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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Wednesday, February 03, 2010

DALE DRINNON: A commentary on Darren Naish's blog on the Mansi Champ photo


[I was supposed to be getting a report from one of the locals and he has so far failed to deliver: it has been more than a week since he emailed me and said he had important news on the matter. I was also in communication with Dick Raynor (mentioned in Naish's blog) but have not heard back from him again either.]

There has been a lot of commentary on the Sandra Mansi photo taken at Lake Champlain and usually taken to be the best evidence for a Long-necked cryptid hiding at the lake. Usually there is little commentary from supporters other than declarations that the image in the photo is a real object. However, there are detractors and Naish's blog discusses the arguments on the side against the idea that the photograph shows an unknown animal.

One of the objections was that a monster could supposedly not be able to hide in only 3-4 feet of water. A Loch Ness Monster supposedly 30 feet long has a thickness of about 3 feet in some of the accounts as stated in Gould's The Monster of Loch Ness and other early sources, so it COULD theoretically happen that a smallish monster could hide in water that shallow. And Benjamin Radford's illustrations 2 and 3 DO present a very good Plesiosaur-shaped appearance.

My conclusion was basically that the object in the photo had a weird 'Neck', especially if it was supposed to be a plesiosaur, and yes, it did seem that the 'Head' part is further away from the viewer than the bulge part of the neck in front - which is definitely convex. That the 'Skin' resembled bark is inconsequential and consistent with other 'Monster' reports otherwise. I am inclined to call the thing in the photo unidentified but a probable piece of driftwood. Its size does seem to be a good deal less than LeBlond indicated in his article in CRYPTOZOOLOGY that I had cited recently. My main input was actually that the object is in a mechanically improbable flexture and seems to have held the pose for all the time that it was viewed, and that judging from other Lake Monster reports, the proportions are off. I would therefore tentatively agree with the driftwood explanation, NOT because I don't think Champ could be a Plesiosaur-shaped animal (hence the mock-up on an earlier blog) but because of the mechanical problems of the neck flexed in that posture (And holding that uncomfortable position stock-still)

I have attempted to make a flat diagram of the way the neck is turning - difficult to do because the curve is a complex spiral in two planes. But I think the drawing shows it is a very kinky piece of work. It looks more like an octopus tentacle than the neck of a Plesiosaur or even any bird. Now one of the things I have discovered in my own research is that the neck usually reported in Long-necks is actually consistent with some reconstructions of a Plesiosaur's neck: thick and not very flexible on the end nearest the body; and thin and much more flexible near the head end. That is why the neck is held in such typical postures as the "Spar sticking straight out at the front at an inclined angle" and then again the "Periscope" or front-end-of-a-stretched-s-shape (for the whole neck). The shape of the thing in the Mansi photograph is pretty much boneless; the shape of Champ's neck as specified by witnesses (as demonstrated in the Sinclair-dinosaur mock-up) is much more reasonable for a long-necked swimming animal.

This ties into a series of problems in physics of how the neck works. Incidentally, the physics of Heuvelmans's Long-neck resconstruction are all wrong when he has a very fast swimmer with a very flexible neck: you can't have both of those things at the same time. The animal would break its neck from the water pressure if it was swimming at great speeds and speeds in excess of 35 mph are often stated; even 75 to 100 mph for some of Heuvelmans's cases.

It is better not to dwell on suspicious photos or other evidence; actually, we have reached the point where NO photographic evidence is good enough: ANYTHING could be faked. That is going to be hard on us researchers, but it is what we have to work with. My own opinion is that SOME of the photos are indeed genuine, and they show essentially the same sort of Long-Necked creature world-wide. But unfortunately that the point is not PROVEABLE.

The Mansi photo is in Naish's blog so I did not think I needed to reproduce it and I would emphasise that the photographer appears to be a truthful and sincere individual.

The reference to LeBlond's article again is:

LeBlond, Paul H. "An Estimate of the Dimensions of the Lake Champlain Monster from the Length of the Adjacent Waves in the Mansi Photograph", CRYPTOZOOLOGY, vol.1, Winter 1982.


Today I am taking a bit of a departure from my usual practice. I am not looking at a cryptid or cryptids. Instead I take a look at old British natural history magazines in order to draw your attention to possible sources of information on unknown animals, both ones that are familiar to you and ones that have hitherto been overlooked.

Part One is based on an essay in the Naturalist magazine for November 1917 by T. Sheppard (1)Part Two will be based on pages in the issue for December 1917 (2) There is a definite north-of-England bias in some of the magazines.


'No 1 of this excellent illustrated monthly.edited by Douglas English…appeared in January 1913, part 6 for June completing the first number. It is quarto in size. The first Volume contained 398 pages, and is illustrated by the fine photographs of various phases of life, many being on tinted mounts.' (3)

The Naturalist then goes on to describe the following six volumes, not the contents, but page numbers, indexes, etc.


'Vol 1 is entitled The Whitby Repository, and Monthly Miscellany; Religious, Sentimental, Literary, and Scientific. Volume first, 1825. The page,illustration and index details are then given up to Vol. Two of the New Series.' (4)


This is a publication that began in the Spring of 1873:

'It was not until the Spring of 1873, that any Tourist Papers were written, since then, however, the author, Dr Proctor, Mr G. D. Baskett, Mr J. L. Foster, and others, have occasionally illustrated the movements of the Society' (5)


'In January 1906, appeared No. 1 of Volume 1 of The Animal World, an illustrated quarto Magazine published under the auspices of the R.S.P.C.A.. It has been issued regularly ever since, the 12 monthly parts for each year forming a Volume…The publication is devoted to the interests of the Society, and contains many Natural History notes and records.' (6)


'Through the kindness of a Huddersfield friend, I have recently obtained a complete set of this journal, consisting of 10 parts, the last two being numbered 9 and 10, and 11 and 12 respectively' (7)


'Apparently the first publication of the Selborne Society had the above heading, and consisted of parts 1-12, dated January 1st to December, 1887. …The nature of the publication can be ascertained from the following extract from the first page:- `It is intended from time to time to issue Letters (after the manner of Gilbert White) on the objects and work of the Selborne Society, to be written by Members who have a special knowledge of the subject of which they treat`. (8)

THE SELBORNE MAGAZINE. There is a note in my handwriting next to this entry that says – Zoo Alexander. Per 1996.d.125 1909-1925. This is the shelf mark and dates of acquisition.

'On page 148 of `Yorkshire`s Contributions to Science I [i.e T.Sheppard] gave an account of Nature Notes, the Selborne Society`s Magazine. And as my set commences with Vol 1 of that journal,dated 1890, I assumed that that I had all the publications. Mr Mark Webb informs me,however, that previous to Nature Notes, another Magazine was published, and I have since managed to obtain the two Volumes issued. They are small octavo in size, and are entitled The Selborne Magazine; No.1 is dated January,1888, and contains 16 pages…'(9)


'Mr Percy Lund has sent me a circular in reference in reference to The Naturalists World, on which occurs the words `with which is incorporated The Practical Naturalist`. Volume 1 of this journal was printed at Leeds, Vols 2 and 3 at Ilkley, and Vol 4 at Bradford.' (10)

1.T.Sheppard Old Natural History Magazines,Etc. Naturalist Nov.1917 pp353-356
2. T.Sheppard Old Natural History Magazines,Etc. December 1917 pp 387-391
3.Ibid p.353
4.Ibid p.354
5.Ibid p.355
6.Ibid. p.355
7.Ibid. p.355
8. Ibid p.356
9.Ibid p.356
10. Ibid.p.356

Sorry, I can`t bring you lyrics tonight as I have run out of ink to print them out!


Today's guest is Richard Muirhead. Richard is a cryptozoologist, researcher and one of our regular bloggers.

So Richard Muirhead, here are your 5 questions on… Cryptozoology.

1) How did you first become interested in cryptozoology?

I used to live in Hong Kong and even at quite a young age I read the main English language newspaper out there, the South China Morning Post. This was a long time before the Internet and online editions. One morning in July 1977, around July 21st in fact, I read that the Japanese trawler Zuiyo-Maru had dragged a dead plesiosaur up from the depths. Many cryptozoologists believe these were the remains of a shark but I have read about there being 'nodes' on – presumably - the head of the carcass and I have seen a drawing and measurements of the skeleton of the animal by Michihiko Yano, the marine biologist onboard the vessel. This looks exactly like the skeleton of a pleisiosaurus. As Cooper has stated: 'Marine biologists are highly trained scientists whose ability to detect disease and mutations in fish and marine mammals is crucial to the health of the consumer let alone the profits of the fishing vessel concerned, so their knowledge of marine life is necessarily very great. Yet the BBC would have us believe that Michihiko Yano, the government-trained and highly qualified marine biologist who examined, photographed and measured the monster, wouldn`t know a dead shark when he saw one!' (A)
From the time of reading this, when I was 10, I was hooked.

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

All I have seen is Hong Kong`s 'blood sucker' but whether or not that is a cryptid is a moot point. Jon mentioned it on a CFZ website about mystery insects. In my opinion it is probably the juvenile stage of a praying mantis. I come across reports of cryptids in the most unusual places, e.g. psychiatric hospitals (!), Franciscan friaries, antiquarian book shops, and most recently a book shop in Buxton, Derbyshire, a 'new' Ropen report and the more obvious – the Web. Whilst in hospital once I was directed towards a photo of a melanistic squirrel, which later appeared in print. I believe if you 'invest' your talents, you get more talents back.

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

The Ropen, definitely. There seems to be a growing body of accounts, and the local people seem to be willing to talk about it and share information with outsiders. The current research seems to be concentrated in a not too large area. Also, orang pendek, for similar reasons and the sheer perseverance of those looking for it.

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

The Loch Ness Monster; despite years of reports there doesn`t seem anything really convincing. If it`s good enough for Doc Shiels not to believe in it, then it’s good enough for me! (B)

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

Has to be A Living Dinosaur? by Roy Mackal.

B.Cooper. After The Flood (1995) p.141.
Jon Downes and The Amphibians from Outer Space Invocation of My Daemon Brother.(song)

Steeleye Span Marrowbones

There was a woman in our town and in our town did dwell,
She loved her old man dearly but another man twice as well
And sing fal-the-lal-lal-the lal-li-day
Fal-lal-the A lal-li-day

She went down to the doctor to see if she could find
Anything in the whole world to make her old man blind
And sing fal the lal lal the lal-li-day
fal-lal-the A lal-li-day

“oh take him sixteen marrow bones and make him eat them all
And when he`s finished he`ll be so blind that he won`t see you at all.”
and sing fal-the-lal-lal-the-lal-li-day
fal-lal-the-A lal-li-day

so the doctor he wrote a letter and he sealed it with his hand
and he sent it up to the old man to make him understand
and sing fal-the-lal-lal-the-lal-li-day


Richard Holland of Paranormal Magazine wrote:

'look at the strange pawprint sent in by a reader from your neck of the woods. It would be great if you and maybe some more of your colleagues could offer some opinions in the comment box provided. Maybe you could flag it up on your website, too? Is it part of the Devon mysterious footprint flap of December or just someone pulling the chap’s leg? I look forward to reading what you and the CFZ chaps and chapesses think.'

The website reads:

Friday, January 29th, 2010
Reader Chris Holly has sent us these intriguing photographs taken by his father at Ottery-St-Mary in Devon.

They show a single footprint – or rather paw print – that appeared overnight in wet sand that was laid down for his father’s patio. The print is partly weathered by the rain that made the sand wet but its large size can be clearly seen by comparison with a brick placed beside it.
‘My father is not the sort of person to indulge in practical jokes like this,’ says Chris. ‘It freaked him out because the photos don’t do justice to what he originally found. The reason he took a picture and made a comment of his find was the fact that there was only one print. The area was large enough for a set of prints or at least a pair of prints.

Read On...


Jon and CFZ people,

Not sure if you've picked this up already; a friend in San Diego (long story) spotted this in The San Diego Reader. A guy claims to have found a bigfoot footprint in the hills around San Diego - problem is, it's in RANITE - that's igneous rock, isn't it?

Looks to me like a simulacrum. Interesting insight into the finder dealing with the media, the bigfoot establishment, etc.



Matt Salusbury

OLL LEWIS: Yesterday's News Today


On this day in 1703 46 of the 47 Ronin committed seppuku (the 47th having received a pardon because of his young age).
And now, the news:

Catch of the day: Giant squid
Aznalcóllar disaster compared with Cretaceous mass extinction
New Research Rejects 80-Year Theory of 'Primordial Soup' as the Origin of Life
Astrobiologist Claims Life on Earth Seeded by Comets
Five dogs attack family walking in Fontana
HerpDigest Vol # 10 Issue # 4 2/2/10
Children 'believe sheep lay eggs'

Hmm, those kids need a better ‘egg’-ducation.

NEIL ARNOLD: 1910 Kentish bear hunt & other escapees

The Times of December 27th 1910 interrupted their Christmas coverage with some alternative festive frolics:

‘Escape of a pet bear at Folkestone – a Himalayan bear which has been brought home from India by the King’s Royal Rifles made its escape from Shorncliffe camp on Sunday night or early yesterday morning and is still at large. The bear is the regimented pet and has been kept in a very strongly built cage in the part of the camp known as Tin Town, which is in the direction of Cheriton, near Hythe. A large number of the men of the King’s Royal Rifles yesterday scoured the county in search of the bear.’

There was also a bear hunt in Sussex reported march 28th 1928. Five years later there was a ‘Monkey chase at Brighton – (August 8th 1933) – A monkey which escaped two days ago in Brighton was chased along the parade by firemen, policemen and visitors before it was captured yesterday. The monkey had taken possession of a ladies cloakroom at the western end of the covered terrace on the Madeira Drive, and his tricks included the smashing of flower pots from a high shelf in the building. He was caught yesterday morning, but managed to escape again and was recaptured by a London visitor…’

In 1959 an escaped monkey was shot at Worthing in Sussex meanwhile on January 26th January 1981 The Times reported ‘Wolf shot after zoo escape – a wolf shot in a Kent village yesterday escaped from Howletts Zoo at Bekesbourne, near Canterbury where two keepers were killed by a tigress last year. The zoo is owned by Mr John Aspinall. As a search for the escaped wolf got under way a motorist told police he had knocked it down at Littlebourne. A member of staff at the zoo shot the injured animal.’

FROM ANTONY JAMES (My Brother in law)

This is something you must see. I warn you, however, the birds `playing` the electric guitar are not `wild` as described in the article but are actually zebra finches; not that this detracts from the rather spectacular nature of the sounds they create....

The film is of an installation by a contemporary French artist called Celeste Boursier-Mougenot. It's very Marcel Duchamp, the French artist who started the conceptual art ball rolling nearly a hundred years ago.... (read on)

MAX BLAKE: More Taxonomy Fail

Young whippersnapper said I was `harsh` in my captioning of the last Taxonomy Fail a few days ago. Hmph! The younger generation don't know the meaning of the word harsh. Bring back National Service blah blah blah....

LINDSAY SELBY: Teh-Ima , the mini yeti

Said to inhabit the steamy mountain valleys of Nepal and Sikkim, the Teh-lma (apparently translates as 'That There Little Thing') is the smallest of the Yeti species reported to inhabit the Himalayas. The creatures are described as between 3 feet (approx. 1 metre) and 4 feet (1. 3 metres) tall with hunched shoulders and a pointed head that slopes back from the forehead with thick reddish hair/ fur. They are said to eat frogs and other small animals. It walks and runs on its hind legs, i.e. is bipedal, and will run away if it sees a human being. Sir Edmond Hillary and Desmond Doig claimed that in Bhuran, Sikkim and south eastern Tibet, the Teh-lma are known as Pyar-them. Some think the Teh-Ima are juvenile yetis and not a separate branch of the species.

The Daily Mail Himalayan Snowman Expedition in 1954

Gerald Russell, an American naturalist, on the expedition, was told about these small Yetis ( I keep thinking mini-me)that the indigenous people called Teh-lma. Russell was able to examine what was said to be the faeces(scat) of the creature from which he concluded that the Teh-lma lived in the more tropical valleys of Nepal and ate a diet of mainly frogs. Russell returned to Nepal as a member of the Slick-Johnson Expedition in 1958. A Sherpa called Da Temba, was Russell’s guide. Da Temba along with another eyewitness, said they had seen a Teh-lma in the middle of a creek located in Chhoyang River Valley in April during the expedition. Though Russell did not see the creature himself, he said he found its tracks on more than one occasion. Teh-Lma tracks are humanlike and about 5 inches( 12 / 13 cm) long .

In Ivan T Sanderson’s book he also talks about the Teh-Ima and the faeces :

In the gross form the faeces alleged to be those of ABSMs, fall into two very clear-cut types—those from the Himalaya which are of large but not excessive man-size and are said to come from Meh-Teh and Teh-lma; and those of the Oh-Mahs from California. The only reliable examination of the former made in the field was made by Gerald Russell who had had many years of such field studies in Africa and the Orient while collecting mammals, reptiles, and amphibians for museums. He reported the form to be generally humanoid and the contents to be: “A quantity of pika (Ochotona) fur; a quantity of pika bones (approx, 20); one feather, probably from a partridge chick; some sections of grass, or other vegetable matter; one thorn; one large insect claw; three pika whiskers.” Later, he examined also what appeared to be Teh-lma droppings near the river where he had found those creatures to be eating giant frogs. These contained bones of that animal and vegetable and insect remains in about equal proportions

Ivan T. Sanderson 1961 , Abominable Snowmen: Legend Come To Life, p337-338
You can read it here online for free:http://www.sacred-texts.com/lcr/abs/abs19.htm
The discovery of the Homo floresiensis skeleton on Flores Island in October 2004 has fuelled speculation about the Teh-Ima. The skeletons discovered are about 3 feet (1 metre) tall and are thought to be a dwarf species of the genus Homo. The skeletons are bout 12,000 years old but it has given food for thought over the Teh-Ima. There has been much discussion as to whether the skeletons were a dwarf species or just deformed but if one small species could have existed in time then there is always the possibility that so could another.

(I am not so good today so apologise for any spelling errors or grammatical errors I have missed)