When most people hear the term “Cryptozoology”, they immediately think of a bunch of guys on Discovery Channel walking around in the woods looking for Bigfoot. Or, someone staking out the shores of loch ness looking for signs of a prehistoric monster.
To most people, either of these groups are just nut bags looking for non existent creatures. But is there any legitimacy to cryptozoology?
The truth is, there are a lot of animals that are now well known to science that were not to long ago considered myths. Let’s take a look at a few of the better known former mythological creatures that are now science fact.
The Giant Squid
Twenty years ago, when I was in high school, the giant squid was considered a myth. There had been a few dead specimens that had washed up on sure, but most scientists considered those mutated variations of other squids. Then, in December of 2006, someone finally caught a live specimen on video. For centuries people thought the giant squid was a myth, yet in 2006 it went from cryptozoology to scientific fact.
Once a mythical sea creature, the Megamouth shark was first confirmed to exist when one was caught in 1976. Since then, only 60 specimens have been caught, or sighted, and only 3 have ever been videotaped alive and in the wild.
For many centuries people scoffed at the idea of large, hairy humanoid creatures living in the mountains of the Africa. It wasn’t until 1847, when naturalist Thomas Savage obtained several gorilla bones, including skulls, in Liberia, and wrote, with Harvard anatomist Jeffries Wyman, the first formal description of the gorilla that people began to believe. A decade later, explorer Paul du Chaillu sent several gorilla carcasses back to Europe and people finally accepted the existence of gorillas. Mountain gorillas remained a myth until 1902, when they were first identified by German captain Robert von Beringe.
Pandas were well known to the Chinese throughout history, however westerners thought they were a myth when the stories of these vegetarian black and white bears were first told to them. For close to 60 years, westerners marched around the woods in China looking for a real panda. One can’t help but wonder if they would have had Discovery Channel shows about them had their been TV in the late 1800’s. It wasn’t until they were finally spotted by German zoologist Hugo Weigold in 1916 that westerners began to believe the stories.
For years, tales of an Indonesian island with giant reptiles on it were thought to be myth and folklore. in 1926, an expedition from the American Museum of Natural History confirmed that the tales of giant lizards were true. The leader of the expedition, W. Douglas Burden, returned with twelve Komodo Dragon corpses, and two live ones Thus proving the creatures existence to the amazement of science.
When reports first began to surface of a strange egg laying mammal with a duck bill, and beaver tail first started to emerge, most scientists thought they were a myth. In 1798 when the first corpse of a platypus was brought back to Europe for study, scientists thought it was an elaborate hoax set up by a skilled taxidermist. Dr George Shaw, who first scientifically categorized the species in 1799, was so sure the carcass he had received was a hoax that he took a pair of scissors to the pelt, expecting to find stitches attaching the bill to the skin.
So we may think the bigfoot hunters, and lake monster stalkers of today are nothing more then Discovery Channel fodder, The truth is, there are likely many species of animals that modern science has yet to discover. There may actually be more species of large ape like creatures living in the woods of North America. And although the chances of pliosaurs still roaming the lakes and lochs of the world may be non existent, it is very likely that there are species of giant animals in our large bodies of water yet to be discovered. So it may be wise to not write off every cryptid as myth…READ MORE +