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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Friday, May 22, 2009

THE BIG THREE: Richard Muirhead


Richard Muirhead is an old friend of the CFZ. I have been friends with him for 40 years now, since we were kids together in Hong Kong. He is undoubtedly one of the two best researchers I have ever met; he and Nigel Wright both have what Charlie Fort would have no doubt called a wild talent; a talent for going into a library, unearthing a stack of old newspapers, and coming back with some hitherto overlooked gem of arcane knowledge. Twice a week he wanders into the Macclesfield Public Library and comes out with enough material for a blog post, but he is presently in Hungary doing important butterfly conservation work..

I guess my favourite mystery animal,( and I place that deliberately in the singular, as it may have been one of the last of its kind) is the Giant Flying Snake of Namibia, or south-east Namibia`s Keetmanshoop region of karst-like hillocks and caves, to be precise.

I first “discovered” mention of this cryptid in 1995 or 1996 in the basement of a second hand book shop in Charing Cross Road in London , where I picked up `These Wonders To Behold` Lawrence Green, (Howard Timmins, Cape Town, 1959) but it is mentioned in my essay on this cryptid in the 1996 CFZ Yearbook. I am pretty sure that,apart from Karl Shuker`s writings and cryptozoological encyclopaedia, the Namibian Flying Snake is only mentioned briefly in Searching for Hidden Animals, by Roy Mackal. (Cadogan Books, London, 1980) But note, this is only as far as I am aware.

The interesting thing about this Flying Snake is its resemblance to a dragon in several respects, e.g. its habitation, on hillocks, its ability to fly, or rather, glide, its tendency to leave a noxious odour or slime. It also seems to straddle the boundary between “paranormal” and “flesh and blood” entities, rather like Sasquatch turning up in unlikely places like the Bible-Belt in the U.S.A. where their behaviour is very un apelike, apparantly.

Other interesting features of the Namibian Flying Snake is the light on its head,which hovers above the ground, rather like a U.F.O. is said to hover above the ground with a light in the developed world. Finally, just what was Courtenay-Latimer's role in photographing the cryptids tracks after it attacked the young farmer`s son near Keetmanshoop in c.1942?

The living sbare-tooth tiger or tigre de montaigne and its more aquatic relatives is another favourite of mine. This is because I find it pretty amazing, a real prehistoric survivor if there ever was one. Unfortunately, as far as I know, there is very slender evidence for its existence, at least from Western sources. Who knows, perhaps in some dusty Chadian or French library, there are old newspaper cuttings. Or perhaps a genius with Google Earth will some day be able to track down its lair?

I first came across mention of the tigre de montaigne in Karl Shuker`s Mystery Cats of the World and was immediately hooked. Little is known about it, except its fierce roar and its banded red and white coat. Chad is a dangerous place,with warring factions and tension along the border with Sudan to the east. It is said to inhabit caves in the mountainous northern region along the border with Libya and near the central town of Mongo. I hope one day to look for it. Meanwhile those interested can check out my web sites.

The tatzelwurm is a somewhat sinister bipedal lizard or salamander like animal said to inhabit mountainous regions of Switzerland,Austria and southern Germany. No definite photograph of the pale cryptid exist, but interestingly, the testimony of Maurice Masse outside the Natural History Museum in Paris in 1934 as to the appearance of the tatzelwurm,(as reported by Roger Hutchings in Alpine Enigma, Animals & Men 2 pp 20-21) particularly that they only have forelegs, is born out by documents in French such as `Un Animal Inconnu Dans Les Alpes` by Willy Ley in La Nature, Paris, June 1st 1938 pp 366-367 and also in French `Le Tatzelwurm` by Georges Hardy in Tribune de Geneve November 28th 1969, `Portrait-Robot` by the same author February 6th 1970 and finally `Cherchez le Tatzelwurm! Also by G.Hardy March 13th 1970.

The second of these articles includes a drawing of a tatzelwurm which shows a tadpole like creature with beady eyes and only two forelegs! Unfortunately the quality of the drawings is too poor to reproduce here, but I will give a translation from the French of the part of the article which was headlined:`Schema le plus simplife de la forme de l`animal` or `The simplist plan of the outline of the animal`

An approximate form and colour of the body and the eyes, as I got to see them unexpectedly on the road, from the top of the village of Mordes, which goes to Forts de Dailly, to the right, an ancient walled fort, under the bushes. Not far from there are damp, humid caves and I think that the animal itself may have emerged from one of the caves (?), crossing the road, which was sunny this mid-September day, but cool, to go to the other side of the road, where, if I remember clearly, vegetable gardens and grass/lawns (were?) It was a beautiful day in Lavey-les-bains (hot) quite cool in Mordes alt.1,160m. The Tatzelwurm was on the road,dry but cool, three quarters across the road, on its walk, towards the orchard (?) Maybe he likes vegetables? As I told you during the interview I felt so disgusted by this beast that I did not stay in its neighbourhood. The colour was pinky white, like a foetues (i.e. a juvenile?- R.Muirhead`s note). Staring round protruding eyes surrounded by a pronounced black circle gave to the animal a provoking and threateningly ugly appearance.

