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...

Monday, January 31, 2011


MAX BLAKE: Another Taxonomy Fail


The other day, whilst researching in Stockport Library, I came across the following story, which has not yet been cross-referenced with The Historical Bigfoot by Chad Arment. If anyone would be so kind as to do this I would be most grateful.

According to The Stockport Advertiser Notes and Queries September 9th 1882:


While hunting for deserters from a ship, at Guaymas,* a few days ago, the searchers discovered a man covered from head to foot with long, shaggy hair, of a reddish colour. On their approaching him he commenced to run, and they chased him, following him for a distance of a mile or more, to the beach, where he jumped from rock to rock with the agility of a chamois, and was soon lost to sight behind a jutting point. They afterward discovered the cave which he inhabits, the floor being covered with skins, and the indications were that he subsisted entirely upon raw flesh. Organized efforts will be made to capture him. (1)

(*Now in N.W Mexico)

Well, what do you make of that my dear cryptid lovers? I am interested in the reddish coat and cave dwelling. Is this common of sasquatch/bigfoot? Please let us know.

1. Stockport Advertiser Notes & Queries Sept 9th 1882 p.115.


For those interested in the ongoing debates over new methods in naming species, here are a few open papers you can read online:

Availability of new Bayesian-delimited gecko names and the importance of character-based species descriptions
Aaron Bauer, et al.

A coalescent perspective on delimiting and naming species: a reply to Bauer et al.

Describing New Species Alain Dubois

Abundance and conservation status of two newly described lemur species ...

Not available online, but could be of interest:

Leopoldo H. Soibelzon and Blaine W. Schubert (2011) The Largest Known Bear, Arctotherium angustidens, from the Early Pleistocene Pampean Region of Argentina: With a Discussion of Size and Diet Trends in Bears. Journal of Paleontology: January 2011, Vol. 85, No. 1, pp. 69-75.

GLEN VAUDREY: I'd Go the Whole Wide World #4

Paraguay is a landlocked country in South America that I don’t know all that much more about. It is sometimes referred to as the heart of South America based on its location but I am sure it has some more points of attraction other than that and its cryptids.

To represent Paraguay I will have a look at one of the more remarkable mystery cat stories to be told.

Sometime in 1975 a large mystery cat weighing 160lb was shot in Paraguay. At the time it was recorded as being a mutant jaguar, a cracking description that conjures many an image, but does your imagination match the following?

Supposedly when zoologist Juan Acavar examined the animal’s corpse he discovered that it possessed fangs measuring 12 inches in length; quite remarkable, far longer than you would expect and enough to suggest that the mutant jaguar was nothing less than a Smilodon. A rather impressive identity as it is widely suggested that the Smilodon became extinct around 10,000 BC.

In best conspiracy tradition, as important as this sighting could be, the official line is that it was still only a mutant jaguar, after all the thought of sabre-toothed cats roaming the countryside could cause undue panic. Unfortunately there is still not enough evidence to suggest if the report is as good as it sounds, but who knows what might turn up one day.

Leaving tales of sabre-toothed cats behind, next we shall skip across the border to neighbouring Bolivia.


As regular readers/CFZ buffs will know, whenever I give a list of books that we are planning to publish it all goes wrong. However, these are the titles that are being worked on at the moment:

Haunted Skies Volume 2 by John Hanson and Dawn Holloway (Out this week) **
CFZ Yearbook 2011 (final touches being done)
I Fort the Lore by Paul Screeton **
Monstrum by Tony `Doc` Shiels
The Inhumanoids Barton Nunnelly
Space Girl Dead on Spaghetti Junction by Nick Redfern **
Mystery Animals of the British Isles: London by Neil Arnold
Mystery Animals of Gloucestershire and Worcestershire by Paul Williams
Snap! by Steven Bredice
Green Unpleasant Land by Richard Freeman
Death by Bigfoot by Michael Newton
Weird Waters: Lake and Sea Monsters of Scandinavia and the Baltic States by Lars Thomas

Quite a few other books are in the planning state, but these are the ones being actively worked on (designed, mastered, laid-out, proof-read) at this moment.

** Fortean Words rather than CFZ Press.

OLL LEWIS: Yesterday's News Today


On this day in 2003 the space shuttle Columbia disintegrated during re-entry to Earth's atmosphere killing all crew members.
And now, the news:

Romney Marsh & Dungeness the last refuge of rare s...
Klamath Chinook Salmon Groups Seek Endangered Spec...
Species-proving Kunimasu trout goes on display in ...
250 species of birds counted in Berks in 2010
Shark-Catching Nations Fail To Protect Threatened ...
Wolf sighting is ruled unsubstantiated

Do do do do do do do dodo dododo dodo:

Sunday, January 30, 2011

OLL LEWIS: TV Series review: Primeval

Surprise! After umming and ah-ing over the cost of the third series and ITV cancelling the show, Primeval is back on our screens. However, after international investment they have reconsidered and a reboot of sorts has taken place. For those not aware, Primeval started off a few years back as ITV's answer to the popularity of Doctor Who on the BBC. Of course, because it would be difficult to compete with the Doctor head on you need a new idea that will appeal instantly to a family audience and they went for dinosaurs. To ensure quality, the team behind the BBC's Walking with Dinosaurs was used, including a certain consultant who happens to be a well known member of CFZ amongst other things. The gamble paid off, and then some, for the first two series producing consistently very good episodes each week, series three saw the departure of the man who up until then had been the main character and with him, but the show still retained its audience.

Series four is, after two episodes, looking fantastic and might well be the best series yet. So far the only returning characters from the first three series have been Abby (she out of S-Club7) Conner (the excitable student comic relief in the first series who has since grown into a much more rounded character) and James Lester (the civil servant head of the Arc played by the brilliant Ben Miller). This is a good thing as they were the best characters from the first three series and they are joined by an intriguing new mix of characters; one of them at least, it is hinted from a clandestine-looking meeting in episode two, is hiding a secret. The first episode is an entertaining but on the rails affair where Conner and Abby seek to open up a time anomaly to get back to the present from the Cretaceous period. It picks up considerably in the second episode where Conner, now sacked from the Arc, meets up with an old university chum that after an encounter with dodos in series one is now a fully paid up member of the tinfoil hat brigade and they are soon on the run from a dinosaur in a container yard. It's great stuff and certainly back to form. I highly recommend you watch.

EDITOR'S NOTE: This review has been kicking around my files for several weeks, so - not being a TV watcher - I suspect that the series will be far later in its run by now, if it hasn't finished. However, you can let Oll's enthusing tempt you towards buying the DVD box when it appears.



Karl Shuker goes to South America in search of giant toads and South American sasquatches.

MIKE HALLOWELL: Geordie horse-ripping (Naomi do not read)

Some animal-related unpleasantness to report from Geordieland, I'm afraid.

Bill Quay is a pleasant little community just north of Hebburn and just south of Wardley, the nearest large town being Gateshead. Driving through Bill Quay, one of the pleasing sights to greet one's eyes is that of horses ambling in fields; a touch of rurality in an area renowned for its industry.

But then Sunday came along and things changed.

Mark Taylor and Lawrence March owned three horses between them. Lawrence was the proud owner of two gypsy cobs; Mark, a seven month-old foal named Jacko. All three had the run of a field just off Wardley Lane. On Sunday morning the men went to the adjacent stables to visit the horses and were devastated at what they found. The two cobs had been attacked, their manes and tails cut off.

