Cryptozoology: Fact or Fiction
Cryptozoology is a pseudoscience that involves searching for creatures whose existence has not been proven yet due to a lack of reliable evidence. The animals that are studied by cryptozoologists are referred to as cryptids. These creatures include animals that appear in folklore like Bigfoot or the Jersey Devil, wild animals outside of their regular geographical ranges, and non-avian dinosaurs. Cryptozoology is not recognized officially as a branch of zoology or a discipline of science. It qualifies as pseudoscience because it depends heavily on anecdotal evidence, sightings, and stories. Cryptozoology has been highly criticized due to its reliance on anecdotal information and because some who study it do not follow the scientific method. Instead, they lend a huge portion of their efforts to investigating animals that most scientists believe do not exist. Regardless, cryptozoology proves to be a popular topic for amateurs and the following entertaining and informative essay is one of the many writing services offered by Ultius.
This cryptid has many names:
- The Abominable Snowman
No matter what name the creature is given, it remains one of the most prevalent monster myths in world societies. They all share the same features and are believed to all be the same animal:
A large, hairy, ape-like figure that walks on two legs, stands approximately seven to nine feet tall, and weighs between six hundred pounds and a ton (Krystek).
In Asia, they call this creature the Yeti, while it is better known as Sasquatch in Canada and northern America; in fact, the word “sasquatch” means hairy giant in a number of Native American languages. There are many folktales and Native American legends about this animal. The first recorded sighting of a Sasquatch by a white man was in 1811 near what is now known as Jasper, Alberta. A trader by the name of David Thompson discovered some unfamiliar footprints in the snow. They had four toes, were fourteen inches long, and were eight inches wide (Krystek).
In 1884, The Daily Colonist of Victoria, British Columbia reported that a Sasquatch has been captured. A train crew spotted the animal along the Fraser River. They stopped the train, chased the creature down, and followed it up a hill before capturing it. They named the creature Jacko. He was described as being:
Something of the gorilla type, standing four feet seven inches in highest and weighing 127 pounds. He has long black, strong hair and resembles a human being with one exception, his entire body, excepting his hands (or paws) and feet are covered with glossy hair about one inch long… he possesses extraordinary strength, as he will take hold of a stick and break it by wrenching it or twisting it, which no man could break in the small way (Krystek).
Jacko’s description sounds a lot like a chimpanzee; so much so, and so unlike other Bigfoot reports, that many believe the creature actually was a chimpanzee, having escaped from a sailor or trader. Others believe that the whole story was nothing more than a hoax, as newspapers at the time often printed hoaxes as a way to amuse their readers. This practice of printed fabrication would come to be widespread in the gathering paranoia that would manifest itself in UFO sightings and alien encounter lore.
Eyewitness accounts of Bigfoot
Despite its probable lack of authentication of Jacko’s Sasquatch status, sightings of such creatures continued through the end of the century. Later, in 1910, two miners were found murdered and beheaded, their death attributed to Bigfoot animals (BFRO). There was little evidence, though, that the murders were not the result of humans. The scene was reminiscent of the rage of the creature from Mary Shelley’s novel, Frankenstein, brutal and savage. In 1924, three major Bigfoot sightings occurred:
- A Canadian lumberjack by the name of Albert Ostman was prospecting near the Tobet Inlet when he says he was captured by a family of Bigfoots. Ostman claimed that the daughter and father kept watch over him while the mother and son prepared vegetarian meals of roots, grass, and spruce needles. He was able to slip away after a week, but did not tell anyone his story until 1957, fearing that he would be thought a madman (Krystek).
- The second major incident that year took place near Mount St. Helens, Washington. A group of miners spotted a Sasquatch creature and shot at it, resulting in its death. That night, the miners reported that other Sasquatches surrounded their cabin at night. They threw rocks, pounded on the walls, and climbed onto the roofs, continuing until dawn. The miners abandoned the mine the next day.
- The final sighting of that year came from the same region from a prospector. He complained to a forest ranger that he was awoken in the middle of the night by stones being thrown at his cabin. Looking outside, the man reported that his cabin was surrounded by Sasquatches who were howling incessantly. In the morning, the man found huge footprints all around his cabin (Krystek).
Interest began to increase in the United States in 1958. A bulldozer operator found huge footprints near his work site in Humboldt County, California. He made a cast of the footprint and the story was printed in the local newspaper before being picked up by a number of other media outlets. The picture of the man holding the “big foot” gave the creatures the name they are commonly known by today. In 1967, Roger Patterson and Bob Gimlin captured the most well-known footage of a supposed Bigfoot sighting in the country. Their camera captured what is said to be a female Bigfoot moving across a clearing in northern California. The film is not very clear, but no one has ever been able to prove that the footage is a hoax. Another account of a supposed Bigfoot sighting comes from a man who claimed that he watched a family of Bigfoots dig through a pile of heavy rocks to eat the small animals underneath, like woodchucks and marmots. When investigators returned to the sight, they found that approximately thirty holes were dug and some of the boulders that were moved weighed almost three hundred pounds.
Lack of verifiable evidence
Despite multiple sightings over hundreds of years and thousands of miles, those that hold doubt over the existence of these creatures do so with many reasons. There have been several Bigfoot sightings that turned out to be hoaxes. Footprints have been faked with wooden feet or doctored boots, with one company even selling large, plastic feet you can strap on to leave footprints to fool your friends. Many scientists believe that if these creatures exist, surely we would have found a carcass by now. If they can sustain a breeding population, there should be bodies of their dead. Still, none of have ever been found and many sightings are dismissed as mere hyperbole.
