What is Cryptozoology?

The term ‘cryptozoology’ finds its origins from the Greek roots of ‘krytos’ (hidden), ‘zoon’ (animal) and ‘logos’ (study), which can be translated to ‘the study of hidden animals’.

It is generally defined as the study of unexpected animals whose existence or identity is currently undetermined officially by science. This definition emphasizes the fact that such animals are only unknown to scientists, yet are familiar creatures to the people who share their native domain.

In 1985 Richard Greenwell coined the term ‘ethnoknown’, it underlines that to be classed as cryptozoological, such animals need to be unusual or unexpected in some way, eg relatively large and inhabiting a location where scientists would not expect them to be; otherwise, any undiscovered animal, including the tiniest insect or worm, could be considered cryptozoological..

What exactly constitues an animal being a cryptid? This question is still the cause of much controversy, even among cryptozoologists, with some investigators expanding its definition to include even paranormal entities. In 1985, whilst a member of the International Society of Cryptozoology Richard Greenwell published a formal classification system in the Society’s refereed scientific journal, ‘Cryptozoology’. He proposed and defined seven cryptid categories.

Category 1: Cryptids constituting aberrant individuals, ie individuals of known species or subspecies whose form, size or coloration is unusual or unique. Such cryptids include giant-sized anacondas, Sri Lankan horned jackals and the Blue Tiger of Fujian.
Category 2: Cryptids constituting known species or subspecies in geographical areas in which they are currently unrecognized by science as naturally existing, because there is no conclusive evidence, as yet, to conform this unexpected zoo-geographical distribution. the leopard Panthera pardus as reported in Bali is an example of this category of cryptid.
Category 3: Cryptids constituting presumably living species or subspecies that are known only from incomplete specimens, and do not represent fossil forms – as with the Florida Giant Octopus from 1896.
Category 4: Cryptids constituting know species or subspecies that officially became extinct in historical time, but which may have survived into more recent times than originally believed – or may still survive today and thus await rediscovery. The Thylacine and the Dwarf upland Moa are good exampled of such cryptids.
Category 5: Cryptids constituting species or subspecies currently known to science only from fossils, but which may have survived into historical times – or may even still exist today and thus await discovery in the living state. Cryptids deemed likely by cryptozoologists to be living plesiosaurs, zeuglodonts or dinosaurs, for example, fall into this category. Several noteworthy precedents are already known, such as the coelacanth and the Chacoan peccary.
Category 6: Cryptids constituting new species or subspecies of already-known animal groups, but for which no physical evidence currently exists. These include such cryptids as the Ahool and the Rhinoceros Dolphin.
Category 7: Cryptids constituting new species or subspecies of animal whose existence is currently unknown not only to scientists but also to native people sharing their domain – ie they are ethnounknown instead of ethnoknown. An excellent precedent for this category of cryptid if the megamouth shark ‘ Megachasma pelagios ‘, whose existence remained wholly unknown, not only to science but also to local fishermen, until a specimen was accidently caught by a research vessel off the Hawaiian Island of Oahu in 1976.

Although Greenwell’s classification system was an admirable attempt to introduce order and categorization to the diverse array of cryptids on file, it is ultimately wrong for the simple reason that, by definition, the zoological identity of any cryptid remains undetermined until the moment that there is conclusive physical evidence to prove its existence – where at this point it is no longer a cryptid but an offically recognized, classifiable animal.

2 thoughts on “What is Cryptozoology?”

    1. Hi Sophia, thankyou for your comment

      I agree science has answered many questions over the last few centuries but as also left many unanswered, and have also admitted that there is alot that they cannot answer.
      What some call science some could call magick or belief, perhaps they are one in the same depending on each individual persons outlook, if people have a belief in the paranormal surely this is the same as people who have a belief in what science is telling them, people who believe in science could argue their point just as vigorously as someone who believes in paranormal and vice versa. We live in a world of free thinking individuality.
      Also its important to remember the word “Paranormal” isn’t targeted purely on spirits, ghost hunting etc. the term “Paranormal” just means “not the normal” so many things that science tries to explain that isn’t normal could technically be classed as “paranormal”.

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