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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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Saturday, June 25, 2011

OLL LEWIS: Caecilians Making Love in the Afternoon

As regular readers might know, one of my duties at the CFZ is looking after our menagerie of animals. For the most part this includes my morning rounds when I check on the animals and give them their morning feeds, or daily feeds should they only require fresh food to be administered to them once a day. Typically this takes somewhere between one and two hours each day depending on just how much attention the more intelligent animals like the rabbits and the pheasant want, and the health of the animals. I’m aided in this endeavour by my assistant Helios Seven, who, like most cats, believes that if she doesn’t remind me constantly I may forget to feed her for the first time ever in the five or so years I’ve known her.

Anyway, while I was checking on the caecilian tank on Saturday I noticed something unusual lying motionless atop the gravel.

“My, that’s a big worm.” I exclaimed.
“Mew,” said Helios in reply.

On closer inspection it was not a worm. It was a baby caecilian with its yolk sack still attached. Sadly, the creature was dead; probably a still birth. This is a great shame as the gestation period for Typhlonectes natans is long, typically taking over 270 days, and in the four years that we have had them this is the first time they have successfully bred. When checking the tank I could not find any evidence of more babies but as this species usually give birth to between two and six young, I am hopeful that they will give birth to more young and that they will not be stillborn.

Even if the caecilians do not give birth to any more young this time then at least the stillborn caecilian proves that they are finally breeding. This means that in the future there should be more baby caecilians popping up in our tank, which, as they are so rare in the UK, can only be a good thing.

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