By Tina R. McSwain
The word cryptozoology comes from the Greek kryptos “hidden” and the word zoology “the scientific study of animals”, meaning the study of hidden animals. Cryptozoology, however, is not a scientific discipline. This category is often placed under the paranormal realm. These are creatures (cryptids) that are rooted in legend, folklore, or perhaps even fact. Some of the more famous (or infamous) you may recognize are the Loch Ness Monster or “Nessie” from Scotland, or a number of other lake monsters such as “Champ”, the lake dweller in Lake Champlain which borders New York, Vermont, and Quebec; “Ogopogo”, the serpentine monster in Lake Okanaganin Canada, or even “Tessie”, the monster in Lake Tahoe.
Cryptids also inhabit the dry land. Take the New Jersey Devil for instance which is located in the pine barrens in the state of New Jersey. The Mothman is responsible for putting Point Pleasant, WV on the map. Every year, the town holds a Mothman Festival. Bigfoot was once only reported out west in the deep forests of Washington, Oregon, and northern California. Today however, Bigfoot has been reported in almost every state in the union including North Carolina. The Animal Planet is currently following a local bigfoot hunter in his quest for the animal throughout the Uwharrie Forest near Albemarle. He is called Yeti in the Himalayas or Sasquatch in the northwest United States and Canada. The chupacabra, “goat sucker” in Spanish, was once confined to Puerto Rico, but has now been reported in Mexico and Texas.
There are cryptids in the air as well. “Rods” are exactly what they sound like, rod shaped unknowns that fly through the air. Some, even having been caught on film, yet rendered no explanation as to their existence. Thunderbirds are another beast of the air, very large birds apparently belonging to none of the species we currently catalogue.
Groups or individuals study the sightings and nature of these entities much like paranormal investigators research and study ghosts. Those who investigate these occurrences refer to themselves as Cryptozoologists.