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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Sunday, December 19, 2010

NEIL ARNOLD: The Abominable Smokeman…of Essex!

I was sent the following account by a good friend named Sally, from Essex.

‘On the 14th October I was driving home from work. It was approximately 9:30 pm and I turned the corner into the Ferry Lane Industrial Estate in Rainham. I was coming from the A13 end approaching The Cherry Tree. I was about one-hundred and fifty yards away from a ‘shape’ that was manifesting before my eyes and if I’m truthful, if I’d blinked I would have missed it. From the two seconds that it was in front of me, I will try to explain what I saw.

From the railings, a shape approximately the size of a large-shouldered man started to take a human form. It seemed to be made of a dark nicotine-brown smoke, the edge of the shape seemed lighter in colour. Its legs looked strong in their form and the shoulders were broad. The strangest thing was the head, as it was very small in comparison to the body, arms and legs. The ‘creature’ minded me of the yeti – the abominable snowman of the Himalayas. Then just as quick as it had manifested it seemed to be sucked back into the railings as if nothing had happened.

I pondered what it might have been. A trick of the light. My headlights causing an optical illusion. The weather was clear and mild, there was no fog or other cars, or people.

I have driven round that area several times since but have never seen it again…very, very strange.’


John Napier in Bigfoot: The Yeti and Sasquatch in Myth and Reality, 1973 goes over evidence for the Yeti in Chapter 2, Bigfoot in Asia. His identikit starts on page 59:

The profile of the Yeti based on the features most frequently given in Sherpa tales, goes like this: height varies between 4 ft 6 in [permissable to say 4 ft even] and 16 ft. The head hair is long and sometimes falls foreward over the eyes. The face is partially naked, often white-skinned [or sunburnt-DD]with features reminiscent of an ape or a monkey. Hair, predominantly reddish-brown to dark brown or black in colour but lighter on the chest, covers the entire body. Shoulders are heavy and hunched, arms long enough to extend to the knees or thereabouts. The posture is roughly man-like though slightly stooped. The walk is partly bipedal and partly quadrupedal.

It is particularly interesting that there is such a great variation in size in these accounts. Just over half the reports state that the creatute is over 6 ft in height; rather less than half the reports state that it is under 6 ft. The height most frequently given is between 5 ft and 6 ft and the commonest analogy is that it is the size and the build of a youth. The appearance of a conical-shaped skull, one of the most consistent features in reconstructions of the Yeti, is only mentioned in six out of the eighteen reports....

[Table of Yeti Habits and Habitat from the Sherpa Tales]
1. Habitat. The Yeti live in caves high in the mountains* between 13,000 and 20,000 feet. Or they live in the impenetrable thickets of the montane forests at about 10,000 feet (The former belief is by far the more widespread
2. Activity rhythm. Nocturnal*
3. Diet. Carnivorous. The Yeti preys on yaks as well as on smaller mammals such as the pika (Himalayan mouse-hare), which is found at a maximum altitude of 20,000 feet or thereabouts. Characteristically, they discard the intestines before eating these creatures. When hungry the Yeti may raid villages and carry off human beings*

1.Vocalization. The repertoire of the Yeti calls includes loud roars, noisy yelps, loud mews [ A sound something like that made by a seagull-DD] and, most characteristically, a high-pitched whistling call.
2. Body Odor. Yetis have a vile, pungent smell*
3. Physical Behaviour. Yetis have tremendous physical strength and can uproot trees and hurl boulders over vast distances.* The breasts of the females are so large they have to throw them over their shoulders when running or when bending down.* In both sexes these creatures are impeded when running down slopes by their long head-hair, which falls over their eyes and thus blinds them.* Yetis are inordinately fond of alcohol (eg, chang) which can be used as a bait to trap a Yeti after it has been intoxicated*
4. Social Behaviour. Unrecorded. Yetis are usually observed as isolates.

(pgs 60-61)* indicates a recognised Folkloric feature known from other parts of the world. I have amended Napier's figure of 14,000 ft under Habitat to 13,000 because that is the figure given in the tradition of the Nyalmo, and that is clearly the tradition Napier is referring to.

Napier also takes pains to note that while such features as the feet allegedly pointing backwards (p 60) and the hair falling before the eyes or a female throwing breasts of their shoulders (p 61) are part of the FOLKLORE, there are no actual reports which allege such things to be observed by witnesses.

Heuvelmans sorts the reports by summing two sorts of Yeti, the Grande Yeti and the Petit Yeti or Big Yeti and Small Yeti. He assumes the Yetis usually repotrd by the Sherpas are the reddish Small Yetis, and these are the ones whose tracks are seen more often.. Heuvelmans says the Big Yetis are darker in colouration, darker brown or black, and they have the tracks that are over a foot long. These are the ones that are likely to be surviving Gigantopithecus and Heuvelmans also specifically links them to the Rimi at seven to nine feet tall and ordinarily roaming between 10,000 and 13,000 feet. The most likey explanation for the Nyalmo is that they are based on the Rimi but with a further extrapolation according to the belief that Yetis get bigger the higher up in the mountains you go.