Superficially, the incident seemed to be a simple case of animal cruelty: some wack-job attacks horses; end of story. But it's actually a little more complicated than that. The police believe that the horses must have been chased before being assaulted, which tends to mitigate against the idea that this was simply a random act of violence carried out on the spur of the moment. Whoever did this was determined and went about their vile business at some considerable risk. Not only is the field near a busy road, but it is also only yards away from Hebburn Fire Station. (1)

The incident caused a furore in the neighbourhood, naturally. But things were to take on an even more sinister hue. Taylor and March discovered the plight of the two horses on Sunday morning. The following day they went to check on the horses again, only to find that Mark Taylor's foal, Jacko, had been killed. The perpetrators had struck on two successive nights and managed to carry out the attacks without being seen or heard on either.

The way in which the foal was dispatched was sickening. Its neck had been twisted 180° - “like the girl on the Exorcist”, said Taylor (2) – and the two men were left wondering what on earth had made their horses the target off such wanton cruelty.

There is, as far as I can see, nothing that explicitly points to this being anything other than the actions of a twisted personality with a hatred of horses; or perhaps I should say personalities, in the plural, as it is unlikely that one individual could have been responsible for the first attack involving two gypsy cobs.

But you never can tell. Animal mutilation, but not of the extraterrestrial kind. The work of cultists? Or just sick bastards? Hopefully they'll be arrested, and then we'll find out.

1) The Shields Gazette, Thursday, January 6, 2011.
2) The Evening Chronicle, Thursday, January 6, 2011.


Followers of our activities will remember that last year we published Strangely Strange but Oddly Normal, an anthology of the writings of Andy Roberts. This was always meant to be the start of a series, and so I am overjoyed to announce that two more anthologies, featuring the writings of Nick Redfern, and the writings of Paul Screeton, are in preparation and shall be arriving shortly.

Meanwhile, the finishing touches to the Yearbook are being done now, and we hope that it will go to press within the next week.


I was very pleased with the response to my call for proofreaders last week. I had six replies, three of whom have already been given assignments, and the other three who will be given stuff in the next few days.

Thanks, guys.


Back in June Max, Dave B-P and I went to the Livebearer auctions in Redditch, where, amongst other things, we bought some knife livebearers (Alfaro cultratus). We managed to breed them in October but sadly a power failure killed everything in their tank on my desktop, except for two male guppies and two large female cultratus.

Since then, one of the cultratus has disappeared, and I was beginning to despair until this morning when I noticed five tiny grey babies.

Calling to Oll to remove the two guppies immediately, we are feeding the babies with brine-shrimp eggs and are hoping that the one remaining adult cultratus doesn't decide to go in for infanticide. Oh, the dramas that take place on my desktop.

NB: Bizarrely, the missing cultratus turned up about half an hour after I wrote the above, and at time of writing there are still at least five tiny babies; the smallest livebearer fry that I have ever seen, since I was a child and bred Gambusia affinis in Hong Kong.

OLL LEWIS: Yesterday's News Today


On this day in 1958 James Van Allen discovered the Van Allen radiation belts.
And now, the news:

Cross-eyed opossum on diet to improve health and e...
Coyotes sighted near Manitoba school
Wisconsin DNR says animal sighted not a cougar
Hip cat: Tiger gets landmark artificial joint oper...

And again:

Saturday, January 29, 2011


Once again Mike and Rebecca of CFZ Australia have surpassed themselves:

  • VIC Govt stays true to big cat investigation promi...
  • Tourists lunch with big cats in Oz
  • Weird Weekend 2011
  • Field research: How to collect samples
  • 'Roos run horses off the track in Victoria
  • New discovery - TWO types of Asia's clouded leopar...
  • 'Ark' to save the Tasmanian Devil
  • Brush-tailed rock wallaby sanctuary saving species...
  • Brush turkey cleans up in Qld floods
  • Uncertainty over 'Tassie Tiger' pelt
  • HELP - Animals struggle in Queensland floods
  • Extinct Bornean Bay Cat 'caught' in the wild
  • From the archives: The Northam Monster (1935)
  • Buy Jennifer Parkhurst's new Fraser Island dingo b...
  • Australia's nasty secret - the species we torture
  • Thousands of fish die at Sydney airport
  • Dead fish wash up on NZ beach
  • Aussie discovers Vampire Flying Frog
  • Backyard bird mystery solved
  • CFZers on Australia's A Current Affair TV show
  • Big cats make the 'wacky news' for 2010
  • Name that bird - backyard visitors
  • From the archives: The Case of the Euroa Bunyip (1...
  • Will the Night Parrot come in from the cold in 201...
  • In search of ghost birds...

    The other day I was in the Local Studies library in Stockport when I came across 5 volumes of the Stockport Advertiser Notes and Queries dating from 1881-1882. There were a number of what would now be called classic Forteana including such gems as the following:

    DRAGON`S LAKE – There is a lake* in the neighbourhood of Moston Green, near Warmingham, called Dragon`s Lake. Can anyone inform me as to the meaning of its name? Middlewich L.P

    This word is actually spelt `lane` which is either a misprint or it really was a lane, which is still interesting.

    A HORNED WOMAN – In Dr. Leighs Natural History of Lancashire, Cheshire, and the Peak of Derbyshire (1700), I believe there is a portrait and descriptive account of one Mary Davies taken in 1688, at the age of 72. This woman is said to have had two full-grown horns upon her head, and to have cast them; that others grew and were cast and so on in regular succession for four or five years. The first formation is said to have commenced when the woman was 23 (?) years old. Would any reader of your Notes and Queries, having access to the above work, kindly supply further particulars of this natural curiosity or state where a copy may be seen. E.ABBOTT.



    This was sent to Gavin Lloyd Wilson, who forwrded it to me, writing 'Not one for the News Blog, I feel...' Once again: Hmmmmmmmmmmmmm

    DAVE SADLER: New issue of Phenomena magazine

    Hi all,

    The Phenomena magazine February 2011 edition - Issue 22 - is now available to download as a PDF and for free at www.phenomenamagazine.co.uk

    Andy Roberts delves into the history of Foo Fighters, Dave Sadler investigates The Mystery of the Stones, Steve Mera re-evaluates one of the the UK's most profound UFO incidents, Mysterious Animal Deaths - What's going on?, James Whittaker looks into The Lantern Boy apparition, John Pagan discusses Poltergeist: Electromagnetic Fear, Also, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle - Spiritualism & Freemasonry, Life's Little Mysteries, Thornton's Chocolates, The Fire Lantern Manace, My First Paranormal Experience, book reviews and much more...

    Please allow for downloading as there is a daily limit.

    Please forward this information to others you feel maybe interested and contact us with your feedback. New authors articles are also valuably accepted for inclusion. So please send your articles over for submission.

    If you require analysis of footage, images or audio recordings, visit our Analysis section of the site for more information.

    we have advertising space is also now available, if you would like to advertise in Phenomena Magazine or on our website, contact us immeadiatly.

    Finally, due to the large worldwide readership of Phenomena Magazine, we are also able to offer book and DVD reviews, as seen in this issue with Andy Roberts two books. If you would like yours or a colleague book or DVD reviewed and included, contact us for postal details.

    Dave Sadler


    We are pleased to announce the publication launch of Basic and Applied Herpetology, a continuation of the Revista Española de Herpetología, the journal of the Spanish Herpetological Society that has been publishedyearly since 1986. Basic and Applied Herpetology (B&AH) is a peer-reviewed scientific journal that publishes original research papers, reviews and short notes, dealing with any aspect of amphibians and reptile biology worldwide.

    In response to the demands of the herpetological community worldwide, the Spanish Herpetological Society wish to create a fast publication for a broader audience. Although articles in Spanish are welcome, the new editorial board wish to open the journal to a wider public, giving priority to manuscripts written in English. Moreover, to make the decimation of scientific data as fast as possible, editorial decisions regarding manuscripts submitted to B&AH will be communicated within 90 days. Shortly after acceptance and galley proof correction, a PDF version of the paper will be available online in the journal website.

