Are UFOs Cryptids

Posted by: Nick Redfern on July 24th, 2012

The new – August – issue of Fortean Times has its cover image devoted to an intriguing article that appears within its pages. As Fortean Times notes of this same article: “Scott Deschaine considers whether the solution to the UFO phenomenon is as simple, yet wondrous, as life itself: are UFOs actually atmospheric creatures?”

Could it be true? Are some UFOs really Cryptids, strange beasts that surf the skies as easily as a fish swims the sea? Of course, such a theory is not entirely new, as the work of Trevor James Constable demonstrates. But, the FT article covers new ground and is likely to provoke renewed debate on the possibility of UFOs not being what many assume (or want) them to be…

Nick Redfern About Nick Redfern
Punk music fan, Tennents Super and Carlsberg Special Brew beer fan, horror film fan, chocolate fan, like to wear black clothes, like to stay up late. Work as a writer.

16 Responses to “Are UFOs Cryptids”

  1. alan borky responds:

    An even more important question is do jellyfish have jellybabies?

  2. DWA responds:

    I think we’ve identified the problem.

    Could UFOs be living creatures? Sure.

    Could crop circles be a desperate Mets fan semaphoring for outfield help from the nearest star system with five-tool intelligent life? Oh, big time!

    Um, what’s our evidence?

    UFOs are, wait for it: Unidentified Flying Objects.

    I have to constantly listen to people on this site who simply don’t bother to educate themselves on the most basic basics of evidence, proof and scientific method before they come here and tell us don’t bother, they know it all. (I’m in one of those right now, in fact.)

    I have a feeling that I know why this is: they feel that cryptozoology is a science-free zone. (And there, my spellchecker just underlined the word again.)

    Speculation is fun. But you gotta kind of put some evidence behind it.

    When it’s unidentified, it could be anything.

  3. Miles_Martin responds:

    Could what we think of as cryptids really just be vehicles for extraterrestrial beings?

  4. AreWeThereYeti responds:

    After reading the Trevor James Constable-link, contained in the article, all I can say is: thank God for the invention of radar or we might still be mystified by mutilated animal carcasses and unexplained human disappearances!

    Now, all is clear. Thank you, kind Sir.

    P.S. Oh, and Sasquatch “could be” (only) a Madison Avenue creation to sell us Beef Jerky. 😉

  5. grumbleputty responds:

    @DWA- A fair point- I’ve always appreciated Cryptozoology first for acknowledging that there is something to be identified in the first place. You’re right that the basics of the scientific method need to be applied before a theory becomes anything more than an amusing speculation, but let’s not forget that, according to the “establishment”, there’s no need for a theory because there’s no phenomenon needing explanation.

  6. Ulysses responds:

    Actually, I do believe the pioneer on the UFO animal phenomenon was started and championed by the late, great and founder of the word Crytozoology, Ivan T Sanderson in his books, “Things and More Things” from his writings on the 1960’s. He even named them!

  7. mandors responds:

    Yes, it’s that time in the program again for mandors to say that Cryptozoology should distance itself from the flying saucer chasers. In fact, run screaming away from the alien probe victims as fast as you can. Mainstream science, for good or bad, is just beginning to accept and investigate the possibility of cryptids, something really not that hard to accept. So for the dozenth of what will eventually be the thousandth time, let me say there is a big difference in searching for unknown species on this planet, and uncovering evidence of little green, sexual experimenting spacemen from planet Bee-Ess Nine.

  8. DWA responds:


    “[A]ccording to the “establishment”, there’s no need for a theory because there’s no phenomenon needing explanation.”

    Well, yes. The establishment forgets what science is about when they come here, probably because of overconfidence. They’re certain that This Is All Silly, so they don’t have to apply any of the precautions otherwise standard in their fields. This is how they routinely do things like confusing evidence and proof, or failing to understand eyewitness testimony (which is just as valuable in the other sciences as it is in crypto).

    One cannot dismiss ANY theorem regarding what UFOs are. Because no one has any evidence, beyond the obvious events, which are certainly happening, to go on.

