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Episode
94

Cryptozoology | The Hunt for Mystery Animals

First published on
October 2, 2020
Weird World
-
16
minutes
Animals
Conspiracy theories
Eccentric people
Natural world
Environment

You've heard of zoology, but you might not have heard about its pseudoscience cousin, cryptozoology, the subculture that attempts to prove the existence of mysterious animals from folklore and popular culture.

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Transcript

[00:00:00] Hello, hello hello, and welcome to English Learning for Curious Minds, by Leonardo English. 

[00:00:11] The show where you can listen to fascinating stories, and learn weird and wonderful things about the world at the same time as improving your English.

[00:00:21] I'm Alastair Budge and today we are going to be talking about Cryptozoology, the search for and study of animals that most people believe don’t exist.

[00:00:35] Before we get right into that though, let me quickly remind you that you can get all of the bonus episodes, plus the subtitles, the transcript,  and the key vocabulary for this episode and all of our other almost 100 other episodes over on the website, which is leonardoenglish.com. 

[00:00:55] This is where you can also check out becoming a member of Leonardo English, and join a community of curious minds from all over the world, doing meetups, exchanging ideas, and generally, improving their English in a more interesting way.

[00:01:10] So if that's of interest, and I certainly hope it is, then the place to go to is leonardoenglish.com.

[00:01:19] OK then, let’s get started.

[00:01:22] You’ve probably heard of zoology. It’s the scientific study of the behaviour, structure, physiology, classification, and distribution of animals.

[00:01:33] But you may not have heard of cryptozoology. Essentially, it’s zoology, but for animals that humans haven’t yet officially discovered. 

[00:01:45] It’s not technically a real science, it’s more of a hobby, but it does have passionate followers all over the world.

[00:01:55] The origins of cryptozoology can be traced back to the 1960s, after a book was published called “Sur la Piste des Bêtes Ignorées”, or “On the Track of Unknown Animals“ in English. 

[00:02:09] It was published in 1958 by a Belgian-French zoologist, a man named Bernard Heuvelmans, who was really the father of modern cryptozoology.

[00:02:22] Now, the 1960s was almost the golden era for conspiracy theories, and for questioning the status quo. If you’ve listened to the episodes on the Bermuda Triangle or The Illuminati, you’ll be familiar with this. 

[00:02:40] In the post-war years, it wasn’t just the current social order that was being questioned, with the publication of “On the Track of Unknown Animals“ Heuvelmans was also questioning the existence of certain animals, or rather he was suggesting that they did exist, while most people said they didn’t.

[00:03:02] From a zoological point of view though, you can see why questioning the status quo might make sense. 

[00:03:10] Several animals that you or I will recognise today had only relativelyrecently been discovered. 

[00:03:18] The giant panda, for example, was only discovered by zoologists in 1869, and the komodo dragon was discovered in 1910. In both of these cases, the existence of these animals was known by locals, but foreignzoologists had never actually seen them, so they hadn’t officially been discovered.

[00:03:42] Was it so mad to think that there would be other animals that hadn’t been discovered by humans, Heuvelmans suggested in his book?

[00:03:50] With the giant panda and the komodo dragon, locals had seen these animals and told stories about them, and only then had foreignzoologists come to see for themselves. If these animals had proved to be real, surely there was a possibility that other stories of sightings of other not-yet-discovered animals could also prove to be true.

[00:04:15] History is, of course, full of stories of sightingsof mysterious animals that have never been officially classified by zoologists. 

[00:04:27] From things like The Loch Ness Monster to The Yeti, The Abominable snowman, Bigfoot, Chupacabra, The Kraken or the giant squid, there are reports of sightings of these kinds of animals all over the world.

[00:04:43] Don’t worry, though, this episode isn’t going to be about the sightings of these animals and telling you that they must exist.

[00:04:51] What we are going to try to do is to unpack some of the problems with cryptozoology, and of course, there are quite a few, and then we’ll talk about why it can actually be useful, and why it shouldn’t be dismissed so lightly.

[00:05:08] The easy answer to ‘what are some of the problems with cryptozoology’ would be something like ‘it’s mad and ridiculous - obviously the Loch Ness Monster doesn’t exist’, and although that might be true, let’s try to take a more scientific approach, and give cryptozoology the benefit of the doubt for one minute.

[00:05:30] The first problem with cryptozoology is that, as it isn’t a real science, there’s no university degree or academic certification, anyone can do it and this means it often lacks a real, rigorous approach to how cryptozoological studies should actually be undertaken.

[00:05:51] In short, the field is filled with conspiracy theorists and amateurs, so even if what they were saying did make sense, more pure scientists don’t take it seriously because it’s not considered a real science.

[00:06:08] Our second problem is with the animals themselves, the cryptids, as they’re called.

[00:06:14] These mysterious, yet-to-be discovered animals are in most cases quite problematic.

[00:06:22] The Loch Ness Monster, for example, is pretty improbable

[00:06:27] I imagine you are familiar with the idea of the Loch Ness Monster, but essentially the view is that there is a huge sort of creature with a humped back, that lives in Loch Ness, a long, thin lake in the Highlands of Scotland.

[00:06:45] There have been numerous sightings over the years of Nessie, of the monster, but they have pretty much all been debunked, proved to be wrong. There have even been supposed photos of Nessie, but they later turned out to be swans, or even an upside-down canoe.

[00:07:09] There have been thousands of sightings of Bigfoot across North America, going back hundreds of years. 

[00:07:16] Yet, as you probably know, almost all the sightings have been debunked, and  when there have been photos taken of Bigfoot, they have proved to be either faked, or of a bear or something like that.

[00:07:32] This isn’t to say, of course, that everyone who thinks that they have seen Bigfoot, or the Loch Ness monster, or a giant squid, or anything like that, this isn’t to say that they are a terrible person and a fraud.

[00:07:48] The sightingsof these creatures normally take place from a long way away, and are very brief and unclear. 

[00:07:56] It’s completely natural, especially as we have a knowledge of these creatures in popular culture that we jump to conclusions about what we’ve seen. 

[00:08:06] If you’re at Loch Ness, you’ve heard of the Loch Ness monster and out of the corner of your eye you see something popping out of the water for an instant, then going back in, you might remember it as bigger than it actually was and jump to the conclusion that it was something that it wasn’t.

[00:08:26] That memory, with time, gets embellished, the thing that you saw gets bigger and bigger, and as our memory is far from perfect, you believe that what you saw was the Loch Ness monster. In fact, it was just an eel or a large fish.

[00:08:46] So, given the fact that a lot of evidence for these cryptids relies on eye-witnesses, who can be very unreliable, that’s one reason to be sceptical of cryptozoology.

[00:09:00] Thirdly, and this is especially problematic with the large cryptids, the large mythical creatures, if one exists, then there must be more than one. 

[00:09:10] Most cryptozoologists don’t believe that these are actual monsters that live forever and don’t obey the rules of biology. They just believe that they are species that haven’t been discovered yet. 

[00:09:24] And we know that for a species to continue to exist, they need to reproduce, and for that to happen, there needs to be more than one of them.

[00:09:34] And although they may not pay taxes, cryptids would also need to obey the rule of the only other thing in life that is certain: death.

[00:09:44] They would need to die, and their remains would need to go somewhere.

[00:09:49] With normal creatures in the wild, we find bones, or remains of these creatures, and that’s one of the ways in which we know they exist, even if we haven’t seen a living version. 

[00:10:01] We know dinosaurs existed, even if they died out 65 million years ago.

[00:10:08] And from the Loch Ness Monster to the Yeti, from Bigfoot to Chupacabra, there are no remains that have ever been found that indicate that these animals ever existed. 

[00:10:20] Admittedly for the cryptids that live in the sea, it’s a bit harder to find remains, but the fact that zoologists have never managed to find any evidence of the remains of these animals makes it pretty implausible that they exist.

[00:10:36] Finally, from a geological point of view, the existence of something like the Loch Ness monster is hard to rationalise

[00:10:45] If the Loch Ness monster is a sort of modern-day dinosaur, how did it get into the loch in the first place? 

[00:10:54] The loch, the lake it supposedly lives in, would have been completely frozen over in the Ice Age, and the dinosaurs died out about 65 million years before the last Ice Age, so if all of that is true, where did this huge dinosaur-type animal come from? How did it get into the loch?

[00:11:18] There are evidently a lot of problems with lots of these cryptids, these monsters, which make their existence pretty hard to believe.

[00:11:28] However, this doesn’t mean that we should denounce anyone who is interested in cryptozoology as a complete nutcase, a complete crazy person and fraud.

[00:11:40] Indeed, being interested in cryptozoology doesn’t automatically mean that you believe the Loch Ness monster is real and that the deep ocean is full of giant squids and sea monsters. 

[00:11:53] There are plenty of cryptozoologists who take a more scientific approach, discounting the moreimprobable cryptids, so things like Nessie and Bigfoot, but being interested in the ones where the evidence for their existence is greater.

[00:12:11] And indeed, we haven’t ‘finished’ discovering new species; new species are still being discovered every year, and the rate of discovery hasn’t slowed, contrary to what many people think. 

[00:12:25] In 2019, seventy one new animal and plant species were discovered, and it’s estimated that 90% of the animal and plant species that exist in the world are still unknown, we haven’t discovered them yet.

[00:12:41] Themajority of these are insects and plants, but not all of them.

[00:12:47] A paper from the Royal Society, so very much a serious scientific institution, this paper predicted that there are at least 160 land mammals that are yet to be discovered, and over 3,000 amphibian species that are yet to be discovered. 

[00:13:07] Will these contain the Yeti, The Loch Ness Monster and giant squids? Probably not, but there’s evidently still a lot of the natural world that we don’t fully understand.

[00:13:21] And one positive thing about cryptozoologyis that it is an admittal that there is still a lot of the world that we are yet to discover.

[00:13:31] Of course, this may not be the golden era of Charles Darwin, or the time where an intrepid young zoologist could head off on a mission into the jungles of the Congo, the Amazon rainforest, or Borneo and come back with a journal full of exciting new discoveries.

[00:13:50] The new animals and plants that are being discovered now are mainly insects, and there is a lot of ‘discovery’ that is essentially realising that two animals that we had thought were the same were actually two different species. 

[00:14:07] It’s not exactly heading into the Himalayas and coming back with evidence of the Yeti, but it’s still a valid zoological discovery that helps us better understand the planet we live on.

[00:14:20] Sadly enough though, there are models that predict that a proportionof these yet-undiscovered but real animals will be extinct before we can ever discover them, that we will have driven them to extinction before they can be discovered and catalogued by zoologists.

[00:14:38] That certainly is a sad thought, but if an interest in mystery animals and cryptozoology can inspire a new generation of budding young zoologists to explore the natural world and help conserve these rare species that we might never even discover, then that surely has to be a good thing.

[00:15:02] OK then, that is it for today's episode on Cryptozoology, the hunt for mysterious animals.

[00:15:11] I hope it's been an interesting one, and that you've learnt something new.

[00:15:16] As always, I would love to know what you thought of this episode. You can head right in to our community forum, which is at community.leonardoenglish.com and start chatting away to other curious minds and of course to me.

[00:15:29] I can't wait to see what you have to say.

[00:15:32] And as a final reminder, if you are looking to improve your English in a more interesting way, to join a community of curious minds from all over the world, and to unlock the transcripts, the subtitles, and key vocabulary, then the place to go is leonardoenglish.com

[00:15:52] You've been listening to English Learning for Curious Minds, by Leonardo English

[00:15:57] I'm Alastair Budge, you stay safe, and I'll catch you in the next episode.

[END OF PODCAST]


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[00:00:00] Hello, hello hello, and welcome to English Learning for Curious Minds, by Leonardo English. 

[00:00:11] The show where you can listen to fascinating stories, and learn weird and wonderful things about the world at the same time as improving your English.

[00:00:21] I'm Alastair Budge and today we are going to be talking about Cryptozoology, the search for and study of animals that most people believe don’t exist.

[00:00:35] Before we get right into that though, let me quickly remind you that you can get all of the bonus episodes, plus the subtitles, the transcript,  and the key vocabulary for this episode and all of our other almost 100 other episodes over on the website, which is leonardoenglish.com. 

[00:00:55] This is where you can also check out becoming a member of Leonardo English, and join a community of curious minds from all over the world, doing meetups, exchanging ideas, and generally, improving their English in a more interesting way.

[00:01:10] So if that's of interest, and I certainly hope it is, then the place to go to is leonardoenglish.com.

[00:01:19] OK then, let’s get started.

[00:01:22] You’ve probably heard of zoology. It’s the scientific study of the behaviour, structure, physiology, classification, and distribution of animals.

[00:01:33] But you may not have heard of cryptozoology. Essentially, it’s zoology, but for animals that humans haven’t yet officially discovered. 

[00:01:45] It’s not technically a real science, it’s more of a hobby, but it does have passionate followers all over the world.

[00:01:55] The origins of cryptozoology can be traced back to the 1960s, after a book was published called “Sur la Piste des Bêtes Ignorées”, or “On the Track of Unknown Animals“ in English. 

[00:02:09] It was published in 1958 by a Belgian-French zoologist, a man named Bernard Heuvelmans, who was really the father of modern cryptozoology.

[00:02:22] Now, the 1960s was almost the golden era for conspiracy theories, and for questioning the status quo. If you’ve listened to the episodes on the Bermuda Triangle or The Illuminati, you’ll be familiar with this. 

[00:02:40] In the post-war years, it wasn’t just the current social order that was being questioned, with the publication of “On the Track of Unknown Animals“ Heuvelmans was also questioning the existence of certain animals, or rather he was suggesting that they did exist, while most people said they didn’t.

[00:03:02] From a zoological point of view though, you can see why questioning the status quo might make sense. 

[00:03:10] Several animals that you or I will recognise today had only relativelyrecently been discovered. 

[00:03:18] The giant panda, for example, was only discovered by zoologists in 1869, and the komodo dragon was discovered in 1910. In both of these cases, the existence of these animals was known by locals, but foreignzoologists had never actually seen them, so they hadn’t officially been discovered.

[00:03:42] Was it so mad to think that there would be other animals that hadn’t been discovered by humans, Heuvelmans suggested in his book?

[00:03:50] With the giant panda and the komodo dragon, locals had seen these animals and told stories about them, and only then had foreignzoologists come to see for themselves. If these animals had proved to be real, surely there was a possibility that other stories of sightings of other not-yet-discovered animals could also prove to be true.

[00:04:15] History is, of course, full of stories of sightingsof mysterious animals that have never been officially classified by zoologists. 

[00:04:27] From things like The Loch Ness Monster to The Yeti, The Abominable snowman, Bigfoot, Chupacabra, The Kraken or the giant squid, there are reports of sightings of these kinds of animals all over the world.

[00:04:43] Don’t worry, though, this episode isn’t going to be about the sightings of these animals and telling you that they must exist.

[00:04:51] What we are going to try to do is to unpack some of the problems with cryptozoology, and of course, there are quite a few, and then we’ll talk about why it can actually be useful, and why it shouldn’t be dismissed so lightly.

[00:05:08] The easy answer to ‘what are some of the problems with cryptozoology’ would be something like ‘it’s mad and ridiculous - obviously the Loch Ness Monster doesn’t exist’, and although that might be true, let’s try to take a more scientific approach, and give cryptozoology the benefit of the doubt for one minute.

[00:05:30] The first problem with cryptozoology is that, as it isn’t a real science, there’s no university degree or academic certification, anyone can do it and this means it often lacks a real, rigorous approach to how cryptozoological studies should actually be undertaken.

[00:05:51] In short, the field is filled with conspiracy theorists and amateurs, so even if what they were saying did make sense, more pure scientists don’t take it seriously because it’s not considered a real science.

[00:06:08] Our second problem is with the animals themselves, the cryptids, as they’re called.

[00:06:14] These mysterious, yet-to-be discovered animals are in most cases quite problematic.

[00:06:22] The Loch Ness Monster, for example, is pretty improbable

[00:06:27] I imagine you are familiar with the idea of the Loch Ness Monster, but essentially the view is that there is a huge sort of creature with a humped back, that lives in Loch Ness, a long, thin lake in the Highlands of Scotland.

[00:06:45] There have been numerous sightings over the years of Nessie, of the monster, but they have pretty much all been debunked, proved to be wrong. There have even been supposed photos of Nessie, but they later turned out to be swans, or even an upside-down canoe.

[00:07:09] There have been thousands of sightings of Bigfoot across North America, going back hundreds of years. 

[00:07:16] Yet, as you probably know, almost all the sightings have been debunked, and  when there have been photos taken of Bigfoot, they have proved to be either faked, or of a bear or something like that.

[00:07:32] This isn’t to say, of course, that everyone who thinks that they have seen Bigfoot, or the Loch Ness monster, or a giant squid, or anything like that, this isn’t to say that they are a terrible person and a fraud.

[00:07:48] The sightingsof these creatures normally take place from a long way away, and are very brief and unclear. 

[00:07:56] It’s completely natural, especially as we have a knowledge of these creatures in popular culture that we jump to conclusions about what we’ve seen. 

[00:08:06] If you’re at Loch Ness, you’ve heard of the Loch Ness monster and out of the corner of your eye you see something popping out of the water for an instant, then going back in, you might remember it as bigger than it actually was and jump to the conclusion that it was something that it wasn’t.

[00:08:26] That memory, with time, gets embellished, the thing that you saw gets bigger and bigger, and as our memory is far from perfect, you believe that what you saw was the Loch Ness monster. In fact, it was just an eel or a large fish.

[00:08:46] So, given the fact that a lot of evidence for these cryptids relies on eye-witnesses, who can be very unreliable, that’s one reason to be sceptical of cryptozoology.

[00:09:00] Thirdly, and this is especially problematic with the large cryptids, the large mythical creatures, if one exists, then there must be more than one. 

[00:09:10] Most cryptozoologists don’t believe that these are actual monsters that live forever and don’t obey the rules of biology. They just believe that they are species that haven’t been discovered yet. 

[00:09:24] And we know that for a species to continue to exist, they need to reproduce, and for that to happen, there needs to be more than one of them.

[00:09:34] And although they may not pay taxes, cryptids would also need to obey the rule of the only other thing in life that is certain: death.

[00:09:44] They would need to die, and their remains would need to go somewhere.

[00:09:49] With normal creatures in the wild, we find bones, or remains of these creatures, and that’s one of the ways in which we know they exist, even if we haven’t seen a living version. 

[00:10:01] We know dinosaurs existed, even if they died out 65 million years ago.

[00:10:08] And from the Loch Ness Monster to the Yeti, from Bigfoot to Chupacabra, there are no remains that have ever been found that indicate that these animals ever existed. 

[00:10:20] Admittedly for the cryptids that live in the sea, it’s a bit harder to find remains, but the fact that zoologists have never managed to find any evidence of the remains of these animals makes it pretty implausible that they exist.

[00:10:36] Finally, from a geological point of view, the existence of something like the Loch Ness monster is hard to rationalise

[00:10:45] If the Loch Ness monster is a sort of modern-day dinosaur, how did it get into the loch in the first place? 

[00:10:54] The loch, the lake it supposedly lives in, would have been completely frozen over in the Ice Age, and the dinosaurs died out about 65 million years before the last Ice Age, so if all of that is true, where did this huge dinosaur-type animal come from? How did it get into the loch?

[00:11:18] There are evidently a lot of problems with lots of these cryptids, these monsters, which make their existence pretty hard to believe.

[00:11:28] However, this doesn’t mean that we should denounce anyone who is interested in cryptozoology as a complete nutcase, a complete crazy person and fraud.

[00:11:40] Indeed, being interested in cryptozoology doesn’t automatically mean that you believe the Loch Ness monster is real and that the deep ocean is full of giant squids and sea monsters. 

[00:11:53] There are plenty of cryptozoologists who take a more scientific approach, discounting the moreimprobable cryptids, so things like Nessie and Bigfoot, but being interested in the ones where the evidence for their existence is greater.

[00:12:11] And indeed, we haven’t ‘finished’ discovering new species; new species are still being discovered every year, and the rate of discovery hasn’t slowed, contrary to what many people think. 

[00:12:25] In 2019, seventy one new animal and plant species were discovered, and it’s estimated that 90% of the animal and plant species that exist in the world are still unknown, we haven’t discovered them yet.

[00:12:41] Themajority of these are insects and plants, but not all of them.

[00:12:47] A paper from the Royal Society, so very much a serious scientific institution, this paper predicted that there are at least 160 land mammals that are yet to be discovered, and over 3,000 amphibian species that are yet to be discovered. 

[00:13:07] Will these contain the Yeti, The Loch Ness Monster and giant squids? Probably not, but there’s evidently still a lot of the natural world that we don’t fully understand.

[00:13:21] And one positive thing about cryptozoologyis that it is an admittal that there is still a lot of the world that we are yet to discover.

[00:13:31] Of course, this may not be the golden era of Charles Darwin, or the time where an intrepid young zoologist could head off on a mission into the jungles of the Congo, the Amazon rainforest, or Borneo and come back with a journal full of exciting new discoveries.

[00:13:50] The new animals and plants that are being discovered now are mainly insects, and there is a lot of ‘discovery’ that is essentially realising that two animals that we had thought were the same were actually two different species. 

[00:14:07] It’s not exactly heading into the Himalayas and coming back with evidence of the Yeti, but it’s still a valid zoological discovery that helps us better understand the planet we live on.

[00:14:20] Sadly enough though, there are models that predict that a proportionof these yet-undiscovered but real animals will be extinct before we can ever discover them, that we will have driven them to extinction before they can be discovered and catalogued by zoologists.

[00:14:38] That certainly is a sad thought, but if an interest in mystery animals and cryptozoology can inspire a new generation of budding young zoologists to explore the natural world and help conserve these rare species that we might never even discover, then that surely has to be a good thing.

[00:15:02] OK then, that is it for today's episode on Cryptozoology, the hunt for mysterious animals.

[00:15:11] I hope it's been an interesting one, and that you've learnt something new.

[00:15:16] As always, I would love to know what you thought of this episode. You can head right in to our community forum, which is at community.leonardoenglish.com and start chatting away to other curious minds and of course to me.

[00:15:29] I can't wait to see what you have to say.

[00:15:32] And as a final reminder, if you are looking to improve your English in a more interesting way, to join a community of curious minds from all over the world, and to unlock the transcripts, the subtitles, and key vocabulary, then the place to go is leonardoenglish.com

[00:15:52] You've been listening to English Learning for Curious Minds, by Leonardo English

[00:15:57] I'm Alastair Budge, you stay safe, and I'll catch you in the next episode.

[END OF PODCAST]


[00:00:00] Hello, hello hello, and welcome to English Learning for Curious Minds, by Leonardo English. 

[00:00:11] The show where you can listen to fascinating stories, and learn weird and wonderful things about the world at the same time as improving your English.

[00:00:21] I'm Alastair Budge and today we are going to be talking about Cryptozoology, the search for and study of animals that most people believe don’t exist.

[00:00:35] Before we get right into that though, let me quickly remind you that you can get all of the bonus episodes, plus the subtitles, the transcript,  and the key vocabulary for this episode and all of our other almost 100 other episodes over on the website, which is leonardoenglish.com. 

[00:00:55] This is where you can also check out becoming a member of Leonardo English, and join a community of curious minds from all over the world, doing meetups, exchanging ideas, and generally, improving their English in a more interesting way.

[00:01:10] So if that's of interest, and I certainly hope it is, then the place to go to is leonardoenglish.com.

[00:01:19] OK then, let’s get started.

[00:01:22] You’ve probably heard of zoology. It’s the scientific study of the behaviour, structure, physiology, classification, and distribution of animals.

[00:01:33] But you may not have heard of cryptozoology. Essentially, it’s zoology, but for animals that humans haven’t yet officially discovered. 

[00:01:45] It’s not technically a real science, it’s more of a hobby, but it does have passionate followers all over the world.

[00:01:55] The origins of cryptozoology can be traced back to the 1960s, after a book was published called “Sur la Piste des Bêtes Ignorées”, or “On the Track of Unknown Animals“ in English. 

[00:02:09] It was published in 1958 by a Belgian-French zoologist, a man named Bernard Heuvelmans, who was really the father of modern cryptozoology.

[00:02:22] Now, the 1960s was almost the golden era for conspiracy theories, and for questioning the status quo. If you’ve listened to the episodes on the Bermuda Triangle or The Illuminati, you’ll be familiar with this. 

[00:02:40] In the post-war years, it wasn’t just the current social order that was being questioned, with the publication of “On the Track of Unknown Animals“ Heuvelmans was also questioning the existence of certain animals, or rather he was suggesting that they did exist, while most people said they didn’t.

[00:03:02] From a zoological point of view though, you can see why questioning the status quo might make sense. 

[00:03:10] Several animals that you or I will recognise today had only relativelyrecently been discovered. 

[00:03:18] The giant panda, for example, was only discovered by zoologists in 1869, and the komodo dragon was discovered in 1910. In both of these cases, the existence of these animals was known by locals, but foreignzoologists had never actually seen them, so they hadn’t officially been discovered.

[00:03:42] Was it so mad to think that there would be other animals that hadn’t been discovered by humans, Heuvelmans suggested in his book?

[00:03:50] With the giant panda and the komodo dragon, locals had seen these animals and told stories about them, and only then had foreignzoologists come to see for themselves. If these animals had proved to be real, surely there was a possibility that other stories of sightings of other not-yet-discovered animals could also prove to be true.

[00:04:15] History is, of course, full of stories of sightingsof mysterious animals that have never been officially classified by zoologists. 

[00:04:27] From things like The Loch Ness Monster to The Yeti, The Abominable snowman, Bigfoot, Chupacabra, The Kraken or the giant squid, there are reports of sightings of these kinds of animals all over the world.

[00:04:43] Don’t worry, though, this episode isn’t going to be about the sightings of these animals and telling you that they must exist.

[00:04:51] What we are going to try to do is to unpack some of the problems with cryptozoology, and of course, there are quite a few, and then we’ll talk about why it can actually be useful, and why it shouldn’t be dismissed so lightly.

[00:05:08] The easy answer to ‘what are some of the problems with cryptozoology’ would be something like ‘it’s mad and ridiculous - obviously the Loch Ness Monster doesn’t exist’, and although that might be true, let’s try to take a more scientific approach, and give cryptozoology the benefit of the doubt for one minute.

[00:05:30] The first problem with cryptozoology is that, as it isn’t a real science, there’s no university degree or academic certification, anyone can do it and this means it often lacks a real, rigorous approach to how cryptozoological studies should actually be undertaken.

[00:05:51] In short, the field is filled with conspiracy theorists and amateurs, so even if what they were saying did make sense, more pure scientists don’t take it seriously because it’s not considered a real science.

[00:06:08] Our second problem is with the animals themselves, the cryptids, as they’re called.

[00:06:14] These mysterious, yet-to-be discovered animals are in most cases quite problematic.

[00:06:22] The Loch Ness Monster, for example, is pretty improbable

[00:06:27] I imagine you are familiar with the idea of the Loch Ness Monster, but essentially the view is that there is a huge sort of creature with a humped back, that lives in Loch Ness, a long, thin lake in the Highlands of Scotland.

[00:06:45] There have been numerous sightings over the years of Nessie, of the monster, but they have pretty much all been debunked, proved to be wrong. There have even been supposed photos of Nessie, but they later turned out to be swans, or even an upside-down canoe.

[00:07:09] There have been thousands of sightings of Bigfoot across North America, going back hundreds of years. 

[00:07:16] Yet, as you probably know, almost all the sightings have been debunked, and  when there have been photos taken of Bigfoot, they have proved to be either faked, or of a bear or something like that.

[00:07:32] This isn’t to say, of course, that everyone who thinks that they have seen Bigfoot, or the Loch Ness monster, or a giant squid, or anything like that, this isn’t to say that they are a terrible person and a fraud.

[00:07:48] The sightingsof these creatures normally take place from a long way away, and are very brief and unclear. 

[00:07:56] It’s completely natural, especially as we have a knowledge of these creatures in popular culture that we jump to conclusions about what we’ve seen. 

[00:08:06] If you’re at Loch Ness, you’ve heard of the Loch Ness monster and out of the corner of your eye you see something popping out of the water for an instant, then going back in, you might remember it as bigger than it actually was and jump to the conclusion that it was something that it wasn’t.

[00:08:26] That memory, with time, gets embellished, the thing that you saw gets bigger and bigger, and as our memory is far from perfect, you believe that what you saw was the Loch Ness monster. In fact, it was just an eel or a large fish.

[00:08:46] So, given the fact that a lot of evidence for these cryptids relies on eye-witnesses, who can be very unreliable, that’s one reason to be sceptical of cryptozoology.

[00:09:00] Thirdly, and this is especially problematic with the large cryptids, the large mythical creatures, if one exists, then there must be more than one. 

[00:09:10] Most cryptozoologists don’t believe that these are actual monsters that live forever and don’t obey the rules of biology. They just believe that they are species that haven’t been discovered yet. 

[00:09:24] And we know that for a species to continue to exist, they need to reproduce, and for that to happen, there needs to be more than one of them.

[00:09:34] And although they may not pay taxes, cryptids would also need to obey the rule of the only other thing in life that is certain: death.

[00:09:44] They would need to die, and their remains would need to go somewhere.

[00:09:49] With normal creatures in the wild, we find bones, or remains of these creatures, and that’s one of the ways in which we know they exist, even if we haven’t seen a living version. 

[00:10:01] We know dinosaurs existed, even if they died out 65 million years ago.

[00:10:08] And from the Loch Ness Monster to the Yeti, from Bigfoot to Chupacabra, there are no remains that have ever been found that indicate that these animals ever existed. 

[00:10:20] Admittedly for the cryptids that live in the sea, it’s a bit harder to find remains, but the fact that zoologists have never managed to find any evidence of the remains of these animals makes it pretty implausible that they exist.

[00:10:36] Finally, from a geological point of view, the existence of something like the Loch Ness monster is hard to rationalise

[00:10:45] If the Loch Ness monster is a sort of modern-day dinosaur, how did it get into the loch in the first place? 

[00:10:54] The loch, the lake it supposedly lives in, would have been completely frozen over in the Ice Age, and the dinosaurs died out about 65 million years before the last Ice Age, so if all of that is true, where did this huge dinosaur-type animal come from? How did it get into the loch?

[00:11:18] There are evidently a lot of problems with lots of these cryptids, these monsters, which make their existence pretty hard to believe.

[00:11:28] However, this doesn’t mean that we should denounce anyone who is interested in cryptozoology as a complete nutcase, a complete crazy person and fraud.

[00:11:40] Indeed, being interested in cryptozoology doesn’t automatically mean that you believe the Loch Ness monster is real and that the deep ocean is full of giant squids and sea monsters. 

[00:11:53] There are plenty of cryptozoologists who take a more scientific approach, discounting the moreimprobable cryptids, so things like Nessie and Bigfoot, but being interested in the ones where the evidence for their existence is greater.

[00:12:11] And indeed, we haven’t ‘finished’ discovering new species; new species are still being discovered every year, and the rate of discovery hasn’t slowed, contrary to what many people think. 

[00:12:25] In 2019, seventy one new animal and plant species were discovered, and it’s estimated that 90% of the animal and plant species that exist in the world are still unknown, we haven’t discovered them yet.

[00:12:41] Themajority of these are insects and plants, but not all of them.

[00:12:47] A paper from the Royal Society, so very much a serious scientific institution, this paper predicted that there are at least 160 land mammals that are yet to be discovered, and over 3,000 amphibian species that are yet to be discovered. 

[00:13:07] Will these contain the Yeti, The Loch Ness Monster and giant squids? Probably not, but there’s evidently still a lot of the natural world that we don’t fully understand.

[00:13:21] And one positive thing about cryptozoologyis that it is an admittal that there is still a lot of the world that we are yet to discover.

[00:13:31] Of course, this may not be the golden era of Charles Darwin, or the time where an intrepid young zoologist could head off on a mission into the jungles of the Congo, the Amazon rainforest, or Borneo and come back with a journal full of exciting new discoveries.

[00:13:50] The new animals and plants that are being discovered now are mainly insects, and there is a lot of ‘discovery’ that is essentially realising that two animals that we had thought were the same were actually two different species. 

[00:14:07] It’s not exactly heading into the Himalayas and coming back with evidence of the Yeti, but it’s still a valid zoological discovery that helps us better understand the planet we live on.

[00:14:20] Sadly enough though, there are models that predict that a proportionof these yet-undiscovered but real animals will be extinct before we can ever discover them, that we will have driven them to extinction before they can be discovered and catalogued by zoologists.

[00:14:38] That certainly is a sad thought, but if an interest in mystery animals and cryptozoology can inspire a new generation of budding young zoologists to explore the natural world and help conserve these rare species that we might never even discover, then that surely has to be a good thing.

[00:15:02] OK then, that is it for today's episode on Cryptozoology, the hunt for mysterious animals.

[00:15:11] I hope it's been an interesting one, and that you've learnt something new.

[00:15:16] As always, I would love to know what you thought of this episode. You can head right in to our community forum, which is at community.leonardoenglish.com and start chatting away to other curious minds and of course to me.

[00:15:29] I can't wait to see what you have to say.

[00:15:32] And as a final reminder, if you are looking to improve your English in a more interesting way, to join a community of curious minds from all over the world, and to unlock the transcripts, the subtitles, and key vocabulary, then the place to go is leonardoenglish.com

[00:15:52] You've been listening to English Learning for Curious Minds, by Leonardo English

[00:15:57] I'm Alastair Budge, you stay safe, and I'll catch you in the next episode.

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