'The Cryptid Zoo' header logo. Sea serpent border design copyright 2005 by Jamie Hall

A Menagerie of Cryptozoology

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          Cryptozoology is the study of animals and other creatures that have not yet been accepted by science as real. In other words, it is monster-hunting. Cryptozoologists look for creatures like sea serpents and the yeti, hoping to gather enough evidence to prove that these beings exist. They also look for more commonplace animals, such as the ivory-billed woodpecker, the giant vampire bat, the inflatable hedgehog and the pygmy elephant. Creatures that are under investigation by cryptozoologists are called cryptids. Although cryptozoology doesn't get much respect from other scientific disiplines, it has had some spectacular success stories, including the pongo (now known as the gorilla), the okapi (an animal that looks like a cross between a giraffe and zebra), and the coelacanth (a prehistoric fish thought to be extinct).
Some cryptids resemble extinct animals, such as this ancient aquatic creature from the documentary 'Walking with Monsters'. Copyright by the creators of the documentary.

          Cryptozoologists are a specialized branch of monster hunters. Since their ultimate goal is to discover either new species of animal or new subspecies, the science of cryptozoology is rooted in biology. The more a creature shows evidence of being supernatural, the less likely it is that cryptozoologists would be interested in it. Not many cryptozoologists investigate the strangest things like ghostly demon cats, Mothman or werewolves. Ghost hunts are left to the paranormal investigators and a few fringe cryptozoologists. On the other hand, there are very few animals, however mythical they may be, that have never stirred the interest of a cryptozoologist. This is because perfectly real animals have often been obscured by so much folklore that they seemed ridiculous.

          Bernard Heuvelmans, the author of the first and most influential book of cryptozoology, On the Track of Unknown Animals, created cryptozoology as a science and separated it from other studies involving anomalies and the paranormal. Earlier writers in the field were more likely to include mythology and folkloric material, and they used the terms "exotic zoology" and "romantic zoology" to describe what they did. Today there are many organizations devoted to cryptozoology, and dozens of books, plus countless individual scientists. Despite this massive amount of interest, most cryptozoologists are underfunded and sink large amounts of their own money into their researches.
Ivory-billed woodpecker picture by John James Audubon, with its copyright now in the public domain.

          Most of the time, cryptozoologists do not work in the field. The creatures they pursue are so rare and elusive that, even if they do exist, any particular expedition is unlikely to encounter one. It is much easier to collect sightings from witnesses who came across the cryptid by accident. Since most cryptids have remained in the realm of the mythical, the main job of cryptozoologists is not to prove that a certain cryptid exists, but rather to collect and analyze as many sightings as possible in order to determine if the available evidence is strong enough to keep the question open.

If they can make a good case for keeping the question open, they may be able to attract zoologists to the problem, which in turn brings the kind of research funding and manpower that has a real chance of uncovering an undiscovered animal. Alas, as soon as an animal becomes truly respectable, it exits the field of cryptozoology. The real science begins when a cryptid is being more seriously investigated by biologists than by cryptozoologists. Because cryptozoology is by definition a speculative science, cryptozoologists often rub shoulders with folklorists, Forteans, paranormal investigators and creationists, whether they want to or not.

          This zoo is roughly divided into three sections. Most cryptozoological beings can be classified as humanoids (something like a human), draconic (it reminds you of a dragon) and animals (everything else). Inside these broad classifications you will find many individual creatures. Each creature has a description that defines what it is and where it is seen, plus a list of resources such as books, websites and documentary films that mention the creature. Most of these resources are firmly rooted in cryptozoology, but some of them approach these creatures from a different viewpoint such as that of folklore and mythology. If you would like to suggest more resources for this website, please email me.

