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thorough encyclopedia of cryptozoology
on March 4, 2001
Cryptozoology, the search for unknown or "hidden" animals, is a strange field, quite legitimate in some cases as researchers bring to the world of scientific knowledge new creatures such as the woodland bison (rediscovered in 1960 after it was presumed extinct), the saola (a large bovid discovered in 1992 in Vietnam), and the okapi, the giraffe relative of the deep jungles of central Africa, dicovered by western man in 1901 after extensive searching and using clues from the local inhabitants in the region. Other creatures such as the giant squid and the pygmy elephant are poorly known and quite enigmatic, but nonetheless real and seem to fall between the shadowy border of "standard" zoology and cryptozoology.
Cryptzoology also as a field includes a host of other strange creatures, many famous such as the sasquatch (or Bigfoot), yeti (or Abomininable Snowman), and the Loch Ness Monster, others fairly obscure such as the waitoreke (an otter-like mammal that may exist in New Zealand), the marozi (the enigmatic spotted lion of East Africa), and the buru (a large unknown monitor lizard of the remote valleys in the Himalayas). To an educated person who prides himself on having read a great many nature and science books, many "cryptids" (animals of interest to cryptozoologists) seem outlandish and improbable, such as the skunk ape of Florida or even the Loch Ness Monster (as the loch in question has been combed over extensively, and any air-breathing monster would have long been discovered and documented). It is with the creatures that *just may* exist, that don't sound so improbable, that gives to me cryptozoology (and this book) its charm. Surely hairy wildmen don't haunt the rain forests of Washington state, but who is to say with absolute certainty the buru or the marozi don't exist?
Coleman and Clark cover the field well, with entries for famous and not-so-famous cryptids, as well as large animals that have come to light in the 20th century. In part, it is these newly discovered animals - the Komodo dragon in 1910, the coelacanth in 1938, the kouprey in 1961 - that help make the science of cryptzoology at least partially legitimate. In addition, they have entries for famous cryptzoologists such as Matthew A. Bille, a leader in cryptocetology (the study of hidden or undiscovered whales) and Bernard Heuvelmans, the "Father of Cryptzoology," whose has written numerous works on cryptozoology, particularly on mysterious hominids such as the yeti.
Whether cryptozoology is a legitimate and cutting edge science or a collection of real animals, folktales, myths, and legends all mixed together is for the reader to decide. Coleman and Clark treat the subject with seriousness and professionalism, and the book is fun to browse through, complete with nice illustrations of cryptids and cryptozoologists. A nice bibliography is included, along with a list of cryptozoology musuems and exhibits, periodicals, and websites.