Thoughts on cryptozoology? Is there any credibility in the field or is it all just a bunch of conspiracists?
Listen. Friend. Buddy.
I have a special place in my heart for
thylacines cryptozoology. I used to be the biggest UNSOLVED MYSTERIES-type geek you can imagine. I think my parents were ready to chuck me into the Bermuda Triangle themselves by the time I was 10. Then, of course, I discovered paleontology, and learned that the weird-ass body plans of the Cambrian left every mystery with no scientific basis in the dust.
With that in mind, you can trust me when I say that yes, cryptozoologists are, generally, a bunch of walnuts. Look me in the eyes and tell me you could take this article seriously.
Obsessive cryptozoologists aside, I think we can all agree that the actual plausibility of cryptids is a matter of degree. I’m sure we still remember that time in 2013 when Amazonian locals metaphorically roundhouse kicked obnoxious scientists in the face by finally proving that their “mysterious” extra tapir species was a real thing. Undiscovered species of mammal living among others of the same genus in the same locale? Totally plausible. Undiscovered species of extinct marine reptile lurking in a freshwater loch for 65my? Not so much.
Fortunately, cryptozoology has already categorized their cryptids, and the list roughly follows the likelihood of them actually existing. The list goes from things very closely related to known animals all the way down to things that have no known basis, so that’s how I’m defining “plausibility”. Not to crush anyone’s dreams of glory and revolutionary discoveries, but if there were mothmen hiding in the woods, we’d have found mothstralopithecines in the fossil record.
MOVING RIGHT ALONG. For example, the first category of cryptid is “animals outside their known range”, such as the “big cats of Britain” - a totally plausible cryptid, since we know humans have been carting invasive species all over the planet since the dawn of colonization, losing their exotic pets, and just generally being terrible about maintaining local ecosystems. So, very likely. Why is this even a cryptid category? Who is responsible for this.
The second category is “unusual variations of known species”, such as the spotted lions of the Aberdare Mountains. We know that big cats interbreed easily in captivity - spotted hybrids of lion/leopard mixes have been documented. Could they happen in the wild? Again, it’s plausible. Less likely than the first category - known species ending up in places they shouldn’t - but plausible.
I won’t go through the whole list (I almost did. I wrote it all. It was ten paragraphs of cryptid / Dante’s Inferno crossover fanfiction. You got off easy), but just so you get an idea of the full spectrum, the last two categories are “animal-like paranormal/supernatural entities” and “known hoaxes”. Do I even need to elaborate on the plausibility of these? No. The last one shouldn’t even be a category. Throw those terrible taxidermies of a hare with antlers strapped to its head into the garbage already. Seriously.
TL;DR: DON’T WRITE OFF ALL OF CRYPTOZOOLOGY AS COMPLETE NONSENSE. BUT ALSO PLEASE WRITE OFF MOST OF CRYPTOZOOLOGY AS COMPLETE NONSENSE.