In the current issue there is an article by Janet Bord – who first highlighted the concept of ‘animals that aren’t’ in her (and Colin’s) 1980 book Alien Animals – on winged humanoids. And Jon Downes – who came up with the nattier phrase ‘zooforms’ for the same thing – writes a review of the British star of that particular show, the Owlman. In a previous issue Janet recounted some of the more outré features of some Bigfoot stories: glowing red eyes, telepathy, impervious to bullets etc. I consider none of these articles to be on the subject of ‘cryptozoology’. Not even crypto-cryptozoology.
Clearly it’s the duty of the cryptozoologist to take a peek at such stories just to make sure there isn’t anything there to interest him/her. But although they might feel that Owlman was just a sighting of a big owl which freaked out a couple of kids creeping round a creepy church at twilight, or that Mothman was just a big crane that swooped on a car, and that both yarns grew in the telling… it’s not really their place to go on about it. Officially, I mean. It’s not really their job. Once glowing eyes and human morphology and sudden disappearances and bullet-proof skin etc etc become part of the description, surely it’s time for the cryptozoologist to move on? By all means chase after Thunderbird: if it exists, it’s a bird (or better still a Pteranodon). But Mothman?
The other way round is OK: looking at the folklore of exotic peoples in exotic places to determine whether some of their mythology may refer to undiscovered exotic beasties. The hoped for result in those cases is something zoological, not parasychological: something of flesh-and-blood you can give a Latin name to (preferably one incorporating your surname!).
The reason I highlight this is that there is a danger of the very proper study of Cryptozoology becoming confused – yea verily, polluted – with Spookology (a term I’ve just coined and now feel rather fond of). Batsquatch is not an indigenous species of North American ape that’s also evolved big bat wings so that it can fly up and pick the choicest bananas from the equally undiscovered North American banana tree. And Black Dogs aren’t black dogs (except when they are, in which case, who cares?). They are SPOOKS, fit only for the attention of the Spookologist.
And let’s face it if you trekked into some steaming jungle hoping to find an unknown species of big lizard only to find yourself confronted by some supernatural monster that was on a spree from Yoh-Vombis or Unknown Kaddath you’d crap yourself.
And no zoo would take it. (Shamblerfromthestars freemaniensis anyone?)
Sunday, February 08, 2009
GUEST BLOGGER RICHARD HOLLAND: Animals that aren’t
Once again we hand you over to guest blogger Richard Holland, editor of Paranormal Magazine, and all round good bloke. He intends to be a regular visitor tho these pages, and I am sure that you will all agree with me that this will be jolly good news for all of us..
I’ve had a few communications now from readers of my Paranormal magazine concerned that it has become overly biased towards cryptozoology. Although this is something I’m prepared to address, I am surprised to find that readers seem to consider anything which apparently bears fur or feathers falls under the remit of the cryptozoologist.