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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Monday, December 27, 2010

NEIL ARNOLD: A Battle With A Sea Serpent In Kent & Sussex

The counties of Kent and (particularly) Sussex have many folkloric legends of great dragon-like monsters said to inhabit the ancient woodlands and forests. Sceptics often discount such beasts as superstition and instead blame possible encounters with adders or escaped reptiles. However, the following accounts suggest that something far bigger than your average snake once lurked in the foamy waters off the coastline of Kent and Sussex.

From Bygone Kent magazine, Vol 6, No. 9, 1985, featured in an article named ‘Submarines, A Ghost And A Sea Monster’ by W.H. Lapthorne, ‘Each year during the silly season the media revel in fresh sightings of Nessie, the legendary Loch Ness Monster. Yet the sea monster encountered off the North Foreland in 1917 was far from legendary and more than just a product of a “wee dram”. In July 1917 the ‘Paramount’, an armed drifter from Ramsgate attached to the famed Dover Patrol, was cruising a mile from the Long Nose Spit, between the North Foreland and Margate. Suddenly the sharp eyes of the look-out sighted a large snake-like creature rearing out of the sea ahead of them “hard on the port bow”, a creature which the startled man later described as being “like some gigantic conger eel about fifty-feet in length, with a long scaly body, a large spiny dorsal fin and dark olive green in colour”. At the approach of the oncoming vessel the creature inquisitively raised its head, as the craft steamed past at a steady eight knots. At a distance of 300 yards the skipper gave the order to open fire on the curious but seemingly inoffensive beast. Six shells were fired, the last of which struck the creature in the dorsal fin. After thrashing violently on the surface for a few seconds it sank from sight in a welter of blood. Years later in 1957 a sequel to this narrative came some miles down Channel at Seaford in Sussex, when local fishermen reported having their nets ripped to pieces by a strange sea serpent some fifty-feet in length, with a long scaly body bearing traces of a deep seven-foot scar. The same thing happened again in 1968, when the incident was reported in a national daily and described as the Martello Monster, as it took place off Martello Tower No. 74 at Seaford, but this time the assailant remained unseen below the surface.’

MAX BLAKE: Merry Christmas, have a map (and look at all the monsters)







Hello; today I am starting a series of several parts; I`m not sure how many; it depends on my mental stamina, etc. It is about Chinese knowledge of the giraffe, quoting from the prolific and perhaps slightly eccentric Berthold Laufer, (a man after my own heart then) whose booklets on various diverse subjects such as Ivory in China (a key source of information on the black Chinese elephant with pink tusks in T`ang Dynasy China by the way) published in 1925, by the Chicago Field Museum of Natural History and the following marvels:

The Bird Chariot (1906)
Confucius and His Portraits (1912)
Arabic and Chinese Trade in Walrus and Narwhal Ivory (1913)
Was Oderic of Pordenone Ever in Tibet? (1914)
Bird Divination Among the Tibetans (1914)
Asbestos and Salamander (1915)
The Reindeer and Its Domestication (1917)
Chinese Baskets (1925)
Ostrich Egg-shell Cups of Mesopotamia and the Ostrich In Ancient and Modern Times (1926)
Geophagy [earth-eating] (1930)
The Domestication of the Cormorant in China and Japan (1931) (1)

In Ash and Lake`s Bizarre Books (1985 ed.) it is written `To the memory of Berthold Laufer (1874-1934), who did so much to add to the bibliography of bizarre books.' (2) And later `Merit Award for Books on Extraordinarily Specialized Subjects…Berthold Laufer of Chicago…the distinguished author of a veritable library of over 100 fascinating works, mostly published in Leiden by E. J. Brill or Chicago by the Field Museum of Natural History…` (3)

Granted, Laufer was writing a long time ago, (82 years ago in fact) but I still believe his information is worth recording here; I am not taking any position as to whether he was right or wrong; I am just recording what he said.

But on Chinese knowledge of the giraffe: The Giraffe was not known to the ancient Chinese, contrary to what is assumed by certain sinologues (4). This erroneous conclusion is based on the fact when live giraffes were first transported into China in the fifteenth century under the Ming dynasty, they were taken by the Chinese for the Kilin (k`i-lin), a fabulous creature of ancient mythology, and by way of reminiscence and poetic retrospection received the name k`i-lin. This,of course, does not mean that the ancient native conception of the Kilin was based on the on the giraffe, which in historical times was confined to Africa. In fact neither the description nor the the illustrations of the Kilin bear the slightest resemblance to a giraffe. The Kilin is said to have the body of a deer, the tail of an ox, a single horn, and to be covered with fish scales. Its horn is covered with flesh, indicating that while able for war,it covets peace. It does not tread on any living thing, not even on living grass…It is clear that the characteristic features of the giraffe which impress every casual observer – the extraordinary height, the long neck, the proportion of fore and hind legs-are not found in the Chinese descriptions of the Kilin and that several traits of the latter do not agree with the giraffe…The only points of resemblance made by the Chinese between the Kilin and the giraffe are their bodies being shaped like a deer, their tails being like that of an ox, and their gentle disposition. This identification, it should be born in mind, was established as recently as the fifteenth century when the first giraffes arrived in China. (5)

The Sü po wu chi, a book compiled by Li Shi about the middle of the twelfth century, apparently contains one of the earliest Chinese literary allusions to the giraffe. 'The country of Po-pa-li [Berbera, on the Somali coast of the Gulf of Aden] harbors a strange animal called camel-ox (t`o niu). Its skin is like that of a leopard, its hoof is similar to that of an ox, but the animal is devoid of a hump. Its neck is nine feet long, and its body is over ten feet high.'…African animals were transported to China as early as the thirteenth century under the Yüan or Mongol dynasty…In A.D 1289 the Chinese emperor was presented with two zebras from Mabar, [ i.e Malabar, on the S.W coast of India - R] and in the following year another envoy arrived from the same country and offerd two piebald oxen, a buffalo, and a tiger cat. The giraffe, as far as I know,is not mentioned in the Yüan Annals, although there is no reason why it should not have come along with the topi and zebra. Malabar, at that time was in close commercial relations with the ports of southern Arabia, and it was the Arabs who brought these live animals from the Somali coast to southern Arabia and thence transhipped them to India. (6)


1 R.Ash and B.Lake Bizarre Books (1985) pp 47-49
2 Ibid no page number
3 Ibid p. 47
4 Sinology the study of Chinese language,history and culture Concise Oxford English
5 Dictionary (2008) p.1346
6 B.Laufer The Giraffe in History and Art (1928) pp 41-42
7 Ibid pp 42-43

MICHAEL NEWTON: True Giants—True Story?

We’ve all heard stories of Bigfoot, Sasquatch, Yeti, Yowie—pick your moniker of preference. By any name, it’s said to be a hulking, hairy biped of six to nine feet tall, leaving trails of humanoid footprints fourteen to sixteen inches long. But what if there was something even bigger lurking in the wilderness? Let’s say a creature resembling Bigfoot but towering twelve to twenty feet tall, with feet twenty to thirty inches long.

It would, to say the least, be startling.

In fact, for generations there have been reports of truly massive “Bigfeet” seen in North America and all around the world. Coupled with claims of Sasquatch popping in and out of UFOs, they have embarrassed authors who treat cryptozoology as a serious discipline, but simply ignoring the hairy Goliaths hasn’t made them go away. Neither has the incessant ridicule heaped upon seemingly sober witnesses by sceptics and professional debunkers.

Now, at last, veteran cryptozoologists Mark Hall and Loren Coleman have tackled the problem head on, in their new book True Giants: Is Gigantopithecus Still Alive? Their answer to that question is a qualified affirmative.

Hall coined the term 'true giants' back in 1992, thirty-odd years after Ivan Sanderson proposed the prehistoric ape Gigantopithecus as a Bigfoot-Yeti candidate—or “neo-giant”—within a list of four proposed unknown hominid species worldwide. Sanderson, however, chose to skirt the issue of bipedal monsters twice the normal size ascribed to Sasquatch. Myra Shackley followed Sanderson’s lead two decades later in her book Wildman: Yeti, Sasquatch and the Neanderthal Enigma (1983; American title, Still Living?), while paleoanthropologists Russell Ciochon, John Olsen and Jamie Janes considered Bigfoot tangentially in their 1990 work Other Origins: The Search for the Giant Ape in Human Prehistory. Grover Krantz endorsed an evolved and altered species of Gigantopithecus as Bigfoot in 1992, naming it G. canadensis.

While most students of cryptozoology recognise “Giganto” as a favourite Bigfoot/Yeti candidate, many may be unaware that German anatomist-anthropologist Franz Weidenreich (1873-1948) renamed the creature Giganthropus, treating it as a primitive ancestor of Homo sapiens. Weidenreich’s view did not prevail against Edward Cope’s rule that population lineages tend to increase in size over evolutionary time, but dissenters persist—including authors Hall and Coleman, along with Australian cryptozoologist Rex Gilroy.

Whether or not readers of True Giants finally agree with their premise, Hall and Coleman rate kudos for collecting all the available evidence on “true giants” and reviewing it even-handedly. The final product is a handsome volume, featuring cover art by Alika Lindbergh (former wife of Bernard Heuvelmans) and twenty-three black-and-white illustrations, with all material fully sourced. Overall, True Giants is a valuable addition to the literature of Sasquatchery and natural mysteries.

OLL LEWIS: Yesterday's News Today


On this day in 1895 the Lumière brothers first showed one of their films to a paying audience, creating cinema and the motion picture industry in one go.
And now, the news:

Leapin’ lizards! KU graduate student discovers a n...
Tiger team marks 20 years of conflict resolution
Bat cull 'will not stop white-nose syndrome spread...

An amazing wildlife spectacle... ruined somewhat by the addition of area seatting for tourists, but you can't have everything I guess:


..but Corinna and I have both been laid low with what we suspect is swine flu, and Corinna in particular has been quite unwell. However, I am on the mend, and am doing my best to nurse her back to health, and normal service will be resumed in a day or two. (Or at least, I sincerely hope so)

Karl Shuker wants to know what is so magic about these mushrooms?

Check out his freaky fungi