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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Saturday, June 05, 2010

CORINNA DOWNES: While the cat's....

While the cat is away, with David B-P and Max B, and - no doubt - eyeing up fishes and licking his whiskers, I am at home in the company of Graham and Oll. Hopefully it will be a lazy Sunday once the blog and chores are done and dusted. Max will be coming back here to stay for a couple of days, which will be jolly, but Jon and he had better not be expecting a three course meal upon their return! Choice between slaving over a hot stove or sitting with feet up? No contest!

RICHARD FREEMAN: The Monsters of Prague #15

The Black Cat

When the plague was ravaging the city a young couple who lived there died leaving two children behind them. Their greedy servant Vincenc murdered the children in order to inherit the house, claiming the children had died from the plague. Soon after he was bitten by a rabid cat and died. His ghost retruned in the form of a large black tomcat with red eyes.

The house was sold and turned into a inn. The new owner killed the cat, and served it up in a cream sauce to the guests who liked it! But next morning the phantom cat was back. Every day after that the owner killed and cooked the cat, and it when down so well that his business prospered. But after seven years the cat vanished for good.

In this month's Phenomena Magazine...

In this month's issue of Messrs Mera and Sadler's online magazine there are a lot of things of interest to readers of this bloggo. These include an article about planning a cryptozoological expedition by our very own Richard Freeman. For details, email sadler_dave@yahoo.co.uk


ROBERT SCHNECK: Revenge of the crabs

Hi Jon,

Crabs or, rather, crab eggs, are now available through the mail.

LINDSAY SELBY: The giant crab of Hilbre Island

Hilbre is an island in the Dee estuary, between the Wirral Peninsula and Wales. It's accessible on foot when the tide is low. It is not unknown for people to get stranded there when they don’t take notice of the tidal times. It is mainly visited because of the seal population and the wildlife that can be spotted.

I came across this strange story about the island:

The first report comes from a 13-year-old named Susan Rogers who was visiting Hilbre Island in the winter of 1954 with her 18-year-old cousin Tina Jones. Susan had a row with Tina on the island and ran off to hide. Tina looked for her cousin and shouted out to her, warning that the tide would soon be coming in and the island would be cut off from the mainland. Susan went sulking into the Ladie's Cave' on the island as the rain-laden skies turned gloomy. Susan was gazing out from the cave to see if Tina was looking for her - when she heard a rattling sound. Something touched the girl's bare ankle. She looked down and saw what looked like a dark brown length of cane covered with bristles, quivering between her sandals. She spun round in fright and saw something horrifying. A huge crustacean creature, about four feet high and six feet wide, was standing on four, perhaps even six jointed legs. It was grey and clad in segmented shells. The most frightening thing about it was the pair of huge blood-red eyes. Susan almost fainted with fear. The bristled cane' prodded at her skirt, and was one of two antennae attached to the head of the monstrosity. It's mouth opened and closed with a rattling sound and it's legs clicked as it lunged forward. Susan leaped from the cave mouth and landed on the rocks below with a sprained ankle. She still couldn't scream, and almost blacked out twice as she scrambled across the beach, because she could hear the rattling sound in the distance. Tina found her in a sorry state on all fours, and shuddered when Susan told her about the thing' in the cave.

The unknown shelled creature was allegedly seen on several more occasions at Hilbre Island in the 1960s, and there is even one report of a similar creature being washed ashore on Parkgate Promenade during a fierce storm in the late 1940s. Men delivering beer to a waterfront pub said the crab-like creature was some seven feet in length, and it kicked furiously on its back until a wave crashed over the promenade and righted it. The scary creature then crawled back into the sea.

Source: http://www.wirralglobe.co.uk/news/673597.print/

I have been unable to find out any more about this giant crab like creature. The story may of course be an urban myth. It is not the first strange thing to be seen in that area though.A creature with a long neck with a greyish green body was allegedly seen chasing a baby whale near Hilbre Island in 1901.In the mid 1960s, two men onboard the Liverpool to Dublin Ferry spotted a similar long necked creature moving at 30 knots through the waters of Liverpool Bay. Both men were seasoned mariners but they were not taken seriously and accused by being drunk.

