From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia
Cryptozoology (from Greek κρυπτός, kryptos, "hidden" + zoology; literally, "study of hidden animals") refers to the search for animals which are considered to be legendary or otherwise nonexistent by mainstream biology. This includes looking for living examples of animals which are extinct, such as dinosaurs; animals whose existence lacks physical support but which appear in myths, legends, or are reported, such as Bigfoot and el Chupacabra; and wild animals dramatically outside of their normal geographic ranges, such as phantom cats or "ABC"s (an acronym commonly used by cryptozoologists that stands for Alien Big Cats).
Invention of the term cryptozoology is often attributed to zoologist Bernard Heuvelmans, though Heuvelmans attributes coinage of the term to the late Scottish explorer and adventurer Ivan T. Sanderson. Heuvelmans' 1955 book On the Track of Unknown Animals traces the scholarly origins of the discipline to Anthonie Cornelis Oudemans and his 1892 study, The Great Sea Serpent. Heuvelmans argued that cryptozoology should be undertaken with scientific rigor, but with an open-minded, interdisciplinary approach. He also stressed that attention should be given to local, urban and folkloric sources regarding such creatures, arguing that while often layered in unlikely and fantastic elements, folktales can have small grains of truth and important information regarding undiscovered organisms. Phantom cats (an example of documented animals outside of their normal range) and their counterparts are a common subject of cryptozoological interest, largely due to their relative liklihood of existence in comparision to cryptids like Mothman.
Another notable book on the subject is Willy Ley's Exotic Zoology (1959). Ley was best known for his writings on rocketry and related topics, but he was trained in paleontology, and wrote a number of books about animals. Ley's collection Exotic Zoology is of some interest to cryptozoology, as he discusses the Yeti and sea serpents, as well as relict dinosaurs. The book entertains the possibility that some legendary creatures (like the sirrush, the unicorn or the cyclops) might be based on actual animals, through misinterpretation of the animals and/or their remains. Also notable is the work of British zoologist and cryptozoologist Karl Shuker, who has published 12 books and countless articles on numerous cryptozoological subjects since the mid-1980s. Loren Coleman, a modern popularizer of cryptozoology, has chronicled the history and personalities of cryptozoology in his books.
- Legendary creature
- List of cryptids
- List of figures in cryptozoology
- List of legendary creatures
- List of megafauna discovered in modern times
- The Secret Saturdays, a cartoon in which cryptozoology is the core topic.