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, April 14, 2013

DALE DRINNON: Tatzelwurm, Baby plesiosaur, Benny's Blogs

New at the Frontiers of Zoology:

CRYPTOLINK: In Search of… the Sea Snake

In October 1845 British geologist Charles Lyell was visiting Boston, when he noted an advertisement proclaiming that a “Dr.” Albert C. Koch would exhibit the 114 foot long skeleton of “that colossal and terrible reptile the sea serpent” to the paying public. Lyell dismissed this claim soon as a fraud , as the skeleton was in fact from the extinct whale species Zeuglodon, described by Richard Owen just some years before.
Fig.1. The infamous “Hydrarchos” by German fossil collector Albert Koch as displayed in New York. Not only was the fossil animal composed of various specimens of the extinct whale Zeuglodon, but in this illustration even the size of the supposed skeleton is exaggerated.  Image from FOWLER (1846): “The American Phrenological Journal and Miscellany”, image in public domain.
Like many other Victorian naturalists Lyell showed great interest in the supposed existence of large marine monsters. A good friend of Lyell, Canadian geologist John William Dawson, informed him of  a sighting in August 1845 at Merigomish, in the Gulf of St. Lawrence. Here two “intelligent” testimonies had observed a 100 foot long sea snake with humps on the back and the head similar to a seal. Lyell describes this sighting in his book “Second Visit to the United States of North America” (1849) and adds that stories about unusual encounters abound along the west coast of the U.S. He mentions even that a young sea serpent was still preserved in spirits in the Museum of New Haven. However Lyell, seeing the specimen for himself, agreed with other skeptics that it was nothing more than a land snake (Coluber constrictor) with a deformed spine.
Fig.2. Newspaper from Boston with an article about the strange, but true, encounter with the Mountauk Monster – a sea snake in 1817 (image in public domain).
Despite the lack of evidence, Lyell confess in his writings that he remained optimistic “for I believed in the sea serpent without having seen it.” Lyell’ s interest in sea snakes was strongly influenced by his passion for geology.


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.


A new book by Neil Arnold (Published by The History Press) ISBN- 978-0-7524-8772-4

Ever wondered just what strange things lurk in the cold depths of Britain’s foaming seas? Ever taken the time to peek down into those grey waters as you’re fishing, or skinny-dipping off a rugged coastline?

Now, for the first-time ever Britain’s underwater domain can be viewed in a different light as monster-hunter Neil Arnold takes us hundreds, if not thousands of metres beneath the sea in the hope of finding out if those seafaring tales of monsters and mysterious manifestations are true. Do strange beasts resembling serpents inhabit those inky depths? What of those old folktales concerning mermaids - mere superstition or fact?

Fisherman have long spoken of “the one that got away” but what of those seemingly tall stories that speak of haunted boats and phantom vessels – ships believed to have been wrecked many years previous on harsh coastlines, only to reappear on the horizon with tatty sails unmoved by the wind. Can we truly believe the stories told by witnesses of spectral sailors and ghostly crewmen aboard ships that have not seen action for decades? And can we discount those even stranger tales where those aboard great ships and smaller boats too, have reported seeing unusual lights emerge from, and enter the frothing waters?

Forget Peter Benchley’s classic novel Jaws, SHADOWS ON THE SEA – THE MARITIME MYSTERIES OF BRITAIN is a real-life exploration in search of those horrors of the deep that you dismissed (or believed in!) for years.

Along with several tales pertaining to sea-related superstitions, you’ll also hear about cursed sea-chests, the Devil and the deep blue sea, haunted cliffs and beaches, smugglers tales, strange coastal swarms, killer sands, haunted lighthouses, phantom bells at sea, ghostly lands, haunted buoys, spooky submarines and close encounters of the coastal kind.

SHADOWS ON THE SEA (which includes a foreword by Jonathan Downes of the Centre for Fortean Zoology) covers all manner of British maritime mysteries, so, just when you thought it was safe to go back in the water – it isn’t!

Available from all good bookshops and online. Priced £12.99


Sheri Myler, our student who is doing a series of placements with us over the next year or so is back for her second stint. Once again, I am putting her to work and she will be blogging each day about her time here...

My last day at the CFZ was fairly uneventful. We got quite a way through the Eberhart book, for which, I tried to insist on pictures that made the creatures look cute rather than scary. My attempts were only somewhat successful.

This work was broken up only by the occasional wander into the garden to look at review the progress of the hole being dug for the pond, by Matt and Jess. There were many threats from Jon to throw each of us in into it.

We finished early today so that I could get everything ready for a day’s travel back up to York tomorrow, which, by the way, is scheduled to take about seven and a half hours. Finishing early means no cat hunt, so it will be several months before I get to go on another one.
During my previous trip down, last October, it was agreed all round that I fitted in surprisingly well to a rather odd situation. Over this last week, I have assimilated even further and have been told that I am now part of the CFZ family, which I feel really is the case. What fitting into such a strange place says about me exactly,  remains to be seen. 


I woke up late with a slight hangover
got out of bed, pulled on my pullover
and then remembered; once again it's time
to do the Gonzo blogs in rhyme
I'm self indulgent once a week,
(the prerogative of a hard working freak)
I do the blogs in rhyme for you
it entertains me so to do
But I should start them now (I'd better)
yesterday I posted the newsletter
and all of a sudden I realised "Wow
we've done 21 issues now)
And now like I do every day
It's the Gonzo special Track of the Day
a real treat for all your ears
Jefferson Starship doing Volunteers
As you know I only occasionally rhyme
but some folk do it all the time
I admire this next man lots (you know it)
His name it is Thom the World poet
I don't want to get the waters muddy
but Davey Curtis (my dear beer buddy)
sent lots of pics to me you know
of Hawkwind's recent Preston show
And now its time for (can't you guess?)
a story 'bout Geoff Downes from Yes
a video report  I've had for days
about the keyboards that he plays
And last a band who should stand tall
named after a picture by Marc Chagall
I think they're great, I love the album
here's The Green Violinist reviewed in Belgium

*  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:
* We should probably mention here, that some of our posts are links to things we have found on the internet that we think are of interest. We are not responsible for spelling or factual errors in other people's websites. Honest guv!

*  Jon Downes, the Editor of all these ventures (and several others) is an old hippy of 53 who - together with his orange cat (who is currently on sick leave in Staffordshire) and his new orange kitten puts it all together from a converted potato shed in a tumbledown cottage deep in rural Devon which he shares with various fish. He is ably assisted by his lovely wife Corinna, his bulldog/boxer Prudence, his elderly mother-in-law, and a motley collection of social malcontents. Plus.. did we mention the orange cats?

OLL LEWIS: Yesterday's News Today