October 19, 2013

The Cryptozoologicon is Coming!


Shared from Doubtful News:

A new and likely tremendous cryptozoology book is on its way!

The Cryptozoologicon – by John Conway, C. M. Kosemen and Darren Naish – is due out later in 2013 and will be published by Irregular Books.Doubtful News

Cryptozoologicon [is] a beautifully illustrated work focusing on cryptids, the (sometimes mundane, sometimes bizarre, sometimes nonsense) creatures of the cryptozoological literature. We’re just about done and are looking to launch soon… in fact, we’ve created so much material that we’re now going to be producing TWO VOLUMES.Cryptozoologicon Vol I launches soon in 2013; Vol II will follow soon after.Tetrapod Zoology

…here’s a teaser: the Yeti section of our book. Ironically, this is actually one that doesn’t contain all that much novel speculation (for reasons discussed below). However, we hope you enjoy it and get some idea of where we’re going with this project. I also want to add that – as yet – I haven’t seen the published version of Daniel Loxton and Don Prothero’s Abominable Science; once I do, it’ll surely get cited in this section and probably in other parts of the book as well.

Himalayan Yeti in summer pelt, surrounded by flowering rhododendron. Image by John Conway, from the forthcoming Cryptozoologicon.

The Yeti is easily one of the most famous of mystery creatures. The Yeti of the cryptozoological literature is not the shaggy-furred, white snowbeast of Hollywood movies and popular artwork. Instead, it’s a blackish, dark brown, or red-brown animal of the sub-temperate and temperate forests and mountainsides of the Himalayan Mountains and Tibetan Plateau, predominantly bipedal and 3 m or so in height (though, to be fair, white Yetis have supposedly been reported from Tibet). Eyewitness and mythological accounts believed to describe the Yeti come from such countries as Russia, China, Nepal, Tibet and India. Across this large area, a variety of different local names are believed by cryptozoologists to describe the same creature (Shackley 1983). However, there is much variation in the size, form and behaviour of the hairy ape-men described across this area by witnesses and known from lore, so one interpretation favoured by some cryptozoologists is that there are actually two kinds of yeti, or that we’re actually seeing references to a huge cast of unknown hominids that range from shaggy, orangutan-like species to surviving Dryopithecus-like species, australopithecines, Neanderthals, members of Homo erectus and others (Heuvelmans 1986, Coleman & Huyghe 1999).

This is the only logical interpretation if we choose to imagine all ‘wildman’ sightings and lore as encounters with real creatures.

If, however, these sightings and lore combine mistakes, hoaxes and wishful thinking with the seemingly universal human belief that there have always been wild creatures or spirits that are somehow intermediate between people and the rest of the natural world, it is wisest to interpret all or most ‘mystery hominids’ as a sort of socio-cultural phenomenon that has been mistakenly ‘de-mythified’ by cryptozoologists. In view of the continuing lack of good evidence of any sort for Yetis and other mystery hominids, the latter is our preferred option.

Zoologists, biologists and other scientists interested in the concept of the Yeti as a real animal have universally regarded it as a primate, and as a great ape (that is, as a member of Hominidae, the group that includes great apes as well as humans). Its Asian distribution, the general idea that it’s approximately similar in some aspects of appearance to orangutans, and the proposal that it might be related to (or a version of) the extinct Asian hominid Gigantopithecus have all combined to create the more specific idea that it’s a pongine: that is, a member of the same great ape group as the orangutans, Gigantopithecus and so on.

While this sounds like a reasonable interpretation of the data, the fact is that – like so many detailed cryptozoological hypotheses – it relies on the integrity and reliability of the supporting anecdotal evidence. Accounts whereby mountaineers and explorers catch glimpses of distant Yetis are fairly well known, as are cases where the same people find large, superficially human-like footprints in the snow. To date, however, reliable evidence that might provide support for the yeti’s existence remains unknown: there are no good photos or bits of film, the few photos of good footprints (notably the Shipton photos of 1951) almost certainly represent clever hoaxes, and claimed nests, hairs, bones and pieces of skin have all proved inconclusive or misidentified (e.g., Milinkovitch et al. 2004). Furthermore, the ‘best’ eyewitness accounts on record (e.g., Slavomir Rawicz’s detailed sighting of 1942) are highly suspect and probably fabricated (“It is most unfortunate that all this detail occurs in a book whose authenticity is, to say the least, doubtful”; Shackley 1983, p. 55).

The two Yeti supposedly watched for over an hour by Slavomir Rawicz and colleagues in 1942. The route Rawicz supposedly took through the region, and the timing reported, is full of discrepancies and the case is almost certainly a fabrication. This famous drawing, incidentally, was produced under Rawicz’s guidance by “Dr W Tschernezky of Queen Mary College, London”!

In short, we regard the Yeti as an amalgamation of fleeting glimpses of known animals (including bears, takin and serows) with both the universal wildman archetype and with local Asian lore about humanesque, mountain-dwelling demons (Himalayan depictions of the Yeti do not all make it look like a primate. Some show tailed bipedal creatures with carnivore-type faces and protruding fangs (Davidson 1988)).

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.

Filed under Abominable Snowman, Bigfoot, Bigfoot Report, Books, Cryptozoologists, Cryptozoology, Evidence, Eyewitness Accounts, Megalodon, Photos, Pop Culture, Sasquatch, Skeptical Discussions, Yeti