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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Friday, December 23, 2011

ANDREW MAY: Dark Classics

One of the blogs I keep an eye on is called 'Dark Classics', and their post today is about a painting called Sunrise with Sea Monsters by Turner, which is in the Tate Britain in London. I don't know if you've come across this before (and the "monsters" just look like big fish to me) but I thought it was interesting that a painting by such a mainstream artist in such a mainstream museum had been given such an overtly cryptozoological title!

Some comments on the recent discovery of the Hula painted frog in Israel (Via Herp Digest)

Some comments on the recent discovery of the Hula painted frog in Israel, some history and what to do with the Hula frogs (there are now two , one I was told they already released.) from Dr. Yehudah L. Werner/The Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

In the early 1950s I helped found and start the Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel. Some years later I participated in the delegation of three that convinced the Minister of Agriculture to found the governmental nature authority (now INPA). Ever since I have been accompanying and supporting both bodies with advice (requested or spontaneous) - and, gradually, with increasing disappointment.

The Hula painted frog Discoglossus nigriventer was discovered by Dr H. Steinitz (The Hebrew University of Jerusalem - HUJ) and Dr H. Mendelssohn (The Biological Pedagogical Institute of Tel Aviv) in 1940: two specimens, 40 and 27 mm RA (rostrum-anus length) and two tadpoles. Mendelssohn wanted to observe the frogs' behavior so the larger one ate the smaller one. The remaining material was deposited in the HUJ collection. (The tadpoles were later lost in the 1948 war.) The description appeared only in 1943 (in Copeia) because Mendelssohn disliked writing. The species was encountered another time in 1955, by M. Costa ("Oranim" college). The 80 mm RA specimen was also deposited in HUJ, making it the world's only collection containing full representation of Israel's herpetofauna.

The fact that the species was encounters once in 1940, again in 1955, and never again (till now) did not seem statistically significant. The genus has secretive habits. Had never been properly searched for. In the 1980s my friend, colleague and guest Dr K Klemmer surveyed habitats in the area and mainly on the Golan, driven around by an INPA ranger and jeep. He submitted a report that several ponds looked likely but that due to the typical behavior of this genus, specific search methods were required. To my knowledge, the INPA never followed his advice. From time to time I reminded them, to no avail. I have never heard of any informed search having been made by anybody. People were hiking around, looking and hoping. That this never worked meant nothing.

Now (yesterday, 29 Nov.) another smaller individual was found at the same place, on land, hiding in grass. Related to this, reporters tell of tens of people who have been searching for decades, but it is unclear how they searched..

Meanwhile the first individual has been released and the second is also to be released promptly. The INPA rejected my advice (not "proposal") to use the frog for investigating the environmental preferences of the species, towards planning its conservation. With some investment, one could run a frog in a temperature gradient and in more innovative gradients and see its preferences for temperature depth of water, and substrate. With some caution one could also investigate its physiological responses to temperature. But INPA worries (or so they say) that the population may be so small that this would endanger it. They say this although they also say that apparently the frog recently invaded the reserve from some unknown population outside, thanks to recent improvement of water quality in the reserve. They are not specifying what they mean by water quality.

Yehudah L. Werner
Professor Emeritus of Zoology
Department of Ecology, Evolution and Behavior
The Hebrew University of Jerusalem
91904 Jerusalem, Israel

Original article
Long thought extinct, Hula painted frog found once again in Israeli nature reserve- Rare find is akin to the Dead Sea Scrolls of nature conservation.
By Zafrir Rinat, Haaretz.com 11/21/11---Nature and Parks Authority warden Yoram Malka set out

Tuesday for a routine patrol to monitor the birds in the Hula Nature Reserve, but he was also keeping his sharp eyes peeled for a specific type of frog.

Malka had previously promised the scientists researching the reserve that he would once again locate the Hula painted frog, a species of frog that was unique to Israel and was thought to have become extinct more than 50 years ago. This week he kept his promise.

"I saw something jump that didn't look familiar," said Malka. "I rushed over and caught a frog, and when I turned it over I saw that it had a black belly with white spots, the identifying mark of the painted frog. I immediately returned [with it] to the reserve's office and took out the animal handbook, and I saw that what I had found look exactly like the painted frog that appears in the handbook."

Malka's discovery shocked conservationists and scientists who deal with this field in Israel. The Hula painted frog had been one of the primary symbols of natural extinction in Israel after it had disappeared following the drying of Lake Hula in the 1950s.

Dr. Sarig Gafni of Ruppin Academic Center's School of Marine Sciences, an expert in amphibians, was immediately summoned to the reserve, and he arrived with the original scientific paper from 1940 in which the Hula painted frog was described.

"We went through the article, sign by sign, and checked all the indicators, including the distance between the eyes, and it is indeed a Hula Painted Frog," said Gafni. "It's very exciting; to me it's like finding the Dead Sea Scrolls of nature conservation in Israel. We must remember that in the past, only three adult samples of this species had ever been found."

According to Dr. Dana Milstein, an ecologist with the Israel Nature and Parks Authority, the rare frog got its Hebrew name - agulashon shehor-gahon - from its black belly and round tongue, which, unlike that of other frogs, is not used to catch prey.

