Searching for Creatures People Can't Prove Are Real


Cryptozoologists investigate creatures that may or may not exist and that science doesn’t accept. Every day, people swear up and down that they are real. These ”monster-hunters” of cryptozoology interview those people who claim to have encountered such beasts as Bigfoot, the Loch Ness Monster, the Sirrush, the Chupacabra and Mokele Mbembe. Cryptozoologists aren’t much interested in mythical or ghostly animals. They spend their time working to discover animals rooted in biology, like the okapi and the coelacanth. But cryptozoologists don’t dismiss folklore as mythology. They have found folklore to be a valuable tool in investigating cryptids. Loren Coleman is arguably the most noted cryptozoologist in the world.

The Success Stories

Science fought against the existence of the okapi, coelacanth and pongo. The stories were just too off-the-wall and too spectacular to be true. After all, who can believe that an animal exists that looks like a mixture of a zebra and a giraffe? Sir Harry Johnston did. He gathered evidence from African natives and convinced his peers enough to gain research funds. An okapi was later captured and could be disputed no longer. Very few okapi exist today with wild ones only living in the Congan rainforest. The coelacanth, thought to have gone extinct 65 million years ago, was rediscovered in 1938 and still exists in today's world. This “living fossil fish” has been found in South Africa and Indonesia, although reports of the fish have been found all over the world, including freshwater lakes. Folklore once called the pongo a wild man who loved eating humans. Others told the story of a shapeshifter who morphed into beautiful, cannibalistic women who caught men before changing back into a monster. Cryptozoologists discovered in 1847 that pongos did indeed exist. Today you visit the pongo, now known as the orangutan, a vegetarian, at your local zoo.

The Anomalies

Bigfoot

The big, hairy pongo might well be the cousin of another large, hairy, humanoid monster called Bigfoot. Bigfoot sightings have been relegated to the Pacific Northwest of the United States, mostly in Washington, Oregon and the northern mountains of California. In western Canada it is known as the Sasquatch or the Yeti, although Americans also call him those more scientific-sounding names. Documented sightings include field reports and interviews by both locals and cryptozoologists. All sightings are classified A, B, or C. Class A sightings involve such documentation as footprints that can be ruled out as belonging to other animals with certainty. Class B reports are credible, but not visual. These have a greater potential for misinformation and misidentification. Class C reports have the highest potential for being inaccurate. According to the Bigfoot Field Researchers Organization, a scientific research organization founded in 1995, the most recent documented Class A sighting was on February 24, 2011 in La Salle County, Illinois. On a clear night, two drivers in Seneca, near the wooded, brushy Illinois River, witnessed a large humanoid around 50 yards in the distance running east.

Nessie

The Loch Ness Monster, known as “Nessie,” has been sighted in the Loch Ness Lake in the Scottish Highlands since 565 A.D. when Saint Columba saved a swimmer from the monster and is said to have tamed it. But it wasn’t until 1972, on an underwater expedition in Loch Ness led by Robert Rines, that Nessie received scientific credence. Sonar picked up something large. Later, a large paddlelike flipper was photographed leading Sir Peter Scott to name Nessie Nessiteras rhombopteryx.

The Sirrush

Little is known about this dragon-like image carved on the Ishtar Gate founded in Babylon, Mesopotamia. The sirrush imagery is dated between the 7th and 6th centuries BCE during the reign of Nebuchadnezzar II. The sirrush is both snake and dragon-like with the front legs of a lion and the hind legs of a bird. Many critics of its existence cite that the “dragon-snake” is the symbol of the Marduk, a pagan god of Mesopotamia. However, two common creatures, a lion and a cow, are displayed next to the sirrush implying that they were on equal footing.

The Chupacabra

Literally, this Puerto Rican version of the Yeti, means “goat sucker.” The chupacabra, a small, heavy creature with spines up his back, strikes swiftly, draining livestock entirely of their blood during the night. Sightings have placed it as far north as Maine, but most are in Texas and Puerto Rico. Scientists found a parasitic coyote resembling the chupacabra in July 2010. They later determined that such parasitic animals are likely responsible for the contemporary legend of the chupacabra.

The Mokele-mbembe

Hailing from the Congo River basin, this Nessie-like monster has never been found and has only been sighted from afar. It’s name means “one who stops the flow of rivers” in Lingala, the language of the region. The mokele-mbembe gained notoriety as folklore and pop-culture fiction. In 1981, there were five sightings during a one month expedition at Lac Tele. A year later, Herman A. Regusters wrote that he witnessed the creature from around 200 feet away and that it had a large hump. Estimates put both sighted and unsighted body length at around 36 feet.