If we always go for the most likely explanation then how will we ever discover anything that is truly strange? Investigate the unlikely.


Cryptozoology is the study of unknown creatures or creatures whose existence has not yet been proven due to lack of evidence. Cryptozoologists refer to the animals they study as "Cryptids". They attempt to bring a more scientific and scholarly approach to the investigation of the strange beings that are sighted across the world.

This includes living examples of animals that are otherwise considered extinct, creatures whose existence lacks physical evidence but which appear in folklore, and wild animals dramatically outside their normal geographic ranges.

Few scientists doubt that there are thousands of unknown animals awaiting discovery but yet Cryptozoology is often not thought of as a recognized branch of zoology by mainstream science and is technically considered a pseudoscience by many because of its use of anecdotal evidence, stories, and alleged sightings.

The majority of well known Cryptozoology is directed towards the search for Cryptids such as Bigfoot, the Yeti, and the Loch Ness Monster, which appear often in popular culture, but for which there is little or no scientific support.

Greek: Kryptoz, hidden + zoon, animal + logia, study

Former Cryptids:

There are many species that were once considered superstition, hoaxes, delusions, or misidentifications at one time but then were later accepted as legitimate by the scientific community. Cryptozoologists suggest that descriptions and reports of folkloric creatures should be investigated as well encase a real world undiscovered animal is the cause of the sightings.

New species have rarely been predicted by Cryptozoologists but other people and researchers have stumbled upon real animals thought to be fiction. The existence of these former myths is often thought to be a justification for the effort of Cryptozoology.


The okapi is a mammal native to the northeast of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Central African tribes and ancient Egyptians described and depicted this bizarre creature for centuries, colloquially dubbed the “African unicorn” by Europeans.

Despite descriptions from explorers and even skins, Western science rejected the existence of such a creature, viewing it as nothing more than a fantastical chimera of real animals. This changed in 1901 when Sir Harry Johnston, the British governor of Uganda, obtained pieces of striped skin and even a skull of the legendary beast from the Congo. Through this evidence and the eventual capture of a live specimen, the animal was recognized by mainstream science.

Although the discovery was not made by a Cryptozoologist, The okapi was the symbol of the now defunct International Society of Cryptozoology and remains a persisting icon of Cryptozoology to this day.

Mountain Gorilla

For centuries, tales of large “ape-men” in East Africa have captivated explorers and natives alike. Numerous tribes have legends of massive, hairy creatures that would kidnap and eat humans, overpowering them with their ferocity and strength.

In the sixteenth century, English explorer Andrew Battel spoke of man-like apes that would visit his campfire at night, and in 1860, explorer Du Chaillu wrote of violent, bloodthirsty forest monsters. Up until the twentieth century, many of these tales were ignored or discounted.

In 1902, German officer Captain Robert von Beringe shot one of these “man-apes” in the Virunga region of Rwanda. Bringing it back to Europe with him, he introduced the world to this new species of ape: The Mountain Gorilla

Today, mountain gorillas are known to be communal, largely docile herbivores that live in the Virunga Mountains in Central Africa, and in Uganda. One of the earliest written accounts of gorillas may come from Hanno the Navigator, a Carthaginian explorer who documented his travels along the African coast in 500 B.C. Hanno describes a tribe of “gorillae”, roughly meaning “hairy people”. His description served as the inspiration for the modern name gorilla.

The Giant Squid

Tales of enormous squids have circulated throughout the world since ancient times. Aristotle and Pliny the Elder both described such monsters; legends such as the Lusca (Caribbean), Scylla (Ancient Greece), and the sea monk (Medieval Europe) all describe a bizarre, often dangerous nautical creature. Perhaps the most famous legendary squid is the Norse Kraken, a monstrous, tentacled beast as large as an island that devoured ships whole. Scientific opinion held such creatures as nothing more than ridiculous myths, on par with mermaids or sea serpents. 

In the 1870s, several carcasses were beached in Labrador and Newfoundland. Giant Tentacles and complete corpses revealed to the scientific world that the giant squid was indeed real. Only in 2004 were a group of Japanese scientists able to capture a live giant squid on camera, taking 500 automatic photographs before the creature swam back into the blackness.

The Crypto-Timeline:

  • January 30th 1911: Ivan T. Sanderson is born
  • 1920s: The word Sasquatch is coined by teacher and story collector J. W. Burns
  • 1921: The phrase Abominable Snowman is coined by newsman Henry Newman
  • Spring 1933: Loch Ness Monster reports begin
  • 1940s: Ivan T. Sanderson coins the term Cryptozoology
  • 1947: The term Cryptozoology is used by Ivan T. Sanderson (Articles about Sea Serpents 1947-48 in English)
  • July 12th 1947: Loren Coleman is born
  • 1955 (French) - 1958 (English): Bernard Heuvelmans's book "On the Track of Unknown Animals" is released
  • October 1958: Bluff Creek sighting, "Bigfoot" name is coined by construction workers then introduced by newspaper editor Andrew Genzoli
  • 1959: The term Cryptozoology is used in a french book by Lucien Blancou, dedicated to "Bernard Heuvelman, Master of Cryptozoology."
  • March 1960: Loren Coleman watches a film about Yeti called "Half Human". The film, as well as the work of Sanderson and Heuvelmans, inspires him to investigate
  • 1961: The term Cryptozoological is first officially printed in an English book by Ivan T. Sanderson entitled "Abominable Snowmen: Legend Come To Life"
  • October 20th 1967: The Patterson "Bigfoot" Film, Bluff Creek
  • April 1977: Dover Demon reports, name coined by Loren Coleman
  • 1982: International Society of Cryptozoology formed
  • 1983: The term Cryptid coined
  • March 1995: The name Chupacabra (Meaning Goatsucker) is coined
  • 2003: Cryptozoology Museum established in Portland, Maine by Loren Coleman

Mothman In Cryptozoology?

Loren Coleman is the leading Cryptozoologist. He was also a friend of Mothman investigator, John Keel. Loren wrote Mothman and other curious encounters and the Mothman Death List. Hes also done a lot of other work involving the creature. He was a publicity consultant for The Mothman Prophecies Film and was the one who suggested to Jeff Wamsley to make a Mothman Museum and Mothman Festival.

In his curious encounters book, he made the case that Mothman belongs in Cryptozoology. He acknowledged the role that Folklore plays in the study of Cryptids, suggesting that they should work in tandem with Folklore building the popularity and interest while cryptozoologists attempt to find if there is a real animal behind the sightings.

Skeptic Joe Nickell, the man behind with the Owl explanation for Mothman, regarded Loren Coleman as "the best of a bad lot" and once said "I now apply the term cryptozoologist to myself, albeit usually adding the adjective skeptical to clarify my orientation".

Loren Coleman established a Cryptozoology Museum in 2003 in Portland, Maine. The museum features a small exhibit about The Mothman, giving him his place among Cryptozoology.

Crytozoology A to Z by Loren Coleman
Monster Hunters by Tea Krulos
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