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, January 29, 2010


Ever since I first read about these fantastic animals in The Hong Kong Countryside by G. A. C. Herklots, which as anyone who follows my inky-fingered scribblings or indeed my video equivelants, will know has been one of the most important books in my life, I have wanted to see one. They turn up in the UK on occasion and one day I shall see and maybe even keep some.

What are they? Oh, didn't I say? As far as I know they are the world's only species of freshwater jellyfish.


Today I return to yet another sea serpent washed ashore in the United States. These are beginning to occur in my research with some frequency, now, even though I have only been researching for a few weeks. Perhaps the beached remains of unidentified sea-serpent-like remains are not as rare as once thought. It even seems that they are caught now and then. Suppose it becomes possible one day to survey and translate the world`s newspapers; how many captured sea serpents might turn up? Quite a few, I expect.

The story is from a Kentucky newspaper, `The Paducah Sun` of July 12th 1899 and runs as follows:

'A sea monster has been captured at Patchogue, L. I. (? Long Island,possibly?) The telegram which brings the information says that its weight is nearly half a ton. It is ten feet long, eight feet wide and three feet thick. It has a head and neck as large as a common barrel and feet and legs like the claws of a dragon. The strange creature, which is still alive and very ugly in disposition, snapping at everything that approaches, and hissing like a steam engine, was caught in a fisherman`s net four miles from shore.' (1)

Sounds a bit like a crocodile; but hissing?

Now the Iymandau:

'STRANGE IYMANDAU GRACES CONEY ISLAND. Caught in Africa`s Wild, Joseph`s Coat Is Mild To His Colouring. So rare that several dictionaries do not mention it, an iymandau, so called by the press agent, appeared for the first time in a cage at Bostock`s in…Coney Island…This particular iymandau was recently captured in Central Africa…The iymandau has a head like a rat and is strikingly coloured. It has a bright yellow stripe that runs from the back of the head, becoming narrower until it comes to a point at the root of the tail. A black “jacket” runs from the ears down around the body and back to the hind legs. Its tail is about two feet long and its body, from tip of nose to root of tail, is about the same length' (2)

The article concludes by describing how it strangles its victims to death. Lovely!!

I did a Google search for Iymandau and looked it up in On The Track of Unknown Animals by Heuvelmans but could find no reference to the Iymandau there either.

1. The Paducah Sun. July 12th 1899
2. The Washington Times July 21st 1908


In a previous post I discussed a scale and bones found in a lake associated with monster sightings in Wisconcin. But there are other monster-haunted lakes where strange bones have been found.

In 1881 a vast, elongate skeleton was unearthed by Mr H. H. Burge near Lake Champlain on the US/Canadian borders of Vermont, New York State and Quebec.

The actual monster, later known as ‘Champ’, was first reported by a white settler two years later in 1883. Sheriff Nathan H. Mooney claimed that he had seen a “…gigantic water serpent about 50 yards away". Local Indian tribes were familiar with something odd in the lake. The Abenaki had always known of it and called the creature 'Tatoskok.' The Iroquois called the beast 'Petoubouque.' There have been 300 recorded sightings of the creature to date, not counting ancient Indian accounts.

The Middlebury Register of May 27th 1881 wrote…

'The proprietors of the Champlain Granite Works, located near Barn Rock on Lake Champlain claim to have uncovered a petrified sea serpent of mammoth proportions, being about 8 inches in diameter and nearly fifty feet long. The surface of the stone bears evidence of the outer skin of a large serpent while the inner surface shows the entrails. The proprietors are intending soon to begin excavations along the place where it lies embedded in the dirt and granite, to ascertain its size.'

More details were printed the following year in the June 8th edition of Elizabeth Town Post & Gazette.

'The report of finding a monster in the limestone deposit of the “North Shore” I heard many times and considered it a story originating with someone anxious to be the author of a sensation.
Last summer, a party, part of whom were scientific gentlemen by education and profession called at the cottage and almost demanded admission to the apartments of the monster. The Superintendent was busy at the time superintending his many labourers engaged in the quarry, and told the gentlemen he could not leave his business and go down to the house, and furthermore, he was not prepared to exhibit what he had found, as there was so little of it, but at sometime in the future he would be glad to show to all his serpent. I had heard the above from one of the party, and made my mind up to say nothing of the serpent when I went there. Just about to bid the good folks good-day, the Superintendent said: "I am not in show buisness, as many have thought, neither am I showing snakes, but I have something to show you.”

