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, June 26, 2009


I don't know why these e-mails intrigue me so, but only a few days after I replied to his previous one, Sostratus Winston (fabulous name) has written again....

My dear Mr Downes,

Thank you for posting my correspondence again, on your lovely website. I must confess that the video you put at the bottom of the page was not the one that I saw but I did find it very informative, so thank you for that also. One must assume that, since they are our closest living relatives, ape men, like human beings, can be either good or bad and one must deduce from each individual’s behaviour whether he/ she is to be trusted or not. I dare say to the devout Christians among the cryptozoological community, the gift of discernment of spirits might be useful; presumably it works just as well on cousins of our species but I am not an expert in religious activities, preferring, rather, to believe in the things that I can see.

Incidentally, my dear fellow, I wonder if you might be interested in receiving a plaster cast of an alleged Bigfoot footprint, taken by a friend of mine on an expedition in New Mexico about three years ago. I know as a fact that he still has it. It’s on his mantelpiece but I dare say he could be persuaded to give it up in the name of science.

Yours sincerely,

Sostratus Winston


These two pictures are not posed. We were all outside doing jackdaw-related activities. Graham went indoors first, and found Biggles sitting at Corinna's laptop. Whether he was downloading questionable images from the internet, or checking his share prices I'm not sure, but he certainly seemed to know what he was doing....


Finally it looks as if the sage of the mystery deer is over, and that its not actually a deer at all. It is probably a steenbok (Raphicerus campestris), which is a common small antelope of southern and eastern Africa.

It was part of a group of specimens given to us as a gift by Lionel Beer, from the collection of his late father, who was born in 1879 and died at the venerable age of 107. He spent time in southern Africa, which supports the identification well.

But I am not going to take the credit. It is all down to Scottie aka Retrieverman who did a pretty neat piece of detective work. Check out the link below....



YAY FOR US (and particularly for Gavin L-W)

This lunchtime we posted the 1000th story on the CFZ Newsblog. Most of these are the responsibility of Gavin Lloyd-Wilson who is currently on leave of abscence as he writes a book about guitars. Hurry up and finish the damn thing dude, because we miss you....


The other day we were in the graveyard of the little church at Lewtrenchard in west Devon; the manor once owned by the seminal British folklorist Sabine Baring-Gould. We were there because our dear visitors Naomi West and her mum (plus her husband Ritchie, but he doesn't come into this part of the story, so we shall ignore him for the moment) had read a novel in which Baring-Gould (who is actually a minor hero of mine) was the main protagonist.

There is a family connection for me with the Baring-Goulds, albeit a tenuous one. When I was a boy my father had a friend - Crd. Roger Rowe - who was considerably older than him. However, they were beer buddies and until I became old enough to call him by his Christian name he was 'Uncle Roger'. He, apparently, was Baring-Gould's godson, and it was interesting to note the number of people called Rowe who inhabited the churchyard.

However, I digress (like I so often do on Fridays).

Lewtrenchard Manor is heavily haunted by a number of ghosts, and - of course - there are stories of ghostly black dogs in these lanes as well. However, I have not yet been able to uncover any stories about ghosts in the church or churchyard. But after we had paid our respects at Baring-Gould's grave, Corinna (as she so often does) was fossicking around the churchyard when she found something uncanny.

She found a small tomb that had been built on pillars above the ground. This often implies that the person inside had committed suicide, or died in such a manner that he or she could not be buried in consecrated ground. If they had been a person of no importance they would be buried at a crossroads like poor Kitty Jay, but if they were the scion of a noble family they would be interred within the churchyard, but above ground, neatly circumventing Ecclesiastical law and preserving social niceties (the most famous example of this being that of Richard Capell in Buckfastleigh Churchyard).

On top of this stone tomb was the decomposed corpse of a black bird (probably a jackdaw), and a piece of smooth bone several inches long. They looked as if they had been 'arranged' there, rather than dropped by a predator, and the whole tableaux was rather unsettling.

I don't know what this means, or even if it means anything. But it is yet another unsettling tale from the winding Devon lanes, which though picturesque and beautiful, are nowhere near as civilised and sedate as they may at first seem....


Kithra sent us an interesting story yesterday. She knows that Gavin L-W is on leave of absence while he writes a book about guitars (we'd better get a copy Mr Wilson, or we will sulk mightily), so she is sending newsblog submissions to us. I am glad she did, because it has opened up a whole can of worms. Because this is the third Cornish record of prairie dogs that we have received in the last two years, and the second UK report this year.

The news report, which can be read in its original glory HERE reads:

A couple from Cornwall have photographed a prairie dog while they were on a moor in Cornwall.
Linda and Godfrey Stevens were on the Goss Moor trail when they spotted a small furry creature that they could not recognise.

Godfrey Stevens said: "We didn't expect to see anything like that." Newquay Zoo confirmed the picture was that of a prairie dog. They are mammals from the squirrel family and are from the grasslands of North America. Mr Stevens said: "We expected to see wild flowers. It was a real surprise for us." John Meeks from Newquay Zoo said it was a black-tailed prairie dog "without a doubt".

