Cryptozoology and UFOs?

Posted by: Craig Woolheater on January 16th, 2007

What do they have in common? Some folks think that the subjects are related.

Personally, I don’t.

But I did want to announce that our sister site, UFOmystic, has gone live.

Check it out for the same kind of insider information you get here at Cryptomundo, but about UFO related material, from Nick Redfern and Greg Bishop.

About Craig Woolheater
Co-founder of Cryptomundo in 2005. I have appeared in or contributed to the following TV programs, documentaries and films: OLN's Mysterious Encounters: "Caddo Critter", Southern Fried Bigfoot, Travel Channel's Weird Travels: "Bigfoot", History Channel's MonsterQuest: "Swamp Stalker", The Wild Man of the Navidad, Destination America's Monsters and Mysteries in America: Texas Terror - Lake Worth Monster, Animal Planet's Finding Bigfoot: Return to Boggy Creek and Beast of the Bayou.

79 Responses to “Cryptozoology and UFOs?”

  1. DWA responds:

    Right, mahlerfan.

    UFOlogists who take a strictly scientific tack may be upset at cryptopollution. And the converse may be true. What upsets each about the other — or should, if you ask me — is the introduction of stuff that simply isn’t subject to scientific review and verification. And stuff that we can all generally (with the obvious exceptions) agree is Just Plain Wackoid.

    People who simply want a scientific explanation for weird sights in the sky get upset at people who claim that sasquatches had to get here somehow, hmmmmmm. By the same token, people who simply think that the sasquatch is an unlisted species of North American primate, leaving copious evidence of its passage that needs more scientific attention, have a right to get a tad teed when the guy right next to them, ostensibly on their side of the argument, starts going on about how they’ve remained undiscovered because they cloud men’s minds; they’re bulletproof; they shapeshift and cross dimensional boundaries; they kill camera batteries and overexpose film with Weird Vibrations; they use mind control to make you forget you have a camera; they use UFOs to travel nationwide; oh, and they say Bigfoot is a “he,” an individual, and not a species, and they make eyes roll, man! 😀

    Here’s my bottom line. If you believe science needs to take your field more seriously, you can help by leaving anything scientists can’t verify out of the discussion. (List provided on request. 😀 ) If you don’t care what science thinks, we’ll go grab some more M&Ms and hope you change the subject before the Ph.D with a grant check in his hand walks away.

  2. DWA responds:

    I should have said Right, mystery_man, too; but I didn’t see your post until I logged on. Didn’t get the email for some reason.

    You couldn’t have stated my tack better. I lean toward the prosaic. If Bigfoot exists, he’s an ape. And if you take all the apes together — and include us — he’s not as weird as most think. He’s almost a Golden Mean ape. Except for the size, of course.

    I don’t read science fiction; the fact of the universe is incredible enough. That’s where I am on crypto, too. Give me the plain facts. Because plain they ain’t.

  3. skeptik responds:

    There’s done a lot of serious research in both ufology and cryptozoology, while on the other hand both fields have their share of crackpots.

    I agree with DWA above here. Reading Einstein, studying philosophy and reading world history etc. has made me realize how little we know, and how little we know of what we, common-sensically, think we know.

    People should maybe ask themselves more often whether they are making a mockery of their own interests by advocating unfounded views.

    Connecting the two fields?

    Only if the UFO in a given case is a creature, which would make it a UFC, right?

  4. fuzzy responds:

    Spoken like a true skeptik.

  5. mystery_man responds:

    I feel it is important to also think about the fact that what cryptozoologists are studying are creatures that are native denizens of this world that live and breathe and fill a biological niche of some sort.

