A cryptozoologist is someone who believes that unknown and unidentified species of animal, especially those responsible for originating mythological features, may well be legitimate and real. This is one of the fringier elements of the scientific community and while many adherents of cryptozoology are less than enthusiastic about following scientific methodology, it doesn’t mean there isn’t a possibility of truth in their assertions.
We’ve all seen the photographs of monstrous creatures washed ashore along beaches around the world. Some of the creatures are quite remarkable but also easily identified by knowledgable people. Some folks don’t care about evidence, they’d rather believe the myth. They don’t want the bubble popped or the dream to die.
I get it. I do. I’d love to see the Loch Ness Monster and Ogopogo be legitimized by the media. I’d love to see Amazonian dinosaurs and prehistoric revenants portrayed in the flesh and not just as CG film icons for a change. I’d love to see Sasquatch and Yeti and all the various permutations of this hairy family line, celebrated on the evening news.
Alas, I grow skeptical as the years pass and nothing in the way of concrete proof of existence is brought forth. I’m sure there’s evidence somewhere. I’m willing to believe. The scientific analytical part of my brain is however in need of evidentiary material. Hard data. Bring it on. I’ll happily stand up in front of the television cameras and pump fists and shout in exultant exclamation if you can provide proof. What kind? Oh, let’s start with the easy stuff…how about some bones and genetic material?
Bones tell us a lot. Genes tell us even more.
Interesting news is afoot about this subject. Oxford University and the Lausanne Museum of Zoology have hooked up to evaluate some of these cryptic species by studying genetic samples brought forward by enthusiasts. You can read about it at Live Science. Results will be interesting. This is sure to disprove a lot of claims but you never know, there might be something unexpected happen too. It’s still a big round planet and there are lots of unexplored and little-explored areas. We’ve been fooled before. Some species disappear from the fossil record for so long they’re considered extinct, then whammo, somebody catches a Coelacanth in a fishing net. Oops.
Not everybody who is identified (or self-identifies), as a cryptozoologist is a nutjob – there are plenty of well-educated professionals who are open-minded to the possibility of unlikely species survival and emergence. I’d love-love-love to have someone pop up with a brand new hominid, flesh intact. I’d beat feet to the next professional meeting just to watch people have fits of apoplexy.
I’ll be keeping my eye on the Oxford-Lausanne Collateral Hominid Project in hopes of exciting outcomes. The odds are against an unexpected discovery but I like to root for the underdog. One of the guys behind this project, Bryan Sykes has already accomplished genetic feats like extracting genetic material from ancient human specimens. At the time other professionals scoffed at the idea and now it’s an accepted methodology. Maybe Bryan will do it again, here’s hoping.
If you’re interested in learning more about cryptids, check out the folks at Cryptozoology and the Cryptid Zoo. You’ll meet all kinds who are interested in pursuing the possibility that cryptids exist, some more stable than others…
All are passionate about their interests and they want to share.
Which of your favorite mythological beasties would you like to see resurrected? Do you have a prefered critter from the past you’d like to cruise through the downtown beside? Michael Crichton showed us the danger of re-creating dinosaurs but what wouldn’t you be able to resist? My list gets longer every day.
#1 by Bridgette Booth on May 29, 2012 - 8:33 am
What a fascinating topic, Leslie. I always smile when an “extinct” species reappears. I think scientists need their noses tweaked now and then. lol.
#2 by Leslie Berry/ @LesannBerry on May 29, 2012 - 10:51 am
It is fascinating, enough so that the idea captures imaginations around the globe. I love the possibility of possibilities and cheer at every discovery that shows us we were wrong in our assumptions. It’s so fun when something erupts from the fossil record as flesh and bone. I’d like to see it happen more often. I secretly hope for brontosauri in the Amazon… 😉
#3 by corajramos on May 31, 2012 - 4:39 pm
Actually I would like fire-breathing dragons to re-appear (not exactly a real species–but who knows in the dawn of history?). Sadly, they wouldn’t last long because man would track them down and quickly make them extinct again. Sigh.
#4 by Leslie Berry/ @LesannBerry on June 1, 2012 - 10:06 pm
I would totally support a fire-breathing dragon. I read an article about a tiny lizard (fit in your hand size), a few months back that looked exactly like what I thought a dragon would. A little bit Smaug, a little “Pern-ish”, and absolutely adorable. I can’t remember what they’re called but they’re real…maybe they had some sort of megafaunal antecedent?
You’re right though…we’re too quick to hit things with sticks so we can look at them once they’re dead. *sigh*