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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Saturday, February 26, 2011


Police disturb illegal lake monster fighting gang 22-02-11

CONSTABLES called to a nocturnal disturbance in Windermere found a group of men cheering two battling plesiosaurs, it has emerged. The gang fled, but one of the monsters was so badly hurt that it had to be put down.



Film Review: Felidae

When most people think of cartoons they tend to think of the mild and sanitised output of Western animation studios where cartoons are aimed squarely at a family audience and anything sad, violent and unjust that occurs to a good or nice person is neatly resolved and corrected by the end of the movie. True, it is not strictly necessary to the plot of many animations to include scenes that deal with the harsh realities of life, and may be a little jarring when juxtaposed with Jamaican crabs extolling the virtues of life beneath the ocean through the medium of song, but it is the animated films that go the extra mile to include a window, however small, into the dark side of life that stick in your mind. Examples of this include the death of Bambi's mother, which turned a rather twee and otherwise forgettable film into a children's classic, Fievel getting separated from his parents in An American Tale; and the death of Carl's wife in Up, which will have even the most composed person close to tears despite it being a cartoon and only about 10 minutes into the film.

Some films go further, though; typically European animation studios will make films that don't just include a window into darkness but can sometimes break open a whole wall. One animated movie that does this is Felidae, a German film based on the novel of the same name by Akif Pirinçci it is essentially a film noir where the main characters are house cats. Like most film noir and hard-boiled detective fiction it pulls few punches and soon descends into dark and murky territory as its protagonist, Francis, a sort of feline Philip Marlowe, investigates a series of gruesome cat murders. With scenes of decapitation, disembowelment, animal experimentation, cat 'love-making' and corpses turned into puppets and made to dance by Gregor Mendel (don't ask) this is perhaps not the sort of film you should show your children but really don't let that put you off, the film is tastefully done and its plot will have you gripped from start to finish.

The film possesses several layers dealing with the complex social interactions between the different cats, and indeed their owners, and the capacity for cruelty and evil present in both cats and humans, eugenics and the misuse of religion as well as the search for the serial killer that forms the main plot of the movie. In the social interactions between the various cats the fact that they are cats and not humans is never lost sight of, whereas some anthropomorphism has been employed to enable the viewer to relate to the characters and the story it is never taken to the level where the cats could easily be humans wearing furry suits. Over anthropomorphism is a plague that effects far too many Western cartoons and as a fan of all kinds of animation it really sets my teeth on edge like in Disney's 'Home on the Range' when a cow makes a joke about breast implants (for goodness sake she's a COW why would she know or care about plastic surgery!) and I was glad to see Felidae did not fall into that trap.

The film starts with Francis's owner, or 'can opener' as cat-slang would have it, moving to a dilapidated old house that used to be owned by a scientist. As soon as he arrives Francis sees the body of a cat in the garden with it's throat cut and meets a local tom cat called Blue Beard. Blue Beard is of the opinion that the murder, of which this is the fourth to occur recently is probably the work of humans but Francis is not as sure and together the pair start investigating the deaths (reluctantly so on Blue Beard's part). Soon another victim is found and Francis notes that both victims were male cats who had recently attempted to mate, suggesting a possible sexual motive for the killings. That night Francis witnesses a cat's religious cult meeting in the old laboratory of his new home and is chased off by them. When he finds safety he meets a blind cat named Felicity who he befriends. It turns out that Felicity witnessed, or at least heard several of the murders. Blue Beard then takes Francis to meet the most intelligent cat he knows, Pascal, a cat who has actually learnt how to operate a computer, in the hope that he will be able to shed some light on the case. While at Pascal's house it is learnt that Felicity has been murdered and Francis runs to her house where he sees her decapitated body. The fact that she was female and the frenzied nature of the attack suggests that Francis' initial thoughts on the motive of the killer may be wrong. Needless to say the plot thickens from this point on and to go into it much further would spoil the film. As Felidae is quite an obscure film in Britain and the USA (unjustly so, when other European animations which are pretty to look at but possess lesser plots, like 'Belleville Rendez-vous' are Oscar bait) chances are you were not even aware of its existence before you read this review and you will, I hope, want to see it for yourself I really don't want to ruin it by giving away all the little twists.

Felidae is a rare treat a Western animation for grown ups that is not preoccupied by showing off it's adult credentials by including unnecessary shocks and just lets it's dark plot unfold before your eyes. It's animation also is of a high quality as is it's English dub and voice-cast which puts the dubbing employed by several companies, that actually specialise is re-dubbing mostly Japanese cartoons, to shame. The only problem that the film has is that because of the animation's running time and the complexity of the source material things can seem a little rushed at times, but that will hardly stilt many peoples enjoyment of what is a marvellously executed and original animated film.



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RICHARD FREEMAN: Obituary for The Brigadier


I’ve always said that Doctor Who, and in particular the Jon Pertwee years, were what inspired me to become a cryptozoologist. I will never forget those Saturday evenings when for half an hour between ‘a round up of the regional news and sport’ and The Generation Game I would be transported into another world; a world inhabited by giant killer maggots, Sea Devils, Autons, Daleks, Axons, Silurians and other fantastical horrors. Besides the Doctor himself one man was always there: UNIT’s Brigadier Alistair Lethbridge-Stewart, ably played by the wonderful Nicholas Courtney.

Nick was born in Cairo, a diplomat’s son and was educated in a number of places including Kenya, France and Egypt. He could speak Arabic and French before he could speak English. After his national service he joined the Webber Douglas Academy of Drama where he was awarded the Margaret Rutherford medal. Later he did repertory theatre in Northampton before moving to London.

During the 1960s he appeared in a number of classic shows such as The Avengers, The Champions and Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased). In 1965 he was cast in the Doctor Who story The Daleks’ Masterplan staring William Hartnell as the first Doctor. His portrayal of Space Security Agent Bret Vyon so impressed director Douglas Camfield that he cast him in two later stories The Web of Fear (the one with robot yetis on the London underground and an alien intelligence that manifests as an ecoplasmic web) and Invasion (featuring the Cybermen haunting the sewers beneath London) both with the second doctor Patrick Troughton. These stories introduced United Nations Intelligence Taskforce or UNIT (basically the army’s alien-fighting division) and Colonel Alistair Lethbridge-Stewart.

When the third and best Doctor arrived in the shape of Jon Pertwee in 1970's Spearhead from Space the Colonel had become a Brigadier. For the next five years he appeared alongside Jon Pertwee and then Tom Baker, battling such foes as the Loch Ness Monster (a saurian cyborg created by the alien Zygons from their crippled spaceship beneath the Loch’s waters), alien daemons, and rouge time lords The Master and Omega.

The dynamic between the actors during this era has never been replicated and is largely due to Nick’s wonderfully pompous Brigadier at odds with Jon’s authority-hating Doctor. The show tackled some difficult themes. In the 1970 adventure 'The Silurians' the Brigadier bombs the cave system were an intelligent race of reptiles, the titular Silurians, former rulers of the earth, are hibernating. The Doctor talked them into returning into suspended animation to avoid conflict with humans whom they see as a pest much like rats.

The Brigadier’s appearances became less with the advent of Tom Baker as the fourth Doctor and a return to more stories based in outer space.

The Brigadier returned in the 1983 stories Mawdryn Undead and The Five Doctors and the woeful 1989 effort Battlefield.

In the revamped series UNIT has returned but seemingly plays second fiddle to the pointless and irritating Torchwood. The Brigadier was mentioned several times but did not actually appear. Nick took up the role one last time in the spin-off series The Sarah Jane Adventures. He was said to have been on a mission in Peru for sometime. He remarked that he disliked the new way UNIT works. Sadly ill health prevented him from reprising the roll. That was a real shame as I had always wanted to see the Brigadier return to Doctor Who and give the insufferable prats at Torchwood a good hiding.

After his main stint on Doctor Who Nick featured in a number of shows such as Minder, Only Fools and Horses, and Yes Prime Minister.

I was lucky enough to meet him several times and found him to be utterly charming.

Nick died on 22 February 2011 at the age of 81 after a long battle with illness. One hopes that on reaching the Pearly Gates he said “Archangel Gabriel? Chap with wings, five rounds rapid!”



This blog is to encorporate my yahoo discussion groups on Lost Continents, Catastrophism, The origin of Modern Humans and the Out of Africa theory, Genetics and Human Diversity, The Origin and Spread of Civilization and Cultural Diffusion during the Bronze Age across the face of the Globe.

Dale's first major Atlantis posting

OLL LEWIS: Yesterday's News Today


On this day in 2002 Spike Milligan died, also on this day but in 2003 the popular American children's Fred 'Mr Rogers' Rogers died.
And now the news:

Sexy monkeys wash with own urine
Mouse heart 're-grows when cut', study shows

Today's VRV is related to today's OTD: