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“All around the world, reports of these mysterious creatures pour in, yet their existence is a matter of controversy.”

May 10, 2011

Articles, Editorials

Written by Kelli McCracken (ParaYourNormal Team):

At some point in our life, we’ve heard stories about different “monsters” that may or may not exist. These myths and legends have come to us as children, by parents who wanted our behavior to improve or by friends who tried to scare the bejesus out of us. Regardless of how we learned about them, we’ve heard of some terrifying creature or animal that lies in wait in the woods or water, watching our every move.

Many of these “monsters” come with names. You may have heard of the mysterious dragon like creature swimming in the waters of Loch Ness, near the Scottish Highlands. In the United States, there are infamous tales of Big Foot, lurking around the forest region of the Pacific Northwest. The Jersey Devil haunts Pine Barrens of the east coast. The Chupacabra has been sighted everywhere between South and North America.

All around the world, reports of these mysterious creatures pour in, yet their existence is a matter of controversy. Many in the scientific community do not believe they exist. The creatures I speak of are known as cryptids. The study of their existence, cryptozoology.

Cryptozoology derives from the combination of the Latin words: kryptos, zoion, and logia. Kryptos means “hidden”, zoion is Greek for “animal”, while logia refers to “the study of”. Therefore, cryptozoology is basically the study of hidden animals.

The science and study behind cryptozoology are as controversial as who coined the usage of the word. Many people attribute it to Bernard Heuvelmans, who was a well-known zoologist and a member of the Society of Cryptozoology. Heuvelmans gives credit to the use of the term to early Scottish explorer, Ivan T. Sanderson.

In cryptozoology, there are two types of research. The first is dedicated to animals that scientists believe once existed but are now extinct. There is documented evidence of their existence such as fossils. The Australian Dodo Bird is a prime example of this type of research.

The second type is in regard to those mythical “monsters” so many of us have heard of. This type of cryptid is an animal that has not been “verified” to exist. While there is no record of such creatures, they’re mentioning in many legends and folklore lead cryptozoologists to deem it necessary to prove their existence, or disprove it.

Before you judge the sanity of cryptozoologist, keep this in mind. The “wild” tales of other legendary animals have been proven. Take for instance, the platypus. Back in 1789, an English sailor by the name of John Hunter crossed paths with a platypus. You can imagine his shock to see such a sight. Platypuses (Platypi ) have the bill of a duck, a tail resembling a beaver, and feet on an otter. Unlike most mammals, they do not give birth to live young but lay eggs. The males can disperse one of the most painful venoms known to man.

Hunter made sure a platypus pelt made its way to scientists in England. They, of course, thought it was a hoax. Disbelieving that they were holding the remains of an actual living creature, they went as far as to check the hide for stitches, thinking someone had made the pelt as a joke. Do you know who they suspected in this “hoax”? Taxidermist. After the reports of this animal kept pouring in, scientists did their own digging, only to find that the animal did exist.

The Komodo dragon as well as the Giant squid are two other examples of animals that “did not exist” yet were proven later to do be more than a myth.

It goes without saying that most scientists believe there are thousands of animal species that have not been discovered. Still, their biggest beef with the crypto community is the constant attempt to prove more famous cryptids exist, like the Loch Ness monster or Big Foot. The reason for this is that they feel these creatures could not live as long as their legends have been around, or that they could have gone unnoticed for so long. If these creatures were reproducing, there is a better chance that someone would have discovered and proven their existence.

Is cryptozoology a pseudoscience? Is the belief in these mythical creatures a matter of open-mindedness or is it a matter of logic? Are we afraid to believe in something we cannot see or touch? I’ll leave that for you to decide. If we close our mind to all possibilities, we may miss the chance to discover something phenomenal. One thing I can say about cryptozoology; the research regarding cryptids is not only interesting, it’s entertaining. You will not get bored in your search for answers to the unknown.

“It is the unknown that excites the ardor of scholars, who, in the known alone,would shrivel up with boredom.”

                               — Wallace Stevens

Note: I contribute tweets for ParaYourNormal on Twitter and Facebook. If you enjoy anything paranormal or urban fantasy, follow us here or add us as a friend here.

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