'On the carpet in an upper room lay six or seven feet in length, pieces of an enormous petrified snake. Some portions were six inches long and some fifteen or more. The pieces were placed together and fitted so nicely that was no room for doubt of their having been broken apart. The largest end was eight or nine inches in diameter, and only three or four feet from the terminal of the entrails, and two or three feet beyond. The entrails were petrified, but much darker and quite open or pourous and containing many bright and glistening crystals. The vertebra was visible at each broken end, and the flesh part showed traces of what had at one time been veins.

'The skin was readily distinguished from the flesh as would have been had the monster been cut in two whilst living. After an examination of each piece, and comparing the gradual enlargement of the cavity, thickness of flesh and skin on the belly, and the gradual thickening towards the back, left no room in my mind to entertain the thought that it was an accident or freak of nature with molten rock. During this hour of examination at the south side of the window with bright sunlight, the Superintendent had sat quietly and had said nothing but answer a very few questions. I said I did not want to be inquisitive, but would like to know in what kind of rock he was found and his general position. He said he was not in the rock but was merely attached to the limestone, and his position was as if he had placed himself for rest or sleep, and he had traced his body by actual measurement over sixty feet, and his weight to several tons when all removed. The portions the Superintendent has removed he has secured alone, but will be obliged to have help in getting the remainder or leave the monster to rest in his slumber of death. When the proper time comes the scientific men of different localities will be called upon to make an examination and publish to the world their verdict.”'

The remains are next mentioned in The Burlington Free Press of November 4th 1886 and apparently were on show at a bank-sponsored exhibition held in Vergennes, Vermont. It is recorded on page 39 of the exhibition’s catalogue. It was subsequently purchased by the famous showman P. T. Barnum (1810-1891) for his museum. From then on the specimen seems to have vanished. Searches of Barnum’s records have so far been fruitless. Barnum's collections were twice ravaged by fire but both of these incidents were before he bought the remains.

What was the skeleton; some kind of fossil? The strata around Lake Champlain is too young for dinosaurs or their contemporary marine reptiles. Archaeocetes are also much too old for the strata. The only fossil whales that have been uncovered in the area are modern species such as the beluga (Delphinapterus leucas).

The presence of skin and soft organs is unusual. These are only preserved under exceptional circumstances. This raises the possibility that it was a sub-fossil or in other words fairly recent in origin.

Now, if only we could find it!


As you know, Oll has been working on the archiving project since early February 2009, and he is now working on the BHM section. This 22nd trench is a real mixed bag with bigfoot, yowie and yeti cuttings from 1971 to 1994. Good stuff.



Today’s guest is Alan Friswell. Regular readers of the blog will of course be familiar with Alan and the many strange things he drags up from the vaults, but Alan is also a hugely talented model-maker. Those of you who were at the last Weird Weekend or Fortean Times Unconvention probably noticed a ‘feegee mermaid’ lurking in the vicinity; Alan made that! (Also, if you search through the YNT archives or my photos on Facebook you’ll be able to see a 3D photo of it too).

Alan Friswell, here are your five questions on… Cryptozoology:

1) How did you first become interested in cryptozoology?

When I was four years old I saw the original 1933 King Kong on TV one Christmas - Boxing Day, to be specific - and it basically changed my life. From that first viewing I developed three fascinations (or more likely obsessions): an intense interest in monsters in general, dinosaurs in particular; and special effects. As I tried to emulate the work of Willis O’Brien (who created the animation for Kong) and later Ray Harryhausen, my fascination for monsters led me to books that described supposedly ‘real’ mystery creatures such as the Loch Ness Monster and the Abominable Snowman (as he used to be called), and the idea that fabulous beasts might actually exist in forgotten jungles and inaccessible mountain ranges became a source of great interest to me, and I have studied the subject ever since.

2) Have you ever personally seen a cryptid or secondary evidence of a cryptid, if so can you please describe your encounter?

No, unfortunately I’ve never personally witnessed a mystery animal although I’ve seen highly convincing UFOs on four occasions. I did see a huge pike eat a large duck in a fishing lake close to where I live, back in 1995. The pike had to be about five feet long, but I’m not too sure that counts. My brother-in-law Alfie saw a sea serpent in the Red Sea many years ago, and the encounter is described in a blog on the CFZ site.

3) Which cryptids do you think are the most likely to be scientifically discovered and described some day, and why?

Probably animals that live in the oceans, for obvious reasons. To be honest, I don’t realistically see why most of the well-known cryptids can’t exist. Big cats are almost certainly living in Britain, although whether they are ‘real’, or zooform entities, is a matter for debate. I’m certain that there is ‘something’ in Loch Ness, but once again, exactly what it is, is the question. Bigfoot is probably real but might be a zooform creature rather than a Gigantopithicus trying to get his green card. Thanks to Richard Freeman and the Sumatra expedition, the Orang Pendek might be closer to zoological classification, but if any cryptids are nailed down in the future, I hope that it comes under the authority of a group like the CFZ, rather than some self-styled ‘expert’ blundering his way through the jungle, grabbing crocodiles by the tail.

4) Which cryptids do you think are the least likely to exist?

I imagine the least likely would be very large animals that live on land and unfortunately, that means dinosaurs. I love the idea of a giganotosaurus up the Orinoco, but I don’t think it’s going to happen. Even if such an animal were an ectotherm, it would still need to eat huge amounts of meat at some times of the year, and where would its next meal come from? But bipedal dinos were almost certainly endothermic, because the design of a two-legged animal dictates a higher activity rate, in that the anatomy points to higher agility and alertness. Even a small sauropod such as camarasaurus would surely draw attention to itself from the outside world. I don’t know what Ivan T. Sanderson saw when he described a gigantic animal crashing from a cave in a ravine in Africa so the jury is still out I suppose, and if anyone could find conclusive proof I would certainly be very grateful, as I would love a real dinosaur - or a reasonable facsimile - to come to light.

5) If you had to pick your favourite cryptozoological book (not including books you may have written yourself) what would you choose?

Well, of course there is a multitude of wonderful books out there, many written by CFZ members, but being a sentimental, nostalgic type, I would have to choose The Story Of The Loch Ness Monster by Tim Dinsdale. I first read it at the age of thirteen and I loved every word of it. Dinsdale’s enthusiasm for the subject was infectious and I went Loch Ness crazy for most of the school summer holidays. My other choice would be The Dragon And The Disc by F. W. Holiday. Holiday was one of the first - along with the writings of John Keel - to suggest that some lake monsters (and by association, other cryptids) might not be so ‘nuts-and-bolts’ as we would like to imagine, and that we may have to adopt a more abstract perspective in trying to rationalise the phenomena. As a third choice, perhaps Keel’s Strange Creatures From Time And Space.


Filming has recommenced on Emily and the Big Cats - OK this isn't exactly the big showbiz news that the new Francis Ford whatsit movie is underway, but it is big news to the CFZ who have been waiting for months to get on with it. However, Ms Taylor has had a busy schedule of schoolwork and sixteenth birthdays (Happy Birthday, hun) and both she and the director have been on the sick list intermittently since November.

However, the good news is that the whole thing is nearly finished, and with a bit of luck and a fair wind, could be done and dusted by Easter.

OLL LEWIS: Yesterday’s News Today


On this day in 1649 King Charles I of England was beheaded at the behest of Oliver Cromwell. Charles would get the last laugh, however, when his son Charles II had Cromwell’s body exhumed and ritually executed on this day in 1661.

And now, the news:

Panda cubs settle in at Shanghai Zoo
The day divers swam with a crocodile and lived to tell the tale
Croc sharks in - what's Jaws is mine
New dinosaur discovery solves evolutionary bird puzzle
Sex and the Single Snail

Q: What do you call a female snail?

A: Mi-‘shell’