    Bigfoot for example. If it is indeed a hairy bipedal creature, then there is precedence for this. There are large animals such as gorillas that exist, we know that this is a feasible concept. There are fossil records of actual, real hominids. We also know that gorillas went undiscovered for a long time and were once a cryptid themselves, so it can be reasonably argued that this could be the case with Bigfoot. In the end, we are basing Bigfoot on a physically plausible paradigm that already is known to exist, not some far fetched, fantastic imagining. Whatever it is, if it is a creature of this world, it must follow the realities it is presented with. It must eat, sleep, and survive. It is an entity that we are capable of understanding.

    Aliens on the other hand have no known physical precedent based in reality. They can be anything you want them to be. You can say they are shapeshifters, greys, lizard men, and nobody can argue with you because hey, they are aliens! It can be said they are building a huge city on the moon or are studying us and this could be true because hey, they are aliens! Who is to say they couldn’t be doing this?

    This I feel is the problem. Any sort of fanciful idea I can come up with is acceptable because there is nothing we can disprove this with. This can happen in cryptozoology too, but at least we are dealing with living, breathing creatures that can be found and studied and plausibly speculated about due to the existence of similar creatures already known to exist. I am interested in facts and I am interested in real animals of this world and this is where I feel cryptozoology should focus.

  6. vet72 responds:

    What an engaging and thought provoking post! Read it and learn from it. I most definitely have. You won’t find it better anyplace else on the web except for here. You guys are the best!

  7. aastra responds:

    “Then you have the camps that approach things from a realistic and somewhat less spectacular perspective.”

    We should remember that the universe has no obligation to satisfy our personal expectations as to what is realistic or unrealistic.

    If Bigfoot is real then believing in Bigfoot is realistic. If aliens who pilot flying saucers are real then believing in aliens who pilot flying saucers is realistic. Believing in the truth is always realistic, no matter how uncomfortable the truth may make us.

    Describe an octopus to somebody who’s never heard of an octopus and you’d likely be accused of spinning tall tales. But the reality of the octopus is not affected just because someone who’s never seen an octopus regards the very notion of such a creature to be spectacular and unrealistic.

    Whether or not a particular human being rates a particular point of fact as spectacular or boring or frightening or anything else has absolutely no relevance. Reality is reality, no matter how comfortable or uncomfortable we are with it, and no matter how much sophistry we might employ to challenge it.

    A true scientist would never twist known facts to fit his concept of reality, or selectively ignore facts that trouble him. What one person regards as spectacular or controversial or terrifying might seem absolutely mundane to somebody else.

    Investigate, establish fact, and let established fact dictate your reality.

    Alas, when investigating reports of cryptids, UFOs, Bigfoot, and the various (allegedly) supernatural phenomena, the facts of the matter can often be very difficult to establish.

    Hence, some people see some commonality.

  8. DWA responds:

    aastra: couldn’t agree more. As I say to the Ben Radfords of the world, Bigfoot, if he exists, exists independently of what any of us think.

    If you’ve seen a sas or been abducted by aliens, every word of this thread is moot (if not utterly laughable) to you.

    I’m talking about the rest of us who would like to get to what reality IS. We’re no closer to establishing the sas as a real animal now than we were before Patterson shot his film.

    If we’re going to confirm the unconfirmed, the horse to bet on is science. And it’s one of science’s strengths, NOT weaknesses, that it doesn’t accept flying saucers from other worlds as a fait accompli. Science demands evidence. Without evidence followed up to conclusions, only the observers know. When science confirms we ALL know.

    Until of course science gets new facts. But that’s another one of science’s strengths. When it gets hit by a dead mackerel that says, change your mind, well, sooner or later none of us believe that the world is flat.

    Little green men in saucers may exist. But until that is confirmed beyond doubt, we won’t find the sasquatch by waylaying space travelers.

    That’s all I’m saying.

  9. darkrabbit responds:

    “It’s Matt’s blog….”

    A thousand times a thousand pardons, Craig. No double entendre, just a dork-a-zoid mistake on my part.

    Sheesh. And of all things, I proof-read it before submission.

