I have to admit to a lifelong fascination with cryptozoology, and other paranormal phenomena. It has been a hobby of mine since I learned to read. I belong to several Cryptozoological Organizations, and have been on many investigations. I have several decades of experience in this field.
Stories of Bigfoot, the Yeti, Nessie, Ogopogo, Chupacabra, and the like are thrilling. It brings some mystery and excitement into our world of normally ordered things. They spark our imagination. In the modern world, most of the globe has been completely domesticated, and only the deepest parts of the oceans, and the farthermost regions of space offer any more chances for adventure and discovery on a large-scale. Cryptids (unknown animals) supply a need in many of us…a need to believe there are still adventures and discoveries to be had. Granted, we discover things all the time, in laboratories, and through physics, mathematics, and even new species (mostly small things like jellyfish…very unexciting), but nothing on a grand scale like Marjorie Courtenay-Latimer, or Paul de Chaillu. Cryptids give us hope that the days of grand discoveries are not over.
But how likely is it that any of the animals we call Cryptids actually exist? It may help to know a little about ecology, and basic biology. The first principle is that no animal can exist in a vacuum. All animals, even humans, are a part of their environment, and everything they do effects that environment, as well as all the other species that live in it. So, they have to have an environmental ‘nitch’ to fit into. Next, the Adam and Eve scenario does not work in the real world. Genetic diversity is essential for a population to be able to survive, otherwise, in-breeding will eventually destroy the species, from the genes out. The accepted minimum number for a viable population of anything is 500, with at least 1/4 of them being males. This is why, in days gone by, small island populations welcomed visiting sailors and encouraged them to participate in the gene-pool, and why tribal societies always kidnapped women from other tribes. There could be no single Nessie, or Sasquatch. There has to be a breeding population. And lastly, no animal, especially a large one, can exist without leaving evidence of it’s existence. All animals have to excrete feces and urine, drop hair samples, and leave DNA behind. They also leave evidence of their food gathering habits, in the form of carcass remains, or chewed bark, vegetation, and again, feces and urine, all of which can contain DNA, hair, skin and blood samples. Footprints are only valuable to the effect that you can follow them, and sooner or later, they will lead you to one of the aforementioned pieces of evidence….evidence that can be analyzed in a laboratory.
The next thing to consider is what would be acceptable ‘evidence’. From a scientific point of view, a dead body is the absolute best. You don’t have to feed it, or care for it, and you can take all the samples you want, and examine it from the inside out, without worrying about hurting, or killing it. And a body can be preserved indefinitely. A live specimen might be the next best thing. But a live specimen has to be cared for, and many species, especially rare ones, do not do well in captivity. That’s why you never see a Great White Shark, a Mako, a Tuna, etc… in aquariums. They quickly die, no matter what you do for them. And, any live specimen will die eventually in any case, with the added disadvantage that, especially if the population is marginal, you just removed a breeding individual from their gene-pool…one they may not be able to spare. The last thing that the scientific world would consider as ‘proof’ would be actual tissue samples. In fact, these would probably be preferable to a live specimen, so that it can continue to breed in the wild. Live specimens can always be electronically tagged so that they can be found later, when needed. Photographs, movies, footprints and anecdotal reports are useless. They mean nothing, because they cannot be analyzed directly. Photo and movie analysis can only tell you if the picture has been faked, not exactly what is is. The Patterson movie of Bigfoot is a prime example. Is is a cryptid, or an man in a suit? All analysis could prove was that something, about the size of a human, was actually filmed. Everything else is just opinion and conjecture, not acceptable to science.
With all this in consideration, now let’s examine the available evidence……..Hmmmm. There doesn’t
seem to be any. To date, there has been no acceptable physical evidence found or submitted that would lend creedence to the idea that any of the animals designated as cryptids exist. No bodies, no body parts, no tissue samples, no urine or feces, no DNA….nothing. And many of these creatures have been investigated for over 100 years. Not even one small hair sample has been found in all that time, that could be identified as coming from a cryptid.
There have not even been any conclusive photographs or movies taken of cryptids. Pictures of crytpids are always either grainy, out of focus, or are of normal objects or phenomena, and some are just outright fakes, like the famous London Surgeons Photograph of Nessie. This is really odd, since digital photography has revolutionized the field, and camera phones make it easy to always have a camera handy. Yet, there are no acceptable pictures of cryptids that can be positively identified as such.
Why no evidence in all this time? Shunting aside the obvious conclusion (they don’t exist), let’s examine the common explanations for lack of evidence:
“These animals are very rare, and live in very remote places…” That dog won’t hunt. If you pick up any copy of National Geographic Magazine, you will find a plethora of stunning photographs of extremely rare animals, in very remote places, even from the ocean depths, so obviously, this can be done. And, the National Geographic Society has sponsored a few expeditions to search for at least some of the cryptids. I would think if there was anything out there, they would’ve brought back at least some good pictures. I love NGM…..
