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, August 02, 2009


If some Victorian antiquarians are to be believed, contact between the Chinese Empire, and other Middle Eastern and Western Empires goes back to long before the birth of Christ; such as the ancient Egyptians and the Roman Empire. A Roman coin from the the time of Hadrian in the second century of the Christian era was found in Oshkosh in Wisconsin in 1883, thought at the time to have been carried there across the Bering Straits to Wisconsin by way of Alaska by a Chinese person. Muirhead`s book China: A Yellow Peril? Western Relationships with the Chinese looks at a time period long after these very early contacts, to the beginning of trading links between the West and China in the Seventeenth Century, with the arrival of the Jesuit intellectual and religious leaders.

The impact of these individuals as well as the British, French, Russians, Japanese, Germans and Americans in the following three hundred or so years created a tension that resulted negatively in the West and elsewhere in the racist Yellow Peril scare; and positively in developments such as an appreciation of China as a cultured civilisation with trade in Chinoiserie and food stuffs. In fact, between the late eighteenth century and the early decades of the twentieth century there was a debate between detractors and supporters of China as either barbarian or civilised, with relationships between British and Chinese in the colony of Hong Kong perhaps surprisingly surviving the complex change of events in China that led to the rise of communism in rural and urban China from the 1920s onwards. The Yellow Peril scare, essentially a fear of Chinese expansionism and morals, is the main subject matter of this book. Muirhead concludes that with the pressures brought upon the world by China`s massive economic growth and pollution comes the risk of a revival of the Yellow Peril scare.”

Muirhead hopes his book will dispel a tendency amongst some commentators to portray everything in black and white and an unnecessary overwhelming guilt for colonialism. In fact, there were good imperialists and Victorians, and patriotic Chinese communists.


GLEN VAUDREY: An unlikely place to find a unicorn..

Glen is one of the newer additions to the bloggo family. He wrote to me out of the blue last year to ask whether we wanted a Western Isles volume in our Mystery Animals of Britain series. We agreed that we did indeed want one, and commissioned him. What we were not expecting was such a bloody good writer and all-round nice guy, who - by the way - is writing several other volumes for us, and he is even going to be speaking at the Weird Weekend. Wayhay!!

Now if you were to hear of a tale of a unicorn, where would you expect it to hail from? Perhaps some enchanted woodland glade or possibly some dark and forbidding Teutonic forest. But would you have considered Iceland to be the home of such a creature, maybe? After all some of the many Narwhal tusks that have taken up residence as unicorns horns around Europe have been found there. They might well have started in the cold waters around Iceland but what if I were to tell you that that country once supplied tales of unicorns on land?

The bjarndýrakóngur, or king of bears, is the Icelandic candidate for the unicorn title. While Iceland is not home to a permanent population of bears it is, however, the occasional host to a stray polar bear that has drifted ashore from some remote northern place. The winter of 1880-81 with its severe frost saw a record number of bears appear on shore; 63 beasts in total, which must have come as a bit of a shock for anyone who unexpectedly stumbled across one. While the 19th century might have seen them in record numbers the 20th century still managed to record a respectable 50 sightings.

Why all this talk of polar bears? Well, it seems that the bjarndýrakóngur was a rather special polar bear. It could hardly fail to be, which will be made clear in the following description. Appearing as the largest of all the polar bears - a result of the union of a female bear and either a walrus or a bull (not much difference in those two) - with red cheeks and a horn that extended from its forehead, it was hard to mistake for a normal polar bear. If that wasn’t a giveaway how about the fact its horn would be illuminated at night thus ensuring the bjarndýrakóngur always could see where it was going?

The last reported sighting that I have been able to find happened in the 18th century on the island of Grímsey. Just before a Whitsun church service a group of a dozen bears were seen to be approaching the island led by a bjarndýrakóngur with its glowing horn. Unused to such a sight, the congregation stood outside watching the bears walk past towards the south of the island. As the creatures drew level with the crowd the clergyman bowed to the bjarndýrakóngur and in turn had the bow return; clever things these unicorn bears.

The bears then headed off into the distance but before they disappeared from view, the last polar bear in the line ate a passing sheep. It appears that the bjarndýrakóngur did not approve of such uncivilised action and promptly, fatally ran the bear through with his glowing horn, so putting an end to such murderous action. After that the bears headed off into the sea and once again were hidden from view

The return of Sostratus Winston

Hello again, Sir!

I have been perusing the tabloids again and found the following in the Daily Express.

Again it is the wrong way up, for which I apologise. When my eldest granddaughter finishes celebrating that her exams are over I will hopefully get some help with this computer lark.

I do hope you and yours are well


Sostratus Winston

MIKE HALLOWELL: More animal oddities from Geordieland

In March 1821 some workmen were digging away in a quarry at Cowpen High House, near Blyth, when they found something. Actually, they found two things, both of them pretty much the same. As they split a huge slab of stone asunder, lo and forsooth they espied two fishes.

Now I know what you're thinking; that they miracled ten loaves of bread and fed the multitude, but they didn't on account of the fish being fossilised. They were later described by a local historian as, "apparently, from their shape and dimensions (about 2½ feet in length) of the salmon tribe, though the scales were larger than belong to that type of fish. The impression of the scales was left on the stone in which they were found".

Mind you, not all strange animals found in our Geordie kingdom are dead. On October 12th of the same year a rare species of bird called a Great Northern Diver was seen preening itself near the quayside at Newcastle upon Tyne. Displaying the great conservationist tradition of his fellow Geordie countrymen, a local keelman took a shot at it. Whether he hit it or not we do not know, but it seemingly started to flap about like a mad thing under the Tyne Bridge.

Now it just so happened that there were some blokes on the bridge, and one of them looked down and said, "Here, is that a prime example of Gavia immer down there, of the family Gaviidae, flapping about in the water like a mad thing?"

"Why, pray, do you ask?"

"Because if it is I think we should catch it".

Now the Great Northern Diver is a sturdy bird, with a slightly larger-than-normal head and a somewhat intimidating-looking bill. Hence, capturing it for posterity – or, more likely, for the dinner table – was never going to be an easy task. Someone dropped a rope down with a noose on the end, but then got over-excited and dropped it. Another enterprising chap tried to throw a tarpaulin over it. The tarpaulin missed and sunk to the bottom of the river, just like a sinking tarpaulin, in fact.

For the rest of the day the locals went about trying to catch the Great Northern Diver, but their labours were in vain.

What was the Great Northern Diver doing at the quayside, when it would be another twenty-six years till the market opened? Seemingly there had been a ferocious storm raging for two days over the North Sea, and the smart money was on the idea that the creature had become somewhat disorientated and lost its bearings.

What happened to the bird is not recorded, but eventually the locals got bored and went home for tea. Seemingly, some bloke had been going around selling fossilised fish, which tasted just as good as anything else the missus had ever cooked. Maybe that's where the expression "rock salmon" comes from, who knows?

Now if these tales sound preposterous, let me assure the reader that they can all be found in The Historical Register of Remarkable Events, by John Sykes (T. Fordyce, 1886).
Mind you, even these pale in comparison to the next one I'm going to relate.

Not that long after the Great Northern Diver fiasco, a Captain Davidson was driving (Oh, all right then, sailing) his ship The Northumberland along the coast of Sierra Leone. T'was the year 1824, and the date was November 8th. One of the ship's crew was fishing on the bowsprit, and he happened to drop his knife into the water, not unlike the way the other bloke had dropped his rope off the bridge. Bugger, he thought.

Now later that day, the same chap caught a dolphin, which wasn't quite as sharp as his knife, but it was better than nowt. The captain later testified that he was there as the creature was cut open, upon which – another lo and forsooth – the very knife the sailor had dropped overboard earlier tumbled out upon the deck.

Anyway, that's it for now. Mrs H. has some salmon in the oven to be followed, I'm reliably informed, by a steaming hot bowl of Northern Diver Surprise….


A couple of days ago we published an analysis of a recent bigfoot photograph by someone called Autumn from the Oregon Bigfoot society. It can be found here . However, in the interests of free speech etc, we are also publishing a rebuttal from the people who took the original photograph. We have kept it exactly as we received it:

Hello everyone, Jeffrey from sanger Paranormal. Autumn from http://www.oregonbigfoot.com/ released a statement on her blog about the recent Bigfoot photo from the Sierra National Forest. She analazied all the photo's and came to the conclusion that a tree was causing the illusion
and the shadow that caused the Bigfoot image. Well, she was wrong! If you would take a look at her analysis, where she circled the tree in front of that man, by the way, that's me, saying that tree was the cause of the shadow and the darkness on it which caused the illusion of the Bigfoot...But wait, if you take a look at the Bigfoot photo you can see the tree in front of the bigfoot, that's the tree that she circled saying that's what caused the illusion. HUH!!!!!Bigfoot or no Bigfoot the tree is still there so how can that be the cause....I tried to go on her web site
http://www.oregonbigfoot.com/ and to see if she had any other analysis of past Bigfoot sightings but I found out that you have to become a member and pay a fee to see these photo's and to go inside her sight. W.....H...A...T....Pay a fee $4.95 a month...Oh, I get it now!!!



1 Big Bird by Ken Gerhard (-)
2 The Mystery Animals of the British Isles: Kent by Neil Arnold (1)
3= Dinosaurs and other Prehistoric Animals on Stamps by Dr Karl Shuker (5)
3= Extraordinary Animals Revisited by Dr Karl Shuker (-)
3= Monster - the A-Z of Zooform Phenomena by Neil Arnold (-)
6 Dark Dorset by Mark North and Robert Newland (5)
7= China: A Yellow Peril? by Richard Muirhead (-)
7= The Island of Paradise by Jon Downes (-)
7= Big Cats loose in Britain by Marcus Matthews (-)
7= CFZ Yearbook 2008 (-)


1= Big Bird by Ken Gerhard (1)
1= Extraordinary Animals Revisited by Dr Karl Shuker (2)
1= Dr Shuker's Casebook by Dr Karl Shuker (4)
1= Man Monkey - In Search of the British Bigfoot by Nick Redfern (-)
5= In the wake of Bernard Heuvelmans by Michael Woodley (2)
5= In the Beginning: Animals & Men issues 1-5 edited by Jonathan Downes (-)
7= Monster - the A-Z of Zooform Phenomena by Neil Arnold (5)
8= Dinosaurs and other Prehistoric Animals on Stamps by Dr Karl Shuker (5)
9= CFZ Yearbook 2009 (-)

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

I don't know whether it is the recession, or whether it is the effect that we noticed a few years ago whereby sales plummet in the summer, but this last month's sales have been the worst since 2005 when we only had a very few titles. Hopefully things will pick up soon.

OLL LEWIS: Yesterdays News Today


It’s Stereoscopic Sunday, or at least it would be if I had had time to take a photo this week. Next week I’ll be doing something to make up for that though. Watch this space; it should be worth the wait…
But for now here’s the news:

Guinea Pigs Get Into Guinness Record Book
Animals 'want strike to end'
Two headed baby born in Philippines
Is our universe fine-tuned for life?
Russia's Putin dons wet suit, tags Beluga whale

In Soviet Russia, whale tags you.