The Loch Ness monster
The Loch Ness Monster is a cryptid that reportedly inhabits the Loch Ness in Scotland. Though its description can sometimes vary, most agree that the monster is extremely large. Scottish folklore is not short on stories of large aquatic animals. One of the more popular creatures, water kelpies, appear as horses that offer children rides on their back before diving into the depths of the water to devour them. The first recorded sighting of the beast took place in 565 when St. Columba turned away a monster that was attacking a man on the Ness River, a river that feeds into the loch (Radford). Many dispute this as a Catholic legend, as stories of saints vanquishing Satan in the form of such a serpentine beast were not uncommon. Since then, up until the twentieth century, there have been dozens of reported sightings of a supposed monster. Though records of Loch Ness sightings date back to sixth century, popular interest really began during the 1930s. In 1933, a new road was built along the coastline, which allowed people a clear view of the lake from the north side. A couple reported seeing:
“an enormous animal rolling and plunging on the surface” (Lyons).
Public interest in the monster vastly increased and has been a phenomenon ever since. Hundreds of people began flocking to the lake to try to catch a glimpse of the Loch Ness Monster.
Thousands of supposed sightings rolled into various news outlets. Most described a creature that was enormous in size and had one or more humps popping up above the surface. Other eyewitnesses reported seeing a long neck or flippers. The vast majority of eyewitness testimony claiming to see the animal were trustworthy:
- Even a Nobel Prize winner
Beginning in the 1950s, various sonar expeditions were launched to determine once and for all if such a monster did live just under the surface of the Loch Ness. The studies were done by esteemed British universities and used military technology to scan the fathoms below. They reportedly found nothing conclusive, but each sonar operator detected large objects moving beneath the water that could not be explained (Lyons). Through the decades, the sightings continue. There have been several hoaxes in regards to photographs and sightings of the monster, but people still believe the Loch Ness monster is out there.
The Mothman is a cryptid that is commonly reported to be seen near Point Pleasant, West Virginia. The first Mothman sighting took place on November 12, 1966. Five men were digging a grave for a burial in a local cemetery when:
a large, brown humanoid creature lifted off from some nearby trees and soared over the men’s heads (“The Mothman Legend”).
Three days later, a young couple drove past an old TNT plant and spotted a creature with two huge eyes, folded wings, and a human-like body, but was approximately seven feet tall. The couple sped away but the creature followed them down the road, keeping up as the sped away at one hundred miles per hour. Another group reported seeing the same beast later that night. That same evening:
A man stated that his hunting dog began barking at the door. When the man opened it, the dog bolted towards a huge, bird-like creature with large red orbs for eyes. The dog never returned. Later that night, another man reported seeing the creature back at the TNT plant with a large dog lying dead at its feet (“Mothman: The Enigma of Point Pleasant”).
As sightings continued, the town began to panic and worry for their safety. One family, who lived near the plant, saw the Mothman while walking in the woods and fled back to their home. Once inside, they were horrified as the creature climbed onto their porch and shuffled between the windows. There were over one hundred Mothman sightings between the first sighting and November of the following year. Skeptics believed the Mothman to be nothing more than a Sandhill Crane, a huge bird with red coloring around its eyes. However, many of the witnesses were hunters or fisherman, making it hard to believe that they could have mistaken a bird for a seven-foot humanoid creature. It was later found that the TNT plant had been leaking mutagenic toxic waste into the wildlife preserve nearby (“The Mothman Legend”). This made many believe that perhaps the Mothman is the result of a local animal mutated by toxic sludge? Mothman sightings eventually died down, but they were certainly not forgotten; the town of Point Pleasant, West Virginia is home to the Mothman Museum and the famous Metal Mothman statue that lies in the center of town.
Despite the lack of irrefutable evidence, cryptozoology continues to be a popular subject for thousands of people across the world. Nonbelievers dismiss them as myths and legends, but there are many people who would disagree. While one would think that these creatures would have been found already should they truly be out there somewhere, can we really be sure? According to National Geographic, an estimated eighty six percent of the world’s total species have yet to be discovered by humans (Watson). With over one million known species, we still do not know more than seven million of them. With that staggering statistic, who is to say for sure that these cryptids exist or not?
BFRO. The Bigfoot Field Researchers Organization (BFRO), 1995. Web. 24 May 2016. .
Krystek, Lee. “Bigfoot of North America.” The Museum of Unnatural Mystery. Lee Krystek, 1997. Web. 24 May 2016. .
Lyons, Stephen. “The Legend of Loch Ness.” Nova. PBS WGHB Educational Foundation, 12 Jan. 1999. Web. 24 May 2016. .
“Mothman: The Enigma of Point Pleasant.” Unexplained America. Troy Taylor, 2001. Web. 24 May 2016. .
Radford, Benjamin. “Loch Ness Monster: Facts About Nessie.” Live Science. Purch, 22 Apr. 2015. Web. 24 May 2016. .
“The Mothman Legend.” Gods and Monsters. Royal Mint Publishing, LLC, 2010. Web. 24 May 2016. .
Watson, Traci. “86 Percent of Earth’s Species Still Unknown?” National Geographic. National Geographic Society, 25 Aug. 2011. Web. 24 May 2016. .