Well, yes. It is indeed a black tailed prairie dog without a doubt. Unlike previous incumbents, the current management of Newquay Zoo are not inclined to making idiotic quasi-cryptozoological statements in the press. But the important thing is how did it get there? Prairie dogs are North American ground squirrels that live in large social groups on the grasslands of North America. And it is the 'large social groups' that is the important feature here.

Black tailed prairie dogs are highly inappropriate pets for this reason, but also for a logistical one; they are great burrowers and will dig long tunnels. Therefore, unless one is very careful, the chances of escapes are very high indeed. There is also a third reason why they are not widely kept as pets. Look at this pricelist, pinched today, from the website of a highly regarded specialist animal dealer:

Arabian Spiny Mouse Acomys cahirinus dimidiatus £ 10.00
Egyptian Spiny Mouse Acomys cahirinus cahirinus £ 10.00
Harvest Mouse Micromys minutus £ 25.00
Striped Grass Mouse Lemniscomys barbarus £ 10.00
Multimammate Mouse Mastomys natalensis £ 5.00
African Pygmy Mouse Mus minutoides £ 15.00
African Dwarf Dormouse Graphiurus murinus £ 25.00
Duprasi (fat tailed gerbil) Pachyuromys duprasi £ 15.00
Pallid Gerbil Gerbillus perpallidus £ 10.00
Shaws Jird Meriones shawi £ 15.00
Bushy Tailed Jird Sekeetamys £ 25.00
Acacia Rats Thallomys paedulucus £ 10.00
Nile Rats Arvicanthis niloticus £ 10.00
Hand Reared Gambian Pouched Rats Cricetomys gambianus - Males £ 250.00
Cricetomys gambianus - Females £ 300.00
Richardson Ground Squirrel Spermophilus richardsonii £ 100.00
13 Lined Ground Squirrel Spermophilus tridecemlineatus £ 100.00
Black Tailed Prarie Dog Cynomys ludovicianus £ 100.00
African Pygmy Hedgehogs Atelerix albiventris £ 150.00 from
Long Eared Hedgehogs Hemiechinus auritus auritus £ 150.00 from
Sugar Gliders Petaurus breviceps £ 150.00
Steppe Lemmings Lagurus largurus £ 20.00
Mediterranean Lemmings Microtus guentheri £ 15.00
Lesser Jerboa Jaculus jaculus £ 75.00
Greater Jerboa Jaculus orientalis £ 100.00

All the ground squirrels, including prairie dogs, are expensive at a hundred quid a pop, and the fact we have now received three reports from the same geographical area between Feb 2008 and this morning, would suggest that either there is someone in the area with more money than sense who keeps on buying these charming little rodents only to let them escape, or there is a well-established colony of these rather charming little fellows in captivity somewhere in mid-Cornwall, and that the escape record of this afore-mentioned colony is somewhat akin to Hogan's Heroes.

I think that an intensive search of the area with small mammal traps is probably in order, and that that those in charge of the British list should really come to terms with the fact that we have a new invasive species on our hands.




The Sheerness Times Guardian of Thursday 25th June 2009:

From Our Files

50 years ago...A Sheerness man attacked by a bear as he slept was refusing to talk to reporters. He was humiliated by the deep scratches to his head, hands and face, which were caused by a honey bear, the same size as a child's teddy bear....

OLL LEWIS: Yesterday’s News Today

Yesterday’s News Today

Friday can only mean it’s time for Fact Friday. Well, the dictionaries might have other ideas but what do they know? I picked up a dictionary once when I was visiting America and it was full of misspelled words, which is proof you can’t trust dictionaries. Anyway, before the fact there’s the small matter of the answer to yesterday’s trivia question. The answer was Scrooge McDuck, he of Ducktails (woo-woo) fame, along with several other Disney cartoons and comics. If you remember the series ‘Darkwing Duck’ Launchpad McQuack is no longer working for Scrooge and later in the series Gizmoduck turns up too, also sans Scrooge. The reason for this is that Darkwing Duck is set after Scrooge’s death, in 1967. For futher confirmation here’s a picture of Scrooge’s grave: http://duckman.pettho.com/history/hd1991_a.gif
Anyway, you’ll be wanting a fact now:

Contrary to popular belief, dogs and cats do see in colour, not black and white.

And now, after all that, the reason you’re reading this bloglett in the first place, the Cryptozoology news links (and bad pun, but we don’t talk about that):

Crop circles blamed on stoned wallabies
Survey shows boost to newt population
Peregrine Falcon shot in the Forest of Dean
Falcons poisoned in nesting site
Conservationists are 'choughed' as Cornish birds raise eight youngsters
Oystercatchers in Herefordshire
Peregrines at the Tate Modern
Saturn's Moon May Hide Watery Caverns - And Life?
Swifts are missing – Have you got any near you?

That is a worryingly ‘swift’ decline.