  10. MBFH responds:

    mystery_man, DWA, fuzzy, aastra, skeptik – great comments. This is a real thought provoking debate here. I totally agree with you on the ‘crackpots’ skeptik. There are a fair number in the crypto field as well I’d imagine. What we also need to keep sight of is the number of discoveries that have been made in both fields, through careful observation and scientific technique. Something like 90% of UFO sightings turn out to be identifiable. Discoveries, such as ‘Earth Lights’, continue to account for futher ones. I don’t think that there’s any chance we’ll ever discover everything about this planet, but we need to keep on looking around the edges, and bringing the anomalous into the mainstream.

  11. mystery_man responds:

    Aastra, yes your point is well taken and I agree entirely. What I meant to say by “a more realistic approach” was to say an approach that does not jump to fantastical explainations or conclusions without any sort of foundation in known fact. Looking at the facts, the way things are and not saying, “oh I believe the reason there is coincidence is that there is a mysterious force that controls and binds us all”. Where is the basis for that? No matter how real it may be to someone, is it responsible to jump to these sorts of theories. I was not trying to imply that these things do not exist or are unrealistic in and of themselves. There very well may be aliens living on the moon, who knows? It was the approach to these theories and how they are reached that I was pointing out. Not every science fiction idea that someone has is real no matter how much they want it to be. An octpopus may be strange to someone who has never seen it, but there are people who would look at it, find out what it does, study it and not immediately assume that it is a brain sucking creature from outer space, say. If these fantastic ideas turn out to be true, that is fine by me. But facts are what I am interested in, not novel ideas of how a person thinks the universe might work or what their own beliefs of reality are. Is this making any sense? That is what I meant by a “realistic and less spectucular perspective.” I meant the methods by which they come to their conclusions.

  12. fuzzy responds:

    I think the most important “commonality” between these two “ologies” is US ~ the common, curious, intrigued, mystified intellectually-inspired everyday Searcher.

    We’ve crouched at the end of a long line of Bigfoot prints in the middle of a snow-filled pasture, scant miles from a major metro area. How can these prints just terminate here? Where is the next print – WHERE DID THE CREATURE GO?

    Wait – here they are again, beyond a fence and trees, in a straight line from the others, resuming from nowhere, continuing into the night.

    We’ve watched a shiny something perform “impossible” maneuvers in a mountain afternoon sky, only to have the craft vanish between our eye-blinks. WHERE DID IT GO?

    I’ve chased a large, blinking red light cruising slowly, lowly, over a major Oregon river in the dark, until it just…disappeared! WHERE IS IT?

    The “Vanishing” commonality – and US, the same Searchers.

    It’s the Mystic that fascinates US, drawing us irresistibly into the Search.

    We’ve teased a metal patio table a foot into the air, with only five sets of fingertips touching its top. HOW CAN IT FLOAT LIKE THAT?

    We’ve seen our own Doppelganger walk the length of our living room. WHO IS THA- IT’S ME!!

    We’ve seen a Ouija planchette spell out a friend’s future employer’s name, when she wasn’t even (consciously) looking for a new job. WHAT IS CONTROLLING THIS LITTLE WOODEN TRIANGLE?

    We are open to all kinds of manifestations of the Mystic, because that’s who WE are – Searchers.

    And that’s what ALL these fields have in common – US.

  13. mystery_man responds:

    And before I get some kind of response saying that “people make assumptions and conclusions about Bigfoot all the time”, I should say that I personally am not inclined to do this and have never flatly stated that I think Bigfoot exists without a doubt.

    I must also add that in my opinion, Bigfoot speculation is based on an attention to physical parameters and biological reality as we know it from countless other organisms that inhabit the world with us. I feel there are certain physical factors that we can understand because we have seen it before and we can make reasonable guesses, for example, about how Bigfoot might behave, or what its diet may be, or how much it would need to consume based on body size, the impact it might have on the ecosystem, even what it might be based on comparisons of sightings to fossil evidence,etc.

    So some of these guesses about Bigfoot could be feasible from what we know about life on this planet.

    Some cryptids lack a lot of evidence, but it is different to me from stating that aliens are visiting us from other planets.

    While this may be true, it is a bit of a jump from what we know about the world and has less to base itself upon other than the believer’s certainty that it is so.

    And it may very well be so, but it is going to be harder to go out and prove that this is the case when there is no basis for comparison for it.

    Yes, the universe is strange, we don’t know everything, and we don’t know all we think we know, and so on, but I think all we can do for the time being is work from what we DO know.

    I think anyone studying either of these subjects should approach them with an open mind and see where the facts take them and when they do speculate, make sure that it is based on something that is feasible from what is being observed without any wild conjecture.

    We should not bend the facts to fit our ideas but rather our ideas should fit the facts.

  14. skeptik responds:

    I just wanted to point out that there’s a bit of an illogical jump from ufology to flying saucers (spacecrafts). Ufology is mainly sorting out reports and ending up with a small set of files which remain unidentified. Most observations are completely normal celestial objects (sun, moon, planets, shooting stars).

    “Alienism” presupposes that UFOs = spacecrafts, which is logically unhealthy.

    I like this quote of Feynman: I believe that the reports of flying saucers are the results of the known irrational efforts of terrestrial intelligence rather than the unknown irrational efforts of extra-terrestrial intelligence.

  15. mahlerfan responds:

    I agree that jumping from the reports of UFOs to space travelers is a stretch, but we can not deny some kind of unknown phenomenon exist. Most UFO reports are explainable, but some of the few that are not, have more information than those easily explained, yet still resist identification. What the phenomenon is we don’t know. UFOlogists are in the dark at present and trying to find a connection with other unknowns is foolish. One has to see things clearly before you can begin to connect the dots.

  16. mystery_man responds:

    Yes, skeptik, exactly. As I said in my earlier post, there are Ufologists that look at these reports with a scientific mind and are able to see that these may not be anything other than earthly phenomena. It is most certainly illogical to jump to aliens. Love the quote!

  17. DWA responds:

    Love skeptik’s quote from Feynman.

    But — acknowledging I know nothing about it — wouldn’t it REALLY flow if it were “the unknown RATIONAL efforts of extra-terrestrial intelligence”?

    Just a thought.

  18. MattBille responds:

    DWA, on your first response to my post:

    There are, without question, unidentified aerial phenomena (UAP). I never liked the term UFO, but we’re rather stuck with it, and with its connection to “spacecraft.” A UAP may not be “Flying” and may not be an “Object.” We are stuck at the level of people reporting things they cannot identify.

    Cryptozoology also starts (in some cases) with a sighting of something the witness cannot identify. But we know that, if that something is an unknown animal, that more evidence exists for the finding: scat, hair, kills, prints, what have you. It may be hard to find, but we know it exists for any physical animal.

    For UAP, things are a lot tougher.

  19. DWA responds:

    Indeed, Matt. When I say semantics are everything, I mean that they can be a cage or the key to the cage door.

    Maybe UFO is a case of the latter.

    Now if we could just figure out what the cage is with the sasquatch. (Maybe there are several. One is called “Weekly World News.”) :-p

  20. kittenz responds:

    I DO read science fiction and love it -always have. Good science fiction forces you to consider possibilities and expands your mind. And kids who read science fiction often grow up to be the adults who create fantastic technology and make it science fact.

    I have an intense interest in space, and of course I believe that there are many other intelligences in the universe besides our own. I seriously doubt that those intelligences are behind UFO sightings though. I think that if that were the case there would be no doubt of it. They would make themselves known, if only accidentally through their exploration of our planet and their electronic communications transmissions. I believe that UFOs are the product of either human activities, earth phenomena, or local space phenomena. I don’t completely discount the possibility that some UFOs could be alien visitors, but I think that possibility is very remote.

