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Cryptozoology is the study and pursuit of elusive animals whose existence is not acknowledged by the scientific mainstream. Examples include Bigfoot, the Loch Ness Monster, Chupacabras, and the Beast of Gévaudan. These are called cryptids. The vast majority of cryptids are either cases of the imagination running wild, misidentifications, or outright hoaxes. The Internet is home to communities of many thousands of people who are drawn to cryptozoology by its aura of mysteriousness and the potential of amazing the world through the discovery of an exotic cryptid.
Despite its huge following, cryptozoology is a field with far more failures than successes. As cameras become cheaper, more numerous, and better, our tools for observation of cryptids are improving, and if these beasts actually exist, it is only a matter of time until they are observed. Cryptozoology devotes itself to attempting these observations.
Perhaps the most famous of all cryptids is Bigfoot – a tall primate that is said to be closely related to humans, but like other surviving species close to us, is covered in fur. Bigfoot looks somewhat like a cross between a man and a large ape. There are Bigfoot sightings from all over the world, but the greatest hotspot of such activity is the Pacific Northwest, on the continent of North America. Scientists dismiss the existence of Bigfoot on grounds of the complete absence of any confirmed physical evidence – there is not a single scrap of hair, skin, bone, or feces yet discovered corresponding to a large nonhuman primate living in the wild in North America. Other efforts in cryptozoology are caught in similar circumstances.
Some cryptids, or animals thought extinct, have later been discovered in the flesh, lending credence to the field of cryptozoology. For example, the coelacanth, from an order of fishes that science thought was extinct, was caught in a fishing net off the coast of Africa in 1938. The platypus, mountain gorilla, komodo dragon, and giant squid were all considered to be hoaxes before they were actually discovered. However, these were all discovered many decades ago. Today, the discovery of new vertebrates is extremely rare – providing compelling evidence that we’ve already seen most of what is out there to be seen.
Another point to consider about cryptozoology is that, for a species to survive, it needs a certain degree of genetic diversity and a gene pool composed of at least a hundred or so individuals. If we’re talking about a hundred or more members of an exotic, large animal, it’s difficult not to dig up any conclusive physical evidence if you are really trying. Repeated failures in cryptozoology across decades strongly indicate that many target cryptids do not really exist. When monster-hunters continue to assert the existence of such creatures despite massive failures, it earns cryptozoology the psuedoscientific reputation it holds today.