Many cryptids are humanoid in form, from Bigfoot to mermaids. Picture copyright 2004 by Jamie Hall.
Many cryptids look at least a bit like a dragon, from sea serpents to flying snakes. Picture copyright 2004 by Jamie Hall.
There are many cryptids that are best described by calling them animals. Picture copyright 2004 by Jamie Hall.
  • Hairy Humanoids Bigfoot, Yeti, Sasquatch...
  • Water Monsters Nessie, Sea Serpents, Zeuglodons...
  • Extinct? Mokele-Mbembe, Thylacine, American Hyena...
  • Winged Humanoids Mothman, Owlman, Tengu...
  • Flying Monsters Classic Dragons, Sky Serpents, Atmospheric Beasts....
  • Out of Place Black Panthers, Kangaroos, Lions...
  • Other Humanoids Aliens, Fairies, Mermaids...
  • Landbound Lindorms, Tatzelwurms, Sirrush...
  • Anomalous Thunderbirds, King Cheetahs, Nandi Bears...
  • Alphabetical List of All Creatures:
  • Abominable Snowman
  • African Peacocks
  • Ahool, Olitiau and Giant Bats
  • Air Rods
  • Alien Big Cats
  • Aliens
  • Almas
  • American Hyena
  • American Lions
  • Angels
  • Atmospheric Beasts
  • Bear-dogs
  • Beast of Bray Road
  • Beast of Gevaudan
  • Big Gray Man
  • Bigfoot
  • Black Panthers
  • Blue and Black Tigers
  • Bondegezou (or "Man of the Forest")
  • Bunyip
  • Buru, Giant Lizards and Giant Crocodiles
  • Caddy
  • Champ
  • Chupacabra
  • Classic Dragons (Western Cultures)
  • Classic Dragons (Non-Western Cultures)
  • Coelacanth (Living Fossil Fish)
  • Con Rit (or Giant Millipede)
  • Cynocephali
  • Dinosaurs
  • Dodo
  • Dover Demon
  • Doyarchu (or Irish Crocodile)
  • Dragons
  • Eastern Cougar
  • Emela-ntouka (or "Killer of Elephants")
  • Fairies
  • Felines
  • Feline Bipeds
  • Gargoyles
  • Giant Animals
  • Giant Bats
  • Giant Crocodiles
  • Giant Hogs
  • Giant Lizards
  • Giant Monkey
  • Giant Octopus
  • Giant Salamanders
  • Giant Sharks
  • Giant Sloth (see Mapinguary)
  • Giant Snakes
  • Giant Squid
  • Giant Turtles
  • Giant Vampire Bat
  • Globsters
  • Golden Moon Bear
  • Gourd Head
  • Hairy Dwarfs
  • Hairy Fish
  • Helena Manatee
  • Honey Island Swamp Monster
  • Horned Cats
  • Horned Snakes
  • Howler Monkey Snake
  • Hyenas
  • Inflatable Hedgehog
  • Ivory-Billed Woodpecker
  • Jackalope
  • Japanese Dwarf Wolf
  • Jersey Devil
  • Kangaroos
  • King Cheetahs
  • Kouprey (or Cambodian Wild Ox)
  • Kraken (or Giant Squid)
  • Lake Monsters
  • Lake Worth Monster
  • Lindorm
  • Loch Ness Monster (see Nessie)
  • Loveland Frogs
  • Maero (or New Zealand Wildman)
  • Mainland Orangutan
  • Mapinguary
  • Marked Hominid
  • Marozi (or Spotted Lion)
  • Mermaids and Mermen
  • Mesonychids (Hoofed Predators)
  • Mexican Ruffed Cat
  • Mirapinna (and Other Hairy Fish)
  • Missing Link
  • Mngwa (or Gray Cat)
  • Moas and Other Giant Flightless Birds
  • Mokele-Mbembe (African Living Dinosaur)
  • Momo
  • Mongolian Death Worm (or Olgoi-Khorkhoi)
  • Mothman
  • Nandi Bear
  • Napes
  • Neanderthals
  • Nessie (or Loch Ness Monster)
  • Ogopogo (or Naitaka)
  • Okapi
  • Old Yellow Top
  • Onza
  • Orang-Bati
  • Orang-pendek (or Sedapa)
  • Owlman
  • Panthera Atrox (American Lions)
  • Passenger Pigeon
  • Piasa
  • Plesiosaurs
  • Pongo
  • Proto-Pygmies
  • Pterosaurs and Pterodactyls
  • Pygmy Elephant
  • Queensland Tiger
  • Reptilian Bipeds (or Reptoids)
  • Roc
  • Saber-Toothed Cats
  • Sasquatch
  • Satyrs (or Fauns)
  • Sea Serpents
  • Shapeshifters
  • Shug Monkey
  • Shunka warakin
  • Sirrush
  • Sisemite
  • Skunk-Apes
  • Sky Serpents
  • Smilodon (or Saber-Toothed Cats)
  • Sumatran Lion (or Cigau)
  • Tapire-iauara (a Semi-Aquatic Hoofed Carnivore)
  • Tatzelwurm
  • Tengu
  • Teratorns
  • Thunderbird
  • Thylacine and Queensland Tiger
  • True Giant
  • Ufiti (or Malawi Chimpanzee)
  • Unicorn
  • Vampires
  • Vu Quang Ox (or Saola)
  • Waitoreke (or Maori Otter)
  • Werewolves
  • Wild Men (Europe)
  • Wild Men (America and elsewhere)
  • Windigo (also spelled "Wendigo")
  • Winged Men
  • Wyvern
  • Yeren (or Chinese Wildman)
  • Yeti
  • Yowie (or Yahoo)
  • Zeuglodons
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