    Detailed information regarding guidelines to authors and submissionprocess is available in our web site:


    OLL LEWIS: Yesterday's News Today


    On this day in 1826 the Menai Suspension Bridge or Pont Grog y Borth was opened. Now some might say “So what? It's only a bridge! Why's that important, or even of Fortean significance?” These people are commonly known as idiots, for it is actually quite an interesting bridge. For starters, it was the first modern suspension bridge ever built; for seconders (is that a word?), it is mentioned in Lewis Carroll's Through the Looking-Glass, and What Alice Found There, and for thirders (OK, that is definitely not a word as the red wiggly line of the spell-check has appeared under it); the bridge's structure includes some rather beautiful but rarely seen dragon statues as seen in some author photographs of Richard Freeman.
    And now, the news:

    Royal Bengal Tigers Get GPS Treatment, New Plans t...
    'Godzilla-like creature' nabbed in Calif. town
    5-foot Monitor Lizard, 'Godzilla-Like Creature,' F...
    Ex-policeman in 'big cat' sighting

    My plundering of the Simon's Cat website for vaguely related vids continues:

    Friday, January 28, 2011

    CFZ PEOPLE: Happy Birthday to Karl's Mum

    Karl writes

    Happy Birthday to Karl Shuker's mum. The indefatigable Mrs Shuker is 90 Today! Love Jon and Corinna and all at the CFZ


    Chad Arment posted this on the `Strange Ark` email group:

    A couple of recent papers have relevance to the debate over the use of DNA to describe species:

    Researchers register new species using DNA-based description

    Myth of the molecule: DNA barcodes for species cannot replace morphology for identification and classification

    DAVY CURTIS: Stand up you big gorilla.

    Dear Jon,

    I hope you are feeling a bit better. Have you seen the footage on Sky News of Ambam, the gorilla who walks upright? Apparently he learnt this behaviour from his father Bitam. They are kept at Port Lympne Wild Animal Park, Kent.

    If this behaviour has been learnt from an older generation could it carry on until all future gorillas at this park start walking upright?

    Anybody know if this could be the case?

    Regards Davy C

    And there is only one song we could possibly play now:


    Adam writes: I did an interview with Tim Binnall just before Xmas, and it is available for download, if you have the opportunity.



    As regular readers will know, Glen Vaudrey is currently presenting a series called I'd go the whole wide world. Further to that, I have been intoducing this series with the occasional comment about 'Wreckless Eric.' "Who is Wreckless Eric?" asked a CFZ Family member who is old enough to know better.

    Bloody Hell!

    NICK REDFERN: Timeslips

    Richard Holland was the editor of Britain's Paranormal magazine, which unfortunately recently closed down. However, Richard also runs an excellent website of his own called Uncanny UK, for which I have just started writing.

    Here's my first post, on UK time-slips:


    You have to register to read the article, but there's no fee.

    OLL LEWIS: Yesterday's News Today


    On this day in 1845 The Raven by Edger Allan Poe was first published.
    The Raven
    And now, the news:

    Rare Moth Thrives in "Last Refuge" on the Island
    'Large cat fight' sound heard before savaged lamb ...
    US fugitive 'planned suicide by bear'
    Bigfoot is real, Idaho researcher to tell IUS audi...
    Egyptian jackal is actually ancient wolf
    'Best-ever' big cat sighting reported in Wales

    Shouldn't be too hard to guess what sort of thing I'll be posting for today's vid (this one's for Gavin Wilson, the top bloke who posts the stories on out news blog most days):





    Thursday, January 27, 2011

    NEIL ARNOLD: Historical Taxonomy Fail

    Whilst visiting my local museum (Rochester) I took some photos of an old poster and a connecting sculpture, pertaining to a poor woman, dubbed the 'Lion Queen' who many years ago during a show in Chatham was attacked and killed by two captive big cats. The taxonomy fail is blatantly obvious and I'm hoping to enquire at the museum as to who made the cock-up!

    DALE DRINNON: Neanderthal Snubnoses Again

    Back when Heuvelmans was alive and we were discussing his interpretation of the Iceman I said that most experts would disagree with his interpretation of the Neanderthal's nose being like the Iceman's.

    However, I did the following little demonstration for him as well: I altered Jay Maternes' reconstruction of the Shanidar Neanderthal to something like the Iceman's snubnosed condition just by rotating the end of the nose relative to the rest of the head.

    I should also note that the Shanidar skull in question illustrates one peculiar feature often found in European Neanderthal (although Shanidar is in the Near East): the highest point of the cranium is in back and the skull slopes steeply away from that point both before and behind.

    This could be what causes some witnesses to say the almas has a head that is pointed in back. Other types of early humans do not have this feature and in fact some of the first Neanderthal skulls found (such as the one at La Chapelle-aux-Saints) were incorrectly reconstructed without it, and with the profile of the cranium too low in back.

    Homo erectus incidentally never has anything like it and if anything, erectus tends to have a higher peak in the front of the cranium, and tapers away to the rear in profile.

    CHAD ARMENT: Minke Whale hybrids

    Chad Arment posted this to the StrangeArk email group:

    First, some general info from Nat Geo:http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2011/01/110125-whales-hybrids-antarctica-arctic-science-animals/

    The paper:Migration of Antarctic Minke Whales to the Arctic


    Abstract: The Antarctic minke whale (Balaenoptera bonaerensis), and the common minke whale found in the North Atlantic (Balaenoptera acutorostrata acutorostrata), undertake synchronized seasonal migrations to feeding areas at their respective poles during spring, and to the tropics in the autumn where they overwinter. Differences in the timing of seasons between hemispheres prevent these species from mixing. Here, based upon analysis of mitochondrial and microsatellite DNA profiles, we report the observation of a single B. bonaerensis in 1996, and a hybrid with maternal contribution from B. bonaerensis in 2007, in the Arctic Northeast Atlantic. Paternal contribution was not conclusively resolved. This is the first documentation of B. bonaerensis north of the tropics, and, the first documentation of hybridization between minke whale species.


    It is with great pleasure that we can announce that Trevor Beer, one of the greatest contemporary naturalists and natural history writers will be appearing at this year's Weird Weekend talking about The Beast of Exmoor....

    OLL LEWIS: Yesterday's News Today


    On this day in 1754 Horace Walpole invented the word 'serendipity'... which was fortunate.
    And now, the news:

    Humans 'left Africa much earlier'
    Shark nations failing on conservation pledges

    You're going to need a bigger boat:

    Wednesday, January 26, 2011

    GLEN VAUDREY: I'll go the whole wide world #3


    What do we know about Uruguay? Wel,l it did host the first ever World Cup and has won the contest twice, which is far more than some countries have managed. As well as football it has a cryptozoological claim to fame: the Minhocão.

    The Minhocão is a most interesting mystery animal with many contenders with a claim to be the animal behind the name. The name itself is Portuguese for 'giant earthworm'; descriptions give the animal a thick, bony, armoured skin or scales, and a head that sports a pair of horns and a pig-like snout. With a body length of 150 feet and a track measuring a mighty15 feet in width it is hardly surprising that its trail is marked by fallen trees, collapsed roads and new river channels.

    It was in 1849 while travelling in Termas del Aparey that Lebino Josė dos Santos heard of a dead Minhocão that had managed to expire while caught in a narrow cleft of rock. He would describe the skin as being as thick as a pine tree’s bark and that the body was covered in scales like an armadillo.

    For an animal described as a big worm the Minhocão does seem to have generated a number of theories about its possible origin. It has been suggested that it could be an undisclosed giant scaly lungfish whose pectoral fins could be mistaken for horns. Or perhaps it’s a giant species of caecilian, a worm-like amphibian that burrows underground; however, the Minhocão is considerably longer than the 5 feet recorded for the longest known burrowing caecilian. But at least it is worm-like, which is more than can be said for the next candidate for the Minhocão: a late surviving form of glyptodont, a heavily armoured large armadillo that grew up to 10 feet long. There is one drawback to this theory: the animal is not suspected of having been a burrower. Of course it could always be an example of that often mentioned South America cryptid the giant anaconda.

    Next stop: Paraguay.

    DR DAN HOLDSWORTH: One for `Taxonomy Fail` here


    Nice Going, Daily Fail; you illustrated a story about a bear with a picture of a wolverine.

    ROBERT SCHNECK: Love bug

    Since Dada and action painting came along it's hard to know what art is. Fortunately, like pornography, you can still recognize it when you see it and a beautifully wrought giant metal trilobite that lights up and that you can ride, is art.

    OLL LEWIS: Polar Bear-in (Dire) Straits

    A study by American scientists published in Polar Biology has highlighted the effect of climate change on the lifestyle of polar bears in ways that are not immediately apparent. Most people who have been following the plight of the polar bear are well aware of the fact that the bear is venturing further south into North America and even meeting and mating with grizzly bears producing hybrids with greater regularity than ever before. Fewer people are aware of the effects climate change is having on the lifestyles and mortality rates of the bears further north, which lived on the ice sheet and pack ice.

    As the ice begins to melt and gets more sparse this means that polar bears are forced to swim to find other ice upon which to live and hunt from. This becomes a big problem when there is simply no ice nearby and polar bears are forced to swim for days, non-stop, through the open sea. The study revealed, by tracking the bears, the harsh lengths the melting of the ice has forced some polar bears to go to and the tragic and life-threatening consequences.

    One polar bear being tracked swam a shocking 9 days and 687km (426 miles) without stopping, across the open ocean just to find land or floating ice. The bear lost 22% of her body fat and her yearling cub. This highlights the additional pressures the polar bear population is under as it tries to find food and suitable habitat in this changing world.

    One of the reports authors, zoologist George M. Durner, said:

    “This bear swam continuously for 232 hours and 687 km and through waters that were 2-6 degrees C,”

    “We are in awe that an animal that spends most of its time on the surface of sea ice could swim constantly for so long in water so cold. It is truly an amazing feat.”

    “It was simply more energetically costly for the yearling than the adult to make this long distance swim,”

    “In prior decades, before 1995, low-concentration sea ice persisted during summers over the continental shelf in the Beaufort Sea.”

    “This means that the distances, and costs to bears, to swim between isolated ice floes or between sea ice and land was relatively small.”

    “The extensive summer melt that appears to be typical now in the Beaufort Sea has likely increased the cost of swimming by polar bears.”

    “This dependency on sea ice potentially makes polar bears one of the most at-risk large mammals to climate change”

    Although the IUCN red list lists polar bears as a vulnerable species the American government, both under Republican and Democrat administrations, have shown reluctance to acknowledge this and give the Polar bears the protected status they need. It is often alleged by campaigners that this is because it might hinder plans for American oil companies to exploit Alaska and the seas around it for oil or that oil companies may be forced to help pay for conservation programmes. If either of these theories are correct then it is a very sorry state of affairs indeed that no attempts have been made at a compromise that could save the polar bears.


    A big thank you to Steve Jones who pointed out that I had cocked up the coding for the `buy it now` button on the right of this page. This has now been fixed, so the hundreds of you who tried to buy Weird Weekend tickets at the special recession-busting price of £20 a throw, but failed because of my coding and did not like to point out my failings as an IT dude, can now buy your tickets....


    Today, in 1925, my late father was born. It would have been his 86th birthday. We hated each other for most of our lives, but during his last eight months we became friends, and by the time he died (with me holding his hand) we were very close. Not a day goes by that I don't think of him, and I still miss him sorely.

    Also, (sorry to relegate you to second place, mate) happy birthday to Nick Wadham from Bugfest. Those of you who are regulars at the WW (and if not, why not?) will know Nick and his family who are rapidly becoming unreplaceable. Have a good one, mate.

    And whilst on the subject of birthdays, whilst flu-ified, I inadvertantly missed Dale Drinnon and Tully Reynolds, who had birthdays on New Year's Day, and Richard Freeman who had a birthday on January 4th! Sorry guys.

    OLL LEWIS: Yesterday's News Today


    On this day in 1933 Mohamed Al-Fayad was born. Al-Fayad is perhaps the biggest advocate of of the conspiracy theory that Princess Diana and his son Dodi were killed by the establishment. Personally I think not. The fact is their driver was p****d as a newt and they were being chased by idiot paparazzi who were driving like maniacs in the hope of getting a photograph - no conspiracy is needed.
    And now, the news:

    Bats Use Carnivorous Pitcher Plant as Living Toile...
    Mad cow drags police officer along country road
    Kangaroos invade Hanging Rock races
    Two-clawed and parrot-sized: new T.rex cousin unve...

    Take a guess what I'll be posting as the vaguely related video today, it's not going to be difficult:

    Tuesday, January 25, 2011


    A very happy birthday to the remarkably talented illustrator of Richard Freeman's yokai book, and Predator Deathmatch by Nick Molloy...


    Nick Redfern reviews Stan Gordon's new book, Silent Invasion: The Pennsylvania UFO-Bigfoot Casebook.


    ROBERT SCHNECK: One-and-a-half feet wide, six feet long

    Those are the possible dimensions for Arthropleura, an extinct creepy crawly that wandered around the same swamps as the ancient gigantic hell mega-dragonfly.

    LARS THOMAS: How to collect samples – in one easy lesson

    I spend quite a lot of time analyzing samples collected from all over the world – bits and pieces of all kinds of animals found in all kinds of circumstances. The amount of information enclosed with the various samples varies to an amazing degree. Some samples are labelled in such a meticulous fashion they could probably be used in a court of law. Some samples are not … definitely not. So, in the interest of further investigations, expedition and researches, here are a few very simple guidelines when it comes to scientific sampling and labelling.

    Basically it is a simple matter of book-keeping – triple book-keeping!

    Yes, I know, it’s tedious and time consuming and plain and simple boring, but it is vital and it increases the scientific value of a sample many, many times.

    First of all, keep an EXPEDITION LOG. In this (any cheap notebook will do, but make sure it is reasonably durable), one scribbles as much information about the samples as possible. There in no upper limit, but for each and every sample there should be at least the following information:

    A NUMBER – for instance all samples collected on day one are numbered 101, 102, 103 and so forth. On day two, the numbers are 201, 202, 203 and so on.

    A DATE

    A PLACE – not just the geographical location, but also some exact information, was it on a treestump, under a rack, in a lake, whatever.

    A DESCRIPTION – what has been collected? This may sound obvious, but just in case a sample container breaks or things get mixed up, it is a valuable peace of information to have.

    A NAME – who did the sampling?

    OK – next you put whatever sample in a container of some kind. And then you write the five kinds of information on the bag, can, jar or whatever. Boooring, I hear you cry. Oh yes, but if you loose the log, not so boring. And NEVER EVER rely on your memory. Memories are notoriously unreliable.

    And then, just to drive you completely mad, you write it all over again, on a smaller label that you either put into the container with your sample, or tie it to the sample, if it is big enough (say a bone or something).

    This makes sure that whatever information you have about a specific sample is never completely lost.

    And if you use a water soluble pen of any kind for any of this, I will personally hunt you down!!

    And if you put specimens in alcohol, the use of an alcohol soluble pen on the label or the container will bring the same kind of retribution upon you.