    The establishment doesn’t have to address any theorem for which no evidence exists. But they are required to do two things:

    1) address the evidence for those phenomena for which the evidence is compelling (I’m looking at YOU, bigfoot skeptics);

    2) stop scoffing! It is conduct unbecoming a scientist, and it requires you to spend a lot of time trying to avoid sounding stupid when you are shown to be wrong.

  9. Fhqwhgads responds:

    I saw a UFO a few years ago. It was not a cryptid.

    I suppose part of the answer hinges on the meaning of “cryptid”. Is the “cryptid” the thing itself, or our mental model of it? If an unusual bird gets swept off course to a place where no one recognizes it and spawns a wildly inaccurate legend, is the cryptid the legend, or is it the bird? This is complicated by the fact that more than one species of bird may contribute to the same legend.

    So, for example, it’s pretty clear that some people have seen a turkey vulture or a crane and said, “That’s a thunderbird!” That’s true even in the event, which I think is unlikely, that there is an unclassified species of large bird alive today in North America that has also contributed to the thunderbird legend.

  10. Fhqwhgads responds:


    Few scientists are qualified to study, for example, the P-G film, and they know it. If the film is a hoax, it’s a clever one, and scientists usually have no special advantage in seeing through those. I doubt Stephen Hawking would be able to watch a David Copperfield performance and “prove” that the magic was fake.

  11. DWA responds:


    “Few scientists are qualified to study, for example, the P-G film, and they know it.”

    Two that are eminently qualified to study it, and have, are Jeff Meldrum and Grover Krantz, who both vouch for its authenticity. Their scientific specialties are right up the alley. They aren’t the only ones. The subject left footprints; trackways have been found across the continent that square with these prints on all the particulars. Measurements, precise ones, have been made of the site that allow analysis leading to the following conclusion: that critter is walking with a subtly, but distinctly, non-human gait, one that I’ve never seen a person do in my life, one that has resurfaced again and again in the eyewitness accounts of people who didn’t even know P/G existed.

    The Hawking/Copperfield analogy is apples and oranges. Hawking’s career field isn’t magic. There are people who can explain what Copperfield does; magic is an industry with a product. Copperfield learned it somewhere.

    If we constantly used the “they aren’t qualified” excuse we’d still be in caves. (No. We’d be extinct.) The two above are as eminently qualified to review P/G as Einstein was to do relativity. Who can even challenge Einstein? How can we prove relativity isn’t a crock? How was he qualified to create an arm of physics that didn’t exist?

    Right. If you know what you know, you know.

    Eminiently qualified people have reviewed P/G and pronounced it genuine. No one has come up with any kind of useful lead pointing to anything else. Bill Munns, one of the world’s leading ape-suit specialists, has done the review as well. He doesn’t say it’s not fake; but he details what would have to be done to produce a fake. It’s a safe bet that what he says had to be done, wasn’t. Not in that place; not at that time. These combined testimonies are far more than sufficient to completely invalidate the mainstream stance that there’s nothing to see here.

    Now if we want to say UFOs are critters?

    We’re gonna need some evidence.

  12. Fhqwhgads responds:


    There is a difference between evidence that is simply confusing and evidence that has been deliberately tampered with.

    In science, we generally assume that the other guy is not deliberately tampering with evidence. Sometimes we are wrong and get burned, but when that happens the career is OVER for the researcher who deliberately published falsified data. Given the time and sacrifices made to get to that point, it’s a harsh punishment, and it helps keep people honest. Even when they are dishonest, the truth is generally only delayed, since their research will inevitably be unreproducible or inconsistent with later experiments.

    A scientist, in other words, learns to become very good at determining what conclusions to draw from scientific data. He will have much less expertise in determining whether the data was honestly collected, because his experience will be with data that, however startling its implications, *was* honestly collected.

    Cryptozoology, on the other hand, has a LOT of hoaxes to deal with. If I want to know how to make a crop circle, I don’t go to a meteorologist (some of whom thought weather might be behind the formations) or to an agricultural specialist; I go to someone who has already made a bunch of them. If I want to know if a Bigfoot video could be faked, I would not turn to an expert in hominids or human locomotion or anything like that — at least not first or only — I turn to someone who has experience in faking films. Ideally, I have the two work together in a team.

    Even then, the issue cannot be entirely resolved. Just because one team can’t figure out how to reproduce a film does not mean that someone else, through cleverness or dumb luck, didn’t figure out a way to hoax it originally. Nor does the fact that a very clever and educated team can mimic the original mean that the original was faked. The most you can get is some feeling for the skill and resources that would be required to produce the fake; if those are too extreme, the possibility of a hoax may be judged to be very unlikely, though not altogether eliminated.

    One way or the other, I don’t think it is necessary for biologists to organize expeditions specifically for Bigfoot. There are already wildlife surveys that are designed to sample the wildlife population. If Bigfoot is a flesh-and-blood animal, not a nature spirit, transdimensional entity, or flying saucer occupant, he will inevitably eventually show up in a survey.

  13. Fhqwhgads responds:

    That’s not to say that it would necessarily be a bad idea to organize a scientific search for Bigfoot. However, given all the amateur expeditions producing few or no results, it would probably be impossible to secure funding for such a search. But the point is that even if they are not asking, “Is there a Bigfoot in these woods?” it is still not a problem for Bigfoot enthusiasts, so long as they continue to ask, “Just what is in these woods?”

  14. DWA responds:


    The thing about the sasquatch hoaxes is that they don’t appear relevant.

    1) Suit hoaxes uniformly show an animal with clearly human gait, size and proportions – something uniformly ruled out by eyewitnesses. The clear non-humanness of the animal is prominent in the eyewitness literature.

    2) Trackways that don’t seem to bear any of the signs of deliberate human construction are uniform in ways that appear to make sense for a bipedal animal of the size and weight alleged to make them. (Again, Krantz’s and Meldrum’s scientific specialties make them qualified to make that judgment. It’s the kind of judgment that is being delivered on skimpy fossil evidence all the time.) No one has come up with an explanation for a human making these tracks – to say nothing of wearing huge suits like a second skin -that makes sense; they are uniformly more deeply impressed into the substrate than a human can manage, and the absence of associated hoaxer tracks makes it necessary to postulate how a human could manage that.

    3) Both eyewitness accounts and trackways display characters consistent with those of known great apes. The characters range from shape and length of feet and toes and fingers and hands to facial features; physical feats clearly impossible for a person in a suit, but in no way beyond the range of a wild animal; and behaviors with exact analogues among the known apes. Many of these accounts precede scientific, let alone general public, knowledge of the characters of the known apes; many of the ones that continue to be recorded are submitted by individuals with significant knowledge neither of apes nor of the sasquatch evidence with which their descriptions are consistent.

    As to reliance on scientists to inventory these animals if they are out there: There are a number of accounts by scientists. Few of these scientists have supplied their names. Those who have don’t seem to have generated much response. (Meldrum’s and Bindernagel’s books have generated almost zero response from the scientific community.) The likely reason for this is suggested in many reports: the ridicule with whch witnesses have been greeted when they attempted to relate their stories. The general societal mindset toward this topic appears so hard-wired that it doesn’t seem the way to bet that any accounts will be taken seriously by the mainstream until this hard-wiring is forthrightly addressed and dismantled.

    My point is that – unlike the theory here (on topic!) – the theory that an unlisted species of bipedal hominoid, if not more than one, exists today has a lot of evidence behind it which, while not amounting to proof, should be attracting at the very least an open-minded response. I can’t expect scientists to take UFOs-as-cryptids seriously, unless there is a pile of consistent reportage that I am missing. But what I have read about the sasquatch – and the yeti, tossing him in there – should, in my opinion, interest any scientist.

    (And likely interests many more than feel ready, willing and able to talk about it.)

  15. DWA responds:

    My second-to-last paragraph should end “…interest any scientist,” not “interest scientist.”

    Pretty sure I typed it right, but one of those auto-highlight apps seems to have stripped a little meaning.

  16. corrick responds:

    Great posts Fhqwhgads

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