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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Thursday, March 22, 2012

DAN HOLDSWORTH: I got dem ol' ornithopter blues again Mama

This is, I am sure, an early April Fool's day spoof (people have beentrying to make working man-carrying ornithopters for donkey's years,without much success). Question is, how the hell has it ended up on theBBC's science and technology page without even a hint of joke to it?

An hour later:
Jon,This is definitely a fake.I can think of a couple of ways to do this one; either videomanipulation or actually "fly" the thing with the pilot hanging off awire zip-line, which is subsequently edited out of the video frame byframe.Quite who got it onto the BBC deserves a medal, though.

About an hour after that:
By way of background, years and years ago I qualified for a basic-levelhang-gliding pilot certificate. As a result of this, I know how heavy aman-carrying glider is, and how much wing area you need even for just acontrolled hilltop to valley glide. That flapping thing has far too little wing area to carry a man, and ismuch, much too light to be strong enough to carry a man. A hang-gliderweighs about 50 kilos or thereabouts; you can stand up with one on yourshoulders (you have to, to be able to launch one) but it isn't easy andas to flapping wings too, this is impossible. A person cannot flapwings heavy enough to support a person and glider with just arm power(or even arm and leg power combined; this has been tried) alone.Finally, the wings aren't joined in the middle. Hang-glider wings arejoined, because that's where much of the lift comes from; hang-gliderwings are a complex shape so designed that when you increase the angleof attack by pushing the control bar out, the centre of the wing stallsfirst and the wing only slowly loses lift. This makes landing thethings a good deal easier; you can scrub off speed and make acontrolled landing.That contraption doesn't have the main lift zone that that sort of wingneeds, and on landing the entire thing would stall all at once. Havingonce managed to land a glider on a drystone wall, I can easily see theneed for a wing that is predictable on landing.It's a fake. The film is a damn good fake, and the editing is firstrate, but it is still a fake. Check with Matthew Williams; he has microlight experience and will be able to confirm what I say here.

Later that evening...
http://www.foxnews.com/scitech/2012/03/22/dutch-artist-admits-faking-viral-human-bird-wings-video/Not a real model on a zip-wire as I thought, but cgi using dodgy focus to cover inadequacies of the computer imaging.You know, we're going to see more and more of this in future. The new Fortean mantra is going to have to be not "pictures or it never happened" but "physical evidence that stands up to police evidence levels, or it never happened".

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