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.
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.