Cryptozoology: An Introduction
Many people have differing views of Cryptozoology; in fact, many of these same people don't realize exactly how important it is. While there are many scientists dedicated to the science that is Cryptozoology, there are just as many who bring shame to the scientific community. My goal isn't to make you a Cryptozoologist, my goal is to provide information and ideas on the subject to light. Many people are interested in Cryptozoology as a hobby, which in itself leads to much skepticism. The fact that anybody can do it makes it so controversial that most dedicated scientists stay away from it.
Dr. Bernard Heuvelmans first coined the phrase "Cryptozoology" in his personal correspondence among colleagues after the 1955 French publication of his book "On the Track of Unknown Animals". This was followed in 1959 when a book by Lucien Blancou was dedicated to "Bernard Heuvelmans, master of Cryptozoology," marking the first published use of the word.
In fact, Heuvelmans was very active in the field until his death in August 2001, writing extensively in the journal Cryptozoology on his current thoughts defining and redefining Cryptozoology.
What is Cryptozoology? By definition, Cryptozoology is the study of hidden or unknown animals or cryptids. It is a quest for knowledge and truth. It is an investigation in the mysteries of life and a look into the world of nature, all the while trying to understand it. One of the things that make Cryptozoology so popular to everyday people is not only the search for the unknown, but the thrill of the hunt. People love things they can't explain. From ghosts to UFOs, popularity is based on the unfamiliar outside of the mainstream belief systems in place in society.
What many people don't realize is that Cryptozoology has played an important part in some of the most important scientific discoveries of modern times. Animals such as the Giant Squid, Giant Panda, Mountain Gorilla and the Congo Peacock were all part of cryptozoological lore prior to their factual discovery. In some of their cases it took decades to find solid evidence of their existence, in fact it took 67 years for western society to capture a Giant Panda.
In reality, there is no such thing as a Cryptozoologist. There is no recognized scientific community for this study or any degree programs available, although, many of you have probably heard people call themselves Cryptozoologists. Cryptozoology may never be considered a true science, even though so many important discoveries have come from this field. However, with the amount of legendary creatures that exist in legends and folklore, Cryptozoology is here to stay.
No matter what the skeptics believe, Cryptozoology is a scientific subject, and should be pursued in a scientific manner. Even though like many of the other paranormal fields of investigation, anybody can take up this fascinating and sometimes rewarding field, professionalism in research is a must. Everybody that does research in this field must use great care in gathering evidence. You also must realize that not every cryptid has to be real, nor does it have to be what we think it is.
It would be impossible to believe that we know every living entity that resides in this world. We have such a small grasp of our own being, the world or even our universe to think that the impossible could not exist. As I sit here today, I am sure that there are things right around the corner that defy our conventional scientific explanations. It is these unsolved mysteries that many dedicated volunteers spend countless hours researching.
Many people argue that Cryptozoology requires specialization, and for the most part they are absolutely correct. Cryptozoology, like its closest scientific relative traditional Zoology, is a very wide field and should be viewed as such. In Zoology, people specialize in a certain species, documenting all there is to know about that species. The same should happen with Cryptozoology, although that isn't always the case. Often times you will see someone write an article about Bigfoot one month and follow that article with one on the Loch Ness Monster the next. It is these individuals that lend support to the skeptics and help discredit the process.
It should be noted that Cryptozoology is not a paranormal field of investigation, although many of the ideals used in paranormal research are in fact the same. Some books and websites list creatures such as vampires or zombies in the Cryptozoological category; they are absolutely incorrect and are one of the major reasons why the cryptozoological field falls prey to many skeptics. Vampires and zombies should be classified in folklore as legends and should be researched as such.