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, April 23, 2009


Dr Chris started something the other day, because Dr Dan has jumped on his rapidly accelerating bandwagon (what IS a `bandwagon` BTW guys - the first email with a reasonably coherent and believe=able answer will get a prize) with some more little known animals...

1) The Tarmac Shrew

This is a very recent offshoot of the Common Shrew, which has developed a characteristic grey coat colour and extreme phobia of white light (possibly as a result of originatingin Scotland, as an offshoot of the even less known Buckfast Shrew, an extremely hungover insectivore peculiar to said area). The Tarmac Shrew is typically somewhat bigger thanthe common shrew, and is much more physically robust than its insectivore ancestorswith teeth that are much bigger and tougher than is normal for an insectivore.

It lives by scavenging the margins of major roads at night, vanishing whenever it seeswhite lights approaching and reappearing only when no light, or just dim red lightis present. From a diet of insects it has moved on to eating almost any road-killed animal life and as such tends to do extremely well on the margins of major motorways.The population is extremly dynamic, crashing to low levels in winter and explodingin the spring as the first few hedgehogs of the year are killed. For some reason, itis inordinately fond of road-killed felines, possibly because of the smelliness of a cat cadaver, and literally hundreds of tarmac shrews can destroy the carcass of a dead cat almost overnight, whatever the size of the body.

2) The Quantum Puma

This is a large feline, commonly black in colour, which although common in Europe is very seldom seen because it is pathologically shy of humans. These peculiar cats take the elusiveness of most felines to an extraordinary level by existing for most of their lives as a quantum superposition phenomenon. As such, the cat stalks by ineptly moochingabout until the superposition wave is collapsed by the presence of prey, which being surprised by a huge cat appearing out of thin air is usually dispatched very quickly.

Quantum pumas absolutely loath and fear humans because humans are extremely good quantumobservers and tend to collapse any quantum phenomenon in their near vicinity, which turns a rather elegant stalking cat into an inept bumbling fool (the quantum puma isactually rather poor at stealth, since the quantum trickery it usually employs makes thisunnecessary) which if it doesn't move away will die of starvation. For this reason themore usually diurnal quantum puma is habitually crepuscular around human habitation andis thus rarely seen by people.

3) The Mimic Magpie

In Europe, magpies are becoming an ever-more common bird in cities and towns due to their adaptability and inteligence. One sub-species, the mimic magpie, has taken this adaptability even further and now commonly impersonates a large number of other common town animals such as pigeons, hedgehogs, cats and even small children (in the latter case falling back on itsextraordinary memory for insults, witticisms and Terry Wogan quotes which rapidly repels eventhe most hardened of Fortean investigators). The mimicry is extremely realistic and is usedto obtain otherwise inaccessible food sources and to repel predators of all sorts.

It is therefore very hard to put a number on how many mimic magpies exist, or to work out their geographical distribution since the one thing these intelligent birds never try to impersonate is another magpie. Further research is urgently needed into this perplexing urban phenomenon,although this researcher is prepared to undertake this for suitable remuneration.

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