Cryptozoology, literally the search for hidden animals, is a fascinating fringe science. The name comes from the Greek kryptos (meaning hidden), zoon (meaning animals) and logia (meaning study). The first use of this unusual name (for an even more unusual discipline) is commonly attributed to the Belgian-French zoologist Bernard Heuvelmans, the founding father of cryptozoology; however, it was actually coined by his colleague, Lucien Blacou in 1959. Heuvelmans first published his now-famous book, On The Track of Unknown Animals, in 1955. In it, he offered serious scientific discussion to the search for animals unknown or unrecognised by science. He also proposed methods by which such animals might be discovered and catalogued. Many such animals were unrecognized only by Western science, as they were already well known by indigenous peoples and, as a result, cryptozoologists today tend to listen more closely than most to the myths, legends and oral histories of various cultures from around the world. A lot of animals, such as the giant squid and even the mountain gorilla (!) were once considered to be mythical by Western scientists. In fact, scornful scientists once mockingly branded the Okapi (or forest giraffe) as The African Unicorn. Today, you can see them at Marwell zoo. New species of animals are being discovered every year. In the past twelve months alone weve witnessed the discovery (although of course they were always here) of the olinguito, which is a South American relative of the racoon, the skeleton shrimp, a previously unknown type of (leaf tailed) gecko and even weird sea anemones that live a life encased in solid ice! But, of course, the most famous of these cryptids (the proper term for a monster not yet catalogued or accepted by science, it was coined by John E. Wall in 1983) are attention-grabbing creatures like Bigfoot, The Loch Ness Monster and El Chupacabre (the Mexican goat sucker). These monsters may provide interesting foil for comic book adventurers and Hollywood heroes and, indeed, many of them seem to conform more to Jungian archetypes and folkloric norms than they do to established natural patterns, but some of them offer distinct and tantalising possibilities that they may yet be discovered alive. Remember, this world is a big, astonishing and constantly surprising place. Here, then, are 8 creatures that could very well be sharing our planet, living, hunting and surviving, just out of sight, even as you read these words...
I am a professional author and lifelong comic books/pro wrestling fan. I also work as a journalist as well as writing comic books (I also draw), screenplays, stage plays, songs and prose fiction.
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