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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In between each episode of OTT, we now present OTTXtra. Here are the last three episodes:


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Saturday, July 31, 2010


* We shall be showing several short films over the weekend, and we have been waiting for confirmation on this one. On the saturday Jon will be introducing 'Creature Quest: the Owlman of Mawnan'. directed by Matt Sayce, who will take questions afterwards..

With less than two weeks to go, now might be a good time to buy your tickets to the best crypto-fortean event of the year....

Buy Your Tickets here

DALE DRINNON: The Da Nhan and Rock Apes of Vietnam

This was an area where I had some personal input in gathering stories from both ex-soldiers and displaced Vietnamese in the late 1970s and early 1980s. The first word of it I heard came as rumors from returning soldiers claiming to have run into Orangutans in the jungles. I had extensive confabs with both Vietnamese informants and several American soldiers: the Vietnamese called the creatures Da Nhan and the Americans usually called them Rock Apes. There also seemed to be some difference between the Jungle apes and the Rock apes which sounded like there were differences in the populations corresponding to lowlands and mountain gorillas. All informants agreed that the creatures were upright stoutly-built apelike creatures with reddish brown to dark brown hair between the sizes of a gorilla and a chimpanzee. The Vietnamese showed me in their dictionaries where a gorilla was a "Big Da Nhan" while an Orangutan was a "Small Da Nhan" I have one reference (from the Russian via Porshnev) that they left "Snowman" (Yeti) tracks.

My information was important enough that the SITU, and then Heuvelmans and Loofs-Wissowa contacted me directly about it. I had quotes from soldiers that the apes would be rifling through their supplies and one soldier said his unit spent more time fighting the Rock apes than they did with the Viet Kong. These reports came through the Indiana University Anthropology department where one of the professors opined that it might be "A funny sort of Orangutan" although the lack of physical evidence bothered him.

I wrote my first report including the descriptions from my interviews and the secondhand accounts and submitted it to the SITU in 1982. After some fumbling around (the SITU sent it back to me for a rewrite but I never got the parcel), I made a final submission of the article in 1991: the article was ultimately never run in PURSUIT.

Here is the same basic story told from an internet source:

Vietnam: the ‘Rock Apes’ of Quang Tri, Thua Thien and Quang Nam Provinces, Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia.

American soldiers used the term ‘rock apes’ during the 1960 and ‘70’s Vietnam conflict, which described an unknown (to them) creature, about a meter to a meter and a half tall, (about 3' 4" to 5 feet tall) resembling an hair-covered ape with the exception it was larger than any local ape, tail-less and to the great surprise of the soldiers, they walked upright

An alternate military source, a former GI wrote using the term ‘Powell’s ape,’ after one of the creatures wandered into a restricted zone during the middle of the night. Powell was the name of the platoon leader. "All hell broke loose when the dark figure continued to advance into the far end of the restricted zone, it was fired upon."

"When daylight came, we realized we had blown the living shit out of a large ape, it was a male with the face of a wild man and not much else left of it to describe of the stinkin’ thing. We poured fuel over the remains and set it afire." (From the 1995 Nam bulletin board)

Another GI offered this description: "An oblong head framed the hair-covered face. Dark, deep-set eyes lay beneath a prominent brow, and they did nothing to complement the heavy jowls and angry mouth. As it stepped into a small clearing, Linderer could see that matted reddish-brown hair ran down the creature's neck and covered most of its body. Whatever it was, it stood at least five feet tall, had broad shoulders, long thick muscular arms, and a heavy torso, it walked upright."

In the small clearing, it stopped and studied the Americans. "What the hell is that?" someone called out from behind Linderer. "It's a rock ape," said another member of the squad. Another team member disagreed. "No, it ain't," he said. "I've seen rock apes, and that sure as hell isn't a rock ape!"

"It's an orangutan, well isn't it?"

Linderer asked while the others kept their eyes glued on the strange creature. "Well, if it is, then he can't read a map. There are no orangutans in Vietnam."

Jorgenson, Kregg "P.J.," 2001 "Excerpt from "Strange but True Stories of the Vietnam War --Very Crazy G.I."
Ballantine Book Publishing Company pages 33-36

Heuvelmans' checklist of Cryptozoological candidates (CRYPTOZOOLOGY Vol. 5, 1986) includes this entry under the Oriental realm:

"Anthropoid apes (Probably mainland orangutans surviving from the Pleistocene, or just traditions about them), in Assam (olo-banda, bir sindic), Burma (ui-wun), Southern China (xing-xing) and Vietnam (kra-dhan, con lu'o'i, bec-boc)"

In this case, Olo-banda is the same as 'Mahalangur', Big Monkey. I have heard an Indian man point to a gorilla at a zoo and describe it to his daughter as a 'Mahalangur'. The Kra-Dhan and Bec-Boc are named directly by Sanderson as candidate giant Macaques, but they are clearly the same as the Da Nhan and Rock Apes of Vietnam, with very nearly a verbatim description.

