Saturday, 2 August 2014

Cryptozoology - The Incredible Search for Mythical Animals

A silhouette of a long neck and head stretching out of the water
The Surgeon's Photograph
As convincing as this might seem, this photo of Nessie is now known to be a hoax

CRYPTOZOOLOGY

Noun. Mid-20th century.
[CRYPTO- + ZOOLOGY.]

The search for and study of creatures (e.g. the Loch Ness monster)
whose supposed existence is evidenced by tradition, unsubstantiated reports, etc.

Also:
cryptid n. an animal whose existence or survival is disputed or unsubstantiated. L20

If you've ever found yourself wondering whether the Loch Ness Monster really exists, you're not alone; there are those out there that take such questions pretty damn seriously. These people are cryptozoologists, and they specialise in researching the weird, the fantastic and the downright incredible creatures that are said to be out there, stalking this very same planet that we call home.

And before you snort with derision, before you chuff at the prodigal manner in which some choose to spend their lives, know that cryptozoologists (together with their cousins the cryptobotanists, who research things like man-eating trees) face a lot of scorn in their work. Some scientists even charge that cryptozoology isn't a real science at all; that at best it's a pseudoscience. Well, white-coated naysayers, all I can say is this: if there is even the slightest chance that there really is a Mongolian Death Worm out there, then I want to know. I mean, you guys have seen Tremors, right? Exactly. So let's please all give these cryptozoologist fruitcakes a little more respect. Because there's a lot of scary stuff out there. Or, at least, there's a lot of scary stuff according to anecdotal evidence collected from various rednecks, hillbillies, bumpkins and drunk teenagers. Thus, I present to you:

Terrifying Cryptids Currently Being Investigated by Cryptozoologists


Beast of Bodmin Moor

A panther-like cat said to stalk Bodmin Moor in Cornwall, UK, at times killing and mutilating local livestock. Various pieces of physical evidence have surfaced (and been discredited), leading some to believe it's exotic cats taken as pets to the UK that have escaped and are now prowling the moors. Remember peeps: an illegally imported panther is for life, not just for Christmas.

Beast of Gévaudan

A man-eating wolf or wolf-dog hybrid that terrorised the former province of Gévaudan, France, in the 18th century. Over 100 people were reported to have been killed by the beast, generally having their throats torn out. Such was the panic that the French government expended considerable resources in trying to track it down. The beast was eventually killed by the hunter Jean Chastel, who displayed its body in the court of Louis XV.
A dog-like beast mauling a woman
The Beast of Gévaudan gets a bit fresh with a peasant woman
(I used to have a dog that did this)

Bigfoot

Also known as sasquatch, the bigfoot is one of the world's most famous cryptids. Said to be a large, hairy, bipedal humanoid inhabiting the Pacific Northwest regions of North America, some scientists have devoted their careers to researching its existence. Thus far, no definitive proof has ever been found. A grainy short movie known as the Patterson Film and shot in 1967 is said to briefly show the Bigfoot, but other killjoys say it's just some bloke in a gorilla suit. Watch the video below and decide for yourselves.


Bunyip

The bunyip is a terrifying beast with its origins in Australian Aboriginal mythology. Descriptions of this much feared monster vary enormously, but it has been described as a water-dwelling creature with a dog's face, flippers and tusks. Its name might suggest it's something that could be dealt with by a chiropodist, but I've seen pictures of this brute and I wouldn't want to meet one on walkabout.
A dog-like Bunyip chowing down on a hapless man
The Bunyip, by J.McFarlane

Chupacabra

Said to stalk various parts of the Americas, this reptilian's name derives from the Spanish chupar 'to suck' and cabra 'goat', so called due to its habit of attacking livestock and drinking their blood. First reported in 1995 in Puerto Rick, the chupacabra is one of the most modern cryptids, and has spawned in the imagination of popular culture, appearing in books, horror movies, comics and music.

Dobhar-chú

Ireland's very own cryptid, dobhar-chú is some kind of cross between a dog, a fish and an otter. Powerful and agile in the water, it emits a haunting screech and at least one fatal attack on a human was recorded in the 17th century. One of the most recent sightings was in 2003, when artist Sean Corcoran claims to have seen it off Omey Island in Connemara, Co. Galway

Globster

Every so often, large, gelatinous masses of fleshy matter are discovered on beaches around the world. These globsters are undoubtedly organic, but have no discernible eyes, mouth parts, bones or body structure. The origin of globsters remains controversial - some say they're dead sea monsters; others say they're masses of whale blubber separated from a decaying carcass; some opine that they're simply misidentified American tourists lounging on the beach. Whichever of the three they are, the globster is a chilling sight.
An organic mass of ... something ... washed up on a beach
The St. Augustine carcass washed up on a beach in Florida in 1896

Jersey Devil

Said to inhabit the Pine Barrens of New Jersey, USA, the Jersey Devil is caprine, kangaroo-like creature, said to have the head of a goat, leathery wings, clawed hands and a forked tail. There have been numerous sightings of the Jersey Devil, and it has been blamed for the killing of livestock.

Loch Ness Monster

The Loch Ness Monster is arguably the world's most famous cryptid, inhabiting the stunningly beautiful and awe-inspiringly huge Loch Ness in the Scottish Highlands. There have been numerous suggested photographs of Nessie, as well as sonar readings of the loch that suggest there is something big down there, all of which have been hotly disputed by the scientific community. Believers suggest it could be a surviving pleiosaur, while scientists say it's simply a mixture of misidentification, myth, wishful thinking and hoax. 

Mongolian Death Worm

My personal favourite. Said to stalk (as much as a worm can stalk) the Gobi Desert in Asia, the fantastically named Mongolian Death Worm is bright red and between 2 - 5ft long. Some say it has the ability to spit acid and can kill at a distance by means of an electrical discharge. Various expeditions have been conducted to track down this terrible creature, but all have thus far returned empty-handed. Did I mention that it's called the Mongolian Death Worm? The Mongolian Death Worm! Come on, cryptozoologists - early bird and all that ...
Raaaargh! The Mongolian Death Worm!
(paining by Pieter Dirkx)

Yeti

The Yeti (also known as the Abominable Snowman) is a large bipedal humanoid creature said to inhabit the Himalayan region of Nepal and Tibet. Despite numerous investigations, no proof of its existence has ever been obtained, but some scientists believe it may be a misidentified (or otherwise undiscovered) species of bear.


What cryptids are there in your culture?

Have you ever seen a cryptid?
(or do you know someone that knows someone that's seen a cryptid? Because that's good enough)

Do please leave your most cryptic comments in the box below.

3 comments:

  1. I really enjoyed this post. I have always been intrigued by the odd, strange and weird things of the world. lol When I was in my early teens, there was a Bigfoot sighting up in the hills above our home. Also, my uncle Jim was interviewed by In Search Of (narrated by Leonard Nemoy), about his encounter with Bigfoot. I do think there could be something there--who really knows?! LOL Ah, it is so great there are still mysteries and the unexplained to explore.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm glad you enjoyed it, Beth. It was a lot of fun to research and write.

      And who knows what's out there?

      If there is anything really big waiting to be discovered, my bet would be on the oceans.

      Delete
  2. Today it seems that the paranormal is playing a big part in these sightings. Even Bigfoot has been linked to UFOs. If indeed these creatures are of a paranormal nature, then quite probably none will ever be caught or captured. Plus actually all of this has been around from the beginning of human kind.

    ReplyDelete