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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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: