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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Thursday, May 08, 2014


What has Corinna's column of fortean bird news got to do with Cryptozoology?

Well, everything actually!

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. 

CRYPTOLINK: Mystery Big Cats in Japan’s Lost World

A word about cryptolinks: we are not responsible for the content of cryptolinks, which are merely links to outside articles that we think are interesting (sometimes for the wrong reasons), usually posted up without any comment whatsoever from me. 

Within Japan’s Yaejima Island chain, southwest of Okinawa, lies the mysterious, remote Iriomote Island. The sparsely populated island is a land of dense mangrove swamps and unexplored, impenetrable, mist shrouded rain forests. It is easy for one to look upon this landscape and think they are in the deepest parts of the Amazon, or the jungles of Africa rather than in Japan. The island is home to many endemic species of flora and fauna that have evolved in isolation and are found nowhere else on Earth. If ever there was some forgotten lost world in Japan, then this mysterious place is it.

Iriomote Island

The island is already home to one unique enigmatic animal, the rarely seen Iriomote wildcat (Prionailurus bengalensis iriomotensis), an indigenous wildcat about the size of a house cat which was discovered in 1965. It is thought to be distantly related to leopard cats of the Asian mainland, from which the species diverged and subsequently evolved in isolation on the island long ago, and is often referred to as a “living fossil.” The Iriomote wildcat inhabits mostly the remote jungles of the island and is so rare and elusive that most long term residents of the island have never even seen one. Indeed, many residents are not even aware that such a cat exists. Fewer than 100 of the Iriomote wildcats are thought to exist in the wild.

Iriomote wildcat

If accounts are anything to go by, then the Iriomote wildcat is not the only wildcat species to call the island home. In the thick interior of the island, a much larger cat is said to stalk through jungles.

Although Iriomote island wasn’t inhabited by humans in earnest until after World War II, hunters on the island occasionally brought back stories of encountering mysterious big cats roaming the wilderness long before the smaller known Iriomote wildcat was even discovered. The mystery cats were said to be anywhere from 1 meter (3.3 feet) to up to 2 meters (6.6 feet) in length, and similar in appearance to a leopard or jaguar, with prominent spots covering the body, although some reports describe stripes more like a tiger.

A common feature of sightings is the cat’s exceptionally long tail, which is described as being longer than the creature’s body length. The cats were known for being extremely agile climbers, with some accounts describing how they seemed to almost swing from tree to tree like some sort of primate rather than cat. The cats were also said to be powerful jumpers, able to leap up to 5 meters (16.5 feet) from a standing position.

These large cats came to be known by locals as the yamapikarya, which roughly translates into “the one in the mountain whose eyes shine,” as well as the dai yamaneko, or “giant mountain cat.” In addition to reports of mysterious large cats brought back by hunters before and during the early days of human habitation on the island, soldiers stationed on Iriomote Island during World War II also reported seeing the Yamapikarya on occasion, and there are even accounts of soldiers killing the beasts.

Artistic depiction of the Yamapikarya.

The Yamapikarya is still occasionally sighted into the modern day.

One such sighting occurred in the summer of 1978, when a hunter reported seeing a large cat lounging up in a tree. The eyewitness described the cat as having spots that were “oddly shaped,” and a long tail that hung down “like a vine.” After observing the cat for several minutes, the hunter reports that the cat seemed to suddenly realize it was not alone, after which it bounded down the tree and into the forest with what he said was extraordinary speed and agility. The cat reportedly did not make any sound during the encounter.


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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 are publishing a regular round-up of the stories as they come in. 

The worldwide mystery cat phenomenon (or group of phenomena, if we are to be more accurate) is not JUST about cryptozoology. At its most basic level it is about the relationship between our species and various species of larger cat. That is why sometimes you will read stories here that appear to have nothing to do with cryptozoology but have everything to do with human/big cat interaction. As committed Forteans, we believe that until we understand the nature of these interactions, we have no hope of understanding the truth that we are seeking. 

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    The Gonzo Daily - Thursday
    Yesterday was a very pleasant and productive one, mostly during which I wandered purposefully through the sacred groves of Academe, tutoring Jessica for her English Lit GCSE (and getting more ad more disillusioned with the current education system as I did so). In the evening two delightful young ladies (Chloe and Sophie) came down to record a song they had written, and there was bean lasagna for tea. Things don't get much better than this.
    Today, however, is not one I have been looking forward to. I have a serious meeting with my diabetic nurse at 2:30, which will probably result in me being on insulin, because my sugar levels rise despite me being a pretty good chap and behaving myself dietwise.
    This June sees a very special anniversary – no, in fact it sees two special anniversaries; Forty years ago, in 1974, Wally Hope started the Stonehenge free festival, and thirty years ago, in 1984, was the last event at the stones before Thatcher demolished it.
    Our good friend Oz Hardwick has suggested that – in the same way as we did a montage of reader’s memories for the Hawkeaster event – we do a collection of memories from people who have been at the last Stonehenge festival.  However, as we had already invited Wally Dean to write a retrospective of the first Stonehenge festival, it seemed like a jolly good idea to extend Oz Hardwick’s concept and get memories, photographs, and even film from those people who attended either of them. These will appear in the summer solstice edition of Gonzo Weekly.  What, you don’t know who Gonzo Weekly are?  Wash your mind out with soap and check out www.gonzoweekly.com.
    Cream Drummer Ginger Baker to Release First New Album in 16 years
    Never One for Striped Trousers: Talking Shop with Chris Squire
    This week's issue of Gonzo Weekly is here. I was up until 4:00 on Saturday morning finishing it, accompanied (except for the last ten minutes) by my wonderful wife and helpmeet Corinna. This issue (up at www.gonzoweekly.com) features - amongst other things - Rick Wakeman at the Royal Albert Hall in exclusive words and pictures, interviews with Keith Levene the founding gunslinger of both The Clash and PiL, René van Commenée (aka Mr Averell) and David Jackson (ex of Van Der Graaf Generator, and the legendary Italian prog band PFM. There is also a collection of more news, reviews, views, interviews and golden mantled tree kangaroos (OK, no arobeal macropods from Irian Jaya, but I got carried away with things that rhymed with OOOOS) than you can shake a stick at. And the best part is IT's ABSOLUTELY FREE!!!
    The full list of artists covered this time is: Rick Wakeman, Roger Daltrey, Bob Dylan, Elvis Presley, Wilko Johnson, Galahad, Ginger Baker, Keith Levene, Clepsydra, Iona, Erik Norlander, Steve Ignorant, Beatles, Marillion, Strange Fruit, Canterbury Sans Frontières, Sub Reality Sandwich, Bob Hoskins, Jean Philippe Rykiel, Joey Molland, David Jackson, René van Commenée, Pierre Moerlen’s Gong, Clearlight, Planet Earth Rock ‘n’ Roll Orchestra, Kevin Ayers and the Whole World, Mr Averell, Xtul, PFM, Pattie Boyd, Yes, Steve Howe, 1D, Goresoerd, Hell, In Process, Indoctrine, Manegarm
    These issues (and the current one) can be downloaded at www.gonzoweekly.com if you prefer. If you have problems downloading, just email me and I will add you to the Gonzo Weekly dropbox. Information is power chaps, we have to share it!
    To make sure that you don't miss your copy of future issues make an old hippy a happy chappy and subscribe

    *  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: www.gonzo-multimedia.blogspot.com/2012/11/all-gonzo-news-wots-fit-to-print.html
    * 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 an orange kitten named after a song by Frank Zappa 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 kitten?

    LINDSAY SELBY: Has the Galloway Puma Left a Paw print?

    Has the Galloway Puma Left a Paw print?
    There  have been big cat  sightings reported since 1950s in the Dumfries and Galloway area of Scotland. The cat was dubbed the Galloway Puma by the press after Canadian tourists claimed to have seen an animal which resembled a cougar near Kirroughtree, south-east of Newton Stewart in the late 1990s. They  saw the animal whilst returning from a  walk in the Galloway Forest. It was also  seen  by locals in Newton Stewart .It was  described by most as black, about the  size of a Labrador dog, with a long tail and yellow eyes. Some have described it as sandy coloured, so is there more than one big cat roaming the countryside in this area?
    Many people, such as local farmers and Forestry workers, reported seeing  a big black cat throughout the region. In June 2001, a young woman who was walking her dog near Newton Stewart golf course, was shaken by what she described as a "large black cat, bigger than an Alsatian", springing  out at her on the path .The animal ran away after her dog began barking and growling at it.
    There were reports of attacks on livestock:
    In one of the 21 attacks in Dumfries and Galloway, a report of injured livestock read: “One sheep was examined by an inspector from the SSPCA who found the injuries to be unusual and not consistent with an attack from a dog. An attack from wild boar or a large cat could be possibilities.”
    Warnings were issued:
    By Frank Ryan

    POLICE have issued a "steer clear" warning after a series of big cat sightings in south Scotland. There have been four recent reports of an animal described as a lynx, puma or panther in Dumfriesshire. It was seen by two women in Auldgirth, golfers at nearby Thornhill, a man walking his dogs beside the River Nith in the village, and by another man in Sanquhar.
    Bob McGoran, deputy head at St Joseph's College, Dumfries, earlier reported seeing an animal like a
    North American lynx at John-stonebridge, near the M74.

    The police took the threat seriously.
    More recently  in  2013:

    Another big cat sighting Published on the 14 August 2013 Holidaymakers staying at Kirroughtee Hotel outside Newton Stewart had a close encounter with one of Galloway’s best kept secrets last Saturday morning - an elusive big cat.

    Les Gill and his partner Linda were looking out of their bedroom window when they both clearly saw the animal in the hotel grounds. Les said: ”We were standing at the window looking out when we saw it. I lived in Africa so I know what a big cat looks like. It was about four foot long from nose to tail and the tail was long and curled upwards. It was about three foot high and was sandy coloured. It was 60 yards away from us and it was visible for about 25 to 30 seconds.“This was about eight o’ clock in the morning as we were both stunned. My i-phone was in the car or a could have taken a photograph. I just felt I should contact the paper to tell you what we saw as there could be children playing nearby.”In the past four years 20 big cat sightings have been reported to The Galloway Gazette.

    In November 2013:

    A couple walking in woods near Carronbridge say they came face to face with a mysterious big cat.Craig Johnstone, 27, and his girlfriend Gillian Kennedy, 26, were staying at Trigony House Hotel near Thornhill last weekend.They took their dog for a walk on Sunday morning when they came across a “large, black cat” lying down staring at them.Stunned Craig said: “It was around 50 metres away from us and its head measured approximately one and a half feet from the ground.“It just stared at us for 30 seconds.“Gillian panicked and moved away. I went with her but went back after a few seconds to see if I could get a better picture but it was away.”Craig described the strange creature as being “very stalky, jet black with small rounded ears”.

    It continues :Craig and Gillian aren’t the only people to have spotted big cats in the region.Last July, 22-year-old Samantha Garden was on her way to work in Lockerbie when she noticed a strange looking creature standing in the middle of the road near Hoddom Bridge.In January, 2012 Aaron Halliday and Nathan Crosbie spotted a big cat similar to a panther in a field near Dalbeattie.
    And in 2011, three mysterious cat sightings were reported in the space of a month. Dan Alexander, of Dumfries, claimed to have seen a creature on the A75 near Newton Stewart.Before that, Dumbarton lorry driver John Spence said he saw two big cats dart in front of his vehicle on the same road near Creetown.And on the same day, Janet Davies spotted an animal near the quarry at Tynron which she called a panther.

    According to police, big cat sightings are not uncommon in the area but no creature has ever been traced to verify the claims.

    A couple of weeks ago, a person known to me who wishes to remain anonymous, sent me this photo of a large paw print .The person was walking a dog on the Lochinch area  when he came across some footprints and took a snap with a phone. It could be a badger or could it be the Galloway puma? What do you think?
    photo to go here attached

    NB. Lochinch is a private estate owned by the Earl of Stairs. At present there are shooting parties on the estate so if anyone wishes to investigate please contact the estate office so you don’t risk getting shot in mistake for game,  

    OLL LEWIS: Yesterday's News Today

    On this day in 1794 the father of modern chemistry Antoine Lavoisier was executed by guillotine in France after being convicted the same day on false charges.
    And now the news:

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  • One of Lavoisier's many discoveries was that of of the role oxygen plays in combustion, so here's a video of the sort of fun you can have with flames and liquid oxygen: