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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Thursday, August 25, 2011

HARRIET WADHAM: Weird Weekend 2011 Part One


If you were at a lecture and someone asked the audience, ‘What do you think cryptozoology is?’, and some funny person stood up and said something along the lines of, "I’d say it’s where you conjure up demons and dabble in the occult!" would you laugh or be worried?

Well, we laughed.
Because that was Ronan.
And Ronan has a knack for saying funny things like that.

I’m sorry to say I was only able to go to the Weird Weekend for one day: the Saturday. But I must say: that Saturday was one of the most hilarious Saturdays of my life! Packed full of jokes, Yamaha crimps, and funny, strange, and yet pleasing surprises.


I attended my dad’s talk, as you do, because if you don’t then you get disowned. I’d seen the movie before but not with the music and I was all, “WOW DAD YOU’RE SO AWESOME.” And everyone in the audience was all, “WOW NICK YOU HAVE CLIPS OF GIANT BUGS THERE.”
And Lily was all, “Well done, dad. You know how to use Movie Maker.”

Ungrateful little-

I laughed! I stared! I facepalmed!

*note* Laughing at the assumptions of movie producers, staring at the creations of movie producers, facepalming at the epic fails of movie producers.

I get that it seemed like a good idea to make a GIANT BUG film at the time, but I’m a woman of science and so I hate it when people do stupid stuff and fail to take into account that it’s not possible.

A woman of far-fetched occurrences that are both theoretically and scientifically possible. hee hee…
Can I tell you one thing that confused some and amused others? That worried many and disappointed a handful?
Yes? Good. When dad said, "It wouldn’t be crypto without a bit of crypto."

My sister and I were both interested to hear that phobias come from the survival instincts of when we were just cavemen and cavewomen. However, when questions time came around, I was really confused upon hearing my mother’s bamboozling comment about Cyril the Hong Kong centipede. Can someone please explain to me what she was on about? Please? No? Ah well.

To summarise, I discovered I have a long-lost brother who looks just like my sister (hair wise). John and Lily both had the same hair style and hair colour, much to the amusement of Jon (not to be confused with my ‘brother’ John), who thought that my sister was sitting where John was and that John was sitting next to me and Mum.

So, I have a new sibling.

Do you know what made me really happy at the end of the talk, though? Mum saying, "Girls, after this we can have a pot noodle each."

Yum noodles.

Just because I can, I’m going to do these in parts again. So, thank you for wasting your time reading my blog and I hope you’re excited for the next one!

WEIRD WEEKEND 2011: Nick Wadham - giant insects


Last week we posted two videos about the supposedly extinct pink-headed duck. Somehow I totally missed this letter, which came with them...

Hi there,

my name is Richard Thorns and I'm glad to make acquaintance with you. You might remember my trip to Kachin State a couple of years ago where we got some anecdotal evidence of a male Pink-headed Duck on a lake in Bhamo region (an area historically known for records of Pink-headed Duck). I went back there with my guide and have some anecdotal evidence of TWO this time, in the cool-season gap between my two trips. You can see the footage on YouTube under: "anecdotal sighting of two Pink-headed Ducks. Myanmar 2009).

If you go to the website http://richardthorns.webs.com/ you can see the whole trip written up, plus the preparations fot two months time. Just go to the sidebar and click.

I hope you find it interesting. I'd be interested to know what you think and feel free to share if you wish.; I am back there in December 2010, I hope the timing will this time be spot-on!

With warm wishes

Richard Thorns.
PS The photo of the mysterious duck on the lake was a Spot-billed duck - the white WAS the tertials rather than sunlight. :-(

Biomass export of salamanders and anurans from ponds is affected differentially by changes in canopy cover

Article first published online: 11 AUG 2011
Freshwater Biology
How to Cite
EARL, J. E., LUHRING, T. M., WILLIAMS, B. K. and SEMLITSCH, R. D. (2011), Biomass export of salamanders and anurans from ponds is affected differentially by changes in canopy cover. Freshwater Biology. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2427.2011.02672.x
Author Information
Division of Biological Sciences, University of Missouri, Columbia, MO, U.S.A.
*Correspondence: Julia E. Earl, Division of Biological Sciences, University of Missouri, 212 Tucker Hall, Columbia, MO 65211, U.S.A. E-mail: jee9rb@mail.mizzou.edu
Present address: Bethany K. Williams, Columbia Environmental Research Center, U.S. Geological Survey, 4200 New Haven Road, Columbia, MO 65201, U.S.A.

Publication History
Article first published online: 11 AUG 2011
(Manuscript accepted 16 July 2011)

1.  Previous research shows that canopy-associated shifts from an algal to a detritus-based food web can affect anuran tadpoles negatively. This may not be true of salamander larvae, however, because they are predators.

2.  To investigate the influence of canopy cover on the survival and growth of salamanders, and on the subsequent export of biomass from ponds, we conducted a mesocosm experiment examining effects of shading (high or low) and litter (leaves or grass) on Ambystoma maculatum (a forest specialist) and A. texanum (a habitat generalist). Additionally, we reanalysed data from Williams, Rittenhouse & Semlitsch (2008) to examine the effects of shading and litter on biomass export of three anurans: Rana sphenocephala, Pseudacris crucifer and Hyla versicolor.

3.  In contrast to previous studies, we found that salamanders performed better in mesocosms with the characteristics of closed canopy ponds (high shade and leaf litter), which resulted in a greater export of biomass. Salamanders grew larger under closed canopy conditions, probably because of differences in prey abundance among treatments. Anurans responded differently to canopy cover than caudates. The biomass export of R. sphenocephala and P. crucifer was reduced under closed canopy conditions (although differently affected by litter and shading), while the biomass of H. versicolor was not affected.

This and other studies suggest that changes in canopy cover may induce a shift in the amphibians emerging from ponds, from primarily anurans in open canopy ponds to primarily salamanders in closed canopy ponds. Additional multispecies studies will determine whether these trends hold true for more diverse amphibian assemblages. Further investigation into the effects of canopy cover on salamanders will be important for understanding aquatic-terrestrial linkages.

PRUDENCE UPDATE: Getting Better all the Time...

Prudence has been confined to the kitchen for much of the past 48 hours. However, the anaesthetic and post-op opiates have worn off now and she wants to go further afield. Normally she spends much of the day lying on the sofa in the sitting room but until her bones heal she mustn't jump on and off things, so we have placed boxes of Weird Weekend impendemata on all the chairs and the sofa, much to the poor little doggy-girl's dismay and disgruntlement.

However, Davey C and family turned up last night, and despite being obviously in pain, Pru had a lovely time being fussed by everyone. This evening Lee Walker and family are scheduled to turn up....

(Note her shaved leg and scar)

HAUNTED SKIES: Welwyn and Hatfield Review 10.11.88


OLL LEWIS: Yesterday's News Today


On this day in 1946 Mark Snow, the composer of the X Files theme tune, was born.
And now the news:

Fast Asleep to Wide Awake: Hibernating Bears, Pred...
Georgia hunter fined for shooting endangered Flori...
Sweden fears swimming raccoon invasion
Earth is home to 8.7 million species
Stillwater Sasquatch video arouses scepticism
Attack of the killer ravens: Flocks are suddenly s...
Burbank businessman arrested over feeding of birds...
Wildwood joins the fight to save Britain's badgers...

At the cocktail party the other day I was shocked to discover that certain young CFZ members didn't get my reference to mushrooms and snakes when I was handing out badges, so just for them:


Karl Shuker discovers the Bird of Dreams inside his Eclectarium: