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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Wednesday, September 21, 2011


Graham is currently removing what is left of my stuff from the loft of my erstwhile home in Exeter. Amongst piles of rubbish he found a very tatty and coverless guide book to London Zoo from sometime in the 1930s. It includes this: a reference to the third species of Asian giant salamander that was at that time believed to exist, although these days it is usually considered to be a synonym for the Chinese giant salamander (Andrias davidianus).

The type specimen was found in Hong Kong during the 1920s when a drain in the Royal Botanic Gardens burst....

ROBERT SCHNECK: The Mark of Cane Toad

Dear Jon,

I have mixed feelings about items made from animals. Scorpions shouldn't be encased in lucite keychains reading "Greetings from Scottsdale, Arizona!" on principle. Nevertheless, they fascinate me, and on rare occasions can be enjoyed without guilt. Toadshop.com, for example, has novelties made from cane toads which are grotesque and awful and I want them. Shown here is the change purse (available with or without forelegs), a belt buckle, and a shoulder purse.

OLL LEWIS: Folklore of the Jungle - Weretigers

Whilst there is still no news from Sumatra, Oll is hard at work looking at the forteana of that strange island...

All across the world there are tales of men and women who can use the power of animals in battle and the pursuit of knowledge. In the Americas there are stories of shamans that can inhabit the minds or take on the spirit of an animal for religious purposes and in Europe there are tales of people who would physically change their shape into that of wolves going into an insane bloodlust in the process. The European folklore for the most part tends to see animal shape shifting as a negative thing where people loose control of their inhibitions and often go on to kill their friends and neighbours in a vicious manner, where as the folklore of the Americas tends on the whole to see animal shape shifting as a positive thing often resulting in benefits for a community. This difference is not only due to the differing cultural relationship between humans and the animal kingdom but how the legends evolved. The European legends became tied into those of elite and bloodthirsty warriors like the berserkers which took on the perceived traits of wolves in battle and wore their skins.

In Asia things are a bit different, it is not a case of, to misquote Orwell, four legs bad two legs good or vice-versa. In Asian folklore shape shifters are not wholly bad or good their actions can depend on how they are treated by people. In the folklore of Asia the werewolf is often replaced by the Weretiger, although some cultures have regional variations like the Werecrocodiles. In China one tradition has it that ghosts of men killed by tigers will possess people and turn them into Weretigers that will act in a similar way to European werewolves and rampage around the area killing people in vengeance for their own death. In other cultures powerful sorcerers are said to be able to become Weretigers and after killing and eating many people a tiger may become a Weretiger.

In Indonesia, and Sumatra in particular, there are many stories found in folklore about Weretigers. It is generally believed there that the ability to become a Weretiger will be often be inherited and that a Weretiger is a powerful sorcerer, wise man or shaman and benevolent towards his fellow men unless he has just cause to take revenge for something. According to Sumatran tradition a Weretiger will only change at night and often will do this in order to protect crops and plantations. Tradition also has it that once a man has taken on the form of the tiger he will not recognise anybody, even close friends and family members unless they call out to him by name. Another tradition states that sometimes Weretigers will disguise themselves as beggars and then transform themselves into tigers to exact revenge on those cruel enough to refuse them a donation. This tale was quite possibly originally spread by beggars themselves however and may have little to do with the shamans that claim to be Weretigers (be on your guard in your local city centre for chuggers that may be Weretigers though).

On a previous CFZ expedition to Sumatra John Hare investigated local folk beliefs on Weretigers and found that they are still very much alive and well. He found out that rather than making a biological change of shape a Weretiger will take on the soul and mannerisms of the tiger through a martial art whereby they enter a trance like state and channel it’s spirit. One of the expeditions guides was in-fact a Weretiger in this sense and quite proficient in the art.

A Weretiger, in the Sumatran sense of the word, could not be described as a cryptid as there is no doubt they definitely exist, but the question is where do real Weretigers end and where do the legends begin. Certainly if a person believes they are and trains their body to be able to act in a similar manner to a tiger, or how a human perceives a tiger to act, then they can be said to be Weretigers in the same way that the Bererkers were seen as wolves or other animals on the battlefield.

HAUNTED SKIES: 12.3.1968 - UFO Sighting (Glasgow)


OLL LEWIS: Yesterday's News Today


On this day in 1979 the Vela incident occurred (nothing to do with Paul ).
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Restoring the 'churning of the sea of milk' gallery in Angkor Wat: