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, February 09, 2012


We were so busy doing other stuff for the last week or so that we completely failed either to notice or to celebrate the fact that we recently got the three millionth hit on the blog. And the Alexa ranking for our main blog alone has gone up from 1,300,000 in January to 749,161 yesterday. I think we all have cause to feel rather pleased with ourselves - but what I would really like to do is to thank everyone who has helped make this happen.

Thank you my dears.

HAUNTED SKIES: Times (The) 7.3.59.

OLL LEWIS: Yesterday's News Today


On this day in 1906 the actor Lon Chaney Jr was born, he is well known for his portrayal of the Wolfman in several movies.

And now the news:

Ape versus machine: Do primates enjoy computer gam...
Purple Squirrel Found in Pennsylvania
Endangered Bryde's whale killed by apparent ship s...
Marine risk from skeleton fighting shrimp
Petrel causes a storm for New Zealand
Cane toads lose their killer touch in east Austral...
Can the jungle law save orangutans?
Castaway Lizards Provide Insight Into Elusive Evol...

A trailer for “The Wolfman”:

MAMMOTH IN SIBERIA (Many thanks to Dale Drinnon for pointing out this story)

This story on Dale Drinnon's 'Frontiers of Zoology'

DALE DRINNON: New Zealand water monster/Cedar and Willow

New on the Frontiers of Zoology, an old Water Monster report from New Zealand

And on Cedar and Willow, reviews of the 1964 movie The Time Travelers, How I fit it into the system and a couple of surprise casting changes, PLUS the entire movie from youtube!

Also at Cedar and Willow, a deleted Wold Newton research page from Wikipedia I am preserving for research purposes:

JON'S JOURNAL: Hard day on the amphibious planet

Today is a blogpost full of bad news I am afraid. It is not just that there is quite a lot of bad news to tell, but also that although we have been out and about a lot in the past week or so, we have been rushed off our feet with various things, and I have got sorely behind with writing up my journal.

So, I am sitting down today in an attempt to get it all up to date.

As anyone who knows me will attest, I am particularly fond of amphibians, (I even sang in a band called Jon Downes and the Amphibians from Outer Space) and I am sad to say that today's blog is largely full of bad news of the amphibious kind.

Firstly, I am very sad to report that three of our caecilians have died - one the other day, and two last night. That means that we only have one or two left. This is a devastating blow to our animal collection as we were not only very proud of having bred them, but they were the most important of our animal exhibits.

But wild amphibians are not doing too well either...

Last week we had the first really bad cold snap of the winter, and - as you can see - "our" ditch at Huddisford was frozen severely enough to cover most of the area with a thick and crisp covering of ice.

And the frogspawn, so newly laid was frozen into a glunky mass. Other frogspawn both here and at "our other" ditch at Kennerland were equally affected. It will be interesting to see what happens to them once the frost has gone. I am sure that they will all have been killed, but it will be interesting to see how long it takes for the spawn to disintegrate and therefore release nutrients badk into the water.

We have been watching these ditches for frogspawn intermittently every winter since 2005/6 and we have never yet seen any of the January spawn hatch out. It was this that prompted Oll's and my tentative hypothesis.

Even adult frogs are falling foul of the weather. I would hypothesise that this unfortunate individual, lulled into a false sense of security by the mild weather, became sluggish in the cold weather and thus was much easier for a car to run over. Sadly this was in the lane outside our house, so it might even have been our car that did for this unfortunate batrachian.

And the title? Check this out:

JON'S JOURNAL: Nonexistent egrets and possible big cat prints

But it's not all bad news here in Woolsery. The other day I received a tip-off that there are now three different species of egret on the Torridge Estuary - little egrets, cattle egrets, and one or two great white egrets.

The cattle egret (Bubulcus ibis) is one of the zoological success stories of recent years. It was originally a species of tropical Africa and Asia and parts of southern Europe, but for some reason, quite possibly connected to the species’ commensal relationship with large grazing animals, first wild ones and more recently domestic livestock. According to Grubb, T. (1976). "Adaptiveness of Foraging in the Cattle Egret". Wilson Bulletin 88 (1): 145–148, they eat a wide range of invertebrate prey, and specialise in hunting those displaced by grazing livestock. Some studies have shown that they have 350% greater success when hunting in conjunction with the aforementioned livestock. Hence, as a result of its shift from utilising wild animals to utilising domestic ones, it has spread across the world.

According to Wikipedia:

The Cattle Egret has undergone one of the most rapid and wide reaching natural expansions of any bird species. It was originally native to parts of Southern Spain and Portugal, tropical and subtropical Africa and humid tropical and subtropical Asia. In the end of the 19th century it began expanding its range into southern Africa, first breeding in the Cape Province in 1908.Cattle Egrets were first sighted in the Americas on the boundary of Guiana and Suriname in 1877, having apparently flown across the Atlantic Ocean. It was not until the 1930s that the species is thought to have become established in that area.

The species first arrived in North America in 1941 (these early sightings were originally dismissed as escapees), bred in Florida in 1953, and spread rapidly, breeding for the first time in Canada in 1962. It is now commonly seen as far west as California. It was first recorded breeding in Cuba in 1957, in Costa Rica in 1958, and in Mexico in 1963, although it was probably established before that. In Europe the species had historically declined in Spain and Portugal, but in the latter part of the 20th century it expanded back through the Iberian Peninsula, and then began to colonise other parts of Europe; southern France in 1958, northern France in 1981 and Italy in 1985. Breeding in the United Kingdom was recorded for the first time in 2008 only a year after an influx seen in the previous year. In 2008 cattle egrets were also reported as having moved into Ireland for the first time.

In Australia the colonisation began in the 1940s, with the species establishing itself in the north and East of the continent. It began to regularly visit New Zealand in the 1960s. Since 1948 the Cattle Egret has been permanently resident in Israel. Prior to 1948 it was only a winter visitor.

According to Silva, M. P.; Coria, N. E.;Favero, M.; Casaux, R. J. (1995) The species has been seen as a vagrant in various sub-Antarctic islands, including South Georgia, Marion Island, the South Sandwich Islands and the South Orkney Islands.

So yesterday Graham and I tootled along to Bideford to have a look, but sadly we saw nothing more impressive than various species of gull, although we took a couple of pictures of the aforementioned gulls just to prove that we had been there.

And there is potentially more interesting news. These footprints were found by me, Corinna and Prudence up at Huddisford in tuesday. According to Richard they look feline rather than canine although they are a bit messy. Could this be proof that the leopard is still in its old haunts at Huddisford.

Watch this space.