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| Cryptozoology |
Cryptozoology (from Greek, kriptos, "hidden" + zoology; literally, "study of hidden animals")
is a pseudoscience focused on the search for animals which are considered
to be legendary or otherwise nonexistent by mainstream biology. This includes looking for
living examples of animals which are considered to be extinct, such as dinosaurs; animals
hose existence lacks physical support but which appear in myths, legends, or are reported,
such as Bigfoot and el Chupacabra; and wild animals dramatically outside of their normal
geographic ranges, such as phantom cats.
Those involved in cryptozoological study are known as cryptozoologists. The animals they
study are often referred to as cryptids, a term coined by John Wall in 1983.Overview
Invention of the term "cryptozoology" is often attributed to zoologist Bernard Heuvelmans,
though Heuvelmans attributes coinage of the term to the late Scottish explorer and
adventurer Ivan T. Sanderson. Heuvelmans' 1955 book On the Track of Unknown Animals traces
The scholarly origins of the discipline to Anthonie Cornelis Oudemans and his 1892 study,
The Great Sea Serpent. Heuvelmans argued that cryptozoology should be undertaken with
scientific rigor, but with an open-minded, interdisciplinary approach. He also stressed that
attention should be given to local, urban and folkloric sources regarding such creatures,
arguing that while often layered in unlikely and fantastic elements,folktales can have small
grains of truth and important information regarding undiscovered organisms.Loren Coleman, a
modern popularizer of cryptozoology, has chronicled the history and personalities of
cryptozoology in his books.
Another notable book on the subject is Willy Ley's Exotic Zoology (1959). Ley was best
known for his writings on rocketry and related topics, but he was trained in
paleontology, and wrote a number of books about animals. Ley's collection Exotic Zoology
is of some interest to cryptozoology, as he discusses the Yeti and sea serpents, as well
as relict dinosaurs. The book entertains the possibility that some legendary creatures
(like the sirrush, the unicorn or the cyclops) might be based on actual animals, through
misinterpretation of the animals and/or their remains. Also notable is the work of
British zoologist and cryptozoologist Karl Shuker, who has published 12 books and countless
articles on numerous cryptozoological subjects since the mid-1980s.
Cryptozoology has been criticised because of its reliance on anecdotal information and because
some cryptozoologists do not typically follow the scientific method and devote a substantial
portion of their efforts to investigations of animals that most scientists believe are unlikely
As historian Mike Dash notes, few scientists doubt there are thousands of unknown animals,
particularly invertebrates, awaiting discovery; however, cryptozoologists are largely uninterested
in researching and cataloging newly-discovered species of ants or beetles, instead focusing
their efforts towards "more elusive" creatures that have often defied decades of work aimed at
confirming their existence. The majority of mainstream criticism of cryptozoology is thus
directed towards the search for megafauna cryptids such as Bigfoot, the Yeti, and the Loch
Ness Monster which appear often in popular culture, but for which there is little or no
scientific support. Some scientists argue that mega-fauna cryptids are unlikely to exist
undetected in great enough numbers to maintain a breeding population and are unlikely to be
able to survive in their reported habitats due to issues of climate and food supply. For
example, most experts on the matter consider the Bigfoot legend to be a combination of
folklore and hoaxes.
Cryptozoolgists argue that the inventory of even large animals is incomplete. For example
large marine animals continue to be discovered and there is reason to believe more will be
discovered in the future.Therefore cryptozoologists claim their hunt for disputed animals is
Some cryptozoology proponents contend that mainstream scientists evaluate cryptozoological
'evidence' based on prevailing paradigms or world views rather than on its merits or failings.
Cryptozoology supporters cite the case of the Minnesota Iceman associated with Ivan T.
Sanderson and Bernard Heuvelmans, which they perceive to have been well-attested despite a
lack of any support by the scientific community.
Supporters claim that as in legitimate scientific fields, cryptozoologists are often responsible for
disproving their own objects of study. For example, some cryptozoologists have collected evidence that disputes the validity of some facets of the Bigfoot phenomenon.
Cryptozoology proponents further cite as support instances in which they claim that species accepted by the scientific community were initially considered superstition, hoaxes, delusions or misidentifications. For example, they claim that the Mountain gorilla (Gorilla gorilla) was previously dismissed as folklore/myth, due to lack of evidence and fossils, before being confirmed in 1902. Similarly, they claim that the Hoan Kiem Turtle was thought to be a local legend before conclusive evidence for its existence was accepted around 1998–2002.
Cryptozoology proponents cite several additional instances in their contentions.
Cryptozoologists have cited the 1976 discovery of the previously unknown megamouth shark off Oahu, Hawaiito argue that cryptozoological claims about oceanic cryptids should be given more credence. While zoologistand cryptozoologist Ben S. Roesch agrees the discovery of megamouth proves "the oceans have a lot ofsecrets left to reveal," he simultaneously cautions against applying the "megamouth analogy" too broadly to hypothetical creatures, as the megamouth avoided discovery due to specific behavioral adaptations that would not fit most other cryptids. In essence, he argues that the Megamouth is not a useful analogy to support the existence of marine "cryptids" in general.
The 2003 discovery of the fossil remains of Homo floresiensis, thought to be a descendant of earlier Homo erectus, was cited by paleontologist Henry Gee of the journal Nature, as possible evidence that humanoid cryptids like the orang pendek and Yeti were "founded on grains of truth." Additionally, Gee declared, "cryptozoology, the study of such fabulous creatures, can come in from the cold
Information collected by Tammy Wood.
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