Monday, 3 February 2014

Cryptozoological Reviews

When i grew up I became fascinated with fringe science. I wanted to know how the various strands intersected and related to true science. The most interesting of these areas is Cryptozoology - the zoology of unknown organisms. I spent a lot of time reading about Bigfoot, Yeti and Big Cats in the UK.

In recent months I've had a resurgence in interest and this has co-coincided with the release of several books and I thought I would offer a couple of book reviews.

Abominable Science: Origins of the Yeti, Nessie, and other Famous Cryptids 

by Daniel Loxton and Donald Prothero.

This excellent meaty text is full of detail on a whole range of cryptid. Their approach is scientific and informative. Each species is given its own chapter where the history of its sightings are recorded and their validity assessed. Local culture and mythology are explored and evidence thoroughly examined. 
The book covers Bigfoot, Yeti, Nessie, Sea Serpent and Mokele Mbembe. The authors style whilst scientific is very readable and I found this book had to put down.

Cryptozoologicon: Volume I

by Darren Naish, John Conway and C.M Koseman

 The Cryptozoologican is the latest offering from the team of Tetrapod Zoology. This first volume is an amazing compendium of over 25 cryptids ranging from the familiar to the downright strange. Like Abominable Science the team behind this book are all have scientific backgrounds and lend their expertise to the subject. The Cryptozoologican is lighter on scientific fact than Loxtons but this is intentional. Naish and co approach the creatures from a light hearted 'what if'' angle. They explore from the evidence provided what such an organism might be and how it fits into the ecology of its habitat. Each species account is supplemented by fantastic artwork.

Lastly I will review in my view the best book on this topic -

My Quest for the Yeti

by Reinhold Messner

Reinhold Messner is a famous for mountaineering. He was the first man to climb Everest without oxygen. Reinhold is an experienced climber and has spent most of his life in the most remote areas of the world.
This book isn't simple a tale of his climbing exploits but a personal journey prompted by a chance encounter with a Yeti in 1986. Not believing that the Yeti he saw was necessarily the  supernatural creature that some believe it to be he set out to investigate for himself. His story takes him into Tibet, encounters with the Chinese army and to remote Buddhist monasteries. I will not spoil the outcome of his searches but it is one of the most reasoned and well thought out explanations of anyone scientist or otherwise.

If any of this has peaked your interest I suggest you catch up on Channel 4's excellent 'Bigfoot Files' series. Presented by Mark Evans this short 3-part series uses the latest scientific methods to test the sightings and evidence of many of the Bigfoot hunters reveal some fascinating facts.

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