“The events are sudden, with no time to take a good picture” This won’t hold water either. There have been thousands of photographs taken of car and airplane crashes at the moment of impact, people being shot at the instant of the bullets impact, and even people jumping or falling from buildings and bridges, caught by the lens in mid-air. There have been pics of robberies and drug deals in-progress, animal attacks, and even lightning strikes. And most of these were before the age of digital photography and cell phones, where there is a point-and-shoot camera in almost every pocket. And, you can go to Walmart and buy Trail Cams, used by hunters. They have motion-sensors on them, and take pictures anytime they are tripped. There are also digital surveillance cameras available (also at Walmart), and the list goes on, and on….
“These animals are very shy, and do not leave any evidence of their passing” We’ve already covered this. This is impossible. They have to take a leak and a dump sometime….And why would a 7+ foot, several hundred-pound bruiser like Bigfoot be afraid of a puny 200 lb. human? The only reason any large animals are shy of humans is because they have been hunted and killed by us. And if this is so, then where are the bodies? If you don’t believe this, then try scaring off an elephant, rhinoceros, hippopotamus, or even a motivated grizzly bear sometime. Gorillas and Chimps are shy because they are illegally hunted. But there are plenty of bodies around to prove they exist. And don’t forget Trail-Cams, and Digital Surveillance….
“In nature, bodies are quickly processed by scavengers, and decomposition. You never see a dead bear in the woods….” Poppycock! I have found lots of carcasses, bones and other remains in the woods, of bears, deer and most other animals. And why has a cryptid never been hit by a car? They’ve been seen from roads and vehicles many times. Even if it doesn’t kill Sasquatch, tissue samples could be gathered from the bumper. And that is probably the reason it has never happened.
“ Lake Monsters live in very deep, infertile glacial lakes, which are difficult to explore…” Again, pure baloney! We regularly find nuclear submarines in the open ocean, who are purposely trying to hide. Finding a large animal in an enclosed lake would be a piece of cake. Can you say SONAR? Even an inexpensive fish-finder from Walmart would be able to find anything as large as lake monsters are reported to be. Loch Ness, in particular, has had its entire bottom mapped with SONAR. Nothing unusual has ever been found that could be attributed to Nessie. The only way a lake monster could hide from SONAR is if it is an invertebrate, without a hard skeleton, or shell to generate a SONAR return. Sea Serpents are a different story. The ocean is huge. However, (I served on a submarine in the Navy), all Navies keep a record of all sounds picked up on passive SONAR. These are identified and cataloged. When you go to school to lean how to operate SONAR, the first thing you learn is that everything in the ocean makes noise, from the smallest plankton to the largest whale, and even geological events. All the sounds are unique to the source. Few unidentified sounds have ever been recorded, and the few that have are most likely seismic disturbances at extreme depths on the ocean floor…the home of Black Smokers. The exception might be quackers. Quackers are sounds we used to pick up in the Barents Sea. I understand they were also picked by our Soviet counterparts, on maneuvers in the icy waters during the Cold War. They sound sort of like tree frogs, are very deep, fast and highly maneuverable, do not register on active SONAR, and react to the presence of submarines with great interest. The consensus is that these are a species of arctic Giant Squid, or other large mollusk. Cepholopods do not have a skeleton, and the only ‘hard’ parts of their bodies are the gladius (cuttlebone), and beak, both of which are too small to give a measurable return on a SONAR ‘ping’.
“I didn’t want to shoot it because it looked too much like a person…” it might actually have been a person, in some instances. But a resemblance to humans doesn’t seem to bother gorilla and chimpanzee poachers. And if you are dumb enough to walk around in the woods dressed in a costume, be advised. You may get shot, especially if I am in the same woods. If I saw a Bigfoot, I would shoot it in a heart-beat, and recover the specimen. I would get enough money just in personal appearances and interviews to cover any fines the Wildlife Dept. may issue me, and then some. It would settle the question once and for all, and the loss of one individual would not effect the population that much. And I doubt if I am unique in this attitude. Someone would’ve shot one by now….
Sadly, the lack of evidence appears to be overwhelming. It is unlikely that all of these animals could remain hidden from modern science at its present level of technology. Its a shame, because I would love for there to be lake monsters, and sea monsters, and things in the woods to add some spice to life.
But all is not completely lost. There is another group of animals that could be considered cryptids. These are animals that are believed to be extinct, but may still exist in isolated populations in more remote areas. The most famous of these are the several species of fish known as coelecanths. These are lobe-finned fishes that were pre-cursors to the amphibians, and thought to be extinct for 65 million years. A South African museum curator, Marjorie Courtenay-Latimer discovered a fresh specimen in 1938 (in a fish market, of all places….). Since then, many living specimens have been observed, and there at least two stable populations of these fish, one off the coast of South Africa, and one off the coast of Vietnam. They are two different species. However, these are not “living fossils” as is sometimes reported. They are just modern evolved species of a genus of fishes thought to be extinct.
Another good candidate for discovery is the Thylacine, or Tasmanian Wolf. Believed extinct since 1936, there have been numerous sightings in Tasmania, some as recently as 2010. There are also recent reported sightings of other recently extinct animals, such as the Carolina Parakeet, and the Passenger Pigeon. It is possible that isolated populations of these animals could have survived. There is not as much attention devoted to investigating these as there is for the more spectacular fauna like Bigfoot, Chupacabra, etc…
Don’t be discouraged. None of this proves that these animals do not exist (you can’t prove a negative…). Only that there is no proof that they do exist….yet. Keep looking. You never know what may turn up……