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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Thursday, May 06, 2010

MEET THE NEW BOSS, THE SAME AS THE OLD BOSS (Except that at the moment we don't know quite who the new boss is)

Well, we all voted yesterday, and Graham, Oliver and I stayed up late to watch the results. I lasted the pace longest, but succumbed to the arms of Morpheus at about 6am. It was only just before polling closed that I found that a friend of mine was standing as Conservative candidate for Grimsby (she lost, but only just). The night got more confusing with me in bed, Oll and Graham and Biggles sitting on the bed and all of us eating cold sausages as we saw the disgraceful scenes of people being turned away from the Polling Stations....

And what happened when I awoke? We still don't know who won or who lost.

"And I couldn't say what I had won or I lost
Or even just what I had seen" (Al Stewart)

RICHARD MUIRHEAD: Mongoose Mystery in Hong Kong

Richard Muirhead sent this to me some months ago. As you may know, we have been working on a book prtovisionally called The Mystery Animals of Hong Kong for some 20 years now, and may eventually get it finished. There are dozens of animal mysteries in the former British Colony, but one which has always interested me concerns the crab eating mongoose (Herpestes urva). It seemd to vanish from Hong Kong in the early 1950s, not to reappear until the late 1980s (when it was accompanied by a second species, but that is another story). However, Richard has unearthed the first known record from the inter-regnum.. JD

This afternoon I had a quick look through my “cryptozoology” letters file for a reference to a large eel in a British lake which someone sent me a long time ago. Instead, I found an interesting letter which I thought I had lost from someone who just signed himself “Bill”. He was an old friend of my late father Stuart,(who died in 1993) when he and Bill were Mercantile Bank colleagues in Singapore in 1955.My mother could not recall his sirname. This letter is dated June 7th 1996,which,although 13 years ago, is very relevant. Bill lived in Perthshire in `96. If the extracts from Bill`s letter blow are accurate and I have no reason to believe they are not (remember bankers need to have an attention to detail) then the crab eating mongoose survived in Hong Kong about at least 15 years after it was officially thought to be extinct and also,on Hong Kong island itself rather than the mainland New Territories. I have not scanned my incomplete collection of Porcupine! Newsletter of the University of Hong Kong Department of Ecology & Biodiversity to see if there are any references there to the crab eating mongoose on Hong Kong island. The relevance of all this is that relict populations of animals may exist anywhere in the world in unexpected places beyond their “official” extinction date.

But first of all the extract from Bill`s letter:

“The only possible worthwhile snippet I have to offer you is that I met a mongoose whilst walking at Pokfulam Reservoir.Date? –between 1969-71. If memory serves correctly I walked down Lady Clementi`s Ride to reach the reservoir.My Labrador dog came out backwards from a clump of bushes pursued at about 30mph,by a very cross mongoose. (Protecting young?) I was sufficiently interested to phone the Agriculture and Fisheries Department on the following day to ask what was known of the mongoose population on Hong Kong Island (Bill`s emphasis) After some initial disbelief ( 1).as to my ability
to recognise a mongoose and upon my describing the creature in detail it was suggested that what I had seen was a “crab-eating mongoose” last reported many years prior to my sighting. Whether it was “crab eating” I shall never know but it was most certainly a mongoose,an animal familiar to me from my time in Pakistan and India……Sincerely,Bill”(2)

Now,The Fauna of Hong Kong (3) sates quite categorically but with gross inaccuracy in the light of “Bill`s” observation : “ There have been no definite records of the South China Red Fox(Vulpes,vulpes hoole), the Eastern Chinese Otter ( Lutra lutra chinensis), the Five-banded or Large Indian Civet (Viverra zibetha) or the Crab-eating Mongoose (Herpestes urva), for at least twenty years. We should therefore,consider them extinct in Hong Kong. This information was published in 1976.

A few years later, Hill and Phillipps commented: Herpestes urva (Crab-eating Mongoose) The last sighting of this species locally were probably in the early 1950`s and it is now thought to be extinct.(4)

So whatever the current status of the Crab Eating Mongoose,there is a tantalizing possibility that it survived in Hong Kong into the 1970s.

1. Would there be many of us and I include myself here, who might accept officialdoms response or insist on conducting our own investigations?
2. Letter from “Bill” to Richard Muirhead June 7th 1996
3. B.Lofts, ed. The Fauna of Hong Kong. (Hong Kong: The Hong Kong Branch of The Royal Asiatic Society),1976,p.15
4. D.S Hill and K.Phillips Hong Kong Animals (Hong Kong: Government Printer ),1981,p.14


I'm giving a lecture on cryptozoology in general and the various expeditions that we have undertaken in particular, in Leicester this saturday to the Leicester Theosophical society.

It is at The Friends Meeting House, Queens Rd, Clarendon Park. It starts at 2.00.


From the same bloke as yesterday, whom it turns out lives in southern mid-Michigan.This insect was 'found in 2006, dead, in my pool. I fished it out and took some pictures of it. It's about an inch long, with no wings (though it looks like it might have had them at some point). Because of the missing anatomy it probably won't be very easy to identify. The closest I've seen to this is a big black wingless wasp / ant thing that I found years before.'



Tony Lucas sent this:

Where are all the males? - ancient DNA raises questions about extinct moa populations.

A little more than 700 years ago multiple species of the gigantic flightless birds called moas were still running around New Zealand. They ranged over almost the entirety of the North and South Islands, from the coast to the mountain forests, but when the Maori people arrived in the late 13th century the birds were quickly driven to extinction. Within a few hundred years they were entirely wiped out (along with the immense Haast's eagle, which fed on the moas), but fortunately for scientists these birds left behind vast accumulations of bones.
Two such moa graveyards are the Pyramid Valley and Bell Hill Vineyard sites on South Island. Together they record the presence of four moa species (Dinornis robustus, Emeus crassus, Euryapteryx curtus, Pachyornis elephantopus) over the course of the 3,000 years prior to the arrival of the Maori, and these sites presented scientists with the opportunity to recover ancient DNA from a large sample of bones to investigate the population genetics of the birds, including the sex of each individual. As they collected and analysed the genetic data, however, they found something they were not expecting. In each species and across both deposits, females, which are considerably larger and heavier than males, were significantly more common, with an average of five females for every one male out of a sample of 227. What could could account for this disparity?

PICTURE CAPTION: The skeletons of female (larger, background) and male (smaller, foreground) Dinornis robustus, with a pigeon skeleton for comparison. From Allentoft et al 2010

Read On..


Following on from yesterday:

FROM: Customer Service Centre Roads & Transport Team - Mailbox

Dear Mr Downes,

Thank you for your e-mail which was passed to us by Torridge District Council. This matter has been passed to the relevant department and the reference number is 10340505.

Yours sincerely
Tracy Mackrill
Customer Service Advisor

OLL LEWIS: Yesterday's News Today


On this day in 1919 Eva Peron was born. There is nothing particularly Fortean about the former Argentinean first lady in life but if you are interested in morbid and creepy things then what happened to her body after her death is quite interesting. I warn you before you read further that some of this will probably make you feel quite unwell so please skip to the news if you are of a nervous disposition or eating.

By the time of Eva’s death she had attained an almost saintly status among the Argentinean people, particularly among the workers, so it was a given that there would have to be some sort of lasting memorial to her. Her husband, Argentinean leader Juan Peron, opted not just for an imposing shrine but to preserve her corpse for public display in a similar manner to Lenin in Russia. As soon as she had died Dr Pedro Ara replaced Eva’s blood with glycerine, which resulted in a completely incorruptible corpse that was then publicly displayed.

However, Juan Peron was deposed before work on Eva’s mausoleum was completed, leaving the new government with the problem of what to do with Eva’s body. She was kept for a time in a wardrobe in an army major’s house before he killed his wife, and there are stories that he may have operated the corpse like a marionette and even interfered with it in a sexual manner. After the murder the corpse was shipped to Milan and buried under an assumed name. The body was returned to Juan Peron in 1971 and he kept the body in an open casket on his dining room table and had his new wife regularly lie atop it to channel Eva’s spirit and comb her hair regularly. Eventually, after Juan Peron’s death, his new wife had Eva flown back to Argentina where she was buried in Buenos Aires.

And now, the news:

The clouded leopard cub of Prague
Police accuse woman of having sex with horse
'Embarrassment' of the weighty deer

‘Deer’ me…
(Now, who of you didn’t guess that would be today’s pun?)