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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Sunday, May 31, 2009


Our breeding programme for yellow bellied girardinus (Girardinus falcatus), a charming little livebearer from Cuba, has succeeded far beyond our original hopes, and we are over-run with the little fellers.

We are now looking to swap some of our surplus for anything else interesting. If you have bred something yourself that you would like to swap, or indeed just want to buy some at a quid each, please ring me on 01237 431413.

I would prefer you to come and collect them in person, but transport could probably be arranged if necessary..


My past has come back to haunt me:

But, unlike more well-known TV shows which purport to be cutting-edge cryptozoology, but in fact are just a way of exploiting the cryptozoological community for a fast buck, these people paid me. I am also rather proud because I directed all the UK shoots myself...

THE CATS OF UPPER MINSTER: Episode Six - The Kids are United

The other week, as an amusing one-off Tim Matthews, wrote a silly short story spoofing some of the more ridiculous exploits of various self-styled big cat researchers over the years.
It was so popular that he wrote another one, and now - by public demand - it has become a serial. Every other day will see an episode of Timmo's new Fortean soap opera The Cats of Upper Minster. And having read the first few episodes I can confirm that it is bloody smashing and highly amusing. "I'll carry on until it stops being funny" says Tim, and you can't say fairer than that!

Robin and Frieda Fox were twins aged 12 so they did lots together and always knew what each other was thinking. A weird kind of mental connection meant they were often ahead of the game but their quirkiness and love for country living meant they spent a lot of time together, and not always being too well behaved! Their mother, Sheila, kept them at the cottage during school time and preferred to homeschool them and when she couldn’t teach them she would find someone who could.

The children had a younger brother and sister, Tom and Florence, aged nine and ten, who, like their older siblings, got bored very easily when the daily fayre of cooking, cleaning, organic gardening and visiting local friends left them at a loose end. All four children adored country life but sometimes needed another outlet for their vast resources of energy.

So when The General and his ABC Team arrived in their village, Upper Minster, it was almost too good to be true. Florence and Tom had been rescuing chickens with their friend Arthur Barton, the youngest of that old farming family, and when they arrived in the village by the pub they were intrigued by the large white vehicle, complete with Satellite dishes, marked Channel X.

Florence saw their friend Jenny, who worked at the pub, standing amongst the gathering crowds outside, she went up to her and asked what was going on: “Hello Jen, what is all this fuss about and what is this strange vehicle doing here?”

“Hiya Florence,” said Jenny, always happy to see the eight-year-old. “I think it’s something to do with my big mouth!”

“But you have a lovely mouth, Jenny,” said Florence, knowing full well what her friend had meant. “So what did you say and how can it have led to all this excitement?”

“Well, it turns out that Tony the glass collector has a friend who chases Big Cats for a living,” said Jenny. “Or, at least, likes to pretend he does,” she added, wry smile on face. “And Marj Seaton from Higher Cottage was taking her dog for a walk when it chased off after a large black creature. That’s pretty much it! I mentioned it in the pub the other night and now all hell has broken loose.“

“Ladeeeessss and Genelmun,” said the General. Channel X was about to deliver his 3pm ego boost and Florence was standing to the side of him, just another child to be ignored as far as anyone was concerned. How wrong they, and the General in particular, were. “Well Jenny, he really is an awful man. He is loud and brutish and he is talking rubbish in any case!”

“Ohh Florence do you know something about this,” asked Jenny. “Well, I have my suspicions, Jenny”, she replied. “But I don’t know. It is all quite fun though, and I must go and tell my brothers and sisters about this. After all, not much happens around here and I know they’ll be fascinated.”

Florence rushed off back to Old Farm Cottage - where the family lived - as fast as her legs could carry her and burst in through the door to be overwhelmed by the fantastic smell of home baking. She entered with such gusto that Bertie, the smallest dog in the household and possibly the whole of Dorset, started barking frantically.

“Oh Florence,” said her mum Sheila. “What an entrance! What IS the matter darling? You’re all red and sweaty and excited. What joys have the village of Upper Minster bestowed upon you this afternoon?”

Tom, Robin and Frieda were sitting around the kitchen table eating freshly baked scones but they looked up at when Florence burst in. “Well, it’s a mystery creature and there’s a man from the television there and Jenny says people are arriving in the village to set up base in the pub and it’s all her fault,” Florence blurted out. “And it is live on TV every hour and by the weekend the village will be swarming with men in camouflage!”

“Heavens,” said Florence’s mum. “Far too much excitement for a place like this. Mystery creatures? Sounds odd to me although when I was younger I do remember seeing a large black cat a few miles away in the woods. Not seen anything since then and, anyway, in years gone by many such animals were let into the wild, escaped from travelling circuses and so on so I shouldn’t be that surprised if a few remain.”

“Oh, that’s not it at all,” exclaimed Florence. “This awful fat man is there doing interviews with this man from the TV and he says it’s shapeshifting aliens!”

“Then he is utterly foolish, my little darling,” said Sheila, smiling. “We have all lived in the country long enough to accept its many possibilities but be sensible enough to always question what we see and feel.”

“Oh mummy you’re being all clever and philosophical again,” said Frieda. “You do make me laugh!”

“Then I am veerry sorry for lowering the tone,” said mother. “Eat your scones then up to your rooms. I need some space and Jack is coming around later.”

“Wwwwwwooooooooohhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh,” said the children in unison. Jack was Sheila’s boyfriend and worked as a gardener and although the children thought he was great fun they loved annoying their mother about him - especially when he stayed over. “Well, that’s nice mummy,” said Robin. “I think we might have a lot of fun this evening!”

The children shared bedrooms, Robin with Frieda and Tom with Florence but they had a cozy room with cushions, blankets and an up to date computer that Robin spent far too much time on. He was, it was said, an annoying computer geek, but as the children had no television, they used the computer mainly to watch nature programmes via BBC I Player and find out as much as they could about local flora and fauna. Each of the children adored nature and knew a thing or two about supposed mystery animals as their mum owned several books on the subject.

Robin logged on to the Internet and looked up Big Cats Research. He looked up The General and within half an hour it was clear that this was a group full of charlatans, lunatics, oddballs and people who liked dressing up in military uniforms. “Ace,” exclaimed Robin. “A bunch of nutters and here in Upper Minster. I don’t know about you, but I feel like we should doooo something about them. But what?”

Florence had been sitting quietly next to Tom and she suddenly started crying, quite hysterically and hiding her head behind her hands. She was sobbing uncontrollably and none of them new quite why. “Oh it is so unfair,” she moaned. “So unfair. Why oh why did that beastly man have to come here of all places with his TV friends and that silly man in his burger van. It is tragic!”

“What doo you mean Florry,” asked Robin. “Why the upset. Did somebody say something to you whilst you were in the village?”

“Well, it is this,” said Tom. “I know.”

“Oh no pleeeassse don’t say,” cried Florence, “please don’t Tom. It is your and my secret. It will ruin everything. Everything!” She started crying again, uncontrollably.

“It was our special secret and now it’s all going to come out!” he continued. “Oh Florry we can’t keep it quiet now.” He turned to his brother and sisters and told them the story, whilst Florence continued to sob as if the world was ending.

“Florence and I were playing in the Hartshill Woods last year and, one day, we were climbing trees and, from our vantage point, saw something below that looked distinctly cat like. It wasn’t a house cat or even a slightly larger feral cat. It was a BIG cat, like a Puma or Lynx. Well, we sat there whispering to each other and, oddly, it didn’t seem to notice us. It looked like it was hunting. It left after a while and we climbed down of course. Well, as we were walking home in the distance, on the edge of the woods, by the fields, we saw it again. It was very beautiful and quite out of place.....it looked majestic and not the sort of animal you’d want fat pigs in camouflage chasing after....”


The children just sat there. Even Florence had stopped crying. All that could be heard was mother downstairs singing along to Tam Lin, her favourite track by Fairport Convention, as she prepared supper for herself, Jack and the children.

Eventually, Robin, the oldest by a few minutes, said, “Right. We are going to have to doo something about this. We are family and although we are much younger than The General, the TV reporters and no doubt the media types who will descend this weekend we know the land, we have plenty of free time and we’re local. Maybe it’s time for us to do something together. If there is a big cat out there the last thing it needs is the General and media exposure. It mightn’t know it, dear old thing, but it needs our help......”

And so the plotting, planning and preparations for the children’s biggest adventure of all time truly began......



I have enjoyed The Big Three, and in a way I am sad that it is over. In the next few days I shall start collating the information and at some point soon there will be some sort of a summary of information. But for the moment here are my three animals that (at least at the moment) intrigue me more than others...

1. The giant earwig of St. Helena

As regular bloggo readers will know I am fascinated by creepy crwalies. Indeed, it has to be said that my true loves are far less spectacular creatures than those of most people who reside at the CFZ (and I suspect than many of those who read the bloggo). However, as Maxy has written on a number of occvasions, the search for smaller creatures is just as validf cryptozoologically than the search for the more spectacular ones.

