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Cryptozoology

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Cryptozoology

Cryptozoology (from Greek κρυπτός, kryptos, "hidden" + zoology; literally, "study of hidden animals") is a pseudoscience involving the search for animals whose existence has not been proven due to lack of evidence. The animals cryptozoologists study are often referred to as cryptids, a term coined by John Wall in 1983.[1] This includes living examples of animals that are otherwise considered extinct, such as non-avian dinosaurs; animals whose existence lacks physical evidence but which appear in folklore, such as Bigfoot and Chupacabra;[2] and wild animals dramatically outside their normal geographic ranges, such as phantom cats (also known as Alien Big Cats).

Cryptozoology is not a recognized branch of zoology or a discipline of science.[2] It is an example of pseudoscience because it relies heavily upon anecdotal evidence, stories, and alleged sightings.[3][4][5]

While cryptozoology takes a pseudoscientific approach to creatures and beings from the folklore record, the academic study of folklore is folkloristics.

Overview

The coining of the word cryptozoology is often attributed to Belgian-French Phantom cats (an example of living animals supposedly found outside their normal ranges) are a common subject of cryptozoological interest,[8] largely due to the relative likelihood of existence in comparison to fantastical cryptids lacking any evidence of existence, such as Mothman.[9][10]

Another notable book on the subject is Willy Ley's Exotic Zoology (1959). Ley, best known for his writings on rocketry and related topics, was also 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.[11]

Hallmarks

An okapi at Walt Disney's Animal Kingdom, symbol of the defunct International Society of Cryptozoology

Many species appear in cryptozoological literature, including mythical and folkloric animals, such as Bigfoot and the Loch Ness Monster, which have appeared commonly as cultural references, and within TV, movies, and other media. A few extant species such as the okapi and mountain gorilla are also commonly used by cryptozoologists as examples of animals they say were previously thought to be cryptids, but are now known to exist.[12]

The 2003 discovery of the fossil remains of Homo floresiensis was cited by paleontologist Henry Gee, editor of the journal Nature, as possible evidence that humanoid cryptids like the Orang Pendek and yeti were "founded on grains of truth." "Cryptozoology," Gee said, "the study of such fabulous creatures, can come in from the cold."[18] While cryptozoologists are often unable to properly follow the scientific method due to the nature of their work, the vast majority still reject supernatural explanations for cryptid sightings, preferring to keep explanations as plausible as possible without ruling out the cryptid's existence.

Criticism

Cryptozoology has been criticised because of its reliance on anecdotal information[19] and because some cryptozoologists do not follow the scientific method,[20][21] devoting a substantial portion of their efforts to investigations of animals that most scientists believe are unlikely to have existed.[22]

Cryptozoologists contend that because species once considered superstition, hoaxes, delusions, or misidentifications were later accepted as legitimate by the scientific community, descriptions and reports of folkloric creatures should be taken seriously.[23]

According to Mike Dash, a Welsh historian, 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.[22] The majority of mainstream criticism of cryptozoology is thus directed towards the search for megafaunal 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 megafaunal cryptids are unlikely to exist undetected in great enough numbers to maintain a breeding population[24] and are unlikely to be able to survive in their reported habitats owing to issues of climate and food supply.[25]

Another criticism is that actual discoveries of new species have rarely, if ever, been predicted by cryptozoologists. Critics note that while other researchers have stumbled upon real animals, cryptozoologists have focused on finding legendary creatures with no success.[26]

See also

References

  1. ^ 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
  2. ^ a b
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  8. ^ Cryptozoology/Big Cats at DMOZ
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  22. ^ a b
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Further reading

  • Montgomery JG. WYRD- A Personal Journey Into the Beliefs and Philosophies of the Known and Unknown CFZ Press Devon 2014
  • Arment, Chad. Cryptozoology: Science & Speculation. Landisville, Penn.: Coachwhip, 2004, ISBN 1-930585-15-2.
  • Arnold, Neil. MONSTER! The A-Z Of Zooform Phenomena. Bideford: CFZ Press, 2007, ISBN 1-905723-17-2.
  • Budd, Deena. The Weiser Field Guide to Cryptozoology . Redwheel, Weiser, 2010, ISBN 978-1-57863-450-7.
  • Coghlan, Ronan. Dictionary of Cryptozoology. Bangor: Xiphos, 2004.
  • and at Google Books.
  • Ley, Willy. Exotic Zoology ISBN 0-517-62545-8.
  • North American BioFortean Review, Index to issues.
  • Shuker, Karl. The Beasts That Hide from Man: Seeking the World's Last Undiscovered Animals. New York: Paraview Press, 2003, ISBN 1-931044-64-3.

External links

  • Cryptozoology at DMOZ
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