What’s Cryptozoology

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The term cryptozoology means the study of hidden animal life and is derived from the Greek kryptos which means hidden and from zoology, the science of animals, and it is used to refer to study and attempted discovery of animals that are considered to be mythical or otherwise non-existent, e.g. extinct animals, by mainstream biological science. Such animals are described as cryptids. Because the animals that cryptozoologists study have no basis in mainstream science, some critics have described the field as being merely pseudoscientific, accusing the practitioners of not following tested scientific procedures and merely depending on anecdotal evidence and devoting their efforts to searching for animals that are extinct (like the dodo) or those that are unlikely to have ever existed (like the Loch Ness monster).

This criticism is not based on the idea that science knows all or most of what can be known of all the animal species that share the earth with man; indeed, most mainstream scientists accept that our knowledge of the species that co-inhabit the earth with us is pretty scanty and that there are more undiscovered animals than there are discovered ones. The real grouse of the mainstream scientific community is that they hold the view that the vast majority of undiscovered animals are likely to be small invertebrates, and that cryptozoologists largely ignore these animals and concentrate their search for currently unknown species to mega-fauna  of doubtful existence. Such large animals, the critics assert, can hardly remain hidden if they survive with even the most minimal breeding populations.

This position is by no means accepted by cryptozoologists who point out that the inventory of large animals is by no means complete. Large marine animals, e.g. the coelacanth, which had been thought to be extinct for millions of years, turn up in existence from time to time. Given the paucity of current knowledge about the world’s seas, it would be foolhardy to make categorical statements regarding what kinds of animals live or do not live in the seas. Further, more recent discoveries such as the 1968 discovery of the previously unknown megamouth shark only go to confirm these views.

Cryptozoologists further point out that the possible existence of large undiscovered animals is not limited to possible marine species. They point out that for many years, large land species like the mountain gorilla of West Africa, the Hoan Kiem turtle of Vietnam, and the panda of China were routinely dismissed by mainstream scientists as myths or, even hoaxes.
On a balance of probabilities, it would seem that the position of cryptologists is sounder than those of its critics; there is just so much that we do not know about our world that it would be foolhardy to make hard and fast judgments regarding what can and what can not be discovered. For instance, Henry Gee, the British paleontologist and evolutionary biologist, is of the view that the recent discovery of homo floresiensis provides possible evidence that humanoid cryptids like the yeti and the orang pendek actually do exist.

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