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, May 10, 2011


In Fortean Fives the great and the good of Forteana pick out Five interesting events from the history of Forteana. If you want to submit your own Fortean Five email it to Oll Lewis at fortean5s@gmail.com . Today’s Fortean Five is compiled by Rebecca Lang of the CFZ’a Australian office. Take it away Rebecca:

1. Fisher's Ghost - Australia's most famous ghost story, it's a tale of justice from beyond the grave - or is it? A long lost relative, John Lang, penned the earliest version of this story, which relates the murder of one Fred Fisher, and the eventual arrest of his murderer after Fred's ghost alerts passers-by to his lifeless corpse. Maybe it's our convict blood, but the Campbelltown locals love the story so much they have a festival devoted to Fred, which surely must be something of a rarity - a community festival based on a murder most foul!

2. The Cordering Cougar - In the late 1970s a rash of big cat sightings across the south-west of Western Australia mesmerised the country. Farmers complained of a spike in livestock deaths, and top of the list of suspects were the strange sandy coloured cats seen lurking around the farms of the Cordering district. Newspaper reports, a government inquiry and a book, Savage Shadow, followed. To this day, the mystery remains just that - no one knows where these cat-like creatures came from, or what they are - but speculation continues.

3. Picnic at Hanging Rock - The iconic 1975 movie directed by Peter Weir was based on a haunting novel by author Joan Lindsay, which chronicles the disappearance of three schoolgirls and one of their teachers one Valentine's Day during a picnic to Hanging Rock in the Mount Macedon area of Victoria. Of course the whole thing was fiction, but that hasn't stopped a mythology springing up around the story, which many people believe is true. The last chapter of the novel, which explains the disappearances, was excised from the original book at the suggestion of the publisher but finally released in 1987 in a later edition. Adding to the mystique is the very real strangeness surrounding Hanging Rock, which was formed from volcanic magma, boasts unusual acoustic properties (which I experienced firsthand a few years ago). It was also used as an initiation site for young Aboriginal men until the late 1800s.

4. Nan Madol, Micronesia - No one quite knows who or what constructed the amazing temples of Nan Madol, a ruined city that sits on the edge of Pohnpei, one of the islands of Micronesia in the western Pacific Ocean. Built on coral and large stone 'logs' that form platforms some time around AD 1200, the ruins are divided by a series of canals. A popular story attributes Nan Madol's construction to a magician - and looking at the rather complex structure that spans large stretches of water, it's hard to imagine just how an earlier civilization might have overcome that particular engineering obstacle. It's a place I'd love to visit one day.

5. The Philip Experiment - In the 1970s a small group of Canadian researchers turned the world of parapsychology on its ear with their experiment, which saw them create their own ghost - a medieval nobleman named Phillip - and communicate with him via raps, taps and the twisting, turning and tipping of card table. The long-running Philip Experiment was an impressive demonstration of psi (psychokinesis) and prompted many imitators and followers. The point of the experiment was to show that humans could create their own ghosts through visualisation, giving life to an intelligent 'thought form'. Having dabbled myself as a member of The Skippy Experiment group (2001) I can attest to the effectiveness of this particular method!

ROBERT SCHNECK: Is that an olm in your pocket or are you just pleased to see me

Pick up a coin and what do you see? George Washington? Elizabeth Windsor? Maybe (shudder) Sacajawea? Boring, boring, boring. In Slovenia, where they appreciate a good slimy creature, their ten cent piece featured the white blind aquatic cave salamander called the olm (I'm too lazy to etomolygize it, but wonder if "olm" is
related to "orm" as in the GREAT ORM OF LOCH NESS?).

As nearly as I can tell, the olm got kicked off the coin when Slovenia adopted the Euro, but maybe after that project craps out, olms will once more be found in the pockets and vending machines of Slovenia.

It's believed that olms can live up to one-hundred years, though why they bother is anyone's guess.

Once again, I stole this story from Ugly Overload.

Redfern on "Monstrum!"

Originally published more than twenty-years ago, Monstrum! A Wizard's Tale is a book that, if you didn't read it first time around, you most definitely should now. Why? We'll, here's why: the good folk at CFZ Press (Jon & Corinna Downes and Co.) have just made available a brand new edition of this mighty, monster-driven classic.

Penned by the legendary Tony "Doc" Shiels - truly a phenomenon as much as a man - it's one of those books that should not just be carefully devoured by cryptozoologists everywhere, but also by ufologists, ghost-hunters, and just about anyone and everyone with more than a passing interest in what has come to be known as Forteana.

Read on


I have written elsewhere about the `Old Hong Kong` newsgroup that occasionally sends me pictures of pre-war Hong Kong, but mostly inundates my in-box with pornography.

This morning I received an email entitled `Strange Man with Big Tongue`. I immediately assumed it would be smut and was about to delete it when I realised that it - in fact - was exactly what it proclaimed.

So I post it as an object lesson in not jumping to conclusions: something which, as a fortean investigator fellow, I should have known in the first place.

Oh well.

HAUNTED SKIES: Two from the archives

Preserving UFO History: Gavin Gibbons

From the Haunted Skies archives - 1983 UFO

OLL LEWIS: Yesterday's News Today


On this day in 1812 Spencer Perceval was assassinated.
And now the news:

Thylacine lives up to its tiger moniker
What Exactly Was The Australian Thylacine?
Discovery special reexamines Bigfoot
Intense interest surrounds dog who may have partic...
Catbeast ‘ is like a lynx’ - new sighting by dog w...

It wasn't a bad bit of kit shame it didn't have any games:


It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. Well; actually it was the most ordinary (and slightly mediocre) of times. Yesterday morning was nothing special, actually. I am on an irritatingly large cocktail of medication, and am not at my best in the morning. It takes several cups of coffee for me to wake up, but because I have so much to do, I don't do what I should do, and sit down and sip the coffee and eat my cereal before I actually do any work.

I checked the status of our latest books on amazon.co.uk and got immediately angry when I read that both opf them are marked "Usually dispatched within 1 to 2 months", and I immediately sped an email off to Hayley, our custromer representative at LightningSource, complaining, as this was a problem that I thought had been fixed.

She wrote back immediately:

"I really don't know, I would suggest contacting the suppliers perhaps?"

This got me more than slightly irritated. She is my supplier (or at least their representative), so I wrote back a terse email, and received yet another polite missive telling me that she didn't know what to do.

I was just about to pick up the telephone and give the company a piece of my mind for emplkoying someone who had so idea what she was talking about, when I realised something awful!

It was the wrong Hayley! In my early morning medicated blur I had been emailing (and just about to berate) Hayley Stevens, researcher and rather friendly sceptic with whom I have always been on friendly terms. I immediately emailed her to apologise, and emailed a fare less terse communic\tion to the other Hayley, who replied:

"There has been a data feed issue between LS and amazon.co.uk which we are currently in the process of resolving. we are hoping that the problem will be resolved at the latter end of this week which means that the correct data information will begin to cascade through (this can take a couple of weeks)

The Ingram, Lightning Source and Amazon teams are working together to find a resolution as quickly as possible. All parties are aware of the seriousness of this situation and to this end, every effort is being made to find a solution as soon as possible".

So, hopefully the book problem will be sorted at the end of the week, and as far as the delightful Ms S is concerned, once again I cannot apologise enough. I am sure there is a moral here somewhere for me, but I have only just got up and am still rather bleary, and cannot work out what it is...