WELCOME TO THE CFZ BLOG NETWORK: COME AND JOIN THE FUN

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...

Search This Blog

SIGN UP FOR OUR MONTHLY NEWSLETTER

Saturday, December 24, 2016

CFZ ANNUAL REPORT 2016

Dear Friends,

2016 Annual Report for the Centre for Fortean Zoology

2016 has been a long and strange year for us all. And it is one which I am very pleased to say will soon be in the past. I am not superstitious enough to believe that just because we shall pass through an arbitrary barrier between December the 31st 2016 and January the 1st 2017 (man-made labels which have no real bearing upon the workings of the universe) that anything will necessarily change. However, a new year, for many people is a time for new hope and new beginnings, and – because we are essentially an optimistic species - I am going to suspend cynicism and disbelief and indulge in a game of ‘let's pretend’ and look forward to an exciting new year whilst taking stock of the events of the year just gone.

EXPEDITIONS
The year started inauspiciously with the death of David Bowie, but a few weeks later, Richard Freeman flew out to Australia to liaise with our friend and colleague Mike Williams of CFZ Australia for the latest in our series of expeditions to Tasmania in search of the Thylacine.

Richard has written up a detailed account of the expedition which can be read here:  http://cfzresources.com/publishing/animals-men/

Richard will be returning to Tasmania in January 2017, and he has produced the following expedition profile:

“In January of 2017 Mike Williams of CFZ Australia and Richard Freeman will be returning to Tasmania as part of the on-going search for the Tasmanian wolf. The expedition will follow an exciting new lead in the north east of the island as well as returning to an area of central Tasmania that has produced many recent reports.

Using new equipment, the team hope to get film of the thylacine and/or hair/or droppings for analysis. We are hoping to again join forces with former logger and thylacine witness Jo Booth”.

This is not the only expedition plan for 2017; 9 years after their last trip, the CFZ expeditionary Force are returning to Russia:

“Back in 2008 the CFZ took a major expedition into the Caucasus Mountains in search of the almasty. Now we are returning. A group of researchers from England including Chris Clark, Dave Archer, Richard Freeman, Jon Hare and Jackie Tonks will be teaming up with Ukrainian researchers Grigory Panchenko and Anatoly Sarendenko in a new search for the hominin in Karbadino Balkaria.

Set for late July 2017, the trip will return to the area surveyed in 2008 as well as moving into fresh zones. We also hope to secure a tooth from the skull of Kwhit, a possible human/almasty hybrid who died in the 1950s”.

PUBLICATIONS
For various reasons 2016 has not been a particularly prolific year for CFZ Publishing. Unfortunately, the current economic climate has meant that people, who only a few years ago were able to work pretty much full time as CFZ volunteers, are now forced into gainful employment, including me, I'm afraid. However, we have still produced 6 books, 3 hard copy magazines, a double issue of our Journal which will appear in hard copy next year, the latest issue of our peer reviewed journal which is edited by Dr. Karl Shuker and 12 monthly newsletters. This is in addition to editing a weekly magazine for Gonzo Multimedia, and doing various other products for them.

I am proud of what we have achieved, but with the advent of my new assistant Chloe Gray, I am confident that our productivity will go up in 2017.

My previous assistant left in February, and although Chloe joined in July, it took a couple of months to train her up, but I am very glad to say that she is shaping up very well indeed.

To clarify the situation with regard to Animals & Men, there have been two ordinary digital issues produced this year, together with a bumper double issue which came out just before Christmas. The first two of these have also been issued both as hard copies and as kindle e-books, and the double issue will be issued likewise in the spring. However, we also produced a hard copy of Animals and Men #55, the digital issue of which was produced at the end of 2015.

We changed our subscription model, and by inference, our membership policy in January 2015. We no longer have our Journal available by subscription. Instead, we issue it digitally free to read online, and then it is available to purchase in hard copy and kindle E-book a few months later. When we stopped producing A&M via the old subscription model we were having something in the region of 170 readers for each issue. Now, audited figures show a readership of about 15,000 for each issue, something of which I am very proud.

We produced the following books this year:

PUBLICATIONS - Books

‘The Hidden Folk’ by S.D.Tucker

Fairies were genuinely believed in right the way across Europe in the not-too-distant past, and not only by little girls. For many adults, fairies were a part of everyday reality, and accounts of their alleged interaction with the world of humans are legion. But, when the 'realm of faery' did intrude upon our own, how did its inhabitants make their presence known? Apparently, they did so in a variety of different ways; by rapping, tapping and making loud noises around a person's home, by throwing pebbles about, by setting fires, moving furniture, breaking plates and speaking from out of thin air itself. In other words, then, they acted just like poltergeists are often said to do today.

This is an extraordinary Fortean Treatise from the author of our highly-acclaimed book about the Tokoloshe. We have another book by him in preparation, and will be releasing more details next year.

The Centre for Fortean Zoology Yearbook 2016

  • Introduction
  • British Wombats and related cryptozoology by Richard Muirhead          
  • Fire Beasts, Lightning Beasts, and the Elephant of Tiahunaco - Investigating a Crypto- Archaeological anomaly by Dr Karl Shuker
  • Monsters and Cryptids of Classical Myth by Ronan Coghlan                           
  • Tiny Snakes and Giant Worms in Hong Kong by Jonathan Downes                 
  • A note on Giant Earthworms by Jonathan Downes                                             
  • Crocodile Cults; The worship, mythology and folklore of crocodilians by Richard Freeman
  • FROM THE ARCHIVES: Note on the Pterodactyl Tribe considered as Giant Bats by     Edward Newman (1843)
  • Is the Yowie an Australian Immigrant? By Tony Lucas
  • Orang Pendek in the Dutch Press by Loes Modderman                                       
  • FROM THE ARCHIVES: Water Beings in Shetland Folklore as remembered by Shetlanders in British Columbia by J A Teit (1918)
  • FIELD REPORT 16.4.16 Was the Pershore Roe Deer Carcass Really Predated by a Large   Unknown Felid? by Carl Marshall
  • Mystery Animals of Arizona by David Weatherly and Richard Muirhead
  • On the 2016 “Chupacabras” carcasses from The Ukraine
  • Mystery animals in classic British pulp fiction by Jonathan Downes
  • CLASSIC CRYPTOFICTION: The Lake of the Devil by Edgar Wallace
  • 2015: a Year in the life of the CFZ


Tales of the Damned - An Anthology of Fortean Horror – edited by Richard Freeman

Here we have a book unique in the annals of horror literature. This is a book where the stories are penned, mostly, by Fortean researchers. For those who are unfamiliar with the term, 'Fortean' refers to the works of Charles Hoy Fort (August 6, 1874 - May 3, 1932).

Fort was an American writer and researcher into strange phenomena. Fort collected newspaper reports of sightings of strange creatures, weird light phenomena, falls of fish and other creatures, and poltergeist outbreaks to name but a few. Fort realised that mainstream science was acting somewhat like a fundamentalist religion and that any anomalous data that did not fit into the current scientific paradigm was simply swept under the carpet. Fort called this 'damned data'.

He published his findings in four books: The Book of the Damned (1919), New Lands (1923), Lo! (1932) and Wild Talents (1932), all of which are still in print today. Fort has influenced modern research with magazines like Fortean Times, which has been recording weird happenings since 1973, and the Centre for Fortean Zoology, the world's only full time mystery animal investigation organisation. The publishing wing of the latter is responsible for this book.

  • INTRODUCTION: A PARADE OF THE DAMNED Richard Freeman   
  • ARMY DREAMERS R. R. Lang     
  • A GHOST?  Lars Thomas     
  • LADY LAKE Neil Arnold   
  • THE DOOR IN THE FLOOR Neil Arnold  
  • THE MILK MAN Nick Walters       
  • YARA-MA-YAH-WHO Richard Freeman  
  • MIKE Richard Freeman        
  • IT WAS TIME...  A Meeting with the Manananggal Dr Karl Shuker          
  • MARY’S ANNUNCIATION Bob Trubshaw          
  • DREAM ACRES Andy Paciorek     
  • THE FELL FAITH Andrew McGuigan       
  • THE RIVER UNKNOWN Tania Poole       
  • DOWSING FOR THE DEAD Allan Watson          
  • PILOT Chris Lambert
  • THE CATALOGUE Chris Lambert 
  • THE GUARDIAN OF THE TOMB Andrew May  
  • DR LANTERN’S OUT OF HOURS CALL Corinna Downes        
  • MARGARITE’S BOX Corinna Downes      
  • THE INNER RING ROAD CYCLE Phil Smith     
  • HOME Hannah Kate 
  • THE LAST FOOTPRINT Mark Clapham    
  • NO RACE LIKE GNOMES Ken Shinn      
  • VOICES FROM THE DARK Nicholas Alexander Cavazos           
  • DON’T LET THEM IN!  Kate Kelly
  • MISTY MOUNTAIN DROP Andy Roberts

‘Muirhead’s Mysteries Vol 1’ by Richard Muirhead

Richard Muirhead is one of the longest standing members of the Centre for Fortean Zoology (CFZ).

When the CFZ started a daily blog in 2009, Muirhead was one of the first contributors, and over the intervening years has contributed hundreds of fascinating articles. A trained librarian, he has what Charles Fort would have called a 'wild talent'; he has a remarkable aptitude for unearthing arcane data from obscure archives.

CFZ director, Jonathan Downes, has known him for nearly half a century, and considers him to be the best researcher he has ever known. Read this, the first selection of his blog postings to be anthologised and we expect that you will agree with us.

‘Here's Nessie: A Monstrous Compendium from Loch Ness’ by Dr Karl Shuker

Nessie the Loch Ness monster (LNM) is not only the premier mystery beast of the United Kingdom, it also vies with the bigfoot or sasquatch as the most famous one anywhere in the world. Little wonder, therefore, that during his many years as a world-renowned cryptozoological researcher and writer, Dr Karl Shuker should have documented it and all manner of aspects relating to it in a wide range of publications.

Now, however, for the very first time and in direct response to popular demand, all of Dr Shuker's most significant but previously disparate Nessie-themed writings have finally been brought together, and in expanded, updated form whenever possible too, to yield the present LNM compendium, covering a fascinating, extremely broad spectrum of pertinent topics.

These include: a comprehensive review of the history and controversies associated with this exceedingly contentious aquatic cryptid; a diverse selection of the most – and least – plausible taxonomic identities that have been proposed for it; the closely-linked traditional Scottish folklore of kelpies and other water-horses; various Nessie-related hoaxes; an extensive survey of other Scottish freshwater loch monsters; reviews of Nessie-related material; a hitherto-unpublished LNM sighting from leading Nessie researcher and eyewitness Tim Dinsdale; Nessie in philately; the historic LNM conference staged by the International Society of Cryptozoology at Edinburgh's Royal Museum of Scotland in 1987; the enigmatic Pictish beast; a tribute in verse to Nessie; an annotated, YouTube-linked listing of Nessie-themed songs and music videos; and much more too!

Supplementing these varied subjects is an equally eclectic selection of illustrations – a dedicated Nessie gallery containing a dazzling array of spectacular full-colour LNM artwork, including a number of specially-commissioned, previously-unpublished examples, as well as a wide range of text images – plus a very comprehensive bibliography of non-fiction Nessie books, a listing of current LNM-themed websites, and a detailed index.

So, without further ado, welcome to the sometimes decidedly weird yet always totally wonderful world of Nessie - the mystifying but ever-memorable monster of Loch Ness.

‘1914-1918 Woolsery and Bucks Remember’, Compiled by Jane Cann and John Crossman

This last book might seem on the face of it to have nothing to do with what the CFZ do. However, we would like to place it in context. Between 2006 and 2013 the CFZ held their annual conference – the Weird Weekend – at the community centre here in the village. Sales of food and drink at these events went to village children's charities, many of them based at the school.

The CFZ has been based in Woolsery for 11 years now, and we have had a lot of help and kindness from the village as a whole. This book, produced in conjunction with Woolsery School, is our way of saying thank you now that our conference no longer raises money for the village.

"This book is a tribute to those young men from Woolsery and District in North Devon, who suddenly found themselves thrust, either by bravely volunteering or by being conscripted, into the horrors of the First World War. It was a far cry from their peaceful, but hard, rural life. Their stories are now recorded forever.

They were heroes, one and all. Some would return to the bosoms of their families, but there were some who never made it back to their homeland and loved ones, and rest forever young in those foreign fields.

In the famous words from the poem by Robert Laurence Binyon:

“We will remember them”

2016 WEIRD WEEKEND
The 17th annual Weird Weekend was held, as usual, in the third weekend of August at the Small School in Hartland, North Devon.

It was a particularly poignant one because, although it may not be the last one that we ever hold here in Devon, it is certainly the last one which will be held in the current format. My announcement of this during my keynote speech on the Sunday afternoon did, I'm afraid, overshadow the rest of the event to a certain extent, but I would hate it to detract from what was one of the nicest events that we have ever held.

The full speaker list was as follows:

Steve Ignorant: The hidden history of Punch and Judy
Jackie Tonks: My encounter with Bigfoot
Lars Thomas: The Vikings and their Monsters
Richard Freeman: The Almasty
Steve Rider: Tales from the SUFOG archive
Glen Vaudrey: The Health and Safety Beast
Alan Dearling: Futurology and free cultural spaces around the world
Julian Vayne: Chaos Magick
Music from Stargrace
Richard Freeman
: Tasmania 2016 Expedition Report
Richard Muirhead: Weird Fauna: Peculiar and Rarely Observed Animal Behaviour
Matthew Watkins: Retrocausality and other reverse-time phenomena
Shoshannah McCarthy:  Vampire dogs
Ronan Coghlan: Robin Hood: Origin of the legend
Jon Downes: Keynote Speech 

As I have done for the last 17 years, I chose the speakers personally, not only because I thought that they would be good and the sort of thing that a Weird Weekend audience would like to witness, but because they were things I would like to see myself. Many of the speakers are personal friends of mine, and one is family, so it would be completely inappropriate to single any of them out for praise or censure (not that anybody deserves the latter). However, I would like to talk about one particular performer.

Back in 1981, like so many other young people I was politicised by Crass. Whilst I enjoyed the records, I was never particularly convinced by the politics of the Sex Pistols or The Clash. However, I had not found any social or political philosophy that made sense to me. But when I discovered Crass and their polemic of vegetarianism, anarchy, peace and freedom I was an immediate convert, and - most of the time at least - I have followed this philosophy ever since. Certainly, the CFZ, the Weird Weekend, CFZ Press and other things that I have done over the years, have been based directly on the Crass business model. Or should I say the Crass anti-business model!

And so it was particularly poignant for me that the headline speaker at what may well be the last Weird Weekend promoted by me was none other that Steve Ignorant from the very band itself.

I don't know what's going to happen next.  There are going to be Weird Weekends during 2017 in Cheshire promoted by Glen Vaudrey, and Copenhagen, promoted by Lars Thomas and Margit From. I suspect that there will be others over the years, and I wouldn't be surprised if Corinna and I do something of the kind at some point in the future.

But it is the end of this particular era, and the fact that the man who shaped the philosophy on which the whole CFZ edifice was built was there with us at this historic event means more to me than I can possibly say.

I need to apologise to those of you who attended the Speaker’s Dinner after the event  on the Sunday evening. I sloped off without saying goodbye to anybody for two reasons. Firstly, I was overcome with emotion at what is certainly the end of an era, and secondly, there was somebody there who was annoying me badly, (no names, no packdrill) and on both counts, I felt like slipping away into the night rather than having a whole lot of emotional goodbyes. I hope you can all forgive me.


ANIMALS
This has been a particularly unsatisfactory year regarding the CFZ menagerie. As a result of equipment failure, probably after a power outage in early December, Graham found our entire colony of Rio Cauca caecilians dead in their tank. It was a horrible shock for us all, because we had nurtured them for over ten years, and it was - as far as I am aware - the only breeding colony in the UK. We are all shocked and terribly upset. It was particularly nasty for Graham who was "very fond of the little wriggly things".

Poppy, our old cat died in the spring at the age of 17, we think after having been hit by a car. This was a particular shock to Corinna and the girls, who had known Poppy since Olivia and Shoshannah where children.

Another sad death this year was Bob the Builder, the African Nbuna cichlid who had lived in the small tank by the office door for that last 3 years. He was a particularly engaging fish, and showed more personality than almost any other fish I have known. Also, we are sad to say it, that Oscar (an imaginatively named oscar cichlid) who had lived in the big tank in the office also died this year.

Because Graham and his various assistants have been working pretty much solidly all year on getting my house in Exeter habitable, after the previous tenants wrecked it, a lot of work has stacked up here at the CFZ. We will not be getting anymore animals, except for urgent rescue cases, until Graham and his assistant Peter have carried out the necessary repair work, and Julia and Mother have done some painting, scrubbing and cleaning.

The CFZ menagerie is fairly insignificant at the moment, but we will be rebuilding sooner rather than later. At least one new pond is in the planning stage, as well as major refreshments to the museum and conservatory.

Things have changed massively since I started the CFZ 25 years ago. Firstly, of course, we are much larger than I had ever imagined we would be. This is very gratifying, and I think that we are, and have been for many years, the biggest and best cryptozoological research group in the English-speaking world, and I sincerely hope we will continue to expand next year in what will be our quarter century.

However, things have not only changed for the good. Economic reforms in the UK, and the United States, both by this and previous governments have hit hard, and many people who had previously been able to work voluntarily for us have now been forced into gainful employment and so, whereas once I had 4 or 5 people working pretty much full time on the CFZ, now even I have been forced into finding work. As many of you would have noticed, I am working part-time for my old friend Rob at Gonzo Multimedia. Whilst on the subject, various people have commented online that the reason that our output has dropped off in recent years is that I now concentrate on a weekly music magazine rather than on cryptozoology. This is technically true, but only because I get paid for doing the music magazine, and that, therefore pays for the mortgage. I am as interested in cryptozoology now as I ever have been, and it is my sincere hope that, during the forthcoming year, I will be able to get more volunteers to become involved.

At the moment, I would not be able to do what I do without the support of my lovely wife, and my assistant Chloe. I would also like to thank Dr. Andrew May, Richard Muirhead and Ronan Coghlan, who all work diligently for the cause.

Reading back over what I have written, it does seem like a spectacularly depressing report. But there is a lot to be positive about. It is a matter of adjusting to the changes in society rather than getting hidebound into a model which had become obsolete. Together we can make this happen.

Blessings on you and your families at this time, whatever deity you believe in.


Jon Downes

No comments: