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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Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Badger cull: Attenborough condemns UK government for 'ignoring' science

David Attenborough
Sir David Attenborough: 'Why do they spend a lot of time and money doing careful scientific studies and then simply ignore the results?' Photograph: Martin Godwin
Sir David Attenborough has condemned the UK government for "ignoring" scientific evidence after the controversial badger cull in Gloucestershire was more than doubled in length on Wednesday.
The night-time shoots had killed less than half the minimum numbers required in the initial six weeks, prompting experts to warn than the failure risked increasing tuberculosis in cattle, rather than curbing it.
"Why do they spend a lot of time and money doing careful scientific studies and then simply ignore the results?" asked Sir David, the UK's best known naturalist. He told the Guardian: "They decided to have a six-week [cull] and when they don't get the result they want, they want to extend by eight weeks. It is simply not believing in the science."
The granting of the extension by Natural England (NE) will be a relief to the environment secretary, Owen Paterson, and the National Farmers Union (NFU), who argue that culling badgers is an essential part of curbing the rise in bovine TB, which led to 28,000 cattle being slaughtered in 2012 at a cost to taxpayers of £100m.
But Paterson now faces the prospect of a high court legal challenge from the Badger Trust and the disapproval of the nation's largest private landowner, the National Trust. Dame Helen Ghosh, the trust's director general and until 2010 permanent secretary at the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), had questioned the "scientific rigour and credibility" of the pilot culls in Gloucestershire and Somerset.

DALE DRINNON: Sykes yeti DNA, Frontiers of Anthropology, Benny's Blogs, Cedar & Willow


Poecilia.orgEvery two years Poecilia Scandinavia hosts an international livebearer weekend on livebearing fish. However Poecilias 40th anniversary means, that they will also host a livebearer weekend in 2014. This will be the 6th livebearer weekend. The 7th will be in 2016.
The event takes place from May the 2nd to May the 4th 2014 in Holbæk, Denmark, approximately 40 minutes by train from Copenhagens international airport, Kastrup.
Lectures etc. will take place at “Kuben” which is an auditorium connected to “Holbæk Seminarium” – a teacher academy.
Participants can sleep at the hostel “Holbæk Vandrerhjem, Sidesporet”, which is located nearby.

The event committee consists of Malin Lindqvist, Jørn Klinge, Kim Walther and Thue Grum-Schwensen.

Gil Rosenthal, professor and scholar, Swordtails, University of Texas, Austin, USA. He also runs a research station in Mexico and is a specialist concerning Swordtails in Northern Mexico as well as hybrids which take place in nature.

Michael Kempkes, Germany, author and co-author of several books including Aqualogs "All livebearers and halfbeaks", several books on guppies and most recently a book on goodeids. He will talk about livebearing fish in Florida, USA – based among other things upon his travels.

Kees de Jong. Former president of Poecilia Netherland. He have worked with international cooperation in the hobby as well as outside the hobby, but always with livebearing fishes. He have travelled a lot in Mexico and other places.

Anniversary speech Saturday evening
:  Poecilia Scandinavia will turn 40 years in 2014. At the dinner Saturday Evening there will be an anniversary speech about Poecilia Scandinavia’s 40 years. 

Honorary member Erik Lind Larsen, who helped found Poecilia Scandinavia in 1974, will give the anniversary speech.


The final program is not yet ready.
Basic Package, only saturday: 25 DKK (app. 3,5 Euro) for members (including members of all sisterorganisations in Europe and USA) , 50 DKK (app. 7 Euro) for non-members, including coffe, tea, but no meals at all.
  • Lunch saturday (3 half sandwiches): 60 DKK (app. 8 Euro) for all
  • Celebration dinner saturday – with celebration of Poecilia Scandinavias 40 years anniversary: 300 DKK (app. 41 Euro) for members, 350 DKK (app. 47 Euro) for non-members. Starters, buffet and coffee/tea with cake afterwoods.
  • Accommodation in four bed rooms with breakfast, friday-saturday: 250 DKK (app. 34 Eur) for members, 300 DKK (app. 41 Euro) for non-members
  • Accommodation in four bed rooms with breakfast, saturday-sunday: 275 DKK (app.37 Euro) for members, 325 DKK (app. 44 Euro) for non-members
  • Double-room, friday-satyrday, addition pr. person: 100 DKK (app. 14 Euro)
  • Double-room, saturday-sunday, addition pr. person: 125 DKK (app. 17 Euro)
  • Single-room, friday-saturday, addition pr. person: 355 DKK (app. 48 Euro)
  • Single-room. saturday-sunday, addition pr. person: 430 DKK (app. 58 Euro)
For the whole weekend in a four-bed room it will be:
  • Members of Poecilia Scandinavia or a sister-organisation: 910 DKK (App. 123 Euro)
  • Non-members: 1085 DKK (App. 146 Euro)
Otherwise, you can yourself count on through to the other prices. As you can see, Saturday only can be very cheap.

Registration opens 3. January 2014.
If you wish to stay one or both nights is the registration deadline 23. march 2014.
If you only attend Saturday you can register up to 20. April 2014.

CARL MARSHALL: False Widow Panics

Unless, much like the spider in question, you have been hiding unobtrusively in a dark corner you cannot have failed to notice the recent media induced hysteria concerning a certain species of spider. Photographs of terrible injuries and stories of vicious attacks by False Widow Spiders Steatoda nobilis have been dominating the news recently with many individuals claiming attacks by these largely harmless arachnids. I do not dispute the injuries sustained I am suggesting that the extent of some of the injuries resulted from secondary infection explained in more detail below. In truth very little of this hyperbole is based on fact. As usual the ignorance of the media is causing public panic.

The False Widow S. Nobilis is nothing new, this species has been living in the UK since at least 1879 when they were imported unintentionally from the Canary Islands. It is hypothesised that the recent changes in climate have prompted S. nobilis accelerated expansion into most of the UK, although it is still mainly confined to southern counties. S. nobilis is only one of an entire family (Theridiidae) of spiders many of which are present in the UK.

The Genus Steatoda is a close relative of Latrodectus which contains L. mactans- the Black Widow. Many people are unaware that the true Black Widow has also made its way into the UK, albeit in vastly reduced numbers, normally in isolated colonies near ports. A live specimen of L. mactans can be observed in safety at Stratford-Upon-Avon Butterfly Farm, this spider was imported from Arizona USA. It was discovered on the rear seat of an automobile being imported into Britain. It seems strange that it is S. nobilis that people are concerned about. Like most spiders, S. nobilis and L. mactans have neurotoxic venom. Neurotoxic venom from S. nobilis can cause pain, swelling, nausea and in rare cases fever and muscular cramps, it does not cause the skin to rot and fall off. What can cause a necrotic condition is secondary staph infection (even MRSA) or potentially a very severe reaction to the venom type; however, this reaction would only occur in an extremely small percentage of bites. Usually someone bitten would see some swelling, experience some pain and possibly feel unwell.

If bitten, clean and dress the puncture wounds and if feeling unwell, seek medical advice at your closest A&E department for treatment which would usually involve administration of analgesia and antihistamine medication.

Hopefully this article has gone some way to reducing the hysteria surrounding these benign invertebrates. In truth these spiders are not out to attack or eat your flesh, they have been in Britain for over one hundred and thirty years and prefer to remain undisturbed. They can bite and it can be painful, but apart from very rare occurrences it will be no worse than a wasp sting.
In an ecological sense spiders are vital, they control the populations of small disease carrying invertebrates that would otherwise plague us in summer months and should be seen as useful creatures and not something to fear. In response to these ill-judged news articles many people are killing every spider they encounter regardless of species and although our eight legged friends are numerous enough not to be eradicated by our misguided destruction, ecosystems are extremely fragile and their natural equilibrium can be easily disrupted.

If you are concerned about this species or indeed any spider species found in Britain and encounter them walk away do not kill them, or, place a cup or other similar receptacle over them and slide a piece of card under the cup sealing off the opening and trapping the spider in the cup, then release the spider outside – they won’t jump at you fangs bared ready to consume your flesh!  Remember not every spider encountered is S. nobilis. They are small with noticeably larger anterior legs and round bulbous abdomens which in the case of S. nobilis have a dull cream pattern on them.
The media are encouraging and increasing people’s fears and should behave in a more responsible manner, the information they are publishing is inaccurate and unhelpful.  Instead of knee-jerk reactions treat all animals with respect and they will have no reason to feel threatened and react aggressively.

Hopefully the ridiculous furore surrounding S. nobilis will fade and will return to the normal levels of spider intolerance that these fascinating creatures daily endure.

The information above is identical to what has happened in Australia concerning the White Tailed Spider and as a result many of these creatures were unnecessarily demonised which subsequently affected their status.

 When reporting on such emotive subjects perhaps more thorough research into the subject may provide the general public with an informed assessment on how to respond such as provided with a bee or wasp sting.  


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 took the plunge and started a 'Watcher of the Skies' blog of her own as part of the CFZ Bloggo Network.


The Gonzo Daily - Tuesday
As regular readers will know, we are going away for a few days tomorrow. We shall be seeing Peter Gabriel in Manchester, visiting my lovely stepdaughter, having a cuppa with the also lovely Carol Hodge (aka Miss Crystal Grenade) and collecting Mama from Oakham. We shall arrive back at the ranch sometime on Saturday. However, Graham is also away and Richard has the computer skills of a brush tailed porcupine with learning difficulties, so - although there will be new blogs posted at 12:00 noon each day - for the first time since 2009 there will be no email notifications of blogs posted. We will catch up over the weekend. Gonzo Weekly, will be out on Sunday as usual...
Another visit to our old friend Thom the World Poet.

*  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 54 who - together with his orange cat (who is currently on sick leave in Staffordshire) and two very small kittens (one of whom is also orange) puts it all together from a converted potato shed in a tumbledown cottage deep in rural Devon which he shares with various fish, and sometimes a small Indian frog. 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 cat?


OLL LEWIS: Yesterday's News Today

Wednesday 23rd
Yesterday’s News Today

Happy Mole Day to chemists everywhere. For those of you who are perplexed by this I should point out that this was first thought up in the USA and everything will become clear. If you're still perplexed then I should point out that the most important time on Mole Day is two minutes past six. If you're still perplexed then I should point out that you should have paid more attention at school when they taught you about chemistry and that there are approximately 6.02×1023 particles in one Mole. If you're still perplexed look at the date and time in American format at 6.02 am or pm today. This year's Mole day theme is 'The Ani-Mole Kingdom” by the way.
And now the news:
  • Gorillas reintroduced into Congo & Gabon are thriv...
  • Humpback whale calf dies in shark net on Sydney be...
  • Bugs Not Gay, Just Confused
  • Cockroach farming is a booming business in China
  • The 70 miaows purr hour cat: Feline survives trip ...
  • Cardiff Giant Discovered 144 Years Ago This Week

  • BADGER killers wallow in profound confusion

  • What's the point of chemistry? To blow things up in the most fun ways possible of course!