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Cryptozoology (from Greek κρυπτός, kryptos, "hidden" + zoology; literally, "study of hidden animals") refers to 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 extinct, such as dinosaurs; animals whose existence lacks physical support but which appear in myths, legends, or are reported, such as Bigfoot and Chupacabra;[1] and wild animals dramatically outside of their normal geographic ranges, such as phantom cats or "ABC"s (an acronym commonly used by cryptozoologists that stands for Alien Big Cats).

According to authors Ben Roesch and John Percy Moore, "Cryptozoology ranges from pseudoscientific to useful and interesting, depending on how it is practiced." They further note that it is "not strictly a science", that "many scientists and skeptics classify cryptozoology as a pseudoscience" and that "papers on the topic are rarely published in scientific journals, no formal education on the subject is available, and no scientists are employed to study cryptozoology."[2]

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.[3]



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.[4] 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.[5] 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.

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. Loren Coleman, a modern popularizer of cryptozoology, has chronicled the history and personalities of cryptozoology in his books.[6]


Cryptozoology has been criticised because of its reliance on anecdotal information[7] and because some cryptozoologists do not typically follow the scientific method[8][9] and devote a substantial portion of their efforts to investigations of animals that most scientists believe are unlikely to have existed.[10]

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.[10] 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,[11] and are unlikely to be able to survive in their reported habitats due to issues of climate and food supply.[12] For example, most experts on the matter consider the Bigfoot legend to be a combination of folklore and hoaxes.


Cryptozoologists argue that the inventory of even large animals is incomplete.[3] For example, large marine animals continue to be discovered and there is reason to believe more will be discovered in the future.[13] Therefore, cryptozoologists claim their hunt for disputed animals is not unreasonable.

Some cryptozoology proponents contend that mainstream scientists evaluate cryptozoological evidence based on prevailing paradigms or world views rather than on its merits or failings.[3] 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.[14]

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.[15][16][17]

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.[3] For example, they claim that the Mountain gorilla (Gorilla gorilla) was previously dismissed as folklore/myth, owing to lack of evidence and fossils, before being confirmed in 1902.[8] Similarly, they claim that the Hoan Kiem Turtle was thought to be a local legend[9] before conclusive evidence for its existence was accepted around 1998-2002. It is because of cases like this that the okapi, another animal considered a hoax or a myth until confirmation of its discovery in 1901, is the emblem for the International Society of Cryptozoology.

Cryptozoologists have cited the 1976 discovery of the previously unknown megamouth shark off Oahu, Hawaii, to argue that cryptozoological claims about oceanic cryptids should be given more credence. While zoologist and cryptozoologist Ben S. Roesch agrees the discovery of megamouth proves "the oceans have a lot of secrets left to reveal", he simultaneously cautions against applying the "megamouth analogy" too broadly to hypothetical creatures, as the megamouth avoided discovery because of specific behavioral adaptations that would not fit most other cryptids.[18] In essence, he argues that the megamouth is not a useful analogy to support the existence of marine "cryptids" in general.[19]

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."[20]

See also

Further reading

  • Arment, Chad. Cryptozoology: Science & Speculation. Landisville, Penn.: Coachwhip, 2004.
  • Arment, Chad, ed. Cryptozoology and the Investigation of Lesser-Known Mystery Animals. Landisville, Penn.: Coachwhip, 2006.
  • Arnold, Neil. MONSTER! The A-Z Of Zooform Phenomena. Bideford: CFZ Press, 2007.
  • Bille, Matthew. Rumors of Existence. Surrey, B.C.: Hancock, 1995.
  • Clark, Jerome. Unexplained! 347 Strange Sightings, Incredible Occurrences, and Puzzling Physical Phenomena. Detroit: Visible Ink Press, 1993.
  • Coleman, Loren. "Bigfoot! The True Story of Apes in America". New York: Simon and Schuster, 2003.
  • Coleman, Loren. "Tom Slick: True Life Encounters in Cryptozoology". Fresno: Linden Press, 2002.
  • Coleman, Loren and Jerome Clark. "Cryptozoology: A to Z". New York: Simon and Schuster, 1999.
  • Eberhart, George M. Mysterious Creatures: A Guide to Cryptozoology. 2 vols. Santa Barbara, California: ABC-CLIO, 2002.
  • Ley, Willy. Exotic Zoology.
  • Newton, Michael. Encyclopedia of Cryptozoology: A Global Guide to Hidden Animals and Their Pursuers. Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland & Company, 2005.
  • Radford, Benjamin and Joe Nickell. "Lake Monster Mysteries: Investigating the World's Most Elusive Creatures." Lexington, KY: University Press of Kentucky, 2006.
  • Shuker, Karl. In Search of Prehistoric Survivors. London: Blandford, 1995.
  • Shuker, Karl. From Flying Toads To Snakes With Wings. St. Paul, Minnesota: Llewellyn, 1997.
  • Shuker, Karl. The Beasts That Hide From Man: Seeking the World's Last Undiscovered Animals. New York: Paraview Press, 2003.
  • Weidensaul, Scott. The Ghost with Trembling Wings: Science, Wishful Thinking, and the Search for Lost Species. New York: North Point Press, 2002.

Notes and references

  1. ^ Simpson, George G. (1984-03-30) "Mammals and Cryptozoology", Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society, p1, V128#1
  2. ^ The Skeptic Encyclopedia of Pseudoscience by Michael Shermer & Pat Linse, 2002, ISBN 1576076539
  3. ^ a b c d Coleman, Loren and Clark, Jerome.Cryptozoology A to Z: The Encyclopedia of Loch Monsters, Sasquatch, Chupacabras, and Other Authentic Mysteries of Nature. New York: Fireside/Simon and Schuster, 1999
  4. ^ Heuvelmans, Bernard. In the Wake of the Sea-Serpents. New York: Hill and Wang, 1968.
  5. ^ *Heuvelmans, Bernard. On The Track Of Unknown Animals.  :-(New York: Hill and Wang, 1959.
  6. ^ Coleman, Loren. Tom Slick: True Life Encounters in Cryptozoology. Fresno, California: Craven Street Books/Linden Press, 2002.
  7. ^ Shermer, M, (2003) Show Me the Body Scientific American, 288(5) 27
  8. ^ a b Coleman, Loren; Huyghe, Patrick (April 1999). "Afterword". The Field Guide to Bigfoot, Yeti, and Other Mystery Primates Worldwide. Trumbore, Harry. New York, New York: Avon Books. pp. 207. ISBN 0-380-80263-5. 
  9. ^ a b Coleman, Loren; Huyghe, Patrick (2003). The Field Guide to Lake Monsters, Sea Serpents, and Other Mystery Denizens of the Deep. Trumbore, Harry; Lee Rollins, Mark. New York, New York: Penguin Group. pp. 358. ISBN 1-58542-252-5. 
  10. ^ a b Dash, Mike, Borderlands: The Ultimate Exploration of the Unknown, Overlook Press, 2000
  11. ^ Bigfoot hunting
  12. ^ Sjögren, Bengt, Berömda vidunder, Settern, 1980, ISBN 91-7586-023-6 (Swedish)
  13. ^ Paxton, C. G. M. 1998. A cumulative species description curve for large open water marine animals. Journal of the Marine Biologists Association, U.K. 78, 1389-1391.
  14. ^ see Coleman and Clark, 1999
  15. ^ Markotic, Vladimir and Krantz, Grover (eds) The Sasquatch and other unknown hominoids Calgary: Western Publishers, 1984
  16. ^ Roderick and Krantz, Grover (eds)The Scientist looks at the Sasquatch II Sprague
  17. ^ Napier, John Russel Bigfoot : the yeti and sasquatch in myth and reality New York: Dutton, 1973, c1972
  18. ^ Roesch, Ben S. 1998. "A Critical Evaluation of the Supposed Contemporary Existence of Carcharodon megalodon." The Cryptozoology Review 3 (2): 14-24
  19. ^
  20. ^ Gee, Henry. 2004. Nature. "Flores, God and Cryptozoology: The discovery poses thorny questions about the uniqueness of Homo sapiens."

External links


Simple English

Cryptozoology is the study of animals that people think might exist, but for which it cannot be completely proved. It also is the study of animals many scientists think are extinct, but which are still sometimes reported. Those who study or search for such animals are called cryptozoologists, while the unproven creatures are called by some as cryptids, a term first used by John Wall in 1983.

List of cryptids

[[File:|thumb| Loch Ness Monster (Oil painting) by Heikenwaelder Hugo]]

Mongolian Death Worm

The Mongolian Death Worm is a strange snake-like animal that lives in the Gobi Desert. Scientists do not know if it really exists or not.

People who have seen it say it is like a red, fat worm around 2 - 4 feet long. People who live in Mongolia call it allghoi khorkhoi. These people also say the creature spits yellow poison that will kill you as soon as it touches you and it can produce electricity so powerful that it could kill large animals.[1]



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