This footprint cast on display at the International Cryptozoology Museum is an example of what some cryptozoologists say is evidence that Bigfoot exists.
Throughout history, scientists have searched for new animals, but it wasn’t until the 50s that Scottish explorer Ivan T. Sanderson invented the term cryptozoology. The term comes from the marriage of the Greek words krypto (hidden), zoon (animal) and logia (study).
Bernard Heuvelmans’ 1955 book, On the Track of Unknown Animals is widely considered to be the most important early cryptozoological text. In it, Heuvelmans argues that cryptozoology should be a sub discipline of zoology, and the disciple must be approached with an open mind.
Today, cryptozoology has been marred with stories of hoaxes, ridicule in the media, and disdain from mainstream science. There are some in the scientific community who refer to the field as a pseudoscience, refusing to recognize its validity or importance.
However, modern cryptozoologists continue to research these animals regardless of public perception. Without indisputable proof, there is little money to be made doing cryptozoological research, but it is passion that motivates these researchers to continue. Many have devoted their lives to publishing articles, appearing in documentaries, writing books and interviewing eyewitnesses, all to advance the field.
Though many of these animals have eluded cryptozoologists for decades, there have been some successes, including the coelacanth, mountain gorilla, giant panda and okapi.
Unknown to the Western world until the 20th century, the Okapi is an example of a creature once thought to be mythical. It was the emblem of the now defunct International Society of Cryptozoology.
These “darlings” of cryptozoology all began as myth or local legend before eventually being discovered and passing over into formal zoology
The explosion of the internet has yielded hundreds of cryptozoological Web sites, some more credible than others. Access to blogs, newspaper articles, and information has never been easier.
The future of cryptozoology is uncertain. Should a long-sought after cryptid be found, it could catapult the field into mainstream science, ending all discussions about scientific legitimacy. However, a long drought in animal discovery could encourage more mockery. Only time will tell.