Cryptozoology is a Valid Science – Yes

Cryptozoology is simply the search for either living examples of animals identified as extinct or new species of creatures lacking empirical scientific evidence. Because of the speculative nature of the field, the lack of initial evidence supporting the organisms, and the bias towards confirmation instead of refutation, many consider cryptozoology to be a pseudo-science. But with the proper scientific procedures and by removing the confirmation bias in studies, cryptozoology can be viewed as a valid science that can contribute greatly to our understanding of the biological world.

In fact, work in the field of cryptozoology has produced incredible results in the past. The most notable case is the coelecanth, a living fossil of a fish believed to have been extinct for well over 60 million years. Natives in South Africa were well aware of the fish and even had some practical uses for it in their day to day living, but scientists were totally unaware of its existence until specimens were found off the coast. While myth, legend, and folklore is often easily refuted, many times it is based on some truth and can provide real evidence leading to major discoveries.

One of the prime areas for research in cryptozoology is the deep ocean. Just over the last century, incredible creatures such as the megamouth shark, giant squid and colossal squid have been confirmed as more than just legends. Specimens of each have been recovered and even live specimens of the sharks and giant squid have been captured (though the squid generally die very quickly in shallow waters). Some estimates and calculations predict that over 4 dozen very large species of aquatic animals likely live deep in the depths of the oceans, where humans are incapable of easily exploring. Because of odd ocean currents and animal behavior patterns, many of these animals may also be especially elusive and live only in select regions of the seas.

The specific expeditions and research teams that often weaken the credibility of cryptozoology are the ones searching for the creatures that are the most unlikely to exist but have the most well-known legend base, namely Bigfoot, the Loch Ness Monster, and the Yeti. So much research has gone into these creatures and the myths surrounding them with little resulting evidence. More often than not, any evidence presented can be easily explained or is quickly refuted as a hoax. This further encourages the perception that cryptozoology is more about chasing the fantastic and “magical” than actually searching for real biological specimens.

Another major problem with much of the research in cryptozoology involves the “confirmation bias”. Researchers chasing fantastic creatures often weigh evidence in support, whether anecdotal or otherwise, far higher than any evidence that would refute the claims for the creature’s existence. For example, a great deal of evidence suggests that the Loch Ness Monster does not and cannot exist. The lake is too small for creatures of the reported size to exist without discovery, especially considering how many would be necessary to support a reproducing population. Also, the lake is too cold and does not contain enough food for survival by larger creatures. But this evidence and more is often pushed aside in favor of grainy photos and stories from the locals about sightings.

With the removal of the confirmation bias and by searching for specimens in more plausible locales (deap sea, East-Asian jungles), cryptozoology will continue to astound and surprise researchers with more fantastic creatures. These creatures, while not surrounded by the same legend and mythology as the storybook counterparts, prove to be just as incredible and often even stranger. Cryptozoology should be considered a very real science when it is treated with real scientific principles and the basic scientific method.