The Phoenix Network:
About  |  Advertise
Big Fat Whale  |  Failure  |  Hoopleville  |  Idiot Box  |  Lifestyle Features  |  Reality Check

Where the wild things are

By MIKE MILIARD  |  January 12, 2009

And some cryptids are actually much less mysterious than we previously thought. At the Museum of Science's "Mythic Creatures" exhibit, a few displays explain how some of history's cryptids are simply misidentified actual animals that no longer exist. The legend of the Roc could be based on the fossils of the Aepyornis bird. Woolly mammoth bones were once mistaken for the femurs of giants. The Yeti could trace his ancestry back to the massive extinct primate gigantopithecus blacki.

Whether humans ever encountered that ape is up for debate, but it's known that one Aepyornis egg could feed an entire family, and it's suspected that, as with so many other species, humans led directly to its extinction. As Hodgman reminds us in his new book: "What's the most dangerous animal in the zoo? . . . The answer: man."

We live in a world that is ever more covered over with "civilization" — strip malls and interstates and foreclosed exurbs. Where pockets of wilderness and intrigue are harder and harder to come by. Doesn't it stand to reason that the possibility of a phylum of creatures beyond our ken would merit more than passing interest?

"We all love a mystery," says Belanger. "Everything is catalogued and chronicled so much today that people sit back and say, 'There must be mysteries left to solve. There must be creatures we still haven't found.' "

Many people who read Cryptomundo religiously do so "because I bring excitement," says Coleman. "I let them know that there are new animals being found. That people are seeing these creatures around the world. That there are expeditions going out, and films being made. They want to be part of an exciting part of the world, [one] that I certainly know is there."

In the world of cryptozoology, there are, of course, varying levels of participation. "There are people that are fans, there are people that are researchers, and there are all those people in between," says Coleman. "A lot of people really think they're going to be the first one to take their cell phone and photograph Bigfoot. I don't think it's gonna happen that way. But I'm not out to discourage people, because there's a sense of adventure in cryptozoology that's really part of it. Who am I to tell someone that they're not going to be the first person to find a new species?"

Into the mystic
It's probably a safe bet that the hollow earth is not filled, as Hodgman contends, with legions of mole-men, "tending their glowshrooms, their bloodbeetle hutches, and the various under-creatures they [raise] for food, transportation, and companionship."

But lumbering through the fetid bogs and atop the snow-swirled mountaintops of the surface world, the truth is out there. Somewhere. "I'm a believer," says Belanger. "I think there's something to the fact that these stories crop up all over the world, in various languages and cultures. They go back millennia. Really credible witnesses have documented this stuff. I just think there's something to it."

And if it's easy to chide faithful cryptid hunters for being naive, Belanger points out, "debunkers and disbelievers are operating from belief systems as well — they're assuming we know everything. Which, by God, we don't."

Coleman approaches each supposed sighting with healthy skepticism. Fully cognizant that pop culture influences cryptozoology — and vice versa — he always checks to see what's playing at local movie theaters before attempting to verify each cryptid report.

In fact, he says, "when I go talk to a Bigfoot crowd, the first sentence I say is, 'I do not believe in Bigfoot.' I accept or deny evidence. You true believers over here, you're very interesting, but that's not me. You skeptics and debunkers, that's interesting, too. But I really am the open-minded person in the middle.

"I've done a lot of screening, and excluded 80 percent of [the evidence] as misidentifications, hoaxes, or mundane. But there's still that 20 percent of what I feel is unknown. There's a lot of mysteries out there, and this one may interest you. Here's the data. You decide."

Mike Miliard is putting on his pith helmet and heading into the field. He can be reached at

< prev  1  |  2  |  3  |  4  | 
Related: Slideshow: Cryptids in Maine, Sweet information!, Show me the monkey, More more >
  Topics: Lifestyle Features , animals, big foot, Cryptozoology,  More more >
  • Share:
  • RSS feed Rss
  • Email this article to a friend Email
  • Print this article Print

Today's Event Picks
Share this entry with Delicious
  •   MASTER P'S THEATER  |  February 18, 2009
    Local video editor Paul Proulx has built a following by paying homage to Hollywood's coolest directors. So why is YouTube all up in his grill?
  •   MYSTERY SOMERVILLE THEATRE 3000  |  February 19, 2009
    Hey, Up in Front!
  •   FILLING IN THE BLANKS  |  February 04, 2009
    New art galleries pop up in Boston, but how long will they last?
  •   THE KULT OF AL KAPRIELIAN  |  February 06, 2009
    Not at all like the smooth-talking meteorologists on the air in Boston, Kaprielian looks more like an eighth-grade science teacher as he springs to life.
  •   MEDIA MISFITS  |  February 09, 2009
    News from waaay outside the mainstream

 See all articles by: MIKE MILIARD

  |  Sign In  |  Register
Phoenix Media/Communications Group:
Copyright © 2009 The Phoenix Media/Communications Group