#1 2009: Cryptozoology
Greetings Friends, winter has passed and spring is here and I hope all is well. First, I'd like to apologize for the silence in this part of the web-site. From Me to You was intended to be a monthly column. Obviously, since it's now been 8 months since I've had a chance to check in here, I'm a little behind myself! My performance schedule started to accelerate towards the end of 2008 and on into the winter of 2009. I've been so busy singing and strumming that I haven't had time to sharpen up the old pencil. But here we are. This has given me a tremendous respect for writers who work against a dead-line! What I'd like to do is add a column here occasionally as my schedule will permit, rather than attempt a monthly blog (which I would never be able to maintain). So check in FM2U from time to time. There's still plenty I would like to share with you... Today I want to talk about Crytozoology, one of my life-long favorite subjects. Crypto: from the latin meaning "hidden" or "unknown", zoo: "animal", ology: "study" or "knowledge". Every year many new species of animals are discovered worldwide. The oceans, the interiors of South America, Africa, Asia, Australia, and yes, even America, comprise millions of square miles of unknown territory. In some of these places, humans rarely, if ever, have even set foot. We can only imagine the wildlife that could, and is rumored to, exist in these unexplored regions. Traditional zoology continues to make important discoveries in all of these areas (Vietnam, for example, has been the location of so many recent findings that it has gained the nick-name "the lost world"). Within this research, compelling accounts, that are extremely difficult to reconcile with conventional zoology, are frequently heard from the natives. Stories of large man-like beings, strange unknown aquatic creatures in the waters off-shore, and in lakes and rivers, cryptic descriptions of mysterious, giant, inland reptiles... Zoologists have been reluctant to give any credibility to these reports. Although they have been around for years and are completely accepted as a normal part of daily life by the indigenous peoples who report them. Who shall investigate all of this? Thus, about 50 years ago, cryptozoology was born. Two scientists are thought of as the fathers of cryptozoolgy. British-American naturalist, zoologist, and author, Ivan Sanderson, a life long authority on land based zoology, and, especially, French-Belgian oceanographer and marine scientist Bernard Huevelmans. Dr. Sanderson's book, Abominable Snowman: Legend Come to Life is a collection of accounts from a lengthy career of global wildlife study. Stories of large, bipedal humanoids living in the farthest reaches of the planet. Yes, we're talking about Sasquatch, Yeti, and Bigfoot here. This information is so well researched and presented that it makes even the most hardened sceptic wonder... Dr. Huevelmans' book, In the Wake of the Sea Serpent, gives the same treatment to aquatic life forms in our waters. The Sea Serpent, Loch Ness Monster, etc. Both works are absolutely indispensable and we're written quite separately one from another. After their publication in the late 50s, the two doctors recognized immediately the value of the other's research, joined forces, and cryptozoology was born (the word "cryptozoolgy" itself was coined by Dr. Huevelmans). Remember, Sanderson and Huevelmans were not "paranormal" researchers in any way, but conventional zoologists who simply refused to ignore the many reports that kept coming to their attention. Their natural scientific curiosity led them into this field and they present an objective, unvarnished collection of evidence. Their books are highly recommended. In the 60s-early 70s, a second generation of cryptozoolgists arrived on the scene. Pioneered by one of the most compelling writers on the subject, Frederick W. Holiday (a respected british outdoorsman, angler, and naturalist writer) who after an unusual experience at Loch Ness, Scotland, spent the rest of his life writing about, and peering across it's dark waters. F. W. Holiday eventually became convinced that the Loch Ness phenomenon was psychic in nature, the way a person might see a ghost or, perhaps as many researchers now contend, possibly a UFO. All of his writings are incredibly fascinating, but two especially are an excellent starting place, The Dragon and the Disc, and his unbelievably mind-bending work, completed at the end of his life, The Goblin Universe. Other authors, among very many, following up the paranormal-cryptozoolgy connection are Loren Coleman and John Keel. This is a very thought provoking theory and definitely should not be dismissed. Something is most assuredly going on here. Too many sober, reliable, qualified witnesses have claimed sightings to be discounted. The question is, what are we seeing? There are many different theories, all are well constructed, and all deserve consideration. As a "monster hunter" myself, around springtime, I make a yearly trip up to Kent Island on Maryland's Eastern Shore. There one can visit Love Point on the northernmost tip of the island with an incredible vista of the Chesapeake Bay. Annually there are a handful of reports from this spot of an unknown serpentine creature out in the bay. A sea monster in the Chesapeake Bay? Everyone laughs. But before drawing a conclusion, keep this in mind. Some of these watermen have spent generations working on the bay waters and, believe me, they've seen it all. Rogue whales, manatees, you name it. So when one of these people report something unknown, we should carefully consider what they're saying. Also, retired White House secret serviceman, Robert Frew, captured the only existing video footage of "Chessie" in the mid-80s. This film is now held, and has been undergoing 25 years of continued analysis, by the Smithsonian Institution. Where does Bob Frew live and where did he shoot his film? Love Point, Kent Island Eastern Shore, Maryland. I've been there and spoken to these folks, and I'll tell you, there's something strange at work. One of the most intriguing theories (although this would hardly explain all sightings) is a surviving relic population of anacondas that were stranded after stowing away on sunken 19th century South American merchant vessels lost in the bay. Be careful when you go wading... So the next time you're camping or boating, keep your eyes and ears open. And remember, whatever they are, if they're real, they were probably here long before us. So let's take some care with our cryptozoolgical neighbors!
until next time,
other authors on the subject (all recommended):
- Rex Gilroy (specializing in Australia)
- Tim Dinsdale (filmed the only officially accepted footage of the Loch Ness Monster)
- Arlene Gaal (authority on Canadian water monsters, especially "Ogopogo" in British Columbia)
- Matthew Bilne (sauropod survival in Africa and Asia)
- John Napier (formerly with Smithsonian Inst. and Sasquatch expert)
- Graham McEwan (Britsh water monsters)
- Paul Harrison (British water monsters)
- Janet and Colin Bord (sasquatch)
- John Kirk (water monsters)
- Dr. Kark Shuker (worldwide cryptozoolgy. I am in touch with Dr. Shuker from time to time)
- and finally, go to Amazon.com, select "books", and enter "cryptozoolgy" for additional reading...