Cryptozoology is one of the newest life sciences, and certainly one of the most amazing. It is the study and thrilling pursuit of those animals which fall into one of these two categories. Animals which are known, but thought to be extinct and animals which have yet to be discovered and scientifically classified. While some scientists consider cryptozoology a pseudoscience, others give it credence due to finding of several real-life creatures such as Komodo Dragon, Okapi, Platypus, and the Mountain Gorilla. These were considered just local legends and myths until they were captured and seen by men. The ridicule then turned into amazement! People were very amazed when the news of the Coelacanth, an extinct fish that supposedly died out when dinosaurs met their demise some 65 million years ago was found alive, when one was caught in a net off the coast of South Africa in 1938.
Cryptozoology literally means “the study of hidden animals“. It comes from the Greek words “kryptos” (hidden), “zoon” (animal), and “logos” (study). The animals being studied are called “cryptids“. This word was coined in 1983 when John E. Wall submitted a letter to the editor of ISC Newsletter (vol 2, # 2, page 10). It was the quarterly publication of the now defunct International Society of Cryptozoology. As long as animals are unknown and remain unidentified, they are considered cryptids. However, once an animal is found and identified it is no longer a cryptid, as it is hidden no more. I believe cryptozoology can be a prequel to the science of zoology and not a hindrance. Big Foot and Loch Ness Monster (Nessie) may have brought the spotlight to cryptozoology, but 99 % of cryptids are known only to the scientists and researchers who seek to find them and bring them into the zoological classification list. They may be a new species of fish, a reptile thought to be extinct, or a pack of wolves that has evaded capture for decades. Most cryptids don’t have bat-like wings or breathe fire.They look similar to existing species but are genetically different, leading them to be classified as a new species or sub species of animals.
In 1988, Bernard Heuvelmans gave a detailed description of cryptozoology. “Hidden animals with which cryptozoology is concerned, are by definition very incompletely known. To gain more credence, they have to be documented as carefully and exhaustively as possible by a search through the most diverse fields of knowledge. Cryptozoological research thus requires not only a thorough grasp of most of the zoological sciences, including, of course physical anthropology, but also certain training in such extraneous branches of knowledge as mythology, linguistics, archaeology and history. It will consequently be conducted more extensively in libraries, newspaper morgues, regional archives, museums, art galleries, laboratories, and zoological parks rather in the field!”
Many books have been written on cryptozoology. A huge list of these books can be viewed on http://www.amazon.com/books/cryptozoology .