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...

Search This Blog



Click on this logo to find out more about helping CFZtv and getting some smashing rewards...


Wednesday, June 03, 2009

CFZ PEOPLE: Emma and Matthew

I had a breathless phone call from Emma Biddle this afternoon. She wanted to know whether she and Matthew could come and see me.

My hackles rose. I distrust surprise visits, because they usually mean something nasty has happened, and following a string of recent events some of which I have put upon the blog and some which I haven't I feared the worst.

Did I mention that I am paranoid?

They arrived ten minutes early, and I limped downstairs fearing the worst. And I got it.

My worst fears were realised. The poor girl has had some sort of brainstorm or mental aberration, and has agreed to marry Matthew. The fact that they both call me Uncle Jon just makes me feel even older and more decrepid and the knowledge that I will be a surrogate Great Uncle to their offspring when they finally arrive just makes me feel even older still.

Seriously, however, congratulations my dears. I am very fond of you separately and together you are a lovely couple. You have a surrogate Uncle's blessing...


After three years of study at Portsmouth University, my darling stepdaughter Olivia has today taken the last of her final examinations. So well done Olivia and all the best for results day.

Alas her elder sister, (my equally darling stepdaughter) Shosh, is still studying for her finals, which don't take place until the end of this month, so we take this opportunity also to wish her well in her continuing revision (with some soppy stepfatherly hugs).



1 The Mystery Animals of the British Isles: Kent by Neil Arnold (1)
2 Big Cats Loose in Britain by Marcus Matthews (-)
3= The Owlman and Others by Jonathan Downes (8)
3= Man Monkey - In Search of the British Bigfoot by Nick Redfern (-)
5= Monster - the A-Z of Zooform Phenomena by Neil Arnold (-)
5= Catflaps! by Andy Roberts (-)
5= Dark Dorset by Mark North and Robert Newland (-)
8= Dinosaurs and other Prehistoric Animals on Stamps by Dr Karl Shuker (10)
8= The Island of Paradise by Jonathan Downes (-)
8= Only Fools and Goatsuckers by Jonathan Downes (-)


1 Big Bird by Ken Gerhard (4)
2= Dr Shuker's Casebook by Dr Karl Shuker (2)
2= Extraordinary Animals Revisited by Dr Karl Shuker (4)
4 Monster - the A-Z of Zooform Phenomena by Neil Arnold (4)
5= A&M vol 1 - In the Beginning (8)
5= Man Monkey - In Search of the British Bigfoot by Nick Redfern (1)
5= In the wake of Bernard Heuvelmans by Michael Woodley (5)
5= The CFZ Yearbook 2009 (8)
9= The Island of Paradise by Jonathan Downes (8)
9= The Mystery Animals of Britain and Ireland (Northumberland) by Michael Hallowell (-)

Last month's positions in this pinky colour which I think is called cerise



This section will attempt to follow Heuvelmans' format more closely, and discuss entries by continent. This causes less confusion in this case because most of the candidates are geographically circumscribed and not cosmopolitan.

A. North America:

Various accounts, frequently in collections of supposed Bigfoot reports, seem to refer instead to giant short-faced bears (Such as the Ice age Arctodus) , especially in the Eastern United States. These are occasionally reported as killed or captured but not recognized. They are recognizable for having large, round flat faces like big cats and thus are recorded as "mystery cats" by Coleman and others; Ivan T. Sanderson and John Keel also refer to such reports in their collections. Their eyes glow in the dark and are larger than the standard Bigfoot. They are also locally called "Booger bears" but this is a nonspecific term. The shortfaced bears incidentally had the limb proportions of a gorilla.

Ivan Sanderson alluded to Central American accounts of "cave cows" in PURSUIT, and information was also in his archives (which I examined in the 1970's). He felt that these were medium-sized ground sloths, about 10 feet long.

Walker's Mammals of the World makes note of the fact that several of the smaller kinds of groundsloth were present in the larger islands of the Antilles up until the time that they began to appear in colonial European middens along with introduced domestic pigs. These include a possibly fairly large form in Cuba much like the "cave cows", medium-sized forms in Cuba and Haiti of about 6 feet long, and smaller forms in Haiti and Puerto Rico, about 3 feet long and semiarboreal. All might have persisted and may be matched to recent reports, sometimes called "apes" or "manapes". Eberhart does mention such reports, including "small apes with claws"; claws are simply not a feature of apes. The name "Yeho" or "Yahu" is sometimes used for these, or "Devil" in English.

Ivan Sanderson's files included a letter remarking on a series of purportedly unknown snakes in the Eastern United states, and also mentioned an Eastern Condor, pretty much exactly like a California Condor and differentiated from the Thunderbirds. I collected a series of such reports from Indiana in the mid-1970's and have a feather that was supposed to have come from a young one. Loren Coleman debunked the feather as coming from a turkey buzzard, but those birds have differnt flight characteristics that are readily discerned by witnesses.

The snake forms are as follows:

The Giant blacksnake, up to 30 feet long. Coleman and Eberhart have information on this also; There are prominent reports from the midwest and the Ohio River valley in particular. This probably actually is a relative of the Indigo snake, the largest native American snake with even bigger relatives in South America known. It is reported as large as the largest recognized constrictors, but probably is more usually between 10 and 20 feet long as an adult, and more likely on the lower end of that range. Heuvelmans records a parallel situation in France with a possible candidate as the Montpelier snake.; Heuvelmans disbelieved the American version.
  • A spitting rattlesnake, but supposedly narrowheaded and thus possibly a feral spitting cobra.
  • A small, golden-colored rattlesnake with extremely toxic venom.
  • A smaller form of rattless rattlesnake, and
  • A larger form of rattleless rattlesnake, the two apparently differentiated by coloration and habitat, the larger one tending also to be darker and more in the uplands. Both of these are probably members of Angkistrodon since they closely resembly copperheads and cottonmouths. These are called bobtails.

John Keel in Strange Creatures From Time and Space (which is the version of the text that I own) compares Hoop snake stories to the behavior of the rubber boa, and it is indeed possible that a medium-sized boa , probably 6 feet long and with the rubber boa's habit of hiding the head and striking with the tail, is involved in such stories. Willy Ley spoke of the hoop snake as a real animal, but then moved the discussion to the bobtails.

Ivan Sanderson's files contained reports of a small "dinosaur", compared to the Charles R. Knight reconstruction of Ornitholestes which is apparently the same thing being represented in more modern "Dinosaur" reports. As far as can be told, this is an Iguanid lizard which runs on its hind legs, with a body commonly compared to a turkey's in size and a tail long enough to bring the total length to 5 to 7 feet long; this is commonly exaggerated by two or three times the actual dimensions. It is like a South American basilisk lizard, but is larger and without the characteristic crests on the back.

B. Eurasia:

The Snow lions alleged in Tibet are possible survivals of the Cave lion, and possibly also persist in parts of China.

Willy Ley mentions that some authorities believed that SOME unicorn stories were based on reports of surviving Elasmotherium, a "Unicorned" rhinoceros of the Ice age.

My personal candidate for the Kirin or Oriental unicorn is an obscure fossil bovid, Tsaidamotherium. This had two unequal horns certrally placed, looking like a single forked horn: more modern unicorn rumors tend to center around Tibet and possibly the Kirin was analogous to a chamois in size, coloration and habitat (but not the horns)

Artwork of Central Asia has been interpreted as evidence of surviving chalicotheres; this theory has not so far recognized the fact that several representations of griffins are also similar to chalicotheres, which would have had an overhanging upper lip. The pertinent feature of griffins were their CLAWS (which is what they are named after), NOT the beaks or wings; wingless griffins are a common variant. Protoceratops is a bad second-choice candidate.

Siberian Thunderbirds are also reported, and are possible extensions of the New World Thunderbirds. Mark A. Hall mentions several parallel reports world-wide in his book Thunderbirds, but this version is the only one where there is a probable continuity of the types.

C. South America:

Ivan T. Sanderson in The Monkey Kingdom noted that he had seen several forms of monkeys in South America (incuding captive ones) that he was not even able to place familialy. A review of the New World Monkey section of this book will bring home exactly what is implied in that statement.

Several types of apes are rumored in South America, and here I mention only a sort of Siamang, 3 feet tall and black in color, which is called a "hairy dwarf" among other things, as a new form; Eberhart and Coleman (in his book on unknown primates) include reports. However, it is pertinent to note that Coleman in the same source mentions that the Mapinguary is an ape, has no tail , and leaves an orangutan like track. There are probable groundsloth reports in Brazil, but they are NOT what is commonly called Mapinguary/Pelobo/Capelobo/Pe-de-Gaffalo, and so on. The matter is further confused because there are apparently intermediate-sized versions of the larger and smaller apes, and moreover the intermediate-sized versions both come in both red and black color phases. This has nothing to do with the Isnachi and everything to do with the Mono grande and Mono rey; the larger ape is incidentally characteristically compared to a tailless howler monkey and both larger and smaller apes evidently have expandible throat sacks.
The Falkland Islands wolf was mentioned in news dispatches during the Falkland Islands war, and was assumed to be a population of the Andean wolf.

The book entitled The Xingu mentions a supposed giant armadillo called "Tatu-aruiap" for "Ancestor-armadillo". this could well be a glyptodont. Incidentally, the arguments against the Minocao being a glyptodont are invalid; Gopher tortoises of the southern USA do a lot of digging, and have domed shells!

There are South American Thunderbird reports, including mentions of 20-foot-wingspan condors in the old natural history books.

Artwork in Central and South America indicates the existence of an Iguanid lizard of double the accepted limit, up to 12 feet long and capable of sitting up to the height of a human being. This is clearly a member of the genus Iguana from its characteristic crests and scalation. The CFZ has xeroxes of some of the representations of this that I sent to them earlier. I assume this is the same thing reported as being like a komodo dragon in Venezuela: otherwise the range seems to be from Mexico to Brazil. I have called this the Greater Dragon Iguana, Iguana sp. nov., in a review written for the SITU.

Harold T. Wilkins refers to an old report by John Lerius (de Lery) in 1557-8 Brazil, of a "mountain lizard", covered in hard shells like oysters and white in color, 6 feet long. This retreated from the witnesses inland, and up a mountain, so that it was not a crocodilian unless it was a land-croc. I assume that this one was an albino and the normal coloration would be different. It could also be an unrecognized form of Tegu lizeard, but the scales are unusual.

Horned boas are alleged ; Eberhart mentions this but has no separate category.

Giant Tarantulas are often alleged, greater than the greatest known species; Wilkins mentions reports but no specific measurements ("the size of a bantam cock") These are often said to attack in swarms.

D. Africa:

"Mr X no.1" is the only one of the "Mr X" series which appers to me to be a valid category of unknown, and seems to represent the larger form of unknown hominid in Africa. It may be a residual of Kabwe or Rhodesian man, some of which were 6'6". Interestingly, this would seem to correspond to the "Marked hominid" of colder climates.

Note; this author prefers not to assort unknown relic hominids into subcategories, although he recognizes traits of several distinct fossil types in different areas; the exact classification of the fossil types is also at issue. until such time as the fossil classification can be finalized and the different types captured, he would prefer to say "Homo,cf- sapiens" for the entire category, separating out the apes and probably Gigantopithecus. This at least should have pleased Grover Krantz, who decried the multiplication of subtypes such as the systems of Sandeson, Coleman and Hall insist on. Hence, the subcategories such as "Protopygmies", "Erectus Hominids" "Submen" and the like should all be abolished. All of them should be considered humans until definitely proven otherwise.

(A secondary consideration is that the comonest form of hallucination is seeing a human figure where there is none; obviously, then, the commonest hallucination in the wilderness is seeing human forms that are not there. Another feature of hallucinations is that they can be indistinct, i.e., fuzzy)

Christine Janis in CRYPTOZOOLOGY thought that several presumably-extinct mammals might be representd in native artworks; besides the chalicotheres mentioned above, she postulated survivals of the African Mesimbrooportax and Bramatherium; besides these, it should be noted that African artwork cited as supporting the continuance of Sivatherium actually refers to the more appropriate Libyatherium, and this includes rock art of North AND South Africa, and even Victorian-era prints.

Allison Jolly in A World Like Our Own mentions unidentified lemurs on Madagascar, in particular a large (chimp-sized) black-and-white one and a small (guenon-monkey-sized) redbrown one, both flatfaced (which is highly unusual in lemurs)

Heuvelmans mentioned several possible unknown animals of Madagascar but did not include them on his checklist; and among these were possible animals like "congo dragons "and hence possible unknown monitor lizards. there was also a "long-eared lizard" confused with the last, possibly a type of aardvark known locally from fossils.

Some rumored flying animals of Madagascar may be colugoes rather than "bats", but these could also be scalytails (flying squirrels); such creatures are also involved in such reports in Eastern Africa, sometimes with lurid exaggerations, such as alleging doglike teeth and vampiric habits. Some information on this matter is in Ivan Sanderson's files. A "catlike bat" from India mentioned by Shuker could also be a colugo; this is highly problematic.
One feature of these creatures is that they are said to have paired breasts and hece they are more likely to be colugoes rather than flying squirrels.

Heuvelmans also mentions various legendary snakes of Madagascar, usually with names beginning "Fang...", but without details: some of these could be unknown boas. Heuvelmans declined to venture an opinion on this when I mentioned this to him in correspondence.

Roy Mackal made note of the fact that "The smaller kind " of elephant bird might still be in existence on the basis of personal communications; he does not mention that "The smaller kind" is a separate genus., Mullerornis. This was in his book Searching for Hidden Animals. The "smaller kind" may have been referred to in old Natural history books as a "sort of Cassowary", presumably still extant on the island.

E. the Orient:

Ivan T. Sanderson in Abominable Snowmen: Legend come to Life mentioned several odd sorts not included on previous checklists, and this included the "Langur ape" sometimes described as an "Abominable snowman"; however, although this form can stand as tall as a man, it has a tail. In regards to the Kra-dhan, I tend to follow Heuvelmans decision that it is an ape like an orangutan rather than Sanderson's judgement that it is a macaque (both giant macaques and apes being involved in the area) on the basis of personal information. This would be a residual of "Fossil Pongo", like the "yeren"; however, "Fossil Pongo" is a ground-living ape the size of a gorilla and NOT typical of Pongo, the orangutan. It needs a new name: Krantz suggested "Yeren" as a genus name but on the basis of remains otherwise assumed to be human. Heuvelmans' name of "Dinanthropoides" was based on different sorts of creatures and he assumes that it refers to the Gigantopithecus sorts. I separately had suggested that the only proper term would be "Yeti" to the SITU, but this article was never published.

Sanderson separately suggested a gigantic siamang as the culprit in certain "Orang pendek" reports; more recent evidence also seems to indicate that a type of small orangutan also goes by this name (this besides the supposed "Protopygmy" type identified by Heuvelmans)
Chad Arment separately discussed giant orangutans in Cryptozology, and this was a matter I had related to "fossil Pongo" and wrote to Heuvelmans about. It is notable that his discussion explains the Beraung Rambi entirely differently than Eberhardt's version does.

Christine Janis's article in Cryptozoology also mentions possible giant hyraxes in China but then worries that the animal on her representation had solid hooves and not separate toes with one hoof apiece. I have subsequently found other examples that do indeed illustrate separate toes.

Ivan Sanderson's "Second-class dragons" were natives of the Near East and evidently like large Draco lizards, with the possibility that these were exported to Europe. This seems reasonable to me, as would be the assumption that ALL of Eberhardt's "Flying snakes" of Europe and Africa were of this type. These seem generally reported as 3 to 6 feet long, rarely (exaggerated) as 9 feet long, and apparently with a rib-"wingspan" of 2 to 4 feet. This entry is to note that these forms similarly continue across India to Southeast Asia: J.C. Cooper mentions them in Malaysia and Harold Wilkins in the Phillipines. The African ones seem to be confused with freshwater rays in the popular mind.

E. Oceania

Artwork of the Asmat people of New Guinea illustrated in The Asmat might indicate a tailless pterosaurian called the Ambirak. This contrasts with the types suggested in Shuker's research, one of which is small and tailed and the other of which is large, tailless and crested. This is small, tailless and crestless. The SITU has my report on this as well as copies of drawings of the relevant woodcarvings. I have since found other similar representations.

Eberhart includes information that was useful in sorting out categories of purported giant monitor lizards on New Zealand; actually, there are four categories listed, evidently confused in the popular mind. The smallest one is a kind of tree-lizard and the largest one is the crocodilian Taniwha; but in between are an apparent perentie-sized and an apparent komodo dragon-sized monitor lizard. The smaller form is called Kumi and the larger form is Ngarana.

On the other hand, Eberhart's treatment of moas is not at all useful; he records reports in several different size-ranges, presumably different genera of birds, and then puts them into an entry under the name of the smallest one! For the record, Mackal introduces reports of what seems to be the commoner type, which is much like an emu (this makes it possible that it is actually an emu, although witnesses seem to deny this)

David Alderton, after discarding several reports of various crocodilians that do not "fit", gets down to describing the Land-crocodile Mekosuchus of New Caledonia and then hits us with the opinion that it or similar forms might still survive on nearby islands.

It is the opinion of the author that the reports of the "Little hairy black men" Menehune refer to Celebes apes distributed by Melanesians for cultic purposes. "Menehune" is the common Polynesian referent for Melanesians, see Heyerdahl. Celebes apes, according to Sanderson in The Monkey Kingdom are seen as ancestors locally and have a puzzling distrabution, including islands of the New Guinean realm (although Sanderson doubts this): I have artwork comparisons which satisy me that some New Guinean "Ancestor" figures (Called "Baboon-faced") are representations of Celebes apes, and Heyerdahl indicates that the Melanesian Menehune went as far afield as Hawaii (We need not subscribe to his rather racist opinion that they did so as slaves) Hence, I have no problem with the idea that Celebes apes were distributed cultically as far afield as Hawaii and New Zealand, where they later ran wild. This is also my explanation for several of Heuvelmans' categories of "Little hairy wild men" in Melanesia itself.


This accounting represents the minimum number of new types possible on this list. Some entries can be no more precise than saying "Several" species might be indicated. This listing can be no more than provisional.

I. Marine forms:

5 Sharks including one sawfish and one angel shark
2 Large rays
4 Eels at least twice the length of the largest known kinds, including one much larger.
2 Possible groupers
1 Sea-robin
At least 1 unrecognized sea crocodile of unusually large size, unusual appearance and habitat
1 mosasaurian of unusually large dimensions
1 unusually large leatherback turtle
4 unexpected pinnepeds, but only one entirely different than known species
1 sea cow, probably the same species as on Heuvelmans' checklist
3 toothed whales
1 baleen whale of incredible dimensions and hence suspicious
2 rather suspicious large invertebrates
28 total

II .Freshwater forms:

At least 1 shark of uncertain classification
At least 8 kinds of rays
At least 1 and possibly more than 2 sturgons of known genus, undetermined species
Probably 1 species of large eel, transatlantic and similar to one of the marine types
At least 2 pikes and/or gars
At least 2 giant catfishes
1 large salmon
At least 2 giant salamanders of a known genus
3 monitor lizards (Varanus)
At least 5 alligatorine crocodilians including an indeterminate number of caimans
1, possibly 2 crocodiles
1 possible gharial-shaped crocodilian
2 softshelled turtles
1 freshwater pinneped
2 seacows similar in appearance to dugongs but in an unrecognized habitat
1 possible dolphin
1 Toxodon
3 possible anacondas (boids)
At least 35 total, maximum beyond reckoning.

III. Terrestrial forms:

1 outsized tarantula
At least 1 land-croc and 1 either a land-croc or an unusual lizard
At least 1 Draco formed lizard of unusual size
Possibly 3 Varanus lizards
2 large Iguanids (one as large as the largest standard sized Iguana, the other double that length)
1 Possible Pterodactylus-type pterosaur
More than 3 Boas
4 rattlesnakes
1 indigo snake
2 condorlike birds
2 ratites
Possibly as many as 6 groundsloths
1 glyptodon
1 aardvark
3 carnivores (a bear, a wolf and a big cat)
1 rhinoceros
1 chalicothere
2 bovids
2 giraffids
2 Possible colugos (possibly flying squirrels)
2 lemurs
An indeterminable number of unclassifiable New World monkeys
1 langur monkey
2 lesser apes, one of which is large and the other is standard-sized with a larger variant
At least 2 orangutanlike apes, also with larger and smaller variants
1 giant hominid, presumably a fossil Homo akin to Homo sapiens
An indeterminate number more than 48 total

Full total more than 101, maximum possible undeterminable.

Desperately seeking the Wendigo

RICHARD FREEMAN WRITES: Our old friend Mike Hallowell is currently writing a book on the Wendigo; that human-possessing, cannibalistic, bestial, psychosis-inducing, wind-walking horror of the frozen north (available for children's parties).

He is looking for modern-day (post 1900) accounts of the creature (excluding the recent Greyhound Bus decapitation/human flesh eating frolics). Does anyone out there know of any recent sightings? If so please let us know and we will pass them on to Mike.

FLEUR FULCHER: Fleur's Internship Diary Week Three

Over, once again to the divine Ms F. She is spending the summer as an intern at the Royal Albert Memorial Museum in Exeter. This is her story.......

This week started the same as the others, with more shell cleaning, this week it was some rather amazing looking Jamaican snail shells, some as small as 2mm across, thankfully all remained intact after my ministrations. We also got to watch as a whale skeleton was moved, so that parts of it could be cleaned and then put back. Apparently it is a Cuvier's Beaked Whale and shall be displayed when the museum re-opens.

The most fun part of the week, however, was Friday when we were checking the herbarium for pests; whilst vacuuming and checking we found many things, chunks of rock with 100 year old lichen on, huge dried mushrooms in old soap boxes, and lots of plant samples in old envelopes with Victorian stamps on. My fellow intern found a book-louse, a tiny little thing which enjoys munching on books and suchlike objects.

After finding this, the box it was in was quickly wrapped with polythene and parcel tape to be frozen, whilst this may seem mean to the louse, it is apparently a humane (louse-ane?) way of killing them. Museum pests are actually quite interesting and some are moderately cute even if they are in the wrong place, drugstore beetle is my current favourite.
Less charming are spiders, who, althought they don't eat the objects do leave poo all over them that is quite hard to clean off!!
This internship has made me love what I do even more than before, and I've learnt a huge amount.
Many museums require volunteers even if you haven't a related qualification, so why not get involved? You get to see many things that aren't visible to the public, and get a new view on how museums work.

Fleur's bosses at the Royal Albert Memorial Museum have been kind enough to allow her to write this blog, even though it is not usually their policy to allow such things. We would like to thank them for this, and to point out that all pictures of museum specimens are copyright to the RAMM

OLL LEWIS: Yesterday’s News Today

Yesterday’s News Today

Time, once more, for another update on cryptozoology related news from the CFZ daily cryptozoology news blog, and of course a bad pun.

Ocean acid rise threatens underwater catastrophe
Penguin poo seen via satellite
Panda Baby
New Research on Malaysia’s Odd, Elusive Tapir
Squirrel stows U.S. flags at cemetery
Oh come on… That’s just ‘nuts’.