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, October 13, 2010


Over on the India Expedition blog Jonathan McGowan explains why he wanted to go to India in the first place, and therefore his motivations for asking to be included on the expedition.


Sent by our old mate Jim (that's him far right) Jackson

Thank You Barry

A big thank you to Barry Wallace for his donation of $5. It has gone straight into the kitty! Thanks dude - it all helps!

RONAN COGHLAN: The Search for the Umbopa: a tale of 19th Century Cryptozoology

Our journey to the forests of South America had not taken long - largely because we had started from Rio de Janeiro. But now we had been trekking through the intertwining foliage for two years and were beginning to feel we weren’t getting anywhere.

We were searching for the Umbopa, the legendary banjo-playing lizard said to lurk in the dense jungles. The insects were atrocious. Have you ever heard an insect playing the banjo? I myself, between suffering countless discomforts, had taught myself how to play the Indian nose-flute, on which I had learned Chopsticks, but I was finding Frere Jacques a challenge.

I noticed Carruthers staring suspiciously at me. He was smoking his pipe - he likes a good shag. We were the last two members of the expedition living. It had proved too much for old Fortescue, who had expired from lack of whiskey by a river as yet unnamed by explorers. Blenkinsop had had to go back lest he miss the test cricket. That had left Carruthers, me and our native guide Uturuncu. Then Uturuncu had disappeared and I knew Carruthers suspected me of eating him. As if I’d eat a damned native!

Then suddenly we heard it - the unmistakable sound of Oh, Susannah. The undoubted twankle of the banjo. Could our quarry be near to hand? This could be the last Umbopa on earth, so in good 19th-century fashion we readied our guns and prepared to blow its head off. I fanced getting it stuffed and using it as a hatstand. My social status would rise accordingly. Dukes and earls would come, merely to see my hatstand.

We entered a clearing where we found no lizard, but a shack. There was a notice over it saying Downes Bar and Kaff . There were also fairground amusements such as Wrestle a Jaguar, the Urubamba Water Slide with Live Crocodiles, the Cannibals’ Cauldron (payment in advance), etc. Playing the banjo on the front was a man of generous proportions wearing a monocle.

We’re cryptozoologists, we explained. We seek the Umbopa.

At that moment a large saurian emerged carrying a plate of fried eggs. Who ordered the fry-up? he demanded. It appeared the Umbopa was the cook.

Are you the Umbopa? I cried. Long have I sought you. Stop twisting the barrel of my gun into a knot.

But the pitiless saurian now proceeded to do the same with Carruthers’s gun.

Kill them off, urged the proprietor. We can stuff them and use them as hatstands.

Yes, we had stumbled on the beginnings of the Downes Jungle Theme Park, now a major tourist attraction in Brazil. You can get special deals flying there with Ryanair. And to think it had such humble origins in the 19th century!

As you enter the main lobby, you can see two very distinguished looking hatstands. Do stop to admire them.


Dear friends,

Today`s blog concerns the Dragon Fish, a semi-legendary Chinese fish, which seems to have similarities with a giant salamander or giant newt, were such an animal to really exist. Today`s case is from The Hong Kong Telegraph of March 7th 1925 (1) There has only ever been one possible sighting of a giant salamander in Hong Kong, the controversial Sligo`s Salamander found at the Hong Kong Mid-Levels after a heavy rainstorm in the Botanical Gardens, the exact provenance of which is as far as I am aware unknown although it is now thought not to be a new species. (Jon?)

JON: Boulenger, EG: The Zoo and Aquarium Book (Duckworth, London: 1932). It is now thought to be a small and dark specimen of The Chinese giant salamander (Andrias davidianus)

There is no such giant newt in Hong Kong. There is the Hong Kong newt (2) but it is no giant. However, read on:



According to the vernacular papers, which make much of “scoops” and sometimes embellish them, a strange fish has just been discovered by an inhabitant of Portland Street, Yaumati.

This is nothing less than the “dragon” fish, which derives its name from its elongated form and from the quality popularly attributed to it of sprouting legs along the line of its long body after life is extinct. The “sprouting” process is brought about by giving the fish a tap on its head”, and those of the superstitious Chinese who believe in this think they have in the strange fish one of the direct descendants of the dragon. Altogether a very fishy story, but the concluding paragraph in the report states that the man who brought it home to his house at No. 34 Portland Street has sent the fish to the Government Bacteriologist for examination. (3)

Portland St still exists, but is now a few miles inland from Yaumati or Yau Ma Ti. Perhaps in 1925 it was nearer the coast of west Kowloon where Yau Ma Ti is located and therefore this “dragon fish” was a juvenile crocodile? What fascinates me most is this “ tap on its head” business. How I would love to find someone who can translate the “vernacular press”. I`m working on it. I hope the next time Jon or Lizzy or Richard or someone taps me on the head and says “ho ho what a good Fortean you are” I don`t sprout legs; two is quite enough thank you!!

The once well known American author Pearl S. Buck wrote a book called The Dragon Fish in which she says (1944 edition?) : “It was shaped like a tiny dragon. It had four little feet on four short legs, instead of fins, and its tail was long and curling.” (4)

Buck wrote a number of books about pre-Communist China (i.e <>The Hong Kong Telegraph March 7th 1925 p.1
2 The maximum length is 11-15cm. Wikipedia.
3 Hong Kong Telegraph op cit p.1
4 P.S. Buck The Dragon Fish. The John Day Company 1944 p.16 Google Books http://books.google.co.uk/books?id=u1VaAAAAMAAJ&q=dragon-fish&dq=dragon-fish&hl=en&ei=ZZ20TLDwMY-TswbnxMyyCA&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=1&ved=0CC8Q6AEwAA


She said “Do these seats fold down?”
I said “if you pull that handle”
All the time she`d been waiting for
Something with a little more
And all her mates on the new estates
Were walking out in confetti and sunshine

Her mother read her mail
And her Dad was a policeman
Which I must say worried me
But some things have just got to be
So we passed very fast like ships in the night
Or cars on a contraflow system…..

GLEN VAUDREY: Gary Cunningham on the radio


I don't know if you knew this but there is a interview with Gary Cunningham on RTE radio. It was broadcast on 8 Oct and is available till the end of the week as a pod cast. He talks about the mysterious animals of Ireland.

I you do manage to put the link on the blog can you credit the discovery of the interview to Benjamin Neesham

the show was

RTÉ - Mooney

Cryptozoology 08 October 2010 13:00Gary Cunningham talks about mysterious creatures lurking beneath our lakes...

I have no idea how to get a link to it but it is worth a listen if you get a chance

all the best


OLL LEWIS: Yesterday's News Today


On this day in 1888 Louis Le Prince filmed the oldest surviving motion picture, 'Roundhay Garden Scene'. “But,” I hear you cry, “motion pictures were not invented until 1895 by the Lumiè brothers or indeed by Thomas Edison in 1889.” Well you'd be wrong: the Lumiè brothers and Edison invented methods of showing motion pictures to the public but Le Prince was the man with the blue spark in this case.

Le Prince disappeared in mysterious circumstances, with theories as to what happened ranging from suicide to murder by people trying to claim they invented motion pictures. It was thought until 2003 that his body was never found but a search of French archives came up with a photograph of an unknown victim of drowning that is now thought to be Le Prince. As he was meant to be on a train to Paris at the time he went missing, foul play or suicide are both possibilities that can't be ruled out.

And now, the news, with thanks to our news editor Gavin Wilson:

Geckos Inspire New Method to Print Electronics on ...
The Oil and the Turtles, (Via Herp Digest)
Rural Women in Nicaragua Lead Effort to Protect En...
CSR and Eco-Innovation Inspired by Frogs (Via Her...
More Reasons Not to Abandon the Baby Turtle Ban (...
Poisoned Mice Bombing Hopes to Halt Guam Snake Adv...
50-Million-Year-Old Snake Gets a CT Scan (Via Her...
UA Researchers Co-Discover New Salamander (Via Her...
Man Dreams of Bringing Dinosaurs to Central Park
Animals Said to Have Spiritual Experiences
Lair of the Beasts: Castle Ring Monsters
5ft puma on prowl at leisure complex
Druidic ravens at the Tower of London?
The slow scamper of the black squirrel

Squirrels are clever little fellows as this clip shows; they are not clever enough to work out that they could just run along the grass to the last pole and climb up that instead of doing a huge obstacle course: