INTRODUCTION BY DAVID HANCOCK
Cryptozoology and Mysterious Animals:
BC 2010 Olympics endorses Cryptid:
This Forum is about some of the most exciting creatures of the world – after eagles! Some in fact, those defined under the heading “Cryptozoology” are not yet defined by science. This does not mean they do not exist nor that they are not relatively known to humankind. It only means that they are unknown or undocumented by science. And of course the “known to science” is a bit misleading for the very tenant of science is that the world is there to be explored and understood -- the 'unknown to become known'!. That what is known today will be questioned and tested to probe a deeper understanding. Science strives to make the 'known' unknown and then better known. So it is clear, the term “Cryptozoology” is a scientists term to define those species not adequately known to scientists to be defined and given a scientific name -- the ‘binomial nomenclature’ by which all scientifically known living and past creatures are defined.
But very often a species is well known to local native populations for eons of time – it is just that science has not yet caught up with the local knowledge. The Mountain Gorilla was obviously known to local natives – but was for years denied its existence by scientists who 'knew a a great ape could not live in the cloud-covered mountains'.. This is always an exciting field to explore. The rigidly minded, the purists, the dogmatic – and I might even add the unimaginative -- have difficulty accepting or understanding something or some creature that is not accepted by science at large. But as this Forum will likely reveal to many, this false position has had to give way time and time again. Over the past 100 years, the past 25 and even over the last 5 years, many species, thought not to exist have “suddenly appeared”, or at least become “accepted” to science. These “lost” or “mythological” creatures were finally ‘found’ by a scientist. Another ‘Cryptozoological’ species becomes a 'real species'. And the story goes on.
I have been intrigued by these mysterious beasts as much by wanting to know them as wanting to know why they are so opposed by others. As a biologist I have time and again been intrigued by new discoveries. But particularly how obvious and upfront information is – and how we did not see the forest for the trees. Part of my business life, that of being a biologist, writer, filmmaker and then publisher, has given me the opportunity to look into these ‘mysterious’ beasts and assist others to telling their stories about them. Hancock House Publishers has done a whole series of interesting books on this topic from those by a classic scientist Matt Bille Rumor of Existence & Shadows of Existence thru to Meet the Sasquatch by researcher Chris Murhpy. Chris's book brings the entire topic of ‘big apes’ or ‘primitive ape-like men’ to an interesting current perspective.
The Mysterious & the Unknown: now have become Olympic 2010 Symbols
I want to bring the curious mind to these intriguing topics. That two of the creatures most central to this ‘mysterious’ category have now emerged as British Columbia symbols to represent the 2010 Olympics is really quite rewarding. The first, the White Spirit Bear was named two years ago by our Premier Gordon Campbell as the mammalian emblem of our province British Columbia so its inclusion is not so unexpected. And the white spirit bear is biologically nothing more than one of half a dozen color variants of the common black bear. However, it is a magical creature wound up in eons of native spiritual lore. That this bear has only been known to science about 100 years is simply due to its restricted range on the isolated central British Columbia coast. But those of you know of my long time interest in the bear and our beautiful book White Spirit Bear by one of my favorite people in the whole world Grandma Tess (with the foreword by Dr. Jane Goodall).
Sasquatchi on the other hand was a totally unexpected Olympian. True, Hancock House has published nearly 20 books on Sasquatch or Big Foot as it is called in the US, and true it is absolutely legendary over all of British Columbia, but totally unexpected though wonderful that the Olympic committee has recognized our 30 years efforts!
But not to take away from the Olympic Committees choice, Sasquatchi is truly a North American. Our upcoming title by anthropologist Kathy Strain outlines the continent-wide nature legends on this creature long before Europeans set forth their destructive footprint.
So go forth. But I am only interested in true tales and experiences. Since fact is generally stranger than fiction that should suffice. I know the field is fraught with strong feelings but try and keep it sane and polite. For a few creatures this will present an even more difficult challenge. For example “Caddy” or the Cadborasaurus most frequently seen off the shore of Victoria or on Okanogan Lakes of Central BC, has some scientists accepting the species on the basis of several fetal remains founds while others do not accept this data. Science imposes the obligation of questions, scientists fumble with attempts to answer them.