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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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Monday, July 23, 2012

MUIRHEAD`S MYSTERIES: SINGING SPIDERS

The following two letters appeared in the Manchester City News on January 23rd 1883 and January 31st 1883:

SINGING SPIDERS
London, January 23rd

A Dutch gentleman, who many years ago had the office of Inspector of Prisons in Holland, informed me the other week that “spiders sing” on the following authority:- Questioning a prisoner who could not sleep at night if he did not find it wearisome lying awake, he was answered, “ I should if it were not for the singing of my spiders.”

“Singing! Spiders don`t sing!” ejaculated the inspector, with some doubts of the man`s sanity. “Oh yes,they do,” said the prisoner; listen!” He did listen, and in the stillness could distinctly hear harmonious sounds proceeding from the said spiders; faint,but, as he said, “clear and harmonious!” I have watched beautiful garden spiders at work, but not in silence so profound as to hear them “singing”. Perhaps some of your naturalistic friends may be wiser, or be tempted to observe for themselves.

(1) ISABELLA BANKS

SINGING SPIDERS
Greenhays, Manchester, Jan. 31st

With reference to Mrs Linnaeus* Banks`s note on the so-called Singing Spiders, I think that the sounds in question may have been produced by one of the species belonging to the family Theridiodae, and probably by the species known as Steatoda bi-punctata (Linn.). The male of this species, like others of the same family, produces a creaking sound by the rubbing together of two horny plates on the thorax and body, but it can hardly be called a song, although a species has been described from North America which produces a sound compared to “the purring of a cat”. The sound (which is produced only by the males) is supposed to serve to call the females, and is mentioned by Mr Darwin in his Descent of Man as being the first instance he has met with in the ascending scale in which a sound is emitted for that purpose. The species I have mentioned is of frequent occurrence in this country, as well as in Holland and on the Continent in general. The garden spider, Ep. Diademata, does not produce any sounds.

HENRY C.YOUNG. (2)

Sic

1 Manchester City News Country Notes (book version) p. 7
2 Ibid p.10

THE LAST PEAK DISTRICT WALLABY 2010 (*1)

The last Peak District wallaby just got knocked over by a car half an hour ago.
Or was that sound a shot?
Because it`s lying here at my feet,
still and warm.
A wallaby sandwich? Perhaps I`ll talk to the Snowgoose (*2) about it.
Otherwise, what a pointless end to the seventy year tale of the Roaches wallabies.

© Richard Muirhead

*1 Since writing this poem I have read on a web site that a wallaby was seen in 2011.

*2 Snowgoose. A Macclesfield restaurant.

1 comment:

office23 said...

A Gloucester 'Roo

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-gloucestershire-18974104