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.

Sunday 20 December 2015


In case you hadn't noticed, this is a season with which Reindeer (Rangifer tarandus) are much associated.  In fact, the first part of the term, coming from Norse hreinn, actually means a deer, so it is a creature with a tautologous appellation.  In North America it is sometimes called the Caribou, from Micmac qalipu.

The reindeer is, of course, associated with the drawing of the sleigh of Santa Claus on Christmas Eve.  A set of names for Santa's reindeer was devised in the poem The Night Before Christmas, often attributed to C. Moore, though some doubt exists about the authorship.  The poem is also entitled A Visit from St Nicholas.  It appeared in the Troy Sentinel in 1823.  The famous Rudolph is a more modern invention from a song written by Robert L. May in 1939.

But how were these reindeer supposed to be able to fly?  The idea may go back to early shamanic practice.  Shamans knew they could have the illusion of flying by consuming fly agaric mushrooms, but these have unfortunate side effects on humans.  The shamans noted, however, that reindeer consumed them with impunity.  The shamans therefore drank reindeer urine, which gave them the feeling of flying without any of the attendant discomfort.  The Finns believed in Old Man Winter, who flew through the air in a sleigh drawn by flying reindeer.

Just to be on the safe side, I would suggest you don't drink reindeer urine yourself.  I would imagine it's quite hard to find a store which stocks it, anyway.

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