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, October 08, 2009

GLEN VAUDREY: Horned Snakes

Glen is one of the newer additions to the bloggo family. He wrote to me out of the blue last year to ask whether we wanted a Western Isles volume in our Mystery Animals of Britain series.

We agreed that we did indeed want one, and commissioned him. What we were not expecting was such a bloody good writer and all-round nice guy, who - by the way - is writing several other volumes for us, and he is even going to be speaking at the 2010 Weird Weekend.


Following on from the possible depiction of an Irish elk I thought I would have a look at a few other strange animals depicted on Iron Age coinage. While there are some very strange looking fantasy animals there are others that may well hint at something of a cryptozoological nature.

From the coins of the Catuvellauni and Trinovantes at the time of Cunobelin comes the horned snake. Cunobelin was possibly the greatest Iron Age ruler Britain had, and he certainly made it into Roman historical records. It was his death in AD43 and the chaos that followed that led to the Roman invasion.

While many classical mythical creatures turn up on the tribes’ coins it is perhaps the horned snake that asks the most questions. The snake doesn’t have just any old horns, it has a fine set of rams’ horns. It is true that rams’ horns did seem to turn up on a fair number of Cunobelin’s Iron Age coins. They usually represented the horns of Zeus-Ammon stuck firmly to the side of the king’s head.

Could this really be a very early attempt to show a mystery snake?

It is worth bearing in mind that while it could be a cryptic snake it could just as easily be an aerial view of a ram, perhaps Jason's legendary Golden Fleece. Like many ancient images of cryptids the picture is as ambiguous as possible

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