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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Saturday, December 22, 2012


In China, specifically around Hankow so it seems, is a type of hairy tortoise; the following story appeared in the Bradford Observer of March 13th 1875, and the e-mail I was sent containing it included errors, but the substance of it is below. This is also a Christmas present for Jon as I know he`s interested in these critters.

Telescopic Fish and Hairy Tortoise

Several notable living curiosities have been brought to the Brighton Aquarium. Chief amongst them were the " telescope fish," just  arrived  from China, and which are so  called from their prominent eyes protruding considerably from each side of the head.  The Chinese name of the fish is " Long-sing- ya. Bloch makes it a distinct species, which he calls  Cyprinus macropthalmas, but it is merely a monstrosity —though a very remarkable one— of the common gold- carp (Carassius auratus), and has been cultivated by (natural?)selection by the Chinese, … breeding these domesticated pets, until the progeny is so disguised that the original form is almost lost. Regarded from the front, it appears to have a -red forehead, large and projecting eyes, and compressed under-lip ; a countenance, in fact, which resembles at once  a half-strangled pup-dog. My friend Mr. Bartlett, of the Zoological gardens, who tells me that [it is] many years since he had some of them … i compare the skin of the Chinese… perpetuating these deformities in fish with that of the Japanese in producing, by similar selection, pet dogs with very short noses, and large projecting eyes. We learn from ancient Chinese encyclopedias, quoted by Mr. Darwin in his Descent of Man," that goldfish were first reared in confinement in China in A.D. 960. In the year 1129 they abounded; and "since 1548 these have been produced at Hang-chow a variety called the -fire-fish/ from its  intensely red colour. It is universally admired, and there is not a household where it is not cultivated, in rivalry as to its colour,  as a source of profit." A gentleman, Mr. John Meaney, of the Imperial Customs, Hankow, recently arrived from China, brought with him with great care, and  most kindly presented to the Aquarium, a little tortoise covered with a singular growth on the shell,  three or four inches long, which he believed to be hair. This erroneous (?) belief is doubtless fostered by - the Chinese, who induce Europeans to purchase, at great curiosities, their "hairy tortoise," as some rogues in England sell painted canaries. The so-called " hair "is a filamentous alga, or water weed, which grows on the hack of the animal in the pond or tank in which it is kept exposed to the light. I remember examining- with  Mr. Buckland, some years ago, a similar specimen which  had been sent to him. The microscope soon showed us the character of the filiform growth.— Land and Water. (1)

In the “Travels of a Pioneer of Commerce in Pigtails and Petticoats” by T.T. Cooper (London,Murray,1871, page 459) there is a plate of one of these hairy tortoises from the lakes of Ha-su above Hankow (see image here,Rich) . These curious little animals were two inches long, and covered on the back with a long confervoid growth resembling hair.The tortoise being a sacred emblem in China, the Chinese make pets of the hairy tortoise which they keep in basins of water during the summer months, and bury in sand during the winter. (2)

There was also an American hairy tortoise:


To the editors of the Popular Science Monthly

Noticing your interesting extract from “Land and Water” concerning the “hairy tortoise” , I take the liberty of mentioning a similar species found to my knowledge in the lakes of this valley. Its description tallies almost exactly with that of the Chinese variety, except perhaps in size. It is about three inches in length by two and a half breadth, is very closely covered by its shell , the calipiee is not hinged, and out of some dozen specimens examined by me not one was without the coat of water-grass. Its habitat is at the bottom of shallow lakes and ponds, and near the submerged roots of trees, where it is often caught with the hook. It has a remarkably fetid odour. The grassy or confervoid covering is not of any great length, generally about one half or three fourths of an inch. It is, I believe an undescribed species, though Mr Aggasiz may have had a specimen among his collection of tortoises from the Mississippi Valley.

Very Respectfully, J.F. BATTAILE, YAZOO CITY, December 8th, 1878. (3)

There is a telescope fish in the cold waters of the S.Hemisphere and gold-fish of this name, but I don`t know whether or not the telescope fish mentioned above is of these species.

1. Bradford Observer March 13th 1875.
2. Popular Science Monthly . Dec 1878. p. 246
3. Popular Science Monthly February 1879  p. 530.


P.S. Flying Snake 4 will be available in early January containing Dr Devo`s diary, Odd Britsh toads, Chinese coins in strange places, Oxford University`s tortoise mascots, a Japanese snake with two legs, a Giant Crocodile ballad and more! See http://homepage.ntlworld.com/richmuirhead/cryptozoology/   for payment instructions. Back issues available. Happy Christmas!   


In an article for the first edition of Cryptozoology Bernard Heuvelmans wrote that cryptozoology is the study of 'unexpected animals' and following on from that perfectly reasonable assertion, it seems to us that, whereas the study of out-of-place birds may not have the glamour of the hunt for bigfoot or lake monsters, it is still a perfectly valid area for the Fortean zoologist to be interested in. So, 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.

DLNR celebrates a new Christmas tradition to prote...

DALE DRINNON: Giants, Lemuria, Benny's Blog

New at Frontiers of Anthropology:
And there shall be a Cedar and Willow with screenshots of the Anime Grenadier that I've been talking about lately, and probably another follow-up to The Crypto Crew at least.
Best Wishes, Dale D.


So, the world didn't end! Tim and Graidi came to see us yesterday and Mother enjoyed cuddling the baby very much. Later on, while Corinna did arcane things in the kitchen, Mother and I watched the new Magick Brothers DVD (released next month) and it is absolutely gorgeous. It could well be argued that Daevid Allen is at his best in an acoustic setting without drum and bass. I recommend it massively. I also finished reading Mad World, a partial biography of Evelyn Waugh, which I shall blog about soon. In the meantime, one last trenche of shopping and it is all over....
Happy Christmas from the Orange Cat (and the less important members of the 'Gonzo Daily' team):
The track of the day is from the mighty Magick Brothers:
*  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 same team also do a weekly newsletter called - imaginatively - The Gonzo Weekly. Find out about it at this link:

*  Jon Downes, the Editor of all these ventures 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, his mother-in-law, and a motley collection of social malcontents. Plus... did we mention the orange cat?

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 1956 the first captive-bred gorilla was born in Columbus Zoo, Ohio, in the USA.

And now the news:

  • Rare Bear Has Twins at National Zoo
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  • Very Rare Turtles Hatch in NYC

  • Here's a rare track by the Gorillaz; Don Quixote's Christmas Bonanza: