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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Monday, June 22, 2009


After weeks of faffing around, the new edition of Animals & Men is now available. I sincerely hope that all subscribers will get theirs by the end of the week or beginning of next week. It is also, for the first time, available on Amazon at the link below:


I am sorry about the delay; it was partly down to circumstances beyond my control and partly due to me cocking up the template. The next issue should be easier and will be out more betimes....


Dear Naomi has written a really sweet review of Island of Paradise (which, if you didn't know, was my last book). When she and her family were here the other day, I gave her copies of The Blackdown Mystery (which is basically amusing tosh) and The Owlman and Others (which has sold far more than any of my other books and records put together). It will be interesting to find out what she makes of them....

Island of Paradise is the story of a cryptozoological investigation built into an odd but cohesive web of history, politics and biographical reminiscences. Jon Downes and Nick Redfern travel to Puerto Rico to make a documentary investigating claims of livestock killed by the legendary Chupacabra. Jon's admitted ulterior motive is, however, to find a snail specimen that he had encountered in a cave on his first trip to the island several years before.


Buy it on Amazon and help the CFZ make their mortgage payments


Regular readers will note that Robert Schneck has a habit of sending us interesting things. Today he wrote:

Hi Jon,

This item isn't new, but I thought you might like to see it.


I've looked at a few other articles about the scrolls and can't find one that names the birds. They were rare in the 12th century, however, and assuming that the Chinese word means something like the English word "rare", it would be interesting to find out if all these species still exist.


Well I can recognise some of them. The top row (from the left) shows a hoopoe , a Blue magpie , a hwamei and the second from the right on the bottom row is a laughing thrush of some species, but the others elude me. What do you think they are? Could any of them have been so rare in the 12th Century that they no longer exist today?


What I love about this bloggo is that the most peculiar subjects become threads. Who would have thought that Alan F.'s peculiar piece about sculpting with lobsters would be so popular that it would inspire a comment more than the "ugh that's freaky dude" sort; but it did.

Richard Holland wrote:

"Classy! Reminds me of Nigel Kneale's short story about a bloke who catches frogs and toads from his local pond, stuffs them, then dresses them up as little toffs and dandies. The amphibians take a dim view of this and one morning he's found squatting by the pond, stark naked and stuffed full of pondweed. So should suffer all who make tacky craft items."

So I couldn't resist it. Here, from the late lamented Potter's Museum of Curiosity, is a peculiar 19th Century sculpture of two 19th Century clergymen smoking pipes. And it is made entirely out of bits of lobster. I always loved that sculpture and hope that whoever has it now, they are looking after it.

However, this has got portions of the editorial team (we, me and Biggles, and it is only me that interprets his sniffing the cat's bottom and turning out the bins as being interested in crustacean sculpture) interested in the whole subject of crustacean sculpture. Is there any more out there? Can you get me some? Uncle Jon's Museum of Curiosities will not be complete until we have some lobster sculpture of our own!

FRISWELL'S FREAKY FEATURES: Lobster Men (or should that be Lobstermen?)

The other day Alan Friswell, the bloke who made the CFZ Feegee Mermaid and also the guy responsible for some of the most elegantly macabre bloggo postings, wrote me an email.

He had an idea for a new series for the bloggo. Quite simply he has an enormous collection of macabre, fortean, odd and disturbing magazine and newspaper articles, and he proposed to post them up on the bloggo.

Alan Writes: "Yes! Welcome to Friswell's Freaky Features, an ongoing spot on the CFZ blog page where you will encounter the fun, the freaky, the frightening and on occasion, the downright horrifying. Many of these items are from almost forgotten archives and no doubt should, in many cases, have stayed forgotten. But no chance of that on this site! So be prepared to be amazed by the bizarre manifestations of nature, the abberations of the natural world and the complete (on occasion) mind-bending insanity of collective humanity. Read on...."

What a smashing idea, we thought, and so with a burst of alliteration that will - I hope - make Dr Shuker proud of me, here we go....

Over the years, I've used some pretty weird materials to make various monsters and creatures; everything from real animal bones and skin, to every sort of plastic and rubber, and even slices of bread. But I've never made people from crustacean shells, so have a look at this from Modern Mechanics, June, 1952

Al :)

OLL LEWIS: Yesterday’s News Today

Yesterday’s News Today

Normally this would be Movie Monday, where I’d recommend a film that I think you’d probably enjoy; however today I thought I’d turn it over to you guys instead. Pop into the comments section and post your top 5 films of all time. In case you were wondering, here’s mine:
1) The Big Lebowski
2) The Shawshank Redemption
3) American Beauty
4) Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade
5) Zodiac
A very predicable list, although I feel like a real heel for having to leave out Tron, Akira and the Fullmetal Alchemist movie. Hopefully I’ll get at least 1 reply this time….
And now, the news:

‘Panthers’, ‘leopards’ and ‘pumas’ sighted in fields throughout Ulster
Police: Murder victim Lizard Man witness
Large Blue butterfly officially saved – How did they do it?
Rwanda 'baptises' 18 endangered baby gorillas
Birds lap up new wetland
Success of kites project marked
Deadly Parasite Could Endanger Salmon And Trout Populations In U.K.
Loggerhead Sea turtle rescued from intake pump
Rare pine hoverfly to be reintroduced to the Cairngorms
Dramatic worldwide decline in caribou/reindeer numbers

What is a caribou’s favourite singer?
Elkie Brooks.

MICHAEL MALONE: MY first `Gator hunt

Alabama alligators have been prominent on the CFZ Bloggo over the last week or so. There was the photograph of the so-called giant that turned out not to be a giant after all, and there was an article by a bloke called Michael Malone that was both witty and informative. This morning I had another e-mail from him:
I've posted my first report on my blog. Please steal and use as you will. I have pictures and everything! About five people read my blog, so steal, steal, steal; I won't even request a link!Anyway, I'm rather pleased with the first post about the first trip. Went out 'gator hunting again today but no luck. Mostly I was trying out a new kayak since going solo in a canoe is tough and it seems no one wants to go with me when I mention looking for 'gators. I have some video from today's trip and I'll send you the youtube link later, and can get you the raw file if you like. Here's the link to the first foray into 'gator hunting: http://runwolf.wordpress.com/2009/06/22/first-attempt-at-gator-hunting/

Michael - I wouldn't hear a word of it. Your blog is interesting, on-topic for what the CFZ stands for, gives us an insight into the natural history of a part of the world that I have never visited, and it makes me laugh; so, not only are there links to it on this page but I have added you to the prestigious CFZ Link-O-Tron on the right hand side. So There....
This post is about a week late. No, it’s exactly a week late. This is the story of my first attempt at hunting for the elusive North Alabama 'Gator. It took place on Sunday, 14, 2009.

As I said in a previous post, I’ve decided to track down the North Alabama 'Gator. Rumour has it that the 'gator can be found in Wheeler National Wildlife Refuge but there are few pictures available, if any; and no pictures of active nests. In fact, since the 'gator release in the 70’s, only one nest has been found and that was in 2001.

Limestone Bay at Wheeler National Wildlife Refuge

So I went looking. My first attempt at finding the 'gator was to try the backwaters of Limestone Bay. I put in at Arrowhead Landing but that may not have been the best choice. Everyone claims the 'gators are in the various backwater swampy sections, so that’s where I wanted to go. Arrowhead Landing, however, is a long paddle to the backwaters over a wide bay that can be quite windy but I made it to the backwaters and explored as far as I could after the long slog.

Read on


Nature 459, 910-911 (18 June 2009) doi:10.1038/459910a; Published online 17 June 2009

The mystery ape of Pleistocene Asia
Russell L. Ciochon

Russell L. Ciochon is chair of anthropology at the University of Iowa, Iowa City, Iowa 52242, USA. This Essay is based on a contribution to the book Out of Africa I: Who, When and Where? (eds., Fleagle, J. G. et al. Springer, 2009).
Email: russell-ciochon@uiowa.edu

Abstract: Fossil finds of early humans in south-east Asia may actually be the remains of an unknown ape. Russell Ciochon says that many palaeoanthropologists — including himself — have been mistaken.

Fourteen years ago, a Nature paper by my colleagues and I described a 1.9-million-year-old human jaw fragment from Longgupo in Sichuan province, China. The ancient date in itself was spectacular. Previous evidence had suggested that human ancestors arrived in east Asia from Africa about 1 million years ago, in the form of Homo erectus. Longgupo nearly doubled that estimate. But even more exciting — and contentious — was our claim that the jaw was related to H. habilis, a species of distinctly African origin. If this descendant of H. habilis had arrived so early into south-east Asia, then it probably gave rise to H. erectus in the Far East, rather than H. erectus itself sweeping west to east.

Read On