According to Napier's table of Yeti Tracks (Table 1 in the back of the book) the Big Yeti tracks a foot long or over have been noted a half-dozen times by travellers (excepting Shipton's tracks) and they range up to 18 or to possibly 24 inches long. These would be the equivalent to Sasquatch tracls. The smaller tracks are usually eight to ten inches long and just possibly up to a foot long also. For that reason we cannot be sure of an automatic assortmentbased on absolute size. They have been seen eight, maybe ten times between 1915 and 1970. And the tracks which feature an opposed toe are in this series: the Shipton track is most like the smaller series except for the fact that it is markedly larger than the rest and it has a peculiar second toe also. The Shipton track compares to others of the smaller series at an increase of 150% above the average, and if the average Small Yeti is only a bit over five feet tall, the Shipton Giant beast is presumably over seven and a half feet tall. It is SO much larger that it is almost certainly an individual freak and not typical for the series.

There is also a good deal of difference in position of the big toe in different tracks of the smaller series. That is not an issue I need to discuss in this overview because I deal with it elsewhere.

At this juncture I should add that I agree with Napier as to the involvement of bears in the reports, and as a general cause for confusion. HOWEVER the basic Yeti creature stories cannot ONLY be based on stories of bears because of specifically apelike features. One of these features is the opposed toe seen on some of the tracks and another is the pointed, conical head ascribed to the Yetis in reports. Those features simply cannot be describing bears of any sort.

Now as to the Traditional Yeti, it seems to me that nearly all of the description actually refers to The Big Yeti or the Sasquatch sort. On the other hand when Sherpas actually report Yetis, they are not reporting the Big Yetis of the legends, they are reporting the more familiar Small Yetis of the lowlands, presumably come up to grub for lichens or to nab some mouse-hares as a dietary supplement. They are presumably about as carnivorous as chimpanzees but some of them acquire a sweet tooth for mouse-hares that can be most easily quenched by running them down on the snowfields, and it might be assumed that their hunting technique for nabbing small animal prey is less effective in the deep forests that are usually their homes (Incidentally I do have a specific statement from an Indian woman that when such creatures live more ordinarily at lower levels in places like the Assam, they frequently raid bananna plantations and otherwise behave in a manner to be expected of quite ordinary great apes)

The Big Yeti is the one where the females have large breasts and large human-shaped feet twice the size of usual human feet. They have something like a bang of hair across the forehead and just above the eyes. And they are often said to live high in mountain caves and to drag bodies of dead animals-and allegedly humans-up to private cashes where they can eat them at leisure. They are seen at all levels down to 10000 feet in normal conditions and they can raid the valleys lower down when times are bad. But at the end of summer they go up to higher levels above 13000 feet, according to the stories, and they stay up there where their natural refrigeration works best. And actually, as Heuvelmans notes, that is the complete opposite from what you should expect from bears.

NB: I was just doing further research and I found that Darren Naish's blog says the Shipton yeti print was a hoax. I do not believe we need to go that far, but from what I could tell from its cast, the print has certainly sublimated off to the outside and the outline may well have been 'helped' before recording it. It is certainly atypical otherwise. It would be a matter of taste to equate retouching to actual hoaxing in my opinion, however.



'Not sure if this is of interest, but I think it's pretty neat...' he wrote to me yesterday. I agree Darren, pretty near indeed...


D.R.Shoop writes: Just for fun.

I created this painting for my mother-in-law for Christmas because she’s an avid and skilled weaver.

I’m no pro by any stretch of the imagination and the photo of the painting was not properly lit to reveal it in actuality (I know, I know: sad for a pro photo)

It’s styled after a photo I took in 2000 out in the West of Ireland in County Galway, Connemara, north of the Village of Roundstone on a bog road.

Driving that road was a thrill at night after some Guinness; nothing but the reflective blue eyes of sheep!

I thought I’d share FWIW. Crypto-sheep.


How does your mistletoe grow?
It looks pretty, it's great for wildlife and it's a good excuse for a cheeky kiss. So how do you get mistletoe... from bird poo? Read our blog and download the podcast to find out about this special evergreen.
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OLL LEWIS: Yesterday's News Today

Yesterday's News Today

On this day in 1968 the Zodiac Killer claimed his first known victims: Betty Lou Jenson and David Arthur Faraday. The killer is thought to be responsible for the deaths of at least five people and the wounding of a further two people. Zodiac himself claimed responsibility for 37 murders, and was never caught.
Now for the news:

Space laser spies for woodpeckers
The case of the mythical Malabar Civet
Endangered Bornean Clouded Leopard Facing Habitat ...

Leopards are cats, time for another cat video then: