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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Saturday, October 03, 2009


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. Wayhay!!

I think Dale could be onto a winner with proof of late survival of the Irish elk. It is not just in cave paintings and ancient gold that the sight of a large antlered animal can be found. There is also a long-antlered beast appearing on the coins of the Ambiani. This tribe was to be found in ancient Gaul. Today the area is the Somme valley in modern day France.

Knowing the tribe is, in many ways, quite handy in dating the coin. For after Caesar’s conquest the tribes of ancient Gaul stopped issuing coins; they were not needed as they were now part of the Roman Empire, which, while it may have meant a good deal of misfortune for the tribes involved, does, however, provide us with a good end date: around 50BC at the latest. Using this date, it is then possible to have an educated guess at the age of the coin and from that, the possible age of the animal modeled upon it.

The coin in question is a bronze unit that rather brazenly features an animal with a very large set of antlers. Could this be late Iron Age proof? It’s hard to say. Certainly the Iron Age coin engraver was a talented fellow; well capable of portraying a known animal to a certain degree of accuracy. He was also quite capable of copying all kinds of classical designs; griffins and sphinxes abound. Unless he was trying to fit in the Herculean tale of the Ceryneian Hind it is more likely that the animal featured could be a flesh and blood beast. While coins may not provide definitive evidence of the Irish elk's survival into the late Iron Age it could point to a memory of its survival in the region up to a relatively recent to time.

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