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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Monday, February 13, 2012

CFZ CANADA: On being a cryptozoologist

It's not rocket science, that's for sure. It isn't pseudoscience either, at least as far as I'm concerned. Lately though, I've been asking myself "What exactly is a cryptozoologist and why do people think I am one?"

JON'S JOURNAL: A day in the dunes

Yesterday's trip out was a peculiar, though eventful one. I had a doctor's appointment, and as I didn't want to have to rush my blogging activities I did the blog on the previous night before going to bed. This is where the time tenses get a little confusing.

This is being posted on tuesday morning, but I am writing it on monday afternoon and early evening. The events covered took place on monday lunchtime and early afternoon. But I have just described how I wrote and posted monday's blogs late on sunday night (US time) and very early on monday morning (UK time). Confused? I am.

Prudence decided that she wanted to take us all for a walk, so I decided that we should go to Northam Burrows, a place of which I am rather fond. Now, those of you of a literary bent have certainly heard of Rudyard Kipling, and may well have read Stalky and Co which is his account of his schooldays at the United Services College in Westward Ho! Many of the stories are set on land owned by the Royal North Devon Golf Club, which is where we were today.

The first and most significant thing about the day was that we saw loads of curlews. I have seen the odd one here and there, mostly on Northam Burrows, over the years, but I have never seen so many in one place before. I have also seen them on Dartmoor, which is peculiar, because according to the RSPB Dartmoor is one place where they cannot be found.

We also saw a jolly little family of (what I am 99% sure are shelducks), which as I cited Rupert Sheldrake only a few days ago (and I think I am being spectacularly inept here, because I can't remember where I did it) is a mildly amusing ornithological lexilink.

Herewith, two herring gulls and a black headed gull...

But I am not sure what these three are. Please note: I am not making any claims that I have discovered a new species of the Laridae on Northam Burrows. Of course I haven't. I think that one of these (the one at the top) is a juvenile black headed gull, and that the right hand one below is a juvenile herring gull, but I am far from sure. Any ideas?

The eagle eyed amongst you will remember that at the start of this post Ialluded to more than one significant discovery today. That is true. The second significant discovery is that Prudence doesn't like horses. Whether it is her ancestral bull-baiting genes coming out, and she thinks that all ruminants are there to be disembowelled, or whether it is just that she had led a sheltered life before coming to live with us, and because she had spent most of that life walled up in a concrete kennel in a puppy farm she had never had the chance to meet any before, but she certainly doesn't like them.

The long and the short of it is that she saw several horses being ridden along the road as we approached the Burrows, and she was obviously of the opinion that they were dangerous wild beasts of the sort that a well-bred young lady with impressive jowls should have nothing to do with. So she barked and growled and was reprimanded by her owners. She was over excited by the time she got to the Burrows, and whilst the walk calmed her down a bit, she was still in a bit of a tizz by the time (just as she and Corinna were climbing The Pebbleridge) she saw a sprightly young whippet and started to bark, growl and strain at the leash. Whether she wanted to play or to eviscerate it we shall never know, because she pulled Corinna down, and she fell over on top of her, leaving her mistress bruised and cross.

Prudence was duly chastised and we drove home in silence!

There are actually mildly cryptozoological aspects to Northam Burrows. Three of them to be precise:

Firstly according to The Transactions of the Devonshire Association sometime during the 1940s, there was a dog living wild on the Burrows for some years. This is quite unusual because although there are hundreds of thousands of feral cats, the numbers of feral dogs are seriously limited - in the UK at least. Sadly it succumbed to a landmine.

Secondly, back in the early 1970s, I saw a flamingo standing, minding its own business, in the middle of The Mere - the body of water in the top photograph below.

The other, and potentially more interesting animal of cryptozoological interest is a small fish called the three spined stickleback.

Charming little fish, they were once upon a time kept in makeshift aquaria by every small boy with an interest in the natural world. I was no exception. Back in 1974 I put together a display of freshwater creatures from North Devon for a school project, and was interested to find that the sticklebacks that lived in the small streams which crisscrossed Northam Burrows were much darker and more compact than their cousins from the ponds around Bideford.
Wikipedia, from where I pinched the above picture BTW, notes that:

"Freshwater populations are extremely morphologically diverse, to the extent that many observers (and some taxonomists) would describe a new subspecies of three-spined stickleback in almost every lake in the Northern Hemisphere.".

I would not go so far as to propose a new subspecies, but I think that there are certainly grounds to suggest a new colour morph. However, and here is the HOWEVER...

I haven't seen any of these darker fish for 38 years, and I have no idea whether they still live there. My mobility is not what it was, and so - if there are any enthusiastic young amateur naturalists from North Devon reading this - get in touch with me. I have a nice project for you for your next school holidays.

So - all in all - an eventful day, and one which I think we shall be repeating very soon. Hopefully Pru will be behaving better next time around. If not, it is rolled up newspaper time.

BIG CAT NEWS: It's a strange and small world

The hunt for British Big Cats attracts far more newspaper column inches than any other cryptozoological subject.

There are so many of them now that we feel that they should be archived in some way by us, so we should have a go at publishing a regular round-up of the stories as they come in.

It takes a long time to do, and is a fairly tedious task, so I am not promising that they will be done each day, but I will do them as regularly as I can. JD

Skeptic » Doubtful News »
Big cat print found in Calderdale?
The mystery of the Calderdale catbeast took a new turn with the discovery of this huge paw print. It is the second time the big cat – thought to be a black panther ...
Read on...

The peculiar thing here is not that I agree with them - I do. It is the fact that they cite me as the person who originally drew their attention to this case in this very column. Truly it is a small world, and getting smaller.

Although this column is fundamentally about the British alien big cat phenomenon, it is interesting to see how the concept has become part of the mass psyche of the English speaking world. Here are two articles from radically different publications which address ABCs, and demonstrate this unarguable point.

Britton hopes to educate about big cats - News and Gossip - Yahoo ...
Ben Britton hopes that Big Cat Week can educate viewers about the majestic animals and their rapidly declining numbers.

Are Alien Big Cats stalking your players?
So let's turn to the stranger sort of news that we can find in the real world, and look at what cryptozoologists call Alien Big Cats. After all, every GM should know ...

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:

HAUNTED SKIES: Daily Mail 10.2.62


OLL LEWIS: Yesterday's News Today


On this day in 1948 Teller, one half of magician duo Penn and Teller, was born. His hobbies include dressing up as Richard Freeman.

And now the news:

Bonaduce, Williams to star in 'Bigfoot'
New species of skink discovered in Australia
Do you believe Bigfoot exists?
European Union failing threatened mediterranean sh...
India’s tigers are making a comeback
Whooping cranes to finish migration by road
Rare bird species spotted in Manipur
Peak time for spotting common seals in rivers
The real zoo escapees that mimic the cartoon chara...
Ornithologists seek to answer riddle of white blac...
Coming to a continent near you: America
Rhino and calf recovering from AK47 attackMunching moth is threat to trees
Deadly Australian spider comes to Britain (via Ma...
Lost treasures: The Loch Ness monster that got awa...

Penn and Teller’s most famous trick is the double bullet catch:

CFZ PEOPLE: Lars and Jeanett Thomas URGENT!

Jeanett Thomas (48) is still missing. We repeat what we posted yesterday:

Our old friend Lars Thomas has asked us to post this:

On friday, his wife Jeanett left home. She was only meant to be gone a few hours, but she has disappeared. There has been no contact from her.

Lars has contacted the police, but asks: "Please, if you know, or have heard anything, let me know".

Contact Lars: lars_thomas@msn.com
Or me: jon@eclipse.co.uk

Our thoughts and prayers are with Lars at this terrible time.

The only good thing to come out of all of this, is that it proves (as if any proof were needed) that
I am not guilty of hyperbole when I refer to the 'CFZ Family'. One glance at Lars' Facebook page shows how members of the CFZ Family from all across the globe are not only sending messages of sympathy, but mobilising to spread the word and help to find Lars' missing wife.

Thank you my dears. At the risk of sounding over-mawkish, I am so proud of you lot. Thank You..



DALE DRINNON: Bigfoot/West Indian devils/California's early colonists/Cedar and Willow



New at the Frontiers of Anthropology:

New on Cedar and Willow:

BTW, I just got a comment on Cedar and Willow saying that "The connections you make are sometimes bizzare but always compelling"