If the crab creature existed , what could it be? One possibility is a Red king crab. They can grow quite large, sometimes reaching a leg span of 6 feet (1.8 metres). It is an invasive species in the Barents Sea being introduced I believe by Russia in it’s waters as a food source. Local fishermen say the crab eats everything it comes across and is posing a threat. It has spread westwards along the Norwegian coast but has not reached the UK yet. It could have been an odd specimen washed here in a storm but it seems unlikely in the 1940’s and 50’s. It may of courses have been some deep sea creature washed up and stranded that was unknown at the time. It is still an odd story and if anyone has any ideas or knows anything about this please post a comment.

OLL LEWIS: Yesterday's News Today


On this day in 1939, after being missing for almost 9 years, New York Judge Joseph Force Crater was declared legally dead. The judge's disappearance became a huge news story in the USA, not least because there was no apparent motive as to why he might want to disappear or indeed for his murder and he seemed to be in high spirits when he was last seen. The case holds a similar place in American popular culture to Lord Lucan’s disappearance in the UK. More info on this unusual missing person’s case can be found on the associated Wikipedia page (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joseph_Force_Crater), which I do suggest you check out after reading today’s Fortean Zoology news on account of it being quite interesting.
And now, the news:

25 new beetle species found in Turkish oaks
Long-tailed tit with ELEVEN mouths to feed
UK given final warning over London air quality
New Study Confirms Maori Legend of Giant Eagle
New home for Australian red-tailed phascogales
12,000 critically endangered Saiga antelope found dead
Animals struggling to survive
World's ugliest dog mourned

Dog-gone it.

(Yes, it’s a bit of a predictable pun or play on words today but let’s be honest; the alternative would be a ‘Meet the Beatles’ pun and that would be far, far, worse.…)

LIZ CLANCY: Ugandan 'were-creatures'

There are no wolves in Africa so the people of Uganda are lucky to have escaped the reign of terror inflicted by werewolves. Having said that, they have plenty of other human/ animal creatures to be frightened of so perhaps they don't really consider the lack of the man-wolf all that much of a boon....

Sorcerors are said to be able to take the shape of any native animal and some creatures, such as lions and leopards, have a legendary ability to become human-like.

One such horrifying story concerns a Bantu lady who fell in love with and married a stranger to her village. After some years together they were blessed with the pitter-patter of tiny paws - erm - I mean, feet.

The husband suggests they make the journey to see his own parents and introduce them to their new grandchild. At the end of the first day's journey they make camp and the husband says he is off to hunt food. Where he is actually going is to find his real family and after dark (you can see where this is going, can't you) he becomes a huge hairy lion, and he, lion-mam and lion-dad return to the human camp in order to attack the unwary wife and baby.

As luck would have it, the lion's brother-in-law had, in his absence, built a strong kraal or fence around the camp so there was no supper for the pride of lions that night. In the morning, back in human form, the lion-husband returns with fish, saying he was detained and how sorry is that in his absence, his family might have been eaten by lions or other such predators. In due course he goes off, allegedly for food, again.

The woman's brother already suspects that the husband is really a lion and a gnome (akachekulu), of all things, confirms the fact. The gnome tells the man to build a drum, and hide his sister and nephew in it. Climbing up a tree, job done, the brother begins to beat the drum, his sister no doubt shouting from within the Ugandan/ Bantu equivelent of "Oi! You're giving me and babby a chuffing headache, you twit!"

There's a method in the madness, however, as the lion is attracted by the beating drum and can't help but dance to it, losing his false human skin in the process. While he runs to retrieve it, the human family have it away sharpish and though the lion-man manages to catch up with them a few times, they group manage to reach the village and safety before they're eaten so the lion returns home, hungry.

So, I think the lesson here is that if a fetching new bloke turns up in town, before agreeing to a date with said hunk, it might be best to dangle a dirty great ham shank in his face to see how he responds....