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:


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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...

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 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: