Posted by: Loren Coleman on July 11th, 2011
The Zoological Society of London (ZSL) is a charity devoted to the worldwide conservation of animals and their habitats. They will be conducting a groundbreaking event on July 12th.
Cryptozoology: science or pseudoscience? – a ZSL Science and Conservation Event
Can cryptozoology, the investigation of animals such as Bigfoot, the Yeti and the Loch Ness Monster be considered a science? Although considered dubious by zoologists, recent work has suggested that presumed extinct animals can reappear years after extinction and that the inventory of even large animals is not complete. Accounts of sea monsters are actually amenable to statistical investigation and it is possible to use last reported occurrence to infer extinction date. Has the time come for “cryptozoology to come in from the cold”?
The meeting will consist of three talks on how cryptozoological data can be studied in a rigorous statistical manner, the probability of prehistoric animals being alive today and how ecological theory can be used to inform cryptozoological investigations.
Finally the floor will be opened for a discussion on whether cryptozoology should be considered a science.
Talks and Speakers
The meeting will be chaired by Henry Gee, a senior editor at Nature
Curve fitting to cumulative species inventories indicates that a number of animal classes defined both physically (i.e. based on size) and biologically (i.e. based on phylogenetic affinity) have not reached their predicted asymptotes. The implication of this is that there are novel taxa in these classes still to be discovered and described. The role of cryptozoology will be discussed in the context of how, as a targeted research methodology, it can help to refine the search for novel taxa. This will be discussed in the context of the ‘long-necked seal’ hypothesis, which has been posited to account for sightings of unknown long-necked marine animals.
Charles Paxton, University of St Andrews
The plural of “anecdote” can be “data.” Cryptozoological reports can be analysed in a rigorous statistical manner if the conclusions are restrained. The presentation will report on some interesting features of historical sea monster encounters.
Darren Naish, University of Portsmouth (author of the Tetrapod Zoology blog)
Numerous sightings of ‘sea monsters’ suggest the presence of as-yet-undiscovered large marine animals. Recent discoveries of new whale, shark and ray species show that the possible existence of such creatures is not ridiculous. Whether ‘sea monsters’ exist or not, researchers have long suggested that they might represent the descendants of groups otherwise known only as fossils. A new look at the theory and data behind the ‘prehistoric survivor’ idea forms the focus of this talk.
Organised by Charles Paxton, University of St Andrews
This event in the ‘Communicating Science’ series will begin at 6.00pm (doors from 5.00pm) and talks are scheduled to finish at 7.30pm; admission is free and open to everyone (no advance booking or registration required). This event will be held in the ZSL Meeting Rooms and seats will be on a first-come, first-served basis.
ZSL Science and Conservation Events: An essential part of ZSL’s work is to communicate relevant, high-quality zoological and conservation science. The integrated ZSL Science and Conservation Events programme includes Symposia, and the new ‘Wildlife Conservation’ and ‘Communicating Science’ series. Topics cover a wide variety of zoological and conservation themes, and international experts present and discuss their research.
Source: Press release
My very best wishes to the gentlemen and gentlewomen conducting and attending this forum. As I have mentioned privately to them, I find it intriguing this is on my birthday! ~ Loren Coleman
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