hiung, or the man bear. It is much sought for its flesh, and its paws are prized as great delicacies…The southern provinces of China are remarkable for a monkey, which in grotesque and variagated colurs, can only be compared to a mandarin duck and gold fish, which are also peculiar to China. These southern China monkeys have bodies of a light brown colour, but the face is a brilliant orange, with a black band across the forehead.

The arms are white, but the hands a most intense black. The tail and a large spot over it are also white, while the thighs are black, and the legs a brilliant red. (2)



A small gulch near Florence, in Colorado, has been found to be full of snakes – great stone snakes whose wriggling days are over; prehistoric snakes with enormous heads and tails like rudders.

An effort is being made to get some perfect specimens of some of the strangest of these wonderful fossils for museums.

The first find, which was made only a few months ago, was a head measuring two feet and a half by two feet eight inches.

It was so unmistakably the head of a fossil animal of some sort that the discoverers determined to search for the rest of the body. They found it in sections, part on one side of the gulch and part on the opposite side…The tail is shaped like a rudder and pitched downward, which leads the discoverers of the reptile to the belief that it was a swimmer rather than a crawler. The shape of the body is much like that of a salmon, with the narrow edge downward. The marks on the fractured, stony edges of the body indicate that the serpent had no vertebrae, but only cartillage for holding the long mass together…Many of the fossils are to be found in this spot. One that has been taken out has a head thirty-three by thirty-six inches. Four pieces of the body and the head measure seven feet in length, and weigh 700lbs.

The belief amongst scientists who have heard of these discoveries is that they are of great value. Can the sea serpents whose reported appearance from time to time we treat with such incredulity , be the descendants of such monsters as these? (3)

1. North Express December 2nd 1901
2. Ibid Dec 7th 1901
3. Ibid Dec 23rd 1901


You are the “power and the glory”
You are the weakness in defeat
Like the rise and fall of the British Empire
You make me sick with your conceit

You are,you are the weakness
You are,you are,you are
You are the sickness that`s in my soul
You are, you are,you are “the Maker”
You are called greed and you re a cheat
You are,you are, you are the Deceiver
You are not welcome in my life



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. Today’s Fortean Five is complied by J.T. Lindroos. J.T. runs the Point Blank Press publishing house and is also a rather superb designer as you can see here: http://jtlindroos.posterous.com/ . Take it away J.T.

1. The Well to Hell

The story went around in the early '90s how Russians had drilled a 14.5-mile borehole next to the border of Finland and cracked the Earth's shell direct into Hell. This tale has it all: from subterranean mysteries and hollow earth theories to theology, ultraterrestrials, Edgar Rice Burroughs with overtones from my favourite short story ever, Arthur Conan Doyle's When the World Screamed.

2. Philip K. Dick and the Pink Beam
The wealth of brilliant writing that sprouted from this event alone would be enough to qualify it to the top 5. What makes it more significant is PKD's ability to speculate on the event itself, to consider all open options about its significance and its randomness, to make a valid case for opposing answers to the mystery, and to turn it loose on the world. Not to mention that it also resulted in a Robert Crumb comic book.

3. Dean Radin bends a spoon
A trivial incident that conceptually hits a nerve. Accidental, believable, unexplainable and unrepeatable.

4. The Great Thunderstorm of Widecombe-in-the-Moor
Ever since I read the Tintin adventure Seven Crystal Balls, I've had a fascination with ball lightning. This 1638 event was so dramatic and the reaction to it so speculative that it is perfect as a representation of the narrow bridge between mystery and nature, and how they intermingle. That we still don't understand the phenomenon, that we haven't even got decent documentation of it, enforces the fact that the universe is much more mysterious than we often give it credit for.

5. Patterson-Gimlin film
I don't want to hear another word about it, be it speculation or 'facts' or anecdotes. But it remains a fascinating piece of history; a question without an answer, yet one you can actually see for yourself. Singular and suffused with a sense of wonder.

HAUNTED SKIES: A Bumper Crop of Archive Material

As work on Volume Three intensifies, there is just too much material, hence today's bumper bag of out-takes.

1966 Interview with Gordon Creighton
1966 Report Card from the Isle of Wight UFO Society
Source material from an interesting 1966 case from the Isle of Wight

OLL LEWIS: Yesterday's News Today


On this day in 1859 Sir Arthur Conan Doyle was born. As well as being the creator of Sherlock Holmes, whose adventures would sometimes include fortean themes, Doyle had a very keen interest in the paranormal, being a member of The Ghost Club and holding strong beliefs in spiritualism. His best known foray into paranormal investigation was the case of the Cottingley Fairies, a hoax by two young girls, which he was convinced was genuine. Still... good writer, though.
And now the news:

Hampshire 'tiger sighting' causes major alert
Legendary chupacabra spotted in Texas?

Some videos are more or less mandatory when certain things are mentioned in the news, like this for example:


Yesterday evening Prudence was rushing around the garden like she had the wind in her tail. When she came in, however, she was limping on three legs.

Although, this morning the limp was largely gone, we took her to the vet in Bradworthy. It seems she may have a problem with her cruciate ligament, which will require expensive surgery. She goes in to the vet in Holsworthy on Tuesday to be examined under an anaesthetic, and probably x-rays. This alone will cost up to £250.

We are not whingeing about the cost of her treatment; I have no sympathy with people who take on an animal and then complain about the cost of its upkeep. You should have thought about that before you joined, Sonny Jim (as my father would have said), but I want to explain why we won't be out and about as planned for the next month or so. The Charity fish auction in Redditch next month is a no-no, for example.

All we ask is for you to remember Pru in your thoughts and prayers, and keep your collective fingers crossed.
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DALE DRINNON: Follow-up to PNW Giant Salamanders

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LIZ CLANCY: Heywood Headlines

Just to prove that even a remarkable story can be exaggerated, on my way to work last week I noticed that part of the town had been cordened off and was being guarded by the police. The taxi driver informed me that there had been an explosion. At work and after lunch one of my colleagues came in to tell us she had been over to find out the full story; there had indeed been an explosion at Bar Vino (officially renamed Miami Ice a while ago but locals take little notice of such things; The Old Fashioned will ever be to us The Queen Anne).

Of interest to us here is the fate of the rabbit who lived in the flat above the bar. Apparently, though the whole building burnt down, firefighters found the fluffy-eared fellow among the wreckage and rubble after they had put the fire out, and he was completely unharmed. Not so.

Waffles, as The Heywood Advertiser reported this morning, was indeed left with hardly a scratch on him but rather than miraculously emerging from the ashes like the Heywood Phoenix (buy our beer; visit our health/council/learning/social centre), was rescued by the afore-mentioned Firemen Sams from the flames as they still burned. Incredibly lucky, yes; asbestos bunny, nope.

Headline number two: we have a new fish shop just two or three doors down from the one I bought my supper from last night, except unlike Ruby's, this one sells fish intended for the tank rather than the tummy. We wish 'em well at CFZ Heywood and promise to pop in some time without salt and vinegar. And to report the shop's name to CFZers as soon as the sign goes up....
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