The continuous discovery of new species of animals has raised one question. That question is this: How many more undiscovered animals are out there in the world? There are two fields of study, science and cryptozoology, that are at the forefront of answering this question. Science states that there has to be a specimen to study, in order to classify a previously unknown animal. Cryptozoology on the other hand, is defined as the study of unknown animals.
In the world of science, absolute proof is king. Unless you can provide a specimen for study, that thing simply does not exist. However, a field of study called Cryptozoology operates on a completely different paradigm. Cryptozoology is the study of unknown, unclassified animals. It seems that new species are being discovered on a regular basis now. Two factors that could be contributing to these new discoveries are habitat encroachment and advances in technology. So how do they find all of these new species? They search, conduct countless hours of research, and follow leads: sometimes it is just a matter of being in the right place at the right time. Many people accept what science has to say as the absolute truth; however, there is a growing majority of the population that feels science doesn’t know everything. Although the scientific community is well respected, represented, and educated, they do make mistakes: they can be wrong.
Do we know about all the species of animals that inhabit our planet? The answer to that question would be no. Just because someone sees something that they cannot recognize or explain, does that mean it doesn’t exist? Science would say yes; the cryptozoologist would say no. The cryptozoologist would listen with an open mind, and if intrigued enough, he or she would systematically rule out what it could, or could not be, conduct initial research, and then field work. Alternatively, science would deny any possibility of the existence of something they could not explain, until someone produced a specimen for them to study. For example, take the incidents of people seeing a black and white bear in China, with black spots around its eyes, that primarily feeds on bamboo. The scientific community laughed scoffed and stated that no such bear could possibly exist. Today the Giant Panda is known worldwide, and studied extensively. Just because science had not physically seen one, they were convinced that the species was not real. A cryptozoologist would not have dismissed the stories so easily. They thrive on these types of reports and keep an open mind. Science has a closed mind when it comes to things they cannot explain. Take the next examples and decide for yourself.
Reports began to come forth about an island inhabited by giant lizards, sometimes ten feet long or more, which could devour a human. Whereas a cryptozoologist would listen to the reports, and ask questions, science once again rejected the reports as imagination, or stories made up by the locals. Now, anyone can turn on the television, or do an internet search, and see actual film footage of the Komodo Dragons. Another good example of just how closed minded science can be is the mountain gorilla. With their superiorly educated minds, they claimed that gorillas could not exist in such mountainous terrain, despite many people reporting that they did. Thanks to the groundbreaking work by Diane Fossey, science was once again proven wrong. Science also proclaimed the Coelacanth, a prehistoric fish species, totally extinct. Imagine their surprise when years ago, a Coelacanth was hauled up in a fishing net, and the locals reported having caught them for years. If science cannot physically see something, again it does not exist. Hand a report like this to a cryptozoologist, and he or she would thank you.
Science has a reputation to uphold. They are highly respected for their desire to study things, and enhance the knowledge we have of them. They refuse to accept something that could compromise their integrity among their peers. Cryptozoologists have a passion for the unknown. Most are also highly educated, yet they pursue the unknown to satisfy their own curiosity. Certainly there are a few who do it for monetary gain, but for the most part cryptozoologists are genuinely interested in finding answers to their own questions. They rarely receive research grants, often spending their own hard earned money to purchase equipment, or travel to various locales to pursue their subject of study. Many of these dedicated people lead ordinary lives, and their integrity is in being true to themselves.
One of the more popular subjects of the cryptozoology field is the Sasquatch, also known as Bigfoot, Yeti, Almasty, and many other names. These creatures have been reported for hundreds of years, often by highly respected eyewitnesses, from all over the world. Many credible witnesses have reported seeing these hairy hominids, yet science refuses to accept the existence of such a creature without a specimen to study. The Chupacabra, or “goat sucker”, is another widely known member of the cryptozoology field along with the Loch Ness Monster. The list of subjects is long, but the attention given to it by science is short.
Science prefers a specimen to dissect, scrutinize, and compare to other species before they will admit it is real. The cryptozoologist prefers a live specimen to study, namely in its own habitat. Some members of the Cryptozoology field feel it is necessary to harvest a specimen to satisfy science, but there is only so much one can learn from a dead body. Why does something have to be killed in order to prove it exists? If you heard stories of someone in your neighborhood with eleven fingers, would you think it necessary to kill that person, and then systematically cut them up, just to prove the stories were true? Of course not; seeing would be believing. Some very compelling evidence of the Sasquatch has been submitted, yet unlike photos of the Coelacanth, science refuses to accept it as proof. Hair sample analysis has stated that purported Sasquatch hairs have tested as unknown primate, yet there has been no movement towards actual involvement in seeking the subject the hair samples came from.
I have only touched on a few topics here, just to give an idea of how science and cryptozoology operate. Some may choose one side, while others may choose the other. Still yet, some may avoid the issue altogether, the choice is up to the reader. Science has already been proven wrong on more than one occasion. The cryptozoologist undauntedly chases stories and legends. Which side is right, and which side is wrong? The answer is neither. Both parties act accordingly to their own beliefs, and this sometimes leads to heated debates. Science has more credibility behind it, but due to its reluctance to accept the unknown, crypto zoology is more likely to discover something to shake up the world. While both sides have their own beliefs and systems, imagine what they could accomplish together.
October 2010, Gene McCauley