The Saint Helena earwig (Labidura herculeana) was the world's largest species of earwig reaching a massive 3.3in in length. It has not been seen in alive for many years and has popularly been supposed to have been extinct for many decades. The last living one was seen in 1967. However a 1995 expedition found dessicated fragments in an unexpected location and proved that they did not only live in gumwood forests and, before breeding seabirds were wiped out by introduced predators, they also lived in seabird colonies. So I believe that there is every hope for them having survived.

2. The British large tortoiseshell (Nymphalis polychloros) was a well known British butterfly until it suddenly declined and died out in the early 1980s. But sightings of them continue to the present day, and I for one am intrigued to find out whether these butterflies are the remains of the original wild population, or whether they have been introduced by well-meaning amateurs. Intriguingly Nymphalis urticae the small tortoiseshell, which was one of Britain's cvommonest butterflies is also now in terminal decline, and the rise and fall of British buterfly populations is something which is taking up a great deal of my research time at the moment. I believe that if we could understand how these fluctuations happen, and even more importantly why, we would know a hell of a lot more about the natural world than we do at the moment.

3. The British beech marten (Martes foina). Some months ago I wrote a bloggo entry about this tantalising creature, which can be found:


The reason that this animal has always intrigued me so much is that for centuries it was always accepted that both species of marten - M. martes (the pine marten) and M. foina (the beech marten) lived together quite happily across the UK, as indeed they do across much of Europe. Then in 1879, when Edward Alston published an article entitled “On the Specific Identity of the British Marten” for the Royal Zoological Society, what had hitherto been described as two separate species, became lumped together as one.

This act of taxonomoc ethnic cleansing, on the sparsest of evidence, has always seemed so unfair and unjustified that it appealed to the most Gerrard Winstanleyesque traits in me, and fuelled me with the powers of righteous anarchism. I wanted to overturn this ridiculous ruling, and restore the poor beech marten to its rightful place in the textbooks, and nothing that has happened over the last twenty years since I first started to investigate this case has changed my mind!


I was sitting in my study listening to Current 93 about ten minutes ago. My friend and neighbour Stuart Rickard has just died, and I am in somewhat of a contemplative mood. However, I am happy to report that the painted lady migration has reached Woolsery. For the first time ever I have seen three cardui flying around the flower bed outside my study window. Needless to say, as soon as I went outside with my camera they vanished, so in the meantime, here is footage of the American segment of this mass migration, only a couple of months ago.

CFZ PEOPLE: Stuart Rickard has died

Stuart Rickard, our next door neighbour, and friend of us all, has died of kidney cancer. He was 63. He was highly active in village affairs and will be very sorely missed by everyone who knew him.

At the forthcoming Weird Weekend cocktail party it will be strange not to have him rampaging about, drinking my tequila and making bad jokes. Rest in Peace old buddy.

OLL LEWIS: Yesterday’s News Today

Yesterday’s News Today

Every Sunday, along with the latest cryptozoology news stories and the increasingly lame pun, I recommend a film and provide a link to a trailer. This week I’m not going to. Regular readers of this bit, if there are any, will be aware that I am rather fond of Japanese anime and manga, and indeed that perhaps my favourite series was Fullmetal Alchemist. Well, the new series of Fullmetal Alchemist, which is a reboot that closely follows the plot of the manga, is being released in a subtitled form in weekly instalments completely free of charge on the website of the US licence holders, Funimation. So why not check it out? (There are a number of other series available on the website too, several of which contain cryptozoology related content)
And now, the news:

New panda cub surprised Thai zookeepers
Cheeky parrot steals tourist's passport
Studies shed light on collapse of coral reefs
Saving baby seals: one woman’s crusade
Man uses live swan as a weapon

Apparently the fight broke out because one of the men was ‘swanning’ around as if he owned the place.


Many of the mysteries of the past were revealed only at the beginning of the XXI century, with the help of new technologies and tools, which only a century, seemed to belong to science-fiction field map. The monster of Loch Ness has been officially recognized as being dead, and those who believe in the existence of Chupacabra , Big Foot or Montauk Monster are already a minority. The last "Big Foot" started proved to be fake. Both people around the world, and researchers have shown an increased interest for these mysterious animals. A picture or a movie of unknown creatures will do without fail round the world and will create a series of discussions and controversies on account of them.