And the Xing-Xing are the apes that Poirier and Krantz are identifying as the orangutan-like Yeren, a creature that Krantz has called "Pongo erectus" (or else Yeren, in the final issue of CRYPTOZOOLOGY. Both names are necessarily invalid.)

There is more than one direct continuity of types from these mainland apes to the Abominable Snowmen or Yetis, and Heuvelmans' checklist entry for the Yeti is immediately following the "mainland orangutans" one (We are temporarily sidestepping the issue that "Fossil Pongo" cannot actually be Pongo) Heuvelmans mentions that the Yeti has been known since Classical antiquity (I do not know which ancient writer he means because he does not cite the source) and he ends the entry by saying "it is equally possible that the so-called Snowman is merely a particular kind of orangutan, more terrestrial than the tree-dwelling kind." Without reaising the fact, he has hit upon the key argument about "Fossil Pongo": "Fossil Pongo" was a large (Gorilla-sized) ground-dwelling ape while modern Pongo, the orangutan, has a number of specific and peculiar adaptations to arboreal life. Hence it is very likely that the Yeti (s well as the rest) are merely surviving "Fossil Pongo", but the genus NAME for "Fossil Pongo" is yet to be decided. Hence the "Discovery" of all of those types hinges on a decision about the placement of the known fossil form.


Doug Shoop writes:

Jon, I thought you might enjoy this article as well as the slideshow


slide show at site:

Rachel Sussman is a time traveler. For the last few years, the American photographer has journeyed across the globe on a mission to bring back images of the world's oldest living organisms. In her ongoing project, Sussman has traveled to the primal landscapes of southern Greenland, the timeless high-altitude Andean deserts of South America and even under the ocean.

"[The project] is a celebration and record of our past, a call to action now, and also a barometer of our future," she told CNN. Sussman began her time-traveling trips in 2004 while visiting the island of Yakushima in Japan to see a reportedly 2,200-year-old tree. On her return to the U.S., the idea to photograph an example of other long-living ancient species germinated and grew....

MIKE HALLOWELL: Imps from Geordieland

The ongoing thread about the Lincoln Imp has provoked a lot of interest. Now Mike Hallowell, doyen of Geordie phenomenology, has got in on the act...

Northumbria is well blessed when it comes to imps. And sprites. And Boggles. And faeries. And elves. And gnomes. And brownies. And dunnies. And so on. And even so forth. Geordieland is, I reckon, the quintessential integrated community, ethereally speaking. Mind you, I have it on good authority that the elves of Northumbria and their cousins in the elvin kingdom of Durham don't get on very well, although I'm not sure why. It could be a football thing, as we northerners are vociferously tribal when it comes to the beautiful game.

The problem we have up in this neck of the woods is that colloquial names for different elemental entities are exchanged and interchanged with cavalier abandon. One Geordie's elf is another one's sprite, and whilst those in the south of the village may refer to their resident divil as a boggle, those on the other side of the turnip patch may insist with equal enthusiasm that it is a hob. Or a bogie. Or a boggart.

Imps and sprites are particularly hard to separate within the annals of Geordie Forteana. Hence, there once used to be considerable debate over the little divil at Haselrigg, which sitteth within the Parish of Chatton, Northumberland. He has been called the Haselrigg Sprite, the Haselrigg Brownie and the Haselrigg Imp, the latter of which is, I reckon, correct.

Imps – at least those within the province of the Geordie kingdom – are mischievous little buggers, and the Haselrigg Imp was certainly no exception. In some respects, the Haselrigg Imp behaved like a Brag, and could allegedly shape-shift into animal form. There the similarity ends, however, for whereas the Brag (about which John Triplow and I are penning a book at the moment) is a vicious entity with a predisposition for sadism and violence, the Haselrigg Imp simply enjoyed carrying out Candid Camera-type pranks on its victims who rarely seem to have come to any harm.

One of the favourite tricks of the Haselrigg Imp was to impersonate the horse of a father-to-be. When the time arrived for the new bairn to exit the womb, the hubby would saddle up his horse and pop off to fetch the midwife. Or at least, he thought he was saddling up his horse. In fact, he was saddling up the Haselrigg Imp which was impersonating the horse, if you get my drift.

Now the father-to-be would suspect nothing. He would trot off to the midwife's cottage and howk her on to the back of his horse. The two would then make the return journey back to the chap's home where, hopefully, the "middie" would bring into the world yet another Shane, Wayne, Clarissa or Chantelle. Back then it was probably Isaac, Joseph, Ethel or Bertha, of course.

Anyway, the Haselrigg Imp would wait until the husband and the midwife were almost back at the dwelling, and then – quelle horreur – it would suddenly evaporate into the ether, thus allowing the midwife and the dad-to-be to fall into a patch of mud. Apparently the Haselrigg Imp was spot-on when it came to the mud thing, and had an uncanny knack of being able to deposit his charges into the biggest, wettest, deepest, smelliest mud patch in the village.

It is interesting that the Haselrigg Imp always seemed to pull off his coup de gras near to the home of the labouring woman, thus ensuring that the midwife could still get to her patient in time. As I've said, the Imp doesn't seem to have wanted to cause any real harm; just to have a bit of a laugh. From now on, the Geordie Monsters blog will be new and improved, "Now with 20% Extra Added Imp!"

If you want to know more about Geordie Imps, watch this space. Alternatively, you could always make your missus "with child" (I can e-mail you the instructions if you're not sure how to go about this. It’s a complicated, laborious process but not that unpleasant) and go rent a flat near Haselrigg….


The other day I was sent this strange story of a series of attacks on domestic livestock in Ecuador. It read:

"The small community of “La Cuadra” (The block) has seen multiple cattle mutilated and torn apart by something powerful. The ghastly findings are out of the ordinary, even for local known predators. The residents concluded that what ever it is that has killed steer and cows, it’s powerful enough to rip them apart and leave huge, deep prints with large claws in the mud. cuadra-gente".

There have been stories like this from across South America for many years, and have often been linked with manbeasts like the di-di. This story follows a familiar pattern, but we would like to hope that on this occasion the reports will be followed up and some sort of definitive conclusion reached. The unknown writer is keeping his options open about the perpetrator of the violence:

"No photographs of the paw prints have been released, although photographs of the mutilated cattle speak for the shocking attacks. What is stalking the cattle in Ecuador? In order to inflict that kind of damage seen in the photographs, I would have to say that a large cat is on the lose, or a pack of canids are attacking the cattle."

Cat? Dog? Manbeast? Sicko with a Stanley Knife? We await more news with interest.


Yesterday we covered the story of a mysterious animal, described as a `sea monster` which was seen and photographed off Paignton. No doubt the detractors out there would like to claim that somehow Richard and I faked the whole thing to plug the forthcoming Weird Weekend, but we didn't. Honest!

The thing that I find extraordinary is the level of drivel that is written about it on various internet forums and message boards. The general consensus of opinion seems to be that it is an Indopacific crocodile.

Me? I think it is a basking shark; I think that what appears to be its back is its tail, and the `head` is the tip of its nose, but golly, wouldn't I love to be proved wrong!

(NOTE: I spoke to Richard Freeman yesterday, and although he doesn't agree with my Basking Shark hypothesis, he doesn't know what it is either)

OLL LEWIS: Yesterday's News Today

Yesterday’s News Today

On this day in 1990 the teacup poisoner, Graham Young, died. Young was imprisoned at Broadmoor Hospital in 1962 but was released in 1971 having been ‘fully cured’ according to the authorities and no longer a danger to society. He started to poison people again almost immediately starting with 70 of his co-workers.

New prehistoric shrimp colonies found at Caerlaver...
Search for 6ft boa on the loose in Wickford, Essex...
Sea 'monster' spotted in Tor Bay stalking a shoal ...

Was that a mention of Nessie in the last story? I’ve been waiting for a chance to use this song:


Fact fans might also note that Silas Hawkins’ father performed many of the voices in that series.

ANDREW HOPCROFT: My very own Lincoln Imp

My very own Imp once belonged to my Grandfather who won it in the late sixties/early seventies as a trophy for a bowls competition. Since that time this 16cm tall figure has been broken, repaired, broken, repaired; finally painted and left safely upon a high shelf. I remember my Grandmother recalling how a friend or neighbour was shocked that she should allow such a devilish thing to be brought into the house as no doubt bad luck or worse would follow!!!