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, May 05, 2009


As you are aware, or at least as you are aware if you read this bloggo on a regular basis, we are at present making a movie on a budget of practically nothing. My executive producers (my darling wife, and dear Emma) are chasing around the countryside trying to get stuff I need for as little as possible, but there is one thing that has stumped them.

I want an animator.

No, I am not trying to emulate Peter Jackson and do some enormously complicated bit opf CGI on a Cecil B de Mille time scale, but I need two sequences animated, and I wonder if there is anyone out there who can help me.

Email me on jon@eclipse.co.uk or telephone 01237 431413

RICHARD FREEMAN: Odd Tales from Herodotus Part Two - The Phoenix

Herodotus was a Greek Historian who lived c 490-415 BC. He traveled widely in what was the then knowN world. He was the first person to systematically collect data, test it in as much as he could and present it in a narrative to the reader. He is widely thought of the Father of history, ethnography and anthropology. Though many of his stories were thought of as hard to believe much of what he has written about as since been shown to be accurate.

“ Another bird is the phoenix; I have not seen a phoenix myself, except in paintings, for it is very rare and visits the country (so they say at Heliopolis) only at intervals of 500 year, on the occasion of the death of the parent-bird. To judge by the paintings, its plumage is partly golden, partly red, and in shape and size it is exactly like an eagle. There is story told about the phoenix which I do not find credible; it brings its parent in myrrh all the way from Arabia and buries its body in the temple of the Sun. To perform this feat, the bird first shapes some myrrh into a sort of egg as big as it finds, by testing, that it can carry; then hollows the lump out, outs its father inside and smears myrrh over the hole. The egg shaped lump is then just of the same weight as it was originally. Finally it is carried by the bird to the temple of the Sun in Egypt. Such, at least, is the story".

RICHARD FREEMAN: Odd tales from Herodotus Part Three - Flying Snakes

Herodotus was a Greek Historian who lived c 490-415 BC. He traveled widely in what was the then known world. He was the first person to systematically collect data, test it in as much as he could and present it in a narrative to the reader. He is widely thought of the Father of history, ethnography and anthropology. Though many of his stories were thought of as hard to believe much of what he has written about as since been shown to be accurate.

“There is a place in Arabia more or less opposite the city of Buto, were I went to try to get information on flying snakes. On my arrival I saw their skeletons in incalculable numbers; they were piled in heaps, some of which were big, other smaller, others smaller still, and here were many piles of them. The place were these bones lie is a narrow mountain pass leading to a broad plain which joins onto the plain of Egypt, and it is said that when the winged snakes fly to Egypt from Arabia in spring, the ibises meet them at the entrance to he pass and do not let them get through, but kill hem. According to the Arabians, this service is he reason for the great reverence with which the ibis is regarded in Egypt and the Egyptians themselves admit the truth of what they say. The ibis is jet black all over; it has legs like a crane’s, a markedly hooked beak, and is about the size of a crake. That, at any rate, is what the black ibis is like-the kind namely that attacks the winged snakes, there is, however, another sort, more commonly found in inhabited districts; this has a bald head and neck and is white except for the head, throat, wing-tips and rump, which are jet black; its legs and beak are similar to those of the black ibis. The winged snakes resemble watersnakes; their wings are not feathered, but are like a bat’s.”

Herodotus also mentions these snakes in a passage on the collection of spices.

“… Arabia is the only place that produces frankincense, myrrh, cassia, cinnamon, and gum called Ledanon. All these except myrrh, cause the Arabians a lot of trouble to collect. When they gather frankincense, they burn storax (the gum which is brought into Greece by the Phoenicians) in order to raise a smoke to drive off the flying snakes; these snakes are he same ones hat attempt to invade Egypt, are small in size and of various colours, and great numbers of them keep guard over all the trees which bear the frankincense, and the only way to get rid of them is by smoking them out with storax.”

“When the Arabians go out to collect cassia, they cover their bodies and faces, all but the eyes, with ox hides and other skins. The plan grows in a shallow lake which, together with the ground round it, is infested by winged creatures very like bats, which screech alarmingly and are very pugnacious. They have to be kept from attacking the men’s eyes while they are cutting the cassia.”

It is unclear in this last passage, if the bat-like creatures and the winged snakes are one in the same.


These photographs were taken in Northam, North Devon by Matt Osborne on his camera phone..


Hi Jon,

While watching youtube, I discovered a Costa Rican sloth sanctuary
and thought you might be interested in it for the CFZ blog. It's the
next place that I want to visit.

Talk soon,

The Avarios Sloth Sanctuary at Costa Rica

Videos taken at Avarios. Warning! Baby sloths are irresistible.



I've already published two blogs on this site dealing with the curious appearance of a "Lizard Man" cryptid in the North of England. The creature, which I have been told Northumbrians call The Splitback Demon (although I've only the testimony of a singular Northumbrian up to now regarding this) looks pretty much like a cross between a1950s "B" movie reject and a diminutive Godzilla. Still, as cryptids go that'll do for me.

To be honest, and to quote Alice, the tale just gets curiouser and curiouser.

The Splitback Demon is, from what I can gather, an anthropomorphic reptilian-human cross with a mane of vivid-red hair, a long tail and a rather ostentatious spinal fin. He also sports two red, glowing eyes, scaly skin, four-inch long talons, a purple-red cockscomb and a dog-like snout. He is said to be about 5ft tall, which suits me fine as a 50ft tall version, although much easier to spot, would be a damned site harder to lasso.

Seriously, though, I'm leaning towards the idea that their may be a degree of credibility to the two eye-witness testimonies which I've secured first-hand to date. I'm currently compiling a detailed report – which is looking more and more like a book manuscript with every passing day – but still need more anecdotal evidence regarding other, similar creatures which may have been seen preferably (but not exclusively) in the British Isles. I'm pleading with ANY CFZ supporters who may know of lizard-man type stories to send them to me, please, with their sources.

And here's another funny thing, as if lizardy-type blokes running around the Northumbrian peat bogs wasn't funny enough; It has recently come to my attention that around the time Witness B, as he prefers to be called, espied his lizard-man, another unconnected witness had an extremely odd UFO encounter at exactly the same location. I really didn't want to go down the UFO-Reptilian route with my research, as I've hitherto thought it to be a load of old baloney, but I wouldn't be much of an investigator if I deliberately turned down the opportunity to glean insight into the matter simply because it didn't juxtapose well with my philosophical leanings. The truth is that the location where Witness B saw his lizard-man is so obscure and remote that two unconnected Fortean encounters occurring there at the same time is a hard concept for me to swallow.

Soooo….I'm also looking for accounts of lizard-man appearances that are ostensibly connected with UFO sightings. Now I'm going to have to be tactful here, but – how shall I put this – I'm not incredibly keen to hear tales of the late Queen Mum being a human-munching reptoid, Gordon Brown being the secret head of an Intergalactic Council which is trying to take over the earth on behalf of the lizard-men, etc. (My, how times change. It's only a couple of months ago that our own Mr. Downes was being accused of this and worse).

Anyway, I think you'll get my drift. I'm looking for tales of lizard-men and, if there are any, a UFO connection to them. If there isn't a UFO connection, then plain ol' lizard-men stories will do.
For your edification I've attached an artist's impression of what the Splitback Demon allegedly looks like. Witness A tells me that looking at it brings his arms out in goose-bumps, which, I think, means that it is reasonably accurate.

If you should bump into this dude whilst out shopping, or whatever, please tell him to get in touch.

OLL LEWIS: Yesterday’s News Today


It’s time once more for a digest of the latest cryptozoology news update from the CFZ cryptozoology news blog. Oh, and it goes without saying there’ll be a bad pun to cap it off too.

Reaching New Heights: Dog Climbs Ladder
Two Berkshire towns plagued by rats which have become immune to poison
Animals live in historic habitat in Illinois park
Dolphins maintain round-the-clock visual vigilance