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Public Radio's Environmental News Magazine (follow us on Google News)

The Living on Earth Almanac

Air Date: Week of

This week, facts about... cryptozoology.


CURWOOD: It's Living on Earth. I'm Steve Curwood.
Most scientists studying animals are concerned with those they know exist or at the very least once existed. There is a field of study, though, that concerns itself with animals that we're not so sure about. It's called Cryptozoology. That literally means the study of hidden animals, and it was first used in 1959. Cryptozoologists stalk previously undescribed--and, some would say, nonexistent--animals. This includes new species of lizards, monkeys, and other ho-hum creatures, but also beasts of mythic proportion: Like the Loch Ness Monster, a giant octopus with tentacles more than 100 feet long; or Mokele-Mbembe, a dinosaur-like animal that reportedly lives in a 50,000-square-mile swamp in the Congo. While cryptozoology has a tarnished reputation in academic circles, its defenders point out that zoology was once essentially cryptozoology, with scientists in the colonies sending novel animals back to London and Paris. And cryptozoologists also like to point out that the gorilla was considered a mythical beast as late as the early 19th century and that the first carcass of the modern coelacanth, a fish presumed to be extinct for millions of years, wasn't found until 1938. And for this week, that's the Living on Earth Almanac.



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