At the beginning of the 21st Century monsters still roam the remote, and sometimes not so remote, corners of our planet. It is our job to search for them. The Centre for Fortean Zoology [CFZ] is - we believe - the largest professional, scientific and full-time organisation in the world dedicated to cryptozoology - the study of unknown animals. Since 1992 the CFZ has carried out an unparalleled programme of research and investigation all over the world. Since 2009 we have been running the increasingly popular CFZ Blog Network, and although there has been an American branch of the CFZ for over ten years now, it is only now that it has a dedicated blog.

Thursday 31 July 2014


If you are familiar with the Arabian Nights, you may remember the roc (Arabic, rukh) a gigantic bird large enough to carry off an elephant.  Sinbad the Sailor, known for his seven voyages, encountered one.  Sinbad must be one of the most irritating people in literature.  Forever getting into the most appalling perils, he invariably escapes and makes a great profit, only to return to land and, after a time, hanker to set off again, though he has no need to do so and the reader knows all too well that further appalling perils are just waiting for him out there.

But, to get back to the Roc, it is, of course, mythical, but the question arises regarding the origin of belief in it.  It may go back to the mythical Indian bird Garuda, but there may also be an origin in more material form.  On the island of Madagascar there was once a huge bird, unable to fly, called the Aepyornis and, more colloquially, the elephant bird.  While this creature may have become extinct centuries ago, its eggs have remained and the Malagasys and the Arabs, noting their size, inferred the existence of a giant bird from them.  Indeed, the Malagasys have a giant bird, the vorompatra, in their legends and they may have passed traditions of that on to the Arabs.

Also a possibility is the memory of another extinct bird of Madagascar, the Malagasy crowned eagle (Stephanoaetus mahery), which was not the sort of creature you would want to run into if off meandering.

The Roc, because of its appearances in the Arabian Nights, has etched itself a place in human consciousness.  It is a spectacular mythical bird, but, take my word, you wouldn't want one living near you. 

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