Making Time with a Monster Hunter

Posted by: Loren Coleman on December 1st, 2006

Loren Coleman and Friends

Click on the above image for a full-framed view of Loren and some hidden friends.

Publisher and editor David Lineal’s monthly paper The Skeleton News will hit the Chicago streets on Friday, December 1, 2006. Included in the issue is an interview with yours truly, Loren Coleman.

They do not publish online, and instead maintain a humorously skeletal webpage. Because of that, David passes along his interview, and the article’s illustration (above by Chicago artist named Becca Taylor), for the readers of Cryptomundo. All the flattering but too generous (e.g. "great" and "foremost") descriptors are Mr. Lineal’s. Blush, blush.

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Making Time with a Monster Hunter

The Skeleton’s David Lineal speaks with great cryptozoologist Loren Coleman

In hundreds of scholarly and popular papers and 17 books published since the late-1960s, Loren Coleman has wetnursed cryptozoology, the scholarly pursuit of hypothetical animals, or cryptids, into a sturdy-legged childhood. His ink has fallen in almost every tributary of the well– from rumors of dinosaurs in the Congo, encounters with giant octopuses and other sea monsters, kangaroo sightings throughout the midwest U.S., reports of African bears, thunderbirds, mystery primates, and much more. Coleman is also perhaps the world’s foremost Bigfoot authority; his The Field Guide of Bigfoot and Other Mystery Primates catalogues dozens of would-be primate species reported around the world, including the numerous North American cryptids often lumped together as "Bigfoot" (Coleman has asserted that the aforementioned kangaroo sightings may have been long-tailed primates).

Cryptozoology is densely smirked-upon intellectual terrain, but Coleman writes with a scientific reserve devoid of sensationalist trappings. His measured approach, coupled with the phantasmagoria of the natural world (for example, the improbable recent cryptids: giant squid, komodo dragon, mountain gorilla), stirs plausibility into the mystery. Spend a few days with his Mysterious America, or read through the thousands of first-person encounters of Lake Monsters or Bigfoot on the Internet, and you’ll appreciate immensely what a person like Loren Coleman just might be doing.

∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞∞

Through your four decades of research, in what ways has public perception of cryptozoology changed? Do you think the public has grown more or less educated, interested in, or sceptical of cryptozoology?

First there is the awareness. When I first got involved with Ivan T. Sanderson in the early 1960s, there were literally less than six people actively interested and researching cryptozoology in general (outside of Bigfoot/Sasquatch) in North America. Today, there are hundreds of thousands of people who regularly exchange info, ideas, and news about cryptozoology worldwide. My 1999 book Cryptozoology A to Z (with Jerome Clark, via Simon and Schuster) was the first popular-level encyclopedia or handbook that was widely read. Since then, more people have written more books and more readers have become educated about cryptozoology. With such a large public movement to learn more about cryptozoology, of course, the skeptical community has countered with their own articles and books. But the debunking has not stopped the increased public perception that something is worthwhile here to research.

Has the willingness of the greater scientific establishment to listen to or respond to your work substantially changed since the late-60s?

Yes, it has increased positively. Many childhood fans of cryptozoology are now professors in universities.

What have been the most important or exciting moments for cryptozoology in the past 15 years? What advances or cryptid evidence do you think has gone underreported in this time?

Clearly, the most significance event was the discovery of Homo floresiensis, the "Hobbits."

The story is as remarkable as the finding of the first coelacanth [a jawed fish] off Africa in 1938, the living fossil thought extinct for 65 million years. The biggest story in anthropology for 2004 may become the event of many decades within cryptozoology. The editor of Nature, Henry Gee, in an editorial entitled "Flores, God and Cryptozoology," wrote: "The discovery that Homo floresiensis survived until so very recently, in geological terms, makes it more likely that stories of other mythical, human-like creatures such as Yetis are founded on grains of truth….Now, cryptozoology, the study of such fabulous creatures, can come in from the cold."

* * * (Extensive wordiness on the Hobbits snipped.)

What’s the most potentially fruitful research happening in cryptozoology today? Are there well-funded projects searching for cryptids?

There is little fully funded research occurring today. The researchers pursuing the Orang Pendek in Sumatra are funded by the Flora and Fauna Society, which is positive.

What’s the state of yeti research today? About how many active yeti researchers are there?

Yeti research has grown cold. The [World Wildlife Foundation helicopter] crash in Nepal [in September, 2006] killed several individuals who were interested in Yeti. My hope is that the new Disney exhibition and forthcoming movies on the Yeti will help revitalize the search for Yeti.

What’s happening in international cryptozoology today?

In various countries, France, Russia, Vietnam, China, and Malaysia, there is some interest, but it is difficult to understand if any of these efforts are government-supported, which needs to be the next step to carrying this forward.

What technologies and tools of the near future do you anticipate having great impact on the field?

Technology will have some impact, such as sonar and sonic readings in lakes and lochs, and thermal imaging for Bigfoot. But it will be limited if there is no human elements support involved, in the field and fiscally.

Which cryptid mysteries do you think are most likely to be settled in the public eye in the next couple decades?

The discovery of a new Asian great ape, whether it is the Orang Pendek in Sumatra, the Ebu Gobo in Indonesia, or an unknown orang in China, will occur, I think, in the next 25 years.

Update: Cryptobuddy at Boing Boing David Pescovitz has posted a link to this blog, and also included a direct link to the Boing Boing podcast they did with me in October 2006
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Loren Coleman About Loren Coleman
Loren Coleman is one of the world’s leading cryptozoologists, some say “the” leading living cryptozoologist. Certainly, he is acknowledged as the current living American researcher and writer who has most popularized cryptozoology in the late 20th and early 21st centuries. Starting his fieldwork and investigations in 1960, after traveling and trekking extensively in pursuit of cryptozoological mysteries, Coleman began writing to share his experiences in 1969. An honorary member of Ivan T. Sanderson’s Society for the Investigation of the Unexplained in the 1970s, Coleman has been bestowed with similar honorary memberships of the North Idaho College Cryptozoology Club in 1983, and in subsequent years, that of the British Columbia Scientific Cryptozoology Club, CryptoSafari International, and other international organizations. He was also a Life Member and Benefactor of the International Society of Cryptozoology (now-defunct). Loren Coleman’s daily blog, as a member of the Cryptomundo Team, served as an ongoing avenue of communication for the ever-growing body of cryptozoo news from 2005 through 2013. He returned as an infrequent contributor beginning Halloween week of 2015. Coleman is the founder in 2003, and current director of the International Cryptozoology Museum in Portland, Maine.


6 Responses to “Making Time with a Monster Hunter”

  1. NCRYPTID responds:

    Very flattering article, loved the term “wetnursed”, very descriptive.

    Congratulations!

  2. raisinsofwrath responds:

    Before it hits the streets we need to find them! We are buried in a blizzard and as much as I’d like to read this paper odds are I’ll be happy just to get through the day.

  3. Ceroill responds:

    Nice interview and article. He has a good way with a turn of phrase. “Densely smirked upon” is great.

  4. vet72 responds:

    Nicely written and well-deserved Loren. The artwork added a nice touch too.

  5. Lee Pierce responds:

    Nice picture of Loren. Who is that in front of him?

  6. mystery_man responds:

    Considering all that Loren has done for the field and the interest in cryptozoology he has generated for so many (myself included) , I don’t think it’s too generous! Interesting article!




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