    We’re on the right track with programs like SETI, but given the current state of our technology, the aliens will have to come to us; we can’t yet go to them. But I do not believe in the “Greys”, except as a fascinating artifact of the human subconscious.

    I consider cryptozoology to be a branch of zoology and as such it is just as much a science. Those people who will accept anything and everything as evidence of real cryptids do a disservice to cryptozoology. In order to be taken seriously as scientists, cryptozoologists must set the same high standards for evidence as the more mainstream zoologists. If the cryptid does actually exist, it will be discovered sooner or later, either by accident as in giant squid carcasses washing ashore, or thru concerted scientific effort such as the intense research that finally brought us to the living giant squid in the wild.

  21. mystery_man responds:

    The more I think about it, the more I think Skeptik had a good point earlier when he said that Ufology is the study of looking through reports to find out what they are, then ending up with a few that are unexplainable, wheres “aliensism” is thinking they are spaceships. It’s a big distinction. I think a lot of us have gone full throttle against the alien theories, but by the definition of Ufology as a way to explain lights in the sky, then it is somewhat similar to cryptozoology. By that definition of Ufology, as taking a scientific view and not jumping to aliens, then they are similar to cryptozoologists in that they are trying to get to the bottom of what is causing these strange sightings in the sky and we are trying to figure out what it is that these cryptids are. In this way, Ufologists might even help science by pointing the way towards previously unknown atmospheric or space phenomena in much the same way that we find out about previously unknown animals. As long as it is being done in a scientific way, with high standards of evidence, and that in the unexplained cases they don’t accept everything as evidence or jump to conclusions, then by that definition of Ufology it could be considered legitimate. I just get a bit exasperated when people jump to far out conclusions without any strong basis, be it in cryptozoology, ufology, or any other science for that matter. I agree with Kittenz above. If we or any other so-called “fringe science” wants to be taken seriously, then we have to conduct ourselves as any mainstream zoologist or paleontologist, any scientist, would. That is the standard that we have to emulate.

  22. mahlerfan responds:

    Serious ufology is more than just studying reports of lights in the sky. Actual crafts have been observed and reported as being picked up by radar. Alleged landing sites have displayed compressed areas that contain soil samples that have been super heated and are devoid of bacterial life. Now this does not mean that beings from some far off planet are visiting the Earth. The evidence is too confusing to jump to that conclusion.

    The evidence for some cryptids is more straight forward. Cryptozoologists are not searching for something that defies explanation. In the case of bigfoot, they are searching for a large animal that leaves footprints which correspond to a primate. Alleged hair samples, although inconclusive, are recognized as belonging to some form of primate. Video of the creature shows an upright primate.

    If in the future, ufologists begin to tie some of the weirdness associated with the UFO phenomenon and can prove conclusively that some cryptids are related to it, then these creatures will no longer be cryptids. They can be handed over to ufology and cryptozoologists can continue their search for actual physical cryptids.

  23. skeptik responds:

    To DWA, with regards to the quote.

    I think Feynman was pointing to the irrationality of trying to contact someone by hiding from them.

    This is not dismissive of the UFO phenomenon altogether, of course, but the unfounded “leaps of faith” (sorry, Kierkegaard).

    Check out The Political Sociology of Alien Encounters by Eric Ouellet at Really interesting reading.

  24. fuzzy responds:

    73 COMMENTS ~ what a great Blog!

    Let’s do it again, Craig.

  25. mystery_man responds:

    I agree. This has been a thoroughly engaging and thought provoking discussion. I am always pleased to see how many intelligent, knowledgable people we have here in the Cryptomundo community. This discussion has been very entertaining and educational. Great post!

  26. DWA responds:

    skeptik: got it.

    Information will set you free. 🙂

    Never thought I’d think a thread about UFOs would show up here, or merit my attention. Don’t mean to deride here: it’s just not my interest; animals are. Plain (not!) old earthly animals.

    Like the sasquatch. 😉

    When pilots of alien spacecraft want our attention, I take for granted they’ll get it. ‘Til that day, I’m earthbound. And loving it.

  27. iseenem responds:

    You gotta laugh when people who are bigfoot “fringe” try to rhetorically position themselves as more legitimate than people who are UFO “fringe”. Too funny!

    I am proud to be both. The extraterrestrial hypothesis (ETH) simply states ‘some UFOs are extraterrestrial in origin.’ This seems like a reasonable theory in light of the THOUSANDS of sightings around the world from laymen, pilots, military officers, astronauts, etc. We know that life evolved on this planet, and that there are certainly billions of planets in our galaxy. So it seems reasonable that life evolved elsewhere and has come here for a visit for whatever reasons. Simple enough.

    This is not much different than the basic scientific theory proposed by cryptozoology that basically states ‘some big foot sightings are of a bipedal ape or hominid’. We know that the human ape walked across the Bering straight from Asia during the last ice age, and we know that there have been many hominid species that have existed on this planet, including a giant called ‘gigantopithecus”. So it seems possible that people are seeing one of the survivors which appears to be an ape or hominid that also walked here from Asia across the Bering straight.

    Both theories face similar problems in that the observations are, by nature, very ephemeral.

    The observations don’t lend themselves to being reproducible.

    I could go on but, since this is a primarily a zoological site, and therefore biased in the direction, I recommend, in the defense of the ETH, you google “Buzz Aldrin” and “UFO” on either google videos or youtube. He basically comes out and says that they saw a ufo on their way to the moon. ET? he doesn’t say. Air force backup? he doesn’t say. Its a good starting off point for the truly curious mind.

    It’s a fascinating subject that needs good researcher such as those of you in cryptozoology.

  28. Mnynames responds:

    Kittenz- If Greys can be considered artifacts of the human subconscious, couldn’t at least some reports of big hairy wild men? They seem equally archetypal to me. I suppose black panthers could be too, for that matter. Once you open that door, you have to admit the possibility that it could be responsible for other phenomena as well. Just throwing that out there.

    Mahlerfan- Even if Ufologists can prove some cryptids are associated with their phenomena, if they are still flesh-and-blood animals, I would think they would still be of interest to Cryptozoologists. Just my 2 cents.

  29. kittenz responds:

    IF there are genuine animals associated with UFOs, of course they would be of interest to cryptozoologists. It’s just that I have seen no compelling reason to believe that UFOs are associated with any kind of animal.

    That’s my personal observation and I’m sure that some people would disagree. I respect that; that’s their prerogative.

    And yes, “big hairy wild men” could be an artifact of the human subconscious … but “big hairy wild men” do exist, in the form of gorillas, orangs, and chimps, which were called Wild Men for centuries before they were scientifically described and categorized as apes. I know of no studies of the human brain that have produced illusions of “big hairy wild men”, while studies during which various areas of the brain were stimulated HAVE produced descriptions of imagined entities resembling the “Greys”, which seemed very real at the time to the people who were participating in the experiments.

    Even dragons are proposed by some to be some sort of deeply embedded mammalian memory, from the time when our tiny little pre-human ancestors had to hide from dinosaurs. I find that theory interesting but have no strong opinion about it.

    As to black panthers, you can go to a zoo or animal sanctuary and see black panthers all day long. Yes, it’s easy for the mind to play tricks, and imagine that dark shape seen in the corner of the eye as a panther, when really it was just someone’s alley cat out for a stroll. I believe that most “black panther” sightings are exactly that kind of mistaken identity or wishful thinking. But I have no doubt that blank panthers really exist, and I find it plausible that they might exist in regions other than the regions from which they originated.

    I have no doubt that UFOs exist either. But I think that the vast majority are cause by some sort of natural phenomena.

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