    In short – do everything you can to ensure that the information is never lost. In this way, anyone can work on your samples without needing your presence or having to rely on your faulty memory. And from a personal point of view – expeditionlogs are incredibly entertaining and fun to read 10, 20 or 30 years later. I have logs dating back to the mid 1970’s, and they would be the first I’d save in case of fire.

    MAX BLAKE: More taxonomy fail

    OLL LEWIS: Review: Being Human (BBC3, 9pm Sundays)

    (Warning: contains spoilers)

    Every so often there comes a craze that a group of people obsess over. Previous examples of this include Turtles, yo-yos and thanks in a large part to the X Files in the late 90s it was the turn of the paranormal in general to go stratospheric. After a while these crazes die down, which is sometimes a shame as when the paranormal craze was on there were a lot more people out there publishing original content rather than just copy and pasting from an old Eric Frank Russell book, I was never that fond of yo-yos though, could never work the damn things. Anyway, the current craze is for vampires and to a lesser extent werewolves. This is mainly due to the Twilight books and films and the fact that for some reason young ladies find Robert Patterson and his oddly shaped chin very allureing. This has lead to a raft of other vampire related tv series, books and films being release in the hope of cashing in on this craze, to such an extent that you'll notice a whole new bookshelf section in Waterstones entitled 'Dark Romance'.

    Now Being Human is different. It started off as a pilot on BBC3 before vampires were as popular as they are at the moment and has little romantic content so is not a cash in on Twilight's popularity like many of the other vampire series about at the moment, in fact as an extremely well written drama with excellent production values and faultless acting it is pretty much the antidote to Twilight. Being Human follows the lives of George, a werewolf, Mitchell, a Vampire, and Annie, a ghost, after they find themselves living in the same house in Bristol, they are later joined by George's girlfriend Nina (who he accidentally turns into a werewolf as well). Following on from the end of series 2 the house-mates find themselves in Barry Island and with Annie currently trapped in purgatory. The first episode of series 3 follows Mitchell's attempt to rescue Annie and his own journey through purgatory and Nina getting George out of police custody, after being wrongly arrested for dogging, before they both change into wolves when the full moon comes out. The episode also focuses on new characters McNair (played by Robson Green) and his son Tom, who happen to be werewolves and vampire hunters. Tom runs into George in the woods just before his arrest and is intrigued to learn there are other werewolves in the area, where as McNair is captured by vampires led by Vincent (played by Paul Kaye) and forced to fight in a cage after he changes.

    All makes for a great start to the new series, which according to the producers will continue with Herrick tracking down George and Mitchell after their blood (perhaps literally). Herrick, for those unfamiliar with the previous two series, was the vampire that sired Mitchell and had a plan to eventually turn all humans into either vampires or farm them for their blood. George killed him by beheading him at the end of series 1 while George was in wolf form. In the Being human universe it is possible to bring vampires back from the dead depending upon the circumstances of their death. It would seem they cannot be brought back to life if they die in a fire, as events towards the end of series 2 illustrate, but in some cases like after being staked the removal of the stake and liberal application of blood can bring the vampire back to life. At the end of series 2 Herrick was resurrected in a similar manner after two vampires found his remains.

    To accompany the series the BBC is also funding a web based spin-off series called Becoming Human which will feature the vampire Adam, introduced in the second episode of series 3, and be a series of interactive whodunit mysteries with further clues being posted daily on the Being Human website. It certainly sounds like an interesting idea and, as it has the same writing team as the series, should keep up the same level of quality and sit well with the series as a whole. The only potential stumbling block I can see is how complex it will be possible to make the mysteries within the presumably short episodes of the spin off, it won't be half as fun if you can figure out the solution as the spin-offs credits are rolling and the daily clues to be posted on the website would be somewhat of a waste. Hopefully though the spin-off will not suffer from this problem, but I'm sure it'll be fun to watch all the same.

    In conclusion I urge you to watch Being Human if you do not already, it is one of the best series on British Television.

    OLL LEWIS: Yesterday's News Today


    On this day in 2004 a sperm whale exploded in Tainan, Taiwan.
    And now, the news:

    Delving Into the Past of a Big Cat: Clouded Leopar...
    Polar bear's epic nine day swim in search of sea i...
    Iran's endangered cheetahs are a unique subspecies...

    Big cats in the news, another Simon's Cat video? Why not:



    Monday, January 24, 2011


    Gavin is the unsung hero of the blog, having done the newsblog now for about two years. Thanks mate, and happy birthday.


    This was posted to the Paranormal Buffalo newsgroup in early January and is reprinted by kind permission of Rick. I blush to admit that what with flu and everything else I forgot all about it, which is why it has taken so long to appear.

    Alabama Bigfoot Print?

    On December 28th, I was hiking with two friends in the Cheaha Wilderness in Alabama and came upon this footprint in the snow. We were all skeptical of what it might be, but kept following tracks down the trail. We didn't know what to think. This isn't an area associated with Bigfoot and you really don't find many people trying to fake them around here. The heel looked a little small to me to be an actual Bigfoot, so we were perplexed.
    --Craig M. Fincher



    OLL LEWIS: David Cameron Shows His True Colours

    If you are a follower of British politics in any way shape or form you could not have failed to notice that before the last election David Cameron; then leader of the Tory party and now Prime Minister; was very keen to nail his colours to the mast. “The NHS is safe with me!” he proudly proclaimed, praising, after his disabled son's tragic death, the enormous help it had been in the care and treatment of his son. Now that he is in power the NHS is anything but safe with crackpot and untested schemes about to roll out across England in the name of money-saving, by getting GPs to handle more paperwork and do all the work previously done by administrators (where they are supposed to find the extra time for this and still see patients is not clear). Wales and Scotland must be glad that their assembly and parliament and not Westminster have control of the NHS in their countries.

    Anyway, as much as I would like to rant on about this issue that is probably best left to another blog entirely, what concerns me is another big lie Cameron told before he was elected. Remember how keen he was to present his green credentials? He even came to work on a bike to do this to show how keen he was to reduce carbon emissions (he was actually followed by a ministerial car carrying his briefcase, though, so it didn't really work that well in practice). He was keen to point out that the Tory party had changed and that the protection of the environment, rather than its exploitation for profit, was one of their top priorities, even to the extent where he changed the Tory's logo from a burning torch to a tree that looked like it had been drawn by one of his kids (“Oh well done Tarquin, is that meant to be a tree? Lets pop it on the fridge where everyone can see it. Hang on, I've just had a better idea...”). Add to that the potential for some “green taxes” to reduce the deficit that could easily be evaded by the rich then you had the assurance that if you cut David 'call me Dave' Cameron he would bleed nothing but green blood.

    Well, guess what? Yes, that was all what is colloquially referred to as bullsh*t. Having been in power less than a year what does 'call me Dave' want to do? Sell off all of Britain's forests to property developers and privatise/ wind down the forestry commission. This makes little sense from an economic standpoint because, the forestry commission does make a profit from the growing of trees in rotation on its land and in the current financial situation the land will have to be sold off comparatively cheaply so it is not even a good idea for a short term financial fix. Also, once that land and source of income for the government is gone it will stay gone so once the money runs out from the sale of the land, that's it, wasted. From an ecological point of view it makes even less sense. On forestry commission land trees are grown in a sustainable manner often in a mosaic pattern meaning that it is easy for the wildlife from one felled area of woodland to move into a neighbouring established area of woodland that will not be felled for several years to come, with some parts of the forest not being felled at all. In a privately run enterprise things such as best environmental practices have to play second fiddle to making larger profits and pleasing shareholders. And that's assuming the forests are taken over by companies with silviculture in mind; most companies buying the land will be property developers hoping to build new houses on the land in the future, or speculators with little interest in land use hoping to sell the land off for a profit once the current financial situation eases; others may be after the land to clear fell the whole forest with a view to turning it into pasture or land for arable farming once they have creamed off the profits they will make from the sale of the wood.

