So What is Cryptozoology?
Updated: Sep 16, 2020
Cryptozoology literally translates to “the study of hidden animals.” The goal of cryptozoologists is to prove the existence of “monsters” and previously thought to be extinct creatures, also known as cryptids. This field of study was created by Bernard Heuvelmans, a Belgian zoologist when he published his book “On the Track of Unknown Animals” in 1955. Unlike traditional Biologists, who search for and discover unknown species, cryptozoologists tend to focus primarily on creatures of folklore, such as the Loch Ness Monster and the Abominable Snowman.
Although cryptozoology has gained popularity since 1955, it’s still widely regarded as a pseudoscience. Cryptozoology has failed to gain mainstream scientific recognition because it doesn’t adequately implement the scientific method. One of the biggest shortcomings of cryptozoology is that the vast majority of cryptozoologists do not have a scientific background and therefore do not follow the scientific method. I am by no means discrediting anyone. There are many people who have made this their lives work and have tried to legitimize the field, and I do not think they are part of the problem. The problem is that a bunch of people who know nothing about science or the scientific method set out to hunt cryptids and end up bringing back inconclusive evidence or completely fabricated evidence.
I think that if cryptozoology as a field of study wants to gain more legitimacy, it needs to standardized procedures for identifying and hunting for cryptids and accepting and rejecting evidence. I think that cryptozoology is actually a very valid field of study because the goal is to discover undiscovered creatures. I think that if cryptozoology standardized and adhered more strictly to the scientific method, the field as a whole would be taken more seriously. I think it’s an important field of study because in the not so distant past, there were quite a few examples of animals rejected by conventional science that turned out to be very real.
Cryptids that actually exist.
During the 19th century, the European scientific community did not accept that the platypus was a real animal. When inspecting a platypus carcass, English zoologist George Shaw acknowledged that the Platypus very well could have been just a hoax. While it might seem strange now to think that at one point scientists rejected the existence of the platypus, if you really think about it, the existence of a mammal like the platypus is just as outlandish as Bigfoot or the Loch Ness Monster. The platypus is a carnivorous mammal, with a duck's bill, a beaver's tale, and the fur of an otter, that lays eggs and happens to be venomous. There are no other mammals alive today that are anything like this, so it’s really not surprising that the platypus was thought to be a hoax.
Another famous example of a cryptid that actually ended up existing is the Coelacanth. This “living fossil” was thought to have gone extinct during the Late Cretaceous period, approximately 66-million years ago until one was caught off the coast of South Africa in 1938. While this fish was never considered a hoax, it still falls into cryptozoology because it’s a creature that was once thought to be extinct for millions of years. If you want to see a video of one of these ancient fish in the wild, click here.
The important thing about these discoveries is that they show that it’s not impossible for creatures that were once assumed to be myths or extinct to still be alive today. I think that with stricter standards and adherence to the scientific method, it's not out of the question that cryptozoologists could discover more creatures that were previously assumed to be extinct or myths.
A short list of famous cryptids
Bigfoot is a ten foot tall ape man said to inhabit the North American continent. Native American tales of Sasquatch date back to at least 400 years ago and the description of Bigfoot has remained relatively consistent throughout time. Bigfoot is one of the most sought after cryptids in North America and despite hundreds of sightings, video footage, and various expeditions, no concrete evidence of its existence has ever been presented. If you’re curious about whether Bigfoot could be real, check out our blog titled Is Bigfoot Real?
Loch Ness Monster
The Loch Ness Monster, or Nessie, is a Scottish cryptid that dates back to 565 AD. Nessie is one of the most famous cryptids in the world, with a storied history of sightings that began in 565 AD and continue to today, with recent sightings and footage this year, 2020. While the most famous photo of Nessie the “surgeon's photo” has been outed as a hoax, people are definitely seeing something in the water.
If the field of cryptozoology can adopt stricter standards and adhere to the scientific method, I think that it has the potential to gain recognition in the scientific community. Stricter standards would also reduce the number of hoaxes, and shotty evidence that amateurs try to pass off as real. I think that cryptozoology has the potential to become a very important and exciting field.