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, September 28, 2012

ANDREW MAY: Words from the Wild Frontier

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

From Nick Redfern's World of Whatever:
From CFZ Australia:

OLL LEWIS: Yesterday's News Today

On this day in 1941 Fred West was born. Fred and Rose West were responsible for the murder and torture of at least 11 people including their own daughters. To say they were evil is somewhat of an understatement.
And now the news:
A documentary on Fred West:

CARL MARSHALL: News from the Stratford Butterfly Farm - wandering spiders sent to Coventry

This is the most dangerous species of spider in the world.

Last Friday I recieved a telephone call from a friend of mine named Andy Baker. Andy works at Fyffes plc - a fruit ripening site in Coventry and he informed me that he had found an unknown "banana spider" in a shipment from Columbia and did I want it. 

Well, of course, being a devout arachnophile I said I would take a look at it as you never know what it could be, coming in a shipment of fruit. Anyway on Saturday morning Andy came in with the aforementioned beastie but unfortunately it had died over night due to being sealed in a small plastic bag, but nonetheless It was quite obvious what it was. It was a Brazilian wandering spider (Phoneutria nigriventer).  We had had one of these only last year on display in our nasties enclosure, that had been discovered in (you guessed it) Coventry and we kept it for over a year and then it unfortunately but quite naturally died. I kept its remains and photographed them for this article last night (Sun 23rd) when I was just shutting down my computer when the telephone rang. It was Andys wife Sarah saying that Andy had found another spider of what looks to be the same species and that the only difference was that this new spider was a good deal larger the the previous specimen and again would we take it.
This we did.

Phoneutria sp. commonly known as wandering spiders are a genus of highly venomous and extremely aggressive spiders found in tropical south and central America. They are members of the family Ctenidae. The genus contains at least eight scientifically described species. Wandering spiders are so-called because they wander the jungle floor at night rather than ambushing prey from a hidden lair or spinning a web. The Brazilian wandering spider appears in Guinness World Record from 2010 to present as the worlds most venomous spider.   

We receive all manner of seemingly unusual inverts, from native caterpillars  (which should be released!) to a black widow found on the back seat of a car from an automobile shipped from Arizona, the latter now being found quite often in the UK, although they do not yet seem to have viably extended their range from the continent. In all honesty though I can say that, at least in and around Coventry, the Brazilian wandering spider has become a more likely possibility to be discovered in ones shopping. 
The above mentioned live specimen found its way to the Co-op supermarket store in Coventry and had to be collected and returned to Fyffes plc. 

This is potentially life threatening news as this species is far more dangerous than the widow spiders which are very venomous but quite placid whereas the Brazilian wandering spider has got the attitude to match its extreme toxicity, and they do like to travel.

Andy has kindly invited me to visit Fyffes plc in Coventry to investigate further.



KARL SHUKER: Kicking up a stink about the ink monkey



I`m going to stick my neck out and claim this as a “new” cryptid, or rather one I`ve not read about somewhere, which is hardly surprising  as I read about it for the first time in a letter to me from a total stranger in April 1995..

I had written to a local newspaper near Bala in Gwynedd about the local “monster” of Lake Bala, Teggie and I received two replies, only one of which was of any real interest, the other less so. But I am going to quote from both.

Firstly the letter from Mr E.R. Lucas of April 21st 1995.And this letter ends with a nice Fortean twist as you`re about to see. But let me first say that although there are eels in Lake Bala today, I very much doubt they ever reach one this big.

“Dear Mr Muirhead

I am writing in reply to your letter in our local paper.

I don`t have much information about the monster in Bala Lake I can only tell you what I saw about 43 years ago. There was a place which was known as Sandy Pool (no longer there since the level of the lake was lowered) however, all the local kids used to swim at this spot, it was about 150 yards from the old Dee Bridge, after we`d been swimming we would run along the pavement to Dee Bridge [see image below from old postcard] with the purpose of drying ourselves.

On this particular time we ran to the bridge where there was a well known local fisherman fishing off the bridge (Old Jim Wood)  we knew better than to go near him when he was fishing, we got up on the lake side wall of the bridge and looking down into the water coming from under the bridge was what looked like a huge eel. It was what we thought at the time to be between 12 and 14 feet long very black and was moving very slowly. It was as round as a large bucket. We tried to get Mr Jim Wood to come and look but by the time he came across it had gone too far into the lake.

I left Bala when I was 15 but on coming back 22 years ago [i.e. 1973- R] I have heard that “The Monster” has been seen in the lake on a number of occasions.

Yours sincerely, E.R. Lucas

P.S. I lived in Bishopstone in 1956 and later at Stratford Tony. (1)  [This was the Fortean aspect I mentioned above. I lived in Bishopstone, S.Wiltshire when I received this letter!-R]  

 The other letter, undated, and anonymous, mentioned Gwyniad fish, endemic  in Lake Bala prior to 1948-50  and pike sold to Manchester but the author of the letter isn`t any more specific. The rest of the letter is concerned with lake “politics” for want of a better word. He also said Gwyniad were plentiful in Scotland (2)

  1. Letter from E.R. Lucas to R.Muirhead April 21st 1995
  2. Anon to R.Muirhead April 1995 ? 

HAUNTED SKIES:Daily Express 10.1.69.


WATCHER OF THE SKIES: Today's Fortean bird news

After about six months of regular postings on the main bloggo, Corinna has taken the plunge and started a 'Watcher of the Skies' blog of her own as part of the CFZ Bloggo Network.

DALE DRINNON: New Carnivore/Bigfoot camper video/Cedar and Willow

Here is the FOZ link to go into the bundle with the Cedar and Willow notifications for tomorrow (Only took me nine more hours):
And here's another one, its pretty much a freebie. It certainly does not deserve the attention it is getting today.

CFZ PRESS: Ronan's Grail book in Northern Earth Mysteries


whale bus postcard

The year 2000 may have passed some time ago – but no one has yet invented underwater tours in which a submerged bus is powered by a tame whale.  And despite the wizardry and fast pace of modern technology, we are yet to be saved from burning buildings by flying firemen – or enjoy a game of underwater croquet.  They may sound ridiculous ideas now but this set of 19th century postcards show just what artists thought we would be doing at the turn of the 21st century.

Read on...


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 by us in some way, so we should have a go at publishing a regular round-up of the stories as they come in. In September 2012, Emma Osborne decided that the Mystery Cat Study Group really deserved a blog of its own within the CFZ Blog Network.

Here is the latest tranche of news...

  • NEWSLINK: More on the Russian Liliger
  • NEWSLINK: Tigers in Bhutan
  • NEWSLINK: Exotic cat on the loose
  • NEWSLINK: Tourists banned from India's tiger prese...
  • NEWSLINK: White tigers in India


    And so another week is almost at an end. I am by myself in the office today because Jess is off on a family errand. Next week I shall be living in bachelor splendour, because Corinna is going to Staffordshire to see my eldest stepdaughter. So Graham and I will be fending for ourselves, and Prudence will be the lady of the house...
    I first discovered rock music in the early 1970s, about a year after I first came to the UK after spending my formative years in Colonial Hong Kong. I remember watching TOTP and being somewhat scared by the sight of Roy Wood, then in Wizzard, cavorting around with massive hair and tribal facepaints. Let's start off today in Bolton, where an interesting review of The Lost Broadcasts: The Move has just appeared in the local paper:
    In the summer term of 1974 schoolboys who each week avidly read the three broadsheet music papers, were excited to find out that an LP (for those of you born after 1990, this was a 12 inch vinyl disc, which contained up to ¾ house of music) by a band called Gong was retailing at only 50p (about a quarter of the price of and ordinary LP. Schoolboys across the country (including me) went out to by it, regardless of the fact we had never heard of them.So we all went home that evening after school clutching a peculiar LP called Camembert Electrique which had a dragon, several pixies, a reverence to lady parts which you only got if you had read the Kama Sutra (which I had, although it was to be some years before I was to put what I had learnt into action), and yes, a flying saucer. From talking to my peers at the time, most boys listened to it once and decided that the mixture of silly noises and cosmic frippery was know were near as entertaining as the latest Status Quo record, and never played it again. I however fell in love with it and my life was never the same. Today I present a link to a unique view of Gong mainman Daevid Allen...
    My friend JHohn Hare grabbed me whilt I was posting yesterday's notifications on Facebook. Had I heard of Slunq? he wanted to know. I hadn't, but I have now, and so have you...
    Another visit to the singular existence of Thom the World Poet...
    And today we are proud to present another revolutionary communique from the manic marquis himself. Ladies andGentlemen, Michael Des Barres...
    As regular readers will no doubt be aware, I have been following the comings and goings in the Yes camp with interest for some years. Today we post a link to an interview with Steve Howe in which he talks about the two highest profile ex-members of the band, and why they are ex. I can't wait to see what happens next.
    The Gonzo Daily is a two way process. If you have any news or want to write for us, please contact me at jon@eclipse.co.uk. If you are an artist and want to showcase your work, or even just say hello please write to me at gonzo@cfz.org.uk. Please copy, paste and spread the word about this magazine as widely as possible. We need people to read us in order to grow, and as soon as it is viable we shall be invading more traditional magaziney areas. Join in the fun, spread the word, and maybe if we all chant loud enough we CAN stop it raining. See you tomorrow...

    The Gonzo Daily is - as the name implies - a daily online magazine (mostly) about artists connected to the Gonzo Multimedia group of companies. But it also has other stuff as and when the editor feels like it. The Editor is an old hippy of 53 who - together with his orange cat - puts it all together from a converted potato shed in a tumbledown cottage deep in rural Devon. He is ably assisted by his lovely wife Corinna, his bulldog/boxer Prudence, and a motley collection of social malcontents. Plus.. did we mention the orange cat?

    OLL LEWIS: Yesterday's News Today

    Yesterday’s News Today

    Today is “Ask a Stupid Question Day” in the USA where school children are encouraged to ask stupid questions.
    And now the news:
    Here's David Cameron showing the sorts of results a the Tories hope to get from Michael Gove's 'education' plans. Not having been educated in an English school I wasn't forced to do Latin from the age of 5 (we did Welsh, which is actually quite useful to know a bit of if you happen to be British) but even I know what the translation of Magna Carta is :