For years Israeli researchers have been trying to locate the frog, searching in and around every spring and streambed in the area where the Hula marshes were dried up, but without success. Thus it was assumed that the act of drying up the Hula and the destruction of other natural habitats through pollution and development had sealed the fate of this unique species.

Milstein believes that the frog's discovery is linked to environmental improvements in the Hula reserve.
"In recent years, the water quality has improved, after they started to pour water from fish ponds and nearby springs into the reserve," she said.

The IPNA's next mission is to determine whether there are more frogs aside from the one discovered, which is apparently female.

The fate of the captured frog has yet to be determined. Gafni hopes to be able to return it to the wild as quickly as possible.

To see a photo of the frog , go to http://www.haaretz.com/print-edition/news/long-thought-extinct-hula-painted-frog-found-once-again-in-israeli-nature-reserve-1.396000#

Update: The rare frog is currently held in an artificial environment in the Hula reserve. The Israel Nature and Parks Authority will invite senior researchers in the field to contribute and to learn about this species, in order to implement the data for the benefit of conserving the specie in nature and preform more survey. In the end of the weeks to come the Israel Nature and Parks Authority will make special tours in the Hula reserve in order to display the discovery to the public. More details in the information center of The Israel Nature and Parks Authority. And they have found another one, which I have heard they have released where they found it.

HAUNTED SKIES: Daily Mail 10.2.54


OLL LEWIS: Yesterday's News Today


On this day in 1777 James Cook discovered Christmas Island.
And now the news:

UK fairy shrimps under threat from recent dry autu...
Elephant contraception possible to save from culli...
African naked mole-rate acid insensitive
New plant found in Perth
500 million trees possibly killed in drought in Te...
Animals crossing the road the safe way
Lab-made bird flu details not to be revealed

It would be nice if people fact checked before making videos (there are 2 errors at the start of this clip) but if you can mute the sound you can enjoy the nice video of the Christmas Island red crabs well enough:

DALE DRINNON: Alexandr Fedenyow and The Face of Almasty is The Face Of the Eastern Bigfoot

New article up on Frontiers of Zoology. This is something that has been building a while and so I thought I should announce it now:

DALE DRINNON: New on 'Cedar and Willow'

New on the Cedar And Willow blog (Beware, Includes Action Figures!)


Jon Downes – BiPolar

It is available on iTunes, Spotify etc. which is mildly exciting because this is the first time I have been on these stores. I don't expect many people will buy it, but for the record the tracks are all written by me and are:

1. Because I said So
A dystopian D'Oyly Carte view of the world. What happens when G&S meet The Buzzcocks
2. Harbour Lights
These days if a schoolteacher called a small child an imbecile there would be hell to pay
3. Monkey Boy at the circus
Politicians - who rattled the cage? Have you noticed that the trend towards women politicians and politicians from minorities means that you cannot criticise them without being accused of sexism or racism? Pah!
4. I know where you live
A nasty revenge fantasy with a twist in the tail
5. I don't give a damn about you
Well, do they? Probably not
6. (I want to believe) in the protocols
I have a friend who believes in all the most ridiculous conspiracy theories going. This one is for him. Anyway I don't think anyone else has managed to get the Trilateral Commission and the Protocols of the Elders of Zion into a song, and make it rhyme before
7. The gorillas are coming but where is Barry Mooncult?
What if the man with the wooly hat in the library, who is shouting at an unseen assailant, was once famous? Would you care?
8. No matter who you vote for (the government always wins)
The title is self-explanatory, and is a rant against Thatcher, Blair et al. An object lesson for everyone who votes for selfish reasons
9. Somewhere to hide
Alan Jules Weberman (born May 26, 1945), better known as A. J. Weberman, is an American writer, political activist, gadfly, and popularizer of the terms garbology and "Dylanology". He is best known for his controversial personal confrontations with the musician Bob Dylan and for his 30-year involvement with the Yippies, a counterculture movement of the 1960s
10. The seventeenth duckling
The title came from Richard who gleefully pointed out that Elizabeth Bathory wasn't from Romania. The rest is typical manic depressive feeling sorry for myself, but with a nice line about Homo superior
11. The Ugly City
Four in the morning, can't communicate, and the internet has been down for hours. In comes an email. Is it what you have been waiting for? No it is a mis-spelled missive trying to sell you viagra
12. Twilight over England
Continuing the noble JD tradition of having the title song of the album on the next one. Yes I know the title was cribbed off William Joyce. Yes I know the chorus was stolen from Skrewdriver. No I am not a Nazi


Listen to internet radio with NEAR PARANORMAL on Blog Talk Radio

Many thanks to Bruce and the guys, I enjoyed myself immensely. BTW I don't come in untiil about 20 minutes in because of a techie cock up

ANDREW MAY: Words from the Wild Frontier

News and stories from the remoter fringes of the CFZ blogosphere...

From Nick Redfern's "There's Something in the Woods...":
From CFZ Australia:
From CFZ Canada: