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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Wednesday, December 23, 2009

OLL LEWIS: 5 Questions on… Cryptozoology - NEIL ARNOLD

Taking our interview today is one of my favourite Fortean wordsmiths, Neil Arnold, whose books include Monster and Mystery Animals of Kent; both available from CFZ press. Neil is a regular contributor to Animals & Men and will be talking at the next Weird Weekend on the ghost of Bluebell Hill, possibly the most famous phantom hitch-hiker in the world.

So, Neil Arnold, here are your 5 Questions on… Cryptozoology:

1) How did you first become interested in cryptozoology?

My interest began when, at the age of around nine, I saw a movie entitled The Legend Of Boggy creek. It may have been on TV or one of those dodgy copies my uncle used to pass around! It was a docu-drama concerning a man-beast said to prowl the river bottoms of Arkansas. To this day that film terrifies and inspires me. It is a cult movie now and responsible for films such as 'Blair Witch...' I was also influenced by a book called Monsters & Mysterious Beasts by Carey Miller, which is an alphabetical listing of strange creatures such as basilisk, vampires, Nessie, yeti, Bigfoot. I also recall the old Arthur C. Clarke television programme and the brilliant TV series The Nightstalker, starring Darren McGavin.

2) Have you ever personally seen a cryptid or secondary evidence of a cryptid, if so can you please describe your encounter?

Although 'big cats' are not cryptids, I have on three occasions seen a black leopard; twice in 2000 and last year, possibly the same individual. I have also seen a lynx, which was filmed, and two sandy-coloured cats, one a puma; I'm not sure what the other was. I have collected a lot of evidence for these animals: paw-prints, hair samples etc; but certainly my own sightings have been a privilege.

3) Which cryptids do you think are the most likely to be scientifically discovered and described some day, and why?

The Giant Squid...the ocean depths hide so many secrets and I believe some real monsters are down there. Also, the thylacine seems to be the ideal candidate for most likely cryptid to be found. It clearly never became extinct in the first place but if these animals are found, the tourist industry may go up the spout! And finally, Bigfoot...out there somewhere in the Pacific northwest, in my opinion, lurks a very real creature awaiting discovery. The vast forests mean that searching for such a beast is, at the moment, like searching for a needle in a haystack, but one will show up, just like the Mountain Gorilla at the beginning of the 1900s.

4) Which cryptids do you think are the least likely to exist?

Some cryptids are a sum of many parts, but none of these parts are flesh and blood possibility. Many 'monsters' exist as legend, part hoax, part campfire tale, part misinterpretation. The Jersey Devil, Mothman, Bray Road beast, Chupacabra; none of these are cryptids...they are zooform, cultural dreads and local belief, but not flesh and blood creatures. It doesn't matter how many see them, or for how long they seem to be around, there is no flesh and blood creature behind the facade.

5) If you had to pick your favourite cryptozoological book (not including books you may have written yourself) what would you choose?

I enjoy books that tell a great story. Too many crypto books and Fortean books regurgitate material time and time again. My favourite are: Hunting The American Werewolf and The Bray Road Beast, by Linda Godfrey, Out Of The Shadows by Tony Healy and Paul Cropper, Chupacabra & Other Mysteries by Scott Corrales, Richard Freeman's Dragons: More Than A Myth?, Owlman & Others by Jon Downes, Strange Creatures From Time & Space by John Keel, Smokey & The Fouke Monster by Smokey Crabtree, White Things by Kurt Mccoy, The Locals by Thom Powell, From Flying Toads...by Karl Shuker, and some of the monster books I read as a kid.


Linda Godfrey said...

Hey Neil, thanks for the mention! Here is hoping at least one big cryptid mystery gets solved in 2010!

Neil A said...

Hi Linda,
Great to see you on here. Hope you are well.