    Forests are incredibly important ecosystems and since the formation of the forestry commission, which was set up originally to ensure we would be self-sufficient in wood should we ever get blockaded again like in the second word war, the amount of forestry in the UK has increased substantially. The commission is also involved in community forests across the country like in Marston Vale where a historic forest has been replanted between Milton Keynes and Bedford to help repair an environment scarred by the remains of quarries, heavy industry and landfill. The forestry commission is also directly involved in the education of schoolchildren and others in silviculture and woodland ecology employing its own education officers and often having permanent education centres on site.

    Finally, on a cryptozoological point, big cats have been spotted in at least 2 sites own by the forestry commission: in Delamere in the northwest of England (details of which can be found in Andy Robert's book Cat Flaps published by the CFZ press) and our own local big cat(s) here in North Devon.

    I'm sure like me most of you will find the plans of David Cameron to put short term profits ahead of the environment and all of the good the forestry commission do for Britain disgusting and disturbing after making such a play about being green before the election; in which case you should write to your local Member of Parliament to express your concerns. Strongly worded but crucially polite (letters that are impolite or look like they have come from someone frothing at the mouth or with a chip on their shoulder are never even considered) letters to MPs really do work if they receive enough of them to realise it is a strongly enough held local concern that their jobs may be at risk at the next election and when you have enough MPs that hold that concern that is when hair-brained schemes like these fail to get passed by parliament due to a lack of support from MPs for the proposal. Make sure you also tell your friends to do the same. Remember, even if you didn't vote for your MP or don't agree with them politically they are meant to be your representative in parliament so you should try to use them in cases like this and any decent MP will probably broadly agree that the sale of Britain's forests to property developers is not a good idea when they look at the details.


    I finished the first proof of the Yearbook last night. It is now with Maxy being checked.

    It should be available in the next few weeks, but until I know an exact date I will not be taking advance orders. I have been caught like that before.

    What we can do is reveal the contents for the first time:

    7. TRUNKO - A Trio of World-Exclusives on ShukerNature.Here’s How It Happened!by Dr Karl Shuker
    25. IN SEARCH OF THE HVERAFUGLAR by Glen Vaudrey
    The Cryptozoological Aspects of the George Edalji Affair by Nick Redfern
    The case of the Black Dog of Bungay by Dr David Waldron
    75. IN SEARCH OF THE BOLDON BRAG BY Mike Hallowell
    107. Cryptozoological articles from Paranormal magazine by Richrd Freeman
    231. A note on Frank Searle as recalled by Syd Henley.
    245. Freshwater Cephalopods: limitations by physiology by Max Blake
    259. THE CRYPTOZOOLOGY OF POKÉMON (Generations 1-4) by Oll Lewis
    271. CFZ USA 2010 Report by Nick Redfern
    282. CFZ AUSTRALIA 2010 Report by Rebecca Lang and Mike Williams
    295. CFZ ANNUAL REPORT 2010 by Jonathan Downes
    305. About the CFZ
    311. About CFZ Press/Fortean Words

    OLL LEWIS: Yesterday's News Today


    On this day in 1971 Charles Manson was found guilty of the Tate and LaBianca murders.
    And now, the news:

    Croc swallows phone and starts ringing
    Fossil female pterosaur found with preserved egg
    Georgetown man shoots creature: Chupacabra or hair...

    Best song about a cryptid ever:

    Sunday, January 23, 2011

    News Release from Rupert Sheldrake Online

    News Release from Rupert Sheldrake Online

    Date: 20th January 2011

    From Rupert Sheldrake, London January 20th 2011

    My new telephone telepathy test has just been launched in the US, so If you live in the US, please try it! This is the first time that an automated test of this kind has been available in North America. You register online here
    www.telepathyexperiment.com/ entering your own mobile telephone number, and the numbers of two friends or family members who have agreed to take part. The computer selects one of them at random, asks her to ring you through the computer system, and when she is on the line you guess who it is before you can actually speak to her. This process is repeated another 5 times. If your callers respond promptly, the whole test takes less than an hour, and you then get feedback at the end telling you your score.

    This test has been developed by Gareth Edwards, to whom I am very grateful, and Simon Burton and Mark Early have kindly been testing it out. It may not be entirely glitch-free and if you have a technical problem please report it to Gareth through the contact window on the experiment web site. We do not know if it works in Canada, so if you live in Canada please have a go and let us know.

    An older version of this test is available for use in the UK only on my web site at the online experiments portal.

    On February 9, I am giving the Perrott-Warrick lecture at Trinity College, Cambridge on "The Evolution of Telepathy". at 17:30. It is free, and open to people who are not members of the University, but space is limited and there is no advance booking. The previous day I am giving a seminar in University College, London on "The Extended Mind" (Feb 8, 17:30, Room LG04, Bedford Way) which is also free and open to anyone interested.

    In the summer I will again be on Cortes Island, BC, God willing, and am giving a joint workshop at Hollyhock from August 3-7 with Brother David Steindl-Rast, on "Nature, Science and Spirit". Brother David is a Benedictine monk, an old friend and a very inspiring man. He rarely leaves his hermitage, so this is a rare opportunity to spend some time with him, and I am greatly looking forward to it.

    I recently wrote an article about the Crop Circle Making Competition that I helped to organize in 1992, which has just been published in a book called "Michellany", a tribute to my old friend John Michell, who died in 2009. You can find a link to the article on my home page,

    This month's trialogue in on homing pigeons, and there is a link to it near the bottom of my home page.

    Rupert Sheldrake

    RAHEEL MUGHAL: The Frost Giants of Ancient Norse Mythology

    The Frost Giants are a pivotal part of ancient Norse mythology; so much so that over the years they have entered American popular culture as the age-old adversaries of the Thor the Thunderer (the popular Marvel Comics Superhero).

    But what exactly were they? Well, the frost giants were a subspecies of giant that inhabited the frozen land of Usgard, along with the fire giants and jotun trolls. Moreover, their strength and sheer power rivalled that of the Norse deities (such as Thor, Freiya, Loki and Balder, to name but a few). The most famous frost giant was Ymir, and his body consists of the foundation of the Norse deities' home, Asgard.

    All giants in Norse mythology are associated with the elements and the Vikings believed that their land and the elements which made the land up - which included the mountains, glaciers, caverns, volcanoes and vegetation - constituted the bodies of sleeping giants; when the giants awoke (which the Vikings believed was when they were angry) they caused cataclysms such as avalanches, snow storms and volcano eruptions, causing bad harvests and death from above. This probably gave rise to the folklore of immensely powerful immortal giants that enjoyed toying with mortals.

    JAN EDWARDS: Re. the Giant Fox story

    Re. the giant fox story that you posted recently:

    Its not a giant fox. In my humble opinion it’s a large adult dog fox pictured near a small vixen. The “giant” fox is also in front of the smaller one and the scary picture with the smiling child shows the fox with tail extended and the child standing a little behind the fox.

    It's sensationalism at its finest. The fox was said to have killed the vet’s parent’s ancient cat. There is no actual proof that the fox killed the cat but the vet in question felt duty-bound to kill not just one fox, but two, just to make sure he got the right one (??)

    I’m glad it's not MY vet! I’m also glad it’s not MY scary smiling child.

    LARS THOMAS: The beetle that came back

    For the last couple of years I have started taking an interest in insects - especially the photographing of said creatures. I especially like to root around in old decaying tree trunks 'cause you never know what you might bump into - and some of the creatures living in and off decaying wood are rather special. One day in late April last year I was doing exactly that when an old piece of beech revealed two small and rather colourful beetles. I had no idea what species they were but one of them was rather obliging and kept still long enough for me to take a few pictures of it.

    Back home I tryed to identify it but without success. My insect literature was not up to the task so I posted it on a Danish website called Fugle og Natur (Bird and Nature) where all sorts of experts help people identify all sort of things. Within a couple of hours a Norwegian beetle expert came back with an answer. The species was Mycetophagus fulvicollis, and it was, as he said "quite rare". That was fun, I thought, and entered my observation into a Danish database, where all kinds of sightings are held for researchers, and environmental organisations and so forth can study them at their leasure.

    Now quite rare is fine by me, but just how rare my beetles were I didn't realize until a few days ago when I suddenly received an email requesting more information about my observation. Apparently someone had stumbled upon my sighting and had done a double take, or perhaps had fallen over in a faint. It turns out that Mycetophagus fulvicollis was declared extinct in Denmark in 1997. Quite rare, indeed!


    I would like to say a big thank you to everyone who has been so kind and understanding during the recent attack of illness that has floored the CFZ. I am on Day 33 I think, and although I am much better than I was, I am still subject to bouts of coughing and breathlessness, and I still feel several sandwiches short of a full picnic most of the time.

    Corinna is much the same, and although Graham is largely better, he is still very run down and has to sleep far more of the time than usual. Oll is also on the mend, but like us, `the mend` is a slow and painful process.

    We are getting slowly back to normal but it is a slow process, and I would not be surprised if it is several more weeks before we are back to normal, and even longer before all the backlog is sorted.

    DALE DRINNON: A novel solution to the mystery of the Welsh flying snakes?

    From Flying Toads To Snakes With Wings

    [Welsh gwiber as illustrated on the cover of Karl Shuker's book, which alludes to the creature in its title]

    Gwiber And Wyverns - The Flying Vipers

    [Wyvern and Cockatrice from Church, Exeter]

    Oll Lewis from the CFZ is a font of information on Welsh cryptozoology. He did an excellent blog post a
    while back on one of the Welsh cryptids named the Gwiber, specifically a variety of flying snake or
    dragonet of South Glamorgan. Gwibers are reported all over Wales in folklore but it was in Penllyn they
    are reported more recently in Marie Trevelyn's Folklore and Folkstories of Wales from 1909:
    '"The woods around Penllyne Castle, Glamorgan, had the reputation of being frequented by
    winged serpents, and these were the terror of old and young alike. An aged inhabitant of Penllyne,
    who died a few years ago, said that in his boyhood the winged serpents were described as
    very beautiful. They were coiled when in repose, and "looked as though they were covered with
    jewels of all sorts. Some of them had crests sparkling with all the colours of the rainbow."
    When disturbed, they glided swiftly, "sparkling all over," to their hiding places. When angry, they
    "flew over people's heads, with outspread wings bright and sometimes with eyes, too, like the feathers
    in a peacock's tail." He said it was "no old story," invented to "frighten children," but a real fact.
    His father and uncles had killed some of them, for they were "as bad as foxes for poultry."
    This old man attributed the extinction of winged serpents to the fact that they were
    "terrors in the farmyards and coverts."'

    Oll goes into some depth on the mystery in his post and he did attempt some interviews. His conclusion:
    the creatures as reported are unlikely to exist. Some facts do stand out from the traditions; one is that a
    feathered skin from one of these flying serpents was kept by one family for many years. Whatever else
    might be said, a feathered skin is a real object and feathers necessarily mean the creature was a bird.
    Another feature is that these creatures could sometimes be seen seeming "Coiled up". Several long-necked
    birds sleep with the head and neck curled back towards the tail and some long-tailed birds also throw the
    tail around the front. Furthermore, these flying serpents are often said to have clawed feet and the claws
    are also said to be poisonous.

    [Flying Serpent from Deviant Art]
    'Gwiber' means 'viper' and is the same as the French 'voivre', from which we derive the term 'wvre' or
    wyvern. A wyvern is a smallish two-legged and winged dragon, and wyverns are traditional over many
    parts of Western Europe. They may have their exact counterparts in Eastern Europe in the aitavaras and
    other creatures that are simultaneously 'dragons' and like barnyard fowl, sometimes described as having tails
    of fire, some 'firedrakes' and perhaps the Russian firebirds. If this is so, then we seem to have two distinctive
    populations where the gaudy males are divided by their colouration, a Western branch which is primarily green
    and an Eastern branch where the males are primarily red. And the Welsh folklore, when speaking of the flying
    serpents describes their feathers as peacock-like. That does also determine what kind of creature they really
    are - they are pheasants (peacocks and domestic fowl are also related to pheasants).
    Since I had already seen where the anhinga was described as a flying snake because of its long neck,
    I assumed that the gwiber or wyvern was a sort of a large pheasant with a very long neck and a very long tail.
    It might also be the same as the cockatrice, which Wikipedia describes as a sort of a fowl with a long lizard-like (snakelike or dragon-like) tail. It is said to be particularly vicious and is said to have a venomous breath (or a venomous bite,
    or venomous claws, or a lethal gaze); any of those descriptions could be probably taken as awful warnings
    that people should keep well away from them, but they need not be true: people are always saying any number
    of perfectly harmless animals are venomous, especially when they are snakes. Believing that the long-necked and
    long-tailed pheasant was a viper would just about be typical: the flying serpent reports that turned out to be
    anhingas also insisted on their potent venom.
    The Welsh flying snakes are said to be quite aggressive and to kill poultry when given a chance. They will also
    attack travellers and they are said to be roused to fury at the sight of a red cloth. Reports in this general category
    of flying snakes commonly put the length down as from six to nine feet long.
    [Pheasants to scale from Wikipedia]
    The largest kind of pheasant is the Reeve's pheasant, native to China. It has a very long tail and can regularly
    grow to over six feet long, up to eight feet long. The size is in the right range, and adding a long snake-like neck
    to such a bird would make it even longer. It is a hardy bird able to stand extremes of cold and heat, and the males are are said to be hostile to humans, dogs, and especially to males of other pheasant types. If they are being raised together,
    Reeve's cocks must be kept separate from the males of other kinds because of this agressive nature.
    [Cock and Hen Reeve's Pheasants]
    The hen Reeve's pheasant is as large as the male of the common (ring-necked) pheasant and already has a
    fairly long tail of its own. This could lead to the tale that cockatrices arise from eggs laid by roosters: peasants
    unfamiliar with the bird might well mistake the hen for the rooster of another species.
    [Reeve's Pheasant, tail curling up Snakelike]
    [Reeve's Pheasant Original Range]
    ['Flying Viper' Pheasant Hypothetical Original range, Biome similar to Reeve's Pheasant in China.
    Showing Eradication in Central area in early Historical period and Persisting in the Fringelands]

    I hypothesize that at the beginning of the post-glacial (recent) period, the ancestral long-necked pheasants
    spread throughout Europe, starting in the southeast but then following the advance of the forests northward
    until they were spread over most of the area. They were rarer after the establishment of farming and retreated
    to the wilderness areas. By the time of the Roman empire, they had been extirpated around the mediterranean
    and the common (ring-necked) pheasants began to be imported from Russia (Scythia) to replace them
    [indicated by green on the map]. By the Dark Ages they had disappeared in Central Europe and whereas
    before there were several different colour schemes for the males, in the later Middle Ages and on there were
    commonly only the green phase in Western Europe and the Red phase in Eastern Europe. They would have
    died out much sooner except that they became associated with a superstitious dread that made people keep
    away from them. Reports became more spotty in recent years but they were seen sporadically in the 1800s
    and possibly early 1900s in England and Wales on the one hand, and in the Baltic countries on the other.
    I have a contemporary report of "Venomous Flying Snakes" from Novgorod in Russia at the Yahoo group
    Frontiers-of-Zoology, and I now believe that report to belong in this category. Recent reports also seem to
    come from the Basque territories in Southern France and Northern Spain.

    ["Flying Serpent" Longnecked Pheasant Mockup for Possible Appearance in Life]

    ["Flying Serpent" Pheasant to Scale to Human, Size as Commonly Reported]

    [Russian Legend of the Firebird, From Wikipedia]

    OLL LEWIS: Yesterday's News Today


    On this day in 41AD the Roman Emperor Caligula was assassinated. Caligula was a bit of a rum cove to say the least.

    And now, the news:

    Rare species vulture rescued
    Alberta researcher makes surprising discovery abou...
    An unusual twist in war against invasive species
    Mountain species at risk in climate change
    'Newest' cat Sunda leopard has two distinct specie...

    Simon's cat is creepily like Helios 7:

    Saturday, January 22, 2011

    GLEN VAUDREY: I'd go the Whole Wide World Part Two


    Argentina has for many years had a reputation for hidden things; for a long time it was Nazi war criminals and then it was thousands of people disappearing in the 1970s. Aside from all that there are a number of mystery animals to be found within its borders. Given the task of choosing one cryptid from the country I have plumped for a bird, the glaucous macaw.

    A member of the parrot family, the glaucous macaw was, as its name suggests, a turquoise-blue colour with a greyish head (glaucous meaning of a pale greyish- or bluish-green colour). It measured 28 inches with a long tail and a large bill. First scientifically described in 1818 by Louis Viellott, the glaucous macaw would not have much of a recorded history with the last confirmed example dying in London Zoo in 1912. There was another one that allegedly survived in Buenos Aires Zoo until 1936 and with the death of this bird the species was officially declared extinct. Habitat destruction was noted as the cause of the extinction. The bird’s primary food source was the nuts of the Yatay Palm, which has been subjected to widescale felling. But like any good cryptid an official extinction isn’t really the end of the story: there are still reports of sightings taking place in a number of Argentine provinces and so it may only be a matter of time before the glaucous macaw is rediscovered.

    Where next? Well, how about a swim across the River Plate to Uruguay.

    NEIL ARNOLD: Notes From The Field Magazine Part One

    Over the next few months I’ll be posting a few interesting snippets from old volumes of The Field magazine. Here are the first few:

    A WHITE JACKDAW - 21st July 1855 – A specimen of this rare variety – one almost wholly of white colour, the only exception being a little black on the wings – was shot on Monday, last week, by Me. Allan Mains, of Glassaugh, Scotland. The bird, we believe, had been seen in the neighbourhood for some time previous, and being a rather conspicuous looking object, it became, as a matter of course, a marked curiosity – Banff Journal

    A REMARKABLE LARGE OTTER – 27th October 1855 - Was taken last week in the river Dee, between Llangollen and Corwen. It measured four-feet nine-and-a-half inches from the snout to the end of the tail, and the body was singularly marked with white spots.

    STRANGE FISH – 23rd May 1847 - Last week, a most extraordinary fish was caught alive in Holyhead bay. It was nine inches long, an inch and three quarters its greatest breadth, and conically shaped. It had no fins or scales; large eyes, which covered the whole upper part of its head, and “feelers” or prongs, the length of its body. It neither resembled a lobster, crab, nor any kind of shell fish seen on the coast. It is quite a curiosity.

    SHARKS ON THE COAST OF IRELAND – 13th October 1855 - The fishermen of the coast declare that they have seen several of these monsters of the deep on the coast of Achil Head and Clare Island. Last week a boat proceeding from Achil towards Newport laden with turf, and having a crew of two men and one woman, was suddenly capsized, and the woman was drowned, the men having held on by the boat; the peasantry declare that the boat was upset by one of those leviathans of the deep, and that the woman was carried off.

    KITTEN SWALLOWED BY A COD – 8th September 1855 – A correspondent in Kirkwell alludes to a recent notice in our Stromness news of a rabbit’s leg being found in a ling’s stomach, and adds of his own knowledge something more wonderful, being nothing less than the discovery of an entire kitten in the stomach of a cod caught not long ago in Kirkwell Bay. These facts show that fish in general are not particularly fastidious in the selection of their food – John O’ Groat Journal

    A SNAKE IN THE RAGS – 8th December 1855 - In July last Messrs G. and J. Bush, merchants of Bristol, warehoused a quantity of rags, ex the Seringapatam, from Melbourne. As some of these rags were being removed, the men engaged were somewhat alarmed by the appearance of a large snake upwards of four-feet in length, which, however quickly among the rags again, and is at present concealed in the loft. The Seringapatam was upwards of 100 days on her passage from Melbourne, so that the snake must have been about eight months ensconced in the rags. The creature when disturbed appeared quite lively, but it is not known whether it is a venomous reptile or not – Times
    FOSSIL DOG – 14th February 1857 - At the meeting of the West Riding Geological Society, Mr Denny read a paper, entitled ‘Notice of the skull of a dog exhumed from the Alluvian Gravel in Norwich, in 1851’. The skull, which is regarded as unique, was obtained from the discoverers by P. O’Callaghan, Esq, and recently presented to the museum of this society, by that gentleman. The question appeared to be, whether the skull was that of a dog or of a wolf; and Mr Denny, after going carefully through the distinctive features of the skull, and comparing it in detail with the characteristics of the skull of a young wolf in the museum, came to the conclusion that it was the skull of a dog, of a greyhound species. He had no doubt of its being a fossil, from its weight, which was 17 ½ oz, whilst the skull of the wolf weighed only 7 ozs. Although there was no record of the discovery of the fossil remains of dogs in the superficial deposits, yet there was no reason why such remains should not be found, as well as those of the wolf and the hyena – the dog being, in all probability, as old an animal as either the hyena or the wolf.

    LARGE SALMON – 4th April 1857 - On Wednesday we had an opportunity of examining one of the largest fish we have ever seen, which was caught in the Tweed at Horncliffe, and was exhibited in Mr Young’s window in Bridge Street. In a kelt state it weighed 37 lb and measured 50 inches in length, and 25 inches in girth. When in a clean state it must have weighed close upon 50 lb – Berwick Advertiser

    LARGE PIKE AT KILCONQUHAR – 4th April 857 - A pike of a very large size was caught in the loch on Wednesday last week, by Mr Farnie. Its length was 3 ½ feet, girth in the middle 18 inches, and its weight nearly 19 lb. There are great numbers of pike in the loch, but the one at present taken by Mr Farnie is the largest that has ever been found.

    MONSTER GOSLING – 25th April 1857 - Sir, a strange brute was brought to me this morning. It is a gosling with four perfect legs, the front ones being set on in front of the wings, and the others set further back than natural. It had no upper part to its beak, and is a female bird; and was, I believe, born alive, but was dead when it came to me. Thinking it might interest some of your numerous subscribers, I made a rough pen and ink drawing of it – T.P.D. – A sketch of this gosling can be seen at the Field office – Ed.

    PORPOISES IN THE NITH – 23rd May 1857 - On Monday last, upwards of a dozen large porpoises were seen tumbling in the tide, a little below the New Quay. The appearance of this fish in our waters being very rare, a considerable number of people turned out to witness the unusual spectacle. As the porpoise feeds in a great measure on young herring, their appearance at this season in the Nith leads to the inference that herrings are not far off – Dumfries Courier

    WILD CATS – 2nd May 1857 - Among the livestock carried south from Thurso by the Sovereign steamer on Thursday last, were two wild cats, which were lately caught in a trap in Sutherland. Both animals were of considerable size, and in fine healthy condition, notwithstanding a long journey by the road. They were sent south in a well-bound cage, under charge of a keeper, and are intended, we believe, for one of the metropolitan zoological gardens.