For those who are unfamiliar with the term and what it is, Cryptozoology is a relatively new science, if you wish to acknowledge it as that, and it is for cryptozoologists (the people who study the science) a thrilling and exciting occupation or interest. Although it has its sceptics and detractors, this "pseudo-science" over the last hundred years or so has begun to claw its way slowly, in some minds, into a branch of biology that should be recognized and accepted with positive minds and approaches, rather than with scorn and criticism.
So what is Cryptozoology?
It is what some may call a "fringe" science, one that really has no place in the annuls of science, as many feel it has no merit or place in mainstream scientific investigation and inquiry. It is not a recognized branch of zoology (the branch of biology that relates to the animal kingdom, that includes living classified animals and extinct creatures), and many "normal" scientists will contend that cryptozoologists, some anyway, do not follow the scientific method, which is defined by the Oxford English Dictionary, "a method or procedure that has characterized natural science since the 17th century, consisting in systematic observation, measurement, and experiment, and the formulation, testing, and modification of hypotheses."
Many criticize Cryptozoology because of its perceived reliance on mostly anecdotal data and eyewitness (secondary) accounts.
Lets first look at what cryptozoologists study and investigate. They are Cryptids and they fall into 3 distinct categories, which are:
1. Animals that are yet to be discovered and classified by science.
2.Animals that are known and thought to be extinct.
3.Animals that are mis-identified.
Perhaps the best example/s of a cryptid that many in the field cite as "the cryptid of all cryptids" would be, of course, Bigfoot. Ape-men like creatures have been seen in many different parts of the world and are called different names, such as Sasquatch and the Yeti who is said to inhabit the Himalayan mountain ranges. Many scientists would say little hard evidence exists to merit a worthwhile investigation/s, but since at least the 1920's not only have there been eyewitness accounts, but plaster casts of huge footprints made, strange hair samples collected, and rare, photographic or film evidence, such as a now famous (infamous?) reel of film footage taken by Roger Patterson near Bluff Creek, California in 1967.
Many claim a hoax, and many would perhaps argue a man in a gorilla suit was filmed, but do ape-men, possibly prehistoric ancestors to modern man, really still dwell in forest areas throughout North America, Canada, Nepal and other regions?
We will examine that in another article down the track.
In a previous article the possibility of a legendary sea-beast named the Kraken and its possible existence was examined. Modern zoology is starting to acknowledge the notion of possibly large sized squid and octopi residing in the shadowy depths of the oceans, yet there is little physical evidence to support these theories. If the legendary Kraken is/was a Colossal Squid, it would be another example of a creature from legend or myth that has some basis in truth and is waiting to be identified and classified by zoology.
Other examples of creatures that have been reported for centuries and only recently found and classified include the Mountain Gorilla, known by the people of Rwanda for years and deemed the stuff of stories, the pygmy hippopotamus, the Snow Leopard and the Giant Panda. All were found and classified within the last 400-500 years.
An example of a creature/s that might be placed in Category 2 are lake monsters, or sea serpents. Whether we are talking about the famous creature said to exist in Loch Ness, or Ogopogo or "Champ", the names of which are given to lake-dwelling creatures in North America and Canada, reports of huge underwater creatures have existed for a millennia.
Could these creatures be, if they exist, relics from the periods of the Diniosaurs?
It is theorized that perhaps a number of plesiosaurs, a long-necked reptile thought long extinct, may have somehow survived and have thrived for millions of years.
Or perhaps in some instances a yet to be classified species of large eel is responsible?
Known creatures that have existed and were thought to be long dead have been found, most notably the Coelacanth, a fish caught off the coast of South Africa, in 1938. This creature was thought by science to have been extinct since the Cretaceous Period.
Also in a previous article, reports of sauropod dinosaurs living in the Congo have been reported by the tribes there for years, could we still share our planet with reptiles of gigantic size?
Some cryptids, however, do not easily fall into any of the above 3 categories, as they are deemed humanoid-like or bizarre entities that have been reported for decades. Examples of these are the Flatwoods Monster, a creature said to be reptilian and hovering on some kind of craft that emits toxic gas; the Mothman, a terrifying creature said to be a portent of doom if seen, and the Jersey Devil, a terrifying entity said to stalk the heavily forested areas in New Jersey. Sceptics would argue however in these cases that due to varying descriptions given and the lack of evidence, these creatures are either pure hoaxes or encounters with mis-identified known animals, freak examples of owls, lizards or other animals that may be genetically "freakish" or perhaps mutated.
With a large percentage of the oceans unexplored and great areas of forest and jungle still un-reached, can this so-called "pseudo-science" and its disciples bring these creatures into the realm of reality and establish itself as a respectable area of science?
Will cryptozoology be responsible for unmasking the identidies of Bigfoot, the Loch Ness Monster and other creatures deemed mythic, outlandish or unbelievable?
Do you believe there is a place for Cryptozoology in science?
By Matteo Sweeney 2013
Picpost by Ashley Hall
Main Pic: The Kraken
Upper: Recreation of an eyewitnesses account of Ogopogo
Lower: The Mothman.
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