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 three episodes pretty much at random:


Click on this logo to find out more about helping CFZtv and getting some smashing rewards...


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...

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

ANDREW GABLE: The Man-Horse of Arkansas

Something for the blog. Note: I don't believe this story at all. But it's neat.

Strange Phenomenon.

“A strange Phenomenon has made its appearance in Van Buren County, Arkansas. Some people call it a horse, while others affirm that it is a man. At any rate, nothing in natural history can account for it. Its head has every semblance of a horse’s, while its body is unmistakably that of a man. When first seen it was standing in a road with its head over the fence, looking intently at a man plowing in the field. There was something so wild in the expression of the supposed horse’s eyes, and such a snap to his eyelids, producing such a peculiar sound, that the man left the plow and went up to the fence. His surprise and terror at seeing a horse’s head on a man’s shoulders knew no bounds, but his legs did, and springing away he ran toward the house. The man-horse, seeing that the plowman “fleed” when no man-horse “pursueth,” climbed over the fence and walked to the plow, took up the lines and started the horse. The owner had witnessed this, having stopped. Gathering courage he went back slowly and cautiously, approaching the most peculiar freak of nature he had ever seen. When he had come within a few yards of the plow, the man-horse stopped, turned, and remarked:

“’You seem afraid of me. Approach.’

The man felt impelled by some unaccountable power, and when he was within a few feet of the man-horse experienced a slight sensation in his feet, and looking down discovered that instead of feet he had a pair of hoofs. He had evidently exchanged with his horse, for instead of hoofs on the front the horse had human feet, and seemed equally as much dissatisfied with them as the man did with the hoofs. After performing this piece of magic the man-horse ran away. It may be necessary to add that the man to whom the phenomenon presented the hoofs is known in the neighborhood as a ‘Guinea nigger’ [i.e., he was a house-servant rather than a field slave]. His plow-horse has not been seen since that memorable day. The man still retains his hoofs, and was last seen at a blacksmith-shop having himself shod. He knows them to be the hoofs of the horse, for there are marks on them that render unmistakable recognition. This story, a neighborhood superstition, does not come in a roundabout way, but down the Fort Smith Railroad, one of the straightest roads in the South. It will not, however, take its place in a library of Sunday-school fiction. It is stated, and with some degree of truth, that the old negro, suffering from elephantiasis, became crazy and started the story.”
Indiana (Pa.) Gazette, September 18, 1879


Three people emailed me and didn't understand why the silly cover version of Silver Machine was so funny. So - courtesy of Graham - here is Hawkwind performing it on last year's Christmas tour.

and here is the original hit single (#3 in 1972). However being from the BBC archives, Stacia keeps her kit on...


Center for Biological Diversity

Dear Richard,

Days after endorsing the killing of more wolves, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar has added the wolverine to his hit list in the war on endangered species.

With just 300 of the animals left, scientists predict wolverines will disappear from the United States unless something is done right now to save them. But just yesterday, Salazar refused to give them federal protection on the Endangered Species list.

Please help the Center for Biological Diversity save the wolverine and stop Salazar's war on wildlife by donating generously to our Endangered Species Action Fund today. A Center donor will triple-match any gift received by Dec. 31, so your gift will be worth three times as much this year-end.

Listing a species as "endangered" makes killing it illegal, requires that habitat reserves essential to its recovery be designated and protected, and makes federal restoration money available. It puts conservation agencies and scientists in charge of the wolverine’s future, not loggers and developers.

And it works: Species put on the endangered list are far less likely to go extinct and far more likely to recover than species left waiting without protection.

The Center successfully sued the Bush government in 2008 for refusing to help wolverines, handing the Obama administration a great opportunity to reverse course and save the species. But yesterday -- just as he did with wolves, grizzlies and polar bears -- Salazar instead repeated the anti-environmental policies of the Bush administration, dismissing federal scientists who rate threats to the wolverine as "high magnitude."

Unfortunately, the wolverine is not the only species under attack. Just last month, Salazar used the same reasoning to deny protection to the Pacific fisher, Rio Grande cutthroat trout, sage grouse and 250 other species spiraling toward extinction.

Refusing protection on political grounds will commit hundreds of species to oblivion -- unless the Center, our supporters and our allies take swift legal action to stop Salazar's war on wildlife.

The Center is already in court challenging his refusal to protect hundreds of species. Now we need to use our unique combination of science and legal strategy to save the wolverine as well. Please help by making a donation today to our Endangered Species Action Fund.

We have the best win rate in the environmental movement, succeeding in 93 percent of our legal cases and achieving real, on-the-ground protection for more than 500 imperiled plants and animals and more than 200 million acres of habitat.

With your help we'll save the wolverine, Pacific fisher, gray wolf and all 250 imperiled species being denied the protection they need to survive and recover.

Please join us by making a generous, tax-deductible donation to our Endangered Species Action Fund. If received by Dec. 31, your gift will be worth three times as much because a caring donor will triple-match every gift to the fund this year.

Thanks so much for helping to stop the war on wildlife.

KierĂ¡n Suckling
Executive Director
Center for Biological Diversity
P.S. Here's a news story from today about our work to save the wolverine.

Feds: Wolverines need protection but have to wait
National Public Radio // December 14, 2010

HELENA, Mont. - The threat of climate change warrants classifying wolverines as threatened or endangered, but other species are in more imminent danger and will delay protection for the small, ferocious mammals, wildlife officials said Monday...

That means the animals will not be added to the federal List of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants. Instead, it will join the sage grouse, plains bison and hundreds of other species on a candidate species list awaiting federal protection.

Wolverines need adequate spring snow cover to reproduce, but warmer winter temperatures are reducing the snow pack in the West, making climate change the "primary threat to the wolverine population," the report said.

Environmental models project the wolverines' habitat will shrink by roughly a quarter by 2045 and nearly two-thirds by 2099, agency wildlife biologist Shawn Sartorius said.

The length of time the wolverine remains on the candidate list depends on the species ahead of it and when funding would be available to add it to the endangered and threatened species list, Fish and Wildlife Service spokeswoman Diane Katzenberger said.

The wolverine is one of a handful species the federal government says needs protection because of the effects of climate change on habitat. Most recently, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration cited the loss of ice from climate change as a basis for proposing that ringed and bearded seals be listed as a threatened species.

Conservation groups petitioned the federal government to protect the wolverine in 1995 and again in 2000. Two years ago, the agency found the wolverine was not eligible for listing under the federal Endangered Species Act because it did not constitute a distinct population segment.

Conservationists sued, and last year the agency agreed to study the matter again. This time, the agency found the population within the contiguous U.S. was distinct and warranted protection....

Wolverine photo courtesy Wikimedia Commons/MatthiasKabel.

This message was sent to richard@cfz.org.uk.

When donating online to the Center for Biological Diversity, always confirm that the donation page is located at DemocracyinAction.org or BiologicalDiversity.org.

Let us know if you'd like to change your email list preferences or stop receiving action alerts and newsletters from us.

Center for Biological Diversity

P.O. Box 710

Tucson, AZ 85702




Now available as a last minute Christmas stocking stuffer, Caribbean Monk Seals: Lost Seals of the Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean Sea, by John Hairr.

Hairr explores the history of this now extinct (most likely) monk seal, its intersection with various cultures, and expeditions in search of any possible remaining survivors.

More details at:



I have just wasted ten minutes trying to embed this video. If anyone can show me how I would be very grateful.


As regular readers will know, I am somewhat of a fan of a bloke called John Allison who is responsible for a rather marvellous webcomic called Bad Machinery. He also talks a lot of sense. In a recent interview he said something that actually encapsulated most of what we are doing with this blog:

"People’s attention spans are knackered. The internet has become a Las Vegas casino, a comfortable, noisy area designed to keep you disorientated and keep you spending money. Good luck trying to find attention with longform work. But I think there’s a sense now that we have to push back in the opposite direction, that people don’t want to read articles surrounded by video ads and animation".

And so say all of us, dear boy. And so say all of us.

OLL LEWIS: Yesterday's News Today


On this day in 1773 a ship full of perfectly good tea was thrown into Boston Harbour in an anti-tax protest. Whereas the sentiment behind the protest was quite noble this also had the unforeseen consequence that tea companies would no longer send their best tea to North America, so coffee became the American drink of choice.

And now, the news:

Danube wildlife threatened by EU plans to improve ...
Rare Bird Protected by Groundbreaking Land Deal in...
Spate of Fin whale sightings off Irish Coast
Endangered short-tailed albatross nests in U.S. fo...
Fright as calf born with five legs
Prehistoric People Ate Each Other, Bones Show
Escape by a whisker: Quick-thinking cat saves hous...

A cat playing a piano: