Native and Western Eyewitness Testimony in Cryptozoology

On an Internet-based cryptozoology forum, this question was recently posed: How should we evaluate the validity of eyewitness accounts from native peoples? I shall attempt to answer that question. The issue of native eyewitness testimony is of considerable importance to crypto-zoologists, as such accounts are a major component of the body of evidence for many purportedly undiscovered animal species. Native testimony typically receives either one of two opposite and inappropriate treatments in cryptozoological literature, depending on the author's agenda: wholesale dismissal or wholesale acceptance.

In this article, I'll present examples that illustrate why neither wholesale dismissal nor wholesale acceptance of native testimony is reasonable. Then I'll discuss the factors that are known to affect the validity of eyewitness testimony in general (gleaned from the substantial body of published research on the topic), with comments on how those factors may bear on native eyewitnesses. Finally, I'll offer my own thoughts on a few factors that may apply mainly or exclusively to native eyewitnesses, born in cultures and environments different from our own.

The Invalidity of Wholesale Dismissal of Native Testimony

Historically, Westerners have viewed native peoples as inferior—at best, like naive children; at worst, like base animals. Regrettably, scientists have often reinforced this popular misconception (Durant and Durant, 1968; Gould, 1981). Native "folk tales" were regarded as prattle, without scientific significance of any sort— as products of "the overheated imagination of natives, which is sometimes influenced by alcohol or the love of rousing sensation" (Kitten-berger, 1929). Consequently, the considerable wisdom (including, but by no means limited to, knowledge about local animals and plants) accumulated by various non-Western societies was largely ignored.

In recent years, Western researchers have come to realize the error of their earlier thinking with regard to native peoples. Scientific studies have shown certain outlandish-sounding claims by native observers to be true, or at least to have a basis in fact. Two interesting examples: the Matses Indians' tales of a frog that produces a "magic potion" that can be used to enhance hunting prowess; and the assertions by New Guinean tribesmen that certain local birds are poisonous.

The Matses (Panoan) Indians of Peru claim that sapo, a sticky substance excreted from the skin of the Giant monkey tree frog (Phyllome-dusa bicolor), lends a hunter superhuman endurance and renders him invisible to game animals. Western biochemists have assayed the frog's skin secretions, and found that they contain chemicals that suppress pain, thirst, and hunger. A hunter under the influence of sapo may be able to withstand physical hardships that would otherwise distract him from his game-tracking. Sapo also contains powerful emetics, diuretics, and laxatives. Researchers speculate that these agents flush the hunter's body of odorous compounds, thereby making him "invisible" (in an olfactory, not optical, manner) to his quarry (Erspamer et al., 1993).

The New Guineans' claim that the Hooded pitohui or "garbage bird" (Pitohui dichrous) is poisonous seemed highly unlikely when it was first recorded in Birds of My Kalam Country, a compilation of the New Guinea highlanders' folklore (Majnep and Bulmer, 1977). Western scientists had been acquainted with these common birds for over a century, and had not discovered any evidence of chemical defense. Further, of the approximately 9,000 known species

of birds, not one was known to produce a poison or venom of any sort (Diamond, 1992). However, in 1990, Western ornithologists independently and accidentally discovered that handling the live Hooded pitohui caused "numbness, burning, and sneezing" (Dumbacher et al., 1992). Subsequent analysis of pitohui tissues revealed the presence of homobatrachotoxin, the same poisonous compound secreted by a genus of Poison-dart frogs (Phyllobates) from Central and South America. In the concluding paragraph of his pitohui commentary in Nature (1992), Jared M. Diamond asks: "What other treasures of biological knowledge are becoming lost with the rapid acculturation of the world's few remaining Stone Age hunters?"

The Invalidity of Wholesale Acceptance of Native Testimony

In the light of these findings and many others like them, we can see that our previous arrogant dismissal of native wisdom was unwarranted. In our recent reassessment of indigenous cultures, however, we now tend to go too far the other way. A substantial body of recent popular liter ature portrays all natives as sages—infinitely wise about their environments, infallible in matters regarding local flora and fauna. See for example such magazines as Pangaia and Green Egg, and Marlo Morgan's controversial novel Mutant Message Down Under (Morgan, 1994). This new attitude, while perhaps less offensive than the old one, is equally absurd. The following examples—the Apris of Somalia and the Bis-cobra of India—illustrate that while natives may exhibit considerable knowledge about the animals among which they live, that knowledge is sometimes faulty.

Spawls (1979) tells us that the Somalis fear the APRIS, a snake so venomous that its mere touch causes death within seconds. Spawls himself has positively identified a specimen of the snake—before an audience of terrified Somali witnesses—as Gongylophis colubrinus, a nonven-omous and inoffensive sand boa.

Minton and Minton (1969) report that natives of northern India tell chilling stories of the BIS-COBRA, whose name indicates it has the killing power of 20 cobras. The culprit turns out to be the harmless gecko Eublepharis hard-

Head of the harmless gecko Eublepharis hardwickii, mistaken for the venomous Bis-COBRA in northern India. (Drawing [pencil on paper] by Jack Rabbit, © 1995)

wickii. In Pakistan, natives call the related gecko Eublepharis macularius the Hun-khun, and hold it to be "the deadliest creature . . . more dangerous than the Cobra." Similar superstitions surround likewise innocuous geckos in various regions all over the world, including Egypt, Java, Mexico, and Argentina (Minton and Minton, 1969; Goodman and Hobbs, 1994; personal observation).

Both errors in evaluation of native accounts—wholesale dismissal and wholesale acceptance—stem from the same flaw in thinking: the belief that native peoples are fundamentally different from Westerners. Although they live in different environments and have different beliefs, they are not beings wholly unlike us. Like us, they have the capacity for wisdom and logic; like us, they have the capacity for folly and superstition. In spite of cultural differences, New Yorkers and New Guineans share the same sensory apparatus and the same sort of brain with which to process sensory input. It follows, therefore, that all of us share the same limitations in our ability to perceive, to interpret, and to recall objects and events. In considering how to evaluate native eyewitness accounts of cryptid animals, then, I propose that we should look at how experts evaluate Western eyewitness testimony, and note those factors in which a witness's cultural background may play a significant role.

Authors of cryptozoological literature often adopt an indignant and contemptuous tone when they discuss attempts to explain eyewitness testimony in terms of ordinary phenomena. In such an attempt, the cryptozoologists claim, is the implicit assertion that the witnesses are lying, or insane, or merely stupid. I hope that after you've read through the following findings on eyewitness reliability, you'll realize that a witness can represent a falsehood as truth without lying; that a witness can hallucinate without being insane; and that a witness can misinterpret what he has seen without being stupid. All humans—even the most honest, the most levelheaded, the keenest-eyed, the smartest—have imperfect perception and imperfect memory. A

variety of factors bear upon our ability to perceive an event correctly, and later to recall correctly what we have perceived.

Factors Affecting Reliability of Eyewitness Testimony

Researchers into the validity of eyewitness testimony identify the following factors as affecting reliability:

Slippage of memory. Witnesses recall details more accurately immediately after an event than they do after a long period of time has elapsed (Loftus, 1979). This phenomenon is called slippage of memory, and its effect is progressive. A memory accurate an hour after an event will be less accurate after a week, less accurate still after a month, and even less accurate after a year.

Period of observation. Witnesses notice more details and recall them more accurately with increased observation time (Buckhout, 1974; Williams et al., 1992). Also noteworthy when considering period of observation is the fact that witnesses almost always overestimate the duration of a recalled event (Loftus, 1979).

Observation conditions. Witnesses are able to make more accurate observations at close range than at long range, and in bright light than in dim light (Buckhout, 1974). In cryptozoologi-cal eyewitness accounts, obstructions (like foliage) and weather conditions (like rain or fog) may further impede accurate observation.

Fear and stress. Witnesses are less accurate in recalling details of events during which they experienced fear or high stress (Buckhout, 1974; Dent and Stephenson, 1979; Williams et al., 1992). A witness who is confronted with a large, unknown animal is more likely to be concerned with escaping harm than with making accurate observations of the animal's anatomical features—features critical for making a positive identification later. Peter Byrne (1975), who catalogs scores of SASQUATCH sightings in his book The Search for Bigfoot, comments: "The reaction of most people who encounter a Big-foot seems fairly standard. The usual pattern is one of shock, surprise, often followed by near-panic and rapid flight."

One can well imagine that a witness in a state of "near panic" and in the act of "rapid flight" might have difficulty recalling the finer details of his Bigfoot encounter.

Expectancy. Witnesses tend to see what they expect to see (Buckhout, 1974; Williams et al., 1992). I consider this factor to be hugely significant in evaluating native eyewitness accounts. If the witness has been raised from infancy hearing folk stories about a terrible beast that lurks in the nearby forests, he's apt to make minimal observed data (a loud crash in the brush, a quick blurry glimpse of something) fit his expectations. This phenomenon occurs in Western cultures as well—although probably with less frequency, because belief in monsters is generally discouraged. Binns (1984) records the following eyewitness account from Loch Ness: "I saw a heavy wash or wake such as a motor-boat might produce, and I thought: 'Now when I get round that rocky promontory I'll possibly see the Monster.' But when I rounded the bend I saw a couple of swans. On the smooth water the waves appeared all out of proportion to their source."

On any other lake, the witness would probably have immediately thought of a mundane explanation for unusual surface turbulence; but since the incident occurred on notorious Loch Ness, he thought first of the elusive NESSIE.

Want or need on the part of the witness. Witnesses tend to see what they want to see (Buckhout, 1974). This factor is perhaps more significant for enthusiastic cryptozoologists than for natives. In an article for Fortean Times, self-described "armchair cryptozoologist" Ronald Rosenblatt (1996) describes his encounter with the "nearly extinct" Rhinoceros iguana (Cyclura cornuta) in the parking lot of the Miami Seaquarium: "Although I am no expert, [the lizard] looked to me like a giant iguanid. In fact, it looked most like the now nearly extinct Rhinoceros Iguana."

The photograph that accompanies the article does indeed depict an adult Cyclura (probably C. cornuta). However, C. cornuta is only "nearly extinct" on its native Hispaniola. In the United States, it is a popular cage pet, and escapees are not uncommon in Miami. I myself have collected two specimens during my two-year stay in the area.

Rosenblatt continues: "When I looked into the matter, I discovered that . . . while some large lizards have turned up in southern Florida, they have been monitor lizards, not iguanids like the animal I saw. . . . This odd experience changed my attitude toward people who report strange animals. When one has had such an experience, it is no longer possible to accept the derision of the skeptics at face value. What could be more unlikely than seeing a giant lizard in the middle of a huge city? It would be easy to doubt the truth of my experience, yet I know it happened and the photographs back me up. I didn't imagine the lizard and I didn't exaggerate its size."

Rosenblatt did not exercise due diligence in his research. The Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Reptiles and Amphibians (Behler and King, 1979) lists two large introduced iguanids, the Common iguana (Iguana iguana) and the Spiny-tailed iguana (Ctenosaura pecti-nata), as occurring in Miami. Iguana iguana is so abundant that city officials have posted a prominent "Iguana Crossing" sign less than a kilometer from the location of Rosenblatt's sighting.

Seeing a giant lizard in Miami is like seeing a stray cat in any other big metropolitan area. Seeing a Cyclura cornuta in Miami is like seeing a stray purebred Siamese cat—unusual, to be sure, but not newsworthy and certainly not inexplicable.

Fabrication of memories. Witnesses sometimes remember events that, quite simply, never happened (Buckhout, 1974; Dent and Stephenson, 1979; Williams et al., 1994). They aren't lying; they just remember incorrectly. This phenomenon, called confabulation, is well known and extensively verified experimentally.

Witnesses seem particularly prone to confabulate their presence at "historically significant events" (Buckhout, 1974). In Cryptozoology A to Z (1999), Loren Coleman and Jerome Clark record the following account of a huge, dinosaur-like MoKELE-MBEMBE's attack on a small West African village: "Pascal Moteka, who lived near Lake Télé, said his people had once constructed a barrier of wooden spikes across a river to keep the giant beasts from interfering with their fishing. When Mokele-mbembe tried to break through the barrier, the assembled villagers managed to kill it with spears. Celebrating their triumph, the people butchered and cooked the carcass, but everyone who ate the dinosaur meat died shortly afterwards."

Moteka does not claim to have witnessed the incident, so this is not a confabulated tale. However, the described event provides fertile material for confabulation. The story is both "historically significant" and highly improbable. Upon hearing a witness claim his presence at such an incident, the interviewer is faced with two immediately intuitive possibilities: that the witness is giving an accurate account of an actual event, or that the witness is lying. Findings on fabricated memories, however, suggest a third possibility: that the witness is telling the truth—in all sincerity, and to the best of his recollection—about an event that never took place. The details of the fabricated memory may be pieced together from folk stories, from vivid childhood dreams, from an actual but dimly remembered conflict between villagers and a hippo or elephant, or even from information accidentally imparted by the interviewer himself.

Completion of fragmentary pictures. Witnesses, over time, may "fill in the gaps" if their observation is incomplete (Buckhout, 1974). "I saw a big black object, apparently moving, in the water" can become "I saw a big black animal in the water" in an observer's memory after a while. With the passage of time, the "black animal in the water" may develop eyes, fins, and other features and attributes that the witness didn't claim to see immediately following the event.

Conformity. Witnesses sometimes alter their observations to fit those of other witnesses (Buckhout, 1974; Luus and Wells, 1994). Witnesses feel a greater degree of certainty about their observations if they hear that other witnesses have made similar, substantiating claims. This factor is noteworthy because it undermines the notion that an incident involving multiple witnesses is necessarily more credible than an event involving only one witness. If three witnesses thought they saw BlGFOOT, and a fourth is pretty sure that what he saw was just a bear, the loner is likely to lose confidence in his perception and to change it to agree with that of his companions.

Avoidance of saying "I don't know." Witnesses are reluctant to admit ignorance or inability to recall, and will sometimes invent details in order to avoid saying "I don't know" (Buckhout, 1974). This factor is important to consider in devising a proper interview of a witness. Reports in which the witness is prompted with questions tend to be more detailed but less accurate, because much of the detail is unconsciously invented.

Significance of the detail or event. Witnesses usually remember "important" things and forget "trivial" things (Buckhout, 1974; Williams et al., 1992). If an armed robber orders a bank teller to surrender the contents of the cash drawer, the teller's attention may be so fixed upon the gun that he does not at the time notice, nor does he later recall, the color of the bandit's eyes. The detail simply isn't important to the witness in the context of the event (although it may become very important later, in identifying the criminal). Likewise, a witness confronted by a big, unknown, possibly fierce animal is very likely to overlook subtle field marks.

Age. Witnesses may be more or less reliable depending on their age. For various physiological and psychological reasons, the elderly and children are generally less reliable than young and middle-aged adults (Buckhout, 1974; Dent and Stephenson, 1979).

The elderly are subject to various impairments to sensory perception (cataracts, glaucoma, hearing loss, etc.), to memory loss, and to senile dementia, any of which can detract from the accuracy of their observations and recollections (Dent and Stephenson, 1979).

Children are more vulnerable to suggestion than are adults (Dent and Stephenson, 1979; Williams et al., 1992), and are more likely to fill in missing details from imagination (Loftus, 1979). Additionally, children exhibit a near-universal and possibly innate fear of the dark and of "monsters" that might prowl in the dark (Sagan, 1977). In Western cultures, this fear is discouraged as shameful and irrational. In cultures wherein children wandering unsupervised at night might fall victim to predatory mammals, venomous snakes, and other sorts of natural hazards, the "irrational" fear may be actively encouraged, and reinforced by nightly repetitions of scary folktales.

Sex. Witnesses may be more or less reliable depending on their sex. Older studies show that men are more reliable in all instances; more recent studies show that women are more reliable except when they are afraid or under stress (Dent and Stephenson, 1979). Again, fear is an important factor to consider in many cryptozoological reports.

Physical condition. Witnesses may suffer from physical ailments (near-sightedness, cataracts, colorblindness, etc.) that affect their ability to describe accurately what they have seen (Buckhout, 1974; Dent and Stephenson, 1979). Physical impairments are probably particularly important in native witnesses, many of whom may have undiagnosed problems with their vision, and few of whom have access to first-rate corrective treatment.

Even witnesses who are free from permanent disabilities are vulnerable to temporary physical stresses that can affect their reliability. Long-term lack of food or sleep, for example, can impede a witness's ability to interpret perceived objects or events; in extreme instances, hunger and exhaustion can cause hallucinations (Sagan, 1995).

Roy Mackal (1976) recounts a Nessie sighting by H. L. Cockrell, who had spent three consecutive nights in a kayak trying to photograph the monster: "Two unsuccessful night hunts led to a third which was also unsuccessful until dawn. At first light, a breeze had dropped and the loch was very calm. Cockrell noticed something to his left about fifty yards away. The object appeared to be swimming very steadily and converging on him. . . . Cockrell said it looked like a very large flat head that was wide and four or five feet long. . . . He took two pictures, but then a slight squall came up. After it was over, he closed in on the object and found a four-foot stick, one inch thick. ... I am quite content to accept Cockrell's assessment that he photographed a stick or small log and assume that a combination of fatigue from three nights' activity on Loch Ness and a tremendous psychological bias of belief and expectation produced the recorded experience."

Training. Witnesses with training in fields that require accurate observation often recall descriptive details better than untrained witnesses; witnesses with such training may also be less prone to suggestion (Williams et al., 1992). The reported findings deal with policemen observing humans and their activities. I submit that a similar situation may exist with trained zoologists, experienced hunters, or even avid birdwatchers, observing animals and their activities. Natives who rely on their local animals and plants for sustenance obviously have more relevant train ing than the average Western suburbanite, and this factor must be considered in any evaluation of native testimony.

Biased interviewing. Witnesses are extremely subject to influence by interviewers (Buckhout, 1974; Dent and Stephenson, 1979; Williams et al., 1992). Leading questions and presentation of photographs for comparison ("Did it look like this?") can warp an observer's recollection. Witnesses are also sensitive to nonverbal cues that indicate the interviewer's satisfaction or dissatisfaction with certain answers, and the witness may unconsciously tailor his story in order to appear competent and helpful to the questioner (Buckhout, 1974).

Factors Affecting Reliability of Native Eyewitness Testimony

In addition to the aforementioned factors that apply to analysis of any eyewitness testimony, I suggest a few others that apply primarily to the testimony of natives:

Language barrier. The description a native gives is only as good as his command of English, your command of his language, or your interpreter's command of both languages. In any translation, errors can occur.

Alternative taxonomies. Native peoples have their own classification schemes for animals and plants. Their methods of categorization are sometimes very different from our own (Durkheim and Mauss, 1963; Lévi-Strauss, 1966). Ours is based on common descent— which, until the very recent introduction of DNA analysis, has been evaluated primarily by physical similarity. Other cultures' taxonomies are based on the ways in which animals are used (deer and alligators might be grouped together, because they both furnish leather); on the time of day when animals are active (bats and owls might be grouped together, because they are both active at night); or on where the animal lives (parrots and monkeys might be grouped together, because they both dwell in trees). When a native says, "The animal is in the family of the crocodile and the monitor lizard," he may not be indicating the fact that the animal is large and reptilian, but rather some native taxonomic sim-ilarity—the fact that, like a crocodile or monitor lizard, it lives near the water; or the fact that, like a crocodile or monitor lizard, it is eaten by the locals. Language barriers can amplify misunderstandings of this sort.

Overconfidence on the part of the witness in his own expertise. I've personally encountered this problem in talking with hunters and outdoors-men in the United States. I believe it may be common to hunters and outdoorsmen in all cul-tures—and, of course, it would be more prevalent in cultures wherein a greater proportion of the population are outdoorsmen. Witnesses with extensive experience in the woods convince themselves that when they encounter an animal they've not seen before, the animal must be something extraordinary and alien—because, after X number of years in the woods, surely the witness knows every animal out there. In the mind of the witness, unknown to him means unknown period. This assumption is likely to be false especially among native people for a number of reasons.

1. In any region, there are bound to be known animals so rare or secretive that even an experienced hunter could go an entire lifetime without seeing them once.

2. Native peoples usually have limited access to electricity, flashlights, batteries, etc., and their nighttime foraging activities are therefore restricted; many nocturnal animals could escape notice for generations.

3. Native peoples frequently have no written language, and have limited access to television, books, the Internet, and other information resources; so they have no way of learning about wildlife except by direct experience or by word of mouth. While a native hunter may have fantastically thorough knowledge of the wildlife within a few days' walk from his village, he may at the same time be largely ignorant of animals found only 100 miles away. What happens when, due to some unusual circumstance, a lone specimen of some strange-looking animal wanders from its accustomed range? Someone with access to the Discovery Channel would say, "Oh. That's a rhino. I've seen those on TV. What's it doing here?" A native hunter might well believe he's seen a monster, and might have great difficulty describing a creature so completely foreign to his experience.

Incomplete separation of science, history, and myth. In our society, science, history, religious allegory, and fictional entertainment are fairly distinct. Individuals who fail to recognize the distinctions are in the minority, and are generally held in scorn. In native cultures, however, the lines between these different sorts of information are blurred—when, indeed, there are lines at all (Lévi-Strauss, 1978). Lack of a written language almost assures distortion of information as it gets passed orally from generation to generation.

Skepticism is encouraged in Western scientific tradition—even the most fundamental principles of science are periodically questioned and subjected to testing (Hawking, 1988). Skepticism is discouraged in native societies, wherein unquestioning acceptance of inherited tradition and wisdom is a virtue (Lévi-Strauss, 1978). Belief in monsters, never actually seen but frequently talked about, therefore seems likelier in native cultures than in Western cultures—and, as previously discussed, belief profoundly affects eyewitnesses by creating expectancy.

Different attitudes toward sense data. In Western society, we are encouraged through formal education to recognize the fallibility of our senses. Observation is the beginning of the process that leads to proof; observation alone does not constitute proof. This mode of thought, however, is unnatural, counterintuitive, and only recently developed. For peoples who rely heavily on their keen eyesight or acute hearing to secure food and to avoid dangers, seeing is believing. Observation is proof (Lévi-Strauss, 1978).

The Bottom Line

In evaluating eyewitness testimony from anyone, from any culture, always consider the limitations of human perception and memory. Always consider how your questions may affect the witness's recollection. And always ask yourself: Which is more likely—that the incident occurred exactly as described? Or that the witness has misinterpreted or misrepresented the data?

Let's close with an illustrative anecdote. A frightened neighbor once called upon me to rescue her from a cryptozoological menace in her back yard. The creature, which she described as a "furry lobster, about two feet long," had been on her patio when she first encountered it. In their mutual fear, both furry lobster and neighbor fled the scene. The furry lobster took shelter under a shrub in the garden; my neighbor hurried indoors, to telephone first the police (who weren't interested), and then me. I found the mystery animal right away. It was a juvenile Spiny-tailed iguana (Ctenosaura sp.).

The spiny-tailed iguana is not native to South Florida, but introduced specimens have established breeding populations throughout the region and the lizard is by no means uncommon here. I was not surprised to find the animal—but I was surprised at the woeful inaccuracy of my neighbor's description. In no way did this lizard resemble a lobster; in no way was it furry; and its total length was about one foot, half the size reported. What further distortions might have been introduced if I'd heard the report a year after the incident? If the report had been imperfectly translated from another language? If I'd shown the witness pictures of animals approximately matching the "furry lobster" description? If I'd asked her to draw for me what she'd seen? And how might my perception of the report have been different if the event had taken place not in suburban Miami, but in uncharted Amazonia?

Sorry to disappoint anyone who's been on the trail of the Florida Furry Lobster. To the rest of you, happy hunting.


Chris Orrick posed the question that led to the composition and publication of this article, and generously shared research materials with me. Peter Hynes provided valuable editorial comments on an early draft of the article. Chad Arment moderates the online cryptozoology forum, and also contributed research materials necessary for this article's completion. Matt Bille provided relevant documents that my local libraries could not. Ben Roesch and John Moore edited the later drafts of the article, and prevented many errors of print, omission, and fact from appearing in the final published version. I thank you all.


Audubon Society Field Guide to North Ameri can Reptiles and Amphibians. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1979.

Binns, Ronald. The Loch Ness Mystery Solved. Buffalo, N.Y.: Prometheus, 1984.

Buckhout, Robert. "Eyewitness Testimony," Scientific American 231 (December 1974): 23-31.

Byrne, Peter. The Search for Bigfoot. Washington: Acropolis, 1975.

Coleman, Loren, and Jerome Clark. Cryptozoology A to Z.New York: Fireside, 1999.

Dent, H. R., and G. M. Stephenson. "Identification Evidence: Experimental Investigations of Factors Affecting the Reliability of Juvenile and Adult Witnesses." In Psychology, Law, and Legal Processes, edited by David P. Farrington, Keith Hawkins, and Sally M. Lloyd-Bostock. Atlantic Highands, N.J.: Humanities Press, 1979.

Diamond, Jared M. "Rubbish Birds are Poisonous," Nature 360 (1992): 19-20.

Dumbacher, John P., et al. "Homobatra-chotoxin in the Genus Pitohui: Chemical Defense in Birds?" Science 258 (1992): 799-801.

Durant, Will, and Ariel Durant. The Lessons of History. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1968.

Durkheim, Emile, and Marcel Mauss. Primitive Classification. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1963.

Erspamer, Vittorio, et al. "Pharmacological Studies of 'Sapo' from the Frog Phyllomedusa bicolor Skin: A Drug Used by the Peruvian Matses Indians in Shamanic Hunting Practices," Toxicon 31 (1993): 1099-1111.

Goodman, Steven M., and Joseph Hobbs. "The Distribution and Ethnozoology of Reptiles in the Northern Portion of the Egyptian Eastern Desert," Journal of Ethnobiology 14 (1994): 75-100.

Gould, Stephen Jay. The Mismeasure of Man. New York: Norton, 1981.

Hawking, Stephen W. A Brief History of Time. New York: Bantam, 1988.

Kittenberger, Kalman. Big Game Hunting and

Collecting in East Africa, 1903-1926. New York: Longmans, Green, 1929.

Lévi-Strauss, Claude. The Savage Mind. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1966.

-. Myth and Meaning. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1978.

Loftus, Elizabeth F. Eyewitness Testimony. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1979.

Luus, C. A. Elizabeth, and Garry L. Wells. "The Malleability of Eyewitness Confidence: Co-Witness and Perseverance Effects," Journal of Applied Psychology 79 (1994): 714-723.

Mackal, Roy P. The Monsters of Loch Ness. Chicago: Swallow Press, 1976.

Majnep, Ian Saem, and Ralph Bulmer. Birds of My Kalam Country. Auckland, N.Z.: Auckland University Press, 1977.

Minton, Sherman A., and Madge Rutherford Minton. Venomous Reptiles. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1969.

Morgan, Marlo. Mutant Message Down Under. Thorndike, Me.: Thorndike Press, 1994.

Rosenblatt, Ronald. "Car Park Lizard," Fortean Times, no. 92 (November 1996): 50.

Sagan, Carl. The Dragons of Eden. New York: Random House, 1977.

-. The Demon-Haunted World. New York:

Random House, 1995.

Spawls, Stephen. Sun, Sand, and Snakes. London: Collins, 1979.

Williams, K. D., Elizabeth F. Loftus, and Kenneth Deffenbacher. "Eyewitness Evidence and Testimony." In Handbook of P-'sychology and Law, edited by Dorothy Kagehiro and William S. Laufer. New York: SpringerVerlag, 1992.

Reprinted with permission from Cryptozoology

Jack Rabbit is an independent researcher in

Virginia. His interests are zoology, wildlife painting, writing short fiction, and playing the fretted dulcimer.

First appearance of Homo erectus

First appearance of archaic Homo sapiens First appearance of Neanderthals Megafaunal extinctions

First appearance of invertebrates with shells and other hard parts First appearance of jawless fishes

First appearance of cephalopods First appearance of jawed fishes

First appearance of land plants (similar to liverworts and mosses)

First appearance of land animals (arthropods)

First appearance of lobe-finned fishes

First appearance of plants with leaves and roots

Tetrapods evolve from lobe-finned fishes

First appearance of winged insects

First appearance of diapsid and synapsid reptiles

First appearance of parareptiles

The biggest mass extinction of all time, with 90% of all species disappearing

First appearance of crocodiles, pterosaurs, dinosaurs, turtles, and frogs

First appearance of salamanders and caecilians

First appearance of scincomorph and anguimorph lizards

First appearance of mammals and birds

First appearance of flowering plants First appearance of gekkotan lizards and snakes First appearance of marsupials and monotremes First appearance of ungulates and iguanian lizards

Mass extinction of the dinosaurs, plesiosaurs, and many marine invertebrates

First appearance of primates and rodents First appearance of proboscideans

First appearance of bats and horses First appearance of whales and sirenians

First appearance of grasses

First appearance of dogs

First appearance of cats, civets, and seals First appearance of apes First appearance of hyenas

First appearance of bears and otters First appearance of hominids

First appearance of Gigantopithecus First appearance of Australopithecus

First appearance of Homo erectus

First appearance of archaic Homo sapiens First appearance of Neanderthals Megafaunal extinctions

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