What Is Cryptozoology?

Written by Kristen Holder
Published: February 26, 2024
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Dr. Carl Sagan once stated that the absence of evidence does not mean that evidence is absent. Thought processes like this give hope to people seeking to find things that aren’t yet proven by science. What is cryptozoology? We cover its scope and how it relates to scientific inquiry in detail.

What Is Cryptozoology?

The study of unconfirmed and unobserved animals is cryptozoology.

The study of unconfirmed and unobserved animals is cryptozoology.

©iStock.com/estt

Cryptozoology studies unconfirmed and unobserved animals not recognized by conventional science. These animals go by the term cryptid. Cryptozoologists are people who look for cryptids in an attempt to prove their existence.

Cryptozoologists aren’t necessarily traipsing through the woods in the middle of the night, looking for strange animals. They may instead involve themselves in research centered around gathering oral traditions related to one of the cryptids that interest them. Others may study the psychology of cryptid belief, and being a cryptozoologist doesn’t automatically take away a sense of skepticism.

What Is a Cryptid?

Animals that some believe exist but haven't been confirmed by science are cryptids.

Animals that some believe exist but are unconfirmed by science are cryptids.

©Unique Vision/Shutterstock.com

A cryptid is an animal that some think exists but remains unverified by legitimate means. These cryptids usually exist in oral histories, with some unrelated cultures having stories about the same animals.

Cryptids, by definition, are not known. As more discoveries happen, a cryptid moves from the realm of fiction into definable reality. When an animal is verified and precisely described, it is no longer a cryptid.

What Is Pseudoscience?

Pseudoscience is a discipline that doesn’t use the scientific method correctly yet claims to be science. Most pseudosciences exist to strengthen confirmation bias instead of seeking proof that a hypothesis is wrong. This means that it is based on anecdotal evidence or other claims that deserve the same treatment as facts.

People who truly believe in cryptozoology see it as a legitimate life science. However, its validity as a science is dependent on how professionals utilize the scientific method. Most scientists see cryptozoology as a pseudoscience because most practitioners already believe in the creatures they’re seeking. As a result, these cryptozoologists are looking for the proof they need to back up their individualistic convictions.

What Is the Paranormal?

Cryptids like the wendigo have paranormal characteristics.

Cryptids like the wendigo have paranormal characteristics.

©Віщун / CC BY-SA 4.0 – License

The paranormal refers to anything that supposedly exists in consensual reality that isn’t explainable by observations in nature or science. Common paranormal beliefs include clairvoyance, telekinesis, shape-shifting, faith healing, and life after death.

In cryptozoology, some cryptids exhibit paranormal characteristics. For example, the wendigo of North America are beings inhabited by evil spirits because they succumbed to cannibalism during harsh winters. They are now doomed to walk around in emaciated and pale bodies, looking for victims for all eternity.

A wendigo is sometimes considered paranormal because its existence relies on ideas that are unproven by science, like the existence of spirits. The ability of their non-functioning corpse to remain animated enough to provide life to something living is another supernatural characteristic.

List of Cryptids That Captivate the World

Cryptids exist worldwide, and cryptozoologists waste time and energy gathering their stories to educate the wider human population. Here is a non-exhaustive list of some of the cryptids from around the world:

Summary of Cryptids From Around the World

Name of CryptidLocation of CryptidAttributes of CryptidAlternate Names
AlbatwitchPennsylvania, USASteals FoodN/A
BigfootNorth AmericaTall and HairySasquatch
ChupacabraAmericasLivestock VampireGoat Sucker
DogmanEastern USADog and Human HybridN/A
Flatwoods MonsterWest Virginia, USAStinky and FastBraxie
GrassmanOhio, USAMore Human BigfootEastern Bigfoot
Jersey DevilNew Jersey, USATall With Wings and HoovesN/A
Loch Ness MonsterScotlandLong Necked DinosaurNessie
Loveland FrogmanOhio, USABipedal FrogN/A
Melon HeadOhio, USASupernatural ExperimenterN/A
Mongolian Death WormMongoliaHuge SandwormN/A
MothmanWest Virginia, USACauses DisastersN/A
Ole SlewfootNorth Carolina, USAHuge BearN/A
OlitiauCentral AfricaGiant BatN/A
Ozark HowlerOzark MountainsBad OmenNightshade Bear
PukwudgieMassachusetts, USAShort Magical ShapeshifterN/A
Raystown RayPennsylvania, USAAquatic MonsterN/A
SheepsquatchWest Virginia, USABear Sized SheepN/A
SkinwalkerSouthwest, USAEvil ShapeshifterN/A
Smoke WolfAppalachian MountainsTurn Into Smoke at WillN/A
SnallygasterMaryland, USAHuge Bird of PreyN/A
Snarly YowWest Virginia, USASupernatural DogN/A
SquonkPennsylvania, USAUgly and SadN/A
Van Meter VisitorIowa, USATall and WingedN/A
Wampus CatsWest Virginia, USAHuge Stinky CatsN/A
WendigoNorth AmericaForest CannibalNot to Be Spoken
YetiHimalayasWhite Bipedal ApeAbominable Snowman

The photo featured at the top of this post is © Daniel Eskridge/ via Getty Images


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About the Author

Kristen Holder is a writer at A-Z Animals primarily covering topics related to history, travel, pets, and obscure scientific issues. Kristen has been writing professionally for 3 years, and she holds a Bachelor's Degree from the University of California, Riverside, which she obtained in 2009. After living in California, Washington, and Arizona, she is now a permanent resident of Iowa. Kristen loves to dote on her 3 cats, and she spends her free time coming up with adventures that allow her to explore her new home.

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