What are kangaroos doing in a website that is devoted to cryptozoology? Kangaroos are perfectly real creatures, after all. Cryptozoology is about creatures that might or might not be real. The answer is that some kangaroos are perfectly real and are not disputed by scientists, while others are highly controversial. Those kangaroos that live in Australia are perfectly normal beasts, but those reported in sightings from places such as North America are often bizarre.
The existence of a stable North American breeding population of kangaroos has never been confirmed, even though sightings are quite common. Some breeding populations of feral kangaroos in Europe have been accepted as real by mainstream scientists, but not in enough places to account for the widespread spatial scale of European kangaroo sightings. The escapes of occasional pet kangaroos in Europe and North America do not seem to explain the sheer number of sightings, and escapes from zoos or the circus are rare, with the animals generally being recaptured within a few days at most.
Most explanations of these cryptid kangaroos do not rest on sightings of escaped kangaroos. Instead, the mainstream scientists and the cryptozoologists have gone in different directions with their theories. Mainstream science tends to suggest that such sightings are based on sheer hallucination or mistaken observations of more ordinary creatures, such as feral dogs. Cryptozoologists tend to hypothesize that, at some point in the past, feral kangaroos established a breeding population. A few explanations go much farther and propose that North America has a native undiscovered marsupial that is related to the mostly extinct South American marsupials.
Some of these cryptid kangaroo sightings sound exactly like normal kangaroos. Other sightings describe giant kangaroos, ghostly kangaroos, kangaroos that look as if they are half dog, or kangaroos with weird habits such as killing and eating sheep. The weirder kangaroo reports are sometimes classified as really being reports of giant monkeys, especially since some of these creatures are described as having upper torsos that resemble monkeys. Certain other of these reports are classified as chupacabras, and the reports of ghostly kangaroos that fade away into mist while witnesses are looking right at them are generally ignored by cryptozoologists, as a subject more suitable for paranormal investigators.
The term "phantom kangaroo" is frequently used for all types of cryptid kangaroos, regardless of how normal or bizarre the particular creature in question is. This is a shame, because the term is misleading, tending to make some perfectly normal kangaroo sightings sound as if they should only be investigated by ghost hunters, never by any respectable scientists. The term "phantom kangaroo" is quite similar to "phantom cat," which is widely used for reports of eastern cougars and mystery black panthers, regardless of whether the cats in question are atrributed with ghostly characteristics or seem solidly physical.
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