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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Unlike some of our competitors we are not going to try and blackmail you into donating by saying that we won't continue if you don't. That would just be vulgar, but our lives, and those of the animals which we look after, would be a damn sight easier if we receive more donations to our fighting fund. Donate via Paypal today...

Thursday, September 23, 2010


Our old mate Carl Portman, star of this year's Weird Weekend has been very ill. God bless you mate, and get well soon....



For those who may be interested. It's my review of an excellent new book by Christopher Dell titled Monsters. Feel free to link to and/or copy-paste the entire text of the review.




The first vu quang ox or saola seen in 11 years has been caught in Laos. The animal was captured by villagers in the central province of Bolikhamxay who brought it back to their village. The Bolikhamxay Provincial Agriculture and Forestry Office immediately sent a technical team, advised by the IUCN Saola Working Group. Unfortunatly the animal died after several days in captivity.

"The death of this Saola is unfortunate," says the Provincial Conservation Unit of Bolikhamxay Province. "But at least it confirms an area where it still occurs and the government will immediately move to strengthen conservation efforts there."

The animal was reportedly found in the village's sacred forest in remote Xaychamphon District, but it is not clear why the villagers took it into captivity. After its death the technical team took the carcass to Pakxan, the provincial capital, where biologists from WCS and the Lao government preserved all parts for analysis, future study and reference. This is the first Saola specimen to be so completely preserved. But with probably only a few hundred vu-quang ox left the animal's death is a tragedy.



What a story! Newly discovered spider species, enormous web (is this the biggest in the world) and it all takes place in Madagascar. What's not to like?


OLL LEWIS: Crypto Cons - The Eccentric Naturalist (Part One)

Taxidermy has always been an important part of the arsenal of hoaxers; from the Feejee mermaid to Jackalopes, it was often used to offer unbelieving members of the public and scientists as proof of the existence of a strange animal. It also had the added bonus that whichever showman got his hands on it would have an attraction that they would not have to pay money to or feed. During the 19th century the amount of fake taxidermy knocking around led scientists to despair, so much so that when the first stuffed platypus made its way to Britain it was assumed to be a fake and torn apart by scientists looking for the joins.

Not all fake taxidermy was created to make money, however; some was created for stranger and more convoluted reasons. Such was the case of Charles Waterton's Nondescript.

Charles Waterton was perhaps the model for all eccentric English aristocrats and was well known in social circles for his peculiar deeds, actions and beliefs. These included sporting a crewcut when the fashion at the time was one for long hair, biting guests legs at the dinner table pretending to be a dog and climbing to the top of St Peter's in Rome to leave his gloves on top of the lightning conductor. The last deed supposedly caused the Pope himself to ask Waterton to climb back up and take his gloves down. Waterton's curious ways did not stop there; he believed in the medieval practice of blood-letting as a cure for illness, slept on the floor with a block of wood as a pillow for the rest of his life after the premature death of his wife (they had known each other for about a year when she died in childbirth) and would perform frequent 'flying experiments' by jumping off the roof of an outhouse on his estate.

Whatever the truth and motives behind Waterton's eccentric practices, he was actually quite an important naturalist. He invented bird nesting boxes and walled off 5 square kilometres (about 3 square miles) of his estate with a 9-foot wall in the 1820s to form the world's first wildfowl reserve.

Waterton was also one of the first people ever to warn about and raise objections to the problem of pollution when he successfully proved that chemicals from a nearby soap factory were killing his trees and polluting his lake, and he forced the factory to relocate.

He was also a brilliant taxidermist and one of his students later went on to teach Charles Darwin how to preserve specimens. His writing also attracted praise and his book Wanderings in South America, written about when he went to British Guiana to attend to his late uncle's estate there and the various explorations he had there, inspired many young men to take an interest in the natural world, including Alfred Russell Wallace and the afore-mentioned Charles Darwin.

For all his seriousness about his passion for the natural world, Waterton's eccentricities and peculiar sense of humour shine through even here. He would often create satirical taxidermy tableaux of events of the day, which became a source of great amusement. For example, his most famous work was a tableau of reptiles dressed in dapper clothes made to look like famous Englishmen of the day entitled 'The English Reformation Zoologically Demonstrated.' Another famous example of Waterton's humorous taxidermy was 'John Bull and the National Debt' which depicted a grotesque chimera of tortoise and porcupine with a human-like face being beset by small dragon-like lizards. Because of this sideline it was not a good idea to cross Waterton, as one customs man from Liverpool would find out....

OLL LEWIS: Yesterday's News Today


On this day in 1947 the Majestic 12 committee was allegedly founded in the united states to look into UFO reports on behalf of the US administration in the wake of the Roswell crash. I say allegedly because all documents relating to it that are in the public domain have been accused of being forgeries by the FBI. However, if they were not forgeries that is exactly what 'they' would say and thus begins the circular argument that forms the basis for most conspiracy theories....
And now, the news:

Warning issued after chipmunks sighted
Search for Bigfoot begins in Kemerovo Region
Rare albino 'devil crab' is caught off the Cornish...
Rare albino swallow spotted in garden
England's own Loch Ness Monster?
Kitten survives full machine wash cycle

Obviously this calls for a cute kitten video: