Cryptozoology Reviews:-

In Search Of Prehistoric Survivors (by Karl Shuker, Blandford, London 1995)

Karl P. N. Shuker is a qualified zoologist and author of cryptozoological books and articles (including the ones in Wild About Animals). One of his books, this refers to cryptids that may represent taxa considered extinct. These cryptids are arranged into four categories (reptiles, flying animals, marine animals and mammals). Shuker has compiled a diverse array of little studied cryptids including the waheela, dobsenga and makalala. However, some of them are just ridiculous, if only when they are considered as remnants of ancient taxa. Included among these are the long-necked sea-serpents as plesiosaurs. Whilst in the past 65 million years the plesiosaurs would not have survived unchanged, it is simply more logical to accept a convergently long necked taxon than to suggest that a plesiosaur has changed so much if we are to accept the existence of such animals at all. Some of the problems in this book are due to lack of knowledge of palaeontology (surely a prequisite for a work like this). This is evident from comments such as the one on page 115 which describes mosasaurs as feeding on trilobites (which became extinct millions of years before). The mosasaurs, together with the plesiosaurs and thalattosuchians, are suggested as a possible candidate for the identity of a carcass washed ashore on the coast of Gambia in 1993. Shuker considers this report as genuine, but there are inconsistencies including the morphology of the animal. The tail was long and thin without any fin, not a good shape for a propulsive organ. Similarly, the four paddles were small, unlike those of animals that use similar structures to swim. The animal is therefore unlikely to have existed. Despite the faults, this is a fine source of knowledge for those interested in cryptozoology written by an expert, and hopefully researchers will be able to investigate reports of little known cryptids to test the hypothesis that they are, truly, prehistoric survivors.

Rumors Of Existence (by Matt Bille, Hancock House, Surrey and Blaine 1995)

Matt Bille, the editor of Exotic Zoology, has written this book about cryptids and species of known animals discovered since the late 1930s. The latter include animals like the Chacoan peccary, Iriomote cat and African coelocanth that were known to the locals and that thus remind us of the importance of local traditions when considering the possible existence of unknown animals. Particularly important is the Vu Quang nature reserve, the scene of many new discoveries by Dr John MacKinnon who claims to have found the tracks of a cryptid called a batutut (similar to Meganthropus palaeojavanicus) in Malaysia. The part of the book devoted to cryptids is divided into two sections, the first being used for animals presumed extinct such as Steller's sea cow and the thylacine as well as animals thought to be extinct but rediscovered. The other section is devoted to information on alleged animals completely unknown. This is a fine source of information about cryptozoology, especially for those who are starting to take an interest.

There Are Giants In The Sea (by Michael Bright, Robson Books, London 1991)

Michael Bright is a well-known author on natural history topics who has an interest in cryptozoology. In this book he discusses reports of sea serpents and other mysterious marine creatures. After an opening chapter, the book includes three chapters devoted to sightings from a geographical region, Britain, North America and the open seas. There is also a complete chapter devoted to the globster and one on the giant squid. Finally there is a discussion about what sea serpents might be if they exist and phenomena that may be misinterpreted as a sea serpent. The Gambian animal is given a favourable mention, despite the improbable shape of the animal. However the book is quite skeptical and a good guide to marine cryptozoology.

The Monsters Of Loch Ness (by Roy Mackal, Futura, Bungay 1976)

Roy Mackal is a biologist whose research has included work at Loch Ness. The evidence provided by Mackal is divided into four categories. These are visual observations, still photographs, motion picture film and sonar contact. The photographs Mackal accepts as evidence are the Hugh Gray photograph (which could represent a number of things), the F. C. Adams photograph, the Lachlan Stewart photograph (almost definately a hoax) and the digitally edited Rines photographs. Interestingly, Mackal rejects the surgeon's photograph as a picture of a bird (an identity with which I agree), which contradicts the view that the supposed existence of the Loch Ness monster is based upon this photograph. Among the motion films Mackal accepts as genuine, two are lost. Mackal discusses several identities for these animals if they exist, that the animal is a seal, whale, otter, sirenian, sauropterygian, urodeles, embolomer, eel, elongate shark, mollusk or tullimoster. Mackal decides that the animals are embolomers or eels (although he has changed his mind to favour an archaeocete) after considering the physical morphology, behaviour and habitat of the supposed animals. I doubt that Loch Ness supports large animals but this is a good resource for the researcher with a list of sightings included although it is carelessly compiled.

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