Over, once again to the divine Ms F. After a gap of a few weeks during which she has been about her studies, she is back and as charming as usual....
Choosing three cryptids is a little like going into an antiques shop and trying to choose only three things I want.
Of course for me one would be the Moa, the giant flightless bird of New Zealand, it is due to this magnificent mega-fauna that I got into cryptozoology at all and therefore discovered the cfz. Apparently wiped out by 1500 there have nonetheless been reports of them from remote valleys and beaches, a girl, Alice Mckenzie saw what may have been one in 1880 and again in 1889. she herself did not say it was a Moa but thought perhaps it was a Takahe (itself thought extinct at the time) but she realised it wasn’t when she later saw a stuffed Takahe.
There were several types of Moa ranging from the truly gigantic Dinornis robustustus, to the smaller ‘Little scrub moa’ which is the one Rex Gilroy and his wife have great hopes of finding.
Another of my favourites would have to be the tatzelwurm, apparently found in Switzerland. It seems to be some sort of lizard with only small legs, but it makes up in temper what it lacks in legs. Whilst one of these creatures was apparently found dead in 1828 and sent to Heidelburg museum where, as is usual with such bodies, it vanished. There is, however, a photograph of the Tatzelwurm, but as it appears to show a rather cheerful looking carved model I’m not sure how much value should be placed upon it.There are a few pages on this mountain-dwelling marvel in the book ‘Dragons: More than a Myth?’ by Richard Freeman, but I first learnt of it by looking at the wikipedia ‘list of cryptids’ which is a wonderful, if sometimes fairly silly resource for the cash strapped crypto-fan.
The last of my favourites was very hard to choose, and not quite as fun as the lilliputian gin drinking elephants mentioned by Chris Clark. It is the Steller’s sea cow (Hydrodamalis gigas), and if I could choose one ‘extinct’ animal that I would want to be rediscovered well and thriving then this would be it. The giant and rather silly looking beast was discovered in 1741 by Georg Steller, although it was already well known to the people native to the lands it lived near. By the time it was discovered by white men the sea cow was already endangered, due to a mixture of over-hunting and lack of algae due to the rising population of sea-urchins. But still, it could have held on to existence if the hunting had been stopped.
The sea cow became extinct in 1768, only 27 years after its official discovery. There have been odd reports ever since from the remote seas where they lived, in 1830 a Polish naturalist was sure he had seen some sea cows on Bering Island and in 1962 Russian Whalers (familiar with the wildlife in those waters) thought they saw a whole group of them.Could they still exist?
I think it unlikely, but I wouldn’t entirely dismiss the possibility.