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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Sunday, January 08, 2012


The New Year has come in in style at Muirhead`s Mystery Mansions with significant new discoveries on the Mystery Animals of Hong Kong book research front. I was browsing the Net a couple of days ago and for some reason came across the Carnegie Museum of Natural History (CMNH) site (which amused Jon-also for some reason!). I looked up Andreas Davidianus, the giant salamander as I have always had a sneaking suspicion that they might have turned up in Hong Kong now and then. Lo and behold, there IS a specimen there: According to Steve Rogers of CMNH in an e-mail to me of January 3rd 2012:

“The specimen we have is not very large as it fits inside a gallon jar, perhaps 9 inches or so. I could photograph it but a larger from another museum would be probably more impressive for your work. “ (1)

You will not be surprised to hear that I will be contacting Steve Rogers about a photo of the 9 inch specimen, which was caught in Hong Kong and sent to CMNH in 1972 via the Bell Museum. Being so small this could indicate there was once a breeding population or less exciting, an escapee from a food stall. Watch this space!

Rogers directed me to Philip Regal of University of Minnesota/Bell Museum of Natural History as the above mentioned Andreas Davidianus had once been part of a collection Regal had used in his observations and then found its way to Carnegie.

“The only Andreas I ever had were shipped to me from Hong Kong as a favour by Paul F.A. Madderson (anatomist,skin,reptiles) in the mid 1960s when he was teaching there. I am fairly certain he got the several live specimens in the meat market along with some snakes that he included in the shipment for someone else in Los Angeles. I have no idea how they got into the meat market….. I wanted them to watch their feeding and was not concerned with them as museum specimens in the usual sense. I was interested in them alive – and in their skulls however. “ (2)

Also unusual was the specimen of Chrysopelea Ornata or Golden Tree Snake. It is not included in Hong Kong Amphibians and Reptiles 2nd ed but it is mentioned in Wikipedia as being in Hong Kong.

Concerning the Golden Tree Snake Rogers said: “We only have one other specimen, presumably from Hong Kong, a CHRYSOPELEA ORNATA, which we obtained from an old collector who had some questionable data in his collection. This specimen may have been obtained from Wards Natural Science Establishment in Rochester New York who supplied specimens to many collectors and museums from the late 1860s through the 20th century. (3)

I was then directed to HerpNet and from there I found my way to VertNet or Vertebrate Net a search facility which enables one to search museums around the world which house vertebrate specimens. I tentatively, (rather like a mystery Hong Kong giant salamander hiding somewhere) typed the words `Hong Kong` into the search bar with 1841-2011 as the date range and 4 A4 size pages of “hits” came up! Covering herps, mammals and birds. I have the pages in front of me now. Frustratingly, only the location (e.g. Hong Kong, Lantau, New Territories) comes up and occasionally the date, and little more. So I`m going to dig a bit deeper here. However I did note the following.( N.B Some or all of these may have been escapes from pet owners/food markets.

Herklotts identified several Hong Kong testudines which now cannot now be traced according to Jon Downes. )

Louisiana State University Emperor Newt Tylototriton shanjiang This is rather interesting because Wikipedia says it inhabits “ the high mountain province of Yunnan China and pools and slow moving streams in sub tropical forests” which fits Hong Kong.

United States Natural History Museum ? Blue-tailed Skink. Plestiodon quadrilineatus This is a native of Hong Kong but the point here is that this specimen is the holotype.

Same museum. Four-Eyed Turtle Sacalia quadriocellata “Inhabits China,Hainan, the Annamite Mountains,N.E Laos and N and Central Vietnam. Successful hybrid with the Chinese Pond Turtle. “ It seems well possible that the mysterious Chinese False Eyed Turtle is actually based on a hybrid specimen” (4)

Location Unknown ANSP on VertNet database. Indian Flap Shelled Turtle Lissemys punctata The nearest location this animal inhabits to Hong Kong is Burma, however “ The shell of this species is believed to be of medicinal value in India and China. The shell is burnt and ground up with oil to produce a medicine in China that is used to treat certain types of skin diseases. In India the shell is used to make a remedy that is believed to be a medicine for tuberculosis. (5)
Florida Museum of Natural History Chinese crocodile lizard Shinisaurus crocodilurus “ The Chinese crocodile lizard…..is a semi-aquatic lizard found only in cool forests of Hunan, Guangxi Zhuang and Guizhou provinces of China….A 2008 study estimated 950 crocodile lizards left in China” (6)

What was it, or any of the above, doing in Hong Kong?

1 E-mail from S.Rogers 3rd January 2012
2 E-mail from Philip Regal 4th January 2012
3 E-mail from S.Rogers 3rd January 2012
4 Wikipedia Four Eyed Turtle
5 Wikipedia Indian Flap Shelled Turtle
6 Wikipedia Chinese crocodile lizard

HAUNTED SKIES: Times (The) 27.10.55

OLL LEWIS: Yesterday's News Today


On this day in 1947 Elizabeth Short, the victim of the unsolved Black Dahlia Murder, was last seen alive.

And now the news:

Camera traps snap 35 Javan rhinos, including calve...
Eco-toilets help save hippos and birds in Kenya
Goat-riding monkey raids farm
'The Hoff' crab is new ocean find
New Primate Species Discovered On Madagascar
Bat Brains Parse Sounds for Multitasking
Gamekeeper had enough poison to kill 8,000 birds

The trailer from the Black Dahlia film:

DALE DRINNON: Sea Serpents

Continuing on the Sea-Serpent theme are two more new blog entries, the first also including a notification of a supposed Sea-serpent film from the SITU files and known to Ivan Sanderson. At the time it seems the film was open to anyone that wanted to go and see it.

And then a little piece with some possible bearing on the zoological identity of the Lindorm:

KARL SHUKER: As easy as ABC - tracking down an iconic crypto term

I recently received on Facebook a most interesting enquiry from fellow mystery cat investigator Stuart Paterson. Stuart was interested in discovering where and when the term 'alien big cat' and its acronym 'ABC' had first appeared in print....

Read on...

CFZ CANADA: MacFarlane’s Bear

In 1864, Inuit hunters shot and killed an enormousyellow-furred bear in Canada’s Northwest Territories. They gave the skin and skull to naturalistRobert MacFarlane, who then shipped them to the Smithsonian Institution

Read on...