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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, November 09, 2011

CARL MARSHALL: Big cat report (Cotswolds)

On March 2nd this year Richard Lamb, manager of Stratford-upon-Avon Butterfly Farm, was driving home alone from London. It was about 11:30pm as he travelled between Burford and Stow-on-the-Wold on the A424 when his eyes caught glimpse of a large, dark, feline shape standing still in front of a row of bushes that was parallel to the pathway on the left hand side of the road. The animal had adopted a low hunting posture or something had startled it such as the car. As soon as he drove past and realized what he had seen Richard slammed on his brakes, put the car into reverse and tried to get another look, but the mystery cat had disappeared into the darkness. If Richard had had a camera with him he would not have had the time to prepare for the shot.

Richard says that for the second or two he saw it he could make out the shape quite clearly and it was obviously a large cat, with its muscular body and stocky head, thick tail ending in a hook and small rounded ears. He eventually concluded that he had probably seen a medium-sized melanistic leopard. Note: Richard is very skilled at species identification, often spotting the most minute sub-specific differences between specimens of lepidoptera with relative ease, which is of course his speciality. But he is also extremely knowledgeable about the natural world in general and I personally trust his judgement. He also told me that he had taken other species into consideration as possible identities for the sighting, such as foxes, but finally decided to go back to his original suggestion as the animal he sighted moved and acted more like a felid than anything else.

What made him first look over was the green reflective eye shine as the panther stared into his headlights and paused for a second. Reflective eye shine in nocturnal animals is caused when light passes through rods in the inner eye structure. These act as light receptors as opposed to the cones that work as colour receptors; this means animals with more rods than cones to their eyes can see better in the dark, but a strong light source can distort their perception of colour. After light passes into the rods and travels through the retina it hits a layer of membranous tissue called the Tapetum Lucidum, which then bounces the light back through the retina; this is used to create more light for the photo-receptors enabling the animal to see more efficiently in low light conditions.

Richard believes that the cat he saw was probably black; however, it was 11:30pm and although he had the aid of his headlights there was little light so it may have just been very dark.
Richard also states that the leopard was smaller than the typical African leopard, which would be approximately twenty-five inches (63cm) at its shoulder. The male can be up to thirty percent larger than the female. Richard estimates the cat he saw was about eighteen inches (45cm) at the shoulder and probably just over a metre long including tail. He felt it was about the size of the Amur leopards he recently observed at the Cotswold Wildlife Park and theorises that the cat's diminutive size was either due to a poor diet or it was a sub-adult.

As a point of interest there is actually a Beast of Burford and the local animal park have indeed put out a reward for the animals capture. After phoning this animal park and speaking to a guy named Stuart, I was informed that the reward was put out about eight years ago and to date they have had no response to the reward, which is probably a good thing after all: as Neil Arnold advised me, if someone shoots at it and injures it, it could become dangerous, posing a threat towards man. Stuart did say there had been animal kills reported and also that he had personally observed a panther locally and that his observation could NOT be ignored or assumed to be a large black dog or domestic cat with no size perception against its surroundings. It has apparently also been spotted within the last three months on the Charlbury estate in Oxfordshire.

I suggest that the animal Richard saw was probably a juvenile leopard. The reason I am choosing this explanation over the poor health theory is because Richard claims he could see the muscular tones in the body structure of the animal and that it looked robust and healthy, with a stocky tail not looking emaciated at all.

One thing is for certain: if the reward was put out eight years ago and the leopard Richard saw was likely a juvenile then we must consider the fact that these big cats are probably breeding and producing viable offspring in the wilds of the UK.

I am now keeping an up-to-date record of sightings in the Cotswolds area.

GLEN VAUDREY: Whole Wide World #22

22. Mexico
Our last stop before the United States is Mexico, the historic home of the Aztec empire whose connection with chocolate would result in Cadburys in the late 1960s naming a chocolate bar after them. So without any further distraction we are going to look at today’s cryptid, the Ahuitzotl.

Described as being black, with skin like rubber, smooth and slippery and with a long tail. The Ahuitzotl had small pointed ears while its hands were like those of a monkey and that includes the one intriguingly reportedly to be found on its tail.



















It was reported to live in underwater caverns and if anyone were to swim past its lair it would grab the poor unfortunate and drown them. When the victim’s body was recovered it was found that the Ahuitzotl had some strange tastes because the body would be lacking its eyes, teeth and nails. Sadly for the world of cryptozoology it appears that the Ahuitzotl didn’t last that long after the arrival of the Spanish in the New World.

Next stop the United States, so once it’s dark we shall nip over the border and see what cryptids are to be found in the north.

MUIRHEAD`S MYSTERIES: TWO ODD MARINE STORIES FROM THE S.CHINA SEA





Hello again.Today I present,in the words of the original newspaper articles,two stories from Singapore newspapers, The Singapore Free Press of 2 June1955 and The Straits Times, 30 March 1984.


The 1955 story concerns a 7ft "monster" in the sea near Hong Kong and the second a 2.5m long "funny fish" that Jon and Max are trying to identify.










HAUNTED SKIES: Scranton Times 2.8.65.


http://hauntedskies.blogspot.com/2011/11/scranton-times-2865.html

OLL LEWIS: Yesterday's News Today

On this day in 1960 Neil Gaiman was born. Gaiman has written great works in just about every medium of entertainment including films and comics, but his best works are probably his novels, American Gods in particular.
And now the news:

Why Some Birds of Prey Become Transvestites
50-Legged Creature May Have Been Top Predator of A...
Experienced Male Nightingales ‘Show Off’ To Protec...
Prehistoric Mite Caught Hitching A Ride On A Spide...
Deer are bad news for birds
Carpet Sea-squirt found in north Kent
Loggerhead turtles take 45 years to grow up

The trailer for Stardust, based on Neil Gaiman’s novel of the same name:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y6_gBg4XjWk

DALE DRINNON: South Bay Bessie

Because the matter came up again on the CFZ blog, I reprinted my earlier Blog posting on South Bay Bessie, the Lake Erie Monster:
http://frontiersofzoology.blogspot.com/2011/11/creatures-that-came-to-toledo-part-3.html

...which came up with a new and plausible identification at the time and one that I feel fits the bill quite nicely.

Best Wishes, Dale D.
PS, two more Cedar and Willow blogs are also already in the works and shall be posted later in the week.

PLATASTERIAS LATIRADIATA - THE LIVING FOSSIL THAT NEVER WAS


http://karlshuker.blogspot.com/2011/11/platasterias-latiradiata-living-fossil.html

CRIPTOZOOLOGIA EN ESPAÑA: Giant snakes in Spain

Right from the Spanish cryptozoology blog, Criptozoologia En España:

Now you can listen to "Giant Snakes in Spain"(spanish audio)

"Javier Resines talks about several cases of huge snakes that have walked through the Spanish geography since the eighteenth century to the present times. Some stories are easy to explain... others less so."

Read on the complete article at: http://criptozoologos.blogspot.com/2011/11/ya-puedes-escuchar-serpientes-gigantes.html

You will be able to translate the spanish text by using the blog translator!

Criptozoologia en España by Javier Resines
http://criptozoologos.blogspot.com/

A NEW FEATURE FOR THE BLOGGO: Criptozoologia En España

Courtesy of our new friend Walter Cantero, we will now be featuring a digest (in English) of each posting on the prolific and popular Spanish language cryptozoology blog Criptozoologia En España. A big thank you to Walter and to Criptozoologia En España main man Javier Resines....