How to Use This Book

My first brush with cryptozoology was in 1960 when I read On the Track of Unknown Animals by Belgian zoologist Bernard Heuvelmans. It was a life-changing experience. Heuvelmans's masterful scientific, historical, and literary sleuthing in quest of elusive fauna was both exciting and scholarly: he seemed a combination of Sherlock Holmes and The Lost World's Professor Challenger. His volume prodded my ten-year-old brain to take a keen interest in not only science and history but also different languages and cultures, the evaluation of evidence, and the rich discoveries that await the fearless explorer of large library collections. In that sense, I have been writing this book ever since, and I hope that, in turn, it may stimulate others to seek out new species or identify the animals that are lurking just behind the myths.

What Constitutes a Cryptid?

Cryptids are the alleged animals that a crypto-zoologist studies. Obviously, someone—either an ethnic group familiar with a specific habitat, a traveler to a remote region, or a surprised homeowner who sees an Alien Big Cat or SKUNK APE in the backyard—first has to allege that such animals exist. (Words set in SMALL CAPITALS refer to entries in the text.) The examination and evaluation of ethnographic, testimonial, and physical evidence to determine the identity of a cryptid is what cryptozoology is all about.

Some would say that only those animals with a reasonable chance of one day becoming recognized as new species should be included in this volume and that bizarre, red-eyed ENTITIES such as MOTHMAN or mythical creatures such as Dragons and Unicorns are beyond its scope. This is a practical approach for the zoologist whose aim is to add to knowledge of the world's biodiversity, and it is one of cryp-

tozoology's primary goals as well. However, I have taken a broader view in this encyclopedia, for it can be equally important to show how known animals can pose as cryptids or how people's belief systems and expectations can color their observations of the natural world. Do Golden eagles (Aquila chrysaetos) occasionally get reported as BIG BIRDS or THUNDER-birds? Are witnesses of Hairy Bipeds or Eastern Pumas in certain parts of Maryland influenced by the tales of GOATMAN and SNAL-LYGASTER in those areas?

Solving historical puzzles also seems relevant to cryptozoology. Just what animals were responsible for medieval BASILISK lore? Could the Columbian mammoth (Mammuthus columbi) or the Giant short-faced bear (Arctodus simus) have survived somewhat later in time than is currently supposed and thus be responsible for Native American legends of the Stiff-Legged Bear?

Most of the mystery animals in this book fall into one of the following ten categories:

1. Distribution anomalies, or well-known animals found in locales where they have not previously been found or are thought extinct, such as the EASTERN PUMA.

2. Undescribed, unusual, or outsize variations of known species, such as the BLUE Tiger, Horned Hare, or Giant Anaconda.

3. Survivals of recently extinct species, such as the Ivory-Billed Woodpecker in the southern United States, thought extinct since the 1960s.

4. Survivals of species known only from the fossil record into modern times, such as the ROA-ROA of New Zealand, which might be a surviving moa.

5. Survivals of species known only from the fossil record into historical times but found to have existed later than currently thought, such as the MUSKOX OF Noyon Uul.

6. Animals not known from the fossil record but related to known species, such as the ANDAMAN Wood Owl or Beebe's Manta.

7. Animals not known from the fossil record or bearing a clear relationship to known species, such as BlGFOOT and some SEA MONSTERS.

8. Mythical animals with a zoological basis, such as the GOLDEN Ram.

9. Seemingly paranormal or supernatural entities with some animal-like characteristics, such as Black Dogs or Cannibal Giants.

10. Known hoaxes or probable misidentifica-tions that sometimes crop up in the literature, such as the COLEMAN Frog and BOTHRODON PRIDII.

What Do Cryptozoologists Do?

Ultimately, the job of the cryptozoologist is to strip away the myth, the misidentification, and the mystery from reports of animals undescribed by science. When confronted with a new sighting, the investigator's first task is to see what local fauna might account for it. The accuracy and validity of eyewitness testimony must be ascertained. (For more on this, see Jack Rabbit's "Native and Western Eyewitness Testimony in Cryptozoology," on pp. xxxv—xliii.) Then, the potential for a hoax must be evaluated. If a coherent body of evidence accumulates to indicate that a real animal not native to the area is involved, the next step is to determine whether any living animals fitting the description were introduced or have lived there all along unnoticed by compilers of field guides. Failing that, an examination of relevant animals in the fossil record is warranted, with an emphasis on groups that are known in the region.

Even if nothing in the fossil record matches, a case could be made for an evolved version of a known fossil. What plesiosaurs looked like 65 million years ago can only serve as a basic guide to what they might have evolved into had they survived the cometary impact at the end of the Cretaceous period. Our own physical characteristics have changed greatly even in the past 10 million years. In any event, the fossil record is incomplete and in most cases can tell us little about what the outward appearance of an ex tinct animal might have been. This leaves much room for speculation.

Cryptozoologists are sometimes accused of never wanting to solve a mystery, perhaps because of the glamour and romance of the unknown. However, mystery mongering is much more frequently found in treatments by the media. Most of us would rather have one less YETI or MOKELE-MBEMBE to worry about, whether it winds up in a museum or in a long list of animals that never were.

Mysteries are both a bother and a challenge to cryptozoologists. They are a bother because we wonder what some journalist or observer "got wrong" about an animal that really exists; after all, we can tolerate only so many "head like a goat, body like a lion" stories. And mysteries are a challenge because we feel compelled to use deductive reasoning and a vast amount of specialized and interdisciplinary knowledge to find out what animal—known, unknown, or supposedly extinct—could be the stimulus for a sighting. The triumph of a solution outweighs the uncertainty of an incomplete puzzle.

Fieldwork is a crucial though often thankless part of that solution. Cryptid hunting is expensive, often dangerous, always time-consuming, usually frustrating, and potentially hazardous to one's scientific credibility. But if it weren't for the dragon-hunting exploits of W. Douglas Burden in the 1920s, the Komodo dragon (Varanus komodoensis) might still be a rumor. Investigators such as Loren Coleman and Roy Mackal have taken much criticism along the way, but they are the ones who are searching for the hairs and tracks, asking the right questions, making the plaster casts, and waiting for just the right Kodak moment when a cryptid's head and neck rise above the water. We who write reference books salute them!

How Is This Book Organized?

The first part of this book contains descriptions of 1,085 unknown animals, arranged alphabetically in a field-guide format. Each of these falls into one of forty major cryptid categories (shown in capitals), most of them based on existing classes and orders of known animals. Each major category offers a brief description of the animal group associated with it, as well as a list of the cryptids included. The major categories are a good place to begin a general search for specific mystery beasts:


BATS (Unknown)

BEARS (Unknown)

BIRDS (Unknown)

CATS (Unknown)






DOGS (Unknown)



FISHES (Unknown)





HYENAS (Unknown)

HYRAXES (Unknown)



LIZARDS (Unknown)



OTTERS (Unknown)


PRIMATES (Unknown)

RABBITS (Unknown)

RODENTS (Unknown)


SEALS (Unknown)



SLOTHS (Unknown)


SNAKES (Unknown)

TURTLES (Unknown)

WEASELS (Unknown)


A few mystery animals of uncertain taxonomy are included in more than one category, such as the NANDI Bear, a cryptid with varying characteristics that turns up under BEARS, Hyenas, and Primates.

Most of the entries are structured in a similar fashion, with a brief identification of the cryptid followed by information arranged under as many as twelve of the following sections:

Etymology. The derivation or meaning of the cryptid's name. In a few cases, the date of the name's first appearance is provided, as well as information on the person who coined the term. If the cryptid's name is not an English word, the language is given. The language family is shown in parentheses for non-Western languages—for example, Lingala (Bantu), "water monster." Current names for ethnic groups, their languages, and language families were identified or verified in Ethnologue: Languages of the World, at, or Andrew Dalby's Dictionary ofLanguages (1998). Numerous phrase books and dictionaries were also consulted.

Scientific name. In some cases, a cryptid has been assigned a Latin or Greek scientific name by a researcher who has investigated it, such as Nessiteras rhombopteryx for NESSIE, given by Peter Scott and Robert Rines in 1975. When a cryptid is welcomed into the ranks of known animals, such a name could become the genus and species designation used for the formal scientific description, unless an existing genus is more appropriate. The binomial method of naming living creatures was proposed in the eighteenth century by Carl von Linné. The first name is generic, as in Homo; the second is specific, as in sapiens. Animals with the same generic name are said to belong to the same genus, while the specific name identifies the species.

Variant names. Other names by which a cryptid is known are found in this section. These may include alternate spellings and geographic variants. Other languages, language families (following the slash mark), and meanings (in quotation marks) are given in parentheses—for example, Meshe-adam (Azerbaijani/ Turkic, "forest man").

Physical description. This section provides a summary of the appearance of the cryptid. Information is listed in the following order: general appearance, length, height, diameter, weight, color or coat, head, face, eyes, ears, nostrils, cheeks, mouth and teeth, chin, neck and shoulders, chest and torso, arms, hands, wings, back, legs, feet, and tail. Since the description is often derived from multiple sources (sighting reports and other testimony), there is a possibility that some erroneous data are included.

Behavior. A summary of the habits and interactions of the cryptid is offered in this section. Information is listed in the following order: period of activity (such as nocturnal or diurnal), preferred area of operations (such as aquatic or arboreal), stance and locomotion (such as bipedal movement or vertical undulations), vocalizations, sensory capabilities, odor, food, sleep and nesting habits, reproductive strategies, social interactions, interspecies interactions, human interactions, and technology. Uncertain or doubtful behaviors are often introduced by the phrase is said to.

Tracks. Dimensions and characteristics of footprints or other impressions left by a cryptid on the ground or in snow are described in this section.

Habitat. Here, details are provided about the specific environment in which a cryptid lives, whether in the sea (abyssal, coastal, etc.) or on land (forests, desert, scrubland, etc.).

Distribution. This section describes the geographic range where sightings of the cryptid are said to occur. Specific landscape features (such as mountains and lakes) are provided when known; otherwise, country names and their subdivisions (such as states, provinces, and departments) are given. Place-names are those in use as of 2001; all previous political designations (for instance, Rhodesia, Yakutia, or Jaffa) have been updated to their modern equivalents (Zimbabwe, Sakha Republic, or Yafo). The Microsoft Encarta Atlas 2000 was used to verify present status in most cases; current political divisions were identified in Gwillim Law's Administrative Subdivisions of Countries (1999).

Significant sightings. Capsule summaries of either important or typical observations of a cryptid are arranged in chronological order in this section. The examples are by no means comprehensive. Most of these observations are anecdotal in nature, although in some instances, the "sighting" involves an artifact, petroglyph, or sonar contact. The observed characteristics of the animal are not repeated, unless they are atypical or more detailed than those given in the preceding physical description section. All older place-names have been modernized.

Present status. This section contains notes on whether a cryptid is likely to be extinct, as well as other comments and data that do not fit elsewhere.

Possible explanations. This section lists more or less reasonable hypotheses as to what the cryptid might be, either as a misidentification of a known species, as an unknown species, or as a survival of an extinct species. An explanation's position in the list does not reflect the likelihood of its validity. Sometimes, there is more than one probable hypothesis for sightings of a given cryptid. In most cases, I have avoided making personal judgments, preferring instead to wait until a definitive answer has emerged; however, I have pointed out the ways in which certain arguments are weak. Both common and scientific names are given for known animals. The lack of this section for a given cryptid may mean either that there is too little information for anyone to make an informed guess or that a discussion of the possibilities is found elsewhere; for example, CHEMISIT explanations are found under Nandi Bear, and Ksy-Gyik candidates are discussed generally under WILDMEN.

Sources. This section offers a selected list of references for further consultation, with an emphasis on firsthand, scientific sources, as well as the most informative books and journal articles. The sources are arranged by the date of original appearance, which puts ancient and medieval sources at the beginning of the list despite later imprint dates.

A geologic timescale appears on p. xlv to aid in visualizing the periods of the earth's history and the development of life.

The second part of this book, "Animals Discovered since 1900" (pp. 623-654), is an annotated list of 431 species or other taxonomic groups described or rediscovered since the turn of the twentieth century, arranged by type of animal. One of the criticisms leveled at crypto-zoology is that large, noticeable animals are not likely to have remained unknown to science for centuries. However, the wide variety of organisms that have turned up only in recent years— which were previously unnoticed by scientists— is extraordinary when viewed en masse. Among those animals are forty-seven new primates, twenty-nine new hoofed mammals, and fifteen new cetaceans.

The third part, "Lake and River Monsters" (pp. 655-690), is a list of 884 bodies of water worldwide said to contain Freshwater MonSTERS or other large aquatic animals. Some are named and appear in the A-Z part of the book (such as NESSIE or Champ), while others are unnamed, vaguely defined, semimythical, or little more than rumor. Brief descriptions are given when known. To my knowledge, this is the most comprehensive and accurate list compiled to date.

What Further Resources Are Available?

Several sources keep cryptozoologists up-to-date on sightings, discoveries, and theories. The monthly British periodical Fortean Times (distributed in the United States by Eastern News Distributors, 2020 Superior St., Sandusky, OH 44870) regularly contains news and features on cryptids. Its Web site (http://www.forteantimes. com) offers breaking news on mystery animals.

The approximately annual Anomalist (P.O. Box 12434, San Antonio, TX 78212) often features cryptozoological topics. It also has a newsline (

Several relevant discussion groups are available on the Yahoo! Groups site (http://groups., both public ones and those for members only. The members-only cryptozool-ogy group (cz) is one of the best. There are also several BIGFOOT and NESSIE groups.

The monthly Fate magazine (P.O. Box 460, Lakeville, MN 55044) has been publishing cryptozoological news and articles since 1948, though its focus is primarily on psychic phenomena. Some features are available on line (

The Centre for Fortean Zoology in England publishes the quarterly Animals and Men (15 Holne Court, Exeter, U.K. EX4 2NA) and a yearbook with longer features. Back volumes are available (

The Eastern Puma Research Network (P.O. Box 3562, Baltimore, MD 21214) has a quarterly newsletter that provides information on sightings and statistics.

The British Columbia Scientific Cryptozool-ogy Club (Suite 2305, 8805 Hudson St., Vancouver, BC, Canada V6P 4M9) has a quarterly newsletter and an on-line site (http://www.

Mark A. Hall's Wonders (407 Racine Dr., Box E, Wilmington, NC 28403) is published four times a year. Back issues are available, and their contents are listed on his Web site (http:// home.

The Web site of the Institut Virtuel de Cryptozoologie in France (http://www.cryptozoo. org) has excellent news reports and analysis. A portion of the site offers English translations.

Other Web sites of interest include:

• The British Big Cat Society,

• Dick Raynor's Loch Ness site,

• Australian Yowie Research,

• Jan-Ove Sundberg's Swedish cryptozoology site,

• The Bigfoot Field Researchers Organization,, has news and a comprehensive sightings database.

• Chad Arment's cryptozoology site ( is a good jumping-off point for the on-line North American BioFortean Review and Craig Heinselman's Crypto newsletter.

• Pib Burns maintains an excellent assortment of links at http://www.pibburns. com/cryptozo.htm.

Unfortunately, some excellent journals are no longer published, and back issues are difficult to find. The International Society of Cryptozoology is gone, along with its ISC Newsletter and refereed journal Cryptozoology. Pursuit, INFO Journal, Exotic Zoology, and Cryptozoology Review have ceased publication as well, and the future of Strange Magazine is uncertain. It is almost always a good idea to obtain whatever is currently available before it becomes unfindable.

The same can be said of many cryptozoology books, especially those that are self-published or put out by small or alternative presses. Academic and public libraries do not collect this material. Once it's out of print, you are out of luck, unless you are willing to put up with inflated prices on eBay. One excellent mail-order source for current and out-of-print books and journals is Arcturus Books (1443 S.E. Port St. Lucie Blvd., Port St. Lucie, FL 34952). Though primarily devoted to UFO books, its catalog regularly contains crypto titles.

Many people have been fooled into thinking that everything is available on the Web and that it is a vast, free library accessible at the click of a search engine. This just isn't true, even if you add in the resources on what has been called the Invisible Web, which contains data that are not directly findable by search engines. The Web is the biggest encyclopedia in the world, and it is constantly updated, but there are huge gaps in its coverage that make it only a supplement to printed books and journals and not a replacement.

If I had relied exclusively on the Internet in preparing this book, it would have been only about 15 percent of its current length and probably would have included much misinformation. And if I had relied solely on print resources, it would have been only 85 percent as long, would have taken four years to complete instead of two, and would not have been as up-to-date at the point of publication.

When setting out to research a cryptozoolog-ical topic, begin by examining the sources given for cryptids in this book. Focus on specific animals or topics. Figure out how much you want to know about the subject, and narrow or widen your searches accordingly. Be forewarned that one source may lead you to many others, sometimes only to answer new questions that have been raised. Go where the information is, whether it's on the Web or in the library. The answer you are looking for may be in a 1995 issue of Fortean Times, a 1903 issue of the Chicago Tribune, a field guide to Indonesian birds, a Tibetan-English dictionary, a 1966 article in an Australian herpetological journal, or the on-line FishBase resource.

Always evaluate and question the information you find. Double-check specific facts, if possible. When you find a new source of information, ask these questions:

• Is the source scholarly, popular, governmental, or commercial?

• What are the author's credentials?

• When was the information originally published?

• In what country did it originate?

• What is the reputation of the publisher, distributor, or Web site?

• Does the source show any specific biases?

• Does it offer a bibliography or adequate documentation for the information it provides?

• Are there a large number of misspelled words and names? Authors who are sloppy about spelling are often sloppy with facts.

• For what audience is the material intended?

• Is it suitable for your level of understanding of the subject?

• Does it have the features you need: illustrations, graphs, charts, tables, definitions, maps?

• Are various points of view represented?

• Are the conclusions justified by the facts presented?

When you run across a new account of a cryptid sighting, ask the six journalistic questions:

• Who reported the sighting? Are they trained observers or knowledgeable about the local fauna?

• What actually was seen? Are there enough details for you to be certain that it could not have been a known animal?

• Where was the sighting reported? Can you find the location on a map?

• When did it occur? Is the information specific (for example, citing day and time) or vague (making reference, perhaps, to an event several summers ago)?

• How did the event unfold? Are the behaviors of the observers and the cryptid accounted for and credible?

• Why did the sighting get reported? Did the witness contact a newspaper, local authorities, a scientific organization, or a cryptozoologist?

Finally, determine whether the information you have found is consistent with what you have located in other sources. If it's not, don't automatically assume that the new material is wrong; it may well be that the older sources were in error.


I wish to thank everyone who has provided information and encouragement for this project over the past two years, especially Loren Coleman, Henry Bauer, Jack Rabbit, Frank J. Reid, Chad Arment, Craig Heinselman, Ben Roesch, Janet Bord, Bill Rebsamen, Michael Swords, Karl Shuker, and Russell Maylone (curator of special collections at Northwestern University Libraries).

George M. Eberhart Chicago, Illinois February 2002

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