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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Tuesday, December 23, 2014

MUIRHEAD'S MYSTERIES: Two inland alligators in the USA

“Whilst quaffing your wine and consuming mince pies,
Look over beyond where the horizon lies,
Take your mind off that agile ice-skater,
And contemplate these two inland American alligators…”

My first story comes from the San Louis Obispo Tribune of California for December 28th 1883.


William Blackheath,who has just returned from a six-months soujourn in Arizona,has brought to the Comstock the skin of what he, for want of a better name calls a Gila monster, but which is evidently that of a saurian of a different species. The skin now measures seven feet from tip to tip, and it has evidently shrunk some inches in drying. Though about the colour of an ordinary Gila monster, the reptile is more evidently a kind of inland crocodile, or more properly ,cayman, as it had not the webbed feet of the crocodile.

The strange saurian was found in a small valley in the Wheatstone Mountains.(Now known as Whetstone Mountains in Arizona-R)  When alive it stood two feet high,and its body,just back of its fore legs,was over three feet in circumference. The creature was as savage as a bull-dog, and as full of fight as a viper. It was found by the dogs of Mr Blackheath and partner. When the men arrived at the haunt of the reptile – to which they were attracted by the fierce and peculiar barking of their dogs, three in number – they found that one dog had already been killed and the others were badly cut up and covered with blood. The creature displayed such activity and was so diabolically vicious that the two prospectors feared to go near it, being armed with nothing better than a prospecting pick and a shovel with a short handle.

Finally the thing got one of the dogs by the foreleg and finding that it held on like a terrier, with no sign of loosing its hold, Mr Blackheath ran forward and struck his pick into its head. Even then the reptile held on,and it was not until it had been struck several blows with the pole of the pick that its jaws relaxed and it gave up the ghost. When the dog was released it was found that his foreleg had been broken at a point about two inches above the knee.

Mr Blackheath says he has met with several of the creatures known as Gila monsters that were two feet and two and a half feet in length, but never before or since saw,or even suspected the existence of one so large as that whose skin he possesses. It was a surprise to all the white men in that section, but some of the Indians asserted that far south in the Sierra Madre Mountains they had seen some that were as large or larger. Unfortunately , in flaying the saurian, in Mr Blackheath`s only idea was to have the hide tanned and made into boots and gaiters, therefore he did not preserve the feet otherwise the skin might be stuffed and mounted by a taxidermist. He says the teeth of the creature were over an inch in length , were sharp as needles, and in shape resembled the teeth of a shark.


Advocate ( Louisiana) June 20th 1941

McAlester ( Oklahoma). A 6-foot alligator was captured in  a flower garden at McAlester. And that`s something because McAlester is far inland from the haunts of alligators. Local experts theorized the `gator had been living in an abandoned coal mine partly filled with water.


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.


The Gonzo Daily - Tuesday
The nicest news of the day is that Saskia, our intern until a few months ago, has been accepted into Bangor University to study marine Biology. Well done honeypie. I am so proud of you I could burst, and that would not be a particularly edifying sight. For several years at Christmas Shoshannah has been trying to explain Twitter to me. I still don't get it, but Doug Harr has convinced me that I really need to get my head around the bloody thing. So, boys and girls, I am reliably informed that I should ask you all to add me on Twitter: https://twitter.com/gonzoweekly.
Also apologies to seven people who asked to join the CFZ Facebook Page. I pressed the wrong button and deleted you. Forgive me, and try again...
The Gonzo Weekly #109/10
Stevie Wonder, Fleetwood Mac, Yusuf Islam (Cat Stevens), Minstrel's Ghost, Jack the Ripper, Corky Laing, Merrell Fankhauser, Sendelica, Jon Anderson, Rick Wakeman, Yes, Hawkwind, and Daevid Allen fans had better look out!
The latest issue (The Christmas DOUBLE issue - there won't be one next week) of Gonzo Weekly (#109/10) will soon be available to read at www.gonzoweekly.com, and to download at http://www.gonzoweekly.com/pdf/. It has Yusuf and Stevie Wonder on the front cover,  and features gig reviews of both artists and Fleetwood Mac, my totally subjective top ten albums of the year, excerpts from books by Corky Laing, Merrell Fankhauser and Neil Nixon, interviews with Minstrel's Ghost about their new meisterwork based on the life of Jack the Ripper, and Sendelica, we send Tim Rundall to a desert island, and there are shows from the multi-talented Neil Nixon at Strange Fruit and from M Destiny at Friday Night Progressive, and the titular submarine dwellers are back with another episode of Sub Reality Sandwich (except its not). There is also a collection of more news, reviews, views, interviews and anteaters wishing to snooze (OK, nothing to do with dozy edentates, 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!!!
Read the previous few issues of Gonzo Weekly:

All issues from #70 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. The first 69 issues are archived there as well. Information is power chaps, we have to share it!
You can download the magazine in pdf form HERE:

* 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/…/all-gonzo-news-wots-fit
* 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 55 who - together with an infantile orange cat 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 infantile orange cat?


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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    A dark, lonely road. Dogs barking in the distance. Strange howls and screams pierce the air. And then a bigfoot crosses the road directly in front of you.

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    The cryptozoological consensus has it that Bigfoot is a primate, possibly some distant cousin to early man. Judging from the habits of other large ...


    ON THIS DAY IN 1823 - The poem "A Visit from St. Nicholas" by Clement C. Moore (" 'Twas the night before Christmas...") was published. 

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  • AND TO WHISTLE WHILE YOU WORK... (Music that may have some relevance to items also on this page, or may just reflect my mood on the day)