The article gives two drawings of the Tatzelwurm, one pale and one dark. This article was translated from the French into English by Ronan Pellen in Cork in the mid 1990s, who insisted he was a Breton, not French.


As you know, Oll has been working on the archiving project since early February, and he has just started the Mystery Cat section. This fourth trenche is mostly from the mid 1990s, but with a few from much earlier, and mainly covers Worcestershgire and Scotland mystery cats


LIZ CLANCY: Art Exhibition with Cryptozoological Leanings

I FINALLY found the cable to plug my phone into a computer so here are the photos from that exhibition I've been promising you for the last 90 years.

The artist is Helen Fielding. She's from Lees and grew up there and all the paintings are of things that happened in her childhood during the Edwardian era.

AFTER THE DAY OF JUDGEMENT depicts Belle Vue Zoo animals in Lees the day after a great fire in 1910 while the artist's aunt tells stories. Apparently the animals escaped from the zoo during the fire. One the tigers actually belonged to a private individual called Biddy Murphy, though.

MISTY NOVEMBER depicts Helen Fielding in some woods in Blackpool. Her brother saw a tiger in the bushes and thought it was their neighbour, Biddy's tiger. This was in 1906. Since Biddy's tiger was still in Lees, either the little boy imagined it or this was a big cat sighting! (Hopefully the latter!) Anyhow, the pictures are attached and for any CFZ readers that might live up North, the exhibition is open in Touchstones, Rochdale town centre till 1st June.

Look after yourself and God bless

Lizzy xxx

RICHARD FREEMAN: Big Brother is Screwing You


There has been no fanfare, you won't have seen anything in the news about it. It is being slipped in on the quiet, under the radar, like most liberty eroding atrocities this right wing government is imposing on it's populace.

On page 25 of issue 1236 of Private Eye is a worrying little story.

If it is true, then as of November 2010 all authors (privately published ones included) will be legally required to apply to the Independent Safeguarding Authority (sounds like someting out of '1984'). Any author who gives more than one lecture per year will need to be vetted by the ISA for clearence in case there are children or 'vulnerable adults' in the audience. The check costs a minimum of £64. Anyone allowing an author who has not been checked by the ISA to speak will be commiting a criminal offence.

Can you imagine the effect that will have on conventions like the Weird Weekend, where most speakers are also authors? No-one will want to pay £64 plus just for the pleasure of speaking at a conference.

Apparently the new law has been gestating ever since the Soham murders. Ths cynical, power crased, Neo-Stalinist government are playing on our fears of paedophiles to strip away our civil liberties. In a world so crazed and paranoid (thanks to media frenzy) about child safety, few will stand up to them. The government is sneaking this law in so they can gain more control over the masses and raise more cash from a pointless registration scheme.

A former Children's Laureate told Private Eye "This could put an end to pretty well all festivals, launches, school and libary visits, bookshop signings and lectures. I certainly am not going to apply for a check of this sort in order to stand on a dias in front of 250 children with ten or so members of staff in attendance, to ensure I do not rape any of them."

This threatens us all; we need to make a stand and not allow this attrocity to become law. We need to make a noise about this in any way we can. If anyone has any suggestions or ideas let us know. We can't lie back whilst the government's jackboot grinds our faces into the dust.

Is this Great Britain? Its sounding more like Burma or North Korea every day. Are we going to stand by and let this happen?

To quote the great Alan Moore "People should not be aftraid of their goverments. Govenments should be aftraid of their people."

OLL LEWIS: Yesterday’s News Today

Yesterday’s News Today

Today along with the cryptozoology news update you have the ‘fun’ of getting to know my tea of the week. This weeks tea is the simple but effective PG Tips, among the greatest of English breakfast blends, it makes a very refreshing morning pick-me-up. And now, the news:

Rogue deer smashes window, invades house
Twitter's latest star a cat called Sockington
Snail boy in world record attempt
Endangered right whales found where presumed extinct
Blood bank for dogs seeks donors
Rare white seal caught on camera
Police helicopter hunts for lion
Wind turbine noise suspected of killing 400 goats
If I were a farmer that might really get my ‘goat’.

CFZ PEOPLE: Matthew Williams's Mum has died

Matthew Williams is a dear friend of ours and has been star of quite a few Weird Weekends. I also lampooned him humorously in several of my books; something which he took with good humour. He also owns the grooviest shirt in all Forteana (something which my dear spouse ardently admires).

It is with sadness, therefore that I have to announce that his mother has just died. He writes:

"My long suffering mum passed away today and seeing as she is probably the reason you have to deal with the arrogant circlemaker you see before you today I thought I would let my friends know this. Im wondering what she will make of my odd existence now she can see it all in glorious detail from the etheric realm. I think I will hgave to come out of retirement and dedicate a crop circle to her. Enjoy the journey mum, you are free now."

Our thoughts and prayers are with you mate. God bless...

SYD HENLEY: Urban fox begging for food from pensioner

Hi Jon,

I am still unable to get on to the Bloggo to post replies etc. I have not got a clue what the problem is, I have checked my computer settings and have created new Google accounts, all to no avail. If anyone has a suggestion, it would be much appreciated.

Anyway, maybe you or the other guys can sort these out and post them for me.

The first is a link to a delightful You-Tube video of a wild urban fox that begs for food. It is really cute and funny.

I hope all is well with you and the gang.

Kind regards,

TIM MATTHEWS: Are big cat hunters the new UFOlogists?

Tim Matthews is one of my best friends, and also - coincidentally - one of the most controversial figures in contemporary forteana. He has been involved with the CFZ for nearly a decade now, raising eyebrows wherever he goes. Now he has started to write fiction. But like other works of fiction produced by CFZ worthies, it is fiction where the lines of reality and make-believe meet.

In the distance the threatening sound of a Police helicopter and the all-powerful beam of Big Brother’s searchlight hitting the ground below. A while away the flashing blue light on the vehicles the mystery cat almost hit suggest an incident in the making...Panicked police officers to-ing and fro-ing in a frantic search for their elusive pray.

200 miles away, sat in front of a computer, a Big Cat Expert looks admiringly at his camouflage gear, his shelf of books indicating his fascination in such unusual subject matter, his stomach heaving over his jeans. By the bin in the corner of his darkened room a pile of Macdonalds cartons indicate a less than healthy attitude to diet but he needn’t worry about such matters as he is King Of The ABC Forum! From here he can control his dozen troops and think of himself as The General.

Ah yes! Sightings, and more sightings! Sightings of something, four-legged. Must be an ABC even if any resulting pictures and publicity could be evidence of nothing more than a local cat photographed at an unusual angle or seen by somebody who is not given to gathering effective data on animals mystery...or otherwise.

And how, a local reporter asked him last week during an interview for the Little Chiddington Gazette, can these thousands of sightings be taken at all seriously given the almost total lack of photographic evidence for their existence. “But the sightings, and, most of all the peeeeeeople,” answers The General shuddering at this oikish journalists questions. “They can’t allll be wrong,” he adds, wondering at the disbelief on show from the man across the table at the local cafe.

“We need to meet somewhere anonymous,” the General had told the journo. “Better that way. I don’t want too much public recognition. Especially not since the book was published.” (Total sales so far, 36.)

Sightings. Yes. Proof. All those people, over all those years seeing.....something. Just like UFOs. Sightings. Yes. Proof. All those people, over all those years seeing...something. Ah, we are caught in a time loop or are we repeating history? What would the General say if he’d met himself on a remote hillside with his camouflaged friends back in the 1990s by Ashurst Beacon Watching The Skies!

1999. A helicopter passes overhead but it’s....just....so...weird. GASP! Further proof and all those people can’t be wrong. Perhaps, as one commentator seriously suggested, it is really an alien spaceship posing as helicopter. “They’d never think of that.” Thousands of sightings. A whole lot of “evidence” proving what exactly?

2009. A helicopter passes over South Gloucestershire. It is chasing a mystery animal but it doesn’t come from the local zoo in Bristol. All their animals are safe and sound, says the zookeeper. What has been seen has “Large paws, a long tail and a loping walk". Proof. Sightings.

The General reaches for his notebook then logs on to the ABC Forum.

“Would you answer my question,” asked the reporter. “About all these sightings. I’d like to include some sort of visual evidence in my article.”

“Ah yes well we presented you with a good photo of us In Country”, replies The General. “Such pictures are few and far between!”

“And why do you think that is,” he is asked.”

“Because there